Rollins's Review, August 26
On my favorite Substack columns this week
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Some big names in this week’s Rollins’ Review as well as some music and excellent new serial fiction.
Bari Weiss has turned her Substack, Common Sense, into one of the finest outlets for unheard and politically heterodox voices on the internet. This week she interviews Trump (and George H. W. Bush) AG Bill Barr. It’s one of the best interviews I’ve read this year. Weiss is a capable interviewer, and I found Barr to be a perceptive, intelligent man whose major intellectual limitation is that his capacity for nuanced judgement degrades as the distance between him and his subject grows. The heuristics he uses to understand the world, which are top-down and authoritarian, make him an excellent prosecutor but (to my mind) a poor choice for a Cabinet post.
My statistical literacy is better than most people’s, but that’s not saying much; most people are completely statistically illiterate. That’s why I appreciate people like Matthew Crawford, who walks non-quants through how to interpret statistics in a patient, step-by-step way that someone with a minimal understanding of data science can understand.
wmmcrae has written one of the most lush, satisfying pieces of fiction I’ve read in a long time. The first chapter to the serial novel Junction, Nowhere is quiet, joyful, and emotionally evocative, and I’m looking forward to reading more.
China bad!? Wu Fei good. I don’t know anything about her aside from the fact that she’s some sort of musical prodigy who just kind of busts out with a new composition or improvisation on a stringed instrument called a Guzheng every day, and they’re all amazing. Her music is beautiful, and like nothing I’ve heard before.
If Chris from Karlstack is a dishonest academic’s worst nightmare, Matt Stoller is a dishonest regulator’s worst nightmare. He’s down in the trenches, reporting on regulatory policy from an anti-trust perspective, and more than occasionally influencing policy directly by testifying in front of Congress. Reading his newsletter is a curative to the notion that economic changes just sort of happen; Stoller knows the history of anti-trust law cold, and he’s an insightful and entertaining writer to boot. Highly recommended.
What a pleasant surprise to find myself recommended here! I've discovered several other excellent newsletters through these roundup posts in the past, so I'm honored.