Published daily by the Lowy Institute

The Fix: What has meaning

A new Interpreter feature inviting short observations about events, essays or episodes that might otherwise be missed.

Patrick Tomasso/Unsplash
Patrick Tomasso/Unsplash

We’ll be asking contributors to put together their own short collected observations like this one in the weeks ahead – and as always, if you’ve got an idea to pitch for The Interpreter, drop a line via the About page.

It’s a difficult thing to confess, but I read very few books. My favourite format for political analysis is the long essay, and I have two recent ones to recommend.

First, before reading “Birth of a Nation” by Amir Rosen, I had not been aware of the scale of the cultural and economic transition (is “revolution” too strong?) taking place in Saudi Arabia. On this evidence, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s dramatic gambit appears to be working.

The Art of Vassalisation”, by Jeremy Shapiro and Jana Puglierin, reveals important new facts about the growing imbalance of economic, military and diplomatic power between the United States and Europe.

Economist Tyler Cowen’s podcast is almost always recommendable. This episode with ethicist Peter Singer – one of the most influential intellectual figures Australia has ever produced, though you’d barely know it from the attention he gets in his home country – is interesting both for content and tone. Civil but not stuffy, with both committed to their ideas but never led by emotional attachment to them.

The 2022 TV series Gaslit passed without much fanfare despite its stellar cast – Julia Roberts and Sean Penn in the lead roles. But you should check it out. It’s a Watergate drama told mostly through the eyes of players who appear on the periphery in previous versions of this story. Gaslit is wryly funny and a surprisingly poignant study of three marriages.

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