Links: Spy novels, nurses and doctors, freedom of speech and thought, Saudi menace, and more!

* “Secrets of a Secret Agent,” on spy novelist Jason Matthews, who sounds like he was a better spy than he is a novelist and who also sounds like he knows it: “In retrospect, [the publication of Red Sparrow] wasn’t because the book or my writing was so good [. . . .] It’s because I was a former spook.” I read Red Sparrow but the writing wasn’t good enough to review it. But it shows promise and almost no one’s first book is their best.

* “In a fight between nurses and doctors, the nurses are slowly winning: More states are allowing nurses to provide all the kinds of care they learned about in school.” See also my essay “Why you should become a nurse or physicians assistant instead of a doctor: the underrated perils of medical school.”

* “How ‘Safe Spaces’ Stifle Ideas.” Seems obvious, but…

* Self-driving cars may still be decades out. And light rail can happen now, if we want it to.

* We are witnessing the rise of global authoritarianism on a chilling scale. Perhaps related to the “safe spaces” link.

* “How Saudi Arabia captured Washington: America’s foreign policy establishment has aligned itself with an ultra-conservative dictatorship that often acts counter to US values and interests. Why?” It’s amazing that this story doesn’t get more press. Also: “How the Saudis Churn Out ‘Jihad Inc.:’ From mass executions to ISIS and the San Bernardino attack, the manifestations of Saudi Arabia’s Salafi extremism are everywhere—and it’s time for Muslims to fight back.” The 2016 battery-powered Chevy Volt is getting great reviews.

* “Nixon official: real reason for the drug war was to criminalize black people and hippies.” It worked. Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent ought to be mandatory reading for American citizens.

* “Russ Roberts and the Quest to Make Economics Interesting.” He often but not always succeeds and I listen to Econtalk.

* “A global experiment in co-living;” has anyone written a novel set in co-living spaces? I feel like there’s one there.

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