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Showing posts from June, 2012

Another Good Murdoch Quote

A week ago I quoted for you from a biography of Rupert Murdoch, written by Michael Wolff, the well known Vanity Fair columnist.

I there cited in particular Wolff's discussion of the succession issue, and of the rather odd way in which Murdoch announced his resolution thereof.

But never mind that. Here's a better quote, from much later in the book (which is not at all chronological).

"In steady, constantly discomfiting ways, Murdoch shares the feelings about Fox News regularly reflected in the general liberal apoplexy. Everybody outside Fox News and inside News Corp. suffers Fox News. Everybody outside Fox News and inside News Corp is afraid of Roger Ailes,. Further, everybody outside Fox News and inside News Corp. thinks that there's a bit of insanity at Fox News."

My thoughts turn east

Bhaskara, an Indian living in the 8th and/or 9th century,  maintained (against other Indians of the Vedic tradition before him) that the world in which our physical manifestations live and suffer is a reality, not or not entirely an illusion.

Recently, in a book about the history of Indiian philosophy, I encountered the following explanation of Bhaskara's view on the nature of the human soul. The soul is not in reality different from God. Our individual souls are but his parts, as the sparks of a fire are but parts of the same fire.

So God is real, our souls are real because they are of God, their separateness is at least in a qualified sense real (a single spark does fly off on its own trajectory), and the world in which they live is real. Realities abound.

Taken together these are the characteristic positions of the Bhedābheda Vedānta, one of several traditions within Vedānta, one that is said to seek a balance betwen monism and dualism.


Bobby Baker

In a forthcoming review on Caro's new book -- the fourth volume of THE YEARS OF LYNDON JOHNSON -- I summarize some of what Caro has to say about Bobby Baker. The Baker anchor was an important aspect of the Johnson VP and early Presidential years, at least as Caro is reconstructing them, and some of Caro's other reviewers seem to have said nothing or far too little about it.

That review should appear in the next issue of The Federal Lawyer.

Meanwhile, I've discovered that I wrote something about Caro once before.

I'm the author of a book on the political history of the US Supreme Court, from the New Deal era to the George H.W. Bush presidency. In that context I mentioned Baker. It introduced my book's first invocation of the concept of executive privilege.

I'll just quote that passage here:

Early in 1964 the Senate opened a formal inquiry into allegations of influence peddling brought against Bobby Baker, Johnson's longtime friend and former aide. The Sen…

What Really Happened?

WSJ story Tuesday, vaguely sourced by plausible, tells us that the London Whale, Bruno Iksil, "once confided" to a certain colleague, "that when he wanted to avoid questions from supervisors about his trades, he sometimes would start discussing a mathematical term, equation, or other technical jargon, to confuse and end the conversation."

He'd get free rein/reign because his bosses were afraid of hearing his explanation of  the analytical expression of a Lévy distribution one more time?


The Man Who Owns the News

My recent reading has included a biography of Rupert Murdoch by Michael Wolff.

One point that I found remarkable: the way Murdoch announced the settlement of a critical matter of family business -- on the Charlie Rose show. It seems to have come as a surprise to everyone in his family.

The basic succession issue concerns who will run, and profit from, the Murdoch empire when Rupert is gone: the adult children he had with his first and second wives, several of whom have played various roles within that empire and see themselves as vested in it? or will the minors born to his third and present wife, Wendi, be dealt into the situation?  The tensions here aren't unusual. Blended families of one configuration or another aren't are common these days, after all. But the sheer quantity of the wealth involved -- and the placement of much of that wealth (billions of dollars worth) in a trust holding more than a quarter of News Corp's equity -- make this family drama noteworthy.

Way Too Much Stress on a common word

"Morph"? Really?

Back in 2005 I wrote a review of a then three-volume set of books on "Speculative Capital" by one Nasser Saber. Read more about that here, if you like.

A very short account is that the review was not a favorable one, but did have as a consequence a memorable exchange in which Saber indicated he would provide a full demolition of my inanity in his fourth volume.

Thus far there has been no fourth volume. I'm a patient guy. In the meantime, I see that Nasser is no longer actively maintaining his blog, apparently because he is engaged in the final stretch of writing for this fourth volume. So perhaps 2012 will be the year it finally appears.

His wife, Sarina Saber, has told his fans on the blog "Dialectics of Finance" that she will keep the flames burning on her own companion blog, "Dialectics of Social Change."

On that companion blog, she has recently posted a bit of dialog that appears to represent a conversation between N…

Cogito Ergo Sum

William James wrote somewhere (I'm feeling too lazy to look it up) that there is a class of cases where the word "it" has no clear antecedent, yet where this apparent ambiguity is perfectly acceptable as a matter of idiomatic English.

"It is raining," after all, is a simple statement of fact. Nobody, hearing it, scratches his head and askes, "what is raining?" The phrase in question conveys the same meaning as "Rain is falling at this moment," yet conveys it in half as many syllables.

The lesson: we can't deduce a metaphysical fact from a grammatical subject.

So what of the pronoun "I" in the sentence "I think"? This is one crucial problem with Descartes' famous reasoning. The thoughts with which he tormented himself in the course of his methodical doubt, the thought that there might be a powerful evil demon, etc., and the thought "I think" itself, might all be rain, as it were, coming from no …

Gasparino is a Selling Point???

On a recent trip to NYC I discovered ads in the Metronorth train cars promoting Fox Business News on the ground that they have Charlie Gasparino reporting for them.

Really?  That's the selling point?  Former CNBC editor Charlie Gasbag has switched over?

Remember Charlie isn't at CNBC anymore largely because he flipped out over the air over the harmless expression., "What have you got?"

During the worst of the 2008 crisis, on the regular late-afternoon program "Closing Bell," anchor Dylan Ratigan introduced CG, obviously under the impression that CG was about to share with him and us some important new datum about a shakeup in the management ranks at Merrill Lynch.

Indeed, the camera than framed Charles' face with the unsubtle words "Mgmt Turmoil Continues at Merrill Lynch" below.

Here's a Youtube vido of the weird exchange.

Anyway, Charles ended up conveying no news at all and wasting a good deal of time on a rather busy news day.  &q…