Friday 14 June, 2024

Street furniture

London, near King’s Cross

Quote of the Day

”Always tell the truth and no one will believe you.”

  • Ronald Knox

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

Händel | Suite in G minor, HWV 452 | Keith Jarrett


A real discovery for me. I’ve always loved Jarrett’s improvisations (as in the Köln Concert), but had no idea he also played Bach and Handel.

Long Read of the Day

The Harvey Weinstein of Antitrust

If you’re interested in the way political lobbying (and the Chicago Law School) enfeebled antitrust action in the US for several decades from the 1980s onwards, then you’ll enjoy this essay by Matt Stoller on Josh White.

So who is Josh Wright? Well he wasn’t just a professor, though he published over 150 papers on law and economics, some with powerful people like D.C. Circuit Court Judge Douglas Ginsburg and influential legal scholars like Daniel Crane. He ran George Mason’s Global Antitrust Institute, the heir to the Henry Manne training centers of the 1970s, which helped teach Bork’s thinking about political economy to endless numbers of professors and judges. Under Wright, the GAI funneled millions of dollars from Google, Meta, Amazon, and Qualcomm into fancy events in Napa Valley and Hawaii with judges and foreign officials, so much so that it led to an FBI investigation over potential violations of anti-corruption laws.

Wright posed as a scholar in law and economics, but he was a paid advocate. And it was effective advocacy. His hundreds of papers, blog posts, tweets, and comments were devastating to antitrust enforcement. For instance, the Ninth Circuit cited Wright’s papers in its 2019 decision overturning an antitrust verdict against communications chip maker Qualcomm, which had donated $2.7 million to Wright’s antitrust center in 2017. As another example, Wright’s work, whose funding by Google often went undisclosed, helped persuade Democratic FTC Commissioner Edith Ramirez to kill a potential antitrust suit against Google in 2012…

The piece was triggered by revelations in the Wall Street Journal that many women had come forward publicly alleging Wright had used his various positions of power to induce sexual relations with them. According to the accusations, Wright was able to advance the careers of students at law firms and in government, and did so, based on whether they were sleeping with him.

The story of how antitrust was was enfeebled in the US after Robert Bork’s book, The Antitrust Paradox came out in 1978, is a fascinating case study in the way that ideas can influence politics and policy. But these revelations about White add a different angle to the story.

Books, etc.

I’ve been dipping in and out of Seamus Heaney’s letters when an email from a friend mentioned his poem Field of Vision. So I dug it out. Here it is:

I remember this woman who sat for years
In a wheelchair, looking straight ahead
Out the window at sycamore trees unleafing
And leafing at the far end of the lane.

Straight out past the TV in the corner,
The stunted, agitated hawthorn bush,
The same small calves with their backs to wind and rain,
The same acre of ragwort, the same mountain.

She was steadfast as the big window itself.
Her brow was clear as the chrome bits of the chair.
She never lamented once and she never
Carried a spare ounce of emotional weight.

Face to face with her was an education
Of the sort you got across a well-braced gate—
One of those lean, clean, iron, roadside ones
Between two whitewashed pillars, where you could see

Deeper into the country than you expected
And discovered that the field behind the hedge
Grew more distinctly strange as you kept standing
Focused and drawn in by what barred the way.

The woman is Heaney’s aunt Mary. He explained later:

There was something in our relationship, whatever it was, that stood still … For years she was crippled with arthritis and eventually had to have her bed brought downstairs into what had been our sitting room … My memories of those years in the 1970s, before she had to go into special care in the Mid-Ulster Hospital, are of arriving with Marie and the kids from Wicklow and greeting first of all my mother and father and sister Ann in the living room, then going in to sit with Mary. Not a lot getting said or needing to be said. Just a deep, unpathetic stillness and wordlessness. A mixture of lacrimae rerum (tears for the situation) and Deo gratias (praise be to God). Something in me reverted to the child I’d been in Mossbawn. Something in her just remained constant, like the past gazing at you calmly, without blame. She was a tower of emotional strength, unreflective in a way but undeceived about people or things. I suppose all I’m saying is that I loved her dearly.

My commonplace booklet

 What Is the Best Way to Cut an Onion?

Believe it or not, the New York Times recently devoted an entire article to this obviously vital question.


Something I noticed, while drinking from the Internet firehose.

  •  Luxury penthouse in Manchester named after Friedrich Engels

From The Guardian:

The 290 sq metre (3,126 sq ft) flat is listed on the developer’s website as a showhome, but in promotional material it was advertised with a price tag of £2.5m.

A second penthouse apartment, “The Turing” – presumably named after the University of Manchester computer scientist Alan Turing – is also on the market for £2.5m.

“The Engels” features three en suite bedrooms, as well as a home office and a sweeping open-plan living area.

Those whirring noises you hear are of Karl Marx and Alan Turing whirring in their respective graves.

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