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# 7 great reads
Sitdown Sunday: Inside the real-life succession drama of Rupert Murdoch
Settle down in a comfy chair and sit back with some of the week’s best longreads.

IT’S A DAY of rest, and you may be in the mood for a quiet corner and a comfy chair.

We’ve hand-picked the week’s best reads for you to savour.

1. Rupert Murdoch

A billion dollar lawsuit against Fox News, a divorce from Jerry Hall and a broken engagement have made for an interesting 12 months for the 92-year-old media baron. 

(Vanity Fair, approx 33 mins reading time)

 At the age of 91, Murdoch blew up his fourth marriage. [Jerry] Hall was waiting for Murdoch to meet her at their Oxfordshire estate last June when she checked her phone. “Jerry, sadly I’ve decided to call an end to our marriage,” Murdoch’s email began, according to a screenshot I read. “We have certainly had some good times, but I have much to do…My New York lawyer will be contacting yours immediately.” Hall told friends she was blindsided. “Rupert and I never fought,” she told people. There had been disagreements over his antiabortion views and some friction with the kids over Hall’s rules about masking and testing before they saw Murdoch, according to sources. But Hall never felt Murdoch treated these as major issues. Hall and Murdoch finalized their divorce two months later. (One of the terms of the settlement was that Hall couldn’t give story ideas to the writers on Succession.) Hall told friends she had to move everything out of the Bel Air estate within 30 days and show receipts to prove items belonged to her. Security guards watched as her children helped her pack. When she settled into the Oxfordshire home she received in the divorce, she discovered surveillance cameras were still sending footage back to Fox headquarters. Mick Jagger sent his security consultant to disconnect them. 

2. What a coincidence

An interesting look at coincidences – whether they exist, and why they appeal to us so much – with some peculiar examples. 

(The Guardian, approx 21 mins reading time)

There is a part of me that, despite myself, wants to entertain the possibility that the world really does have supernatural dimensions. It’s the same part of me that gets spooked by ghost stories, and that would feel uneasy about spending a night alone in a morgue. I don’t believe the universe contains supernatural forces, but I feel it might. This is because the human mind has fundamentally irrational elements. I’d go so far as to say that magical thinking forms the basis of selfhood. Our experience of ourselves and other people is essentially an act of imagination that can’t be sustained through wholly rational modes of thought. We see the light of consciousness in another’s eyes and, irresistibly, imagine some ethereal self behind those eyes, humming with feelings and thoughts, when in fact there’s nothing but the dark and silent substance of the brain.

3. For the love of books

The CEO of an online bookshop that supports independent bookstores speaks about how it came up against Amazon during the pandemic, and the importance of shopping local.

(Wired, approx 25 mins reading time)

Even though Catapult kept him plenty busy, Hunter really believed in his vision of a souped-up ecommerce platform uniting the indies. Little stores deserved to find customers online, too, even if they didn’t have the resources to set up their own online shops. Offering them a way to band together felt like a righteous crusade. Plus, Hunter figured it could be a low-effort side gig. What started as a favor done on a business-trip whim has since become the great project of Hunter’s professional life. In its first few years of existence, Bookshop defied even its founder’s expectations and demonstrated how helpful its model could be for small businesses. Now, Hunter has a new plot twist in mind: He wants to show business owners how to scale up without selling out—without needing to kill the competition.

4. The “Magic Olympics”

Every three years, magicians gather at the World Championship of Magic to compete for the title of world’s best. To win, they have to fool each other. 

(National Geographic, approx 14 mins reading time)

Very few of FISM’s attendees earn a full-time income from magic: There are nuclear physicists, chess players, gastroenterologists. Years ago, Allison Shelley became a flight attendant to pay her way to FISM and now she visits her fellow magicians on layovers. On long hauls, she practices her own flight attendant-themed act. “What else is there to do when the passengers are sleeping?” she said. “I use the mask and seatbelt as props and the window as a mirror.” The pressure-cooker contest can supercharge a magic career. A trick that impresses FISM’s 10-judge panels opens doors with retailers, TV show scouts, and theatrical bookers. It can even spark new trends in the magic world. But it’s also a place where a lifetime’s worth of sweat and practice might only receive curt applause.

5. Preparing for Mars

Beginning in June, four volunteers will spend a year locked in a 3D-printed habitat pretending to live on Mars as part of Nasa’s next step to sending humans to the red planet.

(The Guardian, approx 7 mins reading time)

The four crew members will live in a small housing unit that was constructed using a huge 3D printer to simulate how Nasa may create structures on the Martian surface with Martian soil. They’ll conduct experiments, grow food and exercise – and be tested regularly so scientists can learn what a year on Mars could do to the body and mind.  “This is really an extreme circumstance,” said Dr Suzanne Bell, who leads the Behavioral Health and Performance Laboratory at the Nasa Johnson Space Center. “You’re asking for individuals to live and work together for over a one-year period. Not only will they have to get along well, but they’ll also have to perform well together.”

6. Brian Cox

The actor who plays Logan Roy shares his thoughts about that twist in last Sunday’s episode of Succession. Be warned, the following interview contains major spoilers. 

(The New York Times, approx 7 mins reading time)

At 76, Cox is a titan himself, albeit of a different kind. A native Scotsman and a renowned Shakespearean stage actor, he has won two Laurence Olivier Awards and was named a commander of the Order of the British Empire. For his screen works, he has earned an Emmy (“Nuremberg,” 2001), a Screen Actors Guild Award (for “Succession,” which he shared with the ensemble cast) and dozens of other nominations in North America and Britain. And yet, at an age when many successful actors might be tempted to bask in the glow of their trophies, Cox dove headlong into what has become a career-defining role, the kind for which strangers stop you on the street and beg you to do a bit 


An interview from 2020 where Joe Biden speaks about his stutter.

(The Atlantic, approx 28 mins reading time)

Maybe you’ve heard Biden talk about his boyhood stutter. A non-stutterer might not notice when he appears to get caught on words as an adult, because he usually maneuvers out of those moments quickly and expertly. But on other occasions, like that night in Detroit, Biden’s lingering stutter is hard to miss. He stutters—­if slightly—on several sounds as we sit across from each other in his office. Before addressing the debate specifically, I mention what I’ve just heard. “I want to ask you, as, you know, a … stutterer to, uh, to a … stutterer. When you were … talking a couple minutes ago, it, it seemed to … my ear, my eye … did you have … trouble on s? Or on … m?”

Note: The Journal generally selects stories that are not paywalled, but some might not be accessible if you have exceeded your free article limit on the site in question.

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