August 2, 2018

Posted by orrinj at 7:42 PM



Kirk was criticized, then and later, for writing in an anachronistic style, one not suited to confronting the seemingly rationalist arguments of liberalism. In order to defend what they thought to be worth conserving, some conservatives believed that they had to engage liberalism on its own terms, in a "dialectic" mode that is foreign to the conservative language of custom and tradition. Kirk rejected this approach.

As early as the 1950s, he had become convinced that liberalism would exhaust itself because it could not inspire and sustain what he called the "moral imagination." For conservatives to buy into its premises would seal their defeat. Something else would replace liberalism eventually, and Kirk offered a richly imaginative vision of conservatism that could survive liberal modernity's collapse. One element of that vision was a revived respect for religious faith.

As early as 1982, in an essay for National Review , Kirk suggested that "the Post-Modern imagination stands ready to be captured. And the seemingly novel ideas and sentiments and modes [of postmodernism] may turn out, after all, to be received truths and institutions, well known to surviving conservatives." He went so far as to state that he thought that it "may be the conservative imagination which is to guide the Post-Modern Age." (One of the earliest uses of the word postmodern was by the conservative Episcopalian cleric Bernard Iddings Bell, in a book of that title published in 1926; not surprisingly, Bell was an early influence on Kirk.)

Kirk had little patience for the trendy radicalism and sometimes simply nonsensical expressions of postmodern hacks. Nonetheless, he saw in postmodernism a chance to escape the strictures of liberalism and reconnect with the older, pre-Enlightenment tradition of the West. This approach has its weaknesses--Kirk, for example, too often simply assumed the existence of historical continuity, and perhaps did not sufficiently confront the corrosive effects of liberalism on the kinds of social forces he believed could sustain tradition. Nevertheless, his work stands as a stark alternative to a much bleaker postmodern future.

Kirk's intellectual legacy remains widespread, if too often unacknowledged by the movement he helped create. Two of the journals he founded, the University Bookman and Modern Age , continue to appear, and his books remain in print. The localist writer Bill Kauffman has outlined a defense of regionalism that is very much in Kirk's spirit. Kauffman wants to reclaim the particularities of the American experience from the domination of big government and the monotone culture emanating from Hollywood, Washington, and New York. His lyrical prose elevates half-forgotten episodes and figures in American history and weaves them into a compelling counter-cultural story.

Scholars such as Robert Kraynak and Peter Augustine Lawler have followed Kirk in studying postmodernism through a traditionalist lens, and popular writers such as Rod Dreher, author of the provocative Crunchy Cons , draw from Kirk's writings to support a localist, organic lifestyle. Despite Kirk's suspicion of the cult of technology, a number of influential bloggers also look to him for inspiration in shaping their own conservative visions, rejecting purely utilitarian views of rationality and promoting the ideal of the "postmodern conservative" who transcends traditional political labels of left and right.

In addition, scholars like Barry Alan Shain, in their writings on early America, have confirmed Kirk's contention that that the colonies were not Lockean utopias expressing the values of modern political theory, but closely knit, highly religious Protestant villages for whom "Christian liberty" had real meaning. The world of the Founders was not, in other words, an earlier version of our own secular society.

...the left's roundabout way back to pre-modernism.

Posted by orrinj at 7:27 PM


Coffee Fights Disease and Extends Your Life, Especially if You Drink It This Way: Coffee is the ultimate superfood, especially if you know the right way to drink it. (Geoffrey James, 8/02/18,

As I explained last month, a meta-analysis of 127 studies revealed that drinking two to four 8-ounce cups of coffee each day results in enormous health benefits. The consensus of these studies is that coffee:

Reduces your risk of cancer up to 20 percent.
Reduces your risk of Type 2 diabetes by 30 percent.
Reduces your risk of Parkinson's disease by 30 percent.
Reduces your risk for heart disease by 5 percent.
That alone is enough to qualify coffee as a superfood, but there's more to it than that. Almost all of the 127 studies tracked coffee-drinkers versus non-coffee-drinkers without regard for HOW the coffee-drinkers take their coffee.

In other words, some percentage--probably a pretty large percentage--of the coffee-drinkers in those studies drink coffee with sugar, creamer, and artificial flavorings. As a result, the potential reduction in heart disease is probably much, much larger than 5 percent. [...]

[I]f you gradually accustom yourself to drinking your coffee black, the health benefits go through the roof.

Posted by orrinj at 7:13 PM


Remember Trump's Tweet Saying He Was Pulling Out Of The G7 Summit Agreement? No One Ever Did Anything About It. (Alberto Nardelli, 8/02/18, BuzzFeed News)

US inaction means Trump effectively endorsed the final statement after all.

Trump had left the leaders of Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, and the UK stunned and bewildered after tweeting that he'd "instructed U.S. Reps" not to endorse the G7 communique, the official name of the joint leaders' statement that he'd signed up to in Quebec, before flying to Singapore to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

In his tweets, Trump claimed that he was pulling out of the agreement because Trudeau had made "false statements" at his press conference.

Since Trump's tweet, however, there has been no formal or official follow-up by the US on the president's demand, the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said.

"The White House and State Dept. are actively ignoring the tweets of the president," one of the sources said. "It's like there's a reality TV president, in his own bubble, thinking he controls stuff. It's like The Truman Show."

Impeach him but give him a FOX show where he pretends to be president.  Everybody wins.

Posted by orrinj at 7:02 PM


The Case Against Screening For Thyroid Cancer (Christie Aschwanden, 8/02/18, 538)

The bad news first: Thyroid cancer incidence in the U.S. has tripled since the mid-1990s, and although the number of deaths remains very low, thousands of people are having their thyroid glands removed. Now here's the good news: We can bring those cancer rates down and save most of those thyroids with one weird trick -- stop looking for these cancers.

Forgoing cancer screening might seem like a reckless choice, but the current U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends against screening for thyroid cancer in people with no symptoms, and neither the American Thyroid Association nor the American Cancer Society advise routine thyroid cancer screening. "There's no evidence that screening for thyroid cancer saves lives," said Otis Brawley, chief medical and scientific officer at the American Cancer Society.

That's because most thyroid cancers aren't life-threatening. Even as rates of thyroid cancer have risen, one number hasn't budged: 98.1 percent of patients diagnosed with thyroid cancer survive at least five years -- the highest survival rate among the 12 most common cancers. Among patients whose cancer had not spread beyond the thyroid, the five-year survival rate is 99.9 percent. Most of the new cases being diagnosed are a type called papillary thyroid cancer, which is almost always benign, Brawley said. (The deadly types are less common and rarely found early by screening.)

Thyroid cancer screening isn't a routine check like breast cancer or prostate cancer screenings are, so why are we finding so many more cases now than 25 years ago? The answer is a combination of "haphazard screening" that happens as part of general health care (a doctor feeling the patient's neck during a visit for something else) and incidental findings seen on imaging tests done for some other reason, said H. Gilbert Welch, a physician at Dartmouth. Last week in The New England Journal of Medicine, Welch and surgeon Gerard M. Doherty wrote that "efforts to reduce thyroid cancer detection are clearly warranted."

The current slapdash, somewhat unintentional method of screening may also explain why about 75 percent of thyroid cancers are diagnosed in women. Women tend to get more health care than men do, Welch said, often because they're seeking reproductive health care.

Posted by orrinj at 6:48 PM


'We are Q': A deranged conspiracy cult leaps from the Internet to the crowd at Trump's 'MAGA' tour (Isaac Stanley-Becker, August 1, 2018, Washington Post)

The prominence of the "Q" symbol turned parts of the audience into a tableau of delusion and paranoia -- and offered evidence that QAnon, an outgrowth of the #Pizzagate conspiracy theory that led a gunman to open fire in a D.C. restaurant last year, has leaped from Internet message boards to the president's "Make America Great Again" tour through America.

"Pray Trump mentions Q!" one user wrote on 8chan. He didn't need to. As hazy corners of the Internet buzzed about the president's speech, his appearance became a real-life show of force for the community that has mostly operated behind the veil of anonymity on subreddits.

Trump himself has at times been a purveyor of conspiracy theories, most notably in refusing for years to back down from his false claim that Barack Obama was not born in the United States. He also asserted without evidence that Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower, peddled the debunked idea that millions of illegal votes cost him the popular vote and associated the father of Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas with the assassin who shot John F. Kennedy.

But viewing their message boards, it's clear that QAnon crosses a new frontier. In the black hole of conspiracy in which "Q" has plunged its followers, Trump only feigned collusion to create a pretense for the hiring of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is actually working as a "white hat," or hero, to expose the Democrats. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and George Soros are planning a coup -- and traffic children in their spare time. J.P. Morgan, the American financier, sank the Titanic.

In the world in which QAnon believers live, Trump's detractors, such as Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, wear ankle monitors that track their whereabouts. Press reports are dismissed as "Operation Mockingbird," the name given to the alleged midcentury infiltration of the American media by the CIA. The Illuminati looms large in QAnon, as do the Rothschilds, a wealthy Jewish family vilified by the conspiracy theorists as the leaders of a satanic cult. Among the world leaders wise to satanic influences, the theory holds, is Russian President Vladimir Putin.

QAnon flirts with eschatology, fascist philosophy and the filmmaking of Francis Ford Coppola. Adherents believe a "Great Awakening" will precede the final storm foretold by Trump. Once they make sense of the information drip-fed to them by "Q," they will usher in a Christian revival presaging total victory.

The implication is that resolving the clues left by "Q" would not just explain Trump's planned countercoup. It would also explain the whole universe. they seem almost indistinguishable from him and the rest of his defenders.

Posted by orrinj at 6:45 PM


Trump Says You Need an ID to Buy Groceries. Shoppers Say, 'Huh?' (Katie Rogers, Aug. 1, 2018, NY Times)

Several of the president's friends -- one of them a billionaire owner of a chain of grocery stores -- said they cannot recall Mr. Trump ever doing his own grocery shopping. John A. Catsimatidis, the owner of Gristedes Foods, a chain of small grocery stores in Manhattan and Brooklyn, said in an interview that he has known the president for 40 years, but cannot recall a time when Mr. Trump entered one of his stores.

"I wouldn't know," Mr. Catsimatidis said. "I don't have any pictures with him in Gristedes."

Thomas J. Barrack Jr., another billionaire friend of the president's, was blunt when asked if Mr. Trump ever did his own grocery shopping.

"No," Mr. Barrack said in a text complete with a smiley face emoji. Mr. Barrack, a financier, did not respond to a follow-up question about how he got his own groceries.

Mr. Catsimatidis said that he knew Mr. Trump as a homebody who preferred to host associates in the comfort of a Trump Tower boardroom rather than go out to dinner. When he did dine out, Mr. Catsimatidis said, Mr. Trump was often in the company of one or two bodyguards, perhaps making him too conspicuous for the express lane at Whole Foods on 57th Street between Second and Third Avenues, four blocks from Trump Tower.

Mr. Trump has, at the very least, shown that he knows his way around a shopping cart. Last December, the president was photographed as he nudged a cart around a food distribution center in Utah, pointing at his bounty with a "can you believe this" look on his face and a grin before setting off through the facility.

One of his handlers suggested he add a five-pound bag of potatoes to his cart: "These?" Mr. Trump asked of the potatoes, looking around for reassurance before giving no one in particular a thumbs up.

He also picked up and examined a can of food, holding it up and rotating it in his hands, seemingly fascinated.

Posted by orrinj at 6:41 PM


How Econ Went From Philosophy to Science: A new study shows how much the field now relies on hard data instead of airy theories. (Noah Smith, August 2, 2018, Bloomberg)

Big changes have been happening in the economics profession, but many people still don't seem to realize this. Maybe it's the steady drumbeat of think pieces reiterating the same outdated critiques. Or maybe there's a lingering collective memory of the time when the public face of economics was strongly libertarian. Or perhaps think tanks and pundits have publicized a caricature of economics.

But recognized or not, the changes are real and substantial. First, the profession has become much more empirical, increasingly emphasizing evidence and data over theoretical conjecture. Second, economists are much more concerned with inequality these days. And finally, economists are more willing to question basic assumptions, such as the premise that economic actors are perfectly rational.

Princeton University economist Henrik Kleven recently gave a presentation in which he evaluated how the profession has changed in recent years. Kleven used software to search the texts of National Bureau of Economics Research working papers. His search was limited to the field of public economics, which deals with taxes, government spending and similar issues. But it probably reflects trends that are present, to a greater or lesser degree, across the discipline.

The first thing Kleven found is that empiricism is on the rise. Many more papers mention the term "identification," which basically means testing models against data:

This empirical revolution takes many forms. More papers are making use of the data collected by government agencies, and techniques like machine learning are rapidly gaining in popularity. But the biggest change has been the increased emphasis on separating correlation from causation.

Economists basically don't disagree about any core question.

Posted by orrinj at 6:39 PM


Americans are far more religious than adults in other wealthy nations (DALIA FAHMY, 7/31/18, Pew Research)

In 1966, Time magazine famously examined whether the United States was on a path to secularization when it published its now-iconic "Is God Dead?" cover. However, the question proved premature: The U.S. remains a robustly religious country and the most devout of all the rich Western democracies.

In fact, Americans pray more often, are more likely to attend weekly religious services and ascribe higher importance to faith in their lives than adults in other wealthy, Western democracies, such as Canada, Australia and most European states, according to a recent Pew Research Center study.

For instance, more than half of American adults (55%) say they pray daily, compared with 25% in Canada, 18% in Australia and 6% in Great Britain. (The average European country stands at 22%.) Actually, when it comes to their prayer habits, Americans are more like people in many poorer, developing nations - including South Africa (52%), Bangladesh (57%) and Bolivia (56%) - than people in richer countries.

As it turns out, the U.S. is the only country out of 102 examined in the study that has higher-than-average levels of both prayer and wealth.

Posted by orrinj at 3:07 PM


Trump's Boast About Getting Fallen Heroes From Korea Is Collapsing (Jonathan Chait, 8/02/18, New York)
As North Korea's vague, timetable-free promises to one day denuclearize the Korean peninsula have melted away, President Trump has emphasized his shrewd bargaining for the remains of American soldiers killed in the Korean War. "We got back our great fallen heroes, the remains sent back today, already 200 got sent back," boasted Donald Trump earlier this summer.

Unsurprisingly, this is false. North Korea has almost certainly not sent back anything close to 200 bodies. In the past, the regime has promised to return the remains of servicemen, but actually handed over unidentifiable bones of many people and some animals.

The latest batch of 55 boxes of remains from North Korea has just been received, and appears to fit the historic pattern. According to the Associated Press, the boxes contain "a single military dog tag but no other information that could help U.S. forensics experts determine their individual identities."

Posted by orrinj at 3:04 PM


No Shirt, No Swipe, No Service   (HENRY GRABAR, JULY 24, 2018, Slate)

For years, small businesses have asked customers to pay cash, set credit card minimums, or added a surcharge onto card transactions, in an effort to defray the premiums imposed by companies like Mastercard and Visa. Now, an increasing number of businesses are doing the opposite. Head out of Slate's offices for lunch and you might wind up at Dos Toros, a local burrito minichain; for coffee you might pick DevociĆ³n, a Colombian-born coffeehouse with an airy storefront. In either case, you'd be confronted with the same demand: Pay with plastic.

Stores are eliminating cash registers and coin rolls in pursuit of what they say is a safer, more streamlined payment process--and one that most of their customers want to use anyway.

Posted by orrinj at 2:50 PM


TSA mulling end to security checks at small US airports, but 'no decision' yet (ERIC CORTELLESSA, 8/02/18, CNN)

The US Transportation Security Administration is reportedly considering an end to its passenger screening at more than 150 American airports, a move that, if carried out, would mark a dramatic shift in the rigorous airport security reforms that followed the September 11 terrorist attacks.

There's nothing Donald loves more than yanking the rug out from under his vassals. 

Posted by orrinj at 2:39 PM


Trump's Groceries Gaffe Is Even More Baseless Than It Seems: Contrary to what the president says, you don't need ID to buy food. Lots of people don't need ID for anything at all. (VANN R. NEWKIRK II, 8/02/18, The Atlantic)

Strict photo-ID requirements--that is, requirements without reasonable workarounds for those who lack said identification--are relatively rare in American society. Even alcohol and cigarette purchases--which could charitably count as "groceries"--aren't as tightly and universally bound by photo ID as proponents of the election measures suggest. Aside from the few states, like Tennessee and Indiana, that have implemented "universal carding," most states allow people who look to be well older than 21 to purchase alcohol and tobacco without the hassle. (Most Americans would probably consider it pretty weird if great-grandmothers got carded on beer runs.)

Their sale isn't really analogous to voting, though--alcohol and tobacco are vices. Photo ID in that context is mostly used to avoid fines related to underage sales, not matters of security and fraud prevention.

It might seem that commercial flying, an act that is regulated through the national-security apparatus, would be a better example, since driver's licenses and passports are such integral parts of the check-in process. But that's not right either: People don't actually need a government-issued photo ID to fly. In fact, the Transportation Security Administration's website states that travelers without ID are asked "to complete an identity verification process which includes collecting information such as your name, current address, and other personal information to confirm your identity." Barring criminal warrants or other red flags, most passengers without ID are allowed to fly after a pat-down and a bag inspection. I'm one of them: Speaking from experience, the process is a hassle, but one designed specifically to accommodate people who've lost or don't have a driver's license. (From that experience, I can say that the hassle is well worth it to avoid being trapped in Las Vegas forever.)

Defenders of voter ID often see parallels between other areas of daily life where the federal bureaucracy extends: The Patriot Act and related laws pertaining to the Department of Homeland Security have created much tougher identification requirements for a number of tasks, including opening bank accounts, buying houses, buying regulated behind-the-counter drugs, and seeking employment.

But for each, again, there are some reasonable loopholes for the few citizens without the required documents. All bank transactions and new accounts--including home mortgages--are governed by a Patriot Act-enhanced version of the Bank Secrecy Act. That requires financial institutions to run a Customer Identification Program (CIP), an effort to crack down on suspicious financial activity on behalf of terrorist groups and organized crime. But the CIP allows banks to use different tiers of verification for customers who lack photo ID for specific reasons; allows employee discretion in verifying the identification of customers they know; and also, in some cases, might allow a combination of Social Security cards and voter-registration cards to serve as acceptable ID. Some local banks specifically account for people without photo ID in their written procedures. For example, the Callaway Bank, which serves mid-Missouri cities, says that people opening new accounts "can bring in 2 forms of ID," including a Social Security card, a birth certificate, a Medicare card, or an insurance card.

Posted by orrinj at 4:18 AM


Posted by orrinj at 4:09 AM


Posted by orrinj at 4:08 AM


Trump administration must stop giving psychotropic drugs to migrant children without consent, judge rules (Samantha Schmidt, July 31, 2018, Washington Post)