July 8, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 7:30 PM


Posted by orrinj at 7:17 PM


Kris Kobach, who claimed misspelled names indicated voter fraud, misspells own name in Senate race registration (The Week, 7/08/19)

The mixup was especially ironic for Kobach, who once headed President Trump's so-called voter fraud commission and dedicated his political career to demanding stricter identification for voters. As part of that fight, Kobach has tried to purge voter rolls of names that don't match registrants' state IDs, which would've included names that were misspelled during registration.

Posted by orrinj at 6:44 PM


Former DOJ Lawyer Says Census Drama Put Attorneys in "Completely Untenable" Position (JEREMY STAHL, JULY 08, 2019, Slate)

The latest bizarre twist in the Census citizenship question case came on Sunday when the Department of Justice announced that the entire team of lawyers defending the government's position in ongoing litigation would be replaced. The highly unusual move was confirmed on Monday in a series of court filings. It is likely at the behest of career officials uncomfortable with the government's position moving forward, according to former DOJ attorneys. The lawyers on the case told the courts last week that the administration would stop trying to add the citizenship question to the census, but were quickly forced to reverse that position after President Donald Trump tweeted that reports of the decision to back down were "fake." The sudden change in lawyers suggests there is some internal recognition that the government's latest census stance has become untenable.

Posted by orrinj at 12:51 PM


The Purell presidency: Trump aides learn the president's real red line: A self-described germaphobe, the 45th president is strictly enforcing proper hygiene inside the White House -- and wherever else he goes. (DANIEL LIPPMAN 07/07/2019, Politico)

He asks visitors if they'd like to wash their hands in a bathroom near the Oval Office.

He'll send a military doctor to help an aide caught coughing on Air Force One.

And the first thing he often tells his body man upon entering the Beast after shaking countless hands at campaign events: "Give me the stuff" -- an immediate squirt of Purell.

Two and a half years into his term, President Donald Trump is solidifying his standing as the most germ-conscious man to ever lead the free world. His aversion shows up in meetings at the White House, on the campaign trail and at 30,000 feet. And everyone close to Trump knows the president's true red line.

"If you're the perpetrator of a cough or of a sneeze or any kind of thing that makes you look sick, you get that look," said a former Trump campaign official. "You get the scowl. You get the response of -- he'll put a hand up in a gesture of, you should be backing away from him, you should be more considerate and you should extricate yourself from the situation."

It's No Coincidence That Hitler Was a Germaphobe: Hitler appeared to have been highly sensitive to disgust, and research shows this trait is linked to numerous dimensions of ideology. (STEPHEN JOHNSON, 31 May, 2017, Big Think)

Hitler seemed obsessed with the idea of infection. The Nazi leader was, by most accounts, a germaphobe who avoided personal contact and bathed incessantly. He was repelled by sex, horrified by venereal disease. He referred to himself as an Einsiedler - a hermit. He extolled the virtues of celibacy and claimed prostitution was for inferior races, though some have proposed Hitler himself contracted syphilis from a Jewish prostitute in Vienna in 1908. 

It was in ideology, however, where Hitler's obsession with infection thrived, becoming the essential Nazi metaphor: Germany was the body, Jews were the parasites. 

Examples are abundant in his speeches and writings:

"How many diseases have their origin in the Jewish virus! We shall regain our health only be eliminating the Jew."

"Anyone who wants to cure this era, which is inwardly sick and rotten, must first of all summon up the courage to make clear the causes of this disease."

"This is the battle against a veritable world sickness which threatens to infect the peoples, a plague that devastates whole peoples...an international pestilence."

"The Jew is a parasite in the body of other nations."

"Germany, without blinking an eyelid, for whole decades admitted these Jews by the hundred thousand. But now... when the nation is no longer willing to be sucked dry by these parasites, on every side one hears nothing but laments."

"If this battle should not come...Germany would decay and at best sink to ruin like a rotting corpse."

Do Hitler's germaphobic tendencies and obsession with the infection metaphor reveal anything about his personality traits? While it's impossible to know for sure, it seems likely that he was highly sensitive to disgust.

Over the past couple of decades, studies have linked disgust sensitivity to numerous dimensions of ideology - immigration, political affiliation, sense of justice. If Hitler ranked high on the disgust scale, there were probably deeply rooted psychological forces lurking underneath his xenophobia and murderous fantasies that research on the behavioral immune system might help bring to light.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Our friends can influence our behaviour more than we think (Michael Sanders, 7/07/19, Journal.ie)

One of the most powerful departures of behavioural economics from "standard" economics is that where standard economics tends to assume that people are individualistic, and out only for their own ends, behavioural economics embraces altruism, reciprocity, conformity, and identity. These are all aspects of our being which influence our behaviour and are inherently social. 

One of the big puzzles for economists was that they failed to foresee the financial crisis, and that even once it was well underway, it took them time to get their heads fully around it.

In part, this was because the recession didn't make any sense. In the UK, the start of the crisis really came with the "run" on Northern Rock - people queueing for hours to get their money out of their bank accounts, bringing about the collapse of the bank. This doesn't make sense, as almost nobody had enough money deposited to actually risk losing anything - the government's financial protections would have prevented it.

But despite this the queues formed, and the longer they got, the faster people rushed to join them. This instinct to conform to the behaviour of others - to follow the herd - isn't something economics could handle.

It's a theme captured in a study by Bruce Sacerdote, who exploited the random assignment of students to their college roommates to see how much you're influenced by your roommate.

The answer, as it turns out, is quite a lot - roommates tended to join the same sorts of societies, have the same hobbies, and even get about the same grades.

If this is striking, it's worth noting that it's probably an underestimate of the true effect our friends have on us. Your real friends, after years of knowing each-other, are able to exert far more influence than a mere change in GPA or a decision to sign up to the creative writing society.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


ICE Used Facial Recognition to Mine State Driver's License Databases (Catie Edmondson, July 7, 2019, NY Times)

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have mined state driver's license databases using facial recognition technology, analyzing millions of motorists' photos without their knowledge.

...that government won't look at government records is, at least, odd.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


The Trump Tariff Twist That's Cost U.S. Steel $5.5 Billion (Matthew Townsend  and Joe Deaux, July 7, 2019, Bloomberg)

Exuberance over the levies dramatically boosted U.S. output just as the global economy was cooling, undercutting demand. That dropped prices, creating a stark divide between companies like Nucor Corp., that use cheaper-to-run electric-arc furnaces to recycle scrap into steel products, and those including U.S. Steel Corp., with more costly legacy blast furnaces.

Since Trump announced the tariffs 16 months ago, U.S. Steel has lost almost 70% of its market value, or $5.5 billion, and idled two American furnaces in mid-June that couldn't be run profitably at the lowest prices since 2016. Meanwhile, Nucor, down around 20%, has touted $2.5 billion in expansion projects.

The president's actions likely "sped up" up an unavoidable "evolution," said Nucor Chief Executive Officer John Ferriola in an interview last month.