Trump lawyers’ doozy of a filing on voter fraud (Aaron Blake, January 3, 2024, Washington Post)

The report, to put it lightly, is a mess. And that Trump’s legal team would see fit to include it in a filing would not seem to augur well for his defense.

The report begins with a series of astonishing and false claims. “In actuality, there is no evidence Joe Biden won,” its first paragraph concludes. It then recounts how Trump led in key battleground states on election night and maintains that, as of that point, before millions of votes were counted, “the election was over.” But even Trump allies had acknowledged before the election that the expected late arrival of ballots from populous and heavily Democratic areas, as well as mail-in ballots, would create an illusion of an early Trump lead — a “red mirage.” There is nothing suspicious about how those states flipped as time went on.

The introductory paragraph also includes a footnote that says Arizona “was fraudulently called for Joe Biden by Fox News” on election night. A network’s calls on any given race do not determine the election, and Biden won Arizona.

The mental gymnastics required to be MAGA may as well be an Olympic event.


Wound healing affected by perception of time that’s passed (Bronwyn Thompson, January 03, 2024, New Atlas)

For the first time, scientists have been able to establish that our perception of the passing of time can independently influence how a wound will heal. While preliminary, this novel study opens the door to a better understanding of the mind-body connection and its role in healing, pain management and more.

Through at-home self-reporting and controlled laboratory sessions, Harvard University researchers found that the skin inflammation left by a suction cup (used in ‘cupping’ therapy) was noticeably diminished for people who perceived more time had passed since the wound was inflicted – even though the time period remained constant across all groups.


Benjamin Disraeli and the Conservative Response to Change (J Tyler Syck, 1/02/24, American Daily Press)

[I]n the face of rapid industrialization, conservative politicians found themselves facing a difficulty never before encountered.

Conservatives at the time hit upon two different approaches. The first, pioneered by British Prime Minister Robert Peel, was to embrace the brave new post-industrial world wholesale, merely working to implement social change in a slow, moderate fashion. The second, largely a continuation of old-fashioned conservative strategy, was to stand opposed to all change and work to undo industrialization. Disraeli thought both approaches were deeply wrong-headed. Disraeli thought Peel’s approach was hardly different from liberalism. In Coningsby, the most political of his novels, he describes Peel’s brand of conservatism as “an attempt to construct a party without principles.” However, Disraeli thought the old guard of his party was little better. By attempting to stand against the forces of industrialization and stop all change, they were trying the impossible.

Disraeli offered a middle ground between these two approaches. He summarized his view in a speech delivered before a crowded banquet hall in Scotland: “In a progressive country change is a constant; and the great question is not whether you should resist change which is inevitable, but whether that change should be carried out in deference to the manners, the customs, the laws, and the traditions of a people,” which are the real source of human freedom and happiness. In short, Disraeli believed that the job of conservatives was neither to embrace nor to stop change but to work to preserve and adapt those institutions that sustain human flourishing. In practice, this meant a conservatism that provided generous welfare to the poor while at the same time bolstering custom, tradition, law, and religion.


Can the centre hold? From Mandeville’s bees to artificial intelligence (David Howell, 1/03/24, The Article)

Not many people nowadays read Bernard de Mandeville’s allegorical Fable of the Bees, first published in 1705. This described to a shocked world at the time how a large and successful beehive colony stayed bound together and prospered, so long as the bees all pursued their own interests within the law and their relationships one to another, as both individual and essentially social creatures, even if untidily, and with some backsliders. Each creature, by going about its reciprocal business, contributed, even if unintentionally, to the cement of society.

But once they stopped working for themselves and their individual and mutual needs, focussing instead on higher and more perfect state design for general welfare and behaviour, their precious equilibrium was rapidly lost. The framework of society, which no one had planned but in which not only bees but humankind too had always existed, fell apart. Without that glue, a cohesive society, which all the millions of their individual actions had created, crumbled and their relatively stable and balanced society disintegrated into chaos, division, grievance and immiseration.

So things would also turn out, went Mandeville’s thinly disguised message, where in human affairs states spent too much time and effort trying to iron out social blemishes, intervening to insist on virtuous conformity to blueprints of perfection and putting the interests of an increasingly separate and distanced state ahead of people’s daily lives and needs. It would all end badly, if ever it ended at all. […]

Coming from the global to the national level, the societal divisions, like deep flesh wounds, must be held with plaster strips and stitched together, not salted with more tired ideology from a past age and a partisan spectrum of beliefs and aims that now barely connect with the real issues before us. The heart of the matter is not race or gender or class, but reaching with new determination towards a capitalist system that shares, that is democratic, that is fair and spreads dignity and security to millions of households and financial literacy to an entire population, starting in the schools. This was the old dream of the Conservatives. The digital revolution brings a dream of genuinely widened ownership and financial justice to the edge of reality.


The immigration game (Ian Linden, 1/03/23, The Article)

Much of what is popularly believed about immigration – I confess to a measure of gullibility myself – is just plain wrong, misguided or exaggerated. The world is not facing an unprecedented refugee crisis, South-North migration is more a rational economic decision than “a desperate flight from poverty, hunger and conflict”. Immigration’s impact on the wages of indigenous workers is negligible. We need migrant labour. We don’t have enough UK-born trained staff in the NHS, social care and a range of vital occupations. Neither development nor border restrictions will stop migration.

The uncomfortable truth for the Right: “control of your borders” includes the right to admit immigrants past them freely