URLs du Jour

2018-05-26

[Amazon Link]

  • Proverbs 12:8 sheds no light on the state of current debate. Nor, I would wager, on debate back in Ancient Israel:

    8 A person is praised according to their prudence,
        and one with a warped mind is despised.

    In other words: "We like people who agree with us, and dislike people who don't."


  • I'm currently reading Jonah Goldberg's new book Suicide of the West. One of the more interesting metaphors he employs is that of the "English garden" vs. the "French garden". The French gardener "imposes his vision on nature", generating "ornate, geometric, nature-defying designs". Whereas the English gardener "lets nature take its course", allowing each component to "achieve its own ideal nature".

    The application of this metaphor to political theory is pretty clear.

    Jonah's G-File this week uses a slightly different gardening metaphor: The Hedges of the Garden of Liberty.

    The Constitution is a bit like the blueprint for a hedge maze. It lays out on paper the paths for the travelers who trod through it. But the Constitution itself is not a hedge. Those plants grow from the ground up, rooted in the soil. The blueprint “works” because the hedges do their part. But what if the hedges start to die from lack of care? When big holes in the green walls appear, shortcuts will become all the more tempting. And when the hedges disappear altogether, people will start walking as the crow flies, taking the shortest route to their desired destination.

    The Founders made any number of assumptions about the country that they were imposing their Constitution upon. Among the most significant, however, was that the people themselves were constrained by the requirements of virtue, a fear of shame, and the belief that the fear of an all-knowing, all-seeing God would help regulate the society. These were the hedges of the new garden of liberty that the Founders were constructing.

    What does this have to do with current events? Well, in Jonah's view, the hedges are in dire need of repair, due to our laxity in excusing scandalous behavior, first by the Clintons, now by Trump. See if you don't agree.


  • Or perhaps there's a different problem. It is described at Law & Liberty by Mark Judge: The Donald, Chaos Magician

    Historians are going to be spending decades trying to divine the reasons why Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States. But what about divination itself? That’s the explanation given in a new book by occult historian Gary Lachman. Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump argues that the President and his alt-Right followers used positive thinking, magic, and occult practices to defeat Hillary Clinton.

    The idea is that Trump came to power through the use of “New Thought,” which is a generic name for “a variety of different beliefs, philosophies, and practices that have as their central theme the idea that the mind can influence reality directly, that through mental effort alone we can ‘make things happen,” writes Lachman, a musician and the author of critical studies of Karl Jung, Rudolf Steiner, Madame Blavatsky, and other figures in the Western esoteric tradition.

    Uh, sure. I've made Lachman's book our Amazon Product du Jour, so if anyone out there finds it convincing (Judge thinks the "claim does not make rational sense, and many of the facts contradict it.") let me know.

    Or I might see if I can get it via Interlibrary Loan. Surely some wacky nearby university has ordered it.

    A bit of odd trivia I bounced across: Gary Lachman was the bassist for Blondie back in the 1970s.


  • At NR, Wesley J. Smith reports on the Democratic Attack on Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The RFRA was passed overwhelmingly in 1993, but Democrats are currently dismayed that religious freedom might be construed to apply to Christians. Or at least the ones who dissent from progressive orthodoxy. And so they've proposed the "Do No Harm Act". Smith quotes and analyzes:

    [The wording of the statute] would effectively eliminate the Hobby Lobby decision and allow federal bureaucrats to compel nuns to provide contraception coverage.

    It would also probably destroy existing medical-conscience protections that prevent discrimination against professionals who refuse to participate in abortion, and would likely be deployed in other areas of health care, compelling doctors to perform medical services with which they are religiously opposed.

    Of course, the bill is especially aimed at eliminating religious-rights defenses in LGBT-involved federal cases, and could certainly eliminate crucial shields against government coercion in other areas of public life, such as education.

    And if you're wondering whether my CongressCritter/Toothache Carol Shea-Porter is a co-sponsor, the answer is: of course she is.


  • And you probably noticed the latest dietary news. As reported (by Ronald Bailey at Reason): New Cancer Report Tries To Scare You Out of Eating Sausage and Bacon.

    "No amount of alcohol, sausage or bacon is safe," declares the Daily Mirror. The article is about the latest cancer prevention dietary guidelines from the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), which isn't actually as alarmist as that sentence sounds. The WCRF report estimates that eating the equivalent of two strips of bacon a day would boost your risk of colorectal cancer by 16 percent. Translation: Eating about 38 pounds of bacon a year—or the equivalent weight in sausages and hot dogs—will raise your lifetime risk of colorectal cancer from about 4.5 percent to 5.2 percent for men and from 4.15 percent to 4.8 percent for women.

    To put that "16 percent" in context, Bailey notes that "the risk that persistent cigarette smokers will develop lung during their lifetimes is 1,100 percent greater than the risk that a nonsmoker will."

    Another observation from the article: another cause of cancer is simply living too long. If you don't croak from something else, your cells will eventually come to botch their regeneration and turn cancerous.

    So cheer up and toss a brat on the grill.


  • And I slagged Randall Munroe and his four-year-old misstep into political issues yesterday. But (you may have noticed) a lot of sites announcing privacy-policy changes, and xkcd is no exception.

    [Privacy Policy]

    Mouseover: "By clicking anywhere, scrolling, or closing this notification, you agree to be legally bound by the witch Sycorax within a cloven pine."

    Yes. This is Pun Salad's Privacy Policy as well. Consider it so.