henry copeland @hc

Creating https://t.co/yaIkIOcF20, an online toolkit the average person can use for personal (n-of-1) experiments. Way back when: Y84, bond trader, journalist.

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Costly food and energy are fostering global unrest | The Economist

The strongest predictor of future instability is past instability, finds a forthcoming paper by Sandile Hlatshwayo and Chris Redl of the imf. Historically, the probability that a country will experience severe social unrest in a given month is only 1%, but this quadruples if it has suffered it within the previous six months and doubles if a neighbouring country has experienced it, they calculate. Protesters are more likely to surge onto the streets if they think others will join them.

How Some Parents Changed Their Politics in the Pandemic - The New York Times

In interviews, 27 parents who called themselves anti-vaccine and anti-mask voters described strikingly similar paths to their new views. They said they had experienced alarm about their children during pandemic quarantines. They pushed to reopen schools and craved normalcy. They became angry, blaming lawmakers for the disruption to their children’s lives. Many congregated in Facebook groups that initially focused on advocating in-person schooling. Those groups soon latched onto other issues, such as anti-mask and anti-vaccine messaging. While some parents left the online groups when schools reopened, others took more extreme positions over time, burrowing into private anti-vaccine channels on messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram. Eventually, some began questioning vaccines for measles and other diseases, where inoculations have long been proven effective. Activists who oppose all vaccines further enticed them by joining online parent groups and posting inaccurate medical studies and falsehoods.

How Some Parents Changed Their Politics in the Pandemic - The New York Times

Ms. Longnecker and her fellow objectors are part of a potentially destabilizing new movement: parents who joined the anti-vaccine and anti-mask cause during the pandemic, narrowing their political beliefs to a single-minded obsession over those issues. Their thinking hardened even as Covid-19 restrictions and mandates were eased and lifted, cementing in some cases into a skepticism of all vaccines. Nearly half of Americans oppose masking and a similar share is against vaccine mandates for schoolchildren, polls show. But what is obscured in those numbers is the intensity with which some parents have embraced these views. While they once described themselves as Republicans or Democrats, they now identify as independents who plan to vote based solely on vaccine policies.

A recession to tame inflation?

So why didn’t the 1970s recessions “cure” inflation? First, each downturn was relatively short-lived. Sudden price spikes cut spending power, but then real incomes bounced back. In today’s context, this is (sort of) good news because it points to a soft patch rather than a deep slump. The second reason the recessions of the 1970s did not alleviate inflation is that workers secured higher wages even as the economy deteriorated. This effectively replaced one source of cost-push inflation (commodities) with another (labour). The whole episode is synonymous with “wage-price spirals”, essentially a power struggle between labour and capital. Productivity declined and society spent the next decade trying to figure out who should bear the burden of this adjustment, until neoliberalism (Thatcherism, Reaganomics, etc.) provided a definitive answer – by crushing worker power. Up to that point, a young militant workforce was able to resist any sustained real-wage squeeze. And, at least for a period in the late 1970s, the private sector borrowed heavily and reduced its saving, which also delayed the moment of pain.

How gut bacteria could boost cancer treatments

Increasingly, research is showing that the gut microbiome can have good or bad effects on the progression of distant tumours, the side effects of treatments and the ability of the immune system to pick off cancer cells. Some research has linked specific bacteria to beneficial effects, which could point to tailored treatments. And scientists are exploring the role of diet and gut-microbe diversity, as well as revealing interactions between the organisms that reside in the gut and those that live in tumours themselves, potentially opening up new targets for treatment.

Russia-Ukraine War: Romania Fears It May Be Next on Putin's Hit List - Bloomberg

As for European allies coming to the rescue, Romanians do not trust France and Germany at all. French President Emmanuel Macron, it is thought, will sacrifice any principle for the sake of making France a middleman between Russia and Ukraine. As for the Germans, they have already built two Nord Stream pipelines for Russian gas. “And what gets built, eventually gets used,” a local analyst told me. It was a refrain I heard from others: When winter comes, and Germany and other parts of Europe suffer heating shortages, that’s when European resolve against Russia will erode.

Prenups Aren’t Just for Rich People Anymore | The New Yorker

Twelve years ago, a poll conducted by Harris Interactive (now Harris Poll) asked more than two thousand adults what they thought of prenups. Three per cent of respondents who were married or engaged reported having signed a prenuptial agreement. Recently, I asked Harris Poll for details about that survey, and the firm offered to pose the question again; this time, fifteen per cent of Americans who were married or engaged reported that they had signed one. According to the poll, nearly forty per cent of married or engaged people between the ages of eighteen and thirty-four have signed prenups, while just thirteen per cent of those between forty-five and fifty-four have done so. For those fifty-five and above, the figure is below five per cent. It’s a single poll, of course, but its findings reflected what I heard from multiple experts: more Americans, particularly younger Americans, are getting prenups. And one likely impetus for this change, according to those experts, is the historic levels of debt that many younger Americans have.

Brain ripples may help bind information across the human cortex: Ubiquitous bursts of brain waves appear to synchronize disparate and distant elements of memory, unifying them upon recollection -- ScienceDaily

The UC San Diego team, led by Halgren, found that ripples also occur in all areas of the human cortex, in waking as well as sleep. The ripples were brief, lasting roughly one-tenth of a second, and had a consistent narrow frequency close to 90 cycles per second. The authors calculated that a typical brief ripple event may involve approximately 5,000 small modules becoming active simultaneously, distributed across the cortical surface. This work is part of the doctoral thesis in neurosciences by first author Charles W. Dickey. "Remarkably, the ripples co-occurred and synchronized across all lobes and between both hemispheres, even at long distances," said Dickey. "Cortical neurons increased firing during ripples, at the ripple rhythm, potentially supporting interaction between distant locations. "There were more co-occurrences preceding successful memory recall. All of which suggests that distributed, cortical co-ripples promote the integration of different elements that may comprise a particular experiential memory."

Mindfulness meditation reduces pain by separating it from the self: UC San Diego study reveals neural circuitry supporting mindfulness-induced pain relief -- ScienceDaily

The study, published July 7, 2022 in PAIN, showed that mindfulness meditation interrupted the communication between brain areas involved in pain sensation and those that produce the sense of self. In the proposed mechanism, pain signals still move from the body to the brain, but the individual does not feel as much ownership over those pain sensations, so their pain and suffering are reduced. "One of the central tenets of mindfulness is the principle that you are not your experiences," said senior author Fadel Zeidan, PhD, associate professor of anesthesiology at UC San Diego School of Medicine. "You train yourself to experience thoughts and sensations without attaching your ego or sense of self to them, and we're now finally seeing how this plays out in the brain during the experience of acute pain."

Adam Tooze, Crisis Historian, Has Some Bad News for Us - The Atlantic

Russia’s foreign-exchange reserves, for instance. One Tooze post examined how accumulating those reserves helped Vladimir Putin turn the country into a “strategic petrostate” bold enough to invade Ukraine and capable of countering Western powers. About 150,000 people, including some in the German chancellor’s office, read the essay. “I thought, Wow, this is worthwhile,” Tooze told me. “For somebody who comes out of an academic publishing background, where you’re lucky if 1,000 people read what you write, the numbers tick up so fast.” On Substack, his output also proved financially rewarding: “For anyone on a regular, white-collar, academic-type salary, it’s transformative.”

New Fed Paper Finds Surging Home Prices Driven by Demand — Not Supply - Bloomberg

“We estimate that a one percentage point increase in the mortgage rate lowers housing demand by 10.4 percent,” the authors write. “This is a larger demand sensitivity to rates than evidence using purely observable housing market variables suggests.”

New Fed Paper Finds Surging Home Prices Driven by Demand — Not Supply - Bloomberg

“Fluctuations in housing demand explain much more of the variation in home sales and price growth than do fluctuations in housing supply,” Elliot Anenberg  and Daniel Ringo, both Fed board economists, write. “Fluctuations in demand explain essentially all of the variation in home sales, and 80% of the variation in prices, between 2002-2021.”

Does Hungary Offer a Glimpse of Our Authoritarian Future? | The New Yorker

Lauren Stokes, the Northwestern historian, is a leftist with her own radical critiques of liberalism; nonetheless, she, too, thinks that the right-wing post-liberals are playing with fire. “By hitching themselves to someone who has put himself forward as a post-liberal intellectual, I think American conservatives are starting to give themselves permission to discard liberal norms,” Stokes told me. “When a Hungarian court does something Orbán doesn’t like—something too pro-queer, too pro-immigrant—he can just say, ‘This court is an enemy of the people, I don’t have to listen to it.’ I think Republicans are setting themselves up to adopt a similar logic: if the system gives me a result I don’t like, I don’t have to abide by it.”

Does Hungary Offer a Glimpse of Our Authoritarian Future? | The New Yorker

Representation in Hungary has grown less proportional in recent years, thanks to gerrymandering and other tweaks to the electoral rules. In April, Fidesz got fifty-four per cent of the vote but won eighty-three per cent of the districts. “At that level of malapportionment, you’d be hard pressed to find a good-faith political scientist who would call that country a true democracy,” Drutman told me. “The trends in the U.S. are going very quickly in the same direction. It’s completely possible that the Republican Party could control the House, the Senate, and the White House in 2025, despite losing the popular vote in every case. Is that a democracy?”

Does Hungary Offer a Glimpse of Our Authoritarian Future? | The New Yorker

Carlson told Dreher that he had already thought about visiting, but that he’d been encountering some bureaucratic hurdles with the Hungarian Embassy. A few days later, Dreher met Balázs Orbán—not related to Viktor, but one of his closest advisers. (Many Hungarians I spoke to described him as a sort of Karl Rove figure.) “I tried to convince Balázs that Tucker was somebody who could be trusted,” Dreher recalled. He offered personal assurances that, on the big questions, Tucker and Orbán were in alignment. By the summer, the red tape had cleared. (Carlson declined to comment.)

Does Hungary Offer a Glimpse of Our Authoritarian Future? | The New Yorker

The system that Orbán has built during the past twelve years, a combination of freedom and subjugation not exactly like that of any other government in the world, could be called Goulash Authoritarianism. Scheppele contends that Orbán has pulled this off not by breaking laws but by ingeniously manipulating them, in what she calls a “constitutional coup.” She added, “He’s very smart and methodical. First, he changes the laws to give himself permission to do what he wants, and then he does it.”

Does Hungary Offer a Glimpse of Our Authoritarian Future? | The New Yorker

He enlisted Arthur Finkelstein, a political consultant from Brooklyn who had worked to elect Jesse Helms, Strom Thurmond, and Ronald Reagan, among others. “Try to polarize the election around that issue which cuts best in your direction, i.e., drugs, crime, race,” Finkelstein wrote in a 1970 memo to the Nixon White House. In 1996, Finkelstein put this principle to work on behalf of Benjamin Netanyahu, a candidate for Prime Minister of Israel who was then about twenty points down in the polls, and who started alleging that his opponent, Shimon Peres, planned to divide Jerusalem. This was a lie, but it stuck, and Netanyahu won. In 2008, Netanyahu introduced Finkelstein to his friend Orbán; Finkelstein became so indispensable that Orbán reportedly came to refer to him, dotingly, as Finkie. One of Finkelstein’s protégés later told the Swiss journalist Hannes Grassegger, “Arthur always said that you did not fight against the Nazis but against Adolf Hitler.” Orbán had been running against globalism, multiculturalism, bureaucracy in Brussels. These were abstractions. By 2013, Finkelstein had an epiphany: the face of the enemy should be George Soros.

Does Hungary Offer a Glimpse of Our Authoritarian Future? | The New Yorker

“If these people think the extreme left is hijacking American society in dangerous ways, then, yes, I agree,” the conservative writer Andrew Sullivan told me. “But to go from that to ‘Let’s embrace this authoritarian leader in this backwater European country, and maybe try out a version of that model with our own charismatic leader back home’—I mean, that leap is just weird, and frankly stupid.”

Does Hungary Offer a Glimpse of Our Authoritarian Future? | The New Yorker

ou do not have to have emergency powers or a military coup for democracy to wither,” Aziz Huq, a constitutional-law professor at the University of Chicago, told me. “Most recent cases of backsliding, Hungary being a classic example, have occurred through legal means.” Orbán runs for reëlection every four years. In theory, there is a chance that he could lose. In practice, he has so thoroughly rigged the system that his grip on power is virtually assured. The political-science term for this is “competitive authoritarianism.” Most scholarly books about democratic backsliding (“The New Despotism,” “Democracy Rules,” “How Democracies Die”) cite Hungary, along with Brazil and Turkey, as countries that were consolidated democracies, for a while, before they started turning back the clock.

Does Hungary Offer a Glimpse of Our Authoritarian Future? | The New Yorker

The lights came up, and Szánthó walked to the lectern, waving stiffly. “Hungary has fought wars, suffered unthinkable oppression, to gain and regain our liberty,” he said. In the current war, he went on, the enemy was “woke totalitarianism,” personified by George Soros (he paused for boos); the hero was “one of the true champions of liberty, a man you know well, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán” (a generous round of applause). He praised “President Trump” and tried to initiate a cheer of “Let’s go Brandon,” a substitute for “Fuck Joe Biden” used by right-wing culture warriors who spend too much time on the Internet. He quoted the old chestnut “Hard times create strong men,” although, the way he said it, it sounded like “strongmen.” And he invited the audience to join him at the next CPAC conference, the first to be hosted on European soil: CPAC Hungary.

Does Hungary Offer a Glimpse of Our Authoritarian Future? | The New Yorker

That afternoon, on the CPAC main stage, Dan Schneider, the executive director of the American Conservative Union, singled out Orbán for praise: “If you cannot protect your own borders, if you cannot protect your own sovereignty, none of the other rights can be protected. That’s what the Prime Minister of Hungary understands.” The house lights dimmed and a sort of political trailer played, set to melodramatic music. “For over a millennium, to be Hungarian meant to sail the rough seas of history,” a narrator intoned over a horror-movie-style montage: Mongol invaders, migrant caravans, a glowering George Soros, drag-queen story time.

Scent of a friend: Similarities in body odor may contribute to social bonding: An electronic nose relying on body odor chemistry may predict whether we are likely to 'click' with a stranger -- ScienceDaily

ilar to their own. To test her hypothesis, Ravreby recruited pairs of click friends: same-sex nonromantic friends whose friendships had originally formed very rapidly. She hypothesized that because such friendships emerge prior to an in-depth acquaintance, they may be particularly influenced by physiological traits such as body odor. She then collected body odor samples from these click friends and conducted two sets of experiments to compare the samples with those collected from random pairs of individuals. In one set of experiments, she performed the comparison using the eNose, which assessed the chemical signatures of the odors. In the other, she asked volunteers to smell the two groups of body odor samples in order to assess similarities measured by human perception. In both types of experiments, click friends were found to smell significantly more like each other than did the individuals in the random pairs.

Jerry Saltz: My Appetites

At least, that’s how I see it. But I know that with food, as with everything else, I have acquired only partial self-knowledge. At different times, I think of myself as a glutton and an ascetic. I can see myself as a person of endless appetites and curiosity, who can imagine going everywhere and seeing everything and eating anything. But I can also straight-facedly say I have no interest in food or any kind of social life other than a monkish one. Barack Obama has talked about narrowing down his clothing — suits of one or two colors — so he didn’t have to think about anything when getting dressed. I get that — doing everything you can to open up time and space in your life for the things you really love. (Bernie Madoff, actually, got dressed the same way.) For me, that thing is looking at art and writing about it. Everything else feels like a wind blowing dead leaves away.

The Hysterical Style in American Academe

ducation is, as the philosopher Henry Bugbee tells it, “more fundamentally the task of placement within the fullness of historical time — so that it may become the time of our lives — than it is in adjustment simply in contemporaneous relationship to the things around us.” That is, reading, thinking, and studying are not simply in the service of conforming to the current arrangement of the world, but of developing a long view of human nature that allows us to consider more seriously what might be good as such for human beings, both individually and in community, thereby deepening our sense of what we might mean, for instance, by words like “justice.” This should be especially true for those devoted to the study of human things: philosophy, literature, history, languages, and so on.

‘Barry’: Bill Hader on “Disturbing” Season 3 Finale, What’s Next – The Hollywood Reporter

It’s interesting, comedy in general. I showed my kids Naked Gun, and we were dying laughing. I haven’t seen a movie like that for a long time. Actually, I take that back: Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar was really funny, hysterical. But so much of what’s funny, and where people are getting their comedy buzzes from: YouTube, in reality, in life. What used to be, “Oh, my God, you gotta go see this new Naked Gun movie,” is now, “Watch this five-second clip of a guy falling off a Segway.” (Laughs.) I remember being at SNL, and we would watch news bloopers, or whatever thing someone would send you, and you would go, “We can never be this funny.” When I was a kid, you would take your video camera around, and you would do things you saw in movies. Now it’s, “Here’s my YouTube channel.” It’s just different, but I don’t bemoan it. I just think things evolve. I love reading about Old Hollywood and the advent of television and how that flipped everybody out. The conversation of “Movies are dead, and comedy is fucked” has been going on forever.

Binge drinking raises risk of developing alcohol problems, even for moderate drinkers -- ScienceDaily

After analyzing a national sample of US adults, UT Austin psychology professor Charles Holahan, PhD, and his collaborators found that moderate average drinkers with a pattern of binge drinking were almost five times more likely to experience multiple alcohol problems and were twice as likely to experience more alcohol problems nine years later. Moderate drinking is defined as having on average no more than one drink a day for women and two for men. Binge drinking is defined as consuming five or more drinks on the same occasion. "What this means," said Dr. Holahan, "is that an individual whose total consumption is seven drinks on Saturday night presents a greater risk profile than someone whose total consumption is a daily drink with dinner, even though their average drinking level is the same."