<2011 “Some physicists of a conservative kidney, like Freeman Dyson, are reasonably content with this division of labor. Let the Standard Model handle the small stuff (atoms on down), they say, and general relativity handle the massive stuff (stars on up).”—New York Times, 7 October>
Having appeared in the New York Times, I assumed that the phrase, although possibly not common, would not be that difficult to find in the literature. But after a fairly exhaustive search, I was unable to come up with a single listing or discussion. And the quotes I found were a precious few. However, it is not difficult from the context to guess what the expression means. Here's my take:
CONSERVATIVE KIDNEY: A conservative attitude, outlook, bent, point of view, stance.
But why kidney? I have no idea. We know of associations with bodily organs such as the brain, heart, spleen, gallbladder, and, and . . . can’t think of any others offhand. But the kidney’s?
Anyone have any familiarity with this expression or ideas of why the kidney has been singled out here.
The following are the only four quotes I was able to find and it wasn’t for want of trying:
_____________________<1931 “New England's taste and preference is for men of a solid and conservative kidney, very often of learning and scholarship.”—The Yankee’s Place in the Sun by O. McKee, Jr. in The North American Review, Vol. 231, No. 5, May>
<1976 “As a decidedly Rooseveltian Democrat, actors of conservative kidney at the time looked on me with scant warmth. John Wayne didn’t like me at all, and I didn’t approve of him . . .”— Cagney by Cagney by James Cagney>
<1986 “. . . a judiciary committee chaired by either Sen. Edward Kennedy . . . or Sen. Joseph R. Biden . . . will make it extremely difficult for Mr. Reagan to get Supreme Court nominees of the conservative kidney of Antonin Scalia through the senate.”—Observer-Reporter (Washington, Pennsylvania), 14 November, page 4>
<1999 “In short, most are traditionalists and being of a conservative kidney they simply do not like what has been happening to their game.”—Daily Mail (London), 13 October>
Ken G – October 8, 2011