“Distrust of Government” is Bad for You, Claims Study

Ach! This is just a speculation not based in the evidence. In my usual pesky way I have looked at the underlying journal article and the study had NO data on political orientation.

There is clearly a significant connection between unvaccinated Canadians and a high rate of traffic accidents but what the mechanism is nobody knows. A good range of demographics was examined but nothing there was informative

I think the connection is in fact obvious. You have to be a real scofflaw to remain unvaccinated in authoritarian Canada so those who defy one law might well defy others, including traffic law. And defying traffic laws is likely to be dangerous. We are looking mainly at chronic scofflaws, would be my speculation.

And despite my own record of demon-driving, I am pretty sure that most conservatives are law-abiding drivers. Fitting in with the existing systtem is what conservatives do.

“One possibility relates to a distrust of government or belief in freedom that contributes to both vaccination preferences and increased traffic risks,” say the authors of COVID Vaccine Hesitancy and Risk of a Traffic Crash, published by the American Journal of Medicine but authored by a trio in Canada.

Donald A. Redelmeier, MD FRCPC MSHSR, FACP, works in “evaluative clinical sciences” at the Sunnybrook Research Institute in Toronto. Jonathan Wang, MMASc, is with the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) and the department of medicine at the University of Toronto. Deva Thiruchelvam, MSc, is also with the ICES and the Sunnybrook Institute in Toronto. The trio tested whether COVID vaccination was associated with the risks of a traffic crash.

A total of 11,270,763 individuals were included, of whom 16 percent had not received a COVID vaccine and 84 percent had received a COVID vaccine. The cohort accounted for 6682 traffic crashes. Unvaccinated individuals accounted for 1682 traffic crashes (25 percent), equal to a 72 percent increased relative risk compared with those vaccinated.

“These data suggest that COVID vaccine hesitancy is associated with significant increased risks of a traffic crash,” the authors contend. On the other hand, “distrust of government or belief in freedom,” is another possibility, along with “antipathy toward regulation” exposure to misinformation, insufficient resources, or other personal beliefs.

“Alternative factors” include “political identity” and “social networks that lead to misgivings around public health guidelines.” These and other factors “remain topics for more research.”

The authors don’t specify the political identity that could be a problem or define what constitutes “misinformation.” The study mentions the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which do not prevent infection or transmission of COVID and can cause harmful side effects. The study could use a discussion of how that reality contributes to “vaccine hesitancy.” In a similar style, the authors show little interest in how governments’ coercive promotion of ineffective vaccines contributes to “distrust of government.”

No word of specific test results from those excessively trustful of government, those believing in dictatorship or totalitarianism, or people worshipful of government regulation. Without conducting further research, those dangerous believers in freedom could easily conclude that this study is junk science.


Assisted suicide in Canada

I have mixed feelings about this. As a libertarian, I think any individual is entitled to commit suicide if they want that and anything done to help people get what they want is benign. And depression can be very painful so I understand people wanting to end their suffering.

I have had depressed times -- mostly connected with relationship breakdowns and illness -- so I know how it feels. I have of course thought about suicide at such times but have been deterred from it by a certainty that there will be better times ahead. I know that life delivers ups and downs and I have mostly had long "ups". I am still enjoying my life as much as ever even though I am now in my 80th year.

But some people can be in situations from which no betterment can reasonably be expected and I think it is simple mercy to help them to get what they want.

When governments get involved, however, precautions should be taken to ensure that no coercion is involved. Putting some delay in front of assisted suicide is also common sense. Depressive feelings do often pass with time

But Canada does seem to be ENCOURAGING suicide and that is oboxious -- but not unexpected from the Leftist culture of death. Communism has shown that Leftists can destroy millions without a second thought

Remember when the idea that government-run health care could lead to “death panels” was scoffed at as absurd?

Well, the absurd is coming closer to reality as Canada—which has a universal, publicly funded health care system—extends medical assistance in dying (MAiD) laws to include a wider variety of conditions.

Since Canada passed its law in 2016, more than 30,000 people have died as a result, and those numbers are accelerating.

MAiD is set to expand in March and will then allow people with mental illness to seek medically assisted death, too. It’s not just going to be the sick and the poor being eliminated, but those who are depressed. How progressive.

In Nazi Germany, they might have called these people “undesirables” or some other mean, nasty epithet before exterminating them. But in liberal, tolerant, modern Canada, they are above such sordid terminology.

Under the current law, only Canadians over 18 years of age are eligible. However, the Canadian government has put together a commission to study whether it should be extended to “mature minors,” who could be allowed to seek euthanasia without parental consent.

There is no set definition of what exactly a “mature minor” is, but presumably it would be for Canadians under the current age threshold.

Given the speed at which the law is expanding, it’s hard to see that option for minors not being on the table in the near future. What we are talking about isn’t really a slippery slope at this point, it’s a free fall to perdition. Certainly, it wouldn’t be the first time a medically assisted death program in an “advanced” country rapidly expanded to a point many would consider unimaginable when it began.

What makes the societal sanction of assisted-suicide laws particularly disturbing is how they are wound up with the government and its collective incentives.

While assisted-suicide laws have generally been sold as a means to empower individual choice, in reality it’s almost impossible to separate that choice from the interests of society. That’s especially the case when there is massive government involvement in medical care and cost.

A few stories from Canada in the past few years highlight the problem.

In 2017, the Canadian Medical Association Journal estimated that medically assisted death could save the government between $34.7 million and $136.8 million per year. One assumes that expanding the law could provide even more “savings” of this nature.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported the story in a way that made it sound like it was discussing the cost of a new highway or infrastructure project, not something with immense ethical implications.

Somehow, it gets even worse.

In 2020, the Ottawa Citizen reported that medically assisted death provided a “boon” to organ donation.

“In the first 11 months of 2019, MAiD patients in the province accounted for 18 organ [donors] and 95 tissue donors, a [14%] increase over 2018 and a [109%] increase over 2017,” the Ottawa Citizen reported.

It seems there are many in the managerial health-expert class who desperately want to normalize the idea that perhaps society should find ways to simply get rid of the sick and old (and harvest their organs for the healthy and useful). They look at the financial numbers and see that a stretched health care system—where aging societies and plunging birthrates are accelerating the problem—would really benefit if some people were taken off the books.

Right now, the Canadian system is in the aggressive promotion phase, where “offing” the old, the sick, the poor, and the mentally ill is advertised as humane and compassionate. But it’s already moving toward the next phase in the process, where suicide is the initial option given to patients by doctors and medical institutions looking to save money.

It’s like going from “do no harm” to “take this pill, and begone.”

For instance, a 52-year-old retired corporal who had competed in the 2016 Paralympics for Canada was provided a medically assisted suicide kit when she requested a wheelchair lift for her home. The incident prompted the Canadian government to review and change its protocols, but is there any doubt that this will become a more frequent occurrence?

And given the trend, it doesn’t seem at all unthinkable that in the future—especially when governments that bear most of the cost of health care and medically assisted death is normalized—government agencies will offer suicide as the only option for patients with various ailments.

This exposes one of the biggest problems with “socialized” medicine and why many Americans fear it, especially in a time of radicalized government agencies. Not only could government agencies work ruthlessly to cut costs, promoting policies that even Nazi Germany tried to hide from its people, but they could make financial decisions based on ideology.

Who is worthy of care, and who is deserving of life or death? These decisions will increasingly be made by woke institutions.

This is all to say that the increasing government approval of medically assisted death is leading Western societies into dangerous, morally repugnant territory. Massive government involvement makes it an even thornier issue.

Canada’s fast track to universal euthanasia is a warning to America, where medically assisted suicide is still limited to 10 states and the District of Columbia. For that, we should be thankful for federalism.

In the meantime, however, we must do what we can to promote a culture of life.


Climate sensitivity, agricultural productivity and the social cost of carbon in FUND

I have reproduced below only the concluding section of the academic journal article, as the careful statistics would be impenetrable to most readers here. Basically, the article is a complex "proof" of the statement that the likely benfits of global warming outweigh the costs. Global warming is good for us!

By Kevin D. Dayaratna, Ross McKitrick & Patrick J. Michaels
Environmental Economics and Policy Studies volume 22, pages 433–448 (2020

Discussion: IAMs as if–then statements

IAMs cannot provide a single, canonical social cost of carbon. As Weyant (2017) notes, they are best thought of as elaborate “if–then” statements. Researchers must decide on their preferred premises, and the IAMs provide the implied SCC range. As shown herein, user judgment is unavoidable, and a researcher prescribing an SCC for policy purposes must be able to defend the “if” statements that give rise to it.

It is already well known that if the appropriate discount rate is 5% or higher, then the SCC will be relatively small compared to 2.5% or 3% cases. We do not propose to resolve herein the ethical arguments over time preference; instead, we note that once climate sensitivity is changed to an empirically constrained distribution, the choice of discount rate matters a lot less.

While some studies have considered ranges of ECS values, the IAM literature as a whole has been wedded to climate model-based distributions with modal values around 3 °C and thick upper tails extending above 6 °C. However, there is now a substantial climatological literature showing that distributions with modal values below 2 °C and small upper tails match historical (post-1850) data better. The debate over which distribution best describes the real climate system must ultimately be resolved within the climatology literature, but economists need to be aware that it exists and the outcome has significant ramifications for SCC estimates. If ECS values like those estimated in Lewis and Curry (2018) turn out to be approximately correct, then the FUND model indicates that CO2 is for all practical purposes not a negative global externality through mid-century. Even if we consider possible catastrophic tipping points, the possibility of reaching such a threshold any time in the next 1000 years diminishes substantially.

IAM practitioners should therefore study the empirically constrained ECS estimates rather than relying exclusively on model-derived distributions. Kiehl (2007) noted the puzzle that climate models can differ in their implied ECS by a factor of 3 yet all fit the historical surface temperature record equally well. One of the compensating parameterizations emphasized by Lewis and Curry (2018) is aerosol cooling: a model with high ECS paired with strong aerosol cooling fits the surface trend as well as one with low ECS and weak aerosol cooling. The Lewis and Curry (2018) empirical ECS distribution is conditioned on the IPCC’s updated estimates of observed historical aerosol forcing, lending it increased credibility. Specifically, the IPCC’s preferred estimate of aerosol forcing (cooling) has declined over time, which leads to a lower preferred ECS estimate in empirical energy balance models. The methodology of Christy and McNider (2017) provides an independent and model-free check on this approach. Also, while climate models with high ECS values can be made to fit the surface warming trend, they have shown demonstrably excess warming elsewhere, especially in the troposphere over the tropics (Fu et al. 2011; McKitrick and Christy 2018). We therefore believe that the LC18 results in Table 2 are more credible than the ones conditioned on the Roe–Baker distribution.

Another if–then statement concerns CO2 fertilization of agriculture. If adding CO2 to the air has no effect on plant growth, then the assumption in DICE and PAGE that the effect is non-existent is appropriate. However, there is overwhelming evidence that CO2 increases do have a beneficial effect on plant growth, so models that fail to take these benefits into account overstate the SCC. Indeed, the initial studies on which the FUND parameterizations were based cautioned against ignoring this line of benefit (Kane et al. 1992; Tsigas et al. 1997). The recent literature on global greening and the response of agricultural crops to enhanced CO2 availability suggests that the productivity boost is likely stronger than that parameterized in FUND. If the effect is 30% stronger, and if the Lewis and Curry ECS distribution is valid, then the mean social cost of carbon is negative even at discount rates as low as 2.5% at least through mid-century.

Australian scientists could have found the ‘masterswitch’ to kill cancer

As I have benefited greatly from immunotherapy, I am pleased to hear of another imunotherapy advance. Specific substances are needed to energize attacks on specific types of cell. Keytruda worked like a charm on my SCCs

Queensland medical researchers are on the brink of a staggering breakthrough that sees palpable tumours completely melting away, offering hope to sufferers of two of the deadliest types of cancers.

QIMR Berghofer scientists have potentially found the “masterswitch” that turns on the immune system to target disease in patients with triple-negative breast cancer and the most common form of bowel cancer, Micro Satellite Stable (MSS) bowel cancer.

The remarkable research findings could finally provide hope for a new, effective therapy but funding is desperately needed to progress the exciting preclinical results into clinical trials.

Associate Professor Michelle Wykes, group leader of Molecular Immunology at QIMR Berghofer, discovered the potential “masterswitch” that turns on a key type of immune cell called dendritic cells while researching immune responses to malaria.

Dendritic cells act like the generals of the immune system waking up other immune cells such as T cells and telling them what to attack and the weapons to use. However, cancer cells are very good at hiding from the immune system. In preclinical testing, the “masterswitch” antibodies make the cancers visible again, so the dendritic cells can go back to work and ‘organise’ the T cells to kill the cancer.

Associate Professor Wykes said further testing of the “masterswitch” antibodies on cancer patient blood samples produced similar results to the testing in preclinical lab work.

“We’re seeing palpable tumours that completely disappear and melt away. In our preclinical lab models, 80 per cent of both the triple negative breast cancers and colon cancers were cleared and hadn’t grown back after ten months. We’re seeing similar results from our tests on samples taken from patients with colon cancer,” she said.

“These patients urgently need help and I have something that I think could really help them, but we need funding to bring us together with a treatment. We’re appealing to the generosity of Australians this Christmas to help us advance this vital research and bring hope to patients and their loved ones,” Assoc Prof Wykes said.

Brisbane mum Justine Dillon was at peak physical fitness when she was diagnosed with highly aggressive stage four bowel cancer and given 18 months to live.

The researchers are working with clinicians at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital who collected samples from patients for the researchers to test in the laboratory.


Princeton must face its legacy of educating climate deniers

I am not sure that the agonized cry (below) from two climate activists is worth noting here but some of my fellow climate realists have noted it so I thought I should say something about it.

The Daily Princetonian is a student newspaper so is expected to be unscholarly but this particular rag is well-produced and apparently attracts some attention.

But its unscholarly nature is manifest nonetheless. The authors take the Torquemada-like approach of making clear that they have the unquestionable truth and heretics need only to be attacked, not taken seriously.

So they speak as if global warming were a revealed religion that needs no defence. Not the slightest attempt to show why the global warming critics are wrong is attempted. "Climate" has become a new religion in possession of unquestionable revealed truth.

Like all religion, however it has its competitors. The religion that seems to be getting all the press today is trangenderism, with rather frightful penalties sometimes imposed on doubters. The climate warriors are in other words now rather old hat, a bit like the Episcopalians, so I think the latest sermon will bore unbelievers and do nothing more

“Princeton will have the most significant impact on the climate crisis through the scholarship we generate and the people we educate,” University President Christopher L. Eisgruber ’83 was quoted as saying in Princeton’s announcement that the school would divest from 90 fossil fuel companies.

Over the past decade, Eisgruber has repeated versions of this sentiment many times to discredit divestment activists and justify Princeton’s refusal to disentangle itself from the fossil fuel industry.

It’s true that the University goes out of its way to position itself as a climate leader; indeed, Princeton has educated many who have contributed to the scientific consensus on the climate crisis and are fighting for a liveable planet. But if the University wants to rest its climate legacy on those alumni that have fought for the climate, we also have to reckon with the alumni that have advanced climate denial.

We have already written about the relationship the University has with family foundations determined to thwart climate action, including the Bradleys, Scaifes, and Davises. Though we do not know the extent of the Tiger Dark Money web, we know that there are high-profile Princeton alumni whose careers have undermined climate policy since the 1970s, including through these foundations. However, there’s more to the picture. Three people who bear responsibility for the planet being set to surpass 1.5 degrees are Fred Singer GS ’48, Frederick Seitz GS ’34, and William Happer GS ’64, all graduate school alumni of Princeton. Despite being born decades apart, their paths intersected, and together, they helped bring us to this point of existential crisis.

Singer and Seitz are identified by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway in their book, “Merchants of Doubt,” as two of the most influential and effective climate deniers in the world. Singer undermined the Kyoto Protocol and its ratification by the U.S., effectively setting back American climate policy by decades. He also worked closely with the Heartland Institute, a conservative, industry-funded think tank, publishing reports that were sent to teachers and continue to circulate widely, misleading enough to create a new generation of climate crisis deniers. One of Singer’s works, “Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate,” had a foreword written by Seitz.

Seitz founded the George C. Marshall Institute in 1984 to defend President Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” initiative but a few years later, his focus shifted to climate change denial. In addition to being funded by the fossil fuel industry, the Institute took money from the tobacco industry to deny the dangers of smoking. Despite Seitz having been president of the influential and prestigious National Academy of Sciences (NAS), NAS published a clarification to unequivocally disavow Seitz’s climate denial, stating that the notorious Oregon petition, which Seitz helped organize, deliberately attempted to undermine support for the Kyoto Protocol. The George C. Marshall Institute closed in 2015 and was replaced by the CO2 Coalition, co-founded by Happer.

Happer, a Princeton alum and professor, has made a career out of climate denial. He was director of the Office of Energy Research under President George H.W. Bush. From 1987 to 1990 he served as Chairman of JASON, a group of scientists who advise the government on energy policy issues. Most recently, he served on President Donald Trump’s National Security Council to block efforts to curb global warming and ensure the United States left the Paris Agreement. In 2015, as Seitz’s George C. Marshall Institute folded, Happer co-founded the CO2 Coalition to take over its work and “advocate for carbon dioxide.” With a Princeton banner behind him, Happer said on CNN in 2017, “There’s this myth that’s developed around carbon dioxide that it’s a pollutant, but you and I both exhale carbon dioxide with every breath.”

To understand the power of Happer’s work in blocking climate action, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito ’72 promoted Happer’s disinformation in another 2017 speech, stating, “Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. Carbon dioxide is not harmful to ordinary things, to human beings, or to animals, or to plants. It’s actually needed for plant growth. All of us are exhaling carbon dioxide right now. So, if it’s a pollutant, we’re all polluting.”

In 2015, employees at Greenpeace — an environmentalist group that uses “non-violent creative action” — posed as representatives of a Middle Eastern Oil Company and had Happer agree to write a paper espousing the benefits of oil and gas and downplaying the impacts of CO2 emissions. Happer agreed to write the paper as a professor emeritus at Princeton without disclosing the source of funding. He advised the undercover employees that the paper would not pass peer review and so proposed alternative publishing options. Happer remains a Professor Emeritus at Princeton University, allowing him to continue to use his professional title.

Happer, Seitz, and Singer are not just the products of a Princeton education; they have actively taken advantage of their associations with Princeton, using its name and prestige to open doors, grab headlines, mislead the public, and grant legitimacy to their climate denial claims. For years, they intentionally discredited serious climate scientists and prevented climate action, helping put us on the pathway to today’s existential global crisis.

If Princeton wants to trumpet its alumni and faculty who champion climate solutions, then it must also reckon with the loss and damage caused by its own alumni and faculty.


Is exercise good for you?

The study below concludes that it is. That is rather surprising. Past studies have concluded that there is little lifespan advantage from lifestyle changes.

But this study has large holes. For a start, does lots of excercise cause you to live longer or do people with good survival genes exercise more? There were of course no controls for genetic factors

And were the advantages one poeople who had aleways excercised a lor or were they people who had just taken it up? That could be a big difference with significant implications. Taking up excercise late in life might not help you

Estimated Number of Deaths Prevented Through Increased Physical Activity Among US Adults

Previous studies suggest that a substantial number of deaths could be prevented annually by increasing population levels of physical activity.1-3 However, previous estimates have relied on convenience samples,2,3 used self-reported physical activity data,1-3 and assumed relatively large increases in activity levels (eg, more than 30 minutes per day).1-3 The potential public health benefit of changing daily physical activity by a manageable amount is not yet known. In this study, we used accelerometer measurements (1) to examine the association of physical activity and mortality in a population-based sample of US adults and (2) to estimate the number of deaths prevented annually with modest increases in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity intensity (MVPA).

This cohort study was approved by the National Center for Health Statistics Ethics Review Board. This study used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), and written informed consent was obtained for all NHANES participants. The study followed the Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) reporting guideline.

The NHANES is a representative survey of the US civilian, noninstitutionalized population, including oversampling for non-Hispanic Black participants and Mexican American participants. Race and ethnicity was determined by self-report and classified using preferred terminology from the National Center for Health Statistics as Mexican American, non-Hispanic Black, non-Hispanic White, or other. Race and ethnicity was included in this study to better characterize the US population. In 2003 to 2006, NHANES participants aged 6 years or older were asked to wear an accelerometer for 7 days. For this study, we evaluated 4840 of 6355 adults aged 40 to 85 years or older with accelerometer data. The remaining 1515 individuals were excluded because they were not eligible or refused to participate in the monitoring protocol (853 [13%]), had monitors that malfunctioned or lost calibration (360 [6%]), or had no valid days with monitor data (302 [5%]). Mortality follow-up was completed via National Death Index linkage through December 31, 2015. We estimated MVPA by summing accelerometer minutes at or above an established cutpoint4 and creating 8 physical activity categories (0-19, 20-39, 40-59, 60-79, 80-99, 100-119, 120-139, or ?140 minutes per day).

The number of deaths per year prevented with increased physical activity was estimated as the adjusted population attributable fraction (PAF)5 multiplied by the US population annual number of deaths for 2003 (for individuals aged 40-84 years). To calculate the PAFs, we used population prevalence estimates and hazard ratios adjusted for age, sex, race and ethnicity, education level, body mass index (calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared), diet, alcohol use, smoking status, and self-reported chronic conditions, mobility limitations, and general health. Hazard ratios were estimated using Cox proportional hazard regression models, and the proportional hazards assumption was confirmed for our main exposure (ie, MVPA). Counterfactuals for increased activity were set to 10, 20, and 30 minutes per day higher than participants’ observed values. Those classified as frail6 or who required equipment to walk were assumed to be unable to increase their activity (eMethods in the Supplement); when PAFs were calculated, physical activity levels for these participants were held constant. Data were analyzed with SAS version 9.4 (SAS Institute Inc), accounting for the NHANES complex sample design.

This analysis included 4840 participants. Of these, 2435 (53%) were women, 993 (10.4%) were non-Hispanic Black, and 887 (5.1%) were Mexican American (Table). A total of 1165 deaths occurred during a mean (SEM) follow-up of 10.1 (0.1) years.

Adjusted hazard ratios changed from 0.69 to 0.28 across increasing activity categories (vs 0-19 minutes per day). Hazard ratios used to generate the PAFs for the 8 activity categories were as follows: 1.00 (reference) for 0 to 19 (548 [7.9%]), 0.69 (95% CI, 0.55-0.85) for 20 to 39 (616 [10.0%]), 0.51 (95% CI, 0.42-0.63) for 40 to 59 (635 [11.8%]), 0.40 (95% CI, 0.29-0.55) for 60 to 79 (614 [12.7%]), 0.34 (95% CI, 0.25-0.47) for 80-99 (633 [14.4%]), 0.32 (95% CI, 0.21-0.48) for 100 to 119 (508 [12.1%]), 0.30 (95% CI, 0.19-0.48) for 120-139 (384 [9.3%]), and 0.28 (95% CI, 0.18-0.42) for 140 or more (902 [21.7%]) minutes per day. The number of participants with frailty or needing special equipment was 280 (49.4%) for 0 to 19, 164 (26.3%) for 20 to 39, 94 (12.4%) for 40 to 59, 66 (9.5%) for 60 to 79, 42 (5.1%) for 80 to 99, 31 (4.7%) for 100 to 119, 20 (2.9%) for 120 to 139, and 35 (2.7%) for 140 or more minutes per day.

Increasing MVPA by 10, 20, or 30 minutes per day was associated with a 6.9%, 13.0%, and 16.9% decrease in the number of deaths per year, respectively. Adding 10 minutes per day of physical activity resulted in an estimated 111 174 preventable deaths per year (95% CI, 79 594-142 754), with greater benefits associated with the addition of more physical activity (209 459 preventable deaths [95% CI, 146 299-272 619] for 20 minutes and 272 297 preventable deaths [95% CI, 177 557-367 037] for 30 minutes) (Figure).

The PAFs indicate that the addition of 10 minutes per day of MVPA was associated with the prevention of 8.0% (95% CI, 6.0-10.0) of total deaths per year among men, 5.9% (95% CI, 2.0-9.8) among women, 4.8% (95% CI, 0.0-10.7) among Mexican American individuals, 6.1% (95% CI, 2.2-10.0) among non-Hispanic Black individuals, and 7.3% (95% CI, 5.3-9.3) among non-Hispanic White individuals.

In this cohort study, we estimated that approximately 110 000 deaths per year could be prevented if US adults aged 40 to 85 years or older increased their MVPA by a small amount (ie, 10 minutes per day). Similar benefits were observed for men and women and for Mexican American, non-Hispanic Black, and non-Hispanic White adults. To our knowledge, this is the first study to estimate the number of preventable deaths through physical activity using accelerometer-based measurements among US adults while recognizing that increasing activity may not be possible for everyone. However, 1 week of monitoring may not reflect changes in activity over time, and the observational study design limits the direct determination of causality.

These findings support implementing evidence-based strategies to improve physical activity for adults and potentially reduce deaths in the US.

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2788473 ?


The Separation of Church And Christmas

The article below is well-motivated and devout but it is theologically naive. Both Sunday (the day of the sun) and Christmas were originally pagan celebrations so one more or less is surely trivial in a Christian life. And we should note Paul's advice in Romans 14:

"One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord"

So specific days do not matter. Only your attitude to the Lord matters. So a devout pastor might well transfer his Sabbath observances to Saturdays when Sunday is inconvenient. A holy Saturday has at least as much scriptural warrant as Sunday

Christmas is a bit tricky for Christians this year. Because of the cyclical nature of the Georgian calendar, Christmas Day will fall on a Sunday. In response to this periodic quirk, many churches are canceling weekly worship services because of Christmas.

This is not satire. The New York Times reports that, according to a survey by Lifeway Research, only 61 percent of nondenominational evangelical pastors will conduct church services on Christmas Day.

The Times article quotes Lutheran Pastor Laura Bostrom saying, “For me, there was a theological decision but also a practical decision,” in deciding not to conduct worship services on Christmas.

Bostrom recalled that very few people attended Sunday services on December 25, 2016, the last time Christmas fell on a Sunday. According to the Times, it didn’t seem right to her “to get home at 9:30 and have everyone wake up and say we have to do this again for such low attendance.”

The Times also quotes StoneBridge Christian Church Executive Pastor Mitch Chitwood, who told the newspaper, “We have to meet people where they are. And where they are on Christmas Day is usually at home in their pajamas.”

Nothing in the Bible instructs us to celebrate Christmas on December 25 (or any day at all for that matter), but that is what Christians have done for nearly 1,700 years. In contrast, we have been called to gather and observe the Sabbath, which is Sunday in Christendom, for roughly 3,500 years.

The net net is that this year, an alarming number of Protestant ministers are consciously forsaking the Lord’s Day, prescribed by God when he gave Moses the 10 Commandments, because they fear low attendance. Is it just me or does this sound nuts?

Christianity in America faces plenty of threats, most coming from the political Left, and ideologues who despise God and the people who worship him. But this particular threat - canceling worship services because Christmas happens to fall on a Sunday - is coming from the Protestant clergy itself.

This year, Christmas Eve services will be held on Saturday night, and church pews will be filled with people holding tiny candles and singing Silent Night, wanting to experience this connection with the Christian faith. But on Sunday, Christmas Day, many people will want to spend their morning opening presents, precluding their attendance at Sunday worship services.

This is unsurprising. People go to church when they want to go to church, and the fact that they go at all is a good thing. But pastors have a higher calling which presumably includes leading their congregation in abiding by God’s commandments and millennia of biblical instruction. Since when did we start cancelling church just because of low attendance on a particular Sunday?

I’ve been going to church long enough to know that attendance ebbs and flows. It typically dips around Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day and other holidays that entice people to take long weekends away from home.

As a boy growing up in rural Minnesota, I remember church attendance dropping off a bit when the Vikings were playing an early game on the road against an NFL rival on the east coast. The opening of deer season was also cause for decreased church attendance. In spite of these distractions, we still had church on Sunday.

Church ministers have a difficult job. It’s not easy being shepherd to a flock of Christians, and parishioners need a lot of pastoral care so they’re never really off the clock. This includes preparing for Sunday services, which is labor intensive for a lot of churches. Whether they be small mission churches that share a physical space for services or mega-churches with sophisticated audio/video systems and thousands of chairs, it’s hard work.

But if there is one duty above all that pastors are called to do, it is to conduct Sunday worship services. Of course there are legitimate reasons to cancel church; blizzards, ice storms and natural disasters can and do result in church closures from time to time. Arbitrary government edicts also closed a lot of churches during the COVID pandemic.

Local pastors aren’t responsible for the appetites of power hungry politicians any more than they are responsible for the weather or the rhythm of the calendar. But they are responsible for how they react to such events. Canceling worship services because Christmas falls on a Sunday drips with irony and must surely delight critics of Christianity. They are laughing at us because a subset of Christian ministers is doing their work for them.

Christmas won’t fall on a Sunday again until 2033. Over the next 11 years, more churches may come to realize the importance of conducting Sunday worship despite the fact that it coincides with celebrating the birth of Christ. They might if enough people have this conversation with their pastors.


Should treatment for blood clots be routine in some Covid patients?

My heading above is a plain English version of the first academic heading below. Blood clots can do a lot of harm so are a serious problem. But they can be treated with considerable success by blood thinners such as Warfarin. But Warfarin has its problems too. It can cause bleeding. So, obviously, you use it only when it is clearly needed.

And the BIG question is whether you should use it for prevention. Should you give it to a patient BEFORE they get any symptoms?

Nobody is saying that you should give thinners to ALL Covid patients so the question is whether you should give it to high-risk patients? If so, how do you identify the patients most likely to suffer from blood clots?

So you can see that there is a real problem there. The study from Oxford University below tries to solve that puzzle

And there are some categories of patient who usually ARE high risk. We can identifty some patients as being at risk. So how great does the risk have to be before you give a patient thinners? The article below tries to answer that and concludes that there are some cases that should get preventive treatment.

But the problem is a difficult one so I reproduce below the Abstract from the original Oxford article plus two further comments on it.

A crude summary of the findings is that fat old guys should be given thinners. I am old and a bit overweight so if ever I get Covid, I should probably be given a low dose of thinners

Clinical and Genetic Risk Factors for Acute Incident Venous Thromboembolism in Ambulatory Patients With COVID-19

JunQing Xie et al.

Key Points

Question What is the 30-day acute risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) among ambulatory patients with COVID-19, and what are the clinical and genetic risk factors predisposing them to developing post–COVID-19 VTE?

Findings In this retrospective cohort study of 18 818 outpatients with COVID-19 and 93 179 propensity score–matched noninfected participants, a higher VTE incidence was observed in the former (hazard ratio, 21.42); however, this risk was considerably attenuated among the fully vaccinated, after breakthrough infection. Older age, male sex, obesity, no vaccination or partial vaccination, and inherited thrombophilia were independent risk factors for COVID-19–associated VTE.

Meaning The results of this study suggest that ambulatory patients with COVID-19, either vaccinated or not, present a clinically relevant increased risk of incident VTE during the acute phase, with the risk pronounced by factors of older age, male sex, obesity, incomplete vaccination, and factor V Leiden thrombophilia.


Importance The risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) in ambulatory COVID-19 is controversial. In addition, the association of vaccination with COVID-19–related VTE and relevant clinical and genetic risk factors remain to be elucidated.

Objective To quantify the association between ambulatory COVID-19 and short-term risk of VTE, study the potential protective role of vaccination, and investigate clinical and genetic risk factors for post–COVID-19 VTE.

Design, Setting, and Participants This population-based cohort study of patients with COVID-19 from UK Biobank included participants with SARS-CoV-2 infection that was confirmed by a positive polymerase chain test reaction result between March 1, 2020, and September 3, 2021, who were then propensity score matched to COVID-19–naive people during the same period. Participants with a history of VTE who used antithrombotic drugs (1 year before index dates) or tested positive in hospital were excluded.

Exposures First infection with SARS-CoV-2, age, sex, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, obesity, vaccination status, and inherited thrombophilia.

Main Outcomes and Measures The primary outcome was a composite VTE, including deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism, which occurred 30 days after the infection. Hazard ratios (HRs) with 95% CIs were calculated using cause-specific Cox models.

Results In 18 818 outpatients with COVID-19 (10 580 women [56.2%]; mean [SD] age, 64.3 [8.0] years) and 93 179 matched uninfected participants (52 177 women [56.0%]; mean [SD] age, 64.3 [7.9] years), the infection was associated with an increased risk of VTE in 30 days (incidence rate of 50.99 and 2.37 per 1000 person-years for infected and uninfected people, respectively; HR, 21.42; 95% CI, 12.63-36.31). However, risk was substantially attenuated among the fully vaccinated (HR, 5.95; 95% CI, 1.82-19.5; interaction P = .02). In patients with COVID-19, older age, male sex, and obesity were independently associated with higher risk, with adjusted HRs of 1.87 (95% CI, 1.50-2.33) per 10 years, 1.69 (95% CI, 1.30-2.19), and 1.83 (95% CI, 1.28-2.61), respectively. Further, inherited thrombophilia was associated with an HR of 2.05 (95% CI, 1.15-3.66) for post–COVID-19 VTE.

Conclusions and Relevance In this population-based cohort study of patients with COVID-19, ambulatory COVID-19 was associated with a substantially increased risk of incident VTE, but this risk was greatly reduced in fully vaccinated people with breakthrough infection. Older age, male sex, and obesity were clinical risk factors for post–COVID-19 VTE; factor V Leiden thrombophilia was additionally associated with double the risk, comparable with the risk of 10-year aging. These findings may reinforce the need for vaccination, inform VTE risk stratification, and call for targeted VTE prophylaxis strategies for unvaccinated outpatients with COVID-19.


Is There a Role for Thromboprophylaxis in Selected Outpatients With COVID-19?

Anastasios Kollias et al.

Mr Xie and colleagues1 provide important information on an understudied topic: incident venous thromboembolism (VTE) in outpatients with COVID-19. The findings of their study are commendable and provide useful conclusions. First, COVID-19 was associated with increased VTE risk, even in the outpatient setting given that a higher VTE incidence was shown among 18 818 outpatients with COVID-19 compared with 93 179 propensity score matched, noninfected participants. Second, patients with specific characteristics (older age, male sex, obesity, no/partial vaccination, and inherited thrombophilia) had higher VTE risk. Third, the VTE risk was high for up to 30 days after diagnosis. These findings are highly important and may advance case management and treatment for outpatients with COVID-19.

At present, the available data are generally against the routine use of pharmacologic thromboprophylaxis in outpatients with COVID-19.2,3 Moreover, current guidelines do not provide specific recommendations.4 However, it is common sense that selected outpatients with VTE risk factors are therefore at higher risk for disease worsening and would benefit from thromboprophylaxis on an individualized basis and after careful assessment of bleeding risk. Indeed, data show that major adverse events tend to occur early in patients hospitalized with COVID-19 who have a high-risk profile; prompt thromboprophylaxis would benefit these patients.5

The study by Mr Xie and colleagues was performed during a period when only 41% of patients with COVID-19 had been fully vaccinated; a percentage that has increased worldwide. Thus, it would be interesting to study VTE risk factors separately among the fully vaccinated group—despite VTE events having been infrequent. Moreover, apart from the patient risk factors, the disease characteristics may play a role. Symptoms that indicate disease activity or severity, ie, the duration of the fever, could be contributing to an increased VTE risk in selected patients. In addition, SARS-CoV-2 variants may exhibit a different risk regarding VTE. If these data are available, they would make for another interesting study.

Although thromboprophylaxis among outpatients with COVID-19 is not generally recommended, the data and findings derived from studies, such as this one by Mr Xie and colleagues,1 show that selected outpatients carry an increased VTE risk. On the other hand, widespread immunization, as well as the availability of the antiviral therapies, may be substantially reducing VTE risk. Whether thromboprophylaxis would benefit high-risk outpatients with COVID-19 is unclear, but it seems reasonable to conclude that an individualized strategy would improve their prognosis.


Is There a Role for Thromboprophylaxis in Selected Outpatients With COVID-19? — Reply

Junqing Xie et al.

In Reply In our recent research article regarding clinical and genetic determinants associated with venous thromboembolism (VTE) among community-dwelling patients with COVID-19,1 we reported a marked increase of 30-day VTE and identified older age, male sex, obesity, no or partial vaccination, and inherited thrombophilia as key risk factors. We appreciate the insightful comments from Prof Kollias and colleagues and their support of our call for targeted VTE thromboprophylaxis for outpatients with COVID-19.

Hospitalization is the recommended indicator for initiating antithrombotic therapy for patients with COVID-19. However, we argue that the likelihood of post−COVID-19 VTE should be conceptually seen as a continuum, with some outpatients treated for COVID-19 at an even higher risk of VTE than some hospitalized patients. Also, given that VTE hazard peaks substantially and shortly after SARS-COV-2 infection,2 individuals with COVID-19 would likely benefit from earlier interventions for primary prophylaxis. Our study1 identified several independent risk factors that can be used to stratify patients with different risk profiles for post−COVID-19 VTE. We should highlight that although existing trials (eg, ETHIC, ACTIV-4B) did not generally support routine pharmacologic thromboprophylaxis for outpatients with COVID-19, the results should be interpreted as inconclusive given the great statistical uncertainty and underrepresentation of older patients, and consequently, the low event rates. Therefore, the results do not preclude the use of thromboprophylaxis in selected outpatient subpopulations, particularly among those with a high baseline risk of VTE.3 Further trials targeting high-risk infected outpatients and more real-world studies with larger sample sizes and longer follow-up are warranted to supplement the existing evidence.4

Admittedly, the net benefits of antithrombotic therapy should always be weighed against potential harms5—eg, for those at high risk of VTE, risk of bleeding should be considered when prescribing antithrombotic therapy.6 Of note, genetic risk owing to monogenic thrombophilia or polygenic risk score, as evidenced in our study,1 was exclusively associated with venous but not arterial thromboembolism, which may be promising for identifying individuals susceptible to VTE but resistant to bleeding. Finally, we agree with the proposal from Prof Kollias and colleagues to investigate whether the risk factors persist in fully vaccinated people and what potential value disease symptoms may have for VTE prediction. However, our available data are insufficient for answering this question given the limited sample size: only 6 VTE events among the breakthrough infection cohort.

As the number of COVID-19 outpatient cases continues to increase, personalized prophylactic anticoagulation in this large population may prevent a substantial number of individuals with COVID-19 from developing severe thrombotic complications that require hospitalization and/or intensive care. The clinical and genetic risk factors identified by our study should inform the identification of participants for new research to bridge the knowledge gaps on the risk vs benefit of pharmacologic thromboprophylaxis.



image from https://img-s-msn-com.akamaized.net/tenant/amp/entityid/AA140wgs.img

A discussion below describes sapiosexuality in rather categorical terms but it would probably be better decribed as a matter of degree. But the article is nonetheless useful as a survey of the idea. Basically, a sapiosexual finds intelligence attractive, often attractive enough to cause the sapiosexual to overlook other failings in an intelligent person.

I suspect that most sapiosexuals are themelves pretty bright. That would make it just another instance of the general rule that people get on best with people like themselves.

But there is a particular case where sapiosexuality might emerge very strongly: in intelligent women. No woman wants her partner to be dumber than herself and, in the traditional order of things, may in fact prefer him to be MORE intelligent than herself.

Men, however, are different. There is something of a tendency for men to like less intelligent women. Many men don't like their women to be too smart. They feel better equipped to get their way if they can outsmart the woman.

And things other than intelligence can matter when an intelligent man makes a mate choice. A very common example of that is when a man chooses a partner on the basis of her good looks rather than on her general competence.

So the supply of intelligent men that intelligent women can latch onto will often be quite limited. Potential mates will have been spirited away by a set of D-cup boobs, for instance.

So when an intelligent woman DOES find herself a potential mate who is high in intelligence, she will be very glad of that. Having found such a rarity she will often pair up with him regardless of other inadequacies in him. She will be very forgiving of his faults.

I believe that I am a lifelong beneficiary of that phenomenon. I DO greatly appreciate and seek intelligence in a partner and am myself very bright so I have often been what intelligent women were seeking. My looks were never better than average and I have often been not at all considerate of the woman in my life but I have nonetheless had many much appreciated relationships with intelligent women. I have been forgiven much, rather to my embarrassment in retrospect.

How it seems to work is that on teaming up with me, women become aware of a much wider world about them and they very much want to hang onto that awareness. So they tolerate or work around my deficits in other respects

My present partner and I are a perhaps extreme example of sapiosexuality. We are wildly inappropriate for one another in a number of important ways but our shared high IQ has created a strong bond between us

What is sapiosexuality, and why is it so controversial?

Sapiosexuals are described as people who are physically, emotionally, romantically, and relationally attracted by intelligence. They find intelligence to be the most important and erotic trait, and value it more than a potential partner's physical appearance, status, emotional connection, and even personality.

It’s a relatively new term

Sapiosexuality is a relatively new addition to the sexuality lexicon, and though there were whispers of the word online prior, Merriam Webster reports that the first recorded use was in 2004.

The signs of being a sapiosexual

Before we get into the controversy of it, first let's look at what sapiosexuality is said to look like. The following are common traits typically associated with sapiosexuals in relationships.

Their relationships start slow

Oftentimes it's expected that sapiosexuals don't jump into romance right away. Rather, relationships tend to start out as friendships, giving them the time to really understand the person. In other words, it's not an immediate attraction based upon looks.

They might seem less sexual

Sapiosexuals tend to prefer discussing things like books and movies on first dates rather than trying to get into bed as fast as possible. Intellectual discussions can sometimes be more erotically rewarding than physical touch.

Intellectual discussion is necessary for sex

Most sapiosexuals reportedly can't feel comfortable enough to connect with someone sexually unless they've had an intellectual discussion. In other words, talking about politics could very well count as foreplay! Sex and relationship therapist Casey Tanner told MBG: "Intellectual connection may be considered far more effective foreplay than even physical touch."

They avoid small talk

Unchallenging, frivolous chatter does not bode well with sapiosexuals, and if the conversation starts to go that way they'll often ask harder questions to get people to think about things one might usually not. They supposedly prefer to unearth insights rather than merely pass the time.

They want to be challenged

As long as they are mentally aroused, sapiosexuals won't care so much about what you wear or how much money you earn.

They're also drawn to emotional intelligence

While intelligence is a focus of sapiosexuals, it also involves emotional intelligence. That means they can also be drawn to people who show compassion, empathy, and humility.

Not to be confused with demisexuality

Often, sapiosexuality is confused with demisexuality—an orientation characterized by only experiencing sexual attraction to someone after making an emotional connection with them. For sapiosexuals, intellectual spark is more important than emotional connection, and in fact the connection must be intellectual before they can begin to experience sexual attraction.

They are great at communication

Text or email conversations are especially great with sapiosexuals, who supposedly tend to be very articulate. Witty banter is considered a turn-on, and their feelings are typically always made clear.

They can lose romantic interest after a disagreement

While some couples can agree to disagree, many sapiosexuals will lose romantic interest in someone if they don't find their interlocutor's political, philosophical, or spiritual arguments valid.

They're attentive to thought processes

Sapiosexuals tend to analyze not only the information being shared, but the process of getting to that information—and the more sophisticated, the better.

They prefer deep, long-lasting friendships

Sapiosexuals are said to be great friends, as they value growing and learning with people over a fleeting good time.

The Mark Ronson drama

In 2019, famed music producer Mark Ronson said he identified as sapiosexual on 'Good Morning Britain,' and stirred quite a bit of controversy after the host declared, “So you're coming out as sapiosexual, congratulations!” The media interpreted the moment as Ronson's intentional coming out moment, as if he were staking claim to a marginalized community who needed to “come out.”

He apologized

In a subsequent interview with Rolling Stone, he clarified, “I do not consider myself part of any marginalized community. I apologize if anybody misunderstood or took offense to it." He continued: "It sounds like I went on a TV show to be like, 'Guys, I have some big news!' And the fact that I would go on and sort of declare myself—like as a heterosexual white male—part of any marginalized community was terrifying to me, or just embarrassing.

What really happened

Ronson was asked about sapiosexuality on 'Good Morning Britain' after an earlier segment had focused on it. He admitted that he didn't know much about it, and the hosts explained it as "when you're attracted to intelligence," leading Ronson to think, "That sounds great. Of course, who wouldn't be?" The hosts then capitalized on that to create his “coming out” moment.

How was Ronson's understanding wrong?

Gender and sexuality educator Eli A Scriver, founder of 'Pillowtalk,' a queer-inclusive column and radio show, clarified to InStyle that sapiosexuality is not just the attraction to intelligence, but rather it's being more attracted to intelligence than other traits, including sense of humor, family-orientedness, or empathy, for example.

Sapiosexuality is still quite common

Dating site OkCupid has allowed users to add sapiosexual to their dating profile since 2014, and reported in 2017 that 0.5% of their users identify as sapiosexual, though InStyle accurately notes that people actively trying to find mates cannot be representative of a general population. Still, self-identifying sapiosexuals are increasingly around us!


'Irreversibly damaged': Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus announces abolition of the AAT

This is very sus. No instances of bad decisions were quoted. It sounds like Albanese wants jobs for Labor cronies. Stand by for decisions that really are biased

UPDATE: Malcolm Smith writes:

I used to work as my department's advocate before the AAT between 1998 and 2008, and its abolition was mooted even then. It has nothing to do with the previous government's appointees, and everything to do with the fact that the members are a law unto themselves, and irresponsible.

Details here

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said the former government made dozens of politicised appointments to the AAT in its time in office, and that he would end the "cronyism".

"By appointing 85 former Liberal MPs, failed Liberal candidates, former Liberal staffers and other close Liberal associates, without any merit-based selection process … the former government fatally compromised the AAT," Mr Dreyfus said. "Australians rightly expect honesty, integrity and accountability in government."

A new review body will be established in the new year, and already-appointed tribunal members will be invited to continue with it.

For almost 50 years the AAT was tasked with reviewing the decisions of government, including on matters of taxation, immigration and social security. Appointments to the AAT were made by the government of the day for terms of up to seven years, though members could be re-appointed.

Mr Dreyfus said the new body would have a merit-based process for appointing tribunal members, after he accused the former government of sometimes appointing members to review issues such as taxation despite having no expertise in the area.

"The AAT's dysfunction has had a very real cost to the tens of thousands of people who rely on the AAT each year to independently review government decisions that have major and sometimes life-changing impacts on their lives," Mr Dreyfus said.

"Decisions such as whether an older Australian receives an age pension, whether a veteran is compensated for a service injury or whether a participant in the NDIS receives funding for an essential report."

Shadow Attorney-General Julian Leeser said the government's abolition of the AAT made it less accountable to the public. "This government is all about settling political scores," Mr Leeser said.

"I don't buy Mr Dreyfus's spin there will be a new system up and running almost immediately and that nothing will fall through the cracks. It just won't happen."

Politicised appointments reportedly spiked under Morrison
Accusations of politicised appointments have been levelled at former governments of all stripes, though progressive think tank The Australia Institute found a significant rise in what it deemed political appointments after the Coalition won office in 2013.

The think tank found around 5 per cent of AAT appointments under the Howard, Rudd and Gillard governments had been made to people with political connections, but that jumped to more than one-third of appointments under the Morrison government.

Government unnecessarily extends jobs ahead of election
Plum jobs worth up to $500,000 a year were extended to Liberal Party-linked individuals by the Morrison government in the lead-up to the election, and many were not due to end for another two years.

It also found a quarter of senior AAT members who were political appointments had no legal qualifications.

Plum jobs that paid as much as $500,000 were sometimes offered to people in the dying days of government before a federal election.

Former NSW state Liberal minister Pru Goward, former WA Liberal minister Michael Mischin, and Mr Morrison's former chief of staff Anne Duffield were among those appointed to the AAT in the final days of the Morrison government.

Bill Browne, The Australia Institute's democracy and accountability director, said reform was urgently needed.

"Whatever body replaces the AAT must be robust and independent, and that means the AAT’s replacement must be carefully designed with an open and transparent appointment process that ensures only qualified, independent members are appointed," Mr Browne said.

Australian Lawyers Alliance spokesman Greg Barns SC welcomed the AAT's abolition. "Mr Dreyfus has the chance to create a new, impartial and fully independent tribunal that deals with thousands of cases each year involving Centrelink issues, tax issues and military compensation, to name some of the areas," he said. "Today is a win for the rule of law."

Justice Susan Kenney has been appointed as the acting president of the AAT to guide its transition to the new system.

Mr Dreyfus said the new review body would be given 75 additional staff to help clear backlogs, at a cost of $63.4 million.

He said legislation to establish the body would be introduced next year, though likely not until the second half of the year.


Football Australia takes action against Victory as pitch invaders identified

Nobody is mentioning this but I suspect that there were ethnic rivalries behind this riot. Some Melbourne clubs do have a substantial fan base of people from the former Yugoslavia and the manager of Melbourne Victory is Tony Popovic, which is a Balkan surname. So was one side of this riot principally Croatians? Those of us who know Croatians will think of the Ustasha

UPDATE: My guess was right. Below see a photo of one of the rioters released by the police. The slogan on his shirt is in Cyrillic

Melbourne Victory have been hit with a 'show cause' notice by Football Australia after fans invaded the pitch on Saturday night and assaulted Melbourne City goalkeeper Tom Glover. The Victory are facing the prospect of a points deduction and playing games behind closed doors after the atrocious scenes.

The match was abandoned after spectators stormed the field and attacked Glover after he tossed a flare into the stands that had found its way onto the field. Glover was left with a cut on his face after being hit with a metal bucket, while referee Alex King and a Network 10 cameraman were also injured in the chaos.

It came after a week of outrage in Australian football after the men's and women's A-League grand finals were sold to Sydney for the next three years. Fans were expected to stage protests and walk-outs at last weekend's games, but not invade the pitch and turn violent.

On Monday, Football Australia officially slapped the Victory with a show cause notice. FA gave the club until 9am AEDT on Wednesday to show why they "should not face serious sanctions for bringing the game into disrepute through the conduct of its supporters".

FA said the possible sanctions could include "financial penalties, loss of competition points and/or playing matches behind closed doors, or on neutral territory". FA chief executive James Johnson said in a statement: "As we made clear on Saturday evening following the abandonment of the match, we will move quickly to properly investigate this matter and where appropriate, issue the strongest possible sanctions to the club and individuals involved. The show cause notice following our initial investigations is the next step in the process and will allow us to gather more crucial information."

The pitch invaders appear likely to receive lifetime bans. As of Sunday, two men had been identified after coming forward to police.


In Oregon, the Death Penalty Is Dealt a Fatal Blow

In my article on penology, I am on record as NOT advocating the death penalty for crime. But I do that for pragmatic rather than moral reasons.

Hanging murderers is perfectly in line with the old Hebrew moral system of "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot". As Exodus 21:12 plainly says: "He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death". So there are good scriptural reasons for Christians to suppport the death penalty in some circumstances.

I do not personally argue for that system, however. I have written a lot on moral philosophy but I do not propose to enter into such issues here.

No. I think there is a strong pragmatic reason to avoid the death penalty: Miscarriages of justice. There have by now been very many cases of people who have been found guilty of serious offences being later exonerated -- even despite confessions -- and then liberated. But you cannot liberate an executed person. So executing offenders is simply unsafe and may itself be a great injustice.

I would like to see murderers hang but we cannot identify murderers with enough certainty for that. So they must live. Locking them up indefinitely is the only reasonable way to advance community safety. So I reluctantly have to agree with Governor Brown

The decision by Governor Kate Brown of Oregon, in her final days in office, to commute the death sentence of all 17 inmates on the state’s death row has brought into focus the sui generis role of the chief executive — both state and federal — in shaping the criminal justice system.

On the federal level, the power to pardon — a cousin of commutation — is found in Article II of the Constitution, where the president is granted the “Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.” Other than those barriers, the chief executive’s power to wipe away federal crimes is unlimited.

The ability of governors to extend clemency — meaning commutations and pardons for state crimes — is modeled on this assignment of power to the executive. Oregon’s state constitution grants to the governor the ability to offer “reprieves, commutations and pardons.”

The lives of those 17 will now unfold in prison, with no possibility of parole. Ms. Brown labeled execution by the state an “irreversible punishment that does not allow for correction” and is “wasteful of taxpayer dollars.” It has never, she asserted, “been administered fairly and equitably.”

Ms. Brown’s commutations are the latest move in the Beaver State’s push against the death penalty. That effort began with a 2011 moratorium against the ultimate punishment by the then governor, John Kitzhaber. It continued with a 2019 amendment to the death penalty statute that tightended its scope.

Oregonians adopted the death penalty in 1864, five years after America admitted the territory into the Union as the thirty-third state. It was repealed in 1914, then brought back in 1920. It has executed 60 people since 1904, the last in 1997.

In 2021 Oregon’s state supreme court found that the application of the death penalty in the case of a man convicted of a crime that was subsequently recategorized as “non-capital” violated the prohibition on “disproportionate punishments” in the state constitution, a version of the national parchment’s Eighth Amendment.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, 24 states are prepared to hand down a capital sentence, while 23 have banned the practice. Three states, including Oregon, exist in the twilight zone of a moratorium enforced by the governor.

The United States Supreme Court, in a 1972 case, Furman v. Georgia, held that existing death penalty laws violated the Eight Amendment because they were discriminatory and disproportionately burdened minority communities.

That position was clawed back four years later in Gregg v. Georgia, which held that the death penalty was not per se unconstitutional and upheld processes developed in Georgia that minimized the possibility for the arbitrary application of capital punishment.

In the 1977 case of Coker v. Georgia, the Supreme Court held that the death penalty must be proportional to the crime committed, so that it could not be administered in a case when the victim lived, no matter how horrific the offense — in the case of Coker, the rape of a child.

This week a state district court judge in Texas, Lela Mays, recommended that the death sentence against a Jewish inmate, Randy Halprin, who was part of a group that shot a prison guard while on the lam from jail, be tossed out.

The petition arrived via the writ of habeas corpus, and was granted because of antisemitism on the part of the judge who oversaw the conviction, Vickers Cunningham. The district attorney who prosecuted the case admitted that Judge Cunningham “harbored actual bias” against Mr. Halprin.


The defence against the Brittany Higgins damages claim was muzzled

The government was determined to pay her, presumably to set the matter to rest. Once again, justice had nothing to do with it. It was feminist concerns that mattered

The Albanese government muzzled former Liberal minister Linda Reynolds in her defence against Brittany Higgins’ multimillion-dollar lawsuit, threatening to tear up an agreement to pay her legal fees and any costs awarded unless she agreed not to attend a mediation.

Ms Higgins reached a confidential settlement with the commonwealth, believed to be worth up to $3m, at the mediation on Tuesday over the former staffer’s claims she was not supported by Senator Reynolds or Liberal Party frontbencher Michaelia Cash after the alleged sexual assault by Bruce Lehrmann in Parliament House.

Senator Reynolds is understood to have been determined to defend herself against Ms Higgins’ allegations but in correspondence obtained by The Australian, the commonwealth’s lawyers told her she could not take part in the mediation.

Senator Reynolds was therefore unable to dispute any of Ms Higgins’ allegations about a failure to support her or properly investigate the incident, some of which were contested at Mr Lehrmann’s trial.

Senator Reynolds gave evidence that Ms Higgins told her during a meeting on April 1, 2019, that she had been very drunk and woke in a state of distress after the incident on March 23, 2019, but did not say she had been sexually assaulted.

Senator Reynolds’ then chief of staff, Fiona Brown, said Ms Higgins told her during a meeting on March 28 – five days after the alleged rape – that she remembered “him (Lehrmann) being on top of me” and on April 1 was offered support and encouraged to speak with police.

Senator Cash told the trial she first learnt of an incident in Oct­ober 2019 but Ms Higgins disclosed the matter related to an alleged assault only on February 5, 2021.

Mr Lehrmann pleaded not guilty in the trial, which was later aborted because of juror misconduct. He has repeatedly stated his innocence.

The Australian understands Senator Cash was also sent a letter muzzling her and instructing her not to attend the mediation in return for her legal fees being paid by the commonwealth.

Neither Senator Reynolds nor Senator Cash was asked for evidence that contested Ms Higgins’ claims.

The taxpayer-funded settlement was revealed by Ms Higgins’ lawyers in a late-night statement on Tuesday apparently designed to minimise media coverage.

Legal sources have expressed astonishment that such a complex and expensive settlement was resolved in a single sitting.

Senator Reynolds said she was unable to comment on the matter. “I did not participate in the mediation and I have not been informed by the department of the outcome,” she said.

Her lawyers, Clayton Utz, in a letter dated December 9, 2022, accused the government of seeking to hamper her ability to defend herself against Ms Higgins’ claims and of not meeting Legal Services Directions.

“We find it difficult to see how, without any further particularisation of the causes of action that Ms Higgins seeks to rely on and any evidence in support of the same, the commonwealth could possibly be satisfied of the criteria for settlement on the basis of legal principle and practice and ‘a meaningful prospect of liability being established’ in accordance with those directions,” they said.

Clayton Utz partner Ashley Tsacalos noted a provision in the Legal Services Directions that “settlement is not to be effected merely because of the cost of defending what is a spurious claim” and must be on the basis of written advice from the Australian Government Solicitor “that the settlement is in accordance with legal principle and practice”.

It is not known whether the AGS provided such advice.

The commonwealth’s lawyers had also demanded they take control of Senator Reynolds’ defence – even though the commonwealth had previously claimed it was unable to provide legal advice or act for her, forcing her to employ her own legal team.

Dr Tsacalos questioned whether Anthony Albanese, ­Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus or Finance Minister Katie Gallagher had the power to impose conditions under the parliamentary regulations “in circumstances where all have previously made public statements supporting Ms Higgins and her version of events”.

Under the Parliamentary Business Resources Regulations, they were all “involved” in the matter, according to Dr Tsacalos.

He quoted numerous examples from Hansard, including Mr Dreyfus, when opposition legal affairs spokesman, directly citing Ms Higgins’ statement “I was raped inside Parliament House by a colleague and for so long it felt like the people around me did not care what happened because of what it might mean for them”.

The parliamentary regulations forbid such conflicts of interest by those making decisions on legal assistance, he said.

Similarly, Mr Dreyfus ought not to make any decision about controlling the conduct of Senator Reynolds’ defence, Dr Tsacalos said.

“Such decisions and involvement have a direct impact on Senator Reynolds’ ability to mount a proper defence,” he said.

The other potential “approving ministers” to grant legal aid under the parliamentary regulations – the Prime Minister and Ms Gallagher – were equally involved in the case. Ms Gallagher was central in pursuing the saga against the former Morrison ­government when in opposition.

“Considering the consistent and public position taken by the Prime Minister and other senior members of his government on the claims made by Ms Higgins, it may be impossible to find a minister in the federal government who had not taken a similar position and, therefore, who ought not make any decision … to control the conduct of Senator Reynolds’ defence,” Dr Tsacalos said.

On Monday, Mr Albanese declined to answer questions from the ABC’s Patricia Karvelas about whether it was a conflict of interest for Ms Gallagher to sign off on a settlement, given her earlier engagement on the issue and whether she should recuse herself from any involvement in it.


Will Secular Conservatives Have Conservative Grandchildren?

Surprising though it might be, the research shows that political orientation is under strong genetic influence -- so the story below may be too pessimistic. As much as 50% of the variance in political ideology is explained by genetics, with other infuences being very small

Something that Dennis Prager seems to overlook below is that the Leftism of youth tends to fade over time. Many of today's young Leftists will end up as consevatives. Both Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan started out as liberals

AS a general rule, influences from the environment (such as a college education) fade out over the lifespan. By age 30, genetic influences will normally rule.

Secular conservatives have done, and continue to do, great work on behalf of America, liberty and conservatism in general.

But they will not likely have conservative grandchildren -- and many will not have conservative children.

I know this because I speak with hundreds of conservatives a year in person and on the radio.

I routinely ask these people these questions:

"How many children do you have?"

After they give me a number, I ask:

"With regard to their holding your conservative values, what's your batting average?"

On some occasions the answer is "I'm batting a thousand," but that is the rarest response. Usually, conservative parents have at least one child who has become a leftist -- not a liberal, mind you, but a leftist.

To be completely honest, though less common, this is often also true of religious conservatives. Many religious parents have seen at least one child not only reject religion, but conservatism as well.

I will never forget a man who cruised with me years ago on one of my annual listener cruises. He was a successful businessman and a pastor of a church. He told me that he had three sons, each of whom had doctorates -- one from Yale, one from Princeton and one from Stanford. "And they are all leftists," he sighed.

All three had chosen the values of the university over religious and conservative values.

The great tragedy of American life since World War II is that many Americans failed to explain American values to their children. As I have said since I began lecturing in my early 20s, the World War II generation decided to give my generation -- the so-called "baby boomers" -- "everything they didn't have" -- such as material comforts, financial security and a college education. And they largely succeeded. The problem is that they failed to give them everything they did have -- such as a love of country, commitment to liberty, self-discipline, religion, etc.

The same problem held true among Christians and Jews. Most Christians failed to explain Christianity to their children and most Jews failed to explain Judaism to theirs.

Secular conservatives see what is happening to some of their children and to many of their friends' children, yet few draw the conclusion that abandoning God and Judeo-Christian values might be a major factor in these children's alienation from conservatism.

But it surely is.

God is one of the three components of the American value system. As expressed on every American coin and banknote, those three components are "In God We Trust," "Liberty" and "E Pluribus Unum" ("From Many One"). And as expressed in the Declaration of Independence, our rights come from the Creator. The notion that the Founders sought to found a secular, let alone a godless, society has no truth. It is true that many of the Founders did not hold specifically Christian theological beliefs. But they believed in God, and they believed America could not succeed without a God-centered and Bible-revering population.

In other words, American conservatism is incompatible with a secular worldview.

Furthermore, secular conservatism doesn't work. As we saw during the lockdowns and see every day regarding, for example, woke attacks on "binary" sexuality, it is disproportionately religious Americans who hold and fight for conservative values.

It is true that religious Jews and Christians were a disappointment during lockdowns. That most rabbis, priests and ministers closed their synagogues and churches in obedience to irrational secular authority is reason for weeping.

Nevertheless, whatever challenges there were to irrational authority almost all came from religious institutions.

The same holds true for challenges to the premature sexualization of children taking place in American elementary schools and challenges to the nihilistic claims that there are more than two sexes (or "genders") and that there is no objective definition to "man" or "woman."

Such challenges come overwhelmingly from religious America. Conversely, the nihilism comes almost exclusively from secular America.

In sum, it is hard enough for religious conservatives to keep their children and grandchildren conservative. It is far harder for secular conservatives to do so.

I am well aware that many secular conservatives are convinced that they cannot believe in or practice any religion. To these people, I say: So what?

Once you realize that America's future depends on Americans affirming "In God We Trust" just as much as they affirm "Liberty" and "E Pluribus Unum," you have to work on taking God and some religious expression seriously. You should emulate parents who are tone deaf who nevertheless give their children piano lessons.

"Fake it till you make it" is one of the many great insights of 12-step programs. The rule applies to everything good that does not come naturally.

Find a clergyman who shares your values and regularly take your child (or grandchild) to religious services.

Study the Bible with your child or grandchild on a regular basis. Lincoln rarely attended church, but he read the Bible every day. If you need a rational approach to God and the Bible, I suggest beginning with any of my three volumes of Bible commentary, "The Rational Bible."

Say a blessing before each meal. Even if you're secular, that shouldn't be too difficult.

I promise you that whatever discomfort you experience acting religious pales in comparison to the discomfort you will experience if your child or grandchild ends up woke.


A reward of $millions for a fantasy

Brittany Higgins's rape claim went to trial but was not substantiated, so nobody owes her anything. Even the police thought there were no grounds for the prosecution. The payment was a victory for PR, not justice. It was pursued by feckless prosecutor Shane Drumgold only because of political pressure

That a person who has been hospitalized on mental health grounds could be a reliable witness is a derisory idea. The man she defamed in her delusions was hugely stressed by the prospect of a long and undeserved jail term but he survived mentally with only the usual supports - family etc.

“At a mediation held today, the Commonwealth and Ms Higgins settled her claims,” Blumers Lawyers said in a statement.

“At the request of Ms Higgins, the parties have agreed that the terms of the settlement are confidential.”

Higgins had alleged she was raped by former colleague Bruce Lehrmann, but the case was aborted in October after jury misconduct.

A second trial scheduled for early next year was also scrapped because of concerns over Higgins’ mental health.

Lehrmann has always maintained his innocence and will no longer face any charges.

Two former Liberal ministers Linda Reynolds and Michaelia Cash had also been named in the documents.

This masthead revealed on Sunday that Higgins was seeking more than $3 million in compensation: $2.5 million for future economic loss, past economic loss approaching $100,000, general damages of $100,000, future assistance with domestic duties of some $200,000, and past and future out-of-pocket expenses of a further $150,000 approximately.

Blumers Lawyers did not disclose the final settlement figure in the statement released late on Monday night.

The decision by the Commonwealth to settle the case comes as ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr prepares to order a formal inquiry into the trial of Lehrmann after an extraordinary war of words erupted between the territory’s director of public prosecutions and police.

Barr said ACT Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury and the Director-General of the Justice and Community Safety Directorate briefed cabinet on Monday afternoon “regarding the issues raised by the actions of authorities involved in the Lehrmann trial”.


Internet dating is big on disappointment

Some excerpts below from a long article about internet dating that discusses "scientific" dating. A scientific approach ought to be helpful but the prevalence of sad stories about failures of internet dating casts doubt on that. The existing matching strategies seem not up to expectations. Why?

I don't have a magic answer to that but since I have been using dating advertisements of one sort or another for around 60 years, maybe my experience could have some lessons. Before the internet there were of course newspapers and they have always carried advertisements seeking relationships. I started using such advertisements when I was around 20 and I am now just months away from 80.

I must add that I have not used advertisements exclusively. I have been married 4 times and I met the first 3 ladies concerned the "old fashioned" way -- through personal social contacts. Sadly, none of the marriages proved permanent so I have had plenty of use for advertisements before, after and in between the marriages.

I like women and get on well with them so I hope to have one in my life at all times. And I have managed that with not much in the way of gaps. I have had long relationships of seven years, ten years and 14 years but in between those long arrangements there have been many shorter relationships. And advertisements have given me both long and short relationships.

And I have in fact found that looking for matching characteristics between myself and a woman has always been a good way to start a relationship. The approach outlined in the excerpts below is correct in my experience. I have met many fine women that way. Matching ideas, ideals, values, opinions and experiences with a woman works as a preliminary to meeting.

But appearance also comes into it. I have only ever had average looks so I have had to have other advantageous qualities. Fortunately many women have liked some of my other qualities. I had to have looks good enough to get a pass and after that other factors came into play

And that worked very well up to and during my 60s. But it has been more difficult in my 70s. I had a significant breakup around 3 years ago and that was not easily remedied. Through internet advertisements I did meet up with about a dozen women but most of them did not wish to continue seeing me. There were also a couple of "near misses" -- women with whom I had a short friendship that did not last.

But finally, almost a year ago, I met my present partner -- via Match.com. And it's a good relationship which looks hopeful for the long term. She looks good too! So advertisements offer hope even to old guys like me. I have met women the old way and the modern way and think both are worthwhile.

So what do I have to say to people who have undergone an inferno of disappointment from internet dating? Mainly some very old-fashioned advice: Persistance pays and it also pays to keep a positive attitude. Don't rush to judgment about another person. Don't go by first impressions. Good qualities can take a while to become evident.

Some less usual advice could help too. As Oscar Wilde may have said: "Life is too important to be taken seriously". And the Hagakure had that idea too: "Matters of great concern should be treated lightly". So relax! Approaching a prospective partner in a cheerful, relaxed way is usually best.

There is a recent picture of me below. If someone as rough-looking as I am these days can get a girl, there is hope for everyone

This is how Helen Fisher, the 77-year-old chief scientific adviser for Match.com and one of the best-known, most-often-quoted experts on romance and “mate choice,” understands life: Personality is a cocktail of hormones; love comes from the buzz of mixing them just right. The human sex drive hasn’t changed for millions of years, she argues, nor has the human capacity for long-term attachment. If, as a cautious, conventional technology journalist, I’m preoccupied with the question of how we live now, Fisher has spent her career exploring the story of how we’ve lived (and loved) always.

Her confidence in this reality—in the static nature of our coupling behaviors—makes Fisher a notable source of comfort in an era of constant worry about the state of romance. Dating on the internet, writers and therapists and mothers and comedians say, is both too easy and too hard. Our social skills are eroding; we are having far too much sex (or maybe far too little); we are suffering from a profound and modern alienation. Fisher is the woman to calm us with the news that actually, we’re fine. Dating apps can’t possibly kill romance, she argues, even if they do make us feel a bit uncomfortable by showing us so many options. “It’s the same old brain,” she told me, as she’s told many other journalists looking to reassure their readers (or themselves) that smartphones haven’t ruined us forever. “The brain hasn’t changed in 300,000 years.” ....

She’s famous for her science books: five volumes, published from 1982 to 2009 (plus a 2016 reissue of her most famous book, Anatomy of Love), that together lay out a theory of how partnership evolved and which parts of human biology are responsible for its particulars. “In short, romantic love is deeply embedded in the architecture and chemistry of the human brain,” she wrote in 2004’s Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love. That book may have been the one that brought her to the attention of Match.com, which had launched about a decade earlier as one of the first online-dating sites. (The Match Group, with its dozens of subsidiary dating apps, would develop later.) A representative of the company called Fisher two days before Christmas in 2004 and asked her to come in for a meeting, which turned out to be an audience with “everyone from the CEO on down.” They were looking for insight, they told her. Why does anybody fall in love with one person and not another? Well, people tend to pair up based on where they live, and on having similar education levels and socioeconomic backgrounds, she explained. And as she was sitting there, it hit her that this was not very insightful. You can walk into a room where everyone is of your background and you don’t fall in love with all of them, she thought. “It dawned on me in that moment,” she told me: “Could we have evolved biological patterns so that we’re naturally drawn to some people rather than others?”

Other dating sites already said they were using science to calculate a couple’s compatibility. One of Match’s rivals, eHarmony, was offering a new and allegedly better way of finding people dates: Instead of pairing users according to, say, shared favorite foods or times of year, eHarmony promised to apply a “proprietary matching model” to make “scientifically proven” assessments of compatibility based on a personality test with hundreds of questions. The site even had its own relationship expert: Neil Clark Warren, a clinical psychologist and the author of a book called Date or Soul Mate?

Fisher thought she could come up with a better system, using what she knew about evolution and the human mind. (Match would market her system as being more inviting than the one offered by eHarmony, which was specifically built by its Christian evangelical founder to facilitate heterosexual relationships.) In Why We Love, she’d argued for the existence of “three primordial brain networks that evolved to direct mating and reproduction.” The first was responsible for lust, the second for romantic love, and the third for a specific “male-female attachment” defined by “the feeling of calm, peace, and security one often has for a long term mate.” But this wouldn’t help with suggesting matches. She would have to look elsewhere in the brain.

Her first task, she told me, was to sit down with four sheets of paper, one each for the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin and the hormones estrogen and testosterone. Then she listed personality traits that she thought were associated with each one, according to what she described to me as research from “hundreds of academic articles,” thereby creating four personality styles. “Builders,” high in serotonin, would be logical and traditional. “Explorers,” high in dopamine, would be spontaneous and daring. “Negotiators,” high in estrogen, would be empathetic and imaginative, and “directors,” high in testosterone, would be decisive and competitive. Those categories soon became the basis for Chemistry.com, which was Match’s first entry in the race to build an objective and empirical dating app. Users filled out a questionnaire written by Fisher and were assigned primary and secondary personality styles. These, in turn, were provided to users to help them sift through their matches and find the ones they were more likely to click with. According to Fisher’s system, builders match well with other builders, explorers with explorers, and negotiators with directors.