Scientists raise alarm over common sunscreen ingredient being found in frozen pizzas and candies


Another scare about a "possible" harm. The link to the main article is here:

There are HUGE barriers to using this study a a basis for policy:

* How were the respondents selected? Were they a representative sample of any specifiable popuation? If not, no generlizations can be made from them. That may seem a harsh stricture but in my extensive reseach I always used representative samples. You can do it if you try. If you don't do it you are just playing games

* Once again only high and low scorers were used in the analysis. What happened to the middling scorers? Would including them have made the overall corelations insignificant? It often does.

* I have not been able to see details of the confounders that they alowed for but I doubt that they allowed for the big confounder: income

* They had NO clinical evidence of health problems. The differences they found may or may not lead to illness. Many ingested substances lead to physiological changes without ill effects. We call them drugs

* Since it is ubiquitous, if it did lead to illness of any kind we would surely by now have heard a raft of complaints about it. We have not. If people have ingested it a trillion times without harm, what more do we need to call it harmless?


Scientists have raised concerns of the effects of a common ingredient of sunscreen being used in foods including frozen pizzas, bakery products, and children’s candies.

Titanium Dioxide (TiO2) is a synthetically produced substance that is not classed as hazardous and is used in a vast range of industrial and consumer goods.

It is found in products including sunscreen, sunscreen, cosmetics, paint, plastics, paper, and wallpaper due to its non-flammable and insoluble properties. It also absorbs UV light, though cannot penetrate through the skin.

TiO2 is also regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a type of food coloring and used in a variety of FDA regulated foods, including cottage cheese, salad dressing, and brightly colored sweets such as Skittles – so long as the quantity does not exceed 1 percent by weight of food.

In foods that contain TiO2, it will appear on the ingredients label as either “artificial color” or “colored with titanium dioxide”, though it is not required to be listed, according to the FDA.

Though it is currently approved by the FDA in the US, the substance is currently under reviewed following a 2023 petition by environmental groups, which are seeking to have it banned from foods.

In February, California lawmakers advanced a bill to bar foods with titanium dioxide from being served in public schools. The substance was banned by the European Union in 2022.

Chief among the concerns is that TiO2 contains nanoparticles which – due to their miniscule size – can get inside cells and cause harm to internal organs.

An article in npj Science and Food cited studies done in animals that found that consumption of titanium dioxide nanoparticles led to damage to the liver, immune and reproductive systems, as well as DNA.

Other research found that as well as such damage, the particles can inhibit the spread of beneficial gut bacteria.

A study of 35 healthy adults, published in February, found that those with higher levels of TiO2 in their stool also had higher levels of certain gut inflammation. They also had indications of more gut permeability or how “leaky or separated the cells are,” said Dr Kelsey Mangano, lead scientist of the study.

The concern is that chronic increased gut inflammation and permeability could increase the risk of health issues including colon cancer, nutrient deficiencies and the low-grade inflammation, Dr Mangano said.

Despite this, organizations including the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) have opposed a “knee-jerk” ban on the substance, stating that it would have “far-reaching consequences”.

A statement released by the CHPA in August 2023, in response to the FDA announcement of a review of the use of TiO2 described a ban as “unjustified”.

“We strongly urge the Food and Drug Administration to deny the petition to repeal [a section of its regulations], which permits the use of TiO2 in food and dietary supplements,” the statement read.

“While consumer safety is of paramount importance, a knee-jerk ban on TiO2 in food and dietary supplements would be unjustified. Based on extensive scientific research and regulatory evaluations, TiO2 is deemed safe for use as a food additive when consumed within established regulatory limits.

“Furthermore, its regulatory approval, manufacturing oversight, and industry best practices ensure the responsible use of this ingredient. Continued adherence to these safety measures and ongoing research will contribute to maintaining the safety and integrity of TiO2 as an essential food additive.”

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Secret Bible text changes everything


It changes nothing. When the earliest example of the story was written down centuries after the events it purported to describe, there is no warrant for its truth or accuracy. It could well be fiction, And the earliest mentions of it do say it was fiction

At least if a newly discovered papyrus about Jesus Christ’s childhood is to be believed. He fibbed. He tantrumed. He killed.

If so, little wonder the canonical (accepted) Gospels of the Biblical New Testament don’t say much about the Christian messiah’s early years.

The books of Matthew and Luke offer the only accounts of his birth.

Luke adds the story of a 12-year-old messiah-to-be stunning the theologians of the Second Temple in Jerusalem with his deep understanding of Jewish lore.

The Infancy Gospel of Thomas is significantly more comprehensive - and less righteous.

It purports to be an eyewitness account of the juvenile Jesus’ life in Nazareth. By implication, it’s written by his brother Judas Thomas.

This text was one of many put before Christian bishops drawn together from across Europe and the Middle East in 325 AD by Emperor Constantine.

The powerful convert wanted a standardised religion to help unify his rapidly disintegrating Roman Empire.

The 27 books of the New Testament as we know it today, were their final choice.

Dozens of texts claiming to be gospels, letters from the disciples and collections of Jesus’ sayings were rejected.

These were declared to be, at best, apocryphal (of dubious authenticity), or worst - heretical (against the religion).

The Infancy Gospel of Thomas didn’t make the cut.

Early Christian theologian and Bishop of Rome Hippolytus had previously declared it a dangerous fake in his decree Refutation of All Heresies, written around 230AD.

A century later, Constantine’s bishops agreed.

As such, all copies were ordered to be destroyed on sight.

Almost all were.

But a mislabeled fragment of Egyptian papyrus filed away in a German library has turned out to be the oldest known surviving copy of the original text.

This fragment of papyrus, long labelled as being a hastily written note, has turned out to be a Fourth-century copy of the Infant Gospel of Thomas - an account of Jesus’ childhood banned as heretical by the founders of the Roman Catholic Church.

This fragment of papyrus, long labelled as being a hastily written note, has turned out to be a Fourth-century copy of the Infant Gospel of Thomas - an account of Jesus’ childhood banned as heretical by the founders of the Roman Catholic Church.

The 11cm by 5cm fragment contains just 13 lines of Greek text.

It sat ignored at Berlin’s Hamburg Carl von Ossietzky State and University Library for decades.

But researchers Dr Lajos Berkes and Professor Gabriel Nocchi Macedo recognised its true significance.

“It was thought to be part of an everyday document, such as a private letter or a shopping list because the handwriting seems so clumsy,” explains Dr Berkes.

“We first noticed the word Jesus in the text. Then, by comparing it with numerous other digitised papyri, we deciphered it letter by letter…”

Previously, a codex dating from the 11th Century was the oldest known fragment of the Infancy Gospel written in its original form.

“From the comparison with already known manuscripts of this Gospel, we know that our text is the earliest,” adds Dr Berkes. “It follows the original text, which, according to the current state of research, was written in the 2nd century AD.”

While the papyrus is a tiny fragment, most of the stories contained in the Infancy Gospel have survived through the centuries in some form or another.

It had been widely quoted by early theologians probing the boundaries of acceptable belief. And the tales of the young Jesus persisted in popular storytelling through Antiquity and into the Middle Ages - possibly for their shock value.

But it’s because there is so little surviving of the original text that determining the gospel’s origins is problematic. The general consensus of Biblical scholars is that it was most likely first written down somewhere between 110AD and 130AD.

This particular fragment survived by chance. It is believed to have been discarded from a monastery’s scribe school. That’s because the handwriting is so poor.

“The fragment is of extraordinary interest for research,” adds Dr Berkes. “On the one hand, because we were able to date it to the 4th to 5th century, making it the earliest known copy. On the other hand, because we were able to gain new insights into the transmission of the text.”

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Is fake meat bad for you?


This is a funny one. Food freaks are suspicious of highly processed food, but overlook that fake meat is a highly processed food. There has been quite an upsurge in sales of fake meat in the last couple of years so it seems that lots of people think they are doing themslves good by avoiding the dreaded red meat. So some journalists are having fun with that. They are condemning fake meat as unhealthy.

Real vegetarians won't be bothered. They mostly live on lightly processed legumes -- nutmeat and the like -- as a protein source. Fake meat would be a low priority for them

I have never had any time for fake meat. I had a very nice piece of thinly sliced Scotch fillet steak for dinner last night washed down by a good Australian Shiraz. The wine:

image from https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/b/R29vZ2xl/AVvXsEiuYH0cpcLiJB5F0meC9DJKrvMd-y2Vgljb9RRrBkCrorPlStiOBWYPFAJb6jkHXBEF4OYMVrpD1MLek3fLyqTi2iXvKLGPQHpD981fLoeDpVuSWvJHsorFYDXGk4iKKwJ8XV9_0-dclulFzRig2IwGVCWhUtqjFCAO1rkPIRvm7V2k7BIS1CIEGDE

So it is all a non-issue to me. I have always eaten whatever I fancy and at age 80, living with no pain or discomfort, I think I have had the last laugh. But it is nice to see a piece of research intelligently dissected below. I don't agree with all her conclusions but for someone writing in a mainstream source she does pretty well. She is a clever Greek girl, judging by her name


By EVANGELINE MANTZIORIS

image from https://cdn.theconversation.com/avatars/153250/width238/image-20150603-10698-11mbuxq.jpg

We're hearing a lot about ultra-processed foods and the health effects of eating too many. And we know plant-based foods are popular for health or other reasons.

So it's not surprising new research out this week including the health effects of ultra-processed, plant-based foods is going to attract global attention.

And the headlines can be scary if that research and the publicity surrounding it suggests eating these foods increases your risk of heart disease, stroke or dying early.

Here's how some media outlets interpreted the research. The Daily Mail ran with:

Vegan fake meats are linked to increase in heart deaths, study suggests: Experts say plant-based diets can boost health – but NOT if they are ultra-processed

The New York Post's headline was:

Vegan fake meats linked to heart disease, early death: study

But when we look at the study itself, it seems the media coverage has focused on a tiny aspect of the research, and is misleading.

So does eating supermarket plant-based burgers and other plant-based, ultra-processed foods really put you at greater risk of heart disease, stroke and premature death?

Here's what prompted the research and what the study actually found.

Remind me, what are ultra-processed foods?

Ultra-processed foods undergo processing and reformulation with additives to enhance flavour, shelf-life and appeal. These include everything from packet macaroni cheese and pork sausages, to supermarket pastries and plant-based mince.

There is now strong and extensive evidence showing ultra-processed foods are linked with an increased risk of many physical and mental chronic health conditions.

Although researchers question which foods should be counted as ultra-processed, or if all of them are linked to poorer health, the consensus is that, generally, we should be eating less of them.

We also know plant-based diets are popular. These are linked with a reduced risk of chronic health conditions such as heart disease and stroke, cancer and diabetes. And supermarkets are stocking more plant-based, ultra-processed food options.

How about the new study?

The study looked for any health differences between eating plant-based, ultra-processed foods compared to eating non-plant based, ultra-processed foods. The researchers focused on the risk of cardiovascular disease (such as heart disease and stroke) and deaths from it.

Plant-based, ultra-processed foods in this study included mass-produced packaged bread, pastries, buns, cakes, biscuits, cereals and meat alternatives (fake meats). Ultra-processed foods that were not plant-based included milk-based drinks and desserts, sausages, nuggets and other reconstituted meat products.

The researchers used data from the UK Biobank. This is a large biomedical database that contains de-identified genetic, lifestyle (diet and exercise) and health information and biological samples from half a million UK participants. This databank allows researchers to determine links between this data and a wide range of diseases, including heart disease and stroke.

They used data from nearly 127,000 people who provided details of their diet between 2009 and 2012. The researchers linked this to their hospital records and death records. On average, the researchers followed each participant's diet and health for nine years.

What did the study find?

With every 10% increase of total energy from plant-sourced, ultra-processed foods there was an associated 5% increased risk of cardiovascular disease (such as heart disease or stroke) and a 12% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

But for every 10% increase in plant-sourced, non-ultra-processed foods consumed there was an associated 7% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 13% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

The researchers found no evidence for an association between all plant-sourced foods (whether or not they were ultra-processed) and either an increased or decreased risk of cardiovascular disease or dying from it.

This was an observational study, where people recalled their diet using questionnaires. When coupled with other data, this can only tell us if someone's diet is associated with a particular risk of a health outcome. So we cannot say that, in this case, the ultra-processed foods caused the heart disease and deaths from it.

Why has media coverage focused on fake meats?

Much of the media coverage has focused on the apparent health risks associated with eating fake meats, such as sausages, burgers, nuggets and even steaks.

These are considered ultra-processed foods. They are made by deconstructing whole plant foods such as pea, soy, wheat protein, nuts and mushrooms, and extracting the protein. They are then reformulated with additives to make the products look, taste and feel like traditional red and white meats.

However this was only one type of plant-based, ultra-processed food analysed in this study. This only accounted for an average 0.2% of the dietary energy intake of all the participants.

Compare this to bread, pastries, buns, cakes and biscuits, which are other types of plant-based, ultra-processed foods. These accounted for 20.7% of total energy intake in the study.

It's hard to say why the media focused on fake meat. But there is one clue in the media release issued to promote the research.

Although the media release did not mention the words "fake meat", an image of plant-based burgers, sausages and meat balls or rissoles featured prominently.

The introduction of the study itself also mentions plant-sourced, ultra-processed foods, such as sausages, nuggets and burgers.

So it's no wonder people can be confused.

Does this mean fake meats are fine?

Not necessarily. This study analyzed the total intake of plant-based, ultra-processed foods, which included fake meats, albeit a very small proportion of people's diets.

From this study alone we cannot tell if there would be a different outcome if someone ate large amounts of fake meats.

In fact, a recent review of fake meats found there was not enough evidence to determine their impact on health.

We also need more recent data to reflect current eating patterns of fake meats. This study used dietary data collected from 2009 to 2012, and fake meats have become more popular since.

What if I really like fake meat?

We have known for a while that ultra-processed foods can harm our health. This study tells us that regardless if an ultra-processed food is plant-based or not, it may still be harmful.

We know fake meat can contain large amounts of saturated fats (from coconut or palm oil), salt and sugar.

So like other ultra-processed foods, they should be eaten infrequently. The Australian Dietary Guidelines currently recommends people should only consume foods like this sometimes and in small amounts.

Are some fake meats healthier than others?

Check the labels and nutrition information panels. Look for those lowest in fat and salt. Burgers and sausages that are a "pressed cake" of minced ingredients such as nuts, beans and vegetables will be preferable to reformulated products that look identical to meat.

You can also eat whole plant-based protein foods such as legumes. These include beans, lentils, chickpeas and soy beans. As well as being high in protein and fibre, they also provide essential nutrients such as iron and zinc. Using spices and mushrooms alongside these in your recipes can replicate some of the umami taste associated with meat.

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Was footballer Jarryd Hayne the victim of a false rape accusation?


This matter is even more problematical than it at first appears. The obvious problem is that he was released on technical grounds -- on the grounds that his most recent trial was not properly conducted. He was NOT exonerated. He was NOT found to be innocent. Bully for his lawyers, I suppose.

So in theory he could be tried on the same matters for a fourth time. That is unlikely to happen as he has already spent enough time in jail to satisfy most of the penalty that a new guilty verdict would bring

The problem that is not being highlighted, however, is the really big one. He could well be the victim of a false rape allegation. There have been several instances in the past when women have been found to be false accusers. Britain at one stage not long ago locked up some of the false accusers.

There appears to be no doubt that he had been promised sex when he arrived at the woman's place but what happened after that is in dispute. The woman claims he forced himself on her until she bled. Messages that she sent to friends after the event, however suggest that she had not told the full story. And that would make her open to have given false testimony, which would make HER the guilty party

So why would she lie? It's pretty clear. Hayne told the taxi driver he would only be a few minutes, showing that what he wanted and expected was a "quickie". But she could well have been dissatisfied with that. She was clearly heavily "into" him and expected a more prolonged and affectionate interaction. So her cry of rape could well be revenge for not getting what she expected from him.

But the truly obnoxious part of the whole affair is that the messages casting doubt on her story were NOT shown to the jury nor were Hayne's lawyers allowed to question her about them. Why on earth would that be? I suspect that it was part of another determination to enforce the feminist "believe the woman" doctrine. I suspect that Hayne has been much maligned. I suspect that he was at most guilty of bad manners


Former rugby league star Jarryd Hayne has walked out of prison after his sexual assault convictions were quashed on appeal.

Mr Hayne left a correctional facility in Sydney's west just before 5pm on Wednesday after being granted his release on bail.

The 36-year-old was found guilty in May last year of sexually assaulting a woman at her Newcastle home on the night of the 2018 NRL grand final.

It was the third time he had been tried over the incident and the second time he was found guilty.

His first trial ended in a hung jury, he was convicted after the second but then won an appeal, and the third trial resulted in this now-quashed conviction.

The NSW Court of Criminal Appeal was split 2-1 over the decision.

Justice Stephen Rothman said the appeal succeeded on two grounds: one concerning the trial judge's decision not allow further cross-examination of the complainant and another concerning a direction to the jury about how to treat allegations the woman had lied.

"The outcome is that the appeal from each conviction is allowed … and the court will quash the two convictions in order that there be a new trial," he said.

"Whether there in fact is a new trial is a matter for the Director of the Public Prosecutions."

Mr Hayne, who has been in prison at a minimum-security jail at Lidcombe in Sydney's west since last year, has been granted bail, which was not opposed by the prosecution.

It was granted on a number of conditions, including that Mr Hayne pay a $20,000 surety and not attempt to contact the complainant or enter the Newcastle local government area.

The Director of Public Prosecutions said it would consider the Court of Criminal Appeal's ruling before deciding whether Mr Hayne should face a fourth trial.

In his written judgment, Justice Rothman noted: "In the current circumstances, it is unlikely that a new trial will occur before the expiry of the non-parole period and most of that period has already been served" and suggested there is "good reason for there not to be a fourth trial."

Mr Hayne, who appeared via videolink from prison, gave little reaction upon hearing the news his convictions would be quashed.

His lawyer Lauren MacDougall said Mr Hayne was "really, really looking forward to getting home to his family".

Hayne's lawyer argued the interaction was 'entirely consensual'

During the trial the jury heard the woman had contacted Mr Hayne via Instagram a little less than two weeks before their first in-person meeting and the messages progressed to a "sexualised" nature.

It heard he arrived at the woman's home, having negotiated a $550 taxi fare back to Sydney, and told the driver to wait outside.

The court heard Mr Hayne tried to kiss the woman, at one point grabbing her by the face, with "forceful" actions despite her telling him to stop.

The jurors were told Mr Hayne's charges were in relation to two forms of sexual activity — oral and digital penetration — and the complainant had said "no" and "stop".

It allegedly lasted for about 30 seconds, and stopped when the complainant's genitals started to bleed.

During the trial Mr Hayne's barrister, Margaret Cunneen SC, said the activity was "entirely consensual" and he "didn't mean to cause her any harm at all".

Mr Hayne's lawyers argued in the appeal that messages deleted from the woman's phone showed that she was consenting and should lead to his acquittal.

The complainant was said to have told the friend Mr Hayne "went down on her", but made no reference to her injury and blood, or to the sexual activity having been forced.

Mr Hayne's lawyers argued that the judge should have allowed them to further cross-examine the woman about why she had failed to disclose the messages to police around the time of the sexual assault.

They argued the issue was central to assessing the witness's credibility.

'The jury were deprived of evidence'

In the judgment Justice Rothman wrote that the cross examination should have been allowed as "it was for the jury to determine whether to believe the complainant" and that "demeanour would have played a significant role".

Justice Deborah Sweeney concurred writing: "The jury were deprived of evidence which had significance for their assessment of the honesty of the complainant."

"By not permitting counsel to cross-examine the complainant on those topics and then telling the jury that in considering the submission that the complainant had lied about matters including deletions from her phone, they should consider whether that was "fairly put", this created an unfairness in the accused's trial".

"The combined effect of those circumstances was to cause a miscarriage of justice in the trial."

Mr Hayne was sentenced in May 2023 to four years and nine months in prison, with a non-parole period of three years.

With time already served, he was eligible for parole from May next year.

Mr Hayne's first trial ended in a hung jury.

He was convicted after the second, but then won an appeal before being tried for a third time.

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Refusal to index is also a form of censorship


As far as I can tell, none of my blogs is indexed by Google.  If you do a Google search for something that I have written on one of my blogs, you will not find it.  Bing.com indexes some of my blogs but even they will not touch my "Greenie Watch" blog.

The surprising thing is that the files for all Blogspot blogs are held on Google's servers.  They have my writings in their files but refuse to mention them in response to a search.  I am "search blocked"

In the circumstances, it is a bit of a surprise that on some occasions they go to the trouble to wipe some of my posts off their servers completely.  Even if you come to one of my blogs as a regular reader rather than via a search you will still not see what I have written.  They are clearly very motivated to suppress conservative ideas.  It's ironical that a very succesful private enterprise is so protective of government

Fortunately a search on duckduckgo.com or yahoo.com does find my writings

I would not be surprised if all my Blogspot blogs vanished into thin air one day.  I long ago took precautions against  that by keeping two backups of everything I write.  You can access that via jonjayray.com or johnjayray.com 

You can't keep a good conservative down!



Australia's new boss of men's behaviour


SHAMEFUL and SEXIST World First says Bettina Arndt



A broadcast from Sydney by "Other side" with Damian Coory: https://www.adh.tv/

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Mixed results for regional universities in international rankings


My student days are 50 years behind me so these results don't reflect on me personally for good or ill but I am still pleased to see three of the four that I went to in the top 40 worldwide.

I particularly liked my time doing my Masters at U.Syd, so I am pleased that it has kept up its high quality. It even pips most of America's "Ivies" LOL


Australian universities have boosted their international standing but regional universities have tumbled in the latest annual global rankings.

The University of Melbourne was the highest rated Australian institution taking 13th spot on the QS World University Rankings 2025, up one place.

The University of Sydney also fared well, rising to number 18 while the University of New South Wales maintained its 19th spot.

Australian National University in Canberra rose four places to 30, while Monash University in Melbourne came in at 37, up five places. The University of Queensland rounded out the top 40, up three places.

The top regional university was the University of Wollongong at number 167, down five places. It was followed by the University of Newcastle which was ranked at number 179, although it dropped five ranking spots.

Deakin University rose to 197 after ranking 233 in 2024. LaTrobe University came in at 217 rising from 242 in 2023.

The University of Canberra improved its ranking by 14 places to reach an equal 403rd position.

University of Wollongong acting vice-chancellor and president professor David Currow said the rankings reflect dedication and hard work of staff across UOW's network of campuses.

"The latest QS World University rankings underscore our ongoing commitment to excellence in research and sustainability," Professor Currow said.

"The University's remarkable performance in Research Citations is particularly noteworthy, highlighting the impactful research being conducted at UOW. These research streams address global challenges and contribute significantly to the advancing new knowledge."

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Real Reasons for the Current Societal Breakdown


I think most of what Israeli writer Tessa Schlesinger says below is broadly right. I do here regularly write about the undesirable happenings in our society. But I think we need a broader view. Where I differ is with her belief that we are in a Societal Breakdown. To me society seems very orderly and functions to the benefit of most of us pretty well most of the time. Though Japan is the only place where the trains always run on time. Governments, particularly, mess things up with stupid policies and actions but nobody starves and even born losers are accommodated to some extent.

There are indeed social problems but they are minor compared with living through two world wars and the Great Depression of the interwar years. We have seen much worse than the world of today

Let me give an example of how well-functioning society is. I am a regular customer of Doordash. I go online and order from a very large menu a meal that sounds good and 15 minutes later a young person on a two-wheeler of some sort comes to my door and hands me a chef-cooked meal. And I pay only a few dollars more than if I had driven to the restaurant and sat for a time at one of their tables to get the same food. The convenience of it is to me a modern miracle.

So how does this great convenience come about? Think of the steps involved:

There has to be a website that passes on my order and take smy money via my credit card number. Then the restaurant accepts my order and makes my meal in their usual way. Then the deliverer has to be ready for a phone-call telling them to collect the food and then he/she has to find his/her way to my place. And it all functions smoothly. No breakdown there. Very reliable.

And so it is with most things in our day. Everything goes pretty much to plan and we sleep safely in our beds at night. There are some places where Leftist governments have allowed racial antagonisms to flourish so we cannot safely go out at night but that is because Leftists WANT to create disorder. Society is not broken down enough for them. Vote them out of office and order will return

That is of course very simplistic but my point is that we concentrate on disorder and overlook the extent to which society is NOT broken down and not in need of fixing. And when something goes wrong people often can fix it thenselves, Feminist-inspired divorce laws make marriage perilous so lots lots of people live together without government paper-work. And finding a partner for a relationship has always been difficult but dating sites sometimes offer a solution for that. After a lot of knockbacks I met my present girlfriend that way. But I agree that sometimes things do go badly wrong. See below


And there is one example of what Tessa Schlesinger wants that is actually in existence. She focuses on the loss of religion and wants some replacement for it. But both America and modern Israel were founded by profoundly religious people. What happens when a society was largely founded by criminals?

I live in such a place: Australia. And Australians are very skeptical religiously. There are churches but most people who go there are ethnics or Pentecostals of one sort or another. So do Australians lack an effective moral code? Far from it. They may never have set foot in a church but they have a traditional moral code founded in traditional English working class values.

Only "old" Australians (people whose roots go back to the time before the postwar flood of immigration) follow it but among them it is very influential:

* Thou shalt not dob in thy mates
* Thou shalt not bung on an act.
* Thou shalt not be a tall poppy
* Thou shalt give everyone a fair go
* Thou shalt be fair dinkum
* Thou shalt not crawl to the boss

And Australia is a very relaxed and pleasant place.

So an ethical non-religious society is not only possibe, you can actually go there on an airliner. And they speak English and you can drink the water!!

For a translation of the above commandments into standard English see:

https://memoirsjr.blogspot.com/2005/10/australians-only-have-five-commandments.html



One of the causes of the west’s current breakdown goes back to the 60s — when some very silly people wanted to create a better world, and they thought that not judging people, or making them strive so hard academically, would make the world a better place.

Another major cause was the work of Dr. Benjamin Spock whose book on how to rear a baby resulted in parents not disciplining children adequately, and in allowing children to grow up with the idea that their uninformed opinions were just as valuable as an informed opinion.

In the 1960s and 1970s, blame was placed on Spock for the disorderliness of young people, many of whose parents had been devotees of Baby and Child Care. Vice President Spiro Agnew also blamed Spock for “permissiveness”. These allegations were enthusiastically embraced by conservative adults, who viewed the rebellious youth of that era with disapproval, referring to them as “the Spock generation”. Wiki

Spock was a pediatrician who was interested in psychology, particularly the work of Sigmund Freud. In his book, Spock said, “John Dewey and Freud said that kids don’t have to be disciplined into adulthood but can direct themselves toward adulthood by following their own will.”

Those widespread consequences

Consider that if the zeitgeist of the age was that children could bring themselves up, that the only reason they turned out to be ‘unwise’ people was because parental discipline and forced education made them forget their natural creativity and goodness. Without the limiting areas of discipline and education, all children would grow up to be brilliant and kind adults. There would be no more crime.

So many things came into being as a consequence.

English teachers no longer taught grammar because children would learn grammar on their own. They would just magically pick it up as they went along.

Children should always be happy. Flower power, smoking weed, taking hard drugs, having sex outside marriage, and living together were new values replacing the old. Consequently, in later years, women started complaining that men didn’t want to make a commitment. Of course, they didn’t. Why should they? They had all the sex they wanted. Interestingly, while I was living in the States, I read that one third of baby boomers never got married.

The number of children growing up in single families (divorced parents, kids born outside holy wedlock) escalated. So kids hD no fathers.

Homework disappeared from schools, difficult subjects were no longer mandatory, exams went the way of the dodo, and any form of knowledge was dumbed down. In fact, by the end of the 60s, the classical system of education was outlawed, and the bs system of education that is now regarded as ‘education’ became the norm.

The new rule was that no matter how wrong someone’s response was at school, they were praised in order to give them confidence.

The outcome was that a lot of very ignorant people thought that their opinion had the same weight as people who were a lot smarter and a lot more knowledgeable. So, today, there are an increasing number of very un-smart people in positions of power.

Formal religion went out the window. With it, ethical teaching disappeared. Unfortunately, the only source of ethics (not morality) was religion. When that disappeared, there was nothing to replace it.

Duty became a dirty word. Self-involvement replaced society commitment.

Gossip became widely accepted (inviting endless slander and destruction of innocent people).

Societies are built on ethics — not money

Ethics and morality are not the same. Morality is mostly taught by religions. They are also based on the supposed commands of non-existent gods.

For instance, there is no good reason why people shouldn’t have sex outside marriage — provided that the resulting children have a stable environment in which to grow up and mature.

Structures in society evolve over hundreds of years. They are the invisible pillars that ensure that a community works in such a way that optimal outcomes are ensured for both survival and well being.

If you look at the different religions of the world, many of them had opposing beliefs, but Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, and others all survived because they ensured that people had a definite way of handling various situations. Those ways did not conflict with each other — there was social cohesion.

As an atheist, I do not believe in many of the tenets of religion, yet much of it can be interpreted in solid ways that ensure optimal survival and well being.

There is no doubt that there were some extremely cruel rules in all these societies. The Spartans of ancient Greece left babies outside their front doors. If they survived, they were considered strong enough to live. Then there was senicide.

The Inuit, in times of famine left their old people outside to die in the cold.

A few days ago, I read that the harsh laws of Islam were there to protect the greater number. Once people saw others stoned to death or their hands cut off, then others would not repeat that action.

In Christianity, when a single young woman became pregnant, she was outlawed from society.

Structure in society came at a cost.

That cost was immense cruelty to some.

Of course, during the 60s when all these rearrangements of culture was happening in the west, many people were concerned about that kind of cruelty inflicted on individuals. So they outlawed those rules. What they didn’t do was create a replacement system in which those new rules would flourish.

Of course, during the 60s when all these rearrangements of culture was happening in the west, many people were concerned about that kind of cruelty inflicted on individuals. So they outlawed those rules. What they didn’t do was create a replacement system in which those new rules would flourish.

Let me give some examples of that.

Senicide would be considered barbaric by most of us. We would insist that food be shared by everybody. Yet, if there were a tribe of 100 people, and there was barely enough food for 50, what is to be done. In those days, the elders decided that the young were important to the survival of the tribe. The old, they decided, had lived their lives, and their need for food was endangering the survival of the rest of the tribe.

Morality, in my opinion, never came from the gods. They were rules that evolved over a period of time, and as it became known to the leaders of the tribes that some behaviors were harmful to the tribe, they outlawed them. What better way to ensure obedience than to say that the gods commanded it?

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what the rules are, so long as the rules ensure that the community survives, and that it survives in a better way than it would survive without those rules. Those rules are the pillars on which all societies are built.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what the rules are, so long as the rules ensure that the community survives, and that it survives in a better way than it would survive without those rules. Those rules are the pillars on which all societies are built.

Multiculturism and individualism

Neither multiculturism nor individualism bind the community into a cohesive whole. Multiculturism breaks down society because everybody is playing by different rules (in my opinion) and individualism breaks down society because everybody is playing by different rules (in my opinion).

Societies, nations, communities are built on behavioral structures, and change

Societies evolved. Because they do, a rule that worked well in the past may no longer work in the present. Perspectives change. What was viewed as an unbreakable command of the non-existing god might now be perceived as enormous cruelty.

Clearly, society cannot remain the same — it needs to grow and change to meet new needs and new perspectives. So when change comes, it needs to be accompanied by new rules and new structures. For instance, it’s all very well to stop condemning single mothers for daring to have sex outside marriage. However, if so, then society also needs to build the facilities and resources to prepare for those children. Single mothers are the poorest demographic on the entire planet.

The poverty gap that leads to increased violence

History has shown us that whenever there is great inequality in society, there is a point at which violence erupts. It was the study of history that led to the implication of welfare systems, public education, and better working conditions for worker at the start of the 20th century.

Unfortunately, because history, and the deep study of it is no longer mandatory, the highly destructive idea that greed was good, that the economy was everything, that competition brought out the best in people, that ‘diversity’ was good, and that the rich should not be taxed, made its appearance. Most people simply did not understand the relevance of those changes made at the start of the 20th century.

It is not poverty itself that leads to violence — it is resentment against others. When people live by vastly different rules, sooner or later they clash. If one culture believes that it’s okay to murder their daughters if they marry out of their religion, and another culture sees that as murder, then, sooner or later, the nation which is home to these two opposing cultures will begin to fall.

Yet, in Hinduism and Islam, where those beliefs are part of the culture, societies have survived. In the west, where those values were seen as horrendous, those societies survived as well. Again, the point is not that some cultures are wrong while others are right. My point here is that differing precepts and decreasing standards inevitably lead to the breakdown of societies. (I do, however, believe that some societies have contributed far more to the modernization of the world than others.)

And that is where we are now.

We are in decline because we never understood the real structures of what made a nation (or society) sustainable and strong.

What we should have done was outlaw those horribly cruel rules that made the lives of some so very miserable, and then we should have implemented more rules which prevented the harm that would result from eliminating those rules.

What we should have done was outlaw those horribly cruel rules that made the lives of some so very miserable, and then we should have implemented more rules which prevented the harm that would result from eliminating those rules.

Life in the future

Nations, cultures, societies come and go. They last for a time, and then the rot from within invariably brings them down. Look at the USSR which dissolved into the Russian nation. The totalitarian regime which forced people to become nothing more than utility objects meant that when that system dissolved, there was no societal structure to replace it.

In the past, it hasn’t mattered if a society disappeared. We are all here despite the Babylonians, the Hittites, and the Prussians no longer existing. One lot of people replaces another lot of people. Now it matters. It matters because our actions have resulted in the possible destruction of environmental systems on which human life (and other life) depends. It matters because the enlightenment of humanity, arrived at through many millennia of learning, is now being destroyed. It is now, once more, being replaced by religious garbage, philosophical tenets that do not work, and the blind leading the blind.

I am reminded of a verse in Proverbs in which it says something about it being an unwise course of action for a fool to give instructions to a wise man. That, unfortunately, is where we are now. Interestingly, Proverbs (in the bible) is full of ancient wisdom, long forgotten. It is also, as with all these holy books, full of ideas that have long been proven wrong.

The world is over-populated. Those without wisdom are leading. Those without knowledge are opining everywhere. Those with power are destroying what does not suit them. And so it goes.

I started writing very young. My first pieces were published by a national newspaper magazine.

Ethics

In the years that I have been writing, the underlying ethos has been about ethics. During the sixty-odd years of my putting pen to paper (that was how it started), I have always been concerned about benevolence, about the rules that so many seem to break without regard for the consequence.

Of course, sometimes, I’ve written the occasional light-hearted piece, but the general gist of most of my words has been about what is ethical. Sometimes this has been interpreted by readers to mean that I’m on the left, and other times it has been interpreted to mean I’m on the right. In reality, I’m apolitical. I support those who have an underlying ethic to their policies.

I define ethics as those rules that lead to the greatest chance of survival and the greatest opportunity for well being for the greatest number over the longest period of time. Ethics are not based on empathy (as some would have you think). They are based on determining outcomes before the outcomes arrive, and putting into operation those laws/rules which would prevent the worst and result in the best.

For instance, the ethical course of action would have been to consider better ways of production in the early 20th century in order to prevent further climate change. That would have resulted in the greater good for the greatest number over the longest period of time.

The breakdown in society and nations is a direct result of the destruction of the pillars of society — without replacing them with something better.

There is no point in my writing further on these topics. I have done so for a few decades (as have others). It is pointless. The only readers I have are those who already agree with all of this, and they are the few — not the many. Also, the few pennies I am paid is not worth it.

It is not nihilism that makes me conclude that we are in the last few generations before there is nothing left of modern civilization. Our descendants, if there are any, will be living a barren existence.

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Wow! Google are getting very hot on what they allow you to say about Covid


My posts of 5th on "Dissecting Leftism" have been deleted.   I had two posts up that day: One based on an article in the NYT and one based on an academic article. I am not sure which was the "incorrect" one but both are still online in the places where they originated:

On 7th, I put up  links to where they originated but they deleted that too.  There clearly are some ideas that they don't want mentioned at all.

I may eventually have to move the blog to Substack but I do have already a couple of backup sites that record everything that I write each day but in a less convenient order.

http://jonjayray.com/archive.html

and my draft site:

https://jonjayray1.typepad.com/

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A summer of hate?


We all now have heard of the eruptions of hate towards Israel and Jews that pervade many of our universities and the younger political Left generally.  So I thought that I might put up a reminder that youthful energies can defy conventional norms but be much less vicious than they are today.  I refer to the "Summer of Love" of 1967.  It was often mocked at the time but shows that we can do better than we do today.

My own summer of love was a year later in 1968 and I still have fond memories of it.  It was however drug-free so it also shows what is possible.  A link to an account of my "Summer" below, followed by a piece on a notable time in history

https://memoirsjr.blogspot.com/2023/06/a-memoir-of-1968.html


The year 1967 was designated the “Summer of Love” when somewhere between 75,000 and 100,000 youth flooded 25 blocks in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district. Beforehand, the neighborhood was home to a small community of “hip” residents interested in art, music, theatre, and literature. Afterward, it was known worldwide as the center of countercultural activities. For many, the Summer of Love calls to mind an ambitious attempt at cultural revolution when America’s youth championed values like peace, love, and freedom of expression.

Fifty years later, that utopian vision of the Summer of Love prevails. But underground papers like those in Reveal Digital’s Independent Voices Collection testify to the dark underbelly of that fateful season. The June 23 edition of the Berkeley Barb, for instance, includes an advertisement for the Berkeley PROVOS, a group of people who intended to help deal with the influx of people into the area. Although embracing the spirit of the Summer of Love, the article amounts to a plea for help. It reads, “We still need food, clothes, places to stay, beds, sheets, soap, blankets, coat hangers and HELP.”

Even the participants varied in what they understood the meaning of the event to be.

In fact, the hippie demonstrations and the publicization of hippie culture that coalesced in the Summer of Love were met with controversy rather than acceptance. Even the participants varied in what they understood the meaning of the event to be. They knew something was happening, but it was hardly the simple introduction of peace and love to American culture.

The Role of Mass Media

For many in the counterculture, the Summer of Love was an accident precipitated by the widespread consumption of music, television, and magazines. Songs, programs, and articles began documenting the activities of the countercultural community in the Haight-Ashbury district with the advent of the Human Be-In. According to Chet Helms, after the Human Be-In, a relatively small group of counterculturally minded people in the Haight issued an invitation for young people to come to San Francisco. They formed a council that they called the “Council of the Summer of Love” and attempted to organize summer activities in Golden Gate Park.

Articles on the “new” hippie lifestyle appeared in magazines like the New Yorker, and the hit song “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” cemented the idea that something was going to happen in San Francisco in the summer of 1967. By most accounts, the arrival of so many young people was more an accident of popular culture than the result of any planning performed by the council.

As the Summer of Love progressed, it became increasingly clear to many committed participants in the community that the Summer of Love, and the idea of a “hippie,” was being defined by the media more than anything else. Many in the counterculture became deeply suspicious and then hostile toward what they considered “the media,” by which they meant photographers, magazine and daily newspaper reporters, and documentarians. Columnist Joan Didion recalls being labeled a “media poisoner” by countercultural leaders who were part of a group known as the Diggers.

Jef[f] Jassen of the Berkeley Barb writes nostalgically of the Haight-Ashbury district before the Summer of Love: “Nowhere was a camera visible.” Perhaps the event that highlights most clearly the role of the media in relation to the Summer of Love is the “Death of the Hippie Parade,” which was meant to conclude the Summer of Love. The event, documented in underground papers like the Berkeley Barb, included a funeral procession that marched through the Haight-Ashbury district, participants carrying a coffin filled with symbols of hippies: beads, mandalas, hair. A funeral notice was passed around the neighborhood that read, “Funeral Notice / HIPPIE / In the Haight Ashbury District of this city, Hippie, devoted son of Mass Media…” The demonstration was meant to call attention to the role that the media had played in creating a hippie stereotype and to replace the image with that of a “free man.”

https://daily.jstor.org/the-summer-of-love-wasnt-all-peace-and-hippies/

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Is the chief justice of the Australian Capital Territory a crusading reformer or a judge? Time to pick one, Lucy McCallum


This is all about rape victims.  Rape is a heavily penalized crime so false rape allegations  have to be rigorously tested  for. But testing that can be hard on real victims. 

Feminists want a way around that but there is none.  Telling Leftists that some problem cannot be solved is however alien to thems so they keep trying to solve it, usually by creating more and often bigger problems


It’s one thing to try to reduce delays for sexual assault trials. But when a Chief Justice says ‘there’s an intractable problem in that our overriding task and function is to ensure an accused person has a fair trial’, you had better believe it.

The intractable problem is that the ACT’s most senior judge Lucy McCallum may well have put herself on a collision course, not just with senior barristers, but potentially with the separation of powers.

Our liberal democracy is built around the clear separation of powers. The government and the legislature make the laws. Judges apply the law. Judges do not make the law and should not interpret or administer it in a way that in substance changes the law.

No wonder lawyers in the ACT are in revolt. McCallum, they say, has given the impression to many people, especially lawyers, that she can hold down two roles: that of a chief justice of the Supreme Court, and that of a law reformer.

When a judge signals that she wants changes to how sexual assault cases are conducted in such a way as to correct some “imbalance”, some lawyers in the ACT believe there is a significant risk she’s entering the political realm.

If law reform is where her passion lies, it would be far better for the criminal justice system if she joined an advocacy group, or put herself forward to parliament.

This collision course between the Chief Justice and lawyers could have profound consequences one way or the other, not just for people accused of sexual assault, and their defence lawyers. If judges, of all people, appear to step into the political arena by suggesting that a fair trial is an intractable problem, then we could all be in trouble.

A fair trial is not a problem, let alone an intractable one. A fair trial is the principle that underpins our justice system. Without it, we may as well get rid of courts – and judges – and pack an accused directly off to jail on the basis of an untested allegation.

McCallum’s other comments are equally troubling. She said that the unfortunate message for sexual assault complainant – given the presumption of innocence afforded to an accused person – is that “We are entitled to think you might be lying until you prove that you’re not.

“That’s not quite how the system works but that’s the messaging,” she said.

What garbled nonsense from the territory’s most senior judge.

Of course, a complainant does not have to prove they are telling the truth. They are not a party to a criminal action. They are a witness giving evidence, as in any other trial. It is up to a prosecution to prove that a witness claiming they were raped is telling the truth.

If McCallum is suggesting that a jury is not entitled to think that a complainant might be lying, she is on a collision course with the presumption of innocence. This fundamental principle means that the prosecution bears the burden of proof, meaning that they must prove that a complainant who alleges rape is not lying. In other words, a jury may well find that a complainant is lying.

McCallum has put lawyers, and people accused of sexual assault, in a dreadful position. When they appear in court in front of McCallum, what are they to think after her public comments? Are they to wonder whether the Chief Justice is favour of a fair trial or not? She said a fair trial was “immutable” but she also described a fair trial afforded to an accused as an intractable problem.

Does McCallum believe in the presumption of innocence? Does she understand how these fundamental principles work?

Lawyers are also troubled by the way McCallum described a judge’s duty to disallow “annoying, harassing, humiliating or repetitive” questions, without including the critical qualifier of “unduly” found in the Evidence Act. Does McCallum intend to run cross examinations in her courtroom in accordance with the Evidence Act, or rather as if subject to her own personal amendment to the Act?

Lawyers who express concerns about McCallum’s public foray face another problem. She will know they disagree with her. How will that play out in court? It may have no impact at all, but the fact that senior lawyers are asking these questions shows how inappropriate it is for McCallum to make these comments at all.

Leave it to others to explore law reform. They don’t hold a position of power over an accused, and their lawyers, in a courtroom. That’s why we have the separation of powers, to stop the abuse of power, and the perception of powers being abused.

Given her troubling and muddled comments to a local newspaper, if McCallum was misquoted, she needs to tell us. If she didn’t explain herself as best as she might have, she had better do that.

This debacle shows why judges should stick to their day job, behind the bench, overseeing trials rather than giving the impression that they would rather be law reformers.

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/commentary/is-the-act-chief-justice-a-crusading-reformer-or-a-judge-time-to-pick-one-lucy-mccallum/news-story/39454e252f32c6908ea5c5ac2da902a3

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Good survey methodology


I was talking to my son about the quite stupid study of the Mediterranean diet that I critiqued yesterday.  He challenged me to nominate a feasible methodology that I would accept as credible.  I have done a heap of published survey research so I think I can do that

For a start, I accept that a classical before-and-after study of diet is virtually impossible because of the long lag needed to detect lifespan effects.  But a correlational study can still have considerable credibility if it makes extensive use of statistical controls. The first computer program I ever wrote  way back in 1967 was to do partial correlations so  I have myself long used statistical controls.  When the "Summer of Love" was happening in San Francisco, I was writing FORTRAN code!

But to use statistical controls you have to have measures of the likely confounders, and getting measures of some of the confounders can be pesky.  Both income and IQ are broadly influential and very influential in the case of income.  Poor people routinely do badly on almost all ill health measures.  But to make your findigs credible you usually have  to take at least income  into account, with neuroticism (chronic anxiety as measured for example by the Eysenck N scale) an important third factor)

And the although the difficulties are great, they are not insusuperable.  I have managed them at times.   The Goossen hidden scale of intelligence is particularly useful as long as it is kept up to date.  And the usual demographics should of course be used.  Other confounders examined will depend on the study concerned

And how do we deal with the problem of "faking good" on self-reports?  That is actually one of the easy ones.  I have almost always embedded a social desirability or "lie" scale in my questionnaires

And of course the study must be double blind.  That is as important in survey research as it is in experimental research. So  persuasive  survey research can be done but such research is sadly rare  in epidemiology.  Epidemiologists generally seem to be blissfully  unaware of the precautions psychologists  routinely take in survey research.

Harvard scientists find new incredible benefit of following Mediterranean diet


Incredible is the word.  This study has so many holes in it that I found it hard to know where to start pointing them out. 

 So I'll start with the big picture:  Japan has the longest lived national population by far.  So shouldn't we all be living on a diet of rice and fish? That  may suggest that a Mediterranean diet is NOT optimal. Another permissible inference is that both diet and geography do not matter as influences on lifespan

OK: On to the study below.  The journal article is here:

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2819335

I think the most obvious point is that the hazard ratios were tiny, indicating extrememly marginal effects.  And very weak effects  tend to be unreplicable -- nothing to be relied on for policy purposes.

And as a study based on self-reports it is very questionable. Pychologists have known since the '30s that self reports often misrepresent behaviour:  Mainly because respondents tend to "fake good" on questionnaires.

And it's alarming that no allowance for confounders was reported.  Income is the big confounder.  Poor people regularly have worse healh.  So was it poor people who did less well on the qauestionnaire.  Were the less long-lived people in the study simply poorer?  We don't know.

And possible psychological confounders are ignored too.  Was it more stable personalities or higher IQ people who stuck more to the diet?  Was it their characteristics that extended life?  We don't know.  High IQ people do in general tend to live longer

So there was a tiny tendency for the diet regulars to live longer  but was it really the diet that mattered?  What if the regulars  lived longer because they were also smarter, richer, more emotionally stable etc?  Was the diet simply a marker for something else? Was the real cause of the longer life something other than the diet?  We do not know and the researchers appear to have done nothing to find out.  

They did put a lot of work into their study so it is quite sad that the safest conclusion we can draw from their work is that  we do not know if diet matters


The Mediterranean diet has been found to reduce the risk of death by all causes by nearly a quarter in women.

A study of more than 25,000 healthy middle-aged American females with an average age of 55 found that following a diet rich in fish, legumes, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains was linked with a 23 percent lower risk of dying by the end of the 25-year study. 

Every woman was quizzed on their adherence to the diet annually, and thos who stuck closely to it over that 25-year period enjoyed a 16 percent lowered risk of death from all causes.  

The Mediterranean diet, which has been crowned the best diet for seven years in a row, has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body, improve the body's regulation in insulin, and manage weight, all of which protect against heart disease, dementia, and diabetes.   

The diet is common in Greece, Italy, and Spain, countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. 

The latest study from Harvard University is among the largest, with 25,315 women involved and perhaps the longest-running, with the women being followed for more than two decades.

At the start of the study, women filled out health questionnaires about their dietary habits, their health, their height and weight to calculate BMI. 

They also had their blood pressure assessed.

Participants filled out health questionnaires every six months during the first year and annually thereafter. 

Researchers assigned scores for adherence to the diet on a scale from zero to nine, with a higher score indicating that the woman stuck to the diet closely.

The scoring was based on the intake of nine dietary components, including a high intake of vegetables (except potatoes), fruits, nuts, whole grains, fish, and monosaturated fats.

If a woman ate less red and processed meats, she got points. If their alcohol consumption fell between five to 15 grams per day, they got an additional point. 

Then, the participants were broken into three categories based on their scores, with low adherence scores ranging from zero to three, intermediate adherence scores being a four or five, and high adherence scores falling between six and nine.

Over about 25 years, researchers counted 3,879 deaths, including 935 from heart disease and 1,531 from cancer.

Women with high adherence scores of six or higher were 23 percent less likely to die from all causes, while those with a score of four or five had a 16 percent lower risk.

The researchers said: ‘Our results suggest that a proportion of the lower risk of mortality may be accounted for by several cardiometabolic risk factors, in particular, biomarkers related to metabolism, inflammation, TRL pathways, insulin resistance, and BMI.

They added: ‘Most of the potential benefit of adherence to the Mediterranean diet and mortality remains unexplained, and future studies should examine other pathways that could potentially mediate the Mediterranean diet–associated lower mortality as well as examine cause-specific mortality.’

Their study was published in the journal JAMA Network Open. 

Few diets are loved by doctors as much as the Mediterranean diet. In addition to reducing one’s risk of heart disease, obesity, and dementia, it has a protective effect against stroke and can extend one’s life.

A 2016 study in the journal Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care reported that people who followed the diet lived about four and half years longer than those who didn’t.

It is meant to be as enjoyable as it is straightforward. It prescribes loading up on veggies and fruits, cutting back on red meat, and incorporating fats, especially extra virgin olive oil, nuts, peanuts, olives, and avocados.

The diet also recommends exercise, the first dietary pyramid to do so. The prescription is based on the lifestyles of people in Mediterranean-bordering countries, specifically Sardinia, Italy, and Ikaria, Greece.

Both are considered Blue Zones – areas of the world where people consistently reach 100 years old. People in Blue Zones plant gardens, go on walks with fellow members of their community, dance with friends, and perform manual labor that anchors them to their surroundings.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-13480755/Harvard-scientists-new-incredible-benefit-following-Mediterranean-diet.html

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Terrified teachers issued with panic alarms for their homes as youth crime spirals out of control in remote Queensland community


Mornington Island is in the Gulf of Carpentaria, truly remote.  Only around 1000 people live there, of whom nearly all are Aboriginal.  It is amaizng that such a small community produces so much crime.  

Aboriginal communities have long been  rather violent but the violence has racked up under current Queensland government policies designed to avoid "criminalizing" blacks  The Aboriginal young people have now realized that they can get away with almost any violent deed without police restraint and tend to show no other restraint


Terrified teachers have been given panic alarms for their homes after youth crime spiralled out of control in a remote far north Queensland community.

Twelve teachers at the Mornington Island State School - located 679km north-west of Cairns - have been issued with duress alarms and had heat sensors installed in their homes for their protection.

A teacher was reportedly hit by a student holding a cricket bat, rocks were allegedly thrown at the principal, a student allegedly 'threw a piece of timber like a spear' and homes have allegedly been broken into.

There have been 'unprecedented levels of violence' and teachers have been encouraged to sleep with the panic alarms beside their beds, one teacher told the Cairns Post.

'We have category one fences now around our houses but many of the kids can climb over them,' the teacher said.

There are 12 teachers at the school but the school has 206 students and is supposed to have 20 full-time teachers.

Eight other teaching posts have gone unfilled. 

In March, a teacher said a student threatened to 'bash them with two metal poles', while a teacher complained on social media about being hit on the leg with a cricket bat.

Earlier this month, there were incidents of teachers being called 'gay c***' and 'c*** sucker'.

On May 1, Queensland's Education Minister Di Farmer said a program called Flexispaces - designed to help at-risk students - would provide $600,000 in funding to Mornington Island State School.

'FlexiSpaces are such a great tool to help schools respond to students who are experiencing challenges in a mainstream educational environment,' Ms Farmer said when she launched the $45million program, which will be spread across 34 schools. 

But there are grave fears it will make no difference in Mornington Island as teachers don't even want to go there, with one new teacher lasting just 10 days at the start of the 2024 school year. 

One teacher said the town lived with 'third world conditions' and has not had drinkable water for months.

'Concerns about staff safety or wellbeing at the schools (on the Flexispaces program) have not been raised with the principal this year,' an Education Department spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-13478295/Mornington-island-state-school-queensland-teachers-panic-alarms-youth-crime.html

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Erudition Is the New Ticket to Success


I largely agree with prominent libertarian Jeffrey A. Tucker below but I am rather surprised by his definition of erudition. To me erudition is having a deep knowlege of at least some subjects, What he calls erudition I would simply call eloquence.

I also think he is rather hard on people who use "like" a lot. I does convey uncertainty but being uncertain is not always a vice. Some people are TOO certain of themselves. So I see frequent use of "like" as self effacing. And Jesus did after all say: "Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth." Not a bad inheritance

I would never speak that way but I do reserve my words for matters I am fairly certain about. And I am formally erudite: I wrote my Ph.D. dissertation in 6 weeks. But I think a good heart is much more important and desirable than formal erudition


Investor Peter Thiel makes an exceptionally compelling point concerning Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its impact on the future of professional skill.

He says that AI’s primary skill is technical: math, calculation, coding, assembling various facts, winning at puzzles, and other achievements of eggheads.

What it cannot do is precisely what will be most in demand in the future, namely human skills including creative, wisdom, and good judgment. An employee can distinguish himself from AI with such skills.

In particular, he singles out verbal skills such as erudition. Erudition is the ability to think and speak clearly to the moment, on the spot, in ways that are compelling and persuasive, in the presence of others. Even now, and especially now, this is an irreplaceable skill and more rare than ever.

Another way to put this: AI is not and cannot be eloquent.

Think of people like Jordan Peterson, Elon Musk, Stephen Pinker, Bret Weinstein, or (on the other side) someone like Rachel Maddow. Another example is Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who has amazing recall and can engage audiences for hours.

What do they have in common? They all have the ability to express themselves at length with knowledge, confidence, clarity, conviction, and wide learning. They manage to be simultaneously human and authentic plus rather intelligent in ways that elicit interest and agreement.

These are skills that machines cannot accomplish. These are skills that everyone should seek to acquire and perfect as a path to professional success in an AI-dominated world. There is simply no substitute.

I’ve often thought about how I would handle grading today in college if I were a professor. It would be time-consuming but I would do the following. I would bring each student into a room and ask questions about the material, an end-of-semester oral exam. I would drill down as they spoke to ask details and push back and see how they manage themselves.

There is simply no way that AI could pass this test. It provides a genuine measure of mastery. Yes, the judgment and grading would be more subjective but perhaps that can be fixed by having another proctor or professor present. Regardless, it’s a perfect way to ferret out the fakes. Just having to prepare for such an exam would inspire the students in different directions. Drugs won’t help but hurt, and there is zero chance for cheating. If students had to achieve this in every class, they would develop a skill for life.

How to prepare for such a thing? In other words, how does one become erudite? Above all else, it means eliminating verbal tics. That, in any case, is a first step.

I cannot say this clearly enough: no one will ever take you seriously if you punctuate your language with a frequent use of the word “like.” This has become something of a massive modern disease of speaking. It personally drives me utterly nuts. It comes across to me like nails on a chalkboard, painfully annoying. Unbearable but ubiquitous. A person who speaks this way comes across as deeply ignorant and insecure, no matter the rest of the content.

I’m hardly alone in observing this. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, essayist Tevi Troy writes as follows:

“If you’re a college graduate looking for a job, here’s some advice: Beware the like-o-meter. It’s a simple device I invented. Before interviews with a prospective hire, I put a blank sheet of paper in front of me. I then make a hash mark every time the applicant uses the word ‘like.’ Too many and I’m already thinking about the next candidate. If the interviewee keeps his ‘likes’ to an acceptable number, he remains in the pool. When two finalists emerge, the person with the fewest ‘likes’ gets the edge in a tiebreaker. ... To the class of ’24: As you look for jobs, be aware of what you say and how you say it. The person interviewing you might be listening closely.”

He further reports that McKinsey & Co. uses the same tactic. I don’t doubt it. Certainly it makes a huge difference. You can learn to police yourself for the use of this word. Every time you use it, just make a mental note. Or assign a friend to do the same to you, marking every infraction on a piece of paper. This problem will go away within a day or two.

The key is speaking clearly is rather simple. It is to think briefly about what you are going to say before you say it. When you begin to speak, cut it out with the runway talk such as “That’s an interesting point, and you know, as I think about it and considering everything, I would say that ...” All that is unnecessary and makes you sound indecisive and essentially stupid.

There are other verbal tics that are common, and here I’m guilty. Getting rid of them is a constant battle: “You know” and “Ummm” and “The thing is” and many more besides. Ideally, you should eliminate all of this and only leave the meat of what it is you are trying to say. And please, no management talk, the deployment of meaningless blather you get in the corporate world that is structured to bamboozle but never communicate. It’s simply awful.

That leaves only the problem of saying something meaningful. Here is the path:

1. Reading deeply and widely

2. Knowing history

3. Being aware of the best thoughts of the best thinkers

4. Being truthful about what you know and do not know

5. Expressing yourself with honesty and sincerity and without fluff.

This is true in all walks of life. Erudition is key and ever more so in the future.

The goal is of course communicating in compelling ways. This can take many forms, but it is always about reading the room and connecting with others.

I will now offer an opinion that might strike you as ridiculous but hear me out. In my view, Donald Trump is a master of a certain form of human skills, among which a form of genius in communicating. Indeed he might be the king of it. It’s not erudition but it might obtain similar results.

Notice that he doesn’t have common verbal tics. He doesn’t use the word “like” or the phrase “you know.” He gets to the point. He speaks decisively. He speaks with knowledge. He is funny and clever, and quick on his feet. Above all else, he is authentic or seems to be.

Indeed, I would say that authenticity is Trump’s distinct contribution to public life. It’s not a small one. Over many decades, most politicians in the media age developed a media-savvy skill of having perfect talking points, mastery of detail, and a way of staying out of trouble by not falling into gaffes.

In 2016 and following, Trump blew up the whole system by not being over-prepared for debates, being sincere and authentic on stage, responding to the topic at hand, and speaking in ways (sometimes gritty and sometimes even rude) that compelled agreement. The combination creates the sense that he is not a phony but rather fearless.

In any case, his rhetorical skills, which seemed like no other politicians, is what carried him to get the nomination and the presidency. They will likely win it for him again.

I had supposed that every politician the world over would listen and learn, that he would change the way people spoke and engaged in politics, based on his very obvious and actually astounding successes. I had assumed that every aspirant to office would fire his or her team of coaches and handlers. Tragically that didn’t happen. Even now, Trump has a monopoly on these skills on a national and even international level (though Putin comes close).

Why did the politicians persist in being such phonies even after Trump? The answer must be that they are not up to the job. They simply lack the raw skill—one that AI cannot match—to do without coaches and advisors. They don’t sound like human beings, much less like people you meet in regular life who sound compelling.

As a result, they lose to Trump. It’s as simple as that.

If I had one piece of advice for any candidate for public office, it would be this: fire your communication handlers. Speak truthfully, insightfully, and from the head and heart.

Trump is one of a kind. AI would never be able to create or recreate him. That’s one secret to his success.

At the same time, impersonating Trump is not the right strategy. It’s too transparent. You can find your own path, and it might end up very different, even better. What matters is gaining the crucial things that AI lacks: erudition, authenticity, believability, social insight, quick and accurate judgment, wisdom, thoughtfulness, and genuine intelligence.

Listen to Peter Thiel. He is likely correct on this point. Investing in your own personal human skills might be your best professional investment ever.

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Why Are They Drugging the Students?


I was an early victim of drugging kids. I was a high IQ kid so school bored me. I played up to get let out. I was given regular phenobarbs to slow me down, mostly a now almost forgotten barbiturate known as Prominal. Fortunately they appear to have had no lasting effects -- JR -

Jeffrey A. Tucker

The last few years have blown wide open a scandal that has long existed but is not that well known aside from specialists. The problem is the collaboration between pharmaceutical companies, government regulators, and the medical industry. The problem is so vast that it is hardly describable in a short article.

It turns out that the ineffective COVID shots were just the beginning. As far as we know and have discovered in the course of investigations, the shot was developed quickly as a countermeasure to distract from the problem of a lab leak. The world’s population was held hostage for a year and more while the inoculation was rolled out. But once deployed, it became obvious that it could not actually block infection or stop the spread. So everyone got the bug anyway, and we are left with tremendous damage caused by the shots themselves.

I described this short history to Dr. Drew Pinsky, the famed addiction doctor who now has a popular video podcast. He found no fault with my scenario as mapped above. He immediately added that this has many parallels with the opioid crisis that led him into public advocacy. The pharma companies advertised some miracle drugs to fix pain with no risk of addiction.

The frenzy to prescribe was so intense that some doctors even feared penalties for not prescribing. The result of course was a disastrous addiction crisis that continues to this day. Unlike vaccine companies, the producers were not indemnified against payouts for harms, and as much as $50 billion ended up going to victims just last year. The numbers are mind-boggling.

Just when you think you have reached the bottom of this problem, new information comes along. Last night I was privileged to attend a talk by Sheila Matthews-Gallo who founded AbleChild, an organization that advocates for child rights against forced medicalization. Why would such a thing be needed? As it turns out, many if not most kids in public schools today face this threat daily. They can be identified as having ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

It turns out that there is nothing proven chemically to constitute ADHD. It is entirely a diagnosis applied based on behavior as identified throughout a checklist questionnaire. The checklist is about fidgeting, forgetting, boredom, finishing tasks, various acting up, expressions of frustrations, and so on. In other words, what we have here is a list of all the signs you might expect when boys in particular are told to sit perfectly still at a desk for months and years and complete tasks assigned to them by some authority figure.

With this kind of diagnosis, you are likely to rope in a vast number of kids, particularly the exceptional ones and those once considered to be “gifted and talented.” As it turns out, there is a vast industry working today to pathologize perfectly normal behavioral traits. It hits boys in particular very hard because, in general, they mature more slowly than girls and tend toward behavioral resistance to environmental adaptivity relative to girls.

What could be the purpose of such a diagnosis? You guessed it: there are drugs for this supposed problem. They have various names: Ritalin (methylphenidate), Adderall (amphetamine), Dexmethylphenidate, Lisdexamfetamine, Clonidine, and Atomoxetine. Not even one of them has been proven to be a chemical fix for any biological abnormality. They are all behavioral-adjustment drugs; that is, psychotropic drugs; that is, narcotics for kids.

Millions of kids take them, as many as 13 percent of teens. The rate grows higher in the college population. Some one in three adults are taking psychiatric meds. It’s getting worse.

It starts in school.

Listening to all of this, I found myself astounded. And yet, in some ways, it fits with everything else we know. We have an industry here that is in a tight working relationship with government institutions like public schools, plus regulators, plus medical authorities that are throwing drugs at people with the promise of miracles but with results that actually ruin lives.

Think of how different your school years would have been if you had developed a drug addiction and lived off psychotropic meds from the age of 7. I was fortunately spared such a fate. But millions of kids today cannot say the same. It’s utterly astonishing. It strikes me that this is a scandal just waiting to be blown wide open.

Among the related factors, as RFK, Jr. has been pointing out in public lately, is the odd relationship between school shootings and the wide distribution of these drugs. Many cases we know about already but the medical records of others are being withheld, even though the public is more and more understanding that the real problem is not guns but pharmacological products. And yet the activists themselves are entirely focused on taking away guns rather than looking more deeply.

I have had personal experience with young adults who are addicted to Adderall. In many ways, when you are a college student, it seems like a miracle drug. In college, discipline over the use of time recedes into a low priority. Instead the demand is to turn in long papers on deadline, memorize vast material you can spit out on a test and forget the next day, and otherwise stay intensely focused sporadically. For many students, this drug is exactly what the doctor ordered: it permits hyper-focused all-nighters followed by a day or two of feeling like a zombie but no one notices.

I’ve known many people who develop addictions, not only physical ones but psychological ones: life without the drug seems dull by comparison and who wants that? These students carry this over into professional life and attempt the same pattern. They can work all day and stay up all night and achieve something that seems mind-blowing but not quite what you asked for. You ask for fixes and they don’t happen. In fact, you don’t hear from them for days after until they reemerge with no memory of the work they did. This pattern repeats itself.

I gradually came to learn that the real problem was the drugs. I concluded that I would rather have a moderately productive employee who at least had a steady pattern of labor and a mild recall of skills that could be built up over time. The issue is that when hiring someone, it’s not quite kosher to ask such questions as: what drugs do you take? You end up guessing, and sometimes guessing wrong.

I’m telling you from long experience that these drugs are a catastrophe for professional life. No one should ever take them. That’s my considered opinion in any case, and I frequently warn college students against them. And what’s true for college kids is thousands of times more so for high school and grade school. It’s a complete scandal that these drugs are given out like candy to school kids. Parents have every right and obligation to resist.

It’s all the more astonishing to learn, as I did last night, that there never was any science to the diagnosis of ADHD, any more than there was any science behind social distancing. It’s all made up to service the state and its adjacent players in the private sector who benefit from various mandates that somehow always end in drugging the population. The whole thing astounds me.

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Massachusetts declares early victory in taxing the rich, saying $1.8 billion take from millionaires tax was double expectations


This celebrating is a bit premature.  Few peope can up-sticks immediately but there will be a gradual and cumulative drip of departures that will mostly leave only the elderly rich in place. Elderly people are not good at handling change so will in many cases opt to pay the tax for the sake of peace. 

But elderly people are prone to die. So who will replace them?  Just about nobody in all probability.  So the "rich" population is likely to shrink to nothing over time  -- with a huge loss to Massachustts tax receipts.  The Left elite will eventually realise that they have shot themselves in the foot but by then the damage is likely to be irrevesible. "Taxachusetts"  will once again be a byword for economic stupidity


Taxing millionaires is a contentious issue—but Massachusetts is declaring early victory, with an announcement this week that the state’s tax on its highest earners has yielded $1.8 billion in additional income. With three more months left in the state’s fiscal year, the take is already $800 million more than what officials, including Gov. Maura Healey, planned to spend in additional revenue from the tax, according to the State House News Service.

The money from the so-called fair-share tax has been earmarked to boost transportation and education, including giving every public-school child in the state free lunch, Healey’s office told Fortune last fall, and while the fate of the surplus funds isn’t yet clear, it’s likely to be designated for capital projects related to education and infrastructure. “Those are two areas of immense need,” senate budget chief Michael Rodrigues said on the senate floor, according to the State House News Service. 

The tax imposes an additional 4% charge on any income over $1 million a year and was approved by voters in 2022, but immediately drew criticism from opponents who warned it would drive out high earners. Florida and New Hampshire—two states that don’t tax income— have long been favored destinations for Massachusetts residents looking to escape the state’s tax regime, Bloomberg Tax noted. Now, progressive proponents are claiming victory in the wake of the Massachusetts haul. 

“Opponents of the Fair Share Amendment claimed that multimillionaires would flee Massachusetts rather than pay the new tax, and they are being proven wrong every day,” Andrew Farnitano, a spokesperson for Raise Up Massachusetts, a group that pushed for the initiative, told the Boston Globe. 

“With this money from the ultrarich, we can do even more to improve our public schools and colleges, invest in roads, bridges, and public transit, and start building an economy that works for everyone,” Farnitano continued. 

The right-leaning Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance denounced the tax. “Whatever short-term financial benefit the state will receive from the income surtax will be outweighed by the long-term negative effect this tax is having on the state,” spokesperson Paul Craney told the State House News Service. “It’s chasing out high-income earners and making the decision very easy for taxpayers who are regularly impacted by this tax to domicile in more tax-friendly states.”

The Tufts University Center for State Policy Analysis, in January 2022, released a report that found the tax would apply to less than 1% of Massachusetts households in any given year—and that while some high-income residents might move to other states, the number of movers would likely be small.

The news of the first-year success of Massachusetts’s tax is giving fuel to progressives in other states. In neighboring New York, the group Invest in Our New York called for a similar tax, writing that the Massachusetts experience “underscores that taxes on the ultra-wealthy are not only politically feasible, they are a fiscal imperative.”

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/massachusetts-declares-early-victory-taxing-174251009.html

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