Friday, 22 September 2017

Which foods should be eat of we want to live a long life?

In Which foods can help you live longer? Paula Goodyer reports that long life is just as much about what we eat as our genes.
There is no foolproof recipe for making it to 100 years old and beyond but there are strong clues from longevity hot spots such as the Mediterranean regions of France and Italy, parts of Spain, Nicoya, in Costa Rica, and Okinawa, in Japan. These are all places with high numbers of long-lived people, according to Dr Preston Estep, director of gerontology at the Harvard Personal Genome Project

They do not always eat the same food but their diets have much in common – a lot of plant food, moderate amounts of fish but not so much meat and added sugar, says Estep, whose book, The Mindspan Diet, looks at the eating habits of people who not only live longer but also have lower rates of dementia. Their fat intake varies, but where diets are high in fat it is usually mono-unsaturated fat – the kind found in olive oil, for example. And when they raise a glass, it is usually with meals and in moderation.
So eat mostly vegetables, with plenty of legumes.

Have the benefits of standing desks been oversold

In How the media oversold standing desks as a fix for inactivity at work Catriona Bonfiglioli and Josephine Chau report that articles in the media about the danger of sitting did not accurately reflect the reality of the report they were based on.

Vegetarian Spaghetti Bolognese Recipes

Three vegetarian spaghetti bolognese recipes:

BBC goodfood: Vegetarian spaghetti bolognese

Vegie Num Num: Vegetarian Spaghetti Bolognese

Jamie Oliver: Veggie Spaghetti Bolognese

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

The making of Dylann Roof

A powerful piece of writing by Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah: A Most American Terrorist: The Making of Dylann Roof.
“What are you?” a member of the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston asked at the trial of the white man who killed eight of her fellow black parishioners and their pastor. “What kind of subhuman miscreant could commit such evil?... What happened to you, Dylann?”
Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah spent months in South Carolina searching for an answer to those questions—speaking with Roof’s mother, father, friends, former teachers, and victims’ family members, all in an effort to unlock what went into creating one of the coldest killers of our time.

Monday, 28 August 2017

The rise of the alt-right

In If you want to know how the alt-right upended American politics, read Kill All Normies Sean Illing interviews Irish academic and author Angela Nagle on her book Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars from 4chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right.

The GOP and Authoritarianism

Jonathan Chait on how The GOP’s Age of Authoritarianism Has Only Just Begun. Note this was written before Trump won the US election.

Wayne Swan in the blindness of affluence

Wayne Swan writes about The blindness of affluence and the need for a more inclusive form of prosperity.

The three party system

John Quiggin explains The three party system.
Looking at the way politics has evolved over the past 25 years or so, in the English-speaking world and beyond, I have developed an analysis which is certainly not original, but which I haven’t seen set down in exactly the way I would like. Here’s the shorter version:

There are three major political forces in contemporary politics in developed countries: tribalism, neoliberalism and leftism (defined in more detail below). Until recently, the party system involved competition between different versions of neoliberalism. Since the Global Financial Crisis, neoliberals have remained in power almost everywhere, but can no longer command the electoral support needed to marginalise both tribalists and leftists at the same time. So, we are seeing the emergence of a three-party system, which is inherently unstable because of the Condorcet problem and for other reasons.

Why aren't people protesting against gerrymandering?

Brian Klaas poses the question Gerrymandering is the biggest obstacle to genuine democracy in the United States. So why is no one protesting?

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Life in North Korea

In Fear, loneliness, and duty — an American journalist on daily life in North Korea Sean Illing interviews the author of the 2014 book Without You, There Is No Us: Undercover Among the Sons of North Korea’s Elite, Suki Kim about living in North Korea.

Are carbs really the problem?

In We’ve long blamed carbs for making us fat. What if that's wrong? Julia Belluz writes about a study that casts doubt on carbohydrate-insulin hypothesis, the theory that
... suggests that a diet heavy in carbohydrates (especially refined grains and sugars) leads to weight gain because of a specific mechanism: Carbs drive up insulin in the body, causing the body to hold on to fat and suppress calorie burn.

The top 100 solutions to climate change

In A new book ranks the top 100 solutions to climate change. The results are surprising. David Roberts interviews Paul Hawken about Hawken's book Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming.
Unlike most popular books on climate change, it is not a polemic or a collection of anecdotes and exhortations. In fact, with the exception of a few thoughtful essays scattered throughout, it’s basically a reference book: a list of solutions, ranked by potential carbon impact, each with cost estimates and a short description. A set of scenarios show the cumulative potential.
The number one solution, in terms of potential impact? A combination of educating girls and family planning, which together could reduce 120 gigatons of CO2-equivalent by 2050 — more than on- and offshore wind power combined (99 GT).
Also sitting atop the list, with an impact that dwarfs any single energy source: refrigerant management. (Don’t hear much about that, do you? Here’s a great Brad Plumer piece on it.)

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Most of the 2016 USA election results were pretty typical

In Why did the 2016 election look so much like the 2012 election? Ezra Klein reports on work shoing that most voters in the USA vote according to partisan identity, not policies or candidates.
A few months ago, I stopped by Larry Bartels’s office at Vanderbilt University. Bartels, alongside Christopher Achen, is the author of Democracy for Realists, which I’d become a bit obsessed with. The book argues that decades of social science evidence has shattered the idealistic case made for how voters in democracies act, and the reality is that “even the most informed voters typically make choices not on the basis of policy preferences or ideology, but on the basis of who they are — their social identities.”
I sat down with Bartels shortly after the 2016 election, and I had a dozen ideas for how his book helped explain the unusual results. But he wasn’t buying my premise. To him, the election looked pretty typical.
The Democratic candidate won 89 percent of Democratic voters, and the Republican candidate won 90 percent of Republican voters. The Democrat won minorities, women, and the young; the Republican won whites, men, and the old. The Democrat won a few percentage points more of the two-party vote than the Republican, just as had happened four years before, and four years before that. If you had known nothing about the candidates or conditions in the 2016 election but had been asked to predict the results, these might well have been the results you’d predicted. So what was there to explain?

Monday, 24 July 2017

The limits of human compassion

In A psychologist explains the limits of human compassion Brian Resnick interviews Paul Slovic on "psychic numbing". It seems our levels of concern appears to be inversely proportional to the number of victims. That's why we ignore mass atrocities but give when there's only a single individual victim (e.g. a child with cancer). Unfortunately, an individual is worth more than the sum of a group.

The interview explores several topics:
  • There is no constant value for a human life
  • We’re compelled to help individuals. But the world’s problems are too large to be solved one person at a time
  • Psychic numbing begins when the number of victims increases from one to two
  • Three factors keep people and politicians from intervening in humanitarian crises
  • We might be able to build machines more moral than humans
  • Even partial solutions save whole lives

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Sympathise with the victims, not the perpetrators of domestic violence

In ‘We didn’t recognise that he was dangerous’: our father killed our mother and sister Rossalyn Warren talks to the sons of a man who killed his wife and daughter after they left him. The sons are upset that the media tended to be sympathetic to their father:
The Sun and Daily Telegraph quoted locals who described Lance as “a nice guy”, while the Daily Express reported that he was “a DIY nut”. The Daily Mail spoke to others who described Hart as “always caring”. In every report, there was speculation that the prospect of divorce “drove” Lance to murder, and little mention or description of Claire or Charlotte.
The reality it seems is very different. Although Hart had never been violent, he had terrorised the family and made their live's hell.
“I was shocked at the ease with which others, sitting behind their desks, could explain our tragedy away within an afternoon,” Ryan says now. “It was very difficult to read that they were sympathising with a man who caused Mum and Charlotte misery their entire lives. One writer even dared use the word ‘understandable’ to justify why they were murdered.” This second Daily Mail article, a column by psychiatrist Max Pemberton, argued that a man killing his children “is often a twisted act of love”. The article was later removed from the site.
“You’re reading it and thinking, ‘This is bollocks,’” Ryan says. “But you know people around the country are also reading it, and those ideas are being driven into their minds. It reinforces in the abuser’s mind that what they’re doing is OK.”
“They kept saying this was a money issue,” Luke adds of the news stories. “It wasn’t about money. That’s what made me really angry. Sometimes news is just entertainment. They couldn’t have known our history, but it was weird: in the absence of information, they chose the side of a terrorist who committed murder.”
They now want to live life the way Claire and Charlotte would have wanted them to. Their favourite thing is to walk Indi and Bella, because their fondest memories are of their mother and sister playing with the dogs. They refuse to see Claire and Charlotte as victims. “Vulnerable women and children are not treated as heroes, for standing up to their oppressors even when they are murdered, or given a national day of mourning,” Luke says. “But they should be.”

Terrorism linked to domestic violence?

In Terrorism and domestic violence Martin McKenzie-Murray explores the possible links between terrorism and domestic violence.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Most of Trump's supporters were well off

Nicholas Carnes and Noam Lupu write in It’s time to bust the myth: Most Trump voters were not working class that most of Trump's supporters were relatively affluent:
Among people who said they voted for Trump in the general election, 35 percent had household incomes under $50,000 per year (the figure was also 35 percent among non-Hispanic whites), almost exactly the percentage in NBC’s March 2016 survey. Trump’s voters weren’t overwhelmingly poor. In the general election, like the primary, about two thirds of Trump supporters came from the better-off half of the economy.

David MacKay on Sustainable Energy

In 2008 David MacKay FRS, the Regius Professor of Engineering at the University of Cambridge, wrote a book Sustainable Energy – without the hot air. This book is available free at his site

The biggest takeaway I had from the book was this:
Have no illusions. To achieve our goal of getting off fossil fuels, these
reductions in demand and increases in supply must be big. Don’t be distracted
by the myth that “every little helps.” If everyone does a little, we’ll
achieve only a little
. We must do a lot. What’s required are big changes in
demand and in supply.