Monday, 25 August 2014

World's best diet?

Paula Goodyer reports on what we should be eating in World's Best Diet revealed by scientists.
A total of 773 adults  who'd already lost an average of 11 kilos were assigned to one of five diets each based on a different combination of protein and carbs - some were lower in carbs and higher in protein and vice versa. Some diets included high GI carbs- meaning the 'fast', often more refined carbs that raise and lower blood sugar rapidly;  others had slower burning low GI carbs that raise and lower blood sugar more slowly. And the winner? The low GI carb and high protein combo. The people on this diet not only kept the weight off during the six months of the study but they also continued to lose weight too.
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There are no fluffy carbs in this diet. Instead it's based on fresh vegetables, lean protein sources like fish, poultry, legumes, nuts and dairy foods and dense, grainy foods like rye bread, pumpernickel and barley - the book's recipe for rye porridge with apple and hazelnuts is the polar opposite of lightweight breakfast cereal. 

The reason these robust carbs are more filling than their more refined cousins like white bread isn't just that they keep blood sugar levels steadier, Brand-Miller explains. They also stimulate cells in the gut that produce one of the satiety hormones we need to feel full. These cells are located deep down in the gut – a place that rapidly digested carbs never reach because they're digested in the upper half of the gut, Brand Miller explains.

"This explains why we still feel hungry after we've eaten fluffy white rice," she says.

But while the World's Best Diet is higher in protein and lower in carbs it's no radical diet. The idea is to modestly lower the carbohydrate content of the diet and modestly increase the protein content  to give a ratio of around 2:1 in favour of carbs, says Brand- Miller explaining that a typical Australian diet is generally higher in carbohydrates with a ratio as high as 4:1

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Statistics on Australia

Jonathan Green cites some interesting statistics about Australia in Team Australia: the reality of the figures.

Chris Berg on mandatory sentencing

Chris Berg has some interesting things to say on the problems of mandatory sentencing in Mandatory sentencing: a king hit for courts.

Saul Eslake on tax reform

Prior to the 2011 Tax Summit Saul Eslake made an interesting speech on tax reform. The transcript is online at Australia's Tax Reform Challenge. While I don't necessarily agree with everything he says, he has some very compelling arguments. He may even have changed my mind on negative gearing. Well worth a read.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Gittins on inequality

Ross Gittins in Abbott and Hockey: Why poor people don't matter quotes former Treasurer Wayne Swan and IMF head Christine Lagarde on why increasing inequality is not good.
“Many would argue, however, that we should ultimately care about equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome.” As it happens, Hockey has defended his budget’s unfairness with just that argument.

“The problem is that opportunities are not equal. Money will always buy better-quality education and health care, for example. But due to current levels of inequality, too many people in too many countries have only the most basic access to these services, if at all. The evidence also shows that social mobility is more stunted in less equal societies.”

Disparity also brings division, she said. “The principles of solidarity and reciprocity that bind societies together are more likely to erode in excessively unequal societies. History also teaches us that democracy begins to fray at the edges once political battles separate the haves against the have-nots.”
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“It is therefore not surprising that IMF research - which looked at 173 countries over the past 50 years - found that more unequal countries tend to have lower and less durable economic growth,”  Legarde also said.

Get that? Until now, the conventional wisdom among economists has been that efforts to reduce inequality come at the expense of economic growth. Now a pillar of economic orthodoxy, the IMF, has found it works the other way round: rising inequality - as is occurring in Australia, the US and almost all advanced economies - seems to lead to slower growth.

Lagarde said other IMF research had found that, in general, budgetary policies had a good record of reducing social disparities. Social security benefits and income taxes “have been able to reduce inequality by about a third, on average, among the advanced economies”.

What can we do? “Some potentially beneficial options can include making income tax systems more progressive without being excessive; making greater use of property taxes; expanding access to education and health; and relying more on active labour market programs and in-work social benefits.”

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Standing vs Sitting

In Health Check: Sitting versus standing Bethany Howard and Neville Owen compare the benefits and risks of both. Their recommendation:
To obtain the health benefits of standing and reduce the potential adverse effects, the best option is to alternate between sitting and standing. Our message is to stand up, sit less and move more.

Alternating between sitting and standing will increase muscular contractions, stimulating blood flow and resulting in more calories burnt and healthier blood sugar levels. Recent findings from our lab show that alternating between 30 minutes of sitting and standing can improve blood sugar levels after a meal.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Predestination

Andrew P Street makes some interesting points in Scott Morrison and the Conveniently Comforting Doctrine of Predestination. He explains how some Pentecostal Christians can be complicit in all manner of evil activities without troubling their conscience.
Morrison belongs to Shirelive, a giant Pentecostal church in the Sydney suburb of Sutherland. It's an evangelical Protestant church of the clapping-and-waving variety and falls under the charismatic umbrella of what is somewhat dismissively called “prosperity theology” - the idea that material success is a sign from God that you're doing His work.

The flipside of this doctrine is that those who are not doing well are clearly not in God's good graces. Such as, for instance, the poor, or the sick, or those fleeing persecution from repressive regimes by buying passage for their family with people smugglers and being intercepted on the high seas by Australian Customs Vessels.
Street then goes on to explain the justification for this belief:
You may justifiably ask how this can possibly work theologically, given everything that Jesus said about camels and the Kingdom of Heaven and needing to liquefy the rich to get them through the eye of a needle. And the answer is that it's via a handy bit of doctrinal sleight of hand.

Morrison's church believe in Predestination, the notion that God knows absolutely everything about everything from the moment of creation until the end of the world. Long before you were born He knew everything about you – what you'd do, what you'd think, who you'd meet, the very specific types of pornography you'd enjoy, everything – including whether or not you were going to Heaven or Hell.
Street then brings Morrison back into the picture:
Well, he knows that those who come across the seas are all doomed to damnation – after all, God wouldn't have plonked them in the middle of the civil war in Syria if He didn't want to punish them for their unchangeable wickedness – and therefore locking them up indefinitely to self-harm in disease-riddled camps is perfectly fine. He's not going to examine his conscience on the subject, because the act of doing so would be an affront to God.

Meanwhile, he's on a sweet parliamentary salary with a high-profile government portfolio, a wife and kids and a lovely house in a quiet Sydney suburb. God's clearly giving him a tangible version of a spiritual high-five.

So to answer the original question: how can Scott Morrison be responsible for overseeing all these human rights atrocities and call himself a Christian? With absolute ease. And he probably sleeps better than you do.

After all, it was predestined.

Economies of agglomeration

In Economists need to learn where we're at Ross Gittins writes about the work of economic geographers who "have long known there's also a lot of economic logic to where people settle" and the benefits of economies of agglomeration.

A couple of points from this column. Firstly there are economic benefits to having workers in a knowledge industry close to each other:
Being close to suppliers, customers and rivals helps businesses generate new business opportunities and ideas for products and services, and better ways of working. These transfers of expertise, new ideas and process improvements that occur through interactions between businesses are called ''knowledge spillovers'' (a class of ''positive externality'').

Within cities, CBDs and inner-city areas offer the most opportunities for face-to-face contact among workers, essential to benefiting from knowledge spillovers. Spillovers often involve combining and recombining knowledge to come up with new products and ways of working.

Workers build on each other's thoughts, jointly solve problems and break through impasses. Trust is essential, and these kinds of complex conversations are best had in person.

''High-speed broadband and other advances in communication technologies will never replace the importance of face-to-face contact,'' we're told.
Secondly transport infrastructure may limit the economic benefits of agglomeration:
Grattan's research finds that residential patterns and transport systems mean CBD employers have access to only a limited proportion of workers in metropolitan areas. Turning that around, many workers, particularly in outer suburbs, have access to only a small proportion of jobs across the city. For instance, in some outer suburban growth areas of Melbourne, just 10 per cent of the city's jobs can be reached within a 45-minute drive. If work journeys are made by public transport it's worse.

The report warns that unless governments lift their game, ''Australian cities are likely to continue to spread outwards, further increasing the distance between where many people live and the most productive parts of large cities.'' This would harm productivity - and workers' opportunity to get ahead.

The point is, governments need to understand the economy's spatial dimension and respond by ensuring transport networks better connect employees with employers, and businesses with their customers and suppliers. Continue letting congestion worsen and you cause productivity to be lower than otherwise, not to mention adding misery to people's lives.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Middle-Out Economics

From the Middle-Out Economics website:
The Middle-Out Economics project is an initiative of the Economic Policy team at the Center for American Progress that combines original analysis, public policy proposals, live events, and multimedia presentations to demonstrate that a strong and stable middle class is the key driver of American economic growth.

Progressives should be aiming to strengthen the middle class

In Middle-Out Economics And Bottom-up Politics Matt Browne writes about the challenges facing progressive parties.
[T]the challenges now facing progressives across the developed economies and mature democracies are remarkably similar. The crash of 2008 not only changed the shape of our societies and our politics, it also fundamentally challenged the underlying assumptions about the nature of economic growth. Today, concerns with rising inequality are now an essential part of elite policy discussions, a pre-occupations of “Main Street” as well as mainstream politics. This new state of affairs is perhaps best illustrated by the global success of French economist Thomas Piketty’s work on inequality. Similarly, restoring trust in politics and a sense of connection between voters and parliamentarians is now a prerequisite for many political movements.
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This new economic vision implies that progressives need to work harder to support, strengthen and grow the middle classes. And, as global competition grows ever more intense, we need to ensure our agenda for economic growth and our competitive edge is based on the creation of high-wage and high-skilled jobs, not low-wages and low skills.
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The challenge for all progressives, whether in Europe or the US, will be to generate new a new policy agenda and a new approach to doing politics that is able to attract, engage and retain new cohorts of voters while retaining their history, values and the support of their traditional voters. Those that succeed, will help build a movement for the future. Those that fail will become monuments to the past.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Blueberry bake recipe

Bridgitte Hafner's recipe: Prue's blueberry bake.

Rum, raisin and chocolate bread and butter pudding recipe

Luke Mangan's Rum, raisin and chocolate bread and butter pudding.

Fast and easy chocolate cake recipe

Caroline Velik's fast and easy chocolate cake.

Winter cake recipe

Stephanie Alexander's winter cake.

Warm apple crumble cake recipe

Jill Dupleix's warm apple crumble cake.

Lemon coconut cake recipe

Goodfood's lemon coconut cake recipe.

Baby carrot cakes recipe

Jill Dupleix's baby carrot cakes recipe.

ANZAC biscuits recipe

Goodfood's ANZAC biscuits recipe.