Saturday, 24 December 2016

Investing in preschools

In More preschool is a sure-fire budget fix, in the long run. But politicians don't have the guts Jacqueline Maley writes about the economic and social benefits of investing in preschool education for all children.
The evidence is clear that this near-magic initiative works to prevent poverty, illiteracy, social delinquency, welfare dependency, ill health, and even cardiovascular disease and obesity.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Are terrorists not religious enough?

In How to defeat terrorists? True extremism Giles Fraser argues that "Despite what religious terrorists may think, God doesn’t need saving. People should be more extreme in their faith – placing their trust in God’s greatness".

Monday, 19 December 2016

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Fundamentalist Rural America is the problem

In An Insider's View: The Dark Rigidity of Fundamentalist Rural America Forsetti's Justice argues that the problem in America isn't that the coasts don't understand rural America, it's that rural America doesn't understand itself.
The real problem isn’t east coast elites who don’t understand or care about rural America. The real problem is rural America doesn’t understand the causes of their own situations and fears and they have shown no interest in finding out. They don’t want to know why they feel the way they do or why they are struggling because they don’t want to admit it is in large part because of choices they’ve made and horrible things they’ve allowed themselves to believe.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Cheasecake Slice

New Idea Food's Cheesecake Slice (going by the ingredients I think it should be called the artery blocking slice).

The idea of using the biscuits might also work with a chocolate cheesecake filling.

The US Electoral College exists because of slavery

At least according to Akhil Reed Amar in The Troubling Reason the Electoral College Exists.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Why Wisconsin turned red

In Trump's Victory and the Politics of Resentment Claudia Wallis interviews political scientist Katherine J. Cramer for the reason Wisconsin voted for Trump.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Lift weights to become smarter

In Weightlifting your way to a bigger brain Sarah Berry writes that recent studies have suggested that resistance based exercise may be good for the brain.
Lift weights to make your muscles and your brain stronger. This is true to the extent that even those with mild cognitive impairment experience improved brain function when they weightlift, according to a new study by the University of Sydney.

Healthy muscles are key to strength, weight control, and a defence against type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, but, until now, the link to brain function was not causal.
...
Resistance training is something most of us can do more of. One study from earlier this year found that nine out of 10 Australians do not meet the guidelines of twice weekly strength training. Strength training can include lifting weights (barbells, dumbbells or kettlebells), using resistance bands or body weight (push-ups, sit-ups, squats).

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Trump's campaign tactics and Russian propaganda

In Donald Trump campaign's 'firehose of falsehoods' has parallels with Russian propaganda Chris Zappone highlights how the rapid fire false claims and pronouncements by the Trump campaign are very similar to the propaganda coming out from Russia. In both cases they seek to overwhelm traditional media and fact checking, using social media to amplify their lies and falsehoods.
In other words, simply adhering to and amplifying the truth – as was the counter-strategy during the Cold War – is no longer enough.

This point will be no surprise to people working in online media – where the advent of social media has made it much easier for incorrect reporting to take on a life of its own.

One of the reasons is that the volume and pace of information in this propaganda method helps trick the minds of the audience into accepting incorrect facts.

This happens because questionable sources are forgotten even as the information is "remembered as true", the RAND report states.

Monday, 10 October 2016

The world's first political-consulting firm

Jill Lepore in The Lie Factory documents the rise of Campaigns, Inc - the world's first political-consulting firm. She also documents the firms efforts in blocking single payer health care in America.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

NIST's new draft password rules

Chester Wisniewski at Sophos discusses NIST's new draft policy in NIST’s new password rules – what you need to know.

Jim Fenton, a security researcher, has a slide show discussing the changes in Toward Better Password Requirements.

Friday, 2 September 2016

Running amok and spree killing

In Running Amok: A Modern Perspective on a Culture-Bound Syndrome Manuel L. Saint Martin explains why mengamok is the equivalent to today's spree killings, and not a cultural syndrome. Instead both are rooted in mental illness or mood or personality disorders.
Running amok is considered a rare culture-bound syndrome by current psychiatric classification systems, but there is evidence that it occurs frequently in modern industrialized societies. The historical origins of running amok as a psychiatric condition are reviewed in this article, and its relevance to modern day episodes of violent behavior is discussed. Psychotic illnesses, personality disorders, and mood disorders are all possible causes of amok, and the identification and treatment of patients who are at risk for manifesting violent behavior are discussed.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Inequality and health - Dr Norman Swan interviews Sir Michael Marmot

In this video Dr Norman Swan interviews Sir Michael Marmot about the impact of inequality on health outcomes.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Dr Karl Kruszelnicki and Professor Clare Collins on Triple J

On the Third of March, 2016, Dr Karl Kruszelnicki and Professor Clare Collins were on Triple J to answer people's calls on diet and nutrition. The audio is available at http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/science/podcast/scienceontriplej/scienceontriplej20160303.mp3.

On the Seventh of July, 2016, Dr Karl Kruszelnicki and Professor Clare Collins were back on Triple J to answer people's calls on diet and nutrition. The audio is available at http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/science/podcast/scienceontriplej/scienceontriplej20160728.mp3.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Choice's guide to storing fruit and vegetables

In Keeping your fruit and veggies fresh in the fridge Matthew Steen lists which fruit and vegetables should be stored together, which apart, which in the fridge and which out.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

A blind study on climate change data fails to support the deniers

In Blind study fails to support deniers The University of Queensland reports on a blind study of statistical trends from climate studies. Economists and statisticians participated in the study.
“For instance, we took the figures for the shrinkage of Arctic Sea ice and turned it into a profit statement of the fictitious Supreme Widget Corporation,” Dr Ballard said.

“In other tests we presented environmental data as if it related to a trade surplus, the population trends of rural towns, agricultural output, world lithium production, and global currency trade.

“In a blind test, economists and statisticians were then asked if they agreed with statements made about the trends of each situation.

“The idea is that climate change is so politicised that we need to decontextualise our statements so that people’s arguments are based not purely on politics, but on data instead.”

In the instance of comparing Arctic ice to the fictitious Supreme Widget Company, 52 participants had to say whether ‘profits’ (ice levels) between 1989 and 2009 had consistently decreased  or had returned to health.

Data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, used by both climate change deniers and believers, formed the basis of the question about Arctic ice.
...
“In general, participants rated popular arguments by climate change deniers as misleading if applied to a profit-and-loss statement or the other forms of data we presented to them,” Dr Ballard said.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Ten core exercises

Michael Jarosky recommends 10 exercises to get great abs without sit-ups:
  1. Kettlebell swings
  2. Farmer's walk
  3. Single leg push-ups
  4. Sprints
  5. Side planks
  6. Woodchopping
  7. Clean and press/jerk
  8. Barbell ab rollout
  9. Burpees
  10. Mountain climbers

How exercise helps the brain

Gretchen Reynolds explains How exercise may help the brain grow stronger, at least in mice.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

World War II and the danger of being liberated

The George C Marshall Foundation hosted three eminent historians, Gerhard Weinberg, William Hitchcock and Mark Stoler to discuss World War II Myths, Misconceptions and Surprises. Each gave a presentation and then they answered questions at the end. William Hitchcock's presentation was interesting because he talked about how the Allies were not always greeted with joy when liberating parts of France and Belgium. This was basically because many civilians in those places were killed in the fighting to liberate them. I think he mentioned the number of French civilian casualties on D-Day, mostly from Allied bombing, were similar to Allied causalities.

Monday, 30 May 2016

Are the policies of American political parties realigning to their base?

In This Is What the Future of American Politics Looks Like Michael Lind argues that we're seeing an earthquake in American politics. He argues support for the two major parties will align on policy grounds rather than the current partisan alignment. That is, the Republican Party  has become the party of the white, southern and mid-western working class and we will see it's policies align accordingly (nationalistic, anti-immigration, anti-free trade, pro Social Security and Medicare). He argues the reason Trump has won the Republican Party presidential nomination is because he has espoused these policies.

By contrast the Democrats will become the party of multiculturalism and globalisation.Its support base will be "an alliance of upscale, progressive whites with blacks and Latinos, based in large and diverse cities".

Sunday, 29 May 2016

The Yom Kippur War on US military doctrine

In Yom Kippur War & The Development of U.S. Military Doctrine John Suprin explains how lessons from the Yom Kippur War changed American Army doctrine and weapons.

The Americans were able to inspect captured Russian built equipment after the war and were surprised to discover that the tanks were built for a NBC battlefield. He later relates a conversation he had with a Ukrainian General (formerly of the Red Army before the fall of the wall and the break up of the USSR) where the Ukrainian explained the Red Army's plan to user nuclear weapons right from the beginning of any land war in the Europe.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Great rappers deconstructed.

I had no idea of the complexity in rap music and the skill needed to write it. Watch Deconstructing the greatest rappers of all time by Estelle Caswell and Martin Connor.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

KPGM arguing for a boost to education and infrastructure

In Coalition and Labor fighting the last war while a different battle looms Michael Pascoe argues that neither the ALP or the Liberal Party are really addressing the needs of Australia. He bases his argument on a KPMG report.
Meanwhile, the nation's future needs, the big economic issues the next government should be focusing on, are highlighted by a KPMG report that suggests there's a great deal more genuine political leadership should be doing instead of chanting that the other side is a tool of the unions/banks/dole bludgers/tax avoiders/socialists/neo-cons/whatevers.

The bottom line of KPMG's The Global Economy – Is This As Good As It Gets? paper is that our would-be leaders should be competing to offer the most credible boost to productivity-enhancing investment in infrastructure and education.
Personally, I think the ALP is much closer to KPMG's recommendations than the Coalition.

Monday, 9 May 2016

GMO used in cheese production

In You Can Thank Genetic Engineering For Your Delicious Cheese Levi Gadye explains how the cheese industry turned to genetically modified bacteria to make up for a potential short fall in rennet.
These enzymes, called rennet, are secreted by mucous membranes that line the calf’s fourth stomach. Harvesting rennet the old fashioned way requires slicing this stomach open, which in turn requires slicing open the baby bovine itself. This, as they say, kills the cow.
Rennet is used to make hard cheeses.

Article with tips on handling cake emergencies

Solve your cake emergency: baking tips and fixes has some baking tips.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Why civilisation was built on grains and not tubers

In The sinister, secret history of a food that everybody loves Jeff Guo looks at work by some economists that counters the generally accepted argument that civilisation arose because of an excess of food from agricultural production.
In his 1997 bestseller “Guns, Germs and Steel,” historian Jared Diamond argued that the availability of nutritious and easily domesticated plants and animals gave some societies a head start. In the Middle East there was barley and wheat; in Asia there was millet and rice. “People around the world who had access to the most productive crops became the most productive farmers,” Diamond later said on his PBS show. And more productivity led to more advanced civilizations.

Going against the generally accepted theory are those societies that depended on tubers (such as potato, tapioca and sweet potato) as their main cultivated food source. These societies had an abundance of food, tubers are generally more productive and nutritious than grains, but never developed the technical and political complexity of societies that depended on grains.
The study, published last year by economists at the United Kingdom and Israel doing novel work on archaeological and anthropological evidence, attempts to explain a strange pattern in agricultural practices. The most advanced civilizations all tended to cultivate grain crops, like wheat and barley and corn. Less advanced societies tended to rely on root crops like potatoes, taro and manioc.

It's not that grains crops were much easier to grow than tubers, or that they provided more food, the economists say. Instead, the economists believe that grains crops transformed the politics of the societies that grew them, while tubers held them back.

How crops changed the world

The argument depends on the differences between how grains and tubers are grown. Crops like wheat are harvested once or twice a year, yielding piles of small, dry grains. These can be stored for long periods of time and are easily transported — or stolen.

Root crops, on the other hand, don't store well at all. They're heavy, full of water, and rot quickly once taken out of the ground. Yuca, for instance, grows year-round and in ancient times, people only dug it up right before it was eaten. This provided some protection against theft in ancient times. It's hard for bandits to make off with your harvest when most of it is in the ground, instead of stockpiled in a granary somewhere.
So grains can easily be stolen or taxed. There for they more easily support an infrastructure to defend them, on built on the gains from taxing them.


Is gluten the culprit?

Sarah Berry in Going against the grain: why bread-denial is bad explains that some people who think they're gluten intolerant may not be - they may just be intolerant of the way modern mass produced bread is made.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Has neoliberal capitalism had its day?

In Developed economies are not suffering from the consequences of a financial crash, but from a structural crisis of neoliberal capitalism, an extract from his book, David M. Kotz writes that the current global economic slowdown in developed economies is due to a structural crisis of the "neoliberal form of capitalism".
What explains the current malaise in developed economies across the world? In my book, The Rise and Fall of Neoliberal Capitalism, I analyse the roots of the economic crisis that began in 2008 and the free-market, or ‘neoliberal’, form of capitalism from which the crisis emerged. I argue that the stubborn stagnation afflicting many of the developed economies cannot be understood simply as the fallout of a severe financial crash or as an unusually severe ‘Great Recession’, but instead is a structural crisis of the neoliberal form of capitalism. This means that the continuing stagnation cannot be resolved by policy measures alone within the constraints of neoliberal capitalism. Rather, a resolution requires major institutional restructuring.
...
I argue that both theoretical considerations and historical precedents indicate that the neoliberal form of capitalism can no longer give rise to sustained economic growth. The stagnation will put increasing pressure on all the affected groups in society to find an alternative route to resuming normal economic growth. I suggest that a return to a statist economy is the likely outcome, although that can take different forms, ranging from a right-wing nationalist version to a new round of social democracy or even a shift away from capitalism toward socialism. While the neoliberal form of capitalism is unlikely to survive, which statist form will replace it cannot be predicted in advance and will depend on the outcome of economic and political battles among various groups and classes in the coming years.


Saturday, 19 March 2016

Growing concensus that we now need active government

In A shift in political thinking is giving Labor a sense of purpose Lenore Taylor argues that there's a new wave of thinking in economics and politics stating the old open model is now reducing growth because of rising inequality.
Australian thinkers, and political parties, have been grappling with a growing wave of thought that the economic challenges of the 2010s cannot be solved by the old 1980s political consensus – the consensus that said economic growth is best achieved by market deregulation and lower taxes and lower spending that generate growth, and allow “all boats to rise” by providing the revenue for governments to pay for social programs and do something or other about poverty.
The rethinking has been going on for quite a while internationally, from Thomas Piketty through to the major international economic institutions. And it turns the old consensus on its head – arguing that rising inequality harms growth, that smart social spending is not the kindly thing governments do after they raise the revenue, but rather a first order revenue-boosting exercise in itself, and asserting that governments need to intervene more to get their economies through this economic transition.

The IMF now says income distribution matters for growth. “Specifically, if the income share of the top 20% (the rich) increases, then GDP growth actually declines over the medium term, suggesting that the benefits do not trickle down. In contrast, an increase in the income share of the bottom 20% (the poor) is associated with higher GDP growth. The poor and the middle class matter the most for growth,” an IMF discussion paper said.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Trump and the disconnect between the Republican elites and their base

Martin Wolf makes some interesting observations in Donald Trump embodies how great republics meet their end.
Why has this happened? The answer is that this is how a wealthy donor class, dedicated to the aims of slashing taxes and shrinking the state, obtained the footsoldiers and voters it required. This, then, is “pluto-populism”: the marriage of plutocracy with rightwing populism. Mr Trump embodies this union. But he has done so by partially dumping the free-market, low tax, shrunken government aims of the party establishment, to which his financially dependent rivals remain wedded. That gives him an apparently insuperable advantage. Mr Trump is no conservative, elite conservatives complain. Precisely. That is also true of the party’s base.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Authoritarians and Trump

In The rise of American authoritarianism Amanda Taub describes the almost linear correlation between how much someone supports Trump and their level of authoritarianism. One of the experts she interview was PhD student Matthew MacWilliams.
MacWilliams studies authoritarianism — not actual dictators, but rather a psychological profile of individual voters that is characterized by a desire for order and a fear of outsiders. People who score high in authoritarianism, when they feel threatened, look for strong leaders who promise to take whatever action necessary to protect them from outsiders and prevent the changes they fear.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

The Republican rank and file are revolting

In The Great Republican Revolt David Frum writes about the war inside the Republican Party.
The angriest and most pessimistic people in America aren’t the hipster protesters who flitted in and out of Occupy Wall Street. They aren’t the hashtavists of #BlackLivesMatter. They aren’t the remnants of the American labor movement or the savvy young dreamers who confront politicians with their American accents and un-American legal status.

The angriest and most pessimistic people in America are the people we used to call Middle Americans. Middle-class and middle-aged; not rich and not poor; people who are irked when asked to press 1 for English, and who wonder how white male became an accusation rather than a description.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Mini Tim Tam Cheesecakes recipe

Mini Tim Tam Cheesecakes from Buzzfeed.

Ingredients
80g Butter
350g Tim Tams (crushed)
450g Cream cheese
1 TBSP Vanilla extract
2 Eggs
½ Cup of sugar
½ Cup of sour cream


Saturday, 30 January 2016

Cacao Protein Balls

Shannon Sullivan's Cacao Bliss Protein Balls.


Ingredients from her website:
2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
3/4 cup dates, pitted and soaked in water
2 tablespoons shredded coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup raw pumpkin or sunflower seeds

Monday, 25 January 2016

An independent encyclopedia on supplementation and nutrition

Examine.com is claimed to be an an "independent encyclopedia on supplementation and nutrition".

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Lying, the essential skill of any conservative politician?

Rick Perlstein has an interesting piece on The Long Con. He's basically arguing that to be accepted in the modern Republican Party you need to be a liar.
And that, at last, may be the explanation for Mitt Romney’s apparently bottomless penchant for lying in public. If the 2012 GOP nominee lied louder than most—and even more astoundingly than he has during his prior campaigns—it’s just because he felt like he had more to prove to his core following. Lying is an initiation into the conservative elite. In this respect, as in so many others, it’s like multilayer marketing: the ones at the top reap the reward—and then they preen, pleased with themselves for mastering the game. Closing the sale, after all, is mainly a question of riding out the lie: showing that you have the skill and the stones to just brazen it out, and the savvy to ratchet up the stakes higher and higher. Sneering at, or ignoring, your earnest high-minded mandarin gatekeepers—“we’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers,” as one Romney aide put it—is another part of closing the deal. For years now, the story in the mainstream political press has been Romney’s difficulty in convincing conservatives, finally, that he is truly one of them. For these elites, his lying—so dismaying to the opinion-makers at the New York Times, who act like this is something new—is how he has pulled it off once and for all. And at the grassroots, his fluidity with their preferred fables helps them forget why they never trusted the guy in the first place.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Is a low fat, very high carbohydrate diet the cause of obesity?

In 'Fat fertilisers': why overeating is not making you fat Sarah Berry reports on work by Dr David Ludwig into obesity and diet.
Overeating isn't making you fat.

Rather, getting fat makes you overeat.

This is the word of Dr David Ludwig, an obesity expert and professor of nutrition at Harvard.

"It may sound radical, but there's literally a century of science to support this point," Ludwig tells New York Times.
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So what, if not overeating, is causing an obesity crisis of epidemic proportions?

There are two things to consider, according to Ludwig, who examines the epidemic and foods that act as "fat fertilisers" in his new book, Always Hungry.

Firstly, what we are eating is a big problem.

"It's the low fat, very high carbohydrate diet that we've been eating for the last 40 years, which raises levels of the hormone insulin and programs fat cells to go into calorie storage overdrive," he explains. "I like to think of insulin as the ultimate fat cell fertiliser."

The calories become so well stored in the fat cells that our bodies cannot access them to burn for energy. This means we always feel hungry, as our bodies cry out for fuel they can use and simply trying to eat less exacerbates the problem without addressing the real issue.