Monday, September 29, 2014

The war on fast food: More medical idiocy

The war on fast food is unrelenting so logic must not be allowed to get in the way.  The claim below that hamburgers etc make you stupid is itself stupid.  All that they have rediscovered  are the familiar observations that poor people are more likely to eat fast food and poor people are dumber.  It's a class finding only.  No effects of the food have been shown.  

The authors were aware of the class issue in that they controlled for maternal education but education is not strongly correlated with income, particularly among women.  Remember those burger flippers with Ph.D.s and the plumbers who live in the best suburbs?  The journal article is "Prospective associations between dietary patterns and cognitive performance during adolescence" by  Anett Nyaradi et al. in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 2014

It's no secret that eating hamburgers and fries could affect your waist line but new research has found it can also take a toll on your brain.

Researchers found that higher intake of a western diet by 14-year-olds had scored lower in cognitive tasks by the age of 17.

Within the western dietary patterns, the study found participants with a high intake of take-away food, deep fried potatoes, red and processed meat and soft drinks had negative associations that affected their reaction time, mental ability, visual attention, learning and memory.

While participants who had higher consumption of fruits and leafy green vegetables, had a positive cognitive performance.

Researcher Dr Anett Nyaradi told Science Network  that it could be due to increased micronutrient content from leafy green vegetables, which has linked to enhanced cognitive development.

Dr Nyaradi said several factors may be at play in this diet-related decline in cognitive skills, including the level of omega-6 fatty acids in fried foods and red meat.

Metabolic pathways function best with a balanced 1:1 ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, but the western diet can shift this to a 1:20 or 1:25 ratio, according to Science Network.

Dr Nyardi told Science Network that high intake of saturated fat and simple carbohydrates has been linked to impairment in the functioning of the hippocampus, which is a brain structure centrally involved in learning and memory that increases its volume during adolescence.

'Adolescence represents a critical time period for brain development. It is possible that poor diet is a significant risk factor during this period…indeed, our findings support this proposition,' she said.

Dr Nyardi said that high intake of saturated fat and simple carbohydrates affected learning and memory during adolescents

The University of Western Australia and the Telethon Kids Institute observed 602 participants from the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort Study.

Each participant were required to fill out a food frequency questionnaire at the age of 14 to identify the factor analysis of 'healthy' and 'Western' dietary patterns.

When they turned 17, a cognitive performance was assessed using a computerised cognitive battery of tests that included six tasks.



Devolution is needed in America too

The world watched and waited to learn the fate of Scotland following its vote on the referendum for independence. For many other regions within the U.K., including Wales and Northern Ireland; within Europe, including Spain’s Catalonia and Belgium’s Flanders; and states within the U.S., including Vermont, Texas and Alaska; Scotland’s vote energized and inspired separatists’ movements — even though they were disappointed with the outcome.

While Scotland voted “No,” and chose to remain in the United Kingdom, it made enough noise and caused enough concern in London, that, in effect, it won anyway. When the race appeared to be close  Westminster panicked — the “parties went into scramble mode.” They vowed “to introduce legislation to grant Scotland’s semiautonomous government more powers [devolution] if voters reject independence.”

Other groups seeking independence are studying what Scotland did. The “No” vote will not squelch other separatist groups looking for self-governance, rather, it is, as the WSJ called the effort: “a template for conflict resolution.”

While many are reporting on the Scotland vote as a warning for Europe and lessons for separatists, there are important parallels — and encouragement — with the movement afoot in the American West’s rebellion over excessive federal control of land and resources (which was at the core of the Bundy Ranch stand-off).

In the West, the federal government regulates more of the land than the states or private citizens do. Those lands are generally rich in natural resources. Yet, the federal government makes decisions far way, in Washington, D.C., that hold back economic potential, which would benefit the states if they were allowed to be creating jobs and new wealth — resulting in an increased tax base.

As was the case in Scotland, Washington, D.C., has different priorities. If states had more autonomy, more authority over the lands within their borders, they’d make better decisions.

Mark Meckler, president of Citizens for Self-Governance, agrees. He told me: “A desire for ‘self-governance’ is hard wired into humans. When asked the question, ‘who should decide the things that affect your life?’ the vast majority of people will answer, ‘me.’ This extends to the idea that local governance is better than edicts from a distant government. People have more power locally.  ‘Who decides? I decide.’”

The federal government has abused — and is abusing — its ability to declare national monuments by putting massive swaths of land out of productive use. It is doing the same with the Endangered Species Act: introducing predators into active ranching regions and using protecting a lizard to prevent oil-and-gas drilling. It claims to be saving potential owl habitat by stopping logging, resulting in overgrown, unhealthy tinderboxes where we see logging resources (and protected habitat and watershed) go up in smoke — polluting the air and water. I could go on, as there are many more examples, but these are some of the causes in which I’ve personally been involved and previously addressed.

Much like Scotland finally had enough of being under the thumb of British rule, the Bundy Ranch story — with total strangers converging in Nevada in defense of a rancher they’d never met — gave voice to an anger that has been building up in the West. Nevada has more federally managed land than any other state — more than 80 percent.

Utah has led the way by becoming the first state to pass legislation that called on the federal government to begin to work with Utah on transferring federals land to the state — as was the ultimate intent of the Enabling Act that called for the federal government to “dispose” of the lands. More than 60 percent of Utah’s lands are managed by the federal government, and those lands are often rich in natural resources. Because the majority of the lands in Utah are managed by the federal government, with much of them off limits to development, the State doesn’t get the benefit of potential economic activity. It doesn’t get the full, possible tax revenue. To help with the loss, the federal government “gives” the state “payment in lieu of taxes” — which are being reduced due to budget challenges in Washington, D.C.

The Sutherland Institute’s  Coalition for Self-Government in the West has a report: Opportunity Lost, which provides an excellent overview of the situation in Utah. Regarding energy resources, it points out: “The geologies of oil and gas reservoirs on federal and private lands in the Rocky Mountains, including in Utah, share many similar features. Indeed most of the production growth of crude oil has occurred in well-established oil fields. These production gains are realized from the application of new technology, such as three-dimensional seismic, directional drilling, and hydraulic fracturing. The Bureau of Land Management and other federal agencies are developing new rules for the use of these technologies on federal lands that may impact the ultimate production, and therefore potential economic benefit, of these lands. In addition to the existing layers of regulatory hurdles and related litigation, delays in the implementation of these rules may have contributed to the relatively slower growth of oil and gas production on federal lands already.”

Through The American Lands Council, Utah Representative Ken Ivory has spearheaded Utah’s effort to force the federal government to honor its promise to “dispose” of certain federal lands. The Utah legislation calls for the lands to be turned over to the state as a proposed remedy to D.C.’s failure to perform on its obligations under the contract. Utah lands would then be managed for greater access, health and economic productivity. They could be added to the state tax base and would allow Utah to manage these lands for their best use. Ken told me that at a recent debate on this matter, opponents tried to spread fear about self-governance — much like that spread in Scotland: “The ‘Better Together’ campaign …at times uses scare tactics.” (CNN) But reports show the self-governance approach is legal, and it can be done.

The movement is growing. Several states, like Nevada, Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming have created task forces to study issues surrounding how public lands controlled by the federal government would be managed if they were transferred to the state. Others, like New Mexico, Arkansas, and Alaska, are working on legislation and/or resolutions. Additionally, legislators in Washington, Oregon and Colorado are looking closely at the issue.

Representative Ivory, and others like him, is pushing for victory. But, even if, as happened in Scotland, the self-governance of federal lands doesn’t happen, a groundswell of support could bring about policy changes that would benefit the West and help states develop their “full economic potential” — which would benefit all of America.

The CSM closes its Scottish independence story with this: “Scotland requires a new approach to economic policy development and implementation, with government working collaboratively with business and others to identify and pursue competitive advantage.” The same could be said for the West.

A report about Scotland, and other separatist movements, in the Business Insider states: “From early on in the campaign they also focused more on making it less about all the things the U.K. is doing wrong and more about how they can do it better.” In the West, we know we “can do it better.” Let your state and federal elected officials know that you support state management of public lands and that you want decisions made at the local level — because we can do it better.



Liberal Incivility and Gabby Giffords

When a gunman attempted to murder Rep. Gabriel Giffords in January 2011, the country was shocked by what was widely interpreted as an act that symbolized the incivility that had transformed American politics. That assumption, which was primarily aimed at undermining the Tea Party movement that had swept the midterm elections months before in the 2010 midterms, was soon debunked when we learned the shooter was an apolitical madman. But liberals have never ceased yapping about the implications of their opponents’ alleged meanness. Now it turns out the person who is doing the most to give the lie to this assertion is Ms. Giffords.

Giffords’s plight in the wake of the shooting engendered the support of all Americans as she struggled to recover from catastrophic wounds that forced her to abandon her political career. Like James Brady did a generation before, Giffords’s valiant recovery from a severe head wound made her the object of the nation’s sympathy and warm wishes. That wasn’t diminished by her activism on behalf of controversial gun-control laws. But as Giffords has begun to realize that empathy for her situation doesn’t translate into a willingness by the majority of Americans to embrace her positions on gun control, her intervention in political races is now taking on the aspect of a political attack dog rather than that of a sympathetic victim.

As Politico reports today in a story that runs under the headline “Gabby Giffords gets mean,” the former congresswoman has taken off the gloves in a series of political ads aimed at taking out Republicans she doesn’t like. In them, her super PAC seeks to exploit the suffering of other shooting victims but twists the narrative to make it appear that people like Martha McSally, the Republican woman running for Giffords’s old seat, were somehow involved or even complicit in violent shooting of a woman named Vicki by a stalker. As Politico notes:

"Some longtime supporters are starting to cry foul. On Friday, the Arizona Republic’s editorial page, which is typically liberal leaning, called the “Vicki” ad “base and vile.” The commercial, the newspaper said, put the murder “at McSally’s feet, as if she were responsible. A murder indictment implied. But, of course, McSally had nothing to do with” the death."

This is rough stuff by any standard but for it to be the work of a woman whose shooting elevated her to the status of secular saint is particularly shocking. Other ads that her group has produced pursue the same specious line.

All may be fair in love, war, and politics but there’s a lesson to be learned here and it’s not just that sympathetic victims can turn nasty if they don’t get their way on policy questions.

The liberal conceit that conservatives have fouled the political waters with their strident advocacy for accountability in terms of taxes and spending was always something of a stretch. While the Tea Party, like every other American political faction, has its share of rude loudmouths, despite the libels aimed at it from the liberal mainstream media it is no more a threat to democracy than its counterparts on the left. But modern liberalism has at its core a deep-seated intolerance of opposition. It was never enough for them to criticize the positions of conservatives or Tea Partiers; they had to skewer them as anti-democratic or supportive of political violence, despite the lack of evidence to support such wild allegations.

Nor are liberals deterred by the irony of their efforts to defame conservatives. As I wrote back in January 2012, even as she issued a call for political civility, Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz falsely linked the Tea Party to the Giffords shooting. So why should we be surprised that Giffords would play the same card as she seeks to demonize and defame those who would frustrate her pro-gun control efforts?

Part of the disconnect here is due to a misunderstanding about Giffords’s personality. Though she is rightly praised for her hard work in recovering from her wounds, prior to the shooting Giffords was never shy about using the most incendiary rhetoric aimed at demonizing her political foes.

The point here is not so much to debunk the stained-glass image of the plucky Giffords in the aftermath of her ordeal. Rather, it is to understand that those who seek to characterize political differences, even over issues as divisive as guns, as those between the advocates of good and those of evil are always doing a disservice to the country. Liberals and many of their cheerleaders in the media take it as a given that conservatives are mean-spirited ghouls who don’t care about the poor or are in the pay of malevolent forces. They then take great offense when some on the right pay them back in kind with similarly over-the-top allegations.

The kind of gutter politics practiced by Giffords’s advocacy group does nothing to further a productive debate about guns or any other issue. But it does bring to light the hypocrisy of liberals who believe their good intentions or inherent virtue should allow them to defame opponents in a manner they would decry as incitement to violence if it were directed at them.

The good news, however, is that voters aren’t stupid. As much as they may sympathize with Giffords, they understand that the good will she earned can be easily dissipated if it is to be put in service to sliming those who disagree with her. Just as trotting out Giffords or the families of the Newtown massacre victims won’t convince Americans to trash their Second Amendment rights, neither will the former politician’s ads enable her to get away with sliming another woman with a mind of her own. Sadly, Giffords’s hold on America’s heartstrings may be over.


The Giffords organization did take the ad down early but said it was only because McSally had changed!  She hadn't.  They just hadn't bothered to find out what her views on guns were.  Facts don't interest the Left.  Lies are much more useful to them.


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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