Friday, April 10, 2015

Exercise doesn't help much

Medical researchers tend to get very excited even when they detect a very small effect of something.  Below is such a case.  When everything was controlled for in their analyses, they found a pathetic .66 hazard ratio ("the adjusted hazard ratios for all-cause mortality were 0.66").  Statisticians don't usually conclude that something real is going on until the ratio exceeds 2.0.  So the lifespan benefits of taking regular exercise are somewhere between tiny and negligible.  Pity that.

What we see below is another example of the failure of theory.  It seems obvious that we are designed for an active life so therefore we should live longer if we are active.  But we don't -- not to any appreciable extent, anyway

Effect of Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity on All-Cause Mortality in Middle-aged and Older Australians

By Klaus Gebel et al.


Importance:  Few studies have examined how different proportions of moderate and vigorous physical activity affect health outcomes.

Objective:  To examine whether the proportion of total moderate to vigorous activity (MVPA) that is achieved through vigorous activity is associated with all-cause mortality independently of the total amount of MVPA.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  We performed a prospective cohort study with activity data linked to all-cause mortality data from February 1, 2006, through June 15, 2014, in 204 542 adults aged 45 through 75 years from the 45 and Up population-based cohort study from New South Wales, Australia (mean [SD] follow-up, 6.52 [1.23] years). Associations between different contributions of vigorous activity to total MVPA and mortality were examined using Cox proportional hazards models, adjusted for total MVPA and sociodemographic and health covariates.

Exposures:  Different proportions of total MVPA as vigorous activity. Physical activity was measured with the Active Australia Survey.

Main Outcomes and Measures:  All-cause mortality during the follow-up period.

Results: During 1 444 927 person-years of follow-up, 7435 deaths were registered. Compared with those who reported no MVPA (crude death rate, 8.34%), the adjusted hazard ratios for all-cause mortality were 0.66 (95% CI, 0.61-0.71; crude death rate, 4.81%), 0.53 (95% CI, 0.48-0.57; crude death rate, 3.17%), and 0.46 (95% CI, 0.43-0.49; crude death rate, 2.64%) for reporting 10 through 149, 150 through 299, and 300 min/wk or more of activity, respectively. Among those who reported any MVPA, the proportion of vigorous activity revealed an inverse dose-response relationship with all-cause mortality: compared with those reporting no vigorous activity (crude death rate, 3.84%) the fully adjusted hazard ratio was 0.91 (95% CI, 0.84-0.98; crude death rate, 2.35%) in those who reported some vigorous activity (but <30% of total activity) and 0.87 (95% CI, 0.81-0.93; crude death rate, 2.08%) among those who reported 30% or more of activity as vigorous. These associations were consistent in men and women, across categories of body mass index and volume of MVPA, and in those with and without existing cardiovascular disease or diabetes mellitus.

Conclusions and Relevance:  Among people reporting any activity, there was an inverse dose-response relationship between proportion of vigorous activity and mortality. Our findings suggest that vigorous activities should be endorsed in clinical and public health activity guidelines to maximize the population benefits of physical activity.

JAMA Intern Med.


Profit Margins, Public Perception and Progressive Causes

The stigma plaguing today’s Republican Party on matters of economic policy is the result of a craftily orchestrated attack on capitalism. By associating the entrepreneurial free market with “corporate greed,” the Left frames conservatives as being against middle class America.

It’s a strategy that has a long record of success. Recall that in 2009, Democrats approved another massive entitlement program – ObamaCare – in part by rallying behind a false narrative: that millions of Americans were uninsured because “selfish” insurers were swimming in massive profits. In truth, insurers were operating on a 2% profit margin.

Democrats knew their PR stunt was a lie, but they successfully swayed public perception at a pivotal moment. Indeed, every progressive cause has traces of gross distortion, and, similar to how leftists overhauled the health care industry, they’re fabricating the war on corporate America.

The American Enterprise Institute’s Mark J. Perry writes, “When a random sample of American adults were asked the question ‘Just a rough guess, what percent profit on each dollar of sales do you think the average company makes after taxes?’ for the Reason-Rupe poll in May 2013, the average response was 36%!”

The reality? Memo to Occupy Wall Street: “Not surprisingly they are off by a huge margin,” Perry notes. “According to [a] Yahoo!Finance database for 212 different industries, the average profit margin for the most recent quarter was 7.5% and the median profit margin was 6.5%.” If this teaches us anything, it’s that Republicans must dismantle the Left’s big lies. The propaganda machine is not conquered by twiddling thumbs.



Maya Angelou's quote on USPS stamps is "fake but accurate"‏

A stamp commemorating author and poet Maya Angelou was unveiled Tuesday morning in Washington D.C. And while the ceremony featured addresses by Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey, a matter not addressed at the ceremony was the apparent misattribution of the quote on the "Forever" stamp.

Next to a photo of Angelou reads the text, "A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song."

Those words may recall the title of Angelou's 1969 autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, but they were actually written by Joan Walsh Anglund, 89, in the 1967 book A Cup of Sun, according to the Washington Post.

Living in New York around 2005, I once saw a flyer advertising Maya Angelou's appearance before NYU students that had exactly the same "bird" quote. The flyer was posted at the entrance to one of the left-wing churches around NYU that lends its space to events held by communists and other progressives, including a party to celebrate the release of Lynn Stewart from prison, which I attended undercover with a video camera.

At the time I thought it was a fairly good line coming from a poet, but coming from a prog it leaps into a completely different paradigm. I rephrased it in my head to say, "A prog doesn't talk because he/she/it has an answer, a prog talks because he/she/it has a Party-approved narrative."

It so happened that I was on my way to give a speech to the NYU Young Republicans Club about the People's Cube, so I started my speech by talking about Maya Angelou's flyer I had passed a few doors down the block. I gave them my translation from the prog language - how it would have sounded if Maya Angelou were high on truth serum. This is why I still remember this line almost ten years later.

Most importantly, Maya Angelou was still alive and well then; she must have seen and approved of the flyer with the "fake" quote, or her agent did. That means the line had been attributed to her for many years, she knew about it, and did nothing to stop it.

Putting the quote on a stamp wasn't simply an error on the part of the Postal Service. It has become a logical extension of her disingenuous legacy as a mediocre poet who was promoted and celebrated due to her politics and who is mostly remembered by one line that wasn't even hers.

The symbolic falseness of the stamp makes an appropriate monument to such a legacy - one of the many insignificant and unsightly monuments to progdom in arts that are littering America's artistic graveyard, with the exception that Michelle Obama's and Oprah Winfrey's participation in its unveiling take this symbolism to a whole new level.



VA Reform: Another Obama 'Success Story'

Eight months ago, President Obama put on a grand show for the troops. Surrounded by new Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald, assorted politicians, military leaders and a bevy of TV cameras, the commander in chief signed the "Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act." He's good at inking things.

Obama condemned the "inexcusable conduct" at VA hospitals across the country (and under his own watch).

He vowed to "do right by all who served under our proud flag." He promised America's veterans new "reform," "resources," "timely care" and an end to the disgraceful disability backlog.

The bill he signed, in case you'd forgotten, included $10 billion in emergency funding to pay for veterans to go outside the chronically dysfunctional VA system if they are facing long wait times or live 40 miles or more from a VA facility, plus another $6.3 billion to set up 27 new clinics and hire doctors, nurses and other medical staff.

So, how's it all working out? About as well as every other "success story" Obama has signed his name to: abysmally, ineffectually and incompetently.

Take Obama's hyped plan to expand health care access to those who live far from a VA facility. Obtuse federal bureaucrats interpreted "40 miles" in the narrowest way possible, applied an "as the crow flies" distance rule inconsistently, and excluded untold numbers of vets. It took more than a year — and concerted pressure from veterans groups and GOP lawmakers — for the administration to "clarify" its confused eligibility standards just two weeks ago.

What about "accountability"? Obama bragged last August that "we've already taken the first steps to change the way the VA does business. We've held people accountable for misconduct. ... We should have zero tolerance for that." Looks like the VA bosses in Shreveport, La., didn't get the memo. As Tori Richards of reported last month, a mental health services worker who exposed use of a secret appointment waiting list there was ignored for a year.

Instead of accountability for the wrongdoers, the VA employee who blew the whistle, Army vet Shea Wilkes, became the subject of a criminal investigation.

And how's that new facility construction campaign going? The VA's atrocious complex has been a problem for decades under both Democratic and Republican administrations. Nothing's changed under the era of hope and change.

Here in Colorado, the new Aurora VA hospital has become another in a long line of government spending cesspools. The $600-million 184-bed facility is now estimated to cost at least $1.7 billion after a reckless parade of design changes, cost overruns and mismanagement — and may not be ready until 2017. "Accountability"? Pfffft. The head of the VA's Office of Acquisition, Logistics and Construction responsible for the waste was allowed to resign with a full federal pension and retention of nearly $60,000 in bonuses earned during the fiasco.

In Colorado Springs, a sparkling new "cutting edge" VA outpatient clinic opened last year on the promise of reducing wait times. But according to the Colorado Springs Gazette, "11.5 percent of veteran appointments for care in Colorado Springs are delayed by 30 days or more," which is "up from 7 percent" before the $10-million facility opened.

What's next? You know the drill: more congressional hearings, more grandstanding, another "reform" campaign, more posturing in front of cameras, and more screwed-over vets.

Throwing more money and platitudes at the VA to cover up its deadly scandals is a bipartisan Beltway recipe for failure. Recently retired Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., one of the few to object to last year's kabuki "VA reform," was right. "The culture is one of looking good, protecting those in the VA and not protecting our veterans," he said at the time. "You have to have a bill that fixes that. I don't believe this is going to do it."

Mission not accomplished.



Obama Admits Iran Won't Be Far From Nukes

Barack Obama may like to insist that his deal ensures Iran will never obtain nuclear weapons, but even he admitted the opposite in an interview with NPR. “Most of [Iran’s] enriched uranium is supposed to be set off to the side and diluted; it may, however, remain inside Iran,” Obama said. “Eventually, the deal expires. Perhaps the uranium is still there, which is why … where the regime changes is a significant question.”

He then said, “They’re not going to have been able to hoard a bunch of uranium that somehow they then convert to weapons-grade uranium. What is a more relevant fear would be that in year 13, 14, 15, they have advanced centrifuges that enrich uranium fairly rapidly, and at that point the breakout times would have shrunk almost down to zero.”

Not to worry, though. He said, “[C]urrently, the breakout times are only about two to three months by our intelligence estimates. So essentially, we’re purchasing for 13, 14, 15 years assurances that the breakout is at least a year … that – that if they decided to break the deal, kick out all the inspectors, break the seals and go for a bomb, we’d have over a year to respond. And we have those assurances for at least well over a decade.” Everything is awesome. But he just put his seal of approval on a future Iranian nuke.



Economic freedom, not socialism makes you rich

IQ is important too. The very successful East Asian countries all have average  IQs about half a standard deviation above the European norm

Today’s Third World poverty is mostly self-inflicted – indigenously created. The growth-promoting characteristics of the non-poor countries that are all but absent in poor countries are protected private property rights, personal liberty, enforcement of contracts, rule of law and a market-oriented economic system.

A country need not be rich to create these wealth-enhancing institutions. That’s much of the story of the U.S. In 1776, we were a poor nation, but we established the institutional structure to become rich. That institutional structure attracted not only foreign investment but talented, hardworking immigrants, as well. Contrast that with today’s poor countries, whose policies and institutional structure do just the opposite – repel investment and export their most talented and ambitious people to freer and richer countries.

People with limited understanding make the mistake of making a link between economic freedom and democracy. There is no such necessary link. India, for example, politically is a democracy. Economically, it is mostly unfree and poor, ranking 128th on the 2015 Index of Economic Freedom. There are countries much higher on the economic freedom index that do not have much of a history of democracy, such as Chile, now ranking seventh, and Taiwan, 14th, yet these countries are far wealthier than some of their more democratic counterparts. Why? It’s because their economic systems are free or mostly free, something that is not guaranteed by a democratic political system.

The bottom line for why some countries are rich while others are poor is best-explained by the amount of economic freedom.



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