Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Irony of "Public Health"

Obesity researchers then were eying sugary drinks with great suspicion. For decades, dietary guidelines had told Americans to cut back on fat. When it came to weight gain, most experts thought, a calorie is a calorie, no matter the source. Because fat has more than twice as many calories per gram as carbohydrates or protein, people should avoid fat. Then in the 1990s, some nutrition experts—watching obesity rates surge despite that advice—started rethinking carbohydrates.
Some scientists argued that eating carbs floods the bloodstream with sugar, which triggers a sharp release in the hormone insulin. Insulin brings blood sugar down and also tells the body’s cells to store fat rather than burning it. After a carb-led surge in blood sugar, the scientists argued, the outpouring of insulin is so great that within about two hours the blood sugar level crashes down to below normal. That low blood sugar makes people feel hungry, prompting them to eat more. By this line of thinking, a calorie wasn’t just a calorie.
At around the same time, Dr. Robert Lustig was arguing that sugar is not just another carbohydrate but is uniquely bad—he called it toxic. When the fructose in sugar hits the liver, he said, it sets off a hormonal chain reaction causing chronically high insulin levels that, over years, lead to obesity and diabetes.
Yet another group of researchers was showing that calories in beverages are not nearly as filling as calories in food. In one study, when people ate calories in food they compensated by eating less later in the day, but when they drank their calories they actually ate more food later.
In the end, it didn’t matter much to the health department whether soda leads to weight gain because it delivers unnecessary calories, or because those calories come from carbohydrates, or because those carbohydrates are sugar, or because the sugar is in liquid form. Sugary drinks make people fat.

The irony here - a public health advocate, cheering for the latest round of government manipulation, who won't tell the rest of the story:  government manipulation pushed the population towards sugar, and was the cause of the obesity epidemic and the resulting costs to the national health care coffers.  All those "life saving medications" we are paying for are largely those that treat hypertension, vascular diseases and the diabetes that causes them (and probably causes many cancers too).

The Koch brothers work to their own self interest by opposing government over reach, and make enemies in the process because so many love government over-reach.  Coke exists to sell a toxic product and probably cannot face up to that fact and survive.  Coke and the sugar industry did a fabulous job using the idiots in federal government to manipulate the public's perception of the risks of sugar ingestion whilst those same federal government idiots were telling the public to avoid fat. Neither Coke or any other citizen or business entity on their own did even a fraction of the damage in human health and suffering that our government has.

Will the government lovers ever acknowledge the shortened lives and suffering on their hands?  

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Out of Control Executive

I doubt Donald T would do anything to reel in this out of control executive branch.  Instead, he's double down.

Friday, December 11, 2015

A Rational Case for Gun Ownership | RealClearPolitics

An interesting read, but he certainly misses the point that the "original intent" was that government should not be powerful enough to disarm the citizenry it supposedly serves.

The fundamental error of gun-control advocates is philosophical: They do not really believe that we have free will. 

If the goal is to reduce gun murders, the obvious means is to establish stronger punishment for criminals. Since the overwhelming majority of shooting deaths are by people with prior felony arrests, and since only about 1 percent of such shootings are by legal gun owners who are committing a crime, why is the primary focus on the law-abiding individual? Why isn't there a greater demand for longer sentences for felonies, or for the elimination of parole or for the construction of more prisons?  

Obama Care - Needs CPR?

So let’s recap. Obamacare has depressed job growth, costs are escalating at a higher rate, barely a dent has been made in the numbers of uninsured, and insurers are either exiting the markets or failing altogether. Under any other circumstances, a program that failed on its promises so badly would have all sides moving quickly to repeal it and work on a replacement.

"What men imagine they can design."

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

AGW Cuts

The stupidity of the climate summit:
The reason that there will not be a legally binding agreement (or at least not a genuinely enforceable one) is the growth of something which the Left has always called for, but doesn’t quite like when it gets it – the power of the developing world. India, for example, sees it as “carbon imperialism” for the West to deny it the fossil-fuelled industrialisation which gave us a more than 100 years’ start on the rest of the world. A great many formerly backward countries are at last getting rich and they will not sacrifice their new prosperity on the altar of eco-virtue. Nearly seven years ago, at COP 15 in Copenhagen, Barack Obama, bearing his Nobel Prize and at the height of his moral prestige, pleaded with them, to no avail. What will make them listen to him now, in the twilight of his presidency?

The genuine end of the colonial era and the rising power of what used to be called the Third World is producing several such effects. Non-Europeans feel bold enough to challenge the sacred doctrines of our elites. Within the Anglican Communion, for example, Western churches tend to see homophobia as the worst of all sins, but African ones persist in the teaching of all mainstream Christianity everywhere in history, which is that marriage is between a man and a woman.

Another telling one:
Congress is focused on one small aspect of NOAA’s temperature fraud – the changes they made to eliminate the hiatus ahead of Paris. This was needed by the White House to give Obama a big lie to push his agenda in Paris. The hiatus killed their whole story.
But that is just the tip of the iceberg. Look at the massive fraud NOAA is engaged in at Indiana. They show Indiana warming at 0.1F (0.05 rounded up) per decade. Note the large spike after 1999.

Number 3:
There has been no warming since the start of the record. Yet the current version of GISS, which is based on adjusted GHCN data, has miraculously morphed into a sharply rising trend.

Pressure Cooker Control

After all, California already has strict gun control, as does France, which just had its second terrorist massacre this year. Not to mention that the one time when terrorists with assault rifles and body armor were foiled, it was because an off-duty traffic cop in Garland, Texas, was carrying a gun—and used it to shoot the two heavily armed Islamists before they could kill anyone. 
Or that “common sense gun control” would have done nothing to stop Richard Reid (the unsuccessful shoe-bomber); the Tsarnaev brothers in Boston (pressure cookers) or the 9/11 hijackers (box-cutters). Maybe the president should be demanding common sense pressure-cooker control.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Liberals Don't Understand Guns or Violence or the Law

Here the relevant case study is probably not Australia, but France. The French have the kind of strict gun laws that American liberals favor, and they have fewer gun deaths than we do. But their strict gun laws are part of a larger matrix of illiberalism — a mix of Bloombergist police tactics, Trump-like disdain for religious liberty, and campus-left-style restrictions on free speech. (And then France also has a lively black market in weaponry, which determined terrorists unfortunately seem to have little difficulty acquiring.)

So they say stupid stuff that makes it hard not to hold them in contempt.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Goldilocks and Oil

Informative about the interaction between pricing and oil production, as well as showing how little the oil companies control production/price.

Friday, October 23, 2015

More Safety, More Danger

While some fear average citizens carrying weapons in public, “Concealed handgun permit holders are extremely law-abiding,” according to a study this year by the Crime Prevention Research Center. It found that they commit only about one-sixth the rate of firearms violations as police.
As Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield, argued during debate on SB707 on the Assembly Floor, concealed guns carried by law-abiding citizens can be a great equalizer, particularly for young women. “If I’m walking down the street at night, my Glock puts me on [an] even footing with anybody that would ever try to come and hurt me,” she said.
It is natural to want to “do something” to prevent tragedies like the Umpqua shooting, but depriving students, faculty and other school employees of their constitutional rights and the best means of defending themselves in such a horrific circumstance only increases the likelihood that even more lives will be needlessly lost.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Dr. Sowell at his best:
"For 12 consecutive years -- from 2001 through 2012 -- each home run leader in the American League had a Hispanic surname. When two American boys whose ancestors came from India tied for first place in the U.S. National Spelling Bee in 2014, it was the 7th consecutive year in which the U.S. National Spelling Bee was won by an Asian Indian.
"We all know about the large over-representation of blacks among professional basketball players, and especially among the star players. The best-selling brands of beer in America were created by people of German ancestry, who also created China's famed Tsingtao beer. Of the 100 top-ranked Marathon runners in the world in 2012, 68 were Kenyans. The list could go on and on. Although blacks are over-represented among professional football players, even the most avid National Football League fan is unlikely to be able to recall seeing even one black player who kicked a punt or a point after touchdown.
"Should there be an article titled: "What's Holding Black Kickers Back in the NFL?" Could it be that blacks are more interested in playing positions where there is more action and -- not incidentally -- more money?
"Should there be an article titled: "What's Holding Back Whites in the National Basketball Association?" Or an article titled: "What's Holding Back Non-Asian Indian Kids from Winning the Spelling Bee?" Lawsuits claiming discrimination have been won on the basis of statistical disparities far smaller than these."

Ignoring Half of the Story on Guns

The author left a lot of the discussion off of the table - to wit, no discussion of the utility of guns, and how guns provide for the defense of their owners, most often with no shot being fired.  By focusing only on gun violence/death, and ignoring the other modalities of violence/death, it is easy to create the notion that taking away guns would take away violence.

"Evaluations after the reforms suggest that they saved lives. A study by Andrew Leigh of Australian National University and Christine Neill of Wilfrid Laurier University estimated that buying back 3,500 guns per 100,000 people led to a statistically significant drop in firearm suicides — 74 percent, in fact, with no parallel increase in non-firearm suicides. While gun control opponents have tried to rebut those results, those responses have been riddled with methodological flaws, and even some of the study's critics have conceded that the laws likely cut down on suicides."

It would be great if fewer folks were killing themselves, but if that's all you look at, you are not getting any useful information.  How many people who are not suicidal save their own lives, or the life of their family member, or simply defend themselves from a violent crime, by having a gun in their hand?  The estimate by John Lott is approximately 500,000 incidents each year.

Clinton Policy Proposal as Uninspired as She Is Uninspiring

I wonder if even Clinton supporters are a little bored by these pointless and only partially symbolic policy statements.

"If it matters, none of this has anything to do with the Oregon shooting. The killer apparently used handguns to mercilessly shoot down his victims (although he also had a rifle, an AR-15). All of his 13 guns came from federally licensed dealers. He passed background checks. What Hillary has done is take a national tragedy and declare that it ought to catalyze us to pass a series of non sequiturs."

Clear Thought on Gun Ownership

A good write up, plain language and thought for those who know the utility of a personal firearm.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Stick to Theology

If I had unlimited time and money, I would memorize this article.

"Entrepreneurial capitalism takes more people out of poverty than aid." With those 10 words, spoken to an audience at Georgetown University in 2013, philanthropist rock star Bono demonstrated a keener understanding of economic reality than the leader of global Catholicism.
The U2 frontman clearly has it right—and Pope Francis is wrong to suggest that poverty is growing, or that capitalism, free markets, and globalization are fueling the (non-existent) problem. In just two decades, extreme poverty has been reduced by more than 50 percent. "In 1990, almost half of the population in developing regions lived on less than $1.25 a day," reads a 2014 report from the United Nations. "This rate dropped to 22 per cent by 2010, reducing the number of people living in extreme poverty by 700 million."

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Complexity of Analysis for Vet Suicide

Beginning in 2005, suicide rates among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans started to climb sharply, and the military and Veterans Affairs created a number of programs to fight the problem. Despite spending hundreds of millions on research, the department and the military still know little about how combat experience affects suicide risk, according to suicide researchers focused on the military.
Many recent studies have focused on whether deployment was a risk factor for suicide, and found that it was not.
The results appeared to show something paradoxical: Those deployed to war were actually less likely to commit suicide. But critics of the studies say most people deployed in war zones do not face enemy fire. The risk for true combat veterans is hidden in the larger results, and has never been properly examined, they assert.
“They may have 10 times the risk, they may have 100 times, and we don’t know, because no one has looked,” said Michael Schoenbaum, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

"New" Human?

"What we are seeing is more and more species of creatures that suggests that nature was experimenting with how to evolve humans, thus giving rise to several different types of human-like creatures originating in parallel in different parts of Africa. Only one line eventually survived to give rise to us," he told BBC News.

Self defense? What a Stupid Idea

In times past, feminists urged self-reliance as a means of fighting rape — through, for example, self-defense classes. In June, The New England Journal of Medicine published a study of a Canadian program that cut the risk of rape by nearly half, and the rate of attempted rape by even more. In four three-hour sessions, the program trained female students on assessing risk among male acquaintances, overcoming obstacles to resisting coercion, practicing verbal and physical resistance and focusing on their own desires and relationship values. ‘‘Effective interventions focusing on men’s behavior are also needed,’’ the authors of the study said. Yet student activists argue that the burden should be almost entirely on men to stop sexually assaulting women, not on women to keep themselves out of danger. ‘‘If someone is so incapacitated they can’t stand up or use their words, then you should not be having sex with that person,’’ said Jessica Fournier, a Harvard junior who belongs to the survivor group Our Harvard Can Do Better. ‘‘That’s where the focus needs to be. That’s much more effective than giving out a list of 5,000 things victims shouldn’t do.’’

This is how jacked up philosophy can become.  If it was your daughter, would you tell her to do whatever she wants to do, no matter the risk?  Of course you would not.  You would teach her how to take care of herself to reduce the risk of suffering injury and pain.  You would explain that no matter how wrong the other party was, that won't make the injury or pain go away.

These people teaching women to love victimhood are brutalizing a generation.

This is spot on:
"To Halley, it’s strange to hear feminists appealing to men to change their behavior while leaving women out of the equation. ‘‘I’m really troubled by this trend in which women are helpless and passive and men are the big responsible protectors,’’ she said. ‘‘That’s the ideology of the gilded cage. It’s astonishing to see feminists reawakening it uncritically. If young people are going to have a robust role in creating the conditions they want to live in, feminists have to call off this ban on discussing the risks and the moral ambiguities that come up with excessive alcohol use.’’"

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

How To Help the Rich by "sticking it to the rich"

We have been having a very strange debate about income inequality in the United States for the past several years, one focused almost exclusively on the status of the hated “1 percent” or super-rich segments within it. From an economic point of view, this is deeply stupid: If Lloyd Blankfein takes a $100,000-a-year pay cut next year, that isn’t going to translate into two $50,000-a-year jobs for dropouts from P.S. 154 in the Bronx. But from a political point of view, concentrating on the 1 percent makes a great deal of sense to progressives: It is not, after all, conservative-dominated institutions run by Republican-affiliated unions that have failed the poor, the black, and the brown in practically every city in the United States.
The Left’s answer to the challenge of targeting our expenditures toward those Americans who most need them is to subsidize another round of loans, which will pass through Little Moonbeam on their way to her $150,000-a-year women’s-studies professor and the university’s $800,000-a-year president. That’ll show those rich people!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Save the World with Fossil Fuels

"Wind power, for all the public money spent on its expansion, has inched up to—wait for it—1% of world energy consumption in 2013. Solar, for all the hype, has not even managed that: If we round to the nearest whole number, it accounts for 0% of world energy consumption.
"Both wind and solar are entirely reliant on subsidies for such economic viability as they have. World-wide, the subsidies given to renewable energy currently amount to roughly $10 per gigajoule: These sums are paid by consumers to producers, so they tend to go from the poor to the rich, often to landowners (I am a landowner and can testify that I receive and refuse many offers of risk-free wind and solar subsidies)."

Only nations and people who are wealthy will be able to buy the best technologies, when they evolve, and will thus be able to afford to replace hydrocarbons.  Get rich and stay rich if you want to "save the planet".

Not Aging Well

Democrats have pointed to signs of a recent uptick of support for Obamacare. But it's worth noting that in April 2010, just after it was signed into law, the Kaiser Family Foundation's monthly tracking poll found that 46 percent of Americans had a favorable view of the law, compared with 40 percent who had an unfavorable view. This month, just 41 percent have a favorable view, compared with a larger contingent of 43 percent who viewed it unfavorably. Even more staggering is that at the time the law passed, 50 percent of the uninsured viewed the law favorably, no doubt optimistic about the promises of quality, affordable healthcare. But in this month's poll, just 31 percent of the uninsured had a favorable view. In other words, the segment of the population intended to be the primary beneficiaries of the law and who have the most reason to interact with it, have a more negative impression of the law than the broader public.

Friday, March 20, 2015

A Reagan approach to climate change - The Washington Post

The trend of disappearing summer sea ice in the Arctic is clear even though there is always some variability from year to year. Severe winter weather underscores the importance of keeping track of significant trends. Here are the numbers, according to Julienne Stroeve, of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo., as reported in the Economist in February:
"Between 1953 and 2014, the average area of the Arctic sea ice shrank by 48,000 square kilometers a year." 

Temperatures vary. You may have read about a global "stall" in temperature increase over the past decade, despite carbon dioxide levels rising at about 0.5 percent each year. Here again, though, trends tell the bigger story. Since humans started to produce more CO2 in the late 1800s, we know that overall land and ocean temperatures have increased about 1 degree Celsius, and in Antarctica, teams examining the world's oldest ice cores recently released their findings of 800,000 years of climate history. "Even when our climate was in some other phase, some different way of balancing the many subtle influences that make up the wind and weather and warmth we experience, temperature and greenhouse gases still marched in lockstep," wrote Gabrielle Walker in her book "Antarctica: An Intimate Portrait of a Mysterious Continent." "Higher temperature always went with higher CO2. Lower temperature went with lower CO2." 
These are simple and clear observations, so I conclude that the globe is warming and that carbon dioxide has something to do with that fact. Those who say otherwise will wind up being mugged by reality.

The author confused correlation v causation with regard to the ice data on CO2 and temperatures - if they vary together due to another factor, any money spent on CO2 would be pure waste.  If heat of the water goes up, the water will release more CO2.  CO2 then is just a trailing indicator.

If you assume that CO2 is a green house gas of significance, you will be lead to wrong conclusions.

Then there's the issue of whether it is possible for politicians to write legislation that accomplishes what they claim it will, or whether - even if it does - the benefits will out weight the negative unintended consequences.  I think of the CAFE laws as the poster child for this issue.

The author's use of "we" is telling.  "We" do nothing, we cede our power and they do what they want to us.  Being able to hold onto the idea of government action as something "we" do betrays significant naïveté.

The Null Hypothesis for Income and Wealth | askblog

The Null Hypothesis for Income and Wealth

The abstract of a working paper by David Cesarini and others says,
We use administrative data on Swedish lottery players to estimate the causal impact of wealth on players' own health and their children's health and developmental outcomes. Our estimation sample is large, virtually free of attrition, and allows us to control for the factors ‒ such as the number of lottery tickets ‒ conditional on which the prizes were randomly assigned. In adults, we find no evidence that wealth impacts mortality or health care utilization, with the possible exception of a small reduction in the consumption of mental health drugs.

Our estimates allow us to rule out effects on 10-year mortality one sixth as large the cross-sectional gradient. In our intergenerational analyses, we find that wealth increases children's health care utilization in the years following the lottery and may also reduce obesity risk. The effects on most other child outcomes, which include drug consumption, scholastic performance, and skills, can usually be bounded to a tight interval around zero. Overall, our findings suggest that correlations observed in affluent, developed countries between (i) wealth and health or (ii) parental income and children's outcomes do not reflect a causal effect of wealth.

Pointer from James Pethokoukis.
Somebody should replicate this study in the United States. I would not be surprised if the effects on child outcomes were closely bounded to a tight interval around zero here, also.
This is the sort of evidence that I wish Robert Putnam would confront.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Piketty On Piketty

Mr. Piketty has backtracked, undermining the policy prescriptions many have based on his conclusions. In "About Capital in the 21st Century," slated for May publication in the American Economic Review but already available online, Mr. Piketty writes that far too much has been read into his thesis. 
Though his formula helps explain extreme and persistent wealth inequality before World War I, Mr. Piketty maintains, it doesn't say much about the past 100 years. "I do not view r>g as the only or even the primary tool for considering changes in income and wealth in the 20th century," he writes, "or for forecasting the path of inequality in the 21st century."