Dynastic wealth and greed

When Cordelia Mellon Scaife was born in 1928 she was the world’s “richest baby”. Her grand-uncle, the industrialist-turned-U.S. treasury secretary Andrew Mellon, spent his lifetime squeezing workers and fighting to cut rich people’s taxes. But Mellon’s impact on American life didn’t end with his 1937 death. His heir Richard Mellon Scaife — Cordelia’s brother — …

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Back pain: probable causes and what to do about them, Part 2

I have just read a fascinating book by a neurologist about psychosomatic illness, (“It’ all in Your Mind” by Suzanne O’Sullivan) where patients present with no obvious symptoms and all tests prove negative. And yet they are having the most scary fits and other signs of illness.  The aim of the book is to point …

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The back pain epidemic: Why popular treatments are making it worse

Chronic back pain is on the rise – in part because the way we treat it often does more harm than good. It’s time to think differently about our aches.  One in four adults are experiencing it right now, and 90 per cent of people having back pain at least once in their life. Nearly a …

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Optimism boosts longevity

People with optimistic outlooks tend to live longer than their more negative peers, researchers at Boston University School of Medicine have found. The study drew on data from two long-running studies of Americans aged over 60: one of 1,500 male war veterans, and one of 70,000 female nurses. At the start of both, the participants …

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The Bahamas and Donald Trump

The acting chief of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Mark Morgan, has offered new assurances to Bahamian survivors of Hurricane Dorian that they will be allowed entry into the United States, less than a day after dozens of evacuees were forced off a ship bound for Florida because they didn’t possess visas. “We will accept anyone …

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Sit less, move more, live longer

“You don’t need to go to the gym to benefit from exercise: even activities such as walking slowly or washing dishes can significantly boost a person’s longevity, a study has found. Researchers from Norway looked at data on 36,000 people with an average age of 63 whose activity levels were monitored over six years. Any …

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Try having a conversation about Brexit!

In reply to my posting about winning arguments, Carmen, a regular reader ( thank you, Carmen!) makes the following point: “A pre-problem which I’ve experienced before even reaching a “how-to-win-the-argument” mode, is  establishing an agreement–stated or implied– to commit to a conversation. People are adept at giving their political viewpoints but at the same time …

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Voting machines: in the age of Trump can they be trusted?

A report by the New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice examined the number of aging or outdated voting equipment used throughout the country and found that during the 2018 midterm elections, 34 percent of local election jurisdictions were using voting machines that were at least a decade old as their primary form of voting. …

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Study links sleep deprivation with cardiovascular disease

People who struggle with sleep might be at greater risk of developing cardiovascular problems, according to Prof Hugh Markus, of Cambridge University.  Those (including the author of this posting) who are genetically predisposed to insomnia have a greater risk of heart failure and coronary heart disease. I think I must have personally tried every drug …

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How to win an argument

Many arguments are made with minimal understanding, or are based on false premises. Simply asking for more detail and forcing someone to take you through their thinking step by step can expose this. It’s not enough just to give evidence that something is false. To convince the other party, provide an alternative explanation to fill …

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The British crisis: MPs discover they have spines

In 1689 the Act of Settlement decreed that sovereignty lay with the King in Parliament.  By the turn of the last century the King had become a figurehead and Parliament reigned supreme.  Supreme over the executive as well.  More recently the executive has grown in power.  Why is that?  Because Parliament has allowed it to …

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Apathy: a follow-on from yesterday’s posting

From the Daily Telegraph “These days, all of us are engaged in politics. Fanatically engaged. Furiously engaged. Twenty years ago, when I was in my teens, apathy was all the rage. In the newspapers, practically every political column was about the lack of interest in politics. Anxious MPs thought apathy was a bad thing. They …

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Should CERN build an even more expensive collider?

There is a problem with the current physics .  We have quantum theory for very small particles, relativity for the big stuff, and the Standard Model, which includes all the weird particles discovered by physicists all over the world.  All seem true individually, but relativity and quantum theory contradict one another and the Standard Model …

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Borrowing like there is no tomorrow

The US federal government will rack up $12.2 trillion in deficits through 2029, according to a new projection from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), an $809 billion increase from its last projection in May. CBO, Congress’s official budgeting scorekeeper, said that the deficits would average 4.7 percent of GDP through the next decade, a …

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