A gene that keeps people skinny

Scientists have identified what they claim is the first known “skinny gene” – raising the possibility of a new generation of drugs that will make it easier for people to stay thin. Researchers analysed the genetic make-up of 47,102 Estonian adults and found that those who were metabolically healthy and thin tended to have unusual …

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Millennials – the unluckiest generation

(A bit long, but important.  How millennials can benefit from the ideas of Epicurus) For young people leaving college since 2008 the prospects of a full-time job have been stressful, to say the least.  Now, during this crisis, more than ever. Their grand-parent’s generation enjoyed almost full employment for the majority of their working lives, …

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Dismantling the nation’s publicly funded schools.

It is common knowledge that the Education Department is run by a multi-millionaire devotee of scrapping everything to do with government if she has the power to do it.  This includes privatizing the public school system, and de facto making education even more of a distant prospect than ever for minorities.  By the way, she …

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The meaning of life in lockdown: an exchange of views

To The Times ( London) The most lamentable thing about the epidemic is the almost uncontested surrender to the idea that the only meaning of human life lies with preserving human life. In the name of “keeping people safe”, the moribund die alone and the dead are buried without proper ceremony. Meanwhile, mothers give birth …

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Taking advantage of the crisis

Foreign cities are taking advantage of the crisis to re- think their cities.  Mayors from Bogota to Budapest are exploiting the lack of parked cars by installing bike lanes in every likely spot.  Athens is widening its sidewalks, enlarging public squares and  banning traffic beneath the Acropolis. Melbourne is trying to put shopping , leisure …

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Optimism (if you can manage some)

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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Misleading figures on US annual flu deaths

At a White  House briefing in late February Donald Trump reassured the nation that there was little chance of the virus causing significant disruption, and that the flu kills from 25,000 people to 69,000 people a year. The coronavirus would be no worse than the flu, and who noticed flu deaths particularly? In April further comparisons with the …

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Epicurus and the swerve

If you haven’t read it Stephen Greenblatt’s book, “The Swerve: How the World Became Modern”, do try to find time to do so.  It a very readable.  It introduces the modern reader to the most famous of Epicurean books, de rerum natura of Lucretius.  Greenblatt’s book, which won several prestigious awards, is contentious because it pictures …

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Fake news

Fake news may not be as widespread as thought. An analysis of the daily media consumption of people in the US found fake news made up 0.15 per cent of time people spend consuming media. The study found traditional news outlets may be a greater source of misinformation than fake news (Science Advances, advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/14/eaay3539  (New …

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America’s food chain

Warren Buffett famously observed that “only when the tide goes out, do you discover who’s been swimming naked”.  And Covid-19 represents “an ebb tide of historic pro-portions”. One thing it has exposed with brutal clarity are the flaws of America’s industrialised food system. On one side, there are empty supermarket shelves; on the other, farmers …

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Excerpt from the Bhagavad Gita, Part 1

……..Virtuous people find it difficult to believe that such evil exists on earth. It’s proponents, moreover, often proclaim (if they have a degree of intelligence) teachings that are designed purposefully to win others to their side: teachings like “the greatest good for the greatest number” and “each according to his need, from each according to …

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Military-style guns – why do they need them?

”Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.”  So exclaimed Beto O’Rourke during the recent Democratic primary debate, endorsing the idea of mandatory buy-backs of assault weapons. It has become “the newest purity test” for Democratic candidates, but have they thought about the consequences of enforcing such a policy? “There could be as …

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Abortion: the ruthless scam connected with Roe v Wade

Norma McCorvey, who died in 2017, was the plaintiff known as Jane Roe in the 1973 landmark supreme court case Roe v Wade that led to abortion becoming legal in the United States, made, it turns out, a stunning deathbed confession. In a new FX documentary McCorvey admits that her infamous reversal on abortion rights …

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Is this the end of the democracy experiment?

I have a degree in Modern History, a subject weakly valued by American employers (don’t get me started!). One of my university tutors, Theodore Zeldin, was a simultaneous translator at the Nuremberg trials and a world expert on the great slump and the rise of Hitler. He spoke thirteen European languages, and  personally knew and …

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You should know better than this, Governor

The Democrat governor of New York has a plan for a “Trump-proof” reopening of the Big Apple.  Andrew Cuomo has apparently hired “high-powered consultants” who will scientifically analyse the “key data points” to work out how to free up the region’s economy. And who are these brilliant consultants? McKinsey & Company, of course – a …

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