Monday, May 13, 2019

Are eggs bad for you again?

There was a great panic in the '90s and thereabouts that eating eggs could give you heart attacks -- Because they were chock-full of that evil cholesterol.  And people took that very seriously.  Once that old ticker stops ticking, that is the end of you.  The life support system for your brain is switched off. So, to their great rage, the chicken farmers lost a lot of business

Over the years however new studies came out that exonerated the old cackleberry.  So bacon and egg breakfasts are still allegedly wrong but not because of the eggs. NOTHING could be as evil as bacon!

I really should stop my bad habit of reading the medical journals but lately the old scare has had a bit of a revival.  A big study has come out with a lot of very small effects that incriminate eggs. See here and here.  I am tired of putting up nonsense reports in detail so I will not this time reproduce abstracts. Those links will get you the findings in all their glorious complexity.

For a start we are talking about effects that are probably too small to be taken seriously at all:  "The absolute differences in mortality and cardiovascular disease risks that we saw for dietary patterns that involve higher cholesterol intake ranged between about 1% and 4% over 17.5 years of follow-up."

And cholesterol does NOT give you heart attacks:  "When you look at the coronary heart disease end point alone instead of all forms of cardiovascular disease, you don’t see a significant association between dietary cholesterol and coronary heart disease"  If so, why are eggs bad?

But we in fact don't have to worry about any of the results from the study. It is a load of bull, to put it bluntly.  How so?  It is a meta-analysis of 6 studies so getting uniform demographic controls under those circumstances was "ambitious".  And at least some of the 6 studies had no control for income at all.  So you have no way of knowing whether you are looking at an egg-consumption effect or a poverty effect. 

If poor people are less respectful of official dietary dictates and recommendations (they are) it could be that the big egg eaters are the poor.  Eggs are cheap food. When I buy eggs it costs me around 30c per egg.  And a 3-egg omelette is a pretty good breakfast. Middle class people, in contrast, would often be aware of the great cholesterol beast threatening their health and would be having lots of nuts and broccoli to eat instead of bacon & eggs.  Sad souls!

So it's my conclusion that all the study really shows is that poor people have worse health, which is arguably the most replicated finding in the whole epidemiological literature.  It tells us NOTHING about eggs or cholesterol generally

Crushed by the Leftist Juggernaut: One Lawyer’s Story

By Adam J. Sedia

I went from almost a judge to being fired within the space of forty-eight hours.  Why?  Because it came out that I was a conservative.

I had read stories about conservatives being blacklisted, fired, having their careers and reputations destroyed because of their political views.  Never once did I dream it could happen to me, an insignificant lawyer in an insignificant part of the country.  But just this past week the nightmare happened, and I learned firsthand the consequences of running against the leftist hive that dominates our world.

I live in Lake County, Indiana -- the Chicago suburbs at the very northwestern tip of the state.  It epitomizes the Rust Belt, with the great steel cities of Gary and East Chicago, the oil refinery city of Whiting, and the surrounding blue-collar suburbs.  I grew up here and I practice law here.  It has been a stronghold of the Democrats since the New Deal, and its political corruption is notorious.  It was one of the last great political machines until the Bush Justice Department broke it up in the early 2000s.  Even so, its vestiges still remain.

I had built a career over ten years as a civil litigator and had developed a reputation as one of the top local appellate litigators. When a vacancy in one of the Superior Courts occurred, several colleagues whom I admired and respected encouraged me to apply.

While most counties elect their judges, Lake County does not.  It once did, but its judges were so notoriously corrupt and incompetent that the legislature abolished elections and put the county on merit selection.  (Except for one judgeship, which the state constitution required to remain elected, but this is a technicality that would take too long to describe.)  Under this system, when a vacancy occurs, a local commission of both attorneys and non-attorneys takes applications, conducts interviews, and submits a list of three names to the governor, who then appoints the judge.  The judge is then up for a yes-or-no retention vote for six-year terms after that.

The system vastly improved the quality of the judiciary in the county.  And it was no small secret that it was the legislature’s way of getting Republican judges in a county that would otherwise never elect them.

As a Republican precinct committeeman with a Republican governor, my chances were good.  Or so I thought.  You see, I had a deep, dark secret: I was open about my conservative views. In college fifteen years ago I expressed them in a column for the campus newspaper.  And until my son was born three years ago I expressed them on social media.  I toned things down as I settled down, but my views became more conservative the more I experienced.

Then it happened.  Someone had printed and saved my social media posts from three years ago and more.  There were nine of them, most of them links to publications like the National Review, Breitbart, and the Blaze: two were pro-life, one criticized illegal immigration, others made fun of radical feminism and warned about radical Islam, and several were critical of overreach by federal judges.  They were strident, but fairly innocuous for social media.  By no stretch of the imagination were they racist, sexist, or bigoted.

Whoever printed these mailed them anonymously to three of the nine members of the Judicial Nominating Commission, but the commission would not consider anonymous materials, and my name was among the three submitted to the governor.

Identical anonymous mailings went to a local Democratic attorney and the governor’s staff, but still no controversy materialized. Finally, several mailings went out – to the Urban League of Gary, the Indiana Chapter of the NAACP, Mayor Freeman-Wilson of Gary, the local Hispanic Bar Association, and the local black Bar Association. The Urban League complained to the local paper, which took up the story.  As a judicial candidate, I was limited as to what I could say, and I tried to play things safe. Let the process work out.  How naïve I was.

Of course the story ran, and of course it ran with glaring inaccuracies and outright misrepresentations.  The damage was done.  I was branded a racist.  The local Republican party, to its great credit, stood by me and conveyed its support to the governor.  But the governor caved and appointed a Democrat – a Democrat whose boss, the mayor of Hammond, had just called him a felon on the air.

But even that was not the end.  Two days later, the partners at my firm called me into a meeting.  Some corporate clients, they said, complained about my political views and stated that they could no longer do business with the firm if I remained there.  It was them or me, and the firm chose them.  My bosses were gracious about it.  They complimented my work and allowed me time to stay on and find new employment, but I was still fired.

I have some prospects, I have the support and commiseration of my friends and colleagues, and in many ways the end of my career marks a new beginning.  I have grown tired of private practice, its constant battle, its grueling hours, and its thankless clients.  If anything, losing my job has freed me from this drudgery.  Better opportunities await, but they all require me to abandon my home.  After this experience, I gladly do so.

This whole ordeal has taught me three lessons.  The first I already knew but had not yet experienced.  While Democrats always circle the wagons around their own, Republicans will fall over themselves to throw their own under the bus.  I had seen it in national politics, and learned the hard way that it holds true on the local level as well.

I also learned that to the Left, its enemies are not human.  The anonymity and persistence of the mailings put myself and my family in grave fear for our safety.  I cannot describe the sleepless nights, the caution exercised every time we stepped out of the house.  I made police reports, but without an actual threat, all they could do was document the mailings.  None of that mattered.  All that mattered was power politics and stopping me at all costs -- simply for my personal views.

If this anonymous mailer wanted to assert that I wrote what was in those mailings and that they should disqualify me from office, what shame was there in doing so openly and publicly?  They certainly had nothing to fear from me, my family, or my friends.  Keeping the process secret stifled open, civil discourse and left the process beholden to rumor and innuendo.

But what is even sadder is that this tactic worked. It set a dangerous precedent for future nominees to the bench.  This has shaken my faith in the judicial nomination process, the legal profession itself, and humanity in general.

Nor was I human to the business world.  Never mind the firm’s long and productive relationship with its corporate clients.  Those clients were willing to kill that relationship over one employee’s nonconforming political views.  And while my bosses were clearly sympathetic, the value of the clients’ business mattered more than the personal relationship I had developed with them.

But perhaps most importantly, it taught me never to hide or be ashamed of my views.  I knew the local bar would despise my opinions, so I tried to play it safe.  The mailings were anonymous, so I had plausible deniability.  I pled ignorance, hoping the storm would blow over, but everything ended up no different than if I had come out and stated openly that I was a conservative and that my views aligned with the President of the United States and those who elected him.

Finally, it must be said that all of this did anything but moderate my views.  Indeed, it has only confirmed my opinions.  The Left is a mindless, heartless, bloodthirsty mob marching in lockstep, out to destroy anyone who doubts its uncompromising and ever-changing orthodoxy.  It must be stopped at all costs.  The Republican Party is an ineffective means of combatting that juggernaut because its leadership lacks a spine when it counts most.  And finally, if being successful requires me to be a leftist, I choose failure every single time.


The First Rule of Social-Media Censorship Is That There Are No Rules

Yesterday, my colleague and podcast co-host Alexandra DeSanctis wrote a piece describing a confrontation between Pennsylvania state representative Brian Sims and an elderly woman who was apparently praying quietly outside a Planned Parenthood office in Pennsylvania. Sims’s actions toward the woman were absurdly aggressive. He mocked her faith, her age, and her race. He impeded her path, and then tried to get her address so he could go “protest” in front of her home.

Later yesterday, another video emerged, this one on Sims’s Facebook page, in which he mocks a small group of young protesters, tries to dox them, and attacks their race and religion. Most of the response to Sims yesterday focused on his ridiculous substance and demeanor. He’s a public official trying to bully and intimidate people who are quietly and peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights.

But I have a different question: Where are the social-media police?

Just last week, Facebook banned a series of extremist accounts for being “dangerous” after evaluating their content and their owners’ “activities outside of Facebook.” Twitter has launched its own round of bans against far-right figures, including — for example — banning Laura Loomer after she tweeted that Ilhan Omar was “anti-Jewish” and part of a faith in which “homosexuals are oppressed” and “women are abused.” Just today, Twitter suspended a clearly marked Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez parody account, in part for attempting to “manipulate the conversations on Twitter,” whatever that means.

Shouldn’t the exact same rules that empowered bans of far-right figures apply to far-left Brian Sims? Let’s look at Facebook’s community standards. They prohibit “hate speech” and define it as “a direct attack on people based on [their] protected characteristics — race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, caste, sex, gender, gender identity, and serious disease or disability.” Moreover, they also prohibit “soliciting” certain kinds of “personally identifiable information,” including addresses.

On Facebook, Sims tried to dox young girls and explicitly attacked their race and religion. Sims’s post is still up, and Sims’s account is still active.

Twitter’s “hateful conduct policy” prohibits “directly attack[ing]” someone “on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease.” It also explicitly notes that women are disproportionately targeted for online abuse.

On Twitter, Sims tried to dox an elderly lady and explicitly attacked her race and religion. He also chronicled behavior that was clearly physically intimidating. Sims’s tweet is still up, and Sims’s account is still active.

Moreover, if we want to apply the terminology of power dynamics, in both cases Sims is “punching down.” A male public official is engaging in abusive behavior against women who lack his platform and stature. By any fair reading of either social-media platform’s rules, Sims is just as guilty of violations as any number of far-right accounts. Yet he skates by with apparent impunity. Why?

The answer goes to the heart of the reason why Silicon Valley has lost the public trust of tens of millions of Americans. They know the rules are malleable. They know double standards apply. And they know that the campus-censorship culture is being imported online.

On campus (and increasingly also on social media), far-right anger and attacks are deemed dangerous and abusive. Far-left anger and attacks are instead deemed expressions of righteous outrage. Maliciously racialized far-right language is seen as evidence of white supremacy and white nationalism. Maliciously racialized far-left language is perceived as an attack on the privileged and powerful.

The result is that hate-speech policies exist not as easily interpreted, uniformly applied rules that provide all users fair notice of the conditions for using the platforms, but rather as subjectively interpreted, selectively applied weapons to wield on behalf of favored ideas and individuals. The result is that some people are more exposed to abuse than others because those people are deemed less worthy of protection.

Twitter will move to protect a U.S. congresswoman like Ilhan Omar — a highly visible public figure with a huge platform — from attacks on her faith, but it will not lift a finger to protect an unknown elderly woman from becoming an object of hate and derision on the basis of her age, race, or faith. How does this make any rational sense?

As a matter of principle (private companies enjoy the blessings of liberty) and pragmatism (social media is unlikely to improve under the watchful eye of, say, President Kamala Harris), I oppose government efforts to regulate social-media speech policies. But publicly exposing inconsistency and hypocrisy lays the groundwork for a market correction. The most powerful check on social media remains the user base; the companies’ economic models depend not just on user loyalty but also user growth.

I have long argued that social-media companies should voluntarily adopt First Amendment–based speech policies. A First Amendment analysis does not mean “anything goes,” but it does mean that rules and regulations restricting speech must be viewpoint-neutral. Harassment, incitement, invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress are speech limitations with viewpoint-neutral definitions, and one of the fastest ways to violate the First Amendment is with selective enforcement even of viewpoint-neutral rules.

The great value of viewpoint neutrality is that it comports with our sense of fundamental fairness. It hearkens back to the image of the blindfolded Lady Justice, holding her scales, indifferent to the power or privilege of her petitioners. Twitter and Facebook have removed the blindfold, thrown away the scales, and chosen to wield only the sword. It’s the weapon of social justice, and when it’s wielded against a lone, brave woman on a Philadelphia sidewalk, it’s an instrument of bias, abuse, and hate.


Cultural assassins lie in wait

Last month former US president Barack Obama warned about a ­rising rigidity of ideas on his side of politics and the circular firing squads aimed at those who strayed from the party line. If only this phenomenon were limited to trigger-happy Democrats trying to destroy their own.

This scourge is deeper, killing our culture, erasing history, tearing down statues, cleansing books. More recently, modern firing squads roam free on university campuses, in schools, on the sporting field, in our workplaces too, just about everywhere except at the kitchen table. In fact, we had a boss of the Australian Human Rights Commission not so long ago who set her sights on what we say there too.

The aim is to snuff out dissenting voices by wrecking careers and reputations, removing them from the arena. Rugby Australia is effectively sacking Israel Folau on the same basis that university administrators boot out free-thinking ­professors.

These are defining cultural contests of our times. There is no intention, on any level, to engage with or debate dissidents. Unwittingly or not, the cultural assassins are ripping out the liberal component of the liberal democratic project.

Last month a [metaphorical] firing squad took aim at Sir Roger Scruton, one of the Anglosphere’s most distinguished public intellectuals. The 75-year-old polymath has written dozens of books on a range of topics from philosophy to fox hunting, operas too, and was in eastern Europe supporting those underground dissidents who fought for freedom in the 1980s.

Knighted in 2016, Scruton is a ­conservative who always assumed that even though campuses skewed Left, conservatives would nonetheless be tolerated.

That norm no longer applies. Last month Scruton agreed to be interviewed by the deputy editor of The New Statesman, George Eaton. For years Scruton wrote a column for the same publication about wine. After the interview, Eaton tweeted about “outrageous remarks” by Scruton, claiming that Scruton was racist towards the Chinese, denigrated Hun­garian Jews and mocked “Islamophobia as propaganda invented by the Muslim Brotherhood … to stop discussion of a major issue”.

The mob struck. Within five hours of the Twitter storm, Scruton, an expert in architecture too, was sacked by Britain’s Tory government from a public body called Building Better, Building Beautiful. Craven conservative politicians publicly con­demned Scruton in a virtue-signalling atrocity.

Eaton posted a photo on social media of him drinking from a champagne bottle, with the words: “The feeling when you get right-wing racist and homophobe Roger Scruton sacked as Tory government adviser.”

The firing squad had com­pleted its latest task. Until an audio recording of Scruton’s interview was published by The Spectator magazine, proving that Eaton’s ­social media posts bore no resemblance to Scruton’s words.

As Douglas Murray wrote in The Spectator’s expose, Scruton discusses each issue with Eaton in his usual measured, thoughtful way. Scruton’s “racist” rant about the Chinese? Here is what the professor said: “There’s something quite frightening about the Chinese sort of mass politics and the regimentation of the ordinary being. We invent robots and they are them. In a sense they’re creating robots out of their own people by so constraining what can be done. Each Chinese person is a kind of replica of the next one and that’s a very frightening thing.” Scruton clearly was talking about China’s communist regime.

Other “outrageous remarks” were stitch-ups created by Eaton’s editing. Conservative politicians offered meek apologies. Some called for Scruton to be reinstated to the government quango.

Eaton is defending his published interview but not his social media posts. But the damage was done. And as Murray wrote in his scathing ­biopsy of the Scruton affair, conservative appeasement of the cultural censors is part of the spirit of our times.

Note the seamless progression from editing words to save people from offence to the new mission of editing to create offence, whipping up a storm in the feral Court of Twitter to destroy careers.

It was bad enough when self-appointed moral guardians cleansed words from Enid Blyton, sanitised Sesame Street and then edited the deliberately unsettling language in Mark Twain’s The ­Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, replacing “nigger” with “slave”. The boneheaded censors missed the point: Huck Finn is a deeply anti-racist book that satirises southern prejudices of that era.

When censorious mobs were not stopped early in their tracks, mission creep was inevitable. Witness the white-out of other art. Paintings are covered over or ­removed for being too sexual, cultural appropriation has become a tool to stop people writing about experiences beyond their lived ­experience. Where would that leave Shakespeare? White men are told to shut up because of their skin colour. And outrage mobs are destroying careers, from Folau to Scruton. Is this what progress means to the “progressive Left”?

Cultural iconoclast Jordan Peter­son has had a target on his head since he questioned state-sanctioned gender-neutral pronouns barely three years ago. The attacks, though relentless, have been largely futile. Until March, when activists whipped up a storm over a photo of Peterson standing next to a fan wearing a spoof T-shirt that said he was proud to be an Islamophobe.

Cue the next move. Cambridge University’s faculty of divinity ­rescinded its offer of a visiting fellowship to Peterson. A university spokesman said the presence of the acclaimed psychologist, whose lectures on the biblical stories of Genesis have attracted 100 million views, would damage the univer­sity’s “inclusive environment”. Because inclusive environments do not include ideas that differ from mob orthodoxy.

Last December a firing squad of students and academics went after 28-year-old social scientist Noah Carl, who was awarded a research fellowship at St Edmund’s College at Cambridge University. The firing squad accused him of “pseudoscientific racism”. Carl’s peer-reviewed and exten­sively cited work extends to race, gender and intelligence, where he has argued that shutting down sensitive issues will cause more mischief than allowing them to be freely challenged. And the mob drew blood again. Earlier this month, Carl was sacked. The master of St Edmund’s said his work “could incite racial or religious hatred”. No fraud or inaccuracy was found in his research. No one expressed ­interest in debating his work.

In Australia free speech firing squads came for Peter Ridd too. The esteemed physics professor was sacked by James Cook University using a bogus claim of ­uncollegial behaviour, which was ­rejected by the Federal Court last month. Ridd questioned the quality of science about the Great Barrier Reef. In keeping with the spirit of our times, JCU will spend millions of dollars defending its right to censor an academic, rather than encouraging debate about important environmental issues.

What’s next? One suggestion is massive retaliation.

Speaking to The Weekend Australian this week, historian Niall Ferguson said “the lesson of history is that you ­either hang together or you hang separately”.

The Harvard professor and fellow of Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, who has written 14 books ranging from The Ascent of Money to The Square and the Tower, has called for an academic version of NATO. NATO was created 70 years ago, a treaty of mutual defence “to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilisation of their peoples, founded on the principles of dem­ocracy, individual liberty and the rule of law”. To thwart the spread of Soviet tyranny, western Europe agreed, in clause 5, that an armed attack on one would be treated as an attack on all signatories.

“There wouldn’t have been much to stop the Soviet Union if each individual European country had to defend itself against the Red Army alone,” Ferguson told The Weekend Australian. “In today’s extraordinarily vicious public sphere, when you come under attack, when someone accuses you of what Orwell called a ‘thoughtcrime’ — though ‘hate speech’ is the more conventional term — typically you find yourself suddenly very alone.”

Ferguson speaks from experience. “You suddenly look around wondering where your friends are. Their heads are so far below the parapet that all you can see are their arses.” When you see someone under attack, go to their defence, he says. Write about the attack, use the Left’s preferred weapon of social media too, protest against what is happening.

The key to massive retaliation is numbers, Ferguson says. Not just one or two people speaking up but two or three thousand doing it. This may deter cultural firing squads from culling other voices. And remember, there but for the grace of God go I.

As Obama noted, the progressive firing squads aim at their own side too. Ridd is no conservative. After none of his colleagues at JCU came to his defence publicly, he has another suggestion. Speaking to The Weekend Australian, the quietly spoken professor says we need “kamikaze academics”, men and women close to retirement in a ­financial position to risk their livelihoods by getting fired for doing something noble to improve campus freedom. Ridd has written about this in his soon-to-be-published book. Only half in jest, he adds. “I would like to suggest to older academics that they have a duty to do something. It is not good enough to stand by and watch.” Drawing on history, Ferguson points out that we are watching “a ghastly parody of the Cultural Revolution” right across the ­Anglosphere.

“At universities, of all places, free speech and free thought are under attack. They’re under as much attack as if these places were under totalitarian governments. It’s extraordinary,” he says, over the phone after a dinner with Harvard historians.

“You see denunciations, behaviours by young people that could be the mind of the Red Guards in (Mao’s) Cultural Revolution.”

Totalitarianism comes in different forms. Even with hindsight, some people, especially the young, will struggle to recognise despots and tyrants of past eras. The new form of tyranny is even harder to spot for some. We are engulfed by new guises of an old tyranny, sweet-sounding laws, roving ­bureaucrats, ubiquitous codes of conduct, endless claims to inclusivity that exclude people with different views, the modern god of diversity, a most hypocritical divinity, that has no time for diverse opinions, a new lexicon of words slowly and surely strangling liberty. One day we will look back, ashamed of ourselves for not doing more to combat this new totalitarianism.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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