Monday, August 19, 2019


Why the Dow still matters
The Dow Jones industrial average may be 123 years old and full of quirks, but it is far from obsolete.   I’ve long had a fondness for this strangely structured index.  Unlike the Nasdaq or S&P 500, the Dow “weights its component stocks by price rather than by market capitalization,” which could produce serious distortions in an index with only 30 stocks.  Furthermore, the “Dow’s membership criteria are, to say the least, vague and generally revolve around reputation and track record.  Decisions are made by a committee of three representatives from S&P and two from The Wall Street Journal, which is owned by Dow Jones   Despite this, the Dow’s average annual return over the past 10 years has been a decent 14.1 percent. The S&P 500? 13.9 percent.
--James Glassman, Kiplinger​.com

Supplements and heart health
Millions of people who take dietary supplements to protect their heart are likely getting no health benefit—and in some cases might be harming themselves. That’s the conclusion of a new meta-analysis of 277 studies, which together included nearly 1 million people, to determine supplements’ effect on cardiovascular health. The researchers found that only a few of the 16 supplements and eight diets tested appeared to do any good.
Omega 3 fatty acids, commonly found in fish oil, appeared to lower the risk of heart attacks and coronary heart disease.  Folic acid was linked with a reduced risk of stroke.  But the evidence for those benefits wasn’t particularly strong.  Vitamin A, B, C, D, and E supplements didn’t appear to help heart health at all; nor did calcium, iron or multivitamins.  Furthermore, researchers found, taking calcium with vitamin D increases the risk of stroke, possibly because it increases blood clotting and hardens arteries.
“People who are taking these supplements for the sake of improving their cardiovascular health are wasting their money,” lead author Safi Khan, from West Virginia University, tells The New York Times.
--The Week

The realistic solution to climate change
Pseudo-scientific hysteria is the wrong answer to climate change.  Democratic presidential candidates are sounding warnings that if the U.S. doesn’t dramatically cut carbon emissions by 2030, it will be too late and the world will become a hellish dystopia.  Climate change is a real problem, but efforts to get rid of fossil fuels have largely failed.  Of the 195 signatories to the 2016 Paris Agreement, just 17 are meeting their modest, self-assigned targets.

Why? Policies to cut carbon are incredibly expensive.  The annual costs of promises in the Green New Deal, for example, would total about $2 trillion, or about $6,400 for every American.  Activists think the only way to sell these costs “is by scaring people silly”—but it’s not working. A new poll found that nearly seven of every 10 Americans oppose spending just $120 each a year to combat climate change. 

The only pragmatic way to address climate change is to pour resources into energy research, to drive down the price of existing renewables and create new energy technologies.  When the alternatives become cheaper than coal and oil, everyone will switch. It is innovation, not hysteria, that will win this battle.
--Bjorn Lomborg, New York Post

Graying of America presents new problems
Cities will need to adjust their infrastructure for older people:  Crosswalk timers will have to be reset to give them more time to get across the street, and far more curb cutouts for walkers and wheelchairs will need to be installed.  The number of homebound, isolated seniors will dramatically rise, contributing to an existing loneliness epidemic. 

The isolation, ironically, will be worse in the sidewalk-less, car-oriented suburbs America created to make Baby Boomer childhoods so utopian.  What happens to tens of millions of suburban residents when they’re 85 and unable to drive or walk to stores, community centers or doctors?  “In the ’60s, a majority of people weren’t living past 70, or 75,” says Hilde Waerstad, research associate with the MIT Age Lab. “We’re entering into this new era that we just have not seen before."

--The Week

Making sure victims don’t survive
Former Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan once proposed a huge tax on the most damaging kinds of ammunition, explaining: “Guns don’t kill people, bullets do.”
Recent mass shootings have proved that the late senator was onto something.  In his sick manifesto, the El Paso shooter lovingly explains his choices of an AK-47–style semi-automatic weapon and the 8m3 bullet, which has a cult following because it expands and fragments when it hits human flesh—causing catastrophic wounds.  

In publications such as the NRA’s official journal, Shooting Illustrated, “bullet talk is as revealing a window on American gun culture as gun talk.”  In one ammo review, the writer gives his “thumbs up” to Hornady-brand bullets’ ability to penetrate thick clothing and expand inside the body, causing deep wound cavities.  When this kind of ammo is paired with semi-automatic rifles, which fire bullets at triple the velocity of most handguns, the effects are especially gruesome and lethal.  Surgeons who have treated victims of assault-rifle mass shootings say organs are so badly shredded that there is nothing left to repair. Why are we selling hyperlethal guns and bullets designed and marketed to make sure shooting victims can’t possibly survive?
--Francis Wilkinson,

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