Even more reason to have kids

Here’s an interesting finding– parents (including adoptive ones) are less likely to have a premature death.  The study uses one of my favorite methodologies– a natural experiment– to sort out whether it is really parenthood, or just something that correlates, at issue:

METHODOLOGY: Danish researchers turned a group of 21,276 couples undergoing IVF treatment for infertility over a 14-year period into a “natural experiment,” by comparing those who ended up having children to those who did not. Over 15,000 children were eventually born the couples, while another 1500 were adopted.

RESULTS: The death rate for childless women was 4 times higher than for women who had given birth. Women who had adopted had two-thirds the likelihood of dying prematurely. The death rate was also approximately halved for both biological and adoptive fathers. When the researchers controlled for things like age, education level, and income, these differences remained significant.

All of the deaths were attributed to circulatory disease, cancers, or accidents.

CONCLUSION: While unable to prove causation, the authors concluded that mortality rates are higher in people who don’t have children.

IMPLICATION: Because this study looked at people who were involuntarily childless, it weeded out factors like low levels of social support or unhealthy behavior that might have caused those who never had children to die earlier.

Also, if you don’t have kids, chances are low you will ever memorize entire books such as Hippos Go Berserk or the key passages of “The Sneetches.”  And reciting these always impresses.

The “new” Paul Ryan and Republican Party

David Brooks had a column today that was so transparently wishful thinking that it was laughable.  A few pandering comments and he seems to believe the party is going to recast itself in his desired image of it.  This part struck me:

Finally, there has even been some shifting of economic values, or at least in how the party presents those values [emphasis mine]. The other speaker at the Kemp dinner was Representative Paul Ryan, who spoke about how to alleviate poverty. He didn’t abandon any of his fundamental beliefs, but he framed those beliefs in a more welcoming way and opened up room for growth and new thinking.

Ummm, talking nicely about poor people instead of calling them “takers” without actually changing any policy does not a new Republican party make.  Chait, naturally, had a much smarter take on Rubio and Ryan’s re-branding.  As for Ryan’s newfound concern about the poor:

Ryan’s speech at Cleveland State did insist that he loves the poor and wants them to succeed, but the actual policy argument he made was that he plans to help the poor by taking away subsidized health care and nutritional assistance and thereby give them the kick in the pants they need to get off their lazy butts and stop being moochers. Ryan had no policy to offer the poor other than the incentive of being hungrier and sicker, and if he has since decided to adopt such a policy, he has not informed Politico.

Talk is cheap.  Until policy proposals start changing, this is still the Tea Party’s GOP.

Public opinion on vaccines

Over at Yougov, Adam Berinsky has polled on what the public thinks about vaccine safety and the vaccine connection to autism:



Berinksy concludes:

The bottom line here is clear. Large majorities of the public – Republican and Democrat alike – are secure in thinking that vaccines are safe. Moreover, even larger segments of the public reject the belief that there is a link between vaccines and autism.

First, I always love finding issues where there is hardly any difference between Democrats and Republicans.  That said, I personally don’t think these results are so great.  Of course, just because people aren’t “confident” doesn’t mean they won’t get their child the needed vaccines, but I’m sure it makes it a lot more likely.  When you consider the millions of lives saved by vaccines and how important they are to overall public health, I don’t feel all that great about the 28% without confidence.  And, as for autism, apparently for almost 30% of the public Jenny McCarthy and a thoroughly debunked/rebuked doctor is more important than a genuine consensus among physicians and public health researchers.

Photo of the day

Good friend to this blog “Mike from Canada” and I got into a bit of a photography discussion and I told him I really admired some cool email photos he showed me.  I love a good windmill and there’s great color.  He agreed to share for a photo of the day:


Mike Davey


Now here’s the kicker– turns out it’s not really a photo.  Apparently Mike made a series of these with a 3D rendering program called Vue.  Pretty cool.  Here’s another:


Mike Davey

I figured he had played around with the color, but was pretty amazed to learn that these were wholly created images from an amateur.  Technology!


So, apparently, a local Congresswoman (Renee Elmers) and Senator Richard Burr would like to name the federal building in Raleigh after Jesse Helms.  Yes, Jesse Helms was a “transformative figure in our state history” as Richard Burr put it.  More importantly, though he was, a reknowned racist or, as David Broder described him an classic, must-read column, “What really sets Jesse Helms apart is that he is the last prominent unabashed white racist politician in this country.”  [emphasis mine]  I learned about this 20 minutes before doing the interview linked below.  I told a friend and said, “speak truth to power, Steve.”  I actually used the David Broder quote, though it didn’t make the cut.  They did use my quote where I said that the name Jesse Helms was largely synonymous with “racist” to most of the country and thus not really the image that the state of NC should want to put forward. Interestingly, most people were too afraid to speak honestly about Helms.  The reporter wrote on FB, “You have no idea how long it took us to find average people willing to speak to us on camera about this…Everyone had their opinions, but no one wanted to air them in public. It’s too sensitive a topic.”

Story is here (don’t think I can embed the video).

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