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Showing posts from August, 2015

Riu de la Fontana

Jaufre Rudel was the Prince of Blaye and a troubadour of the early12th century. It is thought he died during the Second Crusade, in or after 1147. He is noted for developing the theme of "love from afar" (amor de terra lonhdana). Much of the Trobador love poems related the pain of inaccessible love. This features in this song Riu de la fontana (waters of the fountain) here performed by the Oxford Trobadors with a contemporary arrangement and music by Ray Noble who sings it (yes that's me).

Time to stop counting calories?

Isn't it time public health initiatives were positive about food?  We hear so much about what is bad for us and not enough about what is good.  Perhaps we have been concerned about the wrong aspect of food intact.  We have been focused too much on counting calories.  Of course we have had the 'five a day' promotion for fruit and vegetables, but this has led to confusion in labelling of food packaging - 'one of your five a day' - labelling which is at best misleading, at worst purposefully deceptive. 'Five a day' should refer to fresh fruit and vegetables, and not to processed food containing too much sugar or salt.

Now leading food experts have argued for a shift in focus from calorie counting to nutritional value of foods for heart health. 
Drawing on published evidence, Drs Aseem Malhotra and James DiNicolantonio and Professor Simon Capewell argue that rather like stopping smoking, simple dietary changes can rapidly improve health outcomes at the popula…

More gobbledygook science on alcohol and cancer risk

We would have seen the headlines this week.  Light drinking increases risk of cancer in women. You might have thought you knew that already. So what is it all about?

A large study (that means the cohort was large enough to have some meaning in terms of the population) published in  The BMJ yesterday suggests that even light and moderate drinking (up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men) is associated with an increased risk of certain alcohol related cancers in women and male smokers.  It is a study full of nuances and should be taken with a dose of caution.

Overall, light to moderate drinking was associated with minimally increased risk of 'total' cancer in both men and women.

However, among women, light to moderate drinking (up to one drink per day) was associated with an increased risk of alcohol related cancer, mainly breast cancer.  This is not new. We already have sufficient information to conclude that alcohol consumption increases risk of ca…

Can a real Labour leader please step forward?

It is all so simple.  You stand for the leadership of the Labour party and say what we want to hear.  Student fees? Scrap them.   Spending on the NHS? No problem.  Social Care?  Increase spending.  The economy? Nationalise the energy companies.  Any questions? And there is the worry.  No questions. Why is the media not asking the questions it would ask if Jeremy Corbyn was leader of the Labour party?  It is almost a conspiracy of silence.

Now I don't really believe there is a 'conspiracy' in the media to give Corbyn an easy time.  But Labour members and supporters should be wary.  Corbyn is not being tested in this election. It is time he was.  Labour needs to know if he can cut the mustard.  What would his answers be on the economy?

Should the improbable happen and Labour won the next election it would only do so if it can persuade voters it is sensible about the economy.  Voters are not without the ability to add up. They can add up the cost of promises.  If you offer th…

Jeremy Corbyn is wrong about nationalisation

Jeremy Corbyn is wrong about nationalisation.  He is carried away by the reception he gets in the bubble of left wing politics.  It was a mistake made by Michael Foot as leader of the party.  He convinced himself that the public mood was swinging his way because of the rapturous reception he received at rallies up and down the country.  The faithful cheered, but voters turned away and Labour became unelectable.

Nationalisation isn't socialism.  There is more socialism in 'wider share ownership' than in nationalising major companies.   In that sense Mrs Thatcher was more socialist than any party wishing to nationalise major companies. Jeremy Corbyn seems intent on taking the Labour party backwards whilst what the country needs is a forward looking party that recognises and understands the changed economic and social landscape, and has real answers to the problems we face.  Nationalisation isn't the answer.  What people need is enhanced opportunities for education, for w…

My heart is with Jeremy Corbyn, but my head is not

Oh dear! What should the Labour party do? Who should it choose as its next leader? My heart would be with Jeremy Corbyn but for all the wrong reasons.  What he says resonates with my anger at the injustice of the Tory government austerity programme.  It makes the poorest pay the most for the financial crisis. But Labour needs to keep a clear head and not retreat into its comfort zone where it says 'all the right things'  but could never do anything.  The danger is that Labour would become unelectable as it was in the 1980s - rejected by voters election after election.  Labour should not turn itself into simply a party of protest.  It needs to present a coherent programme for government. It needs to face up to difficult decisions, and it needs a leader who will be able to unite the party.  Jeremy Corbyn could not do that.  I fear his election would be divisive and more so since so many of his supporters are using his campaign to attack 'the virus' of New Labour.    Wha…