Saturday, March 29, 2008

Tri-Millennial event celebrated

It’s been asserted that the recent 15-day heatwave in Adelaide, South Australia, is only likely to happen once every 3,000 years.

Adelaide’s residents will now have something notable about their city to tell their grandchildren that doesn’t involve serial homicide.

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It just ain’t cricket

“Will everyone please stop bashing up the Liberal Party at the moment. It’s like a national sport for people, particularly journalists, at the moment to belt up the Liberal Party. I think it’s in the national interest that the Liberal Party be a viable, feasible alternative government at state and federal level.”

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Tough being a bloke

Most of us are at least vaguely aware that male life-expectancy trails that of females.

But now a recent study of data in 15 developed countries has found that baby boys “are 24 percent more likely to die than baby girls.”

This is down from a peak of 31 percent in 1970, but double the rate in the days before the development of vaccines and public health measures like improved sanitation dramatically improved infant mortality rates.

It may seem counter-intuitive (or something), but the increasing gender-disparity in infant survival rates is due to historical advances in nutrition, sanitation and obstetric medicine.

“During the great historical improvements in infant mortality, the rising male disadvantage in infancy revealed a level of unexpected male vulnerability,” the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences concluded.

“As infant mortality falls to very low levels, infant deaths become increasingly concentrated among those who are born with some weakness.”

The male disadvantage begins in utero.

Girls have a stronger immune system while boys are 60 percent more likely to be born prematurely and to suffer from respiratory problems, among others. Boys are also more likely to cause risky or difficult labor because of their larger body and head size.

When poor sanitation and nutrition weakened all babies and mothers the male disadvantage was less noticeable: from 1751 until 1870 the gender mortality gap was about 10 to 15 percent.

But the development of the germ theory dramatically cut infectious disease rates, making complications of childbirth and premature birth more common causes of death.

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Goat Friday

Monday, March 24, 2008

Advertising demystified

“Advertising is, at its core, just the simple delivery of information.”

So says Chris Berg, research fellow with the Institute of Public Affairs and editor of the IPA Review.

One can only agree that the most lavish promotion for any given product is ultimately reducible to a statement of the application of the product, technical specifications, and so forth.

In short, well-paid advertising hot-shots are not creative geniuses, but rather simple information workers.

With Mr Berg’s searing demystification of their craft, they may now expect a concomitant reduction in their remuneration. If I were in the advertising industry, I’d be joining the union with all haste.

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