Some things I found interesting in my feeds today and that perhaps deserve more than a few words in a tweet:

  • Tom Papworth separates the ceremonial from the legal in a letter to a constituent about same-sex marriage: " I hope that we can one day move to a system whereby individuals are free to define their union, celebrate it and – where appropriate – have it blessed in whatever manner they chose." Why stop at couples? Shouldn't we allow any form of free and voluntary association and enable recognition of inheritance rights and pooling of incomes for larger groups?
  • On the other hand, self-styled libertarian, Rand Paul, reveals that his notion of individual freedom only applies to people that share his views. At a recent gathering he said about Obama's support for gay marriage: "Call me cynical, but I wasn’t sure his views on marriage could get any gayer."
  • A new study suggests genetic factors are less likely to influence economic status than some recent papers have suggested. The thought that some people may be genetically predisposed to poverty is an uncomfortable one so this is welcome news.
  • More than half of Greek police officers voted for the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party in recent elections. My prediction is the next round of elections will be even more polarising.
  • The School Food Trust finds that "89 out of 100 academies were selling at least one of the snack foods high in sugar, salt or fat that were outlawed by Labour to rid schools of products that were bad for children and damaging their concentration".  I have a lot of issues with this. Firstly if parents don't like that policy then they won't apply to that school and the school will need to change its policy if it wants to survive - its a point of differentiation for schools. Secondly, these academies are going to be testing the presumption that junk food affects performance (vs the potentially more likely outcome that happy kids will perform better) and if they see grades dropping then they'll be scrambling to make changes including around food. Finally, there's an underlying problem with studies like this that are funded by single-issue organisations. The purpose of the School Fund Trust is to perpetuate the food standards brought in a few years ago, not to give an objective opinion on the diet of kids in schools, so their view is rather partisan. Also, it's worth pointing out that they don't appear to receive any funding from the public, so they have no evidence as to whether they have public support for their views or not. The fake charities site (I hate that name - this is clearly not a fake charity and its insulting to say so) says they are funded with £7.5M from the government and the remaining £1.2M from lottery grants.

Permalink: http://blog.iandavis.com/2012/05/oddments/

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