Monday, October 20, 2008


There have been many studies showing this -- from Terman & Oden in the 1920s on. But I think there is some point in noting the recent high quality study below which also shows that.

More Intelligent, More Dependable Children Live Longer: A 55-Year Longitudinal Study of a Representative Sample of the Scottish Nation

By Ian J. Deary et al.

ABSTRACT-The associations of childhood intelligence and dependability with adult mortality were examined in 1,181 people who were representative of the Scottish nation. Participants were born in 1936 and were followed for mortality from 1968 through early 2003. Higher intelligence and greater dependability were independent, significant predictors of lower mortality: With both factors entered together, the hazard ratio (HR) was 0.80 (95% confidence interval, CI: 0.65-0.99, p= .037) per standard deviation increase in intelligence and 0.77 (95% CI: 0.63-0.94, p= .009) per standard deviation increase in dependability. Children in the lower half of the distributions for intelligence and dependability were more than twice as likely to die compared with those who scored in the top half for both these measures (HR = 2.82; 95% CI: 1.81-4.41). Studied together for the first time in a representative sample, these two psychological variables are independent life-course risk factors for mortality. It is important to discover the mechanisms by which they influence survival.

Psychological Science, Volume 19 Issue 9, Pages 874 - 880, 2008

British senior citizen ordered to stop mowing grass because it's too tidy

Brian Hubbard has regularly cut and weeded the small patch of grass outside his three-bedroom home since he moved in four years ago. He also picks up any litter, rakes the leaves and cleans up after the council contractors have left their grass cuttings.

But he has received a letter accusing him of "encroaching" on council land and been told that he must stop tending to the grass and "return the area to its original state within 28 days" or the work would be carried out at his expense.

He said: "I like the place to be tidy and attractive and I know the council's contractors cannot do it all so I decided to help out. "I find it grossly irritating that just because I have taken pride in the area where I live and made it more attractive I have had this threatening letter. "Whoever would have thought that cultivating the grass, cutting it regularly and raking the leaves off could be described as encroachment? Do they want me to put daisies and dandelions in?

"The other day there were people smashing glass over the road. I got a broom, went over and swept it up. Is that encroachment? "This is a perfect example of an overzealous council wasting taxpayers' money. I'm going to ignore the letter and carry on."

Mr Hubbard, a former parish councillor who is retired and in his 70s, lives in the house in the Belmont area of Hereford with his wife, Mary. He received the letter from Herefordshire Council's parks, countryside and leisure development service last week. The letter, which is dated September 8, orders "the removal of garden tools and furnishings and all vegetation not in keeping with the surrounding area". It also accuses Mr Hubbard of "blocking gate way access", "undertaking maintenance" and gives him "28 days to return the area to its original state". The letter warns: "If there is still an encroachment issue with the property further action will be taken which may result in the above works being carried out at your expense."

Heather Davies, councillor for the Belmont area, said the Hubbards should be congratulated and not punished for taking pride in their local area. She said: "When I was on my way to see them the road looked a mess because the grass had been cut but the cuttings left. Mr Hubbard always picks his cuttings up. "If more people were like that the area would look really nice. We should be supporting him because it's brilliant what he does - not sending him letters like this."

Yesterday a spokesman for Herefordshire Council apologised for the tone of the letter and suggested a meeting to discuss the situation. He said: "We are aware of Mr Hubbard's endeavours to tend the land next to his home in Dorchester Way and commend him for his public spiritedness. "We apologise if he feels the letter he received from us is heavy-handed. We are happy to meet Mr Hubbard to discuss the issue." [Big backdown under the searchlight of publicity]


British government retreat on "metric martyrs"

Another victory for publicity over power-mad bureaucrats

Fruit and vegetable traders who sell their produce using imperial measures will not be prosecuted, under guidelines being drawn up by the Government. The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills said that it was updating advice to councils to ensure that action against so-called metric martyrs was "proportionate, consistent and in the public and consumers' interest".

John Denham, the Innovation Secretary, is expected to issue his proposals within months. They will mean that traders who insist on selling goods in pounds and ounces, despite European Union laws, will not be taken to court by local authorities. It is understood that the decision was prompted by the case of Janet Devers, 64, the East London market trader who was made to pay nearly $10,000 in costs and received a criminal record this month after a prosecution brought by Hackney council. She was found guilty of using imperial weighing scales without an official stamp and of selling vegetables for one pound a bowl rather than counting them out individually.

Mr Denham, who has responsibility for weights and measures as part of his science brief, said: "It is hard to see how it is in the public interest, or in the interests of consumers, to prosecute small traders who have committed what are essentially minor offences. I would like to see an end to this kind of prosecution, which is why I have asked for new guidance to be introduced."

Neil Herron, director of the Metric Martyrs campaign group, said that the decision was a "spectacular victory for people power" and dedicated the victory to Steven Thoburn, a greengrocer from Sunderland who died in 2004 at the age of 39 while fighting a conviction for selling bananas by the pound. Mr Herron said: "Finally we have a government minister with an ounce of common sense."

In 2001 Mr Thoburn became the first man to face prosecution for using scales that could not weigh in metric units. He was given a six-month conditional discharge but his case, along with three others, went to the Court of Appeal, where the convictions were upheld. He took his appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, where it was rejected. He died of a heart attack three years later. Mr Thoburn's widow, Leigh, said: "This is absolutely fabulous news, but it is a tragedy that it had to come to this in the first place."

John Gardner, director of the British Weights and Measures Association, said that he "warmly welcomed" the guidance. He said: "The proper role of Trading Standards is to check whether customers are receiving what they pay for, not persecuting shopkeepers and stallholders whose only crime is selling apples in pounds and ounces, not grams and kilos."

Metric measurements were introduced in Britain in the 1970s. Under legislation that came into force on January 2000, all goods sold loose by weight are required to be sold in grams and kilograms. Traders can still display weights in imperial but a conversion must also be given.

A spokesman for the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills said: "While individual enforcement decisions are rightly a matter for Trading Standards, we are keen to encourage action that is proportionate, consistent and in the public and consumers' interest, which is why the National Weights and Measures Laboratory is updating guidance with local authority bodies for Trading Standards officers. We are reviewing the current legislative framework with a view to making it easier for everyone to understand, business to comply with and Trading Standards officers to enforce."


A truly toxic British ambulance bureaucracy

Woman left to die by the roadside after ambulance bosses refused to let crew cross a county boundary

A student was left dying by the side of a road after an air ambulance 20 miles away was refused permission to cross a county boundary, it has been revealed. Rebecca Wedd, 23, had to wait 42 minutes for medical help after she was hit by a car as she walked with a group of college friends to a summer ball. Police arrived in seven minutes, but it was almost three quarters of an hour after the 999 call when paramedics finally appeared. The national target for answering such a call is eight minutes. Miss Wedd was eventually flown to a nearby hospital but died of her injuries the following day.

It has emerged that an air ambulance crew three minutes away from the scene of the accident was initially refused permission to answer the call from the A433 in Gloucestershire, because it meant crossing a county boundary from Wiltshire. The emergency controller contacted the Wiltshire Air Ambulance after the accident but was told the helicopter could not fly outside the county at night. This was said to be part of a pre-existing arrangement between WAA and Wiltshire Police, which shared the helicopter. The controller then contacted Wiltshire Police directly and persuaded them to bend the rule because of the emergency. Permission was given and the aircraft was finally dispatched at 12.02pm, and arrived at the scene at 12.05am - 43 minutes after the initial 999 call.

Only a minute beforehand, the student graduate was being tended by a paramedic whose ambulance had been flagged down by police. Miss Wedd eventually arrived at hospital an hour and 18 minutes after the accident, and died of her injuries the next day.

The shocking delay in flying the air ambulance was revealed after an internal investigation into the tragedy was made public under the Freedom of Information Act. Miss Wedd's father said he believed his daughter might have been saved but for the delay. Peter Wedd, of Harston, Cambridgeshire, 53, said: 'I cannot understand why that rule applies and why that air ambulance could not fly. 'The bureaucracy that stopped the helicopter from flying that night is unbelievable. Why are these rules there when someone's life is in severe danger? 'The report is a catalogue of disasters. The resources available were not properly managed and someone could have attended to my daughter far, far quicker. 'It's hard to know if that would have made a difference. In my heart of hearts I believe it would.'

The report also highlighted other failings by the Great Western Ambulance Service that night. A nearby ambulance dealing with a less urgent call was not diverted to Rebecca's aid and no ambulances were available in nearby Cirencester because of staff sickness.

At the time Rebecca was killed, Mr Wedd had been rebuilding his life after his wife Carol, 46, died of breast cancer. He has one other daughter Caroline, 22. Rebecca was on her way to the ball at the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester in May last year when she was struck.


Stupid British garbage wars

Scourge of fly-tipping switches to the suburbs after weekly bin collections are scrapped

The scourge of fly-tipping has spread to the suburbs, official figures showed yesterday. Illegal rubbish dumping - almost all of it household refuse - is now found as much in genteel and leafy areas as in sink estates and inner cities. The shift of fly-tipping to the suburbs has gone alongside the imposition of fortnightly rubbish collections and strict wheelie bin regulations.

Figures released by the Environment Department showed that half of all fly-tips are found around towns and cities but outside deprived areas. In the past a big majority of recorded fly-tips have been in the poorest and most lawless areas.

They also showed that six out of ten fly-tipping incidents involved household refuse rather than business or industrial waste and that most were dumps of one car boot-load of rubbish. More than one in ten fly-tips were of a single black bag.

Evidence of middle-class fly-tipping produced a new broadside against Labour's compulsory recycling policies from Tories who have made it an election pledge to bring back weekly collections. Local government spokesman Eric Pickles said: 'These figures illustrate that fly-tipping is rife across the country, hitting Middle England hard. Clearly it is becoming the norm and not the exception. 'Sixty per cent of all fly-tipping is household waste under Labour. Britain's green and pleasant land is now littered by the blot of black bin bags, directly due to Whitehall's policy of bullying town halls into axing weekly collections and adopting over-zealous 'no side waste' policies.'

He added: 'Gordon Brown's new bin taxes look set to make it even worse, by giving perverse financial incentives to irresponsibly fly-tip.'

In the 12 months up to March 2007, the DEFRA breakdown showed that the number of enforcement actions against those dumping rubbish went up by 26 per cent. Overall, there were 1.24million fly-tip incidents, down 7.5 per cent on last year. However the figures do not include Liverpool incidents because of problems over recording in the city.

Minister for waste Jane Kennedy said: 'We still need to work on the serious environmental and social problem of fly-tipping. Local authorities are doing well in the fight against it.'

Fly-tipping has risen in recent years as around half the councils that collect rubbish in England have abandoned weekly pick-ups for fortnightly collections and compulsory recycling schemes.

These have been accompanied by attempts to force families to put out less rubbish, usually involving strict rules. Householders are not allowed to fill bins so their lids are open, rubbish must not be put out at the wrong hours and no 'side waste' left in bags alongside bins is allowed


British airport security a farce too: "Replica bombs were smuggled past security staff in hand luggage during a safety inspection at Britain's second busiest airport. Staff at Gatwick failed to identify artificial explosives carried by undercover transport inspectors from Brussels even though one device was allegedly identified as suspicious by X-ray scanners. The device was apparently handed back to the purported terrorist because the person carrying out the screening did not realise what had been found, according to an airport source. The shortcomings high-lighted by the European commission's inspection this month will be tested again this week in a follow-up audit. Sources at Gatwick claim the work of security staff is being hampered by the need to keep queues to a minimum."

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