Yey! It’s official – we’re a happy lot!!

Good news for  Enzed: we came eighth in World Happiness, one ahead of Australia and Sweden, according to the  Sustainable  Development Solutions Network for the UN.

Happiest  country  of all was Norway,  followed by Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland in a tightly packed bunch. All of the top four countries rank highly on all the main factors found to support happiness: caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, health, income and good governance. Norway has insulated itself from the boom and bust cycle of many other resource-rich economies.

The survey said  that  doing  this successfully required high levels of mutual trust, shared purpose, generosity and good governance, all factors that helped keep Norway and other top countries where they are in the rankings.

All of the other countries in the top ten also have high values in all six of the key variables used to explain happiness differences among countries and through time – income, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on in times of trouble, generosity, freedom and trust, with the latter measured by the absence of corruption in business and government.

There has been some shuffling of ranks among closely grouped countries, with this year’s rankings placing Finland in 5th place, followed by the Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia and Sweden tied for the 9th position, having the same 2014-2016 score to three decimals.  And then there’s the US,  and according to the report,  it’s a sad story. In 2007 the USA ranked 3rd among the OECD countries; in 2016 it came 19th.


Good news too for  those who may be in for a total eclipse of the heart so to speak. Science Daily reports  that after a patient has a heart attack, a cascade of events leading to heart failure begins. Damage to the area in the heart where a blood vessel was blocked leads to scar tissue. In response to scarring, the heart will remodel to compensate. This process often ends in ventricular or valve failure.

But… a team of researchers is hoping to halt the progression from heart attack to heart failure with a small device called ‘Therepi.’  The device contains a reservoir that attaches directly to the damaged heart tissue.


Just when you thought things couldn’t get  any more weird in the  White House there’s  this: ‘Aides realized earlier on that they could not stop President Donald Trump from tearing up papers he must preserve to stay in line with the Presidential Records Act,’ Politico reported, citing people familiar with the practice.

‘So to avoid clashing with the law, some staffers have taped his pieces back together “like a jigsaw puzzle,” Solomon Lartey, a former records management analyst, told Politico.  Lartey said he got clear tape and reassembled clips Trump had torn up, including a letter from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.’

Some of the  letters were ripped in half, others torn into  confetti-sized pieces. And then, in line with the vindictiveness of this White House, Lartey and another long serving records management colleague found themselves out of their jobs, with no reasons being given. So the two who were doing the right thing  are now out – and the one who wasn’t,  remains…


Uh oh….  A recent study found that one robot in the US replaced roughly six workers between 1993 and 2007. However, the effects were much greater for those without a college degree, and who worked in low-paid, blue-collar industries. Many of those who lost their jobs have left the labour force entirely.  Is that also on the horizon for our  workers?


Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland ponders  if we are  on the dark march  back to the 1930s:

‘Put starkly, the norms and taboos established after the world witnessed the Holocaust are eroding before our eyes. For 70-odd years, roughly the span of a human life, they endured, keeping the lid on the darker impulses that, we had seen, lurked within all of us. It steadily became taboo to voice undiluted racism and xenophobia. Those fears, those loathings of the stranger, never went away, of course. But they were held in check, partly by the knowledge of where such hatred, unrestrained, could lead.

Now, in the US, Italy, Hungary, Poland and elsewhere, the restraints are off. There even seems to be a macho thrill in breaking the taboo, in echoing the words and deeds of that darkest era in human history.’ Read more at:


How the world  turns. Coincidentally  we picked up  the 2011 book All That I Am by Anna Funder recently. In it she quotes 18th century French writer Antoine de Rivarol  who wrote: The most civilised nations are as close to barbarity as the most polished iron is close to rust. Nations, like metals, shine only on the surface.

And nowhere is that  corrosion more  obvious than in Trump’s America  – most recently over the Administration’s  separation  of children from parents – even those who crossed the border legally with their parents.  Reminds us of Neil Sedaka‘s  moving  lyrics  in his 1975 song ‘The Immigrant’:

Harbours open their

Arms to the young

Searching foreigner.

Come to live in the

Beacon of liberty….

 It was a time when 

Strangers were welcome here

And there was  so

Much room,

That people could come

from  anywhere….

Now he arrives

With his hopes set on miracles,

Come to marry his

Fortune with a handful

Of promises.

To find they’ve closed

The door,

They don’t want him

Any more,

Isn’t  any more

To go around.


And finally  some prose in  praise of a seductive  poem….

Walk with me while I age.  I hope this poem has the same effect on you as it  did on me; then my forwarding it will be worth the effort.   Walk with me while I age – worth the read. A BEAUTIFUL  POEM ABOUT GROWING OLDER… but









(Off the Net)

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Paul Smith

Paul is a veteran journalist, non-fiction author and writing mentor. He has also served on boards ranging from TVNZ to UNESCO.