web analytics

I am now offering 3D Printing Services!

I am now offering 3D Printing Services!

I can reliably print at 0.1mm resolution, Other standard resolutions available are: 0.15mm, 0.2mm, 0.3mm, 0.4mm. Any resolution between 0.1mm and 0.4mm is possible. Resolution is the height of each layer of the print.

My printer can create objects of up to 220mm x 220mm wide and 240mm tall.

Objects with overhangs greater than 60 degrees may require additional support material.

Stronger objects that can withstand pressure and load can be created with higher ‘infill’ settings. Stationary display models usually print fine on 10-20% infill.

Prices will vary from print to print based on size, material used and time. The minimum order/flat fee is $10. If you have a very small item, I could make you a few to several copies of it to meet the minimum order.

Orders will be shipped from Ontario, Canada. Canada Post, Purolator and UPS are available.

I do not offer model creation services at the moment, I will print your ready to go models, The preferred format is STL. (Find ready to go models at www.thingiverse.com)

I primarily print in PLA, But can offer ABS as well. Other possible materials are Nylon, PETG & Wood Composite. I currently have PLA and ABS in stock.

To start an order E-mail me or just send me a message on Facebook


ATTN: Everyone, Motion M-46 for a Guaranteed Livable Basic Income in Canada

I would like to call everyone’s attention to a recent Motion brought by NDP MP Leah Gazan.

Motion M-46 for a Guaranteed Livable Basic Income in Canada

The text of her Petition to the House of Commons follows, Sign it here.

Also consider contacting your local Member of Parliament and asking them to speak on/support/sign the Motion M-46. Find your MP here: ourcommons.ca/members/en/search

A PETITION TO THE HOUSE OF COMMONS A call to support Motion M-46 for a Guaranteed Livable Basic Income in Canada We, the undersigned Citizens of Canada, draw the attention of the House of Commons to the following:

WHEREAS, a Guaranteed Livable Basic Income (GLBI) would provide a financial safety net for all persons in Canada, as a means of eradicating poverty and addressing situations of precarity, especially through major economic shifts, global pandemics, natural disasters, major industry automation and job loss;

WHEREAS, a GLBI would reduce Canada’s growing poverty crisis, thereby reducing the demand on social services, law enforcement and healthcare, resulting in additional cost savings for government and tax payers;

WHEREAS, a GLBI would account for regional and territorial differences in living costs for all Canadians over the age of 18, and be administered through the existing tax system at no extra cost;

WHEREAS, a GLBI would not require participation in the labour market, education or training in order to be eligible, and would be paid on a regular basis;

WHEREAS, every person in Canada has the right to live in dignity, with access to a livable income, accessible affordable social housing, food security, expanded health services, and meet their basic human needs, no matter their status;

WHEREAS, the COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to take action and be a country that upholds human rights for all where no one is left behind;

and WHEREAS, a GLBI would replace the temporary Canada Emergency Response Benefit on an ongoing and permanent basis in a concerted effort to eradicate poverty and ensure the respect, dignity and security of all persons in Canada now and for future generations.

THEREFORE, your petitioners call on the Government of Canada to support Motion M-46 for a Guaranteed Livable Basic Income, the first initiative before the House of Commons during the COVID-19 pandemic to address poverty as a human rights crisis, which calls on Canada to take action, introduce legislation, and work with provincial and territorial governments and Indigenous peoples to ensure that a Guaranteed Livable Basic Income replace the Canada Emergency Response Benefit on an ongoing and permanent basis in a concerted effort to eradicate poverty and ensure the respect, dignity and security of all persons in Canada.

Source: MP Gazan


Everything we know about COVID-19

(Image: US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID))

This document is almost complete. My strategy here was every medical journal I’ve read or information from a health authority or medical professional working with COVID-19 patients. Sorted by category.

Last Update: 05-15-2020 12:15AM


  • There were 181 confirmed cases with identifiable exposure and symptom onset windows to estimate the incubation period of COVID-19. The median incubation period was estimated to be 5.1 days (95% CI, 4.5 to 5.8 days), and 97.5% of those who develop symptoms will do so within 11.5 days (CI, 8.2 to 15.6 days) of infection. (Sources: Annals of Internal Medicine, ScienceDaily)
  • Patients with the new coronavirus keep the pathogen in their respiratory tract for as long as 37 days, a new study found, suggesting they could remain infectious for many weeks.In yet another sign of how difficult the pandemic may be to contain, doctors in China detected the virus’s RNA in respiratory samples from survivors for a median of 20 days after they became infected, they wrote in an article published in the Lancet medical journal. (Sources: Lancet Medical Journal, Bloomberg)
  • A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that traces of the coronavirus were found on cruise ship surfaces after more than two weeks.The study, published on the CDC’s website, found that COVID-19 RNA traces were found on surfaces throughout the Diamond Princess cruise ship as long as 17 days after passengers and crew had disembarked from the voyage. (Sources: CDC.gov, The Hill, Bloomberg)


  • Strong evidence suggests the Wuhan marketplace played an early role in spreading 2019-nCoV, but whether it was the origin of the outbreak remains uncertain. Many of the initially confirmed 2019-nCoV cases—27 of the first 41 in one report, 26 of 47 in another—were connected to the Wuhan market, but up to 45%, including the earliest handful, were not. This raises the possibility that the initial jump into people happened elsewhere. (Sources: Lancet Medical Journal, ScienceMag)
  • “If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what’s out there now, [the scientific evidence] is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated … Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that [this virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of US NIAID says. Based on the scientific evidence, he also doesn’t entertain an alternate theory—that someone found the coronavirus in the wild, brought it to a lab, and then it accidentally escaped. – (Sources: National Geographic, Futurism)
  • The coronavirus outbreak in France was not caused by cases imported from China, but from a locally circulating strain of unknown origin, according to a new study by French scientists at the Institut Pasteur in Paris .. Genetic analysis showed that the dominant types of the viral strains in France belonged to a clade – or group with a common ancestor – that did not come from China or Italy .. The Pasteur institute collected samples from more than 90 other patients across France and found the strains all came from one genetic line. Strains following this unique path of evolution had so far only been detected in Europe and the Americas. (Sources: BioRXiv, SCMP)
  • One persistent myth is that this virus, called SARS-CoV-2, was made by scientists and escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China, where the outbreak began.A new analysis of SARS-CoV-2 may finally put that latter idea to bed. A group of researchers compared the genome of this novel coronavirus with the seven other coronaviruses known to infect humans: SARS, MERS and SARS-CoV-2, which can cause severe disease; along with HKU1, NL63, OC43 and 229E, which typically cause just mild symptoms, the researchers wrote March 17 in the journal Nature Medicine.“Our analyses clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus,” they write in the journal article. (Sources: Nature Medicine Journal, LiveScience)
  • So far, the Mount Sinai researchers have identified seven separate lineages of viruses that entered New York and began circulating. “We will probably find more,” Dr. van Bakel said.The coronavirus genomes are also revealing hints of early cross-country travel. Dr. van Bakel and his colleagues found one New York virus that was identical to one of the Washington viruses found by Dr. Bedford and his colleagues. In a separate study, researchers at Yale found another Washington-related virus. Combined, the two studies hint that the coronavirus has been moving from coast to coast in the US for several weeks. (Sources: MedRXiv, New York Times)
  • Scientists are now keen to identify the so-called patient zero, which could help them to trace the source of the coronavirus, which is generally thought to have jumped to humans from a wild animal, possibly a bat. Of the first nine cases to be reported in November – four men and five women – none has been confirmed as being “patient zero”. They were all aged between 39 and 79, but it is unknown how many were residents of Wuhan, the capital of Hubei and the epicentre of the outbreak. (Sources: SCMP)

Strains & Mutations

  • At least eight strains of the coronavirus are making their way around the globe, creating a trail of death and disease that scientists are tracking by their genetic footprints.While much is unknown, hidden in the virus’s unique microscopic fragments are clues to the origins of its original strain, how it behaves as it mutates and which strains are turning into conflagrations while others are dying out thanks to quarantine measures.Huddled in once bustling and now almost empty labs, researchers who oversaw dozens of projects are instead focused on one goal: tracking the current strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that cause the illness COVID-19. (Sources: NextStrain, USAToday)
  • Scientists in Iceland found 40 mutations of the coronavirus among people with the deadly bug in the country — and that seven infections came from people who attended the same soccer match in the UK, according to a report.The researchers discovered the mutations — or small changes in the genome of the virus — by analyzing swabs of COVID-19 patients in the country, where nearly 648 cases had been reported as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the Iceland outlet Information. (Sources: Iceland Ministry of Health, NYPost)
  • As of 4 March 2020, the cutoff point for our phylogenetic analysis, the GISAID database had compiled 254 coronavirus genomes, isolated from 244 humans .. The 160 human coronavirus sequences comprised exactly 100 different types. (Sources: National Academy of Sciences (PNAS))
  • A new strain of the novel coronavirus appears to be more contagious than the version that gained footing at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new study led by scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). The new strain, dubbed D614G, surfaced in Europe in February before appearing in the east coast of the United States. It has been the dominant strain across the world since mid-March (Sources: BioRxiv, Salon)
  • A new study by one of China’s top scientists has found the ability of the new coronavirus to mutate has been vastly underestimated .. They also confirmed for the first time with laboratory evidence that certain mutations could create strains deadlier than others. “Sars-CoV-2 has acquired mutations capable of substantially changing its pathogenicity,” Li and her collaborators wrote (Sources: MedRXiv, SCMP)
  • A coronavirus strain isolated in India carried a mutation that could upend vaccine development around the globe, according to researchers from Australia and Taiwan. .. The study said the change had occurred in part of the spike protein that allows the virus to bind with certain human cells. This structure targets cells containing ACE2, an enzyme found in the lungs which also allowed the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) virus to infect people.Scientists know more about this receptor than any other so had been working on antibodies that target it, but an unexpected structural change could render them useless. .. “[This] means current vaccine development against Sars-CoV-2 is at great risk of becoming futile.” (Sources: ScienceTimes, SCMP)


  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just added six new symptoms to its list of known COVID-19 symptoms, including chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headaches, and a sore throat.The original list included known symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath. (Sources: CDC.gov, Futurism)
  • [May 4] The World Health Organization added “loss of taste or smell” to its list of “What are the symptoms of COVID-19?” on its Q&A page.
    [April 17] The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added “new loss of taste or smell” to the list of symptoms that may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus on its Symptoms page (Sources: CDC, WHO, American Academy of Otolaryngology, NYT)
  • On rounds in a 20-bed intensive care unit one recent day, physician Joshua Denson assessed two patients with seizures, many with respiratory failure and others whose kidneys were on a dangerous downhill slide. Days earlier, his rounds had been interrupted as his team tried, and failed, to resuscitate a young woman whose heart had stopped. All shared one thing, says Denson, a pulmonary and critical care physician at the Tulane University School of Medicine. “They are all COVID positive.” .. “[The disease] can attack almost anything in the body with devastating consequences,” says cardiologist Harlan Krumholz of Yale University and Yale-New Haven Hospital, who is leading multiple efforts to gather clinical data on COVID-19. “Its ferocity is breathtaking and humbling.” .. the virus acts like no pathogen humanity has ever seen. (Sources: ScienceMag, Dozens of primary sources in OP)
  • In a study posted this week, scientists in China examined the blood test results of 34 COVID-19 patients over the course of their hospitalization. In those who survived mild and severe disease alike, the researchers found that many of the biological measures had “failed to return to normal.” Chief among the worrisome test results were readings that suggested these apparently recovered patients continued to have impaired liver function. That was the case even after two tests for the live virus had come back negative and the patients were cleared to be discharged. At the same time, as cardiologists are contending with the immediate effects of COVID-19 on the heart, they’re asking how much of the damage could be long-lasting. In an early study of COVID-19 patients in China, heart failure was seen in nearly 12% of those who survived, including in some who had shown no signs of respiratory distress .. “COVID-19 is not just a respiratory disorder,” said Dr. Harlan Krumholz, a cardiologist at Yale University. “It can affect the heart, the liver, the kidneys, the brain, the endocrine system and the blood system.” (Sources: MedRXiv, NIH.gov, LA Times)
  • Chinese doctors have proved for the first time that the novel coronavirus can cause damage to patients’ central nervous system.Doctors from Beijing Ditan Hospital affiliated to Capital Medical University, a designated institution treating the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), announced Thursday that they have cured a male patient whose cerebrospinal fluid had the virus.Previous studies show that COVID-19 may attack multiple organs, including kidneys, livers and heart (Sources: Xinhuanet, Beijing Ditan Hospital, Capital Medical University)
  • People who recover after being infected with the novel coronavirus can still be left with substantially weakened lung capacity, with some left gasping for air when walking quickly, doctors in Hong Kong have found.
    The Hong Kong Hospital Authority made the findings after studying the first wave of patients who were discharged from the hospital and had fully recovered from COVID-19. (Sources: BusinessInsider, SCMP, Hong Kong Hospital Authority)


  • While food hasn’t been shown to be a transmission entry point for the coronavirus, surfaces can be. A research letter study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in March indicated that the coronavirus was detectable for up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic and stainless steel. (Sources: New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), NPR)
  • Sixty singers showed up. A greeter offered hand sanitizer at the door, and members refrained from the usual hugs and handshakes. “It seemed like a normal rehearsal, except that choirs are huggy places,” Burdick recalled. “We were making music and trying to keep a certain distance between each other.” .. Nearly three weeks later, 45 have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or ill with the symptoms, at least three have been hospitalized, and two are dead. The outbreak has stunned county health officials, who have concluded that the virus was almost certainly transmitted through the air from one or more people without symptoms .. One of the authors of that study, Jamie Lloyd-Smith, a UCLA infectious disease researcher, said it’s possible that the forceful breathing action of singing dispersed viral particles in the church room that were widely inhaled .. With three-quarters of the choir members testing positive for the virus or showing symptoms of infection, the outbreak would be considered a “super-spreading event,” he said. (Sources: New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), LA Times)
  • The novel coronavirus is shed in the feces of infected people, which may help explain why it’s spread so fast, according to Chinese researchers.The finding of live virus particles in stool specimens indicates a fecal-oral route for coronavirus, which may be why it’s caused outbreaks on cruise ships with an intensity often seen with gastro-causing norovirus, which also spreads along that pathway .. “This virus has many routes of transmission, which can partially explain” its rapid spread, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report Saturday .. “The virus can also be transmitted through the potential fecal-oral route,” the Chinese CDC said. “This means that stool samples may contaminate hands, food, water” and cause infection when the microbes enter the mouth or eyes, or are inhaled, they said (Sources: China Centers for Disease Control (CCDC), Fortune)
  • People with blood type A may be more vulnerable to infection by the new coronavirus, while those with type O seem more resistant, according to a preliminary study of patients in China who contracted the disease known as Covid-19.Medical researchers in China took blood group patterns of more than 2,000 patients infected with the virus in Wuhan and Shenzhen and compared them to local healthy populations. They found that blood type A patients showed a higher rate of infection and they tended to develop more severe symptoms. (Sources: SCMP, Centre for Evidence-Based and Translational Medicine at Zhongnan Hospital)
  • There are also reports in other countries of significant transmission by people who are asymptomatic or only mildly symptomatic. On Tuesday, Dr. Sandra Ciesek, director of the Institute of Medical Virology in Frankfurt, Germany, tested 24 passengers who had just flown in from Israel. Seven of the 24 passengers tested positive for coronavirus. Four of those had no symptoms, and Ciesek was surprised to find that the viral load of the specimens from the asymptomatic patients was higher than the viral load of the specimens from the three patients who did have symptoms. A higher load means that someone is more likely to spread the infection to other people. (Sources: New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), CNN)


  • In the context of the coronavirus crisis, researchers at the Israel Institute of Technology are testing the therapeutic potential of cannabis terpenes. During previous severe coronavirus outbreaks, such as those caused by the SARS coronavirus in 2002-2003, researchers found that cannabis terpenes reduced disease severity and impact in both in-vitro and in-vivo. In a 2007 study published in the Journal of Medical Chemistry, Chinese scientists concluded that the terpenes blocked a certain protein that allows the virus to replicate its genetic material. (Sources: NIH.gov, ZME Science)
  • Researchers at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, found that certain Cannabis sativa extracts could be used in treatments to prevent infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. (Sources: Preprints, ZME Science)

Vaccination & Immunity

  • In a scientific brief dated Friday, the United Nations agency said the idea that one-time infection can lead to immunity remains unproven and is thus unreliable as a foundation for the next phase of the world’s response to the pandemic.”Some governments have suggested that the detection of antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, could serve as the basis for an ‘immunity passport’ or ‘risk-free certificate’ that would enable individuals to travel or to return to work assuming that they are protected against re-infection,” the WHO wrote. “There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection.” (Sources: World Health Organization, NPR)
  • South Korean officials on Friday reported 91 patients thought cleared of the new coronavirus had tested positive again. Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), told a briefing that the virus may have been “reactivated” rather than the patients being re-infected.South Korean health officials said it remains unclear what is behind the trend, with epidemiological investigations still under way. The prospect of people being re-infected with the virus is of international concern, as many countries are hoping that infected populations will develop sufficient immunity to prevent a resurgence of the pandemic. (Sources: Reuters, Korea Centers for Disease Control (KCDC))
  • World Health Organization officials said Monday not all people who recover from the coronavirus have the antibodies to fight a second infection, raising concern that patients may not develop immunity after surviving Covid-19.”With regards to recovery and then reinfection, I believe we do not have the answers to that. That is an unknown,” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s emergencies program, said at a press conference at the organization’s Geneva headquarters on Monday. A preliminary study of patients in Shanghai found that some patients had “no detectable antibody response”, said Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s Lead Scientist on COVID-19. (Sources: NBC, World Health Organization)
  • A team from Fudan University analysed blood samples from 175 patients discharged from the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Centre and found that nearly a third had unexpectedly low levels of antibodies. In some cases, antibodies could not be detected at all .. The coronavirus antibody intercepts the spike protein on the viral envelope to prevent it from binding with human cells .. “Vaccine developers may need to pay particular attention to these patients,” Huang said. If the real virus could not induce antibody response, the weakened version in the vaccine might not work in these patients either. (Sources: MedRXiv, SCMP)

August 8th is Autistic Dignity Day.

Today is August 8th. And the very first D-day. That is, Autistic Dignity Day. Today is about so much more than being proud of who we are. It’s about standing up and demanding that people respect our dignity.

Standing up can be difficult for a lot of Autistic people to do. Both literally (due to physical disabilities) and figuratively (due to survival instincts). And I’m certainly not trying to put pressure on anyone who cannot do so. It can be safer to hide behind the mask. It can be a life-or-death matter for some. Or a career-and-income saving measure. Or a response to trauma.

But just as with the #TakeTheMaskOff campaign, it can be life-changing in a positive way to declare “I am Autistic. I have Dignity. I have Autonomy. I deserve and expect Respect. I believe in Empowerment. I DARE to be Âût.”

We can no longer just wait around for the world to give us these things. These human rights. The time has come to demand them. To fight for them.

And fundamentally it all starts with Dignity.

The first article of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights“. But what, exactly, is Dignity?

Dignity is the right of a person to be valued and respected for their own sake, and to be treated ethically.

It can be a confusing term for sure, but I found this great article that explains it clearly. The article ends with these words:

The idea of dignity is fundamental to how we regard ourselves. It’s something that connects people from all kinds of cultures and beliefs, and which has ultimately led to the universal recognition that we need to protect and realize this dignity for each and every person. We do this through human rights.

So, today, on Autistic Dignity Day, we are demanding that our human rights are recognized, starting with the right to Dignity.



What Democratic Socialism Is… And What It Is Not

Written by Lawrence Wittner and published under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

In recent weeks, Donald Trump and other Republicans have begun to tar their Democratic opponents with the “socialist” brush, contending that the adoption of socialist policies will transform the United States into a land of dictatorship and poverty.  In fact, though, like many of Trump’s other claims, there’s no reason to believe it.

The ideal of socialism goes back deep into human history and, at its core, is based on the notion that wealth should be shared more equitably between the rich and the poor.  Numerous major religions have emphasized this point, criticizing greed and preaching the necessity for “all God’s children” to share in the world’s abundance.  The goal of increased economic equality has also mobilized numerous social movements and rebellions.

But how was this sharing of wealth to be achieved?  Religious leaders often emphasized charity. Social movements developed communitarian living experiments.  Revolutions seized the property of the rich and redistributed it. And governments began to set aside portions of the economy to enhance the welfare of the public, rather than the profits of the wealthy few.

In the United States, governments created a public sector alongside private enterprise.  The American Constitution, drafted by the Founding Fathers, provided for the establishment of a U.S. postal service, which quickly took root in American life.  Other public enterprises followed, including publicly-owned and operated lands, roads, bridges, canals, ports, schools, police forces, water departments, fire departments, mass transit systems, sewers, sanitation services, dams, libraries, parks, hospitals, food and nutrition services, and colleges and universities.  Although many of these operated on a local level, others were nationwide in scope and became very substantial enterprises, including Social Security, Medicare, National Public Radio, the National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. armed forces. In short, over the centuries the United States has developed what is often termed “a mixed economy,” as have many other countries.

Nations also found additional ways to socialize (or share) the wealth.  These included facilitating the organization of unions and cooperatives, as well as establishing a minimum wage, unemployment insurance, and a progressive tax policy―one with the highest levies on the wealthy and their corporations.

Over the course of U.S. history, these policies, sometimes termed “social democracy,” have enriched the lives of most Americans and have certainly not led to dictatorship and economic collapse.  They are also the kind championed by Bernie Sanders and other democratic socialists. 

Why, then, does a significant portion of the American population view socialism as a dirty word?

One reason is that many (though not all) of the wealthy fiercely object to sharing their wealth and possess the vast financial resources that enable them to manipulate public opinion and pull American politics rightward.  After all, they own the corporate television and radio networks, control most of the major newspapers, dominate the governing boards of major institutions, and can easily afford to launch vast public relations campaigns to support their economic interests.  In addition, as the largest source of campaign funding in the United States, the wealthy have disproportionate power in politics. So it’s only natural that their values are over-represented in public opinion and in election results.

But there’s another major reason that socialism has acquired a bad name:  the policies of Communist governments. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, socialist parties were making major gains in economically advanced nations.  This included the United States, where the Socialist Party of America, between 1904 and 1920, elected socialists to office in 353 towns and cities, and governed major urban centers such as Milwaukee and Minneapolis.  But, in Czarist Russia, an economically backward country suffering under a harsh dictatorship, one wing of the small, underground socialist movement, the Bolsheviks, used the chaos and demoralization caused by Russia’s disastrous participation in World War I to seize power.  Given their utter lack of democratic experience, the Bolsheviks (who soon called themselves Communists) repressed their rivals (including democratic socialists) and established a one-party dictatorship. They also created a worldwide body, the Communist International, to compete with the established socialist movement, which they denounced fiercely for its insistence on democratic norms and civil liberties.

In the following decades, the Communists, championing their model of authoritarian socialism, made a terrible mess of it in the new Soviet Union, as well as in most other lands where they seized power or, in Eastern Europe, took command thanks to post-World War II occupation by the Red Army.  Establishing brutal dictatorships with stagnating economies, these Communist regimes alienated their populations and drew worldwide opprobrium. In China, to be sure, the economy has boomed in recent decades, but at the cost of supplementing political dictatorship with the heightened economic inequality accompanying corporate-style capitalism.

By contrast, the democratic socialists―those denounced and spurned by the Communists―did a remarkably good job of governing their countries.  In the advanced industrial democracies, where they were elected to office on numerous occasions and defeated on others, they fostered greater economic and social equality, substantial economic growth, and political freedom.

Their impact was particularly impressive in the Scandinavian nations.  For example, about a quarter of Sweden’s vibrant economy is publicly-owned.  In addition, Sweden has free undergraduate college/university tuition, monthly stipends to undergraduate students, free postgraduate education (e.g. medical and law school), free medical care until age 20 and nearly free medical care thereafter, paid sick leave, 480 days of paid leave when a child is born or adopted, and nearly free day-care and preschool programs.  Furthermore, Sweden has 70 percent union membership, high wages, four to seven weeks of vacation a year, and an 82-year life expectancy. It can also boast the ninth most competitive economy in the world. Democratic socialism has produced similar results in Norway and Denmark.

Of course, democratic socialism might not be what you want.  But let’s not pretend that it’s something that it’s not.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License


Canada’s Boreal Forest does not absorb more than it produces.

I recently saw the following meme on Facebook. I’ve debunked various versions of it in the past, But this time I decided to just compile that debunk into an article and will fetch it again later when it is needed.

On it’s face. My first take was this:

This is wrong for a lot of reasons. Not the least of which. The Boreal Forest is not carbon neutral.

YOUNG trees. Freshly planted. Absorb carbon like a sponge. OLD trees. Do not absorb any new carbon and release it all when then die.

According to Natural Resources Canada, The Boreal Forest has begun, and I quote: “already degrading irreversibly, triggering a process of forest decline and re-establishment lasting several decades, while also releasing significant quantities of greenhouse gases”

“Canadian boreal woodlands and forests cover approximately 3.09 × 106 km2, located within a larger boreal zone characterized by cool summers and long cold winters. Warming since the 1850s, increases in annual mean temperature of at least 2 °C between 2000 and 2050 are highly probable. Annual mean temperatures across the Canadian boreal zone could be 4–5 °C warmer than today’s by 2100. All aspects of boreal forest ecosystem function are likely to be affected. Further, several potential “tipping elements” — where exposure to increasing changes in climate may trigger distinct shifts in ecosystem state — can be identified across the Canadian boreal zone. Approximately 40% of the forested area is underlain by permafrost, some of which is already degrading irreversibly, triggering a process of forest decline and re-establishment lasting several decades, while also releasing significant quantities of greenhouse gases that will amplify the future global warming trend.”


I then followed up with a Fact Check from AFP:

An online post argues that Canada’s trees absorb more carbon dioxide than the country emits. The post’s reasoning is flawed because it does not take into account the fact that the carbon stored in trees is released when the trees die. Canadian forests have recently become carbon sources rather than carbon sinks due to high tree mortality.

“Canada cleans 10x CO2 than it produces,” is the conclusion of a math-based meme that several thousand people shared on social networks.
The nonprofit organization Trees for the Future estimates that trees can capture an average of 50 pounds of carbon each year. However, this is only an average, and as this document from the US Department of Energy outlines, the amount of carbon captured by a tree depends on a variety of factors such as tree species, age and size. For this reason, carbon sequestration tends to be measured in terms of carbon absorbed per hectare or per forest, not per tree.
Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, more commonly called the Paris Agreement, Canada makes a National Inventory Report. According to the most recent submission from in 2016, Canada’s carbon dioxide emissions for that year were 559 million metric tons.

The figure cited in the meme is from a 2008 US Energy Information Administration study. The 2016 EIA figure for Canada was 633 million metric tons.
The idea promoted by this post, as well as a Canadian columnist, ignores one factor paramount to tree carbon absorption estimation: tree mortality. Trees absorb carbon dioxide over the course of their lives, but most of this carbon is released back into the atmosphere when trees are cut or die of natural causes. Ignoring carbon emissions from trees, Kurtz told AFP, would be like “trying to judge your financial health by looking only at your income but not your expenses.”

Kurz, who has conducted research on greenhouse gas emissions and removals in Canada’s managed forest, said he had heard the claim made in the post before and argued that it is “completely without merit.”

Source: AFP

While you’re here, Since we’re talking about trees and CO2. Let’s also take a moment to remind you that even if we planted trees literally everywhere. It would still not be enough. From BusinessInsider

Humans emit roughly 30 to 40 billion tons of the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere each year. If we keep it up, Earth will continue to heat up and ultimately devastate our way of life.

So what can we do about it?

Most scientists agree that we need a way to capture some of that CO2 out of the atmosphere. One idea is to plant lots of trees. Trees use CO2 in order to grow. They also release oxygen, so it’s a win-win.

But studies indicate that we simply can’t grow enough trees to capture the necessary amount of CO2 that would help us meet the goals set by the Paris Agreement.

In truth, we would have to cover the entire contiguous US with trees just to capture 10% of the CO2 we emit annually.

There’s just not enough room on this planet to have the farmland it takes to feed the world plus the space to plant the necessary number of trees.


A belief in meritocracy is not only false: it’s bad for you

Written by Clifton Mark. This article was originally published at Aeon and has been republished under Creative Commons.

‘We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else …’ Barack Obama, inaugural address, 2013

‘We must create a level playing field for American companies and workers.’ Donald Trump, inaugural address, 2017

Meritocracy has become a leading social ideal. Politicians across the ideological spectrum continually return to the theme that the rewards of life – money, power, jobs, university admission – should be distributed according to skill and effort. The most common metaphor is the ‘even playing field’ upon which players can rise to the position that fits their merit. Conceptually and morally, meritocracy is presented as the opposite of systems such as hereditary aristocracy, in which one’s social position is determined by the lottery of birth. Under meritocracy, wealth and advantage are merit’s rightful compensation, not the fortuitous windfall of external events.

Most people don’t just think the world should be run meritocratically, they think it is meritocratic. In the UK, 84 per cent of respondents to the 2009 British Social Attitudes survey stated that hard work is either ‘essential’ or ‘very important’ when it comes to getting ahead, and in 2016 the Brookings Institute found that 69 per cent of Americans believe that people are rewarded for intelligence and skill. Respondents in both countries believe that external factors, such as luck and coming from a wealthy family, are much less important. While these ideas are most pronounced in these two countries, they are popular across the globe.

Although widely held, the belief that merit rather than luck determines success or failure in the world is demonstrably false. This is not least because merit itself is, in large part, the result of luck. Talent and the capacity for determined effort, sometimes called ‘grit’, depend a great deal on one’s genetic endowments and upbringing.

This is to say nothing of the fortuitous circumstances that figure into every success story. In his book Success and Luck (2016), the US economist Robert Frank recounts the long-shots and coincidences that led to Bill Gates’s stellar rise as Microsoft’s founder, as well as to Frank’s own success as an academic. Luck intervenes by granting people merit, and again by furnishing circumstances in which merit can translate into success. This is not to deny the industry and talent of successful people. However, it does demonstrate that the link between merit and outcome is tenuous and indirect at best.

According to Frank, this is especially true where the success in question is great, and where the context in which it is achieved is competitive. There are certainly programmers nearly as skilful as Gates who nonetheless failed to become the richest person on Earth. In competitive contexts, many have merit, but few succeed. What separates the two is luck.

In addition to being false, a growing body of research in psychology and neuroscience suggests that believing in meritocracy makes people more selfish, less self-critical and even more prone to acting in discriminatory ways. Meritocracy is not only wrong; it’s bad.

The ‘ultimatum game’ is an experiment, common in psychological labs, in which one player (the proposer) is given a sum of money and told to propose a division between him and another player (the responder), who may accept the offer or reject it. If the responder rejects the offer, neither player gets anything. The experiment has been replicated thousands of times, and usually the proposer offers a relatively even split. If the amount to be shared is $100, most offers fall between $40-$50.

One variation on this game shows that believing one is more skilled leads to more selfish behaviour. In research at Beijing Normal University, participants played a fake game of skill before making offers in the ultimatum game. Players who were (falsely) led to believe they had ‘won’ claimed more for themselves than those who did not play the skill game. Other studies confirm this finding. The economists Aldo Rustichini at the University of Minnesota and Alexander Vostroknutov at Maastricht University in the Netherlands found that subjects who first engaged in a game of skill were much less likely to support the redistribution of prizes than those who engaged in games of chance. Just having the idea of skill in mind makes people more tolerant of unequal outcomes. While this was found to be true of all participants, the effect was much more pronounced among the ‘winners’.

By contrast, research on gratitude indicates that remembering the role of luck increases generosity. Frank cites a study in which simply asking subjects to recall the external factors (luck, help from others) that had contributed to their successes in life made them much more likely to give to charity than those who were asked to remember the internal factors (effort, skill).

Perhaps more disturbing, simply holding meritocracy as a value seems to promote discriminatory behaviour. The management scholar Emilio Castilla at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the sociologist Stephen Benard at Indiana University studied attempts to implement meritocratic practices, such as performance-based compensation in private companies. They found that, in companies that explicitly held meritocracy as a core value, managers assigned greater rewards to male employees over female employees with identical performance evaluations. This preference disappeared where meritocracy was not explicitly adopted as a value.

This is surprising because impartiality is the core of meritocracy’s moral appeal. The ‘even playing field’ is intended to avoid unfair inequalities based on gender, race and the like. Yet Castilla and Benard found that, ironically, attempts to implement meritocracy leads to just the kinds of inequalities that it aims to eliminate. They suggest that this ‘paradox of meritocracy’ occurs because explicitly adopting meritocracy as a value convinces subjects of their own moral bona fides. Satisfied that they are just, they become less inclined to examine their own behaviour for signs of prejudice.

Meritocracy is a false and not very salutary belief. As with any ideology, part of its draw is that it justifies the status quo, explaining why people belong where they happen to be in the social order. It is a well-established psychological principle that people prefer to believe that the world is just.

However, in addition to legitimation, meritocracy also offers flattery. Where success is determined by merit, each win can be viewed as a reflection of one’s own virtue and worth. Meritocracy is the most self-congratulatory of distribution principles. Its ideological alchemy transmutes property into praise, material inequality into personal superiority. It licenses the rich and powerful to view themselves as productive geniuses. While this effect is most spectacular among the elite, nearly any accomplishment can be viewed through meritocratic eyes. Graduating from high school, artistic success or simply having money can all be seen as evidence of talent and effort. By the same token, worldly failures becomes signs of personal defects, providing a reason why those at the bottom of the social hierarchy deserve to remain there.

This is why debates over the extent to which particular individuals are ‘self-made’ and over the effects of various forms of ‘privilege’ can get so hot-tempered. These arguments are not just about who gets to have what; it’s about how much ‘credit’ people can take for what they have, about what their successes allow them to believe about their inner qualities. That is why, under the assumption of meritocracy, the very notion that personal success is the result of ‘luck’ can be insulting. To acknowledge the influence of external factors seems to downplay or deny the existence of individual merit.

Despite the moral assurance and personal flattery that meritocracy offers to the successful, it ought to be abandoned both as a belief about how the world works and as a general social ideal. It’s false, and believing in it encourages selfishness, discrimination and indifference to the plight of the unfortunate.Aeon counter – do not remove

Clifton Mark

This article was originally published at Aeon and has been republished under Creative Commons.


How neo-Nazis and White Supremacists co-opted the ‘OK’ hand symbol to mean White Power

You may be asking yourself. Why is the neo-nazi Terrorist responsible for the recent attack in New Zealand making the ‘OK’ symbol during his court appearance? The answer. Is that that is not the OK hand symbol. And hasn’t been since 2016 at least.

I will now detail for you in chronological order the rise and prevalence of this not-innocent-at-all 4chan ‘prank’ to the mass murder of 50 people yesterday, But first, To truly understand what is happening here, You need to understand what happened with ‘Pepe the Frog’

“”Pepe the Frog” first appeared in 2005 in the comic “Boy’s Life” by artist and illustrator Matt Furie. The comics depict Pepe and his anthropomorphized animal friends behaving like stereotypical post-college bros: playing video games, eating pizza, smoking pot and being harmlessly gross.

In 2008, fans of the comic began uploading Furie’s work online. In one comic, Pepe responds to a question about his bathroom habits with, “Feels good, man.”

That reaction image and catchphrase took on a life of its own on the Internet, meriting a Know Your Meme entry by 2009. Alternate iterations of Pepe, including sad, smug and angry Pepes, followed. Pepe memes are ubiquitous across 4chan, Reddit, Imgur, Tumblr, and other social media and image-sharing sites.

It all seemed in good fun, but in late September, Pepe’s green visage was designated a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League.

The ADL’s online hate symbol database is designed to help law enforcement, educators, and members of the general public identify potentially hateful images, explained Oren Segal, the director of the organization’s Center on Extremism. He said that in recent years, hate symbols have proliferated online. Now, with things like Pepe the frog, anti-Semitic images are originating and circulating almost primarily on social media.

In some instances, Pepe wears a Hitler mustache, and his signature message is replaced with “Kill Jews Man.” In others, Pepe poses in front of a burning World Trade Center, dressed like an Orthodox Jewish person with a yarmulke and payot. He’s also been spotted wearing a Nazi soldier’s uniform and in a KKK hood and robe.
It originated on /rk9/, the 4chan message board associated with some of the least savory elements of the Internet. Last fall, people on that board purposefully framed two innocent individuals for the Umpqua Community College shooting. It’s allegedly where Isla Vista shooter Elliot Rodger announced his shooting before it took place — in a post with a Pepe meme.

Nazi Pepe made its way to Twitter, where people who regularly tweeted messages supporting white nationalism and anti-immigrant views quickly absorbed it into their Internet repertoire. People who identify with those movements add the frog emoji to their Twitter name.

In August, Hillary Clinton gave her now-infamous speech denouncing some of Donald Trump’s supporters, particularly the segment known as the alt-right, as a “basket of deplorables.”

A couple weeks later, Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. posted a photo on Instagram that depicted him and other supporters as “The Deplorables” — a play on the poster from the movie “The Expendables.” In the lineup? Pepe.

Two weeks after that, the ADL made its official designation.”

Source Los Angeles Times

President Trump’s Family approves, They consider themselves ‘honored’ to be adored by White Nationalists and Neo-Nazis in fact. Their words.

Even the President himself welcomes the support.

Now that you have an idea of what happened with the otherwise innocent ‘Pepe the Frog’, I’ll now provide a timeline of instances of people clearly saying ‘White Power’ with this symbol, Leading to the neo-Nazi you see at the top, proudly flashing this sign after killing 50 people in the name of White Supremacy. It all started with one of America’s more well known neo-Nazi’s, Richard Spencer in 2016 in front of Trump Tower.

In case you’re one of those “I’m not political” types. This is who Richard Spencer is:

“Richard Bertrand Spencer (born May 11, 1978) is an American white supremacist. He is president of the National Policy Institute (NPI), a white supremacist think tank, as well as Washington Summit Publishers. Spencer rejects the label of white supremacist and considers himself a white nationalist, white identitarian, and the equivalent of a “Zionist” for white people. Spencer created the term “alt-right”, which he considers a movement about “white identity”. Spencer advocates white-European unity and a “peaceful ethnic cleansing” of nonwhites from America, and the creation of a new political order he believes would resemble the Roman Empire.

Spencer has been described as a neo-Nazi and has publicly engaged in Nazi rhetoric on many occasions. In early 2016, Spencer was filmed giving the Nazi salute to Milo Yiannopoulos in a karaoke bar. In the weeks following the 2016 U.S. presidential election, at a National Policy Institute conference, Spencer quoted from Nazi propaganda and denounced Jews. In response to his cry “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!”, a number of his supporters gave the Nazi salute and chanted in a similar fashion to the Sieg Heil chant used at the Nazis’ Nuremberg rallies.”

Source: Wikipedia

Spencer wasn’t the first to flash this symbol in this fashion, Milo Yiannopoulos was spotted in front of the White House in March 2016 doing the same, Posobiec & Biggs were spotted in Oct 2016, But it was Spencers prominence as a neo-Nazi that made (some of) us realize what was going on.

Here’s Jack Posobiec & Joe Biggs inside Trump Tower in October 2016

By 2017 the rest of the Nazis had gotten the memo. The rest of society didn’t.

Here’s Tim Gionet & Joey Gibson at a Nazi rally in Portland.

And here’s Matthew Heimbach and a bunch of other neo-nazis sometime in 2017

Neo-Nazi at ‘Unite The Right’ rally in Aug 2017

3 Prominent Neo-Nazis, Date unknown, Probably 2017

The most common rebuttal to people flashing this symbol is either: “It’s just OK” or “It’s just a prank”, This is the ‘prank’ they are talking about.

You might notice the ‘4chan hoax’ didn’t start until Feb 2017. That the symbol was even being used by neo-Nazis before 4chan started their ‘hoax’. It was already being used to signal ‘White Power’ by the most neo-Nazi folks around a full year prior.

And here’s Roger Stone with The Proud Boys in March 2017, Whom the FBI now considers a white supremacist terrorist organization.

Here’s some more white supremacist terrorists in April 2017

There’s been many instances between then and now as both the symbol and white supremacy have exploded in popularity over the past few years. I’ll leave you with two more recent ones from 2018.

In July 2018, Four officers from the Jasper Police Department were suspended after making and upside-down “OK” sign with their hands in a post-arrest photo taken by a Jasper Daily Mountain Eagle photographer, city officials told AL[dot]com.

Some people have claimed the gesture is actually a hate symbol that means “white power.”

Source: AL.com

The US Coast Guard removed one of its members from its Hurricane Florence response team after he made an “offensive” gesture Friday on live television.

The gesture in question: a once innocuous symbol for “OK” that has been interpreted as a symbol for “white power” and is now used by neo-Nazis, pro-Trump and alt-right figures

Source: Buzzfeed

If it is an inside joke, only known to Nazis, to “prank” people by saying “White Power” with the OK sign, And you do it. Guess what. Participating in an inside joke only known to Nazis … makes you a Nazi.

It is worth noting that the organizations caught participating in this are a Police Force and a Coast Guard … two of the very institutions targeted for infiltration by White Supremacists. Not to mention The Proud Boys, Which are also listed as a White Supremacist Terrorist group by the FBI.

Suffice to say. The verdict is out. This symbol is not just an innocent ‘OK’ symbol anymore. It was never a prank. It’s not a joke. We need to condemn white supremacy, in all it forms and expressions. At every opportunity to do so.

Sign this petition to add white supremacist terrorist groups … to the official Terrorist Entities List (Canada)

If i can find other appropriate measures to advocate for your country I will add them. But all of us can always speak out against racism.

Nigel Todman is an Independent Journalist, Technical Consultant, Social Activist, Web Developer and Computer Programmer from Ontario, Canada. Add him to Facebook and/or Follow him on Twitter E-mail: veritas [at] vts-tech [dot] org


Facebook spam filter breaks – Removing millions of posts.

In the last few hours Facebooks Spam detection system appears to have completely broken. I first noticed it with my own posts … and then a few more friends … and then several more … and then dozens.

Even Facebooks own Community Standards page is being blocked as Spam.

Nothing is safe.

Here are some more screenshots

After realizing this wasn’t an isolated issue. I took to Twitter to confirm the scope of Facebooks breakage. It appears to be vast.

Originally, I thought someone was abusing the report system. Others seem to think that Facebook staff themselves are removing the posts (unlikely, but not impossible)

And of course…

I will update this story with more notable examples if I find any.


HackerSim – Semi-Accurate hacking game simulation

Working Title: HackerSim
State: Alpha
Progress: 2% Complete


Back in the day, There was what was known as the ‘Golden Age of Hacking’. When the default installation of the most popular version of Windows provided for a blank Administrator password. When NetBIOS sessions were unfiltered globally on the Internet. When Directory Traversals where common and the DCOM RPC exploit was rampant. Botnets numbered in the millions, and the most common DDoS attacks were just being developed. This game attempts to recreate that state of the Internet, In a gamified hacker simulation.

More details coming soon.