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Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.
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  1. COVID19 and two decades of misinformation
    Misinformation 1 (Cable-TV and Syndicated Radio) - The Republican-dominated US Congress of 1987 eliminated the FCC Fairness Doctrine citing a violation of the right to free-speech by corporations (probably something not intended by the founding fathers). This enabled the creation of politically-biased outlets (Fox News on cable TV and the Rush Limbaugh on syndicated radio are two of many) who refer to their competition as MAIN STREAM MEDIA making them ALTERNATIVE MEDIA (think about that during your next march on the Washington Capitol). comment: Americans seem unaware of the fact that one-sided political propaganda contributed to problems in Germany between 1933 and 1945.
    Misinformation 2 (The Internet) - The internet started in 1969, the world-wide-web in 1989, and mobile social media in 2007. As the public began embracing these technologies, society has been exposed to an ever increasing volume of medical and scientific nonsense from non-experts on both sides of the political spectrum (vaccine hesitancy is one example). The internet is also responsible for bankrupting many respectable newspapers as advertisers moved their money to the web. Since newspaper publishers could be sued for publishing misinformation, newspaper publishers employed editors and journalists to provide "best effort reporting" of "fact-checked information". Social media websites "claim to entertain" so only care about clicks and page-views but not facts or journalism
    Information/Data/Knowledge as an evolutionary selector? - Evolution by natural selection is a fact even though many citizens prefer to believe otherwise (nature does not care about personal beliefs). The hypothesis was first published (to the public) by Charles Darwin in his 1859 book On the Origin of Species . Five years later Herbert Spencer published Principles of Biology which was the first book to introduce the phrase: Survival of the Fittest. A full year of COVID-19 deaths, combined with people not trusting science, caused me to wonder: what will human society look like when this is over? It appears we now live in the age of Survival of the Smartest (or smarter) because people need to be able to separate "scientific data" from "non-scientific (and many times political) misinformation". The following summarizes "your individual survival" rather than "passing along your genes to the next generation"
    • If you have less education than scientists or medical doctors but think you are just as smart or smarter, then you will probably die sooner.
    • If your concept of "doing research" is "looking up stuff on the internet (especially without checking the author's academic credentials)" then you will probably die sooner. (your parents may have told you "not to believe everything you hear". With the internet "you must not believe everything you read")
    • If you get your information from politically-biased ALTERNATIVE STREAM MEDIA rather than MAIN STREAM MEDIA then you will probably die sooner. You will go to your grave knowing you were "politically right" but you will also be "dead wrong"
  2. Ontario COVID19 "ICU" Patient Numbers are too high. ICU is an acronym for "intensive care unit" which represents a hospital bed associated with a full-time nurse and a ventilator (comment: people who lived through the Polio crisis would be more familiar with the phrase "iron lung"). On April-1, Ontario Premier (Governor) Doug Ford announced a province-wide shutdown starting April-03 because the ICU patient count was 421 but projected to hit 800 by the end of the month (the problem being that there are not 800 ICU beds in the whole province).
  3. ESTABLISHING a good degree of pandemic resilience would have cost less than the economic output lost in just a single day of the covid-19 crisis. That missed opportunity is one indictment of market failings among many that former Bank of Canada and Bank of England governor Mark Carney advances in our interview with him this week. Another, perhaps the most troubling, is the inability of markets to value the natural world. How is it that we can put a value on Amazon, the company, yet only ascribe value to the Amazon rain-forest by logging it and stripping it bare? Carney’s critiques are worth listening to. He has sat at the top table of global capitalism for the past decade and a half. Continued here:
    https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg24933263-500-yes-the-global-finance-system-must-reform-to-avert-a-climate-disaster/
  4. Sea-level rise is rising faster: One proof of climate-change is the increasing rate of sea-level rise. Most climate-change skeptics stand down after they see the graphs showing average annual sea-level rate of rise doubling from 1.7 mm per year (averaged: 1870-1990) to 3.4 mm per year as measured by modern weather satellites. Multiplying by 100 yields 340 mm or 13.4 inches per century. But the contents of this recent scientific paper from Denmark ( https://os.copernicus.org/articles/17/181/2021/ ) are even more troubling. The first line of the abstract reads "Recent assessments from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) imply that global mean sea level is unlikely to rise more than about 1.1 meters within this century but will increase further beyond 2100". This statement infers that one meter (39 inches) is within the scope of possibility.
  5. Philosophical razors
    • Occam's razor: Simpler explanations are more likely to be correct; avoid unnecessary or improbable assumptions
    • Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity
    • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophical_razor
  6. When I was young, all I knew politics and economics came from secondary school so found myself reading books recommended by others including The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich Hayek. Then when I heard Marget Thatcher quote the book, I wondered if she was reading a different translation since her quotes bore little resemblance to the book I read (was Thatcher paraphrasing?). Today I stumbled onto this gem which was also written by Hayek which I only pass along as food-for-thought. It is titled Why I am Not a Conservative (whoa! this article is an excerpt from a 1960 book titled The Constitution of Liberty - I wonder if Thatcher knew about this)
  7. COVID-19 Death Numbers: Since the human population is now quite large (7.8 billion for planet Earth; hundreds of millions for large countries), deaths are statistically predictable from year-to-year. So when a pandemic strikes, statisticians subtract expected deaths from actual deaths to produce excess deaths. From this number scientists sample the bodies to determine the how many were due to COVID-19. American numbers from here (https://www.bmj.com/content/371/bmj.m3948) show 225,000 excess deaths over 120 days which results in an average of 1,875 deaths per day. It is estimated that two-thirds were due to COVID-19 which translates into 1,250 deaths per day.
    Stats Links:
    American COVID-19 Statistics
    Date Deaths 'per day' Notes
    2020-12-05 2,700 reported by NPR; now higher than excess deaths
    2020-12-08 3,100 reported by NPR; higher than deaths on  September 11, 2001
    2020-12-17 3,700 source: Johns Hopkins University; higher than 9/11
    2020-12-30 3,860 source: Johns Hopkins University; higher than 9/11
    2021-01-08 4,100 source: Johns Hopkins and NYT; higher than 9/11
    2021-01-12 4,400 source: Johns Hopkins and NYT; higher than 9/11
    Date Total Deaths Notes
    2020-02-29 1 COVID-19 kills one American (may as well say that this pandemic starts in March)
    2020-04-27 58,000 COVID-19 has killed as many Americans in 2 months as died in the Vietnam War
    2021-01-16
    405,376
    COVID-19 has killed as many Americans in 10 months as World War 2 did in 4 years
    2021-02-17 502,000 COVID-19 has killed a half-million citizens in only 50 weeks
  8. Friendly advice to the incoming administration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris
    Stop meddling in the affairs of other countries (you have enough problems at home).
    • Although the world admired the Obama administration, history books will always associate it with "using NATO to take down Libya" and "causing the Ukraine crisis by offering that country NATO membership". (did you learn nothing from the Cuban Missile Crisis when weapons of mass destruction were moved to YOUR doorstep?)
    • Reenter the JCPOA with Iran as soon as possible. It was the Obama administration that convinced five countries (comprising the UN Security council) to enter into an agreement with Iran where Iran agrees "to not produce weapons-grade uranium" along with "international inspection and verification". The rest of the world entered into this agreement with you, then president Trump exited the agreement in 2018 (only because he hated Obama) which left the world bewildered by your childishness. Everyone now knows that any international agreement with the USA is worthless because it may not survive the next election cycle.
    • Immediately remove all economic sanctions against all countries including Iran and Russia. This is especially important during the years of a world-wide pandemic. question: why have you imposed economic sanctions on Germany for wanting to complete a pipeline to Russia? Perhaps Germany has decided that this will result in a more-lasting peace with neighbor (wasn't international trade the main reason Americans gave in 1972 when Nixon-Kissinger opened up relations with China?) comment: I can only imagine the bewilderment of the USA if Germany were to threaten sanctions against the USA for daring to do business with Canada or Mexico.
    • End the seemingly perpetual war (19 years and counting) in middle-East countries like Afghanistan. Has your misplaced revenge for 9/11 not yet been satisfied? You have known for two decades that 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudi nationals so isn't your anger misdirected? Perhaps you overlooked this because it conflicts with your addiction to their oil (which is proof that everyone has a price)
    • Reopen trade and commerce with your neighbor, Cuba. Everyone knows the best way to promote capitalism is through trade so why are you still sanctioning them? On top of all this you currently do not have relations with Cuba because of Trump who was (childishly) trying to undo everything put in place by Obama. When I see modern videos of Cuba's old automobiles I see a missed American business opportunity.
    • Stop the war on drugs. Just like the war on alcohol in the 1920s, your actions create criminal organizations.
      • Portugal has proved to the world that "drug use" is a health crisis, not a criminal problem.
      • If Americans choose to use drugs then it is just a sign of how bad things have gotten at home.
      • No knock warrants to catch illegal drug activity in your own county has caused the death of a lot of innocent people.
      • Remove your military presence (and FOB sites) from central American countries like Honduras. Your war-on-drugs there creates societies that are "too violent" for civilized people which results in the mass exoduses North to your southern border (the majority of people crossing your southern ARE NOT Mexicans)
    • Stay out of Latin-America. Do you not see "that your interference in their democratic processes" is no different than "the interference you claim comes to you from Russia"? That is what I think every time I hear you attempt to replace the democratically elected leaders in places like Venezuela, It is time for you to suspend your Monroe Doctrine of 1823. Time has moved on and so should you.
    • Tell NATO that the move to have NATO members spend "2% of GDP per year on military hardware by 2024" is a step in the wrong direction. Stay at 1% for a decade then move to one-half-of-one percent after that. Countries that prepare for war usually go to war. NATO was formed to protect Northern Atlantic countries from Joseph Stalin who died in1953. Perhaps NATO should have been disbanded back then but there was no reason to keep it after the USSR imploded in 1991.
    • Meanwhile, you already spend more than the next 25 countries combined on military defense (the ground recipients of your cruise missiles surely see this as military offense). Your country could have a nationalized health care system for all citizens if you were not already spending so much money on creating weapons of war. Is it really true that you spend 50% of your discretionary budget on the military industrial complex?
    • Why are you trying to start a cold war with China after pissing away 70 years of money on Russia/USSR? Why are you selling arms to Taiwan? I could only imagine your confusion if China attempted to sell arms to Alaska, Hawaii or Puerto Rico. You have no business interfering in Hong Kong. Stop trying to tell the world about their loss of democracy when Britain did nothing in this area for the 99 year occupation with Britain called a lease.
  9. It is Ottawa, not Beijing, which initiated "hostage diplomacy".
    (triggered when Canada backed Donald Trump's illegal sanctions against Iran which Huawei legally ignored)
    As a former member of the Canadian Forces, I’m appalled by Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s lack of judgment. On Oct. 7, 2020, during a widely-reported panel discussion hosted by Slovakian think tank Globesec, he claimed that China was engaged in “hostage diplomacy.” It’s frightening that the minister cannot distinguish between the actions of his own government and those of China. I wish to remind him that, on Dec. 1, 2018, his government acted upon a request of the Trump Administration to arrest Meng Wanzhou, CFO, Huawei Technologies. The U.S. indictment was approved by a New York State Court on Aug. 22, 2018, and the U.S. tried unsuccessfully following that date to pressure dozens of countries, through which Meng travelled, to arrest her. Every single country refused until Meng arrived in Vancouver on Dec. 1, 2018, and Trudeau slavishly acceded to the “urgent” U.S. extradition request. Developments following Meng’s arrest confirm her arrest was politically motivated. On Dec. 6, 2018, Trump declared he might release Meng if he secured a favourable trade deal with China. He also told John Bolton that Meng was “a bargaining chip” in his trade negotiations with China. In fact, in “The Room Where it Happened,” Bolton reveals that Trump privately gave Meng Wanzhou the nickname, “the Ivanka Trump of China,” a moniker indicating Trump understood he was asking Canada to take a high-value hostage in the person of Meng Wanzhou to be leveraged against the People’s Republic to get a trade deal favourable to the U.S.A. So, it was the Trudeau government, which first initiated “hostage diplomacy” in relation to China. Following the arrest of Meng, the Chinese government arrested Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig on espionage charges. While I have no opinion on the justifiability of the charges against the Two Michaels, I believe the fraud charges against Meng are unwarranted. After all, they arise from Huawei’s alleged dealings with Iran, in violation of U.S. unilateral sanctions against that country. In the first place, the U.S. unilateral economic sanctions against Iran are illegal. According to the UN Charter, only the UN Security Council has the authority to impose coercive economic measures against member states. And all those UN-approved measures against Iran were lifted in the JCPOA (Iran Nuclear Agreement) which came into effect in 2016. When Trump abrogated that agreement in 2018 to the chagrin of the entire world, Trudeau’s government also expressed regret. It stated it hoped that the other parties to the JCPOA would continue to honour its provisions. In effect, then, Meng, a Canadian permanent resident, has violated no Canadian law. She’s being held under house arrest by the Trudeau government for violating a U.S. sanctions regime on Iran that no other country in the world recognizes. This bizarre situation is termed U.S. “extraterritoriality,” where the U. S tries to enforce its domestic laws on other countries. Canada should not play along! The arrest and extradition proceeding against Meng have contributed to deteriorating Canada-China relations. At various times following Meng’s arrest, China, which is Canada’s second-largest trading partner, banned importation of Canadian canola, pork, and lobsters. Since livelihoods of thousands of Canadian farmers and fishers depend on the export of these products to China, they were severely affected. Thirty per cent of Canadian exports go to China, but Canadian exports only account for less than 2 per cent of China’s imports. So the potential of even more harm is possible. In addition, the promising Chinese-Canadian collaboration on a COVID-19 vaccine collapsed. Canada and its people paid dearly so far and gained nothing from the Trudeau government’s decision to hold Meng as a hostage for the U.S. in its trade negotiations with China.
    Henry Evans-Tenbrinke (2020-10-16)
  10. Julian Assange. There are a lot of things to dislike about him but that does not mean anyone should cheer his current treatment in a British court. Why did the judge bar NGOs, like Amnesty International, from covering this spectacle while limiting the number of public spectators to 5? And why are witnesses for the prosecution not allowed to be cross examined while this luxury is not afforded to witnesses for the defence? And why are big newspapers like the New York Times and Washington Post (to only name two of many) not covering of this travesty of justice?
    On Contact: Chris Hedges interviews Craig Murray
  11. My Two Cents Worth on "America, China and COVID-19" :: Any person, politician or not, who claims that China created COVID-19 or manipulated the COVID crisis to create an economic advantage for China is either deranged or deluded. Were mistakes made by lower level officials in Wuhan? Definitely. But errors happened, not because the decision makers were Chinese, but because they were human. The fact that China published the genetic sequence within four weeks at the end of January surely has to count for something positive. As I type this, the COVID-19 death count in the USA has passed 196,000 lookup current value and some stuff I'm reading/hearing/watching sounds like the USA is heading into a cold-war with China. The problem with cold wars is that they can accidentally escalate into hot wars (the Spanish American War and the Vietnam War immediately spring to mind).
  12. Commenting on Huawei: It appears to me that people in the west only support capitalism when the west wins. When a Chinese company, like Huawei, becomes the next Nortel, then ridiculous conspiracy theories are invoked. IIRC, Huawei was one of many companies that bid on the sale of intellectual property, as did Apple, Google, Blackberry and others. Huawei was not one of the winners which forced it to increase its own R&D operations (estimates put Huawei R&D in 2019 at a massive 40% of net income). People claim that Huawei steals IP (intellectual property) so how is it that many industry experts agree that Huawei is 19-24 months ahead of everyone else on 5G. Anyway, western companies continually accuse each other of IP theft (look at the number of times that Apple is in court for stealing IP from Broadcom and Qualcomm). Other western companies are no better (Apple has sued Google; Facebook is currently suing Google). The CEOs of these western companies justify this by saying "this is just the way business in done".

    On a related note, Huawei telephone hardware is nothing more than a special-purpose programmable computer made in China which is almost always installed along with a CISCO firewall. Firewall transactions are almost always logged and monitored so someone would need to show me proof that data packets were seen going back to China (or show how packets could flow from China back to the west for any nefarious purpose). On top of all that, Apple manufactures their equipment at Foxconn in China. This is the same place where Microsoft manufactures the Xbox One and Sony manufacturers the PlayStation4. HP desktops are manufactured by Megatron in China. So why is Huawei being singled out? Shouldn't Trump block the imports of all these companies as well? Heck, many of these consumer and small business appliances are seldomly protected by firewalls.

    I think it was Deng Xiaoping who once said "The Middle East has its oil, China has rare earth". Since modern electronics is dependent upon rare-earth materials then it should be no surprise that Chinese-made electronics is much less expensive. Speaking of Deng for a moment, in 1985 I was attending school in Boston where it appeared to me that Chinese students were everywhere. Apparently, Deng had sent 1.3 million Chinese students to the USA to receive a top-quality western education paid for by China (one of my more-gifted Chinese classmates was accompanied by "two minders" who were there to ensure that he returned to China). Unlike Mao, Deng saw great value in education and realized that this was the best way forward for China. Thirty five years later, China has moved more than 350 million Chinese citizens from poverty into the middle class. This number is greater than the current population of the USA so is it any surprise that China is doing well? Meanwhile, there is a tendancy amongst westerners to label "an educated person" as "an elite". It seems to me that the world has flipped.
  13. Now here's a smart idea. The European Parliament (EU) just voted to end daylight savings time in 2021
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/27/world/europe/daylight-savings-time-european-union.html
    https://www.npr.org/2019/03/27/707179979/european-parliament-moves-toward-ending-daylight-saving-time
    The main reason given was that Europe's closest trading partners, China and Russia, do not shift their numerous number of time zones, and having Europe change its clocks twice annually was bad for business between all. But as a computer programmer and system admin, I can tell you that not having your computer systems change their internal clocks is a huge advantage.
  14. Our culture is awash in lies, dominated by streams of never ending electronic hallucinations that merge fact and fiction until they are indistinguishable.  We have become the most illusioned society on earth.  Politics is a species of endless and meaningless political theater.  Politicians have morphed into celebrities.  Our two ruling parties are, in reality, one party - the corporate party.  And those who attempt to puncture this vast, breathless universe of fake news, designed to push through the cruelty and exploitation of the neoliberal order, are pushed so far to the margins of society, including by a public broadcasting system that has sold its soul for corporate money, that we might as well be mice squeaking against an avalanche, but squeak we MUST
  15. A conservative friend of mine was fond of asking me political questions (I am a centrist) then would cut me off mid-sentence before I finished answering because he did not value my (just beginning) response. Apparently he was the only conservative amongst his family of brothers, sisters and parents but had no problem thinking he was right while they were wrong. How could this be? This thought rattled around in my mind until I stumbled across a book titled The Republican Brain which was positively reviewed by liberals and conservatives alike. The book contains several points which I will pass along here:
    • Size differences in two brain structures, the amygdala (larger in conservatives) and the anterior cingulate (larger in liberals), bias human perspective of the world. Therefore ...
    • Conservatives see most issues as "black and white" while liberals see "shades of gray"
    • Conservatives play politics as a team sport so will almost always "vote their party" while Liberals will split their vote choosing alternate parties (now you know how Trump got in)
    • Conservatives (larger amygdala) are more fearful of others so are more easily encouraged to vote for POPULIST issues like "building the wall" or BREXIT (funny point: Britain had the lowest number of Syrian immigrants but apparently the highest political reaction against them)
    • Since conservatives only see things as black and white, they try (and sometimes succeed) in converting liberals over to their way of voting. It seems to me that the reverse never happens

Continued here: Index Part-2 (less newsworthy, stuff)

"2001: A Space Odyssey"
A mysterious monolith awakens the imagination of humanity's distant ancestors.
A second monolith awaits humanity's giant leap to the moon. And in orbit around Jupiter,
a third monolith beckons humanity to transcend beyond the limits of of body and machine.
Click: 2001: A Space Odyssey @ Wikipedia
"a Feynman Diagram"
Feynman Diagram (animated) Feynman Diagram (static)
"All forces in the universe are mediated by particle exchange"
This "Feynman Diagram" (of electron repulsion) depicts the movement of two electrons (1 to 3 and 2 to 4) in space and time. A virtual photon transfers energy between them (5 to 6) causing them to repel each other.
To learn more:
1) brief explanation
2) detailed explanation
Legend: Y-Axis (up-down) is time while X-Axis (left-right) is space

Neil Rieck
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Yes, this is the old "Laptops and Lederhosen" site
  • Humanity's coming Dark Age
  • STEM Book Recommendations (Dark Age antidote?)
  • Thomas PaineThomas Paine (1737-1809) wrote about many modern topics including "racial equality" (he proposed "abolishing slavery" 100 years before Lincoln). The following three titles are a "must read" for all modern citizens:
  • Adam Smith (1723-1790) was a self titled "moral philosopher" who developed economic theories with the intent of redistributing wealth to workers who were about to be displaced by the industrial revolution. Anyone reading Smith's books will come to the conclusion that American capitalism is based upon a synthesis of Adam Smith and Charles Darwin (survival of the greediest). Many things Americans attribute to Adam Smith are not found in his books (the 'invisible hand' is mentioned only once in a revised edition of WoN). What would he think about hedge funds and activist investors?  
  • The $2 Trillion Dollar War by Nobel Prize winner Joseph E Stiglitz
  •   Comparative Anthropology
  • the Enlightenment (my favorite topic)

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