Wednesday, February 24, 2021

The lamps we're not allowed to have. Exploring Dubai's lamps.

This is a fascinating look at LED lamps made and sold in Dubai (under a 5-year agreement) that makes our current generation look like power hungry monsters. The gist is that efficiency goes up as power goes down per element, so dropping the power and increasing the number of filaments makes the bulbs run cool and last for a very long time.

Just for fun, I tested the concept by touching the base of an LED bulb that burns while I work less than 3 feet away. It was hot enough to burn my finger, reminding me that heat is the enemy of efficiency and long life where electronics are concerned. Imagine a generation of cooler bulbs that last forever. Such a nightmare for manufacturers lol.

Anyway, it's a fun watch and the demo and explanation are fairly short, after which you can turn it off if you don't want to watch the disassembly and analysis of the circuit etc. Note that these bulbs come in only four shapes and do not dim, so they are no doubt a pita for architects.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Sweet baby fighting tough circumstances ...

Baby Charlie was born with Turner Syndrome, which means that being here at all at this point is a bit of a miracle. She has been hospitalized twice so far for insertion of a feeding tube down her throat and now through the wall of her stomach. She will require a lot of care for a long time with constant visits to the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario and there will be many expenses, starting immediately with the feeding pump for over $1000.

If you are in a position to help a little bit (and in these COVID times please do not feel even the slightest pressure), then consider visiting this Go Fund Me page and giving a little something to help with the long term care of this lovely, happy child.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Government versus Private Industry ... Who should finance research and development?

In North America, we seem to have a fascination -- or perhaps fixation -- with private industry being more efficient than the public service when it comes to doing "stuff". Whatever we want done, we think that private industry will make it happen faster and more efficiently than government could ever do.


Note: I thought I might take this post into territory where I discuss the takeover of the elites (a.k.a. Oligarchy), or globalization, or some other angle on our fascination with the assumption that the wealthy have it all figured out. But the reality is that this is just a distraction from the topic I would rather discuss, and so instead I urge you to read this excellent New Yorker article that discusses the book Hillbilly Elegy. It thoroughly discusses the plight of us normal people and how the elites look at us. Think about it a bit before automatically rejecting the value of government intervention where it is needed.

Now, we've recently been treated to the news that our vaccine shipments have been interrupted for at least a week. We also know that we have only managed to vaccinate 1% of the population in the time that the Americans have vaccinated over 3%. So what gives? Well, here is a clip from a McLean's article regarding the recent aggressive mutation and what it might do in light of our embrassingly poor vaccination plan. This clip explictly discusses why we are suffering the difficulties in supply.

How widespread or common is such sequencing of COVID samples in Canada?

Canada has been conducting viral genome sequencing through the Canadian COVID Genomics Network (CanCoGen), which was started in April 2020—though many public health labs and research labs had started sequencing to some extent prior to this. As of Dec. 22, more than 25,000 viral genomes have been sequenced as part of this (roughly five per cent of confirmed cases in Canada at that time.)

Some countries are doing more sequencing than we are in more of a “real-time” fashion; e.g., the U.K.’s sequencing network, with whom CanCOGen is partnered, has sequenced ~10 per cent of all their cases. Part of this relates to infrastructure and years of ongoing investment. The U.K. is one of the world leaders in using genome sequencing for public health surveillance, with capacity they have built over the course of the last decade for enteric pathogens and tuberculosis.

How much sequencing would Canada need to be doing in order to know how B.1.1.7 and other variants are spreading here?

This is difficult question. The higher our sequencing and analytic capacity, the more we will be able to detect B.1.1.7 and other variants are they arise. However, there are substantial challenges to increasing this in the middle of a pandemic. Investments need to be made to continue to build infrastructure, fund sequencing, hire skilled scientists who can lead and conduct analyses, and support those already working long hours on this, etc. It’s not as clear cut as just “sequencing more,” unfortunately.

So that's depressing. We don't have the ability to create a vaccine, nor to produce one. We lost all the researchers at some point. And here is an article from the Hamilton Spectator explaining how the last Conservative federal government (a.k.a. Stephen Harper) drastically cut research dollars that had the inevitable knock-on effect of researchers saying goodbye to Canada along with all those partnerships that get shit done. Resulting in the fact that we don't have a single Pharmaceutical partnership to lean on and thus we are automatically at the back of the line to those who do.


Let's all try to remember then that government funding of pure and applied research is a good thing and ultimately benefits the population in ways not understood when the hack and slash of austerity raises its ugly head to the benefit of cronies and other relationships but to the obvious (now, at least) detriment to the population being governed.

Yes, people rarely do learn this lesson since each candidate for government pays attention to controversial issues that can galvanize their base to kick those bastards out! But that does not make for good government (see USA 2017-2021), and maybe we should also remember to factor in all those unnecessary deaths in both countries. After all, we have "business first" governments at the head of most provinces and of the USA and many states. The coelescence of these governments in a time of hyper-partisanship could not have been worse given the presence of a deadly pandemic and all ...

My bottom line -- the federal government in Canada should be ensuring that we have the capacity to resist the next pandemic, and that we revive at least some areas of our manufacturing capability so that we are not trying to fight the entire planet to get in line for factories in other parts of the world. Surely it is worth paying a bit more for goods when that also means more jobs for our own population. The elites have a whole world to plunder. The elites shift profits around to avoid paying taxes in Canada. These are very good reasons to none get too bent when the worst of them bugger off somewhere else to pillage the population.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Wayfair ... Canadians seem to take a bit of a beating ...

So I saw an interesting add for a rather nice rolling cabinet with many drawers. Just the kind of thing that might help get control of the little pieces and bits of my photography hobby. Things like flashes, little accessories, and so on. I checked and found the price to be quite good, as shown here.

So I changed the "com" to "ca" in the address field and found this.

The price difference is basically double in Canada, which is not even close to the 28% difference that Aleksa just quoted to me. It should be about $69cad and instead is 110cad ON SALE lol.

I have to say that this is pretty disappointing. You'd think they would use a bot to verify this form of mistake (or gouging, whichever it is).

Anyway, just thought I'd point out that Canadians close to the border might want to consider comparing prices on the site. Shipping is also dirt cheap in the USA oftentimes, so you might end up doing pretty well on the exchange.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Nothing Special has been augmented ….

My new blog is Nothing Special Too. I am not big on the Blogger platform, which Google seems to care very little about in the grand schema of things.

So I added a Wordpress blog for occasional photography and opinions. Head on over there to see what’s shaking.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Published in the Ottawa Citizen tomorrow, 9 August 2018

As always, my thanks to Robbi Hay, editor of the Ourtown section of the Citizen … don’t forget to grab your copy of the paper to see what’s going on in the city over the coming weeks …