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August 31, 2020

COVID-19

Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

Keep in mind that not all jurisdictions in Canada provide updates on the weekends. As of Sunday, Canada has reported 127,940 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 9,117 deaths. The trend line on new cases hasn't really shifted since the beginning of June, as the 're-opening' of the Canadian economy began. The trend line for additional deaths has been on a pretty constant slope since about the last week of June, which tracks the new cases line as deaths is a lagging indicator.

Rates in the age range 20-29 have increased markedly (over 50%) in the past month.

PPE

Dry heat can effectively sanitize N95 masks
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/dry-heat-can-effectively-sanitize-n95-masks

PPE supply in 'best shape' since start of pandemic, says Sask. Health Authority CEO
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/sask-health-authority-ppe-covid19-1.5690886

SafeCare BC survey finds PPE supply improved, but still lacking
https://www.castanet.net/news/BC/307944/SafeCare-BC-survey-finds-PPE-supply-improved-but-still-lacking

Take a peek inside Montreal's new factory making N95 masks.
https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1778750531899

Calgary restaurants frustrated with rising cost of PPE
https://calgary.ctvnews.ca/calgary-restaurants-frustrated-with-rising-cost-of-ppe-1.5071504

Effectiveness of cloth masks depends on type of covering
https://phys.org/news/2020-08-effectiveness-masks.html

What works and what doesn't: The efficacy of different types of fabric face masks - Insider
https://www.insider.com/the-most-effective-fabric-face-masks-and-which-to-choose-2020-8

Non-woven masks better to stop Covid-19, says Japanese supercomputer
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/aug/26/non-woven-masks-better-to-stop-covid-19-says-japanese-supercomputer

Wearing a mask? Wear it properly. Dangling masks pose a health risk, Niagara public health says.
https://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/news/niagara-region/2020/08/23/wearing-a-mask-wear-it-properly-dangling-masks-post-a-health-risk-niagara-public-health-says.html

PPE facility to open in Cambridge, creating up to 50 jobs, says company
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/kitchener-waterloo/ppe-facility-cambridge-50-jobs-1.5702246

3M to make critical N95 masks at Brockville, Ont., plant
https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/n95-ford-trudeau-ppe-covid19-brockville-1.5693766

Bombardier to lay off 200 workers in Thunder Bay as factory's fate hangs in limbo
https://www.chroniclejournal.com/business/national_business/bombardier-to-lay-off-200-workers-in-thunder-bay-as-factorys-fate-hangs-in-limbo/article_3f813e75-3519-5178-9d1c-739b594f7a8a.html

LG unveils battery-powered air-purifying face mask
https://www.cnet.com/health/lg-unveils-a-battery-powered-air-purifying-mask/
This looks a lot like the KickStarter device I mentioned a few weeks ago:
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/uvmask-all-day-lab-certified-uv-c-sterilization

Face masks with valves or vents do not prevent spread of the coronavirus, CDC says
https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/08/13/cdc-mask-guidance-masks-valves/

;-) I'm so busy I don't know if I found a rope
     or lost my horse.

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.


August 29, 2020

COVID-19

Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

On Friday (August 28th), Canada reported 510 new COVID-19 cases and 6 deaths.

In some parts of the country, transmission seems to be well under control, e.g. the Atlantic provinces, the northern territories. The new cases trend in Quebec west to BC remain troubling. Something is fundamentally missing from our response if we can't seem to get the transmission under better control in those six provinces. We now know that people can be re-infected, so we have to find a better solution than the immunity myth. The death rate is simply too high to play infection roulette. 9,108 deaths from 127,358 confirmed cases is a death rate of over 7%. Our best option is still: don't get infected.

Schools Re-opening

Letting it all air out: Deflating the idea ventilation can easily make schools safer
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/manitoba-schools-ventilation-covid-analysis-1.5693574

Cavanagh: The fatal flaw in Ontario's back-to-school plan
https://ottawacitizen.com/opinion/cavanagh-the-fatal-flaw-in-ontarios-back-to-school-plan

How many masks should my child take to school? Your back-to-school mask questions answered
https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/back-to-school-mask-questions-covid-19-1.5693511

Alberta’s COVID-19 back-to-school plans lack transparency
https://theconversation.com/albertas-covid-19-back-to-school-plans-lack-transparency-144717

The U.S. has some sobering information for us related to COVID-19 and schools re-opening.
From the article:
"A dangerous cycle emerged this August, as several schools and universities that opened in areas with abundant COVID-19 transmission quickly spawned outbreaks and were forced back to remote learning."
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/05/graphic-tracking-coronavirus-infections-us/

20 Quebec teachers in quarantine after two test positive for COVID-19
https://montreal.ctvnews.ca/20-quebec-teachers-in-quarantine-after-two-test-positive-for-covid-19-1.5083113

Sadly, this is what I expected from school re-openings in places where community spread had not been brought under control for at least a month beforehand, validated with tests of the full population returning to classrooms - students, teachers and other adults in the buildings.

In my opinion, the local public health authorities should now shift to creating mobile testing teams and take them out to each school as they re-open and test all present. (Better, have a testing day a week or two before the school re-opens, but that opportunity has been mostly squandered now.)

There is no reason why every school in a province needs to open on the same day in the COVID-19 pandemic era. I don't think anyone is proposing that all schools should close on the same day because there is an outbreak in one school in a province.

What strikes me most about the various 'school re-opening' plans I have seen in Canada is the focus on having an opening date, while having nearly no discussion of what is best for effective learning for the students across an almost infinite spectrum of unproven options (home schooling, online learning, conventional classroom learning, outdoor-based school learning, reduced class sizes, 'cohorts', and every conceivable combination of those). Similarly concerning for me, the lack of discussion of the risks for adults in the school environment during the pandemic, given that children are known to be largely asymptomatic, but prevalent carriers of the virus.

Transparency should start by acknowledging the risk factors we do know, and that there are likely more we don't yet recognize. Our health officials continue to say that physical distancing, staying at home as much as possible, and washing hands with soap frequently are our best tools for keeping SARS-CoV-2 transmission at low levels, but the back-to-school plans appear to be entirely contrary to that advice. We know cloth masks don't stop virus spread; per health officials they MAY reduce virus transmission.

Perhaps the most important question we should have for our elected leaders who are forcing the school re-opening dates is: how many student and staff deaths and serious illnesses are acceptable to you to re-open the schools to support the illusion of 'normalcy'? The answer is not zero if there is a provincial back-to-school plan which dismisses best available public health information. When these deaths and illnesses occur, will the governments accept their responsibility for the decisions taken, or will they resort to victim blaming? (As Premier Ford is already pre-blaming unions - specifically teachers' unions in this case - while parents and other observers are raising more issues with the lame back-to-school 'plan' being dribbled out piece-meal by Education Minister Lecce.)

As back-to-school looms, what legal options do Ontario’s teachers have?
https://www.nationalobserver.com/2020/08/24/analysis/back-school-looms-what-legal-options-do-ontarios-teachers-have
As an employer, the school boards and provincial government have an obligation to provide a safe work place.

;-) Scientists say the universe is made up of protons, neutrons and electrons.
    They forgot to mention morons.

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.


August 28, 2020

COVID-19

Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

On Thursday, Canada reported 431 new cases and 8 additional deaths.
The U.S. reported 46,286 new cases and 1,143 deaths.
Globally, the new cases count was 273,387, with 6,058 related deaths for August 27th.

COVID-19 News Items

Plastic face shields seem to make masks better
https://arstechnica.com/science/2020/08/plastic-face-shields-do-masks-one-better/

This is the actual study underlying the article above, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
SARS-CoV-2 Infection Among Community Health Workers in India Before and After Use of Face Shields
https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2769693

Covid-19 Live Updates: Researchers Document First Case of Virus Reinfection
A patient was diagnosed with a second case of Covid-19 more than four months after the first, scientists in Hong Kong said.
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/24/world/covid-19-coronavirus.html

2 more people have been reinfected with the coronavirus, European scientists say, a day after the first confirmed reinfection in Hong Kong
https://www.businessinsider.com/2-new-coronavirus-reinfection-cases-belgium-netherlands-hong-kong-2020-8

No more nose swabs? Why a saliva test for COVID-19 could be a 'game changer'
https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/salivadirect-covid-test-1.5693375

Minister said no one ever got COVID-19 on a flight. Here's what the research says https://globalnews.ca/news/7288950/marc-garneau-aviation-safety-coronavirus/

Study shows how COVID-19 may be transmitted onboard flights
https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/study-shows-how-covid-19-may-be-transmitted-onboard-flights-1.5069587

New Zealander sails through Arctic on custom yacht in violation of COVID-19 restrictions
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/new-zealand-yacht-cambridge-bay-nunavut-1.5698347
(The real story here is that Canada can't enforce restrictions on this travel in (disputed) Canadian waters for lack of capable vessels. On a positive note, Peter Smith's trip is being fuelled by wind and minimal use of carbon-based fuel.)

Canadian COVID-19 clinical trial scrapped after China wouldn't ship potential vaccine.
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/canada-china-covid-19-vaccine-trial-plug-pulled-1.5701101
China blamed for Canada’s multimillion-dollar coronavirus vaccine deal collapse
https://globalnews.ca/news/7302194/canada-coronavirus-vaccine-deal-china/

Ozone gas found to neutralise coronavirus
https://eandt.theiet.org/content/articles/2020/08/ozone-gas-found-to-neutralise-coronavirus-in-hospitals/

U.S. coronavirus patients often lie about their symptoms, researchers say
https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/u-s-coronavirus-patients-often-lie-about-their-symptoms-researchers-say-1.5076972

COVID-19's impact on the heart has specialists on alert
https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/covid-19s-impact-on-the-heart-has-specialists-on-alert

Man who believed virus was hoax loses wife to Covid-19
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-53892856

Why Antibody Tests Won’t Help You Much
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/21/health/coronavirus-antibody-tests.html

3 New Scientific Studies Say, ‘Mask Up!’ COVID-19 Can Spread In Surprising Ways We Didn’t Realize
https://www.forbes.com/sites/bryanrobinson/2020/08/20/3-new-scientific-studies-say-mask-up-covid-19-can-spread-in-surprising-ways-we-didnt-realize/#1b69e48e638d

;-) 4 out of 3 people struggle with math.

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.


August 27, 2020

COVID-19

Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

Not much change in Canadian data - the resurgence from Quebec to the west coast continues. 9,094 dead from COVID-19 in Canada so far, and 126,417 confirmed cases.

In the U.S., as Hurricane Laura reaches Texas and Louisiana, the U.S. (under)reports over 6 million confirmed cases, 183,677 deaths and only 3,314,664 recovered - just 55% of those confirmed infected. 1,289 new deaths reported yesterday alone, and 44,637 new cases.

Fortress Fossil Fuels Highlights/Gaslights

Canada supporting fossil fuels at 10 times the G20 average during pandemic https://www.nationalobserver.com/2020/08/12/analysis/canada-supporting-fossil-fuels-10-times-g20-average-during-pandemic

Keystone Pipeline operators pay more than $52,000 for 2019 Walsh County oil spill TC Energy has agreed to pay more than $52,000 for the Keystone Pipeline oil spill last year that released about 383,000 gallons of crude oil onto about five acres of farmland outside of Edinburg, N.D. in October.
Another slap-on-the-wrist for business-as-usual spill practice.
https://www.grandforksherald.com/news/6625740-Keystone-Pipeline-operators-pay-more-than-52000-for-2019-Walsh-County-oil-spill

It's getting slippery for Big Oil
https://www.newtimesslo.com/sanluisobispo/its-getting-slippery-for-big-oil/Content?oid=10026028
"You can't completely clean up an offshore oil spill."
I disagree. The oil industry can't clean up an offshore oil spill; they aren't set up to do so. Instead, they continue with 'oil spill clean up theatre'.
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/oil-spill-cleanup-illusion-180959783/
However, the tools to clean up an offshore oil spill effectively do exist. They just don't get used by the oil industry because that industry doesn't pay for the full cost of the spill damage.

In another example of oil industry business as usual:
Oil Continues To Leak Into Mauritius Coral Lagoon As Wakashio Splits In Two
https://www.forbes.com/sites/nishandegnarain/2020/08/16/oil-continues-to-leak-into-mauritius-lagoon-as-wakashio-splits-in-two/#51e8d14c5a84
From the article: "Despite efforts to put oil protection booms around the Wakashio, as seen in images taken by Maxar on 15 August at 10.14am below, these appear to have had little effect in reducing the flow of heavy oil into the pristine lagoon and toward the densely populated town of Mahebourg."

Again, we have technologies which can do better on oil spills, but the oil industry and captive regulators will not consider them, as they are an additional cost and impact profits.
https://www.restco.ca/Oil_Spill_Response.shtml
https://www.roscue.ca/Products.shtml

Trump in final push to open up Alaska's Arctic refuge to oil and gas drilling https://www.nationalobserver.com/2020/08/20/news/trump-final-push-open-alaskas-arctic-refuge-oil-and-gas-drilling

Storebrand says corporate lobbying to undermine climate solutions is ‘unacceptable’ https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/aug/24/major-investment-firm-dumps-exxon-chevron-and-rio-tinto-stock

Steady oil price belies weakening physical market https://finance.yahoo.com/news/steady-oil-price-belies-weakening-125436949.html

Oil giant Exxon booted from Dow Jones in sign tech now trumps energy in U.S. economy. https://financialpost.com/investing/dow-industrials-kicks-out-exxon-in-biggest-shake-up-since-2013

Revealed: how the gas industry is waging war against climate action. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/aug/20/gas-industry-waging-war-against-climate-action

Norway has made a lot of noise in the past couple of months about divesting their fossil fuel assets and shifting to more sustainable practice. Here's the action to belie the words.
Norway plans to drill for oil in untouched Arctic areas
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/aug/26/norway-plans-to-drill-for-oil-in-untouched-arctic-areas-svalbard

;-) From 2010, during a little event called the Macondo 'oil spill':
     "Here's a little bit of good news. The Coast Guard says that BP is
     now catching up to 630,000 gallons of oil a day. The bad news is
     that they're capturing it with ducks." — Jimmy Fallon

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.


August 26, 2020

COVID-19

Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

It's been pleasant not looking at the stats on a daily basis for a week or so. However, COVID-19 did not take any time off, and Canadian case counts are rising again from Quebec to BC. This is community spread, as we are preparing to burst the summer's social bubbles with school re-openings and flu season is on the horizon. Time to ensure your transmission suppression measures are still strong and being followed.

9,090 deaths from COVID-19 to date in Canada. Just shy of 126,000 confirmed cases since we started collecting data. We still aren't collecting data on the long-term impacts on the health of those who have 'recovered'.

Digital Deception

COVID-19 has meant that more of us are more reliant on our electronic communications devices than ever before, and our collection of data devices is accumulating rapidly: smartphones, tablets, laptops, desk computers, digital media servers, PVRs, routers, firewalls, 'smart' TVs, 'smart' refrigerators, lighting and appliance controllers, robot vacuum cleaners, 'smart' speakers ... Our focus is convenience (though setting up device after device hardly seems convenient some days), and not security. We may come to regret that; some already have. But even online games aren't immune.

'Creepy men' message women on Scrabble Go app
https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-53888148

Malicious code reportedly found in iOS apps installed by billions of users
https://www.techradar.com/news/malicious-code-reportedly-found-in-ios-apps-installed-by-billions-users

Chinese-Made Smartphones Are Secretly Stealing Money From People Around The World
https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/craigsilverman/cheap-chinese-smartphones-malware

Nearly 70% of fraud phishing attacks are directed at Canada: RSA report
https://www.itworldcanada.com/article/nearly-70-of-fraud-phishing-attacks-are-directed-at-canada-rsa-report/434380

Business email compromise attacks are rising in Canada: Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
https://www.itworldcanada.com/article/business-email-compromise-attacks-are-rising-in-canada-canadian-anti-fraud-centre/434796

Meeting the challenges of remote working during the pandemic
https://www.itworldcanada.com/article/meeting-the-challenges-of-remote-working-during-the-pandemic/434394

Report: SMB's unprepared to tackle data privacy
https://www.techrepublic.com/resource-library/whitepapers/report-smb-s-unprepared-to-tackle-data-privacy/
I'm not suggesting you spend the $99 for a copy of the report, but the headline is pretty much the take-away. Major companies, governments, health organizations, and others have had major data breaches involving the personal data (name, address, SIN, credit card numbers, user-ids, passwords) in the past couple of months. Smaller organizations don't have the information security resources or as strong a security mind-set, so they are even more vulnerable. You need to look after your digital security and hygiene yourself.

Again, if you don't understand how you are paying for a product, don't count on it to be there when you need or want it. TANSTAAFL. In some cases, maybe even if you were paying for it.
Goodbye memories: Photos permanently deleted after Adobe Lightroom iOS and iPadOS update deletes users’ data
https://www.itworldcanada.com/article/lost-data-unrecoverable-after-recent-adobe-lightroom-ios-and-ipados-update-deletes-users-photos/434857

New ransomware group claims to have hit Canadian corporate giant
https://www.itworldcanada.com/article/new-ransomware-group-claims-to-have-hit-canadian-corporate-giant/434880
Closer from the article:
“Companies in this situation are without good option. Even if a company chooses to pay the ransom, all it will receive is a pinky promise from a bad faith actor that the stolen data will be destroyed. Whether the groups do ever delete is something only they know, but I suspect they do not. Why would they?”

A Google Drive 'Feature' Could Let Attackers Trick You Into Installing Malware
https://thehackernews.com/2020/08/google-drive-file-versions.html

An AWS Virtual Machine Is Infected With Mining Malware. There Could Be Others - CoinDesk.
https://www.coindesk.com/aws-mining-malware-cryptojacking-monero

If you have been buying 'smart' devices or subscribed for a 'smart home' service, have you also been making sure that the devices you are buying are secure (e.g. no vendor backdoors), and that you have changed the access user IDs and passwords from default values, and recorded the new settings in a secure manner? Not only could your home be vulnerable, it could also be the springboard for bot attacks by the unscrupulous. We need to be smart about 'smart' and remotely controllable devices. If you can change the temperature settings for your house from your 'smart' phone, so can someone else who steals your phone or otherwise compromises your 'smart' devices. What if they choose to turn off your furnace while you are away during a cold snap in February? Do you have safeguards in place which cannot be over-ridden remotely to prevent that?
IoT botnets: Smart homes ripe for a new type of cyberattack
https://www.techrepublic.com/article/iot-botnets-smart-homes-ripe-for-a-new-type-of-cyberattack/

In the computer privacy vs. COVID zone, Quebec has chosen privacy over imperfect case tracking.
Quebec opts out of federal COVID-tracing app for now
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-quebec-opts-out-of-federal-covid-tracing-app-for-now/

;-) Did you know that the first computer dates back to Adam and Eve?’
     It was an Apple with limited memory - just one byte.
      And then everything crashed.

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.


August 25, 2020

COVID-19

Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

School Re-openings

Kids Are Bigger Silent Spreaders Of COVID-19 Than We Realized https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/kids-bigger-silent-spreaders-covid-19_l_5f3eb8e4c5b6305f3254cb1e
Here's the paper in the Journal of Pediatrics
https://www.jpeds.com/article/S0022-3476(20)31023-4/fulltext
"Conclusion
"This study reveals that children may be a potential source of contagion in the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in spite of milder disease or lack of symptoms, and immune dysregulation is implicated in severe post-infectious MIS-C."

I think that should be a sobering thought for adults who may be going back into schools and classrooms now or in the next few weeks. Consider how you will protect yourself in that environment. Here are a few tips I have compiled:
https://www.econogics.com/c4c/C4Teachers.htm

When Covid Subsided, Israel Reopened Its Schools. It Didn’t Go Well.
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/04/world/middleeast/coronavirus-israel-schools-reopen.html

Which province has the best back-to-school plan? Our experts hand out grades
https://www.ourwindsor.ca/news-story/10143271-which-province-has-the-best-back-to-school-plan-our-experts-hand-out-grades/

B.C. parents and teachers worry about masks and distancing with back-to-school plans
https://www.nationalobserver.com/2020/08/12/news/bc-parents-and-teachers-worry-about-masks-and-distancing-back-school-plans

B.C.'s back-to-school plan puts students, teachers at risk
https://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/views-expressed/2020/08/bcs-back-school-plan-puts-students-teachers-risk

A guide to back-to-school rules across the country
https://www.nationalobserver.com/2020/08/12/news/guide-back-school-rules-across-country

NDP use school bus to highlight concerns with Ford government's back-to-school plan
https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/ndp-use-school-bus-to-highlight-concerns-with-ford-government-s-back-to-school-plan-1.5067525

Parents of Ontario, maybe it’s time to call a strike.
https://www.macleans.ca/?p=1208561

Low pay, uncertain hours, no sick leave. Education's other workers face a return to the classroom
https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/a-whole-other-balleducation-assistants-get-assaulted-all-the-time-now-they-face-an-invisible-opponent

Even assuming we can re-open schools safely despite our still nascent understanding of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, will we delivering an effective education?
COVID-19’s teaching challenges: 5 tips from pediatric care for teachers wearing masks
https://theconversation.com/covid-19s-teaching-challenges-5-tips-from-pediatric-care-for-teachers-wearing-masks-144446

Let's be certain that the COVID-era curriculum includes educating our kids on the realities of the pandemic, lays out the risk and effective response methods, and reinforces the messaging. For example, if washing hands is a behaviour to be encouraged, will we be putting hand-washing stations in each classroom? If so, how will those be maintained and by whom?

;-) Teacher: ‘How can we keep the school clean?’
     Student: ‘By staying at home.’
      (It's an old joke, but strangely timely in these strange times.)

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.


August 17, 2020

COVID-19

Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

Short one today to raise a couple of priority issues.

Canada Revenue Agency suspends online services after cyberattacks
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-thousands-of-cra-and-government-accounts-disabled-after-cyberattack-2/

Find time, TODAY, to change your passwords for any accounts you have which relate to your finances (bank accounts, investment portfolios or trading, on-line shopping which hold any of your credit card information, etc.) or hold personal identifying information which hold personal identifying information. The CRA hack was a 'credential stuffing' attack; it used information gathered from breaches of other online sites to gain access. This hack is taking personal information (name, address, SIN) which is enough to support identity theft. If you have old accounts you don't use anymore, deactivate, cancel or close them.

Apparently Canadians are particularly vulnerable.
Nearly 70% of fraud phishing attacks are directed at Canada: RSA report
https://www.itworldcanada.com/article/nearly-70-of-fraud-phishing-attacks-are-directed-at-canada-rsa-report/434380

There's no lack of reading material this past week, but I'm still short for time to provide updates - perhaps in another week or two. I recognize that schools re-opening is a focal point for many. If you are concerned about virus spread by in-person school attendance breaking the household, family and social bubbles you have constructed over the past few months, I think that's justified. Things are in flux, and statements from some authorities simply don't make sense.

All I can offer on that front today is:
https://www.econogics.com/c4c/C4Teachers.htm

Don't underestimate the havoc the COVID-19 virus and pandemic can do. Clearly, others are.

US coronavirus deaths rise past 170,000
The U.S. continues to lead the world in new cases and fatalities
https://thehill.com/changing-america/well-being/longevity/512280-us-coronavirus-deaths-rise-past-170000

The True Coronavirus Toll in the U.S. Has Already Surpassed 200,000 https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/08/12/us/covid-deaths-us.html


August 8, 2020

COVID-19

Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

On Friday (August 7), Canada reported 424 new cases - Alberta contributing the most of any province, and there is a new outbreak in Manitoba. Only 4 deaths. Active cases up to 6,580.

The world will likely pass the 20,000,000 cases mark by Monday. Deaths will surpass 725,000 by then. Over 6 million active cases.

Antibody Testing Results Are Rolling In Across Canada. Here’s What We’ve Learned.
https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/antibody-test-herd-immunity-canada_ca_5f2c32aec5b6b9cff7eeadcc

School Re-openings

‘So many unanswered questions’ as teachers brace for school reopenings, says Hamilton union
https://www.thespec.com/news/hamilton-region/2020/08/06/so-many-unanswered-questions-as-teachers-brace-for-school-reopenings-says-hamilton-union.html

Education unions in Toronto call on TDSB to rethink school restart plan
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/unions-bargaining-units-open-letter-toronto-district-school-board-reopening-plan-1.5675933

Ontario's back-to-school plan puts teachers at risk, says union leader
https://www.cbc.ca/radio/asithappens/as-it-happens-the-thursday-edition-1.5669365/ontario-s-back-to-school-plan-puts-teachers-at-risk-says-union-leader-1.5669367

Premier, education minister defend Ontario's back-to-school plan amid class size concerns
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ford-lecce-ontario-school-plan-distancing-1.5677727

Toronto Public Health has ‘concerns’ with Ford government’s schools reopening plan.
https://www.ourwindsor.ca/news-story/10133046-toronto-public-health-has-concerns-with-ford-government-s-schools-reopening-plan/

Personal Opinion: From my reading, I don't think we're ready to safely re-open the schools in Ontario. I don't think we know enough to make good, informed decisions which will impact our kids lives for 5-8 decades, or the potential for virus spread from these new connection points - young children do not physically distance by nature. In my day (some days I feel very old saying things like this), Kindergarten was recognized as a virus transmission hot zone.

I do agree there's a potential impact on social development of our youth, but I have thought that since they started using personal smart phones and other electronic devices - well before COVID-19. I don't think our elected leaders have thought through the potential impacts on the adult staff who will be engaged: teachers, teaching assistants, custodians, food services, bus drivers ... Do we have the facility to wipe down every school bus between every run? I understand in Ottawa a school bus may do 3-4 runs per morning and again in the afternoon, with very little time between runs; none on days when it snows.

In my opinion, the key determinant on re-opening schools should be when virus transmission in the community after lifting some socializing restrictions has been suppressed to near zero, as measured by new cases with wide scale testing. School by school if necessary. No sharing of staff across schools. No second jobs. A curriculum that covers COVID-19 in depth and all transmission suppression methods, including training and practice. Community contact tracing which is tweaked to focus on schools whenever each school re-opens - these are going to be cluster outbreak high-risk zones. There will be spread into homes and existing social circles/bubbles/networks. Do kids who have been largely isolated at home for months have to break their existing social bubbles - which might include grand-parents - once they return to school?

Until there are vaccines providing protection and immunity, I think the goal should still be eradication of virus via transmission suppression and hygiene. Especially before consciously creating a high number of new daily mass-gatherings.

However, my opinions don't drive high-level decision-making. That's done by people with money and power.

Could a Janky, Jury-Rigged Air Purifier Help Fight Covid-19?
https://www.wired.com/story/could-a-janky-jury-rigged-air-purifier-help-fight-covid-19/
Perhaps we should put one of these in every classroom, on a stand to be even with head-height of seated students. Noting that used filters should treated as biohazard waste. Perhaps also UV-C air cleaners (though I have found these to be noisy, while others don't notice the sound).

Additional protection for teachers and other adults.
We know that procedure and cloth masks degrade communication by obscuring facial body language and muffling voices. (If effective communication and education aren't the point here, why are we sending kids back to school in the first place?) I think face-shields with curtains for teachers, assistants and others communicating with students would be a better solution than cloth masks.
https://www.econogics.com/c4c/COVIDCurtain.htm

PPE

Labour ministry orders eye protection for Rainforest Cafe servers
https://www.niagarafallsreview.ca/news/niagara-region/2020/08/07/labour-ministry-orders-eye-protection-for-rainforest-cafe-servers.html

Healthcare is still hooked on single-use plastic PPE, but there are more sustainable options
https://theconversation.com/healthcare-is-still-hooked-on-single-use-plastic-ppe-but-there-are-more-sustainable-options-143940

Digital Deception

Fraudsters create fake Canadian company, steal foreign website to victimize job seekers
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/fake-company-job-scam-gux-it-1.5677217

;-) Q: Where's the best place to hide a body?
     A: Page two of Google Search.

That's it from here for a while.
Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.


August 7, 2020

COVID-19

Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

On Thursday, Canada reported 374 new COVID-19 cases and 4 deaths. Active cases at 6,347.>/P>

The U.S. has surpassed 5 million cases (over 58,000 yesterday), and 160,000 deaths (over 1,200 yesterday).

The world added over 280,000 cases and almost 6,500 deaths yesterday.

Physical distancing, mask-wearing could be in place for 2-3 years even with vaccine, Tam warns
https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/covid-19-vaccine-tam-1.5673729

A second COVID-19 wave? Here are 6 lessons from the first
https://theconversation.com/a-second-covid-19-wave-here-are-6-lessons-from-the-first-142629

Vaccines Canadian company urges human trials for its COVID-19 vaccine
https://www.nationalobserver.com/2020/08/05/news/canadian-company-urges-human-trials-its-covid-19-vaccine

COVID for Cover Alberta, Ottawa reduce oilsands environmental monitoring budget due to pandemic
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/alta-oilsands-monitoring-1.5673433

COVID Collateral Harm 25,000 Canadians hospitalized or killed by self-harm last year, research says
Experts fear numbers will climb due to stress brought on by the pandemic
https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/self-harm-suicide-canada-covid19-1.5675451

Fossil Fuel Industry Updates
Big Oil Companies Lose Billions, Prepare for Prolonged Pandemic
https://www.wsj.com/articles/chevron-swung-to-second-quarter-loss-as-oil-demand-slumped-11596195007

Oil nosedives while renewables rise.
https://www.corporateknights.com/channels/energy/oil-nosedives-while-renewables-rise-15965425/

World is now shutting down coal plants faster than it's opening them
https://www.abc.net.au/triplej/programs/hack/world-global-coal-power-capacity-has-fell-in-2020/12523904

Vietnam considers scrapping half of coal power plant pipeline in favour of gas and renewables
https://www.eco-business.com/news/vietnam-considers-scrapping-half-of-coal-power-plant-pipeline-in-favour-of-gas-and-renewables/

Total’s Alberta oilsands writeoff is a wake-up call — not a cheap shot
https://thenarwhal.ca/opinion-total-alberta-oilsands-fort-hills-writeoff/

Why scientists intentionally spilled oil into a Canadian lake
https://theconversation.com/why-scientists-intentionally-spilled-oil-into-a-canadian-lake-132077

Dakota Access pipeline staves off shutdown order once again
https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/dakota-access-pipeline-staves-off-shutdown-order-once-again-1.1475989

Tracking diesel reduction progress in remote communities
https://www.pembina.org/blog/tracking-diesel-reduction-progress-remote-communities

Digital Deception
BlackBerry launches open-source tool to help reverse engineer malware
https://www.itworldcanada.com/article/blackberry-launches-open-source-tool-to-help-reverse-engineer-malware/434007
(not for the typical computer user, but good to see a key player in the computer security space is fighting back)

Garmin secured decryption key, paid ransom to hackers
https://cyclingtips.com/2020/08/report-garmin-secured-decryption-key-paid-ransom-to-hackers/
Garmin Coming Back Online After Hack — Was $10M Crypto Ransom Paid?
https://cointelegraph.com/news/garmin-coming-back-online-after-hack-was-10m-crypto-ransom-paid

Microsoft Edge is malware, says angry Windows 7 user
https://www.zdnet.com/article/microsoft-edge-is-malware-says-angry-windows-7-user/

VERIFY: Viral post shows CDC notice saying cloth masks 'do not filter anything'
https://www.wusa9.com/article/news/verify/verify-cdc-put-out-a-notice-saying-cloth-masks-dont-do-anything/65-d5377949-d1ea-4388-865e-b42b0c98d803
(If someone sends you an attachment for something likely on an official website, verify for yourself on the website.)

If it is important to you to keep the data on your mobile devices (e.g. banking information, personal information, address book, content of emails and texts ...), then encryption and passwords should be standard issue for you. How secure is encryption? Here's one story.
It took five years to crack an encrypted Blackberry.
https://fudzilla.com/news/51288-it-took-five-years-to-crack-an-encrypted-blackberry

;-) There are 10 types of people in the world.
     Those that understand binary and those that don't.

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.


August 6, 2020

COVID-19

Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

On Tuesday, Canada added 761 new COVID-19 cases and 11 deaths. On Wednesday, the numbers were 395 and 4. Active cases at 6,347, down slightly from 2 days earlier.

Even if there's a vaccine, pandemic may persist for years to come: Tam
https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/even-if-there-s-a-vaccine-pandemic-may-persist-for-years-to-come-tam-1.5050584

New study suggests a tiny fraction of Ontario has been infected with COVID-19
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/new-study-finds-a-tiny-fraction-of-ontari-has-been-infected-with-covid-19-1.5673201

Contact Tracing App

COVID Alert app could result in some people being ID'd
https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/covid-alert-app-privacy-1.5674392
(Already people are also reporting they can't download the app because their smartphones are ' too old'. e.g. iPhone 6. If the objective is 70% coverage, that's going to be tougher if the app disqualifies a lot of phones.)

Remdesivir

https://www.medchemexpress.com/GS-441524.html
"GS-441524, predominant metabolite of Remdesivir and superior to Remdesivir against Covid-19, shows comparable efficacy in cell-based models of primary human lung and cat cells infected with coronavirus."
Made by the same company as makes Remdesivir. Wonder why I haven't heard of it before now.

Sanitizer and PPE

Health Canada recalls more than 50 hand sanitizers in evolving list
https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/sanitizer-recall-expands-canada-1.5675182

Clorox won’t have enough disinfecting wipes until 2021, CEO Benno Dorer says
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/international-business/us-business/article-clorox-wont-have-enough-disinfecting-wipes-until-2021-ceo-benno/

N95 masks unsafe to use after 2nd sterilization: Winnipeg hospital study
https://globalnews.ca/news/7251871/n95-masks-unsafe-second-sterilization-winnipeg-hospital-study/

Virus Transmission

Fauci Says Face Shields Good Idea for Teachers Back in Schools
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-08-03/fauci-says-face-shields-good-idea-for-teachers-back-in-schools

Droplet spread from humans doesn't always follow airflow
https://phys.org/news/2020-08-droplet-humans-doesnt-airflow.html
(So, I'll say again, better protection for individuals would use shielding all the way around the head of the wearer to protect the eyes, nose and mouth.)

I think there is a better solution for personal protection against virus transmission than face masks or face shields - if you have to go out with other people outside your bubble and can't maintain appropriate physical distancing. I call it Curtains for COVID.

In the past couple of weeks, I have obtained a face shield from ETM Industries (Renfrew ON), and I have designed a curtain specifically for it. I have now put the design for that curtain up on this website and you can acquire rights to make a couple of curtains for your own use for $2.
Curtains for COVID page: https://www.econogics.com/c4c/
ETM Industries curtain page: https://www.econogics.com/c4c/ETM_Curtain.htm

Should You Buy a Face Shield?
https://slate.com/technology/2020/08/face-shields-what-you-need-to-know.html
'One of the big reasons extra protection—whether from a mask and a shield, or possibly some kind of beekeeper-eqsue contraption—can be useful isn’t eye protection. It’s additional protection, on your whole face, from other people. That includes people who outright refuse to wear masks, and also children who have trouble keeping them on throughout the day. Having not just some eye protection, but extra protection overall, stands to cut down on the viral load wearers might receive. Of course, Perncevich offers the caveat that schools in areas with high case counts shouldn’t be opening at all; the PPE is meant to be a backstop, not a permission slip. But if you’re obligated to go to work under risky circumstances, protecting yourself as much as possible is wise. “With a face shield,” says Perencevich, “you’re less dependent on other people.”'

I have said before that the deaths in long-term care homes was likely the easily identified harbinger of a more dispersed problem occurring in home-based care, where the stats are harder to collect. But, it's still a better solution for most people than being warehoused. Home care is key to improving care for all seniors.
https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2020/07/29/home-care-is-key-to-improving-care-for-all-seniors.html

Here's the catch. It isn't news; it's standard operating procedure for at least 20 years.
Home health workers stressed, overlooked amid COVID-19
https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2020/08/survey-home-health-workers-stressed-overlooked-amid-covid-19

;-) Failure is not an option -- it comes bundled with Windows.

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.


August 5, 2020

COVID-19

Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

I had a full edition about ready to go, when I received a pointer to this article.

Here's a teaser paragraph that made me go read it, right then.

"The countries that fared better against COVID-19 didn’t follow a universal playbook. Many used masks widely; New Zealand didn’t. Many tested extensively; Japan didn’t. Many had science-minded leaders who acted early; Hong Kong didn’t—instead, a grassroots movement compensated for a lax government. Many were small islands; not large and continental Germany. Each nation succeeded because it did enough things right."

Then I read it again.

Here's the link:
How the Pandemic Defeated America
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/09/coronavirus-american-failure/614191/

Go read it. Nothing else for today. Just read this one article.


August 4, 2020

COVID-19

Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

Reported numbers for Monday likely reflect long weekend reporting gaps. Canada reported only 147 new COVID-19 cases, well below the trend line. Only 2 additional deaths. Active cases rose to 6,487.

While the mainstream media likes to focus on the daily and total numbers of deaths, I prefer to look at the cases and deaths per capita to get a sense of how different countries, states and provinces are managing the pandemic. Where there are low numbers, I look to see what those places are doing differently. For high numbers, the background is depressingly similar: don't take this virus seriously. Still, while North American media like to point at the U.S. data, which is truly depressingly staggering, the U.S. is actually number 10 on the list of deaths per capita. Belgium is number 2, followed by the UK. Spain, Italy and Sweden are at 5,7, and 8.

Transmission trouble: Statistician concerned over back-to-school plan.
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/statistician-worried-back-to-school-plan-risky-1.5671012

260 Kids and Staff Test Positive for Coronavirus at Georgia Overnight Camp, CDC Says
https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/us/260-kids-and-staff-test-positive-for-coronavirus-at-georgia-overnight-camp-cdc-says/ar-BB17sfSl?li=AAggNb9

Two schools which re-opened in the U.S. were open a week or less before outbreaks were reported. Knowledgeable commentators are suggesting that communitiy spread levels need to be low and well managed before schools are re-opened in those areas. Makes sense to me. We simply don't know enough about the long-term effects of the SARS-CoV-2 virus on children in later life to be taking a cavalier attitude to their short-term and long-term health.

Even With Proper PPE, Frontline Healthcare Workers 3x More Likely to Test Positive for COVID-19
https://scitechdaily.com/even-with-proper-ppe-frontline-healthcare-workers-3x-more-likely-to-test-positive-for-covid-19/

'It's been 19 weeks now': COVID-19 'long-hauler' describes her lasting symptoms
https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/it-s-been-19-weeks-now-covid-19-long-hauler-describes-her-lasting-symptoms-1.5048558

WHO says pandemic will likely be 'lengthy,' warns of 'response fatigue'
https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/who-says-pandemic-will-likely-be-lengthy-warns-of-response-fatigue-1.5048701

Association of Cardiac Infection With SARS-CoV-2 in Confirmed COVID-19 Autopsy Cases
https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamacardiology/fullarticle/2768914?appId=scweb

Dangerous Hand Sanitizers Keep Getting Recalled In Canada & There Are Health Risks
https://www.narcity.com/news/ca/hand-sanitizer-recall-in-canada-has-happened-again-there-are-health-risks

Mounting poisonings, blindness, deaths as toxic hand sanitizers flood market.
https://arstechnica.com/science/2020/07/mounting-poisonings-blindness-deaths-as-toxic-hand-sanitizers-flood-market/

Speaking of hand sanitizer, I bought a bottle a couple of days ago from a business a few kilometres away which re-oriented its distillery business to add the hand sanitizer to its product line in response to the demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They also sell a product for internal consumption with antiseptic qualities: vodka. Looking forward to sampling the latter. The former seems fine. Best not tell the White House; the occupant might get the two different products confused.
Vodkow Website
https://www.dairydistillery.com/

Lockdown worked for the rich, but not for the poor. The untold story of how COVID-19 spread across Toronto, in 7 graphics
https://www.ourwindsor.ca/news-story/10129678-lockdown-worked-for-the-rich-but-not-for-the-poor-the-untold-story-of-how-covid-19-spread-across-toronto-in-7-graphics/

Does stage 4 'shock and awe' in Melbourne mean we should have gone for elimination of coronavirus after all?
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/aug/02/does-stage-4-shock-and-awe-in-melbourne-mean-we-should-have-gone-for-elimination-of-coronavirus-after-all

Pressure easing on PPE procurement
https://www.tbnewswatch.com/local-news/pressure-easing-on-ppe-procurement-2609461

US imports of PPE drop, even as coronavirus cases soar
https://www.scmp.com/economy/china-economy/article/3095363/us-mask-and-ventilator-imports-plummet-despite-soaring

University of New Brunswick developing portable coronavirus diagnostic tests
https://globalnews.ca/news/7240898/university-of-new-brunswick-portable-coronavirus-covid-19-tests/

McMaster engineers score breakthrough in COVID19 testing https://bayobserver.ca/2020/08/02/mcmaster-engineers-score-breakthrough-in-covid19-testing/

The land with no face masks: Holland's top scientists say there's no solid evidence coverings work
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8583925/The-land-no-face-masks-Hollands-scientists-say-theres-no-solid-evidence-coverings-work.html
(Netherlands are at number 15 in terms of deaths per capita, so take this finding with that in mind.)

There are now face mask vending machines in Toronto malls
https://www.blogto.com/city/2020/08/face-mask-vending-machines-toronto-malls/

North Edmonton business plans to give out 1,000 face masks
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/north-edmonton-business-plans-to-give-out-1-000-face-masks-1.5672003

Rainforest Cafe worker will be allowed to wear face shield
https://www.niagarafallsreview.ca/news/niagara-region/2020/08/03/rainforest-cafe-worker-will-be-allowed-to-wear-face-shield.html

;-) DIY Hand Sanitizer (it's humour - don't actually do this)
     If you mix Tabasco in your hand sanitizer, it will not only
     kill germs but also teach not to touch your face and eyes.

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.


August 3, 2020

COVID-19

Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

Remember it's a long weekend in most of Canada, so reported data is likely subject to the weekend effect. Also keeping our fingers crossed that people are celebrating with COVID-19 infection guidance in mind. 285 new COVID-19 cases reported in Canada on Sunday, and 4 deaths. Active cases rose to 6,385.

Oil Edition

Are you tired of all the COVID-19 gloom and doom stories? Me, too. So for today, a change of topic. Recent 'delights' from the oil industry, in Canada and abroad. This is 'Now'.

Offshore Driller Noble Corp. Files for Bankruptcy.
https://gcaptain.com/offshore-driller-noble-corp-files-for-bankruptcy/

Seafloor damage from BP spill vastly underestimated in rush for legal settlement
https://www.nola.com/news/environment/article_944018de-c776-11ea-a8f8-9738b904d580.html

The Great Stain: 10 Years after the Kalamazoo River oil spill
https://www.secondwavemedia.com/southwest-michigan/features/Blog-The-Great-Stain-10-Years-after-the-Kalamazoo-River-oil-spill-072720.aspx

Environmental damages from oil spill in Norilsk estimated at $2.1 bln
https://tass.com/emergencies/1175379

Oh sure, the oil industry might be destroying our chances of survival on the planet, and they're continuing to hoover up our tax dollars with more taxpayer and non-financial subsidies than governments can even count or remember, but at least they're great business investments with safe, solid returns.

Oil Major Shell Reports Record Quarterly Loss After $16 Billion Write-Down
https://www.barrons.com/articles/oil-major-shell-reports-record-quarterly-loss-after-16-billion-write-down-51596116600

Global oil demand is shrinking and Canada is being squeezed out even before the Great Oil End-Game nears
https://financialpost.com/executive/posthaste-global-oil-demand-is-shrinking-and-canada-is-being-squeezed-out-even-before-the-great-oil-end-game-nears
(Emmm, this from the Financial Post - Canada's ultimate media cheerleader for the oil industry.)

Regardless of COVID, the outlook for the oilsands gets dimmer year after year
https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/oilsands-oilpatch-covid-19-forecast-1.5666151

Total takes $7-billion writedown on oilsands projects, labels Fort Hills, Surmont as 'stranded' assets
https://financialpost.com/commodities/energy/total-takes-8-1-billion-writedown-as-pandemic-devalues-oil-gas

Headache for OPEC as oil market structure signals return of glut.
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/investing/investment-ideas/article-headache-for-opec-as-oil-market-structure-signals-return-of-glut/

Canadian Oil Drilling Forecast Gets Slashed Again.
https://oilprice.com/Energy/Crude-Oil/Canadian-Oil-Drilling-Forecast-Gets-Slashed-Again.html

Marathon Petroleum Won’t Restart Two Idled Oil Refineries
https://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/marathon-petroleum-says-won-t-234632528.html

Fire breaks out at Norman Wells Imperial Oil plant
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/fire-imperial-oil-norman-wells-1.5671781

Dakota Access Pipeline Saga Stalls Oil Production Recovery In The Bakken
https://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/Dakota-Access-Pipeline-Saga-Stalls-Oil-Production-Recovery-In-The-Bakken.html

Deutsche Bank Immediately Ends Funding For Oil Sands And Arctic Oil Projects
https://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/Deutsche-Bank-Immediately-Ends-Funding-For-Oil-Sands-And-Arctic-Oil-Projects.html

Zurich drops cover for Trans Mountain pipeline
https://www.insurancebusinessmag.com/ca/news/environmental/zurich-drops-cover-for-trans-mountain-pipeline-228697.aspx

UK's biggest pension fund begins fossil fuels divestment
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jul/29/national-employment-savings-trust-uks-biggest-pension-fund-divests-from-fossil-fuels

Coal is continuing on its road to demise (not for environmental or climate change benefits)
Creative destruction: the COVID-19 economic crisis is accelerating the demise of fossil fuels.
https://theconversation.com/creative-destruction-the-covid-19-economic-crisis-is-accelerating-the-demise-of-fossil-fuels-143739

OK, but at least they're lovely, cuddly, friendly organizations that give back to the areas where they operate.

This lawyer took on Chevron and won the largest human rights and environmental court
judgment in history. Then he lost his freedom.
https://www.nationalobserver.com/2020/07/31/opinion/lawyer-took-chevron-and-won-largest-human-rights-and-environmental-court-judgment

How the fossil fuel industry drives climate change and police brutality
https://grist.org/justice/how-the-fossil-fuel-industry-drives-climate-change-and-police-brutality/

Last word for this post goes to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers CEO, chief lobbyist for the oil industry operating in Canada, who doesn't understand that a major oil company operating outside Canada might actually respond to financial reality. Or perhaps he has confused Total with another foreign environmental organization that the Alberta government is looking at in their extended inquiry.
Whatever, when somebody says they're trashing $9.3 billion in assets, I think they might deserve to be taken seriously.
Total ‘virtue signalling’ by writing off oil sands assets: CAPP CEO
https://energynow.ca/2020/08/total-virtue-signalling-by-writing-off-oil-sands-assets-capp-ceo/

It may feel like I've been saving up for months to deliver all that material. Actually, that's just part of the haul in my inbox in the past 5 days.

It's time to take your car for a short drive if you haven't been using it for a while, to make sure it starts, circulate the fluids and scrape the rust off the brake surfaces.

;-) The oil change shop tried to scam a customer by telling him
     that his car needed "blinker fluid". The customer said,
     "Nice try, you can't trick me. My BMW doesn't have blinkers!"

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.


August 2, 2020

COVID-19

Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

On the Saturday of a long weekend, Canada reported 287 new COVID-19 cases and 6 additional deaths. The active case count rose slightly to 6,222.

COVID-19 linked to heart damage in healthy people, small study suggests
https://www.livescience.com/covid-19-causes-heart-damage-healthy-people.html
The JAMA Paper
Outcomes of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Patients Recently Recovered From Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamacardiology/fullarticle/2768916

How does COVID-19 spread? U of T infectious disease expert breaks down the latest research.
https://www.utoronto.ca/news/how-does-covid-19-spread-u-t-infectious-disease-expert-breaks-down-latest-research

Federally-backed COVID alert app now available in Ontario.
https://ottawa.ctvnews.ca/federally-backed-covid-alert-app-now-available-in-ontario-1.5046667

Mixed Messaging - Masks and Shields

So far, to my knowledge, there is no definitive evidence of how effective mask wearing is for reducing the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. That will be hard to prove because there are no standards for the cloth masks, there are a wide range of types commercially available, there are no controlled trials, there is not high observance of mask wearing - especially where re-opening includes dine-in restaurants, and it is clear from personal observation and video clips in media that many people are not wearing, handling or storing masks in accordance with guidance. And guidance is another problem; it is inconsistent across jurisdictions and authorities.

This matters because we're talking about a societal health issue and an infectious disease, and if we want people to follow guidance, the authorities need to be credible. There are active disinformation campaigns on social media eroding the credibility of government and civil society leadership, which makes the job more difficult.

This story summed up my sense of confusion over regarding guidance on preventive measures.
Rainforest Cafe server sent home for wearing face shield.
https://www.niagarafallsreview.ca/news/niagara-region/2020/07/31/rainforest-cafe-server-sent-home-for-wearing-face-shield.html
Niagara Falls Rainforest Cafe server Camille Sneddon says she was sent home from work Wednesday for wearing a protective face shield in addition to her mask.
The health authority advice included in the article really isn't helpful for people trying to figure out what they're supposed to do to protect themselves and others effectively. I continue to note that while jurisdictions are now requiring people to wear cloth masks, they are not providing such masks, or indicating which masks are of adequate quality, nor providing good communication on how to don, wear, doff, store and wash/clean/sterilize the masks, nor speaking to the risks which come with mask wearing and how to address those.
Much of the guidance I am seeing doesn't do a good job of distinguishing between source control (stopping the spreading of the virus from the person wearing the mask or shield) and personal protection (stopping the free virus from infecting the person wearing PPE).

Face mask or shield? It's all down to personal preference, health expert says.
https://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/the-current-for-july-30-2020-1.5668481/face-mask-or-shield-it-s-all-down-to-personal-preference-health-expert-says-1.5668563
That doesn't align with jurisdictions which are requiring citizens to acquire their own masks at their own cost, but recommending against or even forbidding the use of face shields.

UNB professor working on a mask that would kill the coronavirus.
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/developing-mask-to-kill-coronavirus-1.5667682
Note reference to used masks as biohazards. Outside hospitals and health clinics, I'm not aware of anyone treating used masks as biohazards. I certainly don't see that being indicated in guidance from chief medical officers from Canadian jurisdictions.
I'm hoping that the copper alloys will be resistant to build-up of verdigris due to oxidation, as well as retaining anti-viral and anti-microbial properties.

What To Look For In A Face Mask, According To Science
https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/what-to-look-for-in-a-face-mask-according-to-science/

How to properly disinfect your cloth face masks, according to an infectious disease specialist - Insider.
https://www.insider.com/how-to-clean-face-masks

Sometimes a graphic demonstration is an effective way to communicate information, and a little humour is also helpful. Just before you click the video link below, one piece of relevant information. Droplets from sprayed paint are typically about 20-40 microns (micrometres) in diameter.
Particle Size Distribution of Automobile Paint Sprays
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1047322X.1992.10388052
The SARS-CoV-2 virus is about 60 to 140 nanometres (nm 1000 times smaller than a micron) in diameter.
A Novel Coronavirus from Patients with Pneumonia in China, 2019
https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMoa2001017
Cough droplets range from 80 to 1000 microns. Sneeze droplets are similar, but a very small quantity are smaller, as small as 5 microns.
Despite the overlapping ranges of droplet sizes, my belief is that the spray from the shaker can is a reasonable proxy for for particle size from coughs and sneezes, but I suspect the velocity/force of the spray can is somewhat less than a cough or sneeze.

Now click the link (runs almost 4 minutes):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6cTDGqcUpA&feature=youtu.be
Fun with COVID, citizen science and painless education. More please.

'Back to basics' to limit COVID-19 transmission in Ottawa; Dr. Etches.
https://ottawa.ctvnews.ca/back-to-basics-to-limit-covid-19-transmission-in-ottawa-dr-etches-1.5045827

Ottawa officials brace for 'perfect storm' as COVID-19 contributes to increased drug overdoses.
https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/ottawa-officials-brace-for-perfect-storm-as-covid-19-contributes-to-increased-drug-overdoses/wcm/99c73582-e97d-4027-a765-75b9c0d9ba12/

Vitamin D and COVID-19: Experts say any possible link is ‘premature’.
https://globalnews.ca/news/7229458/coronavirus-vitamin-d-studies/

Lessons Not Learned
Doug Ford won't commit to providing nursing-home residents with four hours of daily hands-on care.
https://www.wellandtribune.ca/ts/politics/provincial/2020/07/31/doug-ford-wont-commit-to-providing-nursing-home-residents-with-four-hours-of-daily-hands-on-care.html

;-) What's the easiest way to get straight As?
     Use a ruler.

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.


August 1, 2020

COVID-19

Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

Canada reported 513 new COVID-19 cases on Friday and 6 additional deaths. Active cases count now at 6,150, a jump from Thursday.

The U.S. COVIDpocalyse continues unabated with over 70,000 new cases on Friday, over 2.2 million active cases and 1,462 additional deaths.

Vaccines

No, not for COVID-19 this time, but Lyme Disease. As climate change is increasing the range of Lyme Disease into more and more of Canada, this will be of topical interest when we're allowed to leave the house again (yes, I exaggerate, but there are a lot of stories of nature taking back territory as human activity has retreated and reduced during the pandemic response).
Valneva Announces Positive Initial Results for Phase 2 Study of Lyme Disease Vaccine Candidate
https://apnews.com/155d0664ebbd85a3d2ee9c9b0271ed14

We could be staying home and working from home for quite a while, based on what some big businesses are concluding and planning.
Royal Bank of Canada follows Scotiabank, TD in telling staff to work from home into 2021.
https://financialpost.com/news/fp-street/rbc-follows-rivals-in-telling-staff-to-work-from-home-into-2021

Personally, I find it hard to square that kind of announcement with the indecent haste some provinces are putting into re-opening schools in September given our current state of knowledge of how the COVID-19 virus affects infected children in the long term, and our established knowledge of how children behave in groups (physical distancing isn't a typical behaviour in my experience or observation in young children).

Other Health Issues (yes, there are health issues other than COVID-19)

While thinking about health beyond COVID-19, new research published on preventing / delaying dementia. A review published in the Lancet indicates people can partially protect themselves by not smoking, drinking less than 21 units of alcohol per week, maintaining a systolic blood pressure of less than 130 mmHg, avoiding activities that could lead to head injuries, using hearing aids if needed, eating a healthy diet, mental activity, treating/avoiding depression, exercising and socialising regularly. (Hmmm, COVID-19 might not be helping with the last few items on that list. On the other hand, getting people to take basic preventative health meassures to try to avoid undesired future health problems seems like a familiar topic in recent times.)

Dementia prevention, intervention, and care: 2020 report of the Lancet Commission
https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30367-6/fulltext#seccestitle20

A couple of media articles in easier-to-read styles follow. I'll just note that despite the usage in mainstream media, dementia and Alzheimer's are not synonymous.

12 risk factors key to preventing nearly half of dementia cases, report says
https://globalnews.ca/news/7235872/preventing-dementia-risks/

Forty percent of dementia cases could be prevented or delayed by targeting 12 risk factors throughout life
https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-07-forty-percent-dementia-cases-factors.html

All of which reminds of a good book I read on the topic years ago, and have previously recommended elsewhere, by a Canadian doctor, Dr. Antoine Hakim. I'm happy to recommend it again.
Save Your Mind (2017)
https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/save-your-mind-seven-rules/9781988025216-item.html
French version: Préservez votre vitalité mentale
https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/pr%C3%A9servez-votre-vitalit%C3%A9-mentale/9782761947138-item.html

Computer Health

That job offer in your inbox might be part of a North Korean cyberattack
https://www.techrepublic.com/article/that-job-offer-in-your-inbox-might-be-part-of-a-north-korean-cyberattack/

Ransomware: How clicking on one email left a whole business in big trouble
https://www.zdnet.com/article/ransomware-how-clicking-on-one-phishing-email-left-a-whole-business-in-big-trouble/

;-) Did you hear about the crossed-eyed teacher who lost
     her job because she couldn’t control her pupils?

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.


For earlier entries, see earlier blog file.
For the current blog, see the Econogics Blog.

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