PM2.5 Device Comparison

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Glyphosate in the Age of Stupid

Endocrine effects and altered reproductive and developmental parameters were observed in both male and female rats, when exposed at a dose level that has been considered safe for humans.
The findings come just a few days after the European Court of Justice ruled that all industry studies that were used in the European reauthorization process of glyphosate should have been disclosed. In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer had classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen, based on the assessment of exclusively public and peer-reviewed scientific literature.
In 2016, the World Health Organization’s Cancer Agency declared that glyphosate (the active ingredient in RoundUp) is a probable human carcinogen.
The EU reauthorization of glyphosate ultimately led to the creation of a special enquiry committee in the European Parliament and a reform of the General Food Law. Nonetheless, in 2017, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concluded that the weight of evidence did not support endocrine disrupting properties for glyphosate.
Monsanto’s glyphosate-based weed killer will be used in Europe, despite a U.S. court ruling the company should pay $289 million in damages for causing cancer.
The EU year renewed use of the weed killer for another five years, until the end of 2022.
Herbicide tolerant (HT) crops are the biggest selling GM crops. These crops have been made to be tolerant to either Monsanto’s weedkiller RoundUp (glyphosate) or Bayer’s weedkiller Liberty (glufosinate ammonium). These are broad spectrum herbicides which kill all green plants except those protected because of genetic modification. Monsanto’s RoundUp Ready soybeans are the leading product. Roundup Ready GM soybeans are mostly grown in North and South America but are imported into the UK and the rest of Europe in large quantities for use in animal feed. Other herbicide-tolerant crops include maize, sugar beet, and oil seed rape (canola).
Herbicide-tolerant GM crops have been attractive to the biotechnology companies, and ere grown by many large-scale farmers in North and South America because in the early years after adoption they simplified the spraying regimes i.e. farmers only had to spray them once with one type of herbicide, saving labor costs. However, repeated blanket applications of the same herbicide have led to herbicide-resistant superweeds evolving. These superweeds are now reducing crop yields and require repeated applications of multiple herbicides and sometimes even pulling up by hand.
Blanket spraying of RoundUp Ready GM crops with RoundUp has also caused a drastic loss of the milkweed habitat in the USA, where the iconic Monarch butterfly lays its eggs. This is thought to be the main cause of a 90% crash in Monarch butterfly numbers.
Social media has built walls around communities of shared ideals (tribes) that confirm people’s thinking and attack, ban or systematically repudiate people with differing ideas. Surrounded in our echo-chambers, our tribal gurus disconnect us from dialogue, raise emotional arguments to the point where anecdote serves as evidence and build trust by elevating fears and vulnerabilities their herd is designed to defend against. The toxicity and usefulness of glyphosate is a symbolic battle between good and evil.

The Risk-Monger

See the French translation

The EU glyphosate debate has become absurd and beyond any rational perspective. I keep having to remind myself of some basic points:

  • Glyphosate is a useful herbicide with a very low level of human toxicity
  • Monsanto is a mid-sized seed and pesticide company
  • Seeds modified to be herbicide-resistant are not sold in the EU
  • The alternatives for farmers post-glyphosate ban are unthinkable and unsustainable

But in the Age of Stupid, with the power of social media fear campaigns, glyphosate represents a battle between corporate dominance and the little person; between a poisonous industrial agriculture and safe organic farming; between captured regulatory science and the brave independent scientist fighting the bought system; between a food industry peddling cheap poisons and the gurus protecting the health and wellness of humanity.

Sorry Mr Monger, it is not simply a useful herbicide! This glyphosate debate is symbolic of the battle…

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Hoeffding’s Inequality

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Raspberry Pi as an Oscilloscope @ 10 MSPS

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The Divine Dodo — Vortex


DodosForsaken Maelstrom

  — The Poor Stupid Dodo


The Dodo did not intend to slip into the swirling vortex created by DJ’s sad songs.  But, that’s what happened.  Through some strange fusion of DJ’s painful fluid musical stories of being forsaken combined with the hot,angrywinds—a terrible maelstrom grew, and rather rapidly sucked Dodo tumultuously towards its dark center!  Where it will go… the Dodo does not particularly care to find out!  It’s all a dirty trick.  As far as the Dodo is concerned, one moment he believed himself to be saved relaxing to DJ’s music; the next, he’s being sucked into the center of a powerful vortexIMG_0068. He flaps his wings madly, but they are just too weak to resist the intense gravity of…

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teaching tool

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The Power of the Powerless

“The Power of the Powerless” ( is an essay written in October 1978 by Vaclav Havel about the political situation of Czechoslovak. It is written in terms of the cold war rhetoric and compares the realities of soviet-style central controlled society with an idealized referent of western democracy. It is main point is that political systems are perpetuated  by compliance of the citizen fueled by convenience, apathy, and inertia.

Havel considers a political system as an unavoidable evil and warns of the cost of putting the system before human dignity, an approach in which people are first organized in one way or another (by someone who always knows best “what the people need”) so they may then allegedly be liberated.

Havel recognized that the crisis of democracy expressed by Heidegger is a planetary challenge to the position of human beings in the world. The traditional parliamentary democracies can offer no fundamental opposition to the automatism of technological civilization and the industrial-consumer society.

Historical experience teaches us that any genuinely meaningful point of departure in an individual’s life usually has an element of universality about it. In other words, it is not something partial, accessible only to a restricted community, and not transferable to any other. On the contrary, it must be potentially accessible to everyone; it must foreshadow a general solution and, thus, it is not just the expression of an introverted, self-contained responsibility that individuals must and for themselves alone, but responsibility to and for the world.

Our attention, therefore, inevitably turns to the most essential matter: the crisis of contemporary technological society. We look on helplessly as that coldly functioning machine we have created inevitably engulfs us, tearing us away from our natural affiliations (for instance, from our habitat in the widest sense of that word, including our habitat in the biosphere) just as it removes us from the experience of Being and casts us into the world of “existences.” This situation has already been described from many different angles and many individuals and social groups have sought, often painfully, to find ways out of it (for instance, through oriental thought or by forming communes). The only social, or rather political, attempt to do something about it that contains the necessary element of universality (responsibility to and for the whole) is the desperate and, given the turmoil the world is in, fading voice of the ecological movement, and even there the attempt is limited to a particular notion of how to use technology to oppose the dictatorship of technology.

Havel is writing about Czechoslovakia in 1978 and makes references to events that happened 1968. Nonetheless, when he talks about the “post-totalitarian” society, he is talking about Mexico, including the bloody pre-Olympic events of 1968. In Mexico, like in soviet-era Czechoslovakia, the principle of legality is used to legitimize the system. In paper, the Mexican legal system was, now it is a hodgepodge of ad hoc resolutions, in the letter a good framework. Why, in conditions where a widespread and arbitrary abuse of power is the rule, is there such a general and spontaneous acceptance of the principle of legality? Like ideology, the legal code functions as an excuse. It wraps the base exercise of power in the noble apparel of the letter of the law; it creates the pleasing illusion that justice is done, society protected, and the exercise of power objectively regulated. All this is done to conceal the real essence of post-totalitarian legal practice: the total manipulation of society. The hidden political manipulation of the courts and of public prosecutors, the limitations placed on lawyers’ ability to defend their clients, the closed nature, de facto, of trials, the arbitrary actions of the security forces, their position of authority over the judiciary, the absurdly broad application of several deliberately vague sections of that code, and of course the state’s utter disregard for the positive sections of that code (the rights of citizens): all of this is part of Mexican reality.

Havel says that the key to a humane, dignified, rich, and happy life does not lie either in the constitution or in the Criminal Code.

Ideological pressure manifests internally as cognitive biases, and externally as group thinking and social pressure to conform.

Cognitive biases are impossible to eliminate but one can compensate for them somehow by the scientific method of relaying in hard data and to try to disprove one’s own position.

Groupthinking can be compensated some by interacting with an open-minded attitude with outsiders.

To overcome social pressure to conform is essential to have deep convictions and a clear sense of direction. In other words, it is extremely hard to do.

The current zeitgeist is the neoliberal capitalism dogma and the pseudo ideology of political correctness. For the libertarians, the new religion is technology, a magical provider of eternal growth and prosperity for the chosen ones (for the unchosen, Darwinian oblivion).

Despite the claim of IQ dominance of their proponents, neoliberal theory is simplistic and disregards historical facts and physical laws ( ).  The high priest Milton Friedman actually got a chance to walk the walk ( in Chile. The “Miracle of Chile” was a term used by economist Milton Friedman to describe the reorientation of the Chilean economy in the 1980s and the effects of the economic policies applied by a large group of Chilean economists who collectively came to be known as the Chicago Boys, having studied at the University of Chicago where Friedman taught. He said the “Chilean economy did very well, but more importantly, in the end the central government, the military junta, was replaced by a democratic society. So the really important thing about the Chilean business is that free markets did work their way in bringing about a free society.” Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, among others, have argued that the experience of Chile in this period indicates a failure of the economic liberalism posited by thinkers such as Friedman, claiming that there was little net economic growth from 1975 to 1982 (during the so-called “pure Monetarist experiment”). After the catastrophic banking crisis of 1982 the state controlled more of the economy than it had under the previous socialist regime, and sustained economic growth only came after the later reforms that privatized the economy, while social indicators remained poor. Pinochet’s dictatorship made the unpopular economic reorientation possible by repressing opposition to it. Rather than a triumph of the free market, the OECD economist Javier Santiso described this reorientation as “combining neo-liberal sutures and interventionist cures”. By the time of sustained growth, the Chilean government had “cooled its neo-liberal ideological fever” and “controlled its exposure to world financial markets and maintained its efficient copper company in public hands”.

The problem with neoliberalism is not some theoretical shortcomings, but that it rationalizes and legitimizes psychopathic disregard of people’s wellbeing, overexploitation of resources, and destruction of the environment. For example, Friedman ( is on record saying that, in reference to the Pinto story, arguing the morality of saving  (or spending) 11 dollars per car to increase the safety of the Pinto is not subtle nor sophisticated. He does so in a smirking patronizing manner.

However, it is very hard to change the inertia of the global socio-economic system. For example, the ecological footprint ( of a person is mostly determined by location. Any effort to deviate from social norms of consumption, transportation patterns, and energy usage, are severely limited by local customs, infrastructure, and availability of resources. Ironically, the well-to-do, members of the upper-middle-class, are the ones that have the resources and knowledge to adopt green-energy sources and organic produce.

Regardless, one should take Havel and Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk notion of “small-scale work” (drobna práce), and do honest and responsible work, within the existing social order, that would stimulate communal creativity and self-confidence. Humanity’s first task was to create the conditions for a more human life; and in Masaryk’s view, the task of transforming the stature of the nation began with the transformation of human beings. At the very least, one must be aware of the positive and negative impacts of one own actions. This is very hard to do, yet we can always follow the rule to do what it is necessary with as little as possible.

It is natural to differentiate between us and them. But as Rachel Corrie ( ) said, they are us, we are them. We must see beyond chauvinism and narrow identities and recognize that the end is closing, and the only chance of survival is to affront the challange united.

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Five-step Strategy for Student Success with Online Learning

Online Learning Insights

Students that are enthusiastic about online learning cite numerous reasons for preferring the virtual format, yet it’s flexibility that is extolled most often – the ability to study and learn on ‘my time’. Ironically, it is this convenience factor that can cause some online students to procrastinate, or worse fail to engage in the learning process at all, which often leads to students dropping out or performing poorly.

As discussed in previous posts, a key factor to student success in the online environment is self-direction, the capability and willingness to direct one’s own eduction. Online students, more so than traditional students, need to be independent and take responsibility for their learning. Self-directed learning involves a specific skill set: organization, motivation, and a sense of confidence.

The question—can online students ‘learn’ to be self-directed, or is self-direction innate? Most educators would agree there is an element of…

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