Thursday, December 1, 2022

BIG Exclusives

Higher rates of adverse events after mRNA vaccines interpreted poorly by study authors

In an article published by BIG Media Ltd. earlier this year, Lee Hunt presented an analysis of severe COVID-19 outcomes in children based on data from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). At the time of writing, both Pfizer and Moderna were seeking approval for their mRNA COVID vaccines for children under the age of 5 years, worldwide. That request was granted for the U.S. in mid-June 2022. Since then, publicly available data...

A different take on the political spectrum

The political spectrum is often thought of as a linear progression with extreme views at the far right, and extreme views at the far left. Moderates on each side are closer to the middle. However, I see it as more of a curved continuum as shown in the diagram, modulated by a key factor: fear. In my visualization, left and right meet in two places; low fear and high fear. Where left and right overlap in...

Will renewable energy costs continue to drop – and will this make electricity cheaper?

I have read many articles claiming that costs of wind and solar generation are lower than alternatives, and that rapidly declining costs seen in the past will continue unabated in the future, reducing the cost of electricity for consumers. Is that all true? Have the costs of generating electricity from wind and solar generation actually declined in recent years? Will they decline rapidly in the future? And will such reductions, if realized, make electricity cheaper...

Random COVID-19 response rankings no reason to boast

Canada outperformed 10 comparable OECD nations in the first two years of its pandemic response, concludes a study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. According to Razak et al., the country’s lower numbers of detected cases, COVID-19 deaths, and excess mortalities from all causes were linked to the persistence of Canada’s social restrictions and that Canadians were better vaccinated than people in comparable “peer” nations. The study ranked the responses from Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy,...

Return to sensible energy policy – a painful but necessary transition

Many would agree that the energy world has changed dramatically over the past couple of years. In early 2020, energy commodity prices, particularly oil, plummeted as response to COVID-19 devastated demand and producers could not sell their oil. Markets recovered slowly through 2021 as the world worked its way through the pandemic – then oil, gas, coal, and electricity prices exploded in 2022 as energy shortages became apparent, followed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine...

AI: Where are we and where are we going?

Part 1: The Basics Artificial Intelligence has people fretting. High-profile disagreements among tech gurus make us wonder, anxiously, what the future will be like for ordinary people. If geniuses like Bill Gates, Elon Musk and the late Stephen Hawking cannot agree on the usefulness and the relative benefits or dangers of AI, what hope is there for us to understand or even imagine how our lives will change? Will all of humanity live like kings...

Monkeypox data indicates no reason for panic

Just as the world seems to be turning the corner on COVID, suddenly the talk on the street is all about monkeypox. What is it? How dangerous is it? Is it the next COVID? The following summary is based on information gleaned from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),  World Health Organization (WHO), the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), and the National Health Services (NHS) of the U.K. Unlike COVID, monkeypox has been around for decades,...

Goldilocks goes to the beach – assessing the benefits of sunlight versus the risks of skin cancer

Come summertime, plenty of people (including yours truly) love to get outdoors and enjoy fresh air and sunshine after being cooped up indoors all winter. But the rush to soak up nature seems to always be accompanied by a flood of warnings to cover up, use sunscreen, and limit how much time we spend exposing ourselves to the Sun’s rays. After all, we don’t want to get skin cancer! I was shocked to learn that...

Rule of law wins in pastor’s successful appeal against pandemic protest contempt charges

On Friday, July 22, the Alberta Court of Appeal overturned Calgary Pastor Artur Pawlowski’s conviction for contempt of court after he held church services in alleged violation of a court injunction prohibiting public gatherings that contravene Alberta Health Services’ public health orders. I mentioned Pawlowski earlier this year in an article about protests and the rule of law in the context of pandemic restrictions: Restrictions, rights, and the rule of law. I have not seen...

The ubiquitous exponential and its many applications

Do we ever use the mathematics we learn in school? Does it matter? These questions are pondered by most students at one time or another, and perhaps surprisingly, even by mathematicians. In a paper called “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences” written in 1960 by physicist Eugene Wigner, the author marvels at the importance and practicality of mathematics in the physical sciences. Wigner notes that the significance of math goes far...