18-Year-Old Canadian Develops App for Detecting Alzheimer’s

❝ Kai Leong, an 18-year-old graduate from Killarney Secondary School, Vancouver, B.C., has just developed a new smartphone app that measures and analyzes a person’s gait to help detect whether someone might have Alzheimer’s disease…

❝ In an interview with CBC’s Early Edition Renée Filippone, Leong explained that most seniors do not realize that walking patterns are validated markers of neurodegenerative diseases. “They’re often overlooked because of how expensive and how inaccessible current walking analysis or gait analysis is,” he said…

Leong says that although his app cannot replace a gait lab which conducts tests in an official medical setting, it does offer an accessible and affordable option for early detection.

Kai Leong is one of two Canadian students representing the country at the China Adolescent Science and Technology Innovation Contest. Helluva start, kid. Keep on rockin’.

British Columbia’s policy of killing cubs not based on scientific reality

The fate of two orphaned bear cubs remains uncertain as a B.C. conservation official says they show signs of habituation to humans. A conservation officer was suspended after reportedly refusing to destroy the cubs last weekend.

B.C.’s most experienced rehabilitation specialist for black bears said Wednesday it is crazy for the Ministry of Environment to assert that two eight-week-old cubs on Vancouver Island needed to be killed because they’d become habituated to human food.

“It’s just ridiculous,” said Angelika Langen, co-founder of Northern Lights Wildlife Society in Smithers. “There is absolutely no scientific proof that cubs that follow their mothers for (human) food at this age have learned anything…

Langen said of the more than 300 black bears her facility has released in the past 25 years, not one has run into trouble by rummaging for human garbage. Bears receive ear tags and microchips to identify them after release…

There’s been an outpouring of support for conservation officer Bryce Casavant, who was suspended without pay after sparing the lives of two black bear cubs near Port Hardy on Sunday.

The B.C. government has since revised those conditions to a suspension with pay pending an investigation into the incident.

As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 55,000 people had signed an online petition asking for the officer’s reinstatement.

Ricky Gervais, the British actor, comedian and animal rights advocate with nine million Twitter followers, has urged the government to “reinstate this honourable man.”…

Conservation officers killed a total of 1,872 black bears during the past four years across the province — an average of almost 500 per year, according to statistics provided by the Ministry of Environment. The ministry does not keep statistics on how many were cubs…A total of 137 cubs were taken to rehabilitation centres.

I tire of bureaucrats stuck into policies promoted centuries ago to keep cattle herds happy – municipalities continuing in happy ignorance. We move into nature’s habitat and expect guns to control conflicts.

Lloyd hat-trick inspires U.S. Women to World Cup victory


Click to enlargeReuters/Michael Chow

The United States won the Women’s World Cup for the third time, crushing Japan 5-2 on Sunday with striker Carli Lloyd scoring the tournament’s fastest ever hat-trick, including a spectacular goal from the half-way line.

The American captain struck three times inside 16 minutes as the U.S. stormed into an unexpected and unsurmountable 4-0 lead over their shell-shocked opponents.

Japan, winners four years ago, were utterly stunned as the U.S’s deadly finishing ensured they added to their 1991 and 1999 titles, and became the first nation to win the Cup three times…

No team had ever scored more than two goals in a Women’s World Cup final but the brilliant Lloyd went one better all by herself — and within just 16 minutes…

And got her the Golden Ball for the tournament.

Japan restored a little bit of pride in the 27th minute when Yuki Ogimi turned Julie Johnston in the area and fired past Hope Solo to make it 4-1.

The Japanese have been widely praised for their short-passing game but it was an old-fashioned route that brought them, temporarily, back into the game early in the second half.

Aya Miyami’s long free-kick into the box was aimed at Sawa and Johnston rose for the ball but could only deflect a header past a helpless Solo.

The glimmer of hope flickered for just two minutes, however, when a U.S. corner fell to Morgan Brian beyond the far post and she did well to find Tobin Heath, who confidently fired home to make it 5-2 and effectively end Japan’s hope of a comeback.

Bravo! The US Women’s team proved their worth, demonstrated that a nation that still hasn’t grown to full participation in the world’s most popular sport can grow through school programs and amateur leagues to play at the best professional level.

Vancouver, BC, launches cigarette butt recycling program

cigarette butts by the sea

What can you say about cigarette butts? They instantly make wherever they are look seedy, they don’t biodegrade, plus they’re highly toxic to aquatic organisms. It turns out, however, that they are good for something. The City of Vancouver and TerraCycle Canada launched a first-of-its-kind pilot program this Tuesday, in which the butts will be collected for recycling.

As part of the Cigarette Waste Brigade program, 110 cigarette recycling receptacles have been installed on several blocks in downtown Vancouver. The idea is that besides keeping the butts out of landfills, they also won’t be littering the streets. People are additionally being encouraged to save up butts in their home or workplace, then send them in for processing.

And no, they’re not being recycled into new cigarette butts. Instead, the cellulose acetate in their filters is being used in the production of industrial products such as shipping pallets. Additionally, tobacco extracted from them will be composted.

Incidentally, in a study conducted at China’s Xi’an Jiaotong University, it was found that discarded cigarette butts could also be used for rust-proofing steel.

The Cigarette Waste Brigade program is part of the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan, in which Vancouver is aiming to become the greenest city in the world by the year 2020. That plan has also included construction of the LEED-certified Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Center, the introduction of a car-sharing program, and the use of recycled plastic in road asphalt.

Vancouver rocks! If they weren’t sitting on an earthquake fault, I might be living there. 🙂

Canadian warships collide – proving Canada, once again, a nation unlikely to behave like the United States


All right – which one of you has a GPS that’s working?

Two Canadian warships made their way home Saturday, a day after colliding while making their way to Hawaii, navy official said.

The HMCS Algonquin and HMCS Protecteur were conducting close-quarters towing exercises Friday morning when the accident occurred, the navy said in a statement.

The Algonquin sustained significant damage to its hangar and will no longer be deployed to the Asia Pacific region. The Protecteur’s bow was damaged to a lesser degree.

The damaged ships were expected to reach port in Esquimalt, British Columbia, by late afternoon, CTV News reported. No injuries were reported.

The navy said the collision would be investigated and a Board of Inquiries would issue recommendations on how to prevent similar accidents in the future.

“The Royal Canadian Navy will be conducting an investigation into this unfortunate incident in order to determine exactly what happened,” Commodore Bob Auchterlonie, commander of Canadian Fleet Pacific, said in a statement released by the Department of National Defense.

How to prevent similar accidents? Quit trucking around the ocean in a tin can trying to behave like Attila the Hun who lives just south of you. Does Canada need to train to defend BC from an attack by Dragon Boats from Hawaii?

Great Backyard Bird Count goes global for the first time


Cedar Waxwing: Ben Thomas, 2012 GBBC 1st place photo

From Antarctica to Afghanistan, bird watchers from 101 countries made history in the first global Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), Feb. 15-18.

In the largest worldwide bird count ever, bird-watchers set new records, counting more than 25 million birds on 116,000 checklists in four days — and recording 3,138 species, nearly one-third of the world’s total bird species. The data will continue to flow in until March 1.

Building on the success of the GBBC in the United States and Canada for the past 15 years, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Audubon and Bird Studies Canada opened the count to the world for the first time this year, powered by eBird, a system that enables people to report birds globally in real time and explore the results online. Bird-watchers are invited to keep counting every day of the year at http://www.eBird.org

Hurricane Sandy: The weather system that caused Sandy’s landfall also blew some European birds to North America, and evidence of this is still showing up in GBBC results. The colorful, crested northern lapwing was reported in Georgia, New Jersey and Massachusetts during the GBBC.

…A red-flanked bluetail has wintered at Queens Park, Vancouver, and was also reported in the GBBC for the first time. This British Columbia bird has been drawing bird-watchers from all over the United States and Canada hoping to see this rarity. This little thrush is one of the only birds in the world with a striking blue tail and is native to Asia: the other GBBC report of the red-flanked bluetail this year was from Japan.

RTFA for interesting stats. Visit the ebird site.

When you can, join in next year and help build knowledge at the grassroots level about the feathered critters who share this planet with us.

Boy Scouts in United States and Canada failed to stop pedophile

Boy Scouts of America leaders knew for years about incidents involving a Canadian pedophile who preyed on boys in the U.S. but failed to stop him as he moved back to Canada, where he continued his abuse. The organization sometimes even helped him go undetected by authorities, an investigation by CBC-TV’s The Fifth Estate and the Los Angeles Times has found.

Scouts Canada learned of his inappropriate behaviour in the 1980s and kicked him out, but nearly a decade passed before police charged him with crimes.

Throughout the 1970s and ’80s, Richard Turley was involved with the Scouts across California and British Columbia, molesting at least eight scouts…

When Turley was shown the 1979 confidential U.S. file created by the Scouts on him, however, he shook his head in amazement that officials had not contacted police…

“That probably would have put a stop to me years and years ago,” said Turley in an interview at an Alberta motel where he works as a manager and handyman…And yet I went back to the Scouts again and again as a leader and offended against the boys until they came forward…”

It was not until 1995 that police began their first large-scale investigation into Turley – 16 years after the Boy Scouts of America created a “perversion file” and nearly a decade after its Canadian counterpart put him on their “confidential list.”

In the end, it was not the Scouts organization that informed Saanich, B.C., police, but rather a suspicious girlfriend.

Turley was convicted in 1996 of sexually abusing four boys, three of whom were scouts, but later admitted to having at least a dozen victims…

Seattle-based lawyer Tim Kosnoff, who has viewed the U.S. “perversion files,” says historically the U.S. Boy Scouts “routinely” chose not to notify police when aware of child molesters, instead noting them in their own secret files.

The scouts in the US and Canada aren’t alone in this foolishness, of course. The leadership of any organization – civic, religious, sport or social – that decides that uncomfortable publicity might inhibit intake to their fiefdom and therefore they should keep crap behavior like this confidential is not just absurd, it’s criminal.

The victims of sexual predators haven’t much of a stake in the reputations of these groups. Just their own handicapped lives. RTFA for the long career of a pedophile who was barely slowed by lax officialdom even after being convicted of kidnapping. This may be old history. Doesn’t mean that folks don’t need to be reminded.

Professional Christians in Oz go bonkers over “BC” and “AD”


Should we dress like carnival time year-round, too?

Australian Christians are furious over changes to the national curriculum that will drop the terms BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini) from text books, replacing them with neutral, non-religious language.

Under the new politically correct curriculum BC and AD will be replaced with BCE (Before Common Era), BP (Before Present) and CE (Common Era) .

Peter Jensen, the Archbishop of Sydney, said that taking references to the birth of Jesus Christ out of school books was an “intellectually absurd attempt to write Christ out of human history” that he likened it to calling Christmas “the festive season”.

“It is absurd because the coming of Christ remains the centre point of dating and because the phrase ‘common era’ is meaningless and misleading,” he told the Sydney Daily Telegraph.

The changes have also angered conservatives in the opposition Liberal National party.

But the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, which is responsible for developing the secondary level national curriculum, said the new terms were the increasingly common standard for the representation of dates.

While BC and AD, which translates to “in the year of Our Lord” are designations used to number years in the Christian Era, the terms BCE and CE are widely applied as their secular counterparts.

Although they were first devised in the 6th century, BCE and CE became popular in the late 20th century to emphasise sensitivity to non-Christians. However, they still use the Gregorian calendar on which BC and AD operate.

The little-known term BP (before present or before physics) is a time scale traditionally used by scientists to refer to the era before 1950, when carbon dating technology became more reliable.

The “political correctness” as usual lies in the dim brains of the religious professionals who have relied on their correctness. The rest of the world – as usual – has been changing.

It has not only become common in the United States and Europe over the past thirty years, there have been religious groups, Christian and non-Christian that have recognized the difference and switched decades ago.

In every country with self-important fundamentalists of one or another flavor, the blather about Judeo-Christian heritage is not only holy writ in their view – it is supposed to be requisite. As they always wish it had been. As they always wish it would be. Self-deluded.

Foot #11 washes ashore on a beach near Vancouver


False Creek Inlet by Vancouver

A human foot has washed up on a beach near Vancouver, the 11th such find in four years in the region, a Canadian coroner said Thursday, adding to a macabre mystery.

An autopsy on the foot established that it had become separated from its leg due to prolonged water exposure, a statement issued by the British Columbia Coroners Service said, noting no evidence of trauma.

DNA analysis was being carried out on the foot, which was found on Tuesday afternoon and was the eighth recovered in the Vancouver area since 2007. Another three feet have washed up on US beaches off neighboring Washington state in the same time period…

Although none of the medical analyses indicated foul play, local officials have said that the high number of bridges over waterways in the area points towards possible suicides of those whose feet were found.

“We cannot completely exclude a murder, we don’t know why they died, but we have no evidence they were murdered,” Coroner Stephen Fonseca, chief of the identification unit, told AFP.

Every year we find incomplete bodies in the woodlands, on land and in water. Feet will separate naturally, by decomposition and by action of scavengers — coyotes, bears and small rodents.”

I guess we’re to presume our helpful woodland critters then carry the feet of bodies found and munched as forest snacks to nearby bodies of water – to send them off on journeys to mystify those silly humans who live nearby.