3D printed bones

Medical applications for 3D printing continue to surprise. In China a few months ago, 62 year old Ms Lu was diagnosed with a form of bone tumour. Until recently it would have been incurable and very painful. Using a 3D printed Titanium prosthesis, doctors were able to replace part of her pelvis.

The prosthesis was printed using a technology called electron beam melting (EBM), and because it was printed in titanium, Lu’s body was very acceptant of it. Titanium is one of those metals that the body rarely rejects, thus making it the perfect material to use in the creation of strong prosthesis.  3D printing allowed for the complete customization of this prosthesis, after CT scans were taken of Lu’s pelvis.

A similar technique has been used, also for a pelvis, in Britain.

In South China this year a 27 year old woman was given a titanium 3D printed shoulder, to replace a joint and shoulder blade affected by a tumour.


A woman in Shanghai had part of her jaw replaced, which ended five years of pain and suffering.

Ms. Sun received a 3D printed titanium lower jaw implant during her operation – which was completed by Zhang Qingfu of the oral surgery center together with Dr. Gang. 3D technology such as CT image reconstruction, computer-aided design, and biomechanical analysis was used to make the mandible prosthesis light weight and of good biocompatibility.


A team in Switzerland have developed a method for printing a polymer and samples of a patient’s cartilage, in such a way that the cartilage cells grow over the polymer scaffold and wind up a natural part of the body that grows as the rest of it does. No doubt old football players will be pleased to hear that, although there’s a year of clinical trials before they put it in actual people.

Finally, a little girl who was born with frontonasal dysplasia underwent successful reconstructive surgery with the help of 3D printed models. You can practise on polymer, but not on a little girl. She’s well and happy after the operation.

Violet Pietrok

Posted in 3D print, design, teh interwebs | Tagged ,


SBS recently ran a Dateline episode about prescription drug addiction in the US. They’ve done a couple of these recently. It was something of a surprise that the normally progressive station would copy something out of Murdoch’s play book like that. I guess those rumours of cuts have had their intended effect.

When looking through references for the post about meth the other day, I noticed something odd. Along with the mention of self-medication there was much, much more info around on the origins of addiction and stress in children. It’s obvious when you think about it, because humanity has studied these issues for a number of years now and realised that addicts don’t grow on trees. Check out Rat Park, it’s a brilliant pictorial presentation of the research into addiction.

Addiction as a folk devil had to be invented. That was before terrorists. We got Reefer Madness about cannabis. Then demonising of heroin users, then meth addicts. In a similar way, cyber terrorism has been invented to serve as a spectre of evil that we need militarised police forces and black ops spooks to save the children from. The media noise about evils of substance use bears little resemblance to the actual social issues or ways to address them.

A very few people still present addiction as if it’s a random bad choice a person makes, one day out of the blue. The vested interests are usually blatantly obvious in those cases. Most people are well aware that it doesn’t just magically appear. Scandinavia has put in place strong welfare and education systems because they reduce a person’s chances of ending up an addict or otherwise dysfunctional. It’s well established science and policy, in developed nations, that better social standards lead to better outcomes for everyone involved.

When people suggest approaching addiction as a health care issue, that doesn’t mean more punitive gate keeping.  Restricting or prohibiting substances doesn’t make the problem of addiction go away. In most cases it makes it worse. Street drugs are cut with bloody anything and the costs result in other crime to support the habit. That’s fine if you’re an avid Herald-Sun reader who loved Atlas Shrugged and thought Gerry Harvey was a brave soul for saying that the homeless should be left to die on the street, or who believes the poor are justly being punished by God. Or if you think that we all should be suffering because Christ died on the cross for our sins.

Opiates treat pain. Mental and physical pain. If Australia really wants to make any progress in regard to problematic substance use, we have to look at the causes of the pain. Then we have to fund programs that address those causes. We’d have to tackle problems like domestic violence, that play such a big part in the development of addiction. We’d need early intervention, housing and living levels of welfare. We’d need more support for parents. We’d need something resembling a functioning Government. We’d need to be putting money into the programs themselves rather than red tape that serves to further victimise those who are already suffering.

The US has the highest rate of prescription pain killer abuse in the world… there’s evidence that a similar problem is developing in Australia. Yeah, that’s what happens when you copy the US. And of course the program focuses on opiate use, not the side effects of major tranquilisers or anti-depressants. Glaxo has been involved in a number of suits related to Prozac and murder suicides, but the SSRIs are still patentable.

Heavy handed medical industry gate keeping is part of the reason so many people are addicted to meth and other things in Australia. If people were getting appropriate treatment and support, this would be a very different conversation. And it wouldn’t be heaping stigma on people living with disability and chronic illness, people whose lives are already so badly compromised that they’re unable to live normally. No prizes for noticing how the media and nasty politicians so often seek out soft targets like that.

In developed nations social collateral and early intervention helps reduce addiction and incarceration.  If your Government is still attempting to play through this level with the Dickensian mod, it’s time for an upgrade.

Posted in Australia, pollyticks, social justice, sustainable community | Tagged , , , ,

Art outbreak


Please excuse my geekier side making an appearance. I won the Chappie standee thingie from the cinema. I’m absolutely beside myself about it.

Gort_KlatuuIt occurred to me that some people will find it odd that the robot has ears. They’ll look at it and ask, why does he have those ear things, what’s that about? It’s a genius move to add emotional expression to an otherwise pretty expressionless object. When Vincent says you’re just a little joey, he really is. You find yourself sitting there in the dark with your mirror neurons firing off sympathy in response to a bit of CGI. You know DARPA didn’t think up that approach.

I wonder what the ratio is, these days, of people who expect their robots to have ears, those who prefer the classic Gort styling, or those who at this point feel like they’ve wandered into an episode of Big Bang Theory?

I’m not a fan of BBT. While I appreciate Sheldon, the show seemed part of an approach that encourages people to pick apart the tech to the point that they miss the plot. Some media movie critics have adopted that approach too. Some have ended up way off in the long grass.

RobotToyLISYou want to view Blomkamp more like he’s H. G. Wells or Joseph Conrad, who would have admired Elysium. Chappie comes from that vector, with the inclusion of this anime reference. An outbreak, if you like. Murdoch’s spokes organs got busy criticising Vincent’s hair cut. I want to be a fly on the wall when the editors get to the fanfic of Vincent and Deon. (You’re welcome.)

As with electronic music of the past decade, I’m eagerly anticipating global cultural fusion in art and design of the Occupy and Commons movement. It will be much easier to broach the fear of automation if our assistants look more like Asimo (with ears) and less like Atlas. Honda has done that really right. Like it’s great that Harley have started making electric bikes, but the ones from Japan are just too smooth. The style is congruent. Surely we can keep the hog or the bonnie running on synthetic fuel made by algae? Steampunk has it’s applications.

There’s glorious art and design coming out of Asia and the new paradigm gifts us with more potential for this creative morphing. Back in the day Bruce Sterling fancied Thai pop as a big hit in the West. Now here we are in the wake of Gangnam Style. Steampunk is similarly amazing, but it doesn’t navigate the frankenstein complex quite like cute can. Frankenstein’s monster was originally about the tendencies of humans, one of which is to scare ourselves. Let’s not let that keep us from making the transition to partnership culture.

Also, if you think Sheldon is something, wait until you meet Okarin.

Nitro Plus Steins gate

Posted in design, sustainable community, teh interwebs | Tagged , , ,

Mental health funding

Sane Australia and other organisations are making good use of social media at the moment, in their drive for funding. It was well timed alongside Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley calling for integrated mental health care in Australia.

The health minister, Sussan Ley, will press for a coordinated national approach to mental health in what she describes as a “once-in-a-generation opportunity for serious reform”.

Is Ms Ley proposing something different from the IPA’s wish list of policies as illustrated in the 2014 Federal budget? Reduced funding for health care over the years has been a prominent part of the neo-conservative, neo-liberal Governments in a number of countries, including Australia. The involvement of non-religious NGOs in this discussion and the Royal Commission into Family Violence is necessary to keep this from devolving into something Sheriff Arpaio might envy.

What’s really sinister about this particular iteration, though is the way it’s come together with the private prison industry. We have been observing this increasingly in Australia and most people probably just don’t want to know, at this point. It’s one of those things like Asylum seeker policy or standards in public nursing homes, you know it’s wrong, you know it has to change, but where to start?

Fortunately now we have social media, so people online can raise Sane’s profile now as easily as we told Woolies to fuck off the other night. We can make reputable organisations the speakers for health care and shame any politician who dares move against them.

So when someone proposes having overseas based multi-national private prison companies handling mental health care in Victorian prisons, they’ll be laughed out of office. And when the Commonwealth Bank back the project, people will ask what they were thinking. And when the construction company involved, John Holland, is sold to a Chinese consortium, that will look kinda strange.

As part of the rising tide of wondering what the fuck happened to Australia’s social policy, people are demanding funding for programs that reduce domestic violence. Partly because it’s a national shame and partly because these programs help stop people becoming mentally ill or incarcerated, years before they start getting into trouble. Instead of giving $310 million to a private prison company, spend it on Sane and other qualified organisations with a track record of making a difference. And it has about five times as much worth, at that end. For every $1 you spend on early intervention, you save $4 on incarceration, isn’t that the current estimated ratio?

That private prison isn’t finished yet. You drive past it on the Deer Park bypass, it’s that big new thing out there. That means poor Tones won’t have a bed, yet. The Mad Monk will have to stay in the cupboard at the Police campus, or where ever he was hiding out. Because you know the only mentally ill people who end up in a prison like that are the kind who would send 3500 soldiers to Afghanistan as a joke. Right?

You wouldn’t want a program like that turning up at the same time as the Government wants to collect everybody’s metadata for two years. At the same time as they’ve proposed laws that remove judicial oversight from Federal warrant executions. I mean, it would look like something from Orwell. What do they think we are, Americans?

Posted in Australia, ausvotes, pollyticks, social justice, sock puppets | Tagged , , ,

Read the papers

This shit, Australia, this shit has got to stop.

The woman in the red skirt (oops, it’s pants) says repeatedly read the newspaper to justify claims that the woman in the hijab is involved with terrorists. This fucking shit. Rupert Murdoch, fuck off to Alabama or somewhere with your bull fucking shit.

If any readers of this have friends or relatives who don’t have Murdoch blocker installed yet, get on to it. Don’t let the next video be of one of your relatives abusing some poor bastard on a train. Look at the side effects of the Herald-Sun. Should your parents be taking that?




Posted in Australia, pollyticks, social justice, sustainable community, teh interwebs | Tagged , , , , , ,

Fresh in our memories

Someone at Woolies thought it would be a great idea to have a meme generator on the internet, so people could upload their own World War photos. To use as profile pics. And Woolies would sneak some advertising in on the back of it all.

The internet responded beautifully. Here’s a selection of the images shared.

abu ghraib lest we forget


grumpy cat lest we forget

Imagelest we forgetImages by @8one3 @NewtonMark and @NicHalley

By 9pm is was all over. About 3 hours is what it took for advertisers to face the reality that consumers can, and do, talk back.

Now to get them to pay farmers.

Posted in Australia, what's wrong with these people? | Tagged , , , ,


Matagarup mountiesThousands of people in major cities gathered to defend remote Aboriginal communities over the weekend. It’s incredible seeing this get off the ground, since the media was quiet about what was going on. Following the announcement that the WA State Government would be dismantling up to 150 remote communities, people gathered at Matagarup which has previously been an important site. Twitter was alive with news and photos of the issue. Especially when the police horses were called in again to disperse the elders’ meeting.

At the time it struck me as anachronistic. Now it looks even worse.

Fortunately the news got out and people in the cities have joined in to support those who live in the bush. The rallies in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide grew out of Australians’ concern for each other, in spite of the media spin. The Hun, predictably, responded by calling them selfish rabble. The same publishers that accept advertising money from the supermarket duopoly while keeping quiet about farmers and country towns going broke. Colour me not surprised.

Contrast this with a handful of people who rallied over Easter to carry on about Muslims and Sharia law. Fortunately there were only a few of them. In some of the pictures they’re proudly wearing or holding an Australian flag. You know, the blue one that wasn’t around before the 2nd world war but revisionists love to say diggers fought for it. Leaving aside that Afghans helped explore inland Australia and the Darwin train line is named in their honour because they’re a part of Australia now, the whole divide and conquer thing is wearing very thin.

the ghan

People remember how this picking on Muslims took off around the time when a simulation of public consent was required for the invasion of Iraq. People have noticed how the loudest critics of Islam are frequently extremist religious politicians who push for ideals that come from the same basis as Sharia. We know it’s a sham and we know what we are not now, nor have ever been, an exclusively Christian nation. Freedom of religion is the civil right that is enshrined in our constitution. Extremists of any stripe are regarded with the same disdain.

Most Aussies want to get on with life rather than be conned into another war or pointless fight on the basis of some rubbish in the papers. Divide and conquer doesn’t work when we stand together.

Melbourne aboriginal resistance

Well, here’s Australians acting collectively. In spite of little formal news about the issue, it got out. People are willing to gather in public to defend the rights of those whose homes are being destroyed to further flog a dead horse mining boom.

Regardless of whether it turns into a wider protest raising awareness of issues in rural communities, (of course I hope it does) this is a great example of how we are revitalising our democracy. This is using social media for a good cause. This is a perfect illustration of how the old paradigm is a zombie, and the new one is spreading its wifi enabled wings. Remember that old saying about first they came for the Jews, but I wasn’t a Jew? Well, the bulldozers were coming for Aboriginal communities and people aren’t standing around with their hands in their pockets. At this time, with the technology and knowledge that we have available we can and are building a fairer, more inclusive Australia. That’s something to be proud of.


Posted in Australia, environmentality, social justice | Tagged , , , ,

Dextrus bionic hand

This 3D printed hand is being developed by a guy in the US, for his friend in Afghanistan who needs a new one. I found it via Open Bionics page on Ploos.


Open Source design and 3D printing technology building connections and enabling humanity around the world.

I’m enjoying this long weekend. It feels very positive thanks to a feed full of stories like this one. Click through to the youtube post for more like it linked there.

Posted in 3D print, design, partnership society, sustainable community | Tagged , , , , , ,

Easter message

broad bean flowers 220810

For the past few days I’ve been offline, playing in the garden here at ‘the ashram.” It’s such a lovely old place, that’s how I’ve started thinking about it. High Summer is gone, taking the burning heat with it and the wind most days doesn’t stir dust. The annual long weekend death cult celebration is coming up and looking like a great time for gardening and painting.

According to one of those internet astrology thingies, this year is the point in our evolution as a species when art defeats war. The year of the damp wooden goat, or something. As excuses for artistic expression go, it’ll do. Online art is a fantastic option if you don’t like the smell of linseed and the tutes make it a breeze. Pixar’s 3D rendering and animation app was released free, recently.


Internet art is really coming into its own. Not only because of the skill people develop in the comfort of their own homes, but the subtextual social justice and polemic. I could probably devote a whole other blog to discussing subtexts in art and movies, including anime. Most recently I saw Chappie, and it was absolutely stunning. When Blomkamp chooses a vehicle for a subtext, he goes through the Military disposals depot. And the three characters Sharlto Copely has played in the movies District 9, Elysium and now Chappie, have a lovely arc to them. A narrative about the descent into violence and now our emergence from that, into an era of exploration, discovery and creativity. It’s inspired me to make art in response. And because of the goat thing. That’s a laugh.

It will be interesting to see what Sony does when the inevitable fan art response happens with that character. He’s too delicious not to play with and Hasbro’s banning of Jayne hats went so well. There’ll be entries in the luv with an alien community on Deviant Art. Don’t look, it’s very NSFW. (You were warned.)

Isis Japan response

I’m waiting to see how those who backed sharing Playstation games relate to decisions about distribution and the TPP being made in the US, now that the US has now snookered itself by pushing the metadata collection laws in Australia.

The people supporting metadata collection will soon become acquainted with the fine internet tradition known as doxxing. Photos of Representatives, their families and friends will turn up on servers and social media all over the planet. Amnesty International might get involved, since it’s about human rights. They won’t advocate anything illegal and nor will I, we don’t have to. Anyone who hasn’t had their head jammed firmly up their own backside for the past decade can see this on the horizon, like those funny green clouds in Kansas.

Abbott could end up saying, perhaps with a straight face, that not only the UNCHR but Amnesty as well, are shitty people. Murdoch’s spokes organs will foam at the mouth about cyber criminals and online terrorism. It’ll be the funniest thing since those speed dealer sunnies. The US have to make it look like it’s their idea to distance themselves from the cluster fuck, maybe they’ll tell us we don’t really need Marines in Darwin since our relationship with Indonesia is so good these days.

If the US double down in support of the use of the law, that puts everyone in Edward Snowden’s demographic in a position where they have to make a choice. Since the whole wagon is being hauled by a very few people with vested interests, I suspect they’ll shy from making that an ultimatum. Or they’ll try for the bluff, in which case Dick Cheney will also start appearing in chorus lines.


Australia is a nation of convicts, refugees and first peoples, for some reason chosen by vestigial Imperialists to push what passes for reason in GOP conferences. It’s not gonna fly, folks. Put the money on the fridge and leave quietly. Because every convict, refugee and Indigenous has a smart phone, a paint program and a social media account and the people who play black hats have access to everyone’s frat boy records online. In the US Chelsea Manning is doing time, in Australia Andrew Wilkie is a Member of Parliament. This deck just ain’t stacked the same, no matter how hard Brian Houston worked it.

George Bransid has no idea what metadata is, but you can bet he’ll get the hang of doxxing in a hurry. Because the TPP is one thing, but using Stasi laws to enforce Hollywood’s idea of distribution and copyright will not be tolerated by the internet hivemind.

The Australian Government has something of a reputation for embracing cost cutting and outsourcing in its development of its networks. Malcolm Turnbull went public talking about secure messaging apps, but you can bet he didn’t use that a year ago. He wasn’t on the dev team of Tor, our Malcolm. It’ll be WinNT vs *nix.

Those who thought it was hilarious for Australia to suggest submitting a request for tender to Japanese submarine companies will likely be amused when images of Bransid’s girlfriend’s bare arse turn up on Imgur and Reddit, with photo shopped accompaniment of chorus lines of school girls wearing horse heads.

ISIS chan

TechDirt will cover it for us in all its geekgasmic glory.

Tony Abbott can bugger off to push paper for a regional Rugby team somewhere that people won’t have to see his face for a year or so. We’ll be too busy exchanging pickled kale recipes around the world and developing local Permaculture guides. There’s too much that’s genuinely interesting happening in the world for people to put up with that rubbish much longer. Being booed once by the crowd at the finals is a laugh, but every night on the news is just passé. There’s not even much mileage in kicking them when they go down. You’d feel like a mongrel, since they’re obviously hamstrung intellectually and emotionally.


The renaissance is much more fun. Not only the tech and graphics, but the people who become personalities in realtime, as you’re watching a revolution in Egypt. I remember sitting up until 4am every morning, the year I moved here, and telling my kids that I was watching a real, live revolution in action. That never gets old. It wasn’t second hand war porn images, rather, the moment by moment stories of the human beings making it happen.

I really must catch up with what @sandmonkey’s been up to. I remember staying glued to Twitter, to see he’d been released from the lockup. Video and pictures of men, women and children in the street together, of Christians standing watch while Muslims prayed, and vice versa coming to me every night. All those people are still there and still agitating for real reform. The kind everyone else on the planet is also champing at the bit for. And it’s the personal stories that make it all so much more relatable. Personalities that you come to know and like, despite never having met in meatspace. Mona Eltahawy has an enormous following of her coverage of Egypt and the ME. I wonder if Birmo will end up being Australia’s version of Mona? That’d be a laugh.

This Easter long weekend, then, I’ll be in my garden and study, celebrating human evolution and technology. Enjoying being alive during the time when art defeats war. It’ll be sukiyaki rather than a barbie, but the home brew ain’t bad.

Anyways, given the timing, I’m wondering how the church might navigate this year. It looks like their best way forward is just to confess and get on with it. Sorry folks, religion was hijacked by political influences. Now we’re inviting our parishioners to partner with us in renewing a spiritual and mystical tradition, since that was supposed to be the purpose of the endeavour. At this point anything else would be transparent and insulting. For every one they lose over the coverups, they’ll gain back when they start teaching Latin, Hellenic Greek and European history. You can picture a cohort of SCA getting into Latin masses. God help us.

Maybe one day there’ll be Jesuits in an ashram dropping ritual mushies. As if they haven’t already investigated the connection between neuro-transmitters and epiphany. The field of Transpersonal Psychology might be a happy discovery for disabled old women living in the bush, but I doubt it is for teh Vatican. It’s a delight to watch high stakes players in a game like that. Everyone, including us old bush chooks, can see the writing on the wall. The only question is whether one wants to appear a sell out in the eyes of Constantine supporters, or a demented brown shirt to the world in the 21st century and everything that comes after.

isis collage grand prix entry

Will the Pope blink before Murdoch does? Or are they determined to go down together. Will the US GOP realise they look like disturbed children to the rest of the world? Their only “friend” the new Saudi King is already too far gone to be relevant. At some point people still playing at global bully will have to accept that the rest of the world is watching them, groaning with embarrassment.

This Easter, then, feels more like life and the old Harvest festivals than a time of doom or perpetual suffering. We’re about done with all this, folks. It feels pretty damn good. If you need me, I’ll be planting broad beans. Toodles.


Posted in Australia, design, Go for it!, partnership society, pollyticks, sock puppets | Tagged , , , , , , , ,


Recently I was watching some more of Robert Sapolsky’s lectures on human behaviour and biology, given at Stanford. They’re absolutely brilliant. If you were one of those kids who loved documentaries, these might be the most satisfying viewing you’ve had in a while.

Not only does he go through the science involved, but often puts it in political context. You get something of the development of the ideas as well as the studies themselves.

The one I’d like to highlight here is lecture 20, part 4 on aggression in humans.

What really jumped out at me was the fact that Conrad Lorenz wrote a book on aggression in humans after WW2 and some of his assumptions seem to have persisted in the public mind, particularly among those who consider Ayn Rand to have been a genius. Lorenz was an unrepentant Nazi who was certain that violence was inevitable in humans. Seriously, that’s not a Godwin.

Along with certain other ideas that prop up Social Darwinism and callous, extreme right wing tea bagger type views, it’s shit science pushed by vested interests to try to maintain the idea that domination by violence is legitimate authority. Like that deliberate misreading of the selfish gene that was used in an attempt to explain the sociopathic values of Big Oil. Like inserting the concept of ‘survival of the fittest’ into Darwin’s work when it was a contradiction of what he’d written about human development. Seems the lunar right is as bad with science as it is with spirituality.

I’d recommend the Stanford channel on youtube for more decent educational stuff as well as UCSD and CARTA. Put CARTA on your reading list for Anthropogeny, if you’re at all interested in the state of research into what makes humans human. Ideas have developed somewhat in the last 60 years. The symposium on Autism, in particular, is a fascinating insight into how well we know our own minds.

Do genes have a part to play in violent behaviour? Yes. Is it significant? Well, not as much as your socio-economic level. Seriously, by age 5 that’s had an influence on a growing child that will affect their entire life. You’d think anyone interested in research or religion would be all over supporting early intervention and adequate welfare, in response to that.

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