Friday, July 31, 2020

New Fly Species: A Tribute to Marvel

During this past year, CSIRO scientists have identified 165 new discoveries. 

Australia’s national science research agency, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, said insect species have been given scientific names – some of which are tributes to comic book characters. 

CSIRO entomologist Dr Bryan Lessard (left), who himself goes by the superhero name 'Bry the Fly Guy' on social media, maintained CSIRO are interested in identifying new insect species that might be useful pollinators, nutrient recyclers or the next food source to support the agricultural sector. 

The five flies that have association with Marvel heavyweights are:

The Deadpool fly is Humorolethalis sergius. It sounds like lethal humour and is derived from the Latin words “humorosus”, meaning wet or moist, and “lethalis” meaning dead. It’s an assassin with markings on its back that resembles Deadpool's mask. 

The Black Widow fly is Daptolestes feminategus, meaning woman wearing leather. 

The Thor fly is Daptolestes bronteflavus, which is derived from Latin like most scientific names – and translates to "blond thunder".

The Loki fly is Daptolestes illusiolautus, meaning elegant deception. 

And the Stan Lee fly is Daptolestes leei and shares his characteristic sunglasses and white moustache. 

Lessard said only a quarter of Australian insects are known to science – adding that the more species are named, the better we can understand their super powers. 

"Without a scientific name, these species are invisible to science", he reiterated. 

CSIRO bee and wasp expert Dr Juanita Rodriguez (left) said naming new species has a fun side but is also vital science for our everyday lives – understanding differences between species can help save their lives and our own.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Hydroxychloroquine is in the News Again

Hydroxychloroquine is back in the news again! 

That’s because Donald Trump has started his nonsense again – he described a Houston-based doctor who is advocating the anti-malaria drug, as “very impressive”. 

Stella Immanuel who had pronounced that "this virus has a cure, it's called hydroxychloroquine, zinc, and Zithromax" – has (again) landed herself right smack in the center of a rumpus over unproven and potentially dangerous claims that the alleged treatment can cure Covid-19. 

In a video, which was livestreamed on Monday by the right-wing media outlet Breitbart News and subsequently shared by the clown team of Trump and son Donald Trump Jr. (left), Dr Immanuel’s purported cure runs counter to advice from public health officials, including the Trump administration's own health experts. Multiple studies have likewise shown that hydroxychloroquine alone or in combination with others does not help Covid-19 patients. 

The video featured Immanuel among a cohort of people wearing white lab coats who called themselves "America's Frontline Doctors" staging a press conference, organized by the Tea Party Patriots, a right-wing political organization, in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington DC.

She said taking hydroxychloroquine was common in Cameroon and therefore not harmful. [FYI, the said African country has 17,179 cases and 391 deaths as at yesterday]. 

The video was promptly removed from Facebook, YouTube and Twitter after amassing millions of views and thousands of shares. 

While she also declared that face masks are unnecessary, Immanuel appears to be wearing an N95 mask in a video shared on her clinic's Facebook page and encourages visitors to the clinic seeking treatment to wear face coverings. LOL! 

Immanuel, of course, is no stranger to conspiracy theories. 

On her website and in sermons posted on YouTube, Immanuel – who practices medicine at Rehoboth Medical Center, a clinic in Houston, Texas and is also a Christian pastor and founder of the Fire Power Ministries church – has, among other things, professed that sex with "tormenting spirits" is responsible for gynecological problems, miscarriages and impotence. 

"Many women suffer from astral sex regularly. Astral sex is the ability to project one's spirit man into the victim's body and have intercourse with it", she once asserted in a sermon. 

The Daily Beast also said that the physician had even suggested in other sermons that alien DNA was used in medical treatments and that scientists are plotting to develop a "vaccine" to make it impossible to become religious. 

Immanuel reportedly received her medical degree from a university in Nigeria in 1990, according to the Texas Medical Board database. On her Facebook page, she says she was born in Cameroon and describes herself as "God's battle axe and weapon of war". 

Trump’s idiotic re-tweet decision to amplify Stella Immanuel raises fresh questions about his messaging and pandemic response. It also gives her crackpot ideas an important platform and risks lending credibility to someone who has made a number of dangerous claims in the past.

17 Million Cases

Coronavirus cases have surpassed 17 million cases! 

As per my post "16 Million and Counting" published on Sunday, it’s the same list of twelve countries that are the worst-affected from the pandemic for both infections and fatalities. 

In fact, when aggregated, they account for 72.0% and 78.0% of the world total respectively.

Four of those countries reached new peaks – India with 1.5 million cases, South Africa with 470,000 cases and Mexico with 400,000 cases. 

I saved the ‘worst’ for last! The US recorded a whopping 4.5 million cases! 

The country needs to restart its response with policy actions at the federal, state and local levels to get control of the pandemic, scholars at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security said in a report. "Unlike many countries in the world, the United States is not currently on course to get control of this epidemic", the report says. "It is time to reset". 

Dr. Ashish Jha (left), director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, told CNN's Wolf Blitzer: "I think the fact that we as a country have not been able to get our arms around this, have not prioritized preventing those deaths is all that much more maddening. And so, for me it's frustration, it's sadness. And a resolve to try to figure out how we prevent the next 150,000 (deaths)".

Methinks, we will see many more Americans die of Covid-19. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Guardians of the Durians

A durian farmer in Kampung Tengah in Segamat, Johor, took to "employing" otherworldly help in trying to ward off thieves. 

Sixty-one-year-old Rosman Budiman, who has had enough of thieves making off with his durians, resorted to purchasing white cloth and fashioning them into two "pocong" entities. 

"Pocong" is a ghostly entity popular in Malay folklore as a spirit that is clothed in white burial shroud. Also known as "Hantu Bungkus" (The Wrapped Ghost) in Malaysia. 

The "Pocong" is commonly described as having a pale green, shriveled and decaying face, with two deep empty holes where its eyes should be  just so you know if you happen to meet one!

The two adult size 'pocong' are said to be 1.5m in height and shaped using cardboard boxes, wrapped in white cloth. It appears they have succeeded in reducing the disappearance of his durians from ten trees in his orchard this season. 

"Before this, if I am a bit late in picking up the fallen durians, thieves will make off with it", he explained.

He said the figures were placed in some bushes and at an empty hut around the farm and it proved sufficient in warding off intruders, particularly at night. 

"I also took to burning incense to enhance the scary effect before I return home every evening. Sometimes I even scare myself when I return alone to pick up the durians, thanks to the smell of the burning incense". 

All in all, Rosman said he only spent about RM8 for his "security system". 

"If the thieves just want to eat the durians, I don't mind, but the fact that I lost so many shows that they are stealing it to sell", he added.

Make-up for Masked Women

I read that many women have stripped back on their beauty routines during this coronavirus period, as painting their faces to sit at their laptop screens seems like going overboard. Even for Zoom meetings that I’ve attended, I’ve not seen any women wear make-up; in some cases, they look a frumpy mess. 

But lockdown easing has meant women are getting reunited with their make-up kits. It also means getting used to wearing a face mask. 

In Malaysia, face coverings will be mandatory as from August 01. 

One thing every woman need to consider when wearing a face covering is how it could impact their make-up. The added heat trapped under their masks combined with the friction of wearing one could disrupt their foundation and other base products, especially if they are lightweight, cream based and not set properly. 

This requires make-up wearers to focus on the staying power of their products more than usual. And not forgetting that face coverings pose a whole other issue when it comes to skin problems, as wearing one can cause breakouts or aggravate skin conditions like eczema. 

Beauty advisors are already recommending the use of primers, long-wear foundations and face powders to give a woman’s make-up a fighting chance of lasting under a face covering. 

Anyway, to give her visibility, it is suggested that she experiments with eye make-up as it will draw attention to the area of her face that’s noticeable while wearing a mask. Basically, the eyes and brows.

Therefore, it’s important to invest in eyeliner, mascara and setting spray. 

For sure, eye make-up is going to see an uptick as women look towards the uncovered areas to express themselves. I've already seen a number of 'mask make-up' tutorials online.

Mask or not, it’s always good to see women make time and effort to accentuate their beauty.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Najib Razak: GUILTY!

Today, Najib Razak is a confirmed crook. The first Malaysian prime minister to be convicted in a criminal court.

The former Prime Minister has been found guilty of all seven charges related to the misapprorpiation of RM42 million of SRC International funds. 

High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali, who read a detailed judgment, said the defense had failed to raise any doubts against the prosecution's case. Among other things he ruled that Najib's defense of blaming fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho @ Jho Low was not valid. He said pointing the finger at others, as was Najib's main defense, did not absolve him of blame. 

Najib was then sentenced to 12 years in prison and a RM210 million fine for the abuse of power offence; 10 years each for the three counts of committing criminal breach of trust; and 10 years each for the three money laundering offences – and the sentences to run concurrently. 

You can expect Najib to file an appeal. 

As UMNO Youth Chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki declared today Najib still has a chance despite being found guilty because he can take his case to the Court of Appeal and subsequently the Federal Court. 

The case concerning SRC International is one of five trials Najib is facing after GE14 in 2018.

Najib Razak's fans came out in support. #klusternajib

More Than 16.5 Million Cases

Surges of coronavirus infections are seen in a cluster of countries – and the worldwide tally is now more than 16.5 million cases. 

To be exact, 16,635,927 cases (as at today, 00:00 GMT). 

Five countries – three of which are ASEAN countries – deserve special mention this time around. 

On Sunday, Philippines and Singapore surpassed 80,000 and 50,000 cases respectively. 

And today, at 00:00 GMT, South Africa and UK reported 450,000 and 300,000 cases respectively. And Indonesia also registered 100,000 cases.

Oh yes, the US recorded 150,444 deaths!

Yesterday, an invite from Saiful Ikram of LEAP Toastmasters Club saw me at another Zoom meeting. I was tasked to evaluate the club president who spoke on a Public Relations Strategies project.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Are You Tired of Being a Bird?

Artist, art director and prankster Pablo Rochat (right) had tacked a flyer that stated “Tired of Being a Bird?” onto the lower quadrant of a street pole – in San Francisco, USA, if I’m not mistaken. 

It wasn’t long before a couple of pigeons approached and pulled off a hanging tab with a phone number(!) to call. I guess these birds have ambitions too. Hilarious!

Yesterday, champions Liverpool came from behind to beat Newcastle 3-1 on the last day of a historic 2019/20 season 

The Magpies were ahead after just 25 seconds, the fastest goal ever scored on a Premier League final day. 

But Liverpool, who left their vaunted front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino on the bench for much of the match, leveled through Virgil van Dijk's header in the thirty-eighth minute. Divock Origi put the Reds ahead from 20 yards from Andrew Robertson's pass in the fifty-ninth minute before Senegal forward Mane curled home in the eighty-ninth minute. 

And Liverpool hit a grand total of 99 points. An incredible season.


Presently, you may not be in a position to travel – but that shouldn’t stop your angst-driven screams. 

That’s the idea proposed by Iceland’s tourism board ( It may seem super bizarre but it is backed by scream therapy (or primal therapy, whichever). 

The coronavirus pandemic has brought much of the world to its knees not just economically but also mentally and emotionally. It’s been the most difficult period of our lives with people losing jobs, savings being depleted and really, we are all getting frustrated, and even depressed sometimes. All this anxiety, emotion and tension needs to be let out.

While we are still bound by restrictions and rules, travel-lovers can record themselves yelling for a few seconds to let off steam.

Not just that as per the Scandinavian nation’s tourist board’s campaign. 

#LetItOutIceland participants can choose where their screams will be played from speakers in identified places in Iceland.

The #LetItOutIceland sounds incredibly empathetic and something might truly help people help themselves. 

The website reads: “You’ve been through a lot this year and it looks like you need the perfect place to let your frustrations out. Somewhere big, vast and untouched. It looks like you need Iceland”. 

Truer words have never been spoken.

In the next two weeks with its #LetItOutIceland, the country will take submissions from its website and play them over loudspeakers set up in beautiful, remote locations. Speakers have been set up in picturesque locations in Iceland like Festarfjall in Reykjanes Peninsula, the shores of Djúpivogur in East Iceland, and the Skógarfoss waterfall in south Iceland. Also at Viðey Island in Reykjavik, Rauðasandur in the Westfjords, the Kálfshamarsvík lighthouse, and the Snæfellsjökull glacier.

Influencers and virtual visitors are already intrigued by this interesting concept of releasing your tension and are flocking the campaign from around the world. 

Submissions have been received from the US, Canada, Ireland, the UK, and Germany. And Malaysia too because I contributed my scream yesterday and had it sent to Djúpivogur in East Iceland.

Fascist Forces Occupy Portland

Donald Trump (left) loves nothing better than to "dominate" protesters speaking out against racism and police brutality after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota just over two months ago.

Portland, Oregon is one US city he has promised to “quell”. 

During the last two weeks, federal law enforcement agents wearing military-style garb, have terrorized protesters by bundling them into unmarked vehicles and pulling masks over their faces, arrested civilians without explanation, and used tear gas and impact munitions to shoot protesters. 

“This is what dictators do”, Representative Joaquin Castro (Democrat-Texas) tweeted. He's damn right – fascist forces are occupying Portland.

On July 18, federal agents in Portland attacked Christopher David (above photo),  a 53-year-old Navy veteran with health problems, with batons. They broke his hand after David, upset about what he considered “Pinochet-type behavior from our own government”, showed up at a protest to tell the feds they were violating their oath to the Constitution. 

The previous weekend, Trump’s goons almost killed 26-year-old Donovan LaBella (right) by shooting him in the head with a “less-lethal” round that fractured his skull. 

Indeed, Portland is under siege. 

City citizens finally woke up and decided enough was enough! 

And so, women wearing bike helmets and bright yellow shirts showed up arm-in-arm to shield protesters, i.e. the “Wall of Moms”. 

The “Dads with Leaf Blowers" came out too.

And then, the “Wall of Vets”.

That didn't stop Trump though; in fact, he pledged a "surge" of his secret army to other cities as they are doing a "fantastic" job. 

And the US talks about freedom and democracy – what BS!