Anti-Virus Bottle Head


Escalating coronavirus hysteria captured yesterday at Vancouver International Airport.

Photo Lynne Carter / Facebook

Salad bars are fitted with plexi sneeze guards, seems obvious wary travellers might borrow food safety logic in times of viral uncertainty. Anti-viral bottle head determination didn’t end at YVR baggage carousel, this mother and daughter were spotted on Canada Line train leaving the airport –

Photo Lynne Carter / Facebook

https://www.vancourier.com/news/people-are-wearing-water-jugs-over-their-heads-against-coronavirus-photos-1.24063602

Vancouver Coastal Health confirmed one case of coronavirus in British Columbia, a businessman recently in China recovering under quarantine in the Lower Mainland.

The CDC recommends common sense precautions – frequent hand washing for at least 20 seconds, not touching hands to face, mouth, nose or eyes and avoiding contact with persons who appear sick. No different from annual flu season precautions. Drug store paper face masks won’t block inhalation of coronavirus, no harm in wearing one if it makes you feel better. As for anti-virus bottle heads – if the bottle fits wear it, but be advised the sight is disconcerting. We’re not sick, are you?

Mushroom Cabins On The Moon


If space agencies want boots on the Moon constructing homes/research facilities is their first hurdle. Traditional building materials create payload challenges, heavy metal and glass take up a lot of room. All that weight puts a strain on fuel requirements. Enter synthetic biology, the study of how we can use life in technology – in this case fungus, as in mushrooms used to grow self repairing, self replicating habitats.

NASA researchers call it myco-architecture. Exploring the potential of Mycelia in fungus – tiny nutrient absorbing underground threads combining with precision and networking to build complex structures we recognize as mushrooms. A statement from NASA –

Ultimately, the project envisions a future where human explorers can bring a compact habitat built out of a lightweight material with dormant fungi that will last on long journeys to places like Mars. Upon arrival, by unfolding that basic structure and simply adding water, the fungi will be able to grow around that framework into a fully functional human habitat – all while being safely contained within the habitat to avoid contaminating the Martian environment.”

Black-gloved hands holding small round dish with branching fibers on it.

A researcher holding a petri dish containing mycelia – the underground threads that make up the main part of a fungus – growing in simulated Martian soil, also known as Martian regolith. Image via NASA/ Ames Research Center/ Lynn Rothschild

A short, gray, bumpy squarish column.

A stool constructed out of mycelia after two weeks of growth. The next step is a baking process that leads to a clean and functional piece of furniture. The myco-architecture project seeks to design not only for habitats, but for the furniture that could be grown inside them as well. Image via 2018 Stanford-Brown-RISD iGEM Team/ NASA.

Could future moon homes be made of fungi?

Next time you brown bag mushrooms in the produce aisle, take a moment to ponder remarkable legions off unseen mycelia that one day might create mushroom cabins on the Moon.

Meng Wanzhou Protest Debacle


On December 1, 2018  Huawei CFO (Chief Financial Officer) Meng Wanzhou was taken into custody at Vancouver International Airport. Meng (her Chinese family name, commonly known as Cathy or Sabrina Meng, is the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei). RCMP detained Meng on request of the U.S. government, arrested under terms of a reciprocal Canada/U.S. extradition treaty. The U.S. Department of Justice formally charged Meng with financial fraud on January 28, 2019. She’s accused of defrauding multiple financial institutions in violation of U.S. imposed bans on Iran. On January 20, 2020 extradition hearings commenced in Vancouver. This Wiki link provides a great overview – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meng_Wanzhou

It came as no surprise following Meng’s 2018 arrest when members of Vancouver’s Chinese national community protested outside the courthouse –

Fast forward to an image taken yesterday. See any Chinese national protesters? Confused by a cluster of young Caucasian awkwardly holding signs obviously penned by the same person? Ponder this – at least two protesters have spoken publicly on how they were lured to courthouse steps under false pretences and paid to be there. Actor Julia Hackstaff (far right in the image) was contacted on Facebook by someone she didn’t know, $100 for 2 hours work as an extra in a movie shoot. From CBC –

Hackstaff says she and a friend were told by her contact to go to the Holiday Inn a few blocks away and then brought to the courthouse. When they arrived, they approached a group of young people who looked “lost” she assumed were background actors.

“I went and asked, ‘Are you guys the extras?’ And one guy said yes. He then asked me my name and my friend’s name. So we gave him our first names and he checked on his phone like [as] if he had a list.”

Hackstaff said she was handed a red sign that said “Free Ms. Meng, Equal Justice!” Soon after, she began questioning what was actually going on.

“A CBS reporter approached me and my friend and she started interviewing us. And it was in those moments and questions where I started realizing, OK, if this was background work, they wouldn’t need detail on background people.”

“And then I started realizing, wait, no one called ‘action,'” she said. 

Hackstaff says she “freaked out” when a second reporter approached, coming to the realization that the movie she thought she was appearing in was, in fact, something very real. She says that’s when she left without being paid.

Demonstrators outside B.C. Supreme Court on Day 1 of Meng Wanzhou’s extradition hearing Monday. Actor Julia Hackstaff, far right, says she was told she was appearing as an extra in a movie shoot. (Georgie Smyth/CBC)

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/paid-protesters-meng-wanzhou-1.5434613

The hubris of foreign meddlers to target actors on Facebook, use social media to message friends of friends is jaw dropping. Vancouver might be a globally inconsequential backwater, but we’re not stupid. Did China and/or immigrant Chinese loyalists actually believe an ill-conceived debacle to fraudulently lure paid protesters would spark public sympathy? News flash – Astroturfing (the practice of masking sponsors in support of political, religious or social issues to make it appear support/protest originated from grassroot sentiment) never, and I mean absolutely never end well – the truth always comes to light, bullshit always calls instigators out. Astroturf recipes try to bake pinnacles of arrogance into scrumptious morsels of delusion. In plain English – shame on those responsible for Meng’s Astroturf gong show, we’re not buying your biscuits.

The outcome of Meng’s extradition will be determined by Canadian law. Canadians have little sympathy for foreign interlopers who think otherwise. To them I say – instead of wasting your time and our patience, consider brushing up on how things work in Canada.

When It Snows


A laughably inaccurate perception exists that all Canadians embrace snowstorms with rugged practicality indicative of life above the 49th parallel. Misconception oblivious to geography or temperate zones, woefully misinformed generalizations held by those who haven’t witnessed mayhem unleashed by a Vancouver snowstorm.

Want to freak out British Columbia Lower Mainland residents? Mention snow. Want to watch a preposterous comedic symphony of incompetence? Let it snow, let it snow. Trust me, it’s hysterical.

Snow paralyzes our transit system, schools close, public safety warnings urge residents to stay home, highways & major arteries aren’t plowed, ice bombs falling from suspension bridge cables assault commuters – Canada’s third largest city grinds to a halt! Abandoned vehicles dot city streets, slightest inclines defeat motorists while sidewalks turn into ice fields. Snow-wise Canadians beyond our delicate rainforest bubble must be shaking their heads. I’m shaking my head, wanting to scream – take a run at the hill, don’t slam on the brakes gear down, take your foot off the gas and steer into the slide. It’s insane! A spectacle so un-Canadian all I can do is laugh.

Best laugh of the week came after a mid-week dump of 10 Cm or so – organizers of a snowball fight at the University of British Columbia called it off due to snow!

A video from 2017 cracks me up. Granted, there isn’t a salt shortage this year but worth a watch to put Lower Mainland winter circus act in perspective –

As I write snow flurries fall without regard for Vancouver’s inability to cope. Giddy local meteorologists embrace one last round of fear mongering before warm Pacific air overtakes Arctic outflow. By morning I could wake to mounds of fresh snow, freezing rain or a steady downpour.

2020-01-15 17.59.52

A day from now icicles under my back deck will surrender to the great thaw. We’ll spend a few days complaining about gargantuan slush puddles, exhale relief over return to familiar patterns of dreary West Coast rain, pat ourselves on the back for surviving the storm of January 2020. The city won’t acquire more snowplows, residents won’t consider buying winter tires, public transit won’t implement snow event improvements, people won’t buy salt or snow shovels until panic stricken. Life goes on. Nobody learns a thing, let alone feels sheepish for exhibiting such a poor display of winterization. Sigh.

Facebook Anti-Propaganda Propaganda


On January 8, 2020 an article appeared in Teen Vogue titled “How Facebook is Helping Insure the Integrity of the 2020 Election” followed by “With the company’s huge platform comes huge responsibility”. The article interviewed five women who work on Facebook’s misinformation team. It read like a press release – Facebook has your back, we’re so wonderful, totally dedicated to eradication of misinformation, go team! The piece went to great lengths to illustrate how Facebook is tackling misinformation.

Several hours later Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg posted – “Great Teen Vogue piece about five incredible women protecting elections on Facebook. Since 2016 we’ve worked to stop the spread of misinformation, fight foreign interference and voter suppression, improve transparency, and encourage people to vote. There’s more to do and I’m so grateful we have this team – and hundreds of people across the company – working every single day to do it.”

Astute media watchers weren’t swayed by Facebook saccharine. Why no byline? Who wrote this? Something smells rotten. Rotten indeed – seems Facebook paid for the article, but rather than admit it, a line appeared on Teen Vogue reading “Editors note, this is sponsored editorial content”.  Facebook stayed the course, admitted nothing, apologized for nothing. Facebook paid for propaganda about how they’re combating propaganda! That’s not normal, or is it the new normal created by social media behemoths like Facebook?

Over the past few years work has allowed glimpses into hallowed halls at Facebook. Security is intense, it takes 15 minutes to secure visitor credentials. “Wear your lanyard at all times, stepping off concrete onto carpeted areas is forbidden, do not discuss Zuckerberg – it will be heard and not taken lightly. WTF? Beyond entrance formalities a bubble of extravagance erases any doubt Facebook has power and money to do what they damn well please. Motivational slogans of empowerment ripple seamlessly from futuristic team building hives to ping pong tables, $10,000 fresh squeezed orange juice machine, thirty foot wall of yours for the taking employee snacks, light meals, fresh produce and beverages. Who are these people?

In my opinion that’s the million dollar question. By all appearances Facebook culture embodies a young techno savvy millennial’s wet dream. Geek chic unleashed without cognisance of immense power and influence along for the ride. In a nutshell – Facebook wasn’t equipped to fathom a leap from social media army to commander in chief of global perspectives. That said, there’s absolutely no excuse for paid propaganda used in a anti-propaganda campaign.