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    May 9th, 2009 admin

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    H1N1 Update: GroundZero, Mutation ……

    H1N1 GroundZero uncovered


    Don’t try this at home, kido.

    H1N1 Mutation Path (the Prequel)


    My China Trip



  • May 6th, 2009 admin

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    Naming of the Flu

    A name is just a name, you said, names are just words you address a person or thing with. Instead of “Hey Buster”, you yelled: “John” , “Joe”, “Jane” or “Jill”, so that not everyone will turn to answer you at the same time. It can be embarrassing and annoying.

    But who will fortell, a simple name can become the “words of war”, that can be used as an economic weapon and a political tool in this recession.

    The word “swine”, as in swine flu, projected an image worse than those on TV, with people wearing masks everywhere, going about their daily chores. It reminds everyone the ghost of the SARS past. And it indicates, this time, it is coming from the pigs.

    People are jittery and scared. It can trigger further economic collapse during this recession time. Just look at the shrinking number of tourists in Mexico, except a few brave ones (and wait till they got home 🙂 ).

    The moaning and protests of the pig farmers, no matter what the World Health Organization stressed and re-stressed, this H1N1 virus is an air-born disease, and transmitted only by human to human contact. But do these countries listen, they still ban pork import.

    On the surface, we got the impression of people that are scared of a repeat of a pandemic like SARS. But don’t be fooled by them. If you look deeper, you will notice, these countires include Russia, China, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia etc, most of them are either pork producing countires themselves or Islamic countries that don’t eat pork anyway. This is just an excuse to wrap a trade war in the pig-skin of pandemic containment, with manipulative and purposeful cunning tactics, all in the name of the “Swine Flu”.

    Definitely we need to change the name. But how?

    Well, there are a number of ways.

    1.Hurricanes      During World War II, hurricanes were named after women; a practice that was in place until 1978. An international committee voted for a six-year rotating list of names that showed both gender equality (men’s and women’s names) and names with French, Spanish, Dutch and English backgrounds, as hurricanes affect a number of countries and are tracked internationally. That’s it, hurricanes and flu pandemic, they are both natural diasters that can spread like wild fire. As the saying go: birds of the same feathers should flock(or in this case, named) together.

    2.Babies     Parents name their child, usually based on popular names of the time, celebrities of movie stars status or characters on TV: Rachel, Jennifer, Emily etc for girls and Michael, Brad etc for boys. But mind you, these go in and out of fashion all the time. Remember Monica, this was popular due to the TV series Friends, until Bill Clinton’s cooled it. But this may not be practical, just imagine, the number of Johns or Janes that China will quantine.

    3.Source/Location     Name the source/location of origin. That’s what WHO used right from the beginning. They figured, the virus is genetically made up largely of the swine type of Influenza A, it should appropriately be named the swine flu. But who can fortell, suddenly it spelled trouble just from such a simple name.

    4.Family name      Use of family or full names is common, like the Rockefella, McDonald, Vera Wang, Anne Klein, Donna Karan etc, besides a boost to your ego, it remains within the family empire. So in our case, we may name the virus after the scientist who discovered or decoded it. Any taker?

    5.Generic     Use alphabets and numerics, and that is what WHO adopted just now, the H1N1. Still there may be problems, this is too similar to R2D2 of the STAR WAR, it can be a bit confusing, make people thinking of another SARS WAR 😉

    6.KISS     Keep It Simple, Stupid. So may be we just name it the KISSing disease, it is catchy, but also medically correct (it can be transmitted that way, not solely though). Sorry, no kissing please, we are Chinese (and in the middle of a pandemic).

  • April 30th, 2009

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    The Confession of a new Shopaholic

    I was caught in Walmart the other day, and thrown in jail, by the “Buy American” police.

    I am a convalescing shopalholic, ever since I lost my job a few months ago. I desperately try to avoid the brand name products; I can afford them no more. To quench my urge to shop, I decided to try Walmart.

    This was a whole new world. It was a zoo in there. You were hit by aisle and aisle of products, at so called “roll-back” prices, which I can afford. Even better, I spotted names like Joe Fresh, just like bumping into a nodding acquaintance. I felt exhilarated. I piled the shopping cart with stuff, from underwear to grocery. I was in an up-swing mood, until I was greeted by the “Buy American” police, at the checkout counter.

    I was accused of committing an un-patriotic act, harbouring anti-American sentiment and practicing anti-consumerism ideology. All my checkout items were foreign made, with insufficient American content.

    In my defence, I tired to explain, with the shrinking Almighty Dollar, we common citizen cannot afford American designer, high end fashion anymore. We have to survive, desperate time needs desperate measure. Further, how can we distinguish goods that are produced here at home and those abroad? By their names or their labels? Even a Toyota is Japanese by name only, it is produced by our workers here in America, and even worse, many products with label of ‘made in USA’ actually have components that are from elsewhere.

    But do they listen!? Of course not, I was thrown in jail.

    So what is my crime?

    Just listen, here is what the DA eloquently proclaimed, my everyday routine:

    “Jane Smith started the day early, having set her alarm CLOCK (made in Japan) for 6am.
    While her COFFEE POT (made in China) was perking, she blow-dried her hair with her ELECTRIC DRYER (made in Hong Kong). She put on a BLOUSE, (made in Sri Lanka), DESIGNER JEANS (made in Singapore) and TENNIS SHOES (made in Korea).

    After cooking her breakfast in her ELECTRIC SKILLET (made in India) she sat down with her CALCULATOR (made in Mexico) to see how much she could spend today.

    After setting her WATCH (made in Taiwan) to RADIO time (made in India), she got in her CAR, (made in Germany) and filled it with GAS (from Saudi Arabia) and continued her search for a good paying American job.

    At the end of yet another discouraging and fruitless day checking on her COMPUTER (made in Malaysia), Jane decided to relax for a while. She put on her FLIP-FLOP SANDALS, (made in Brazil) poured herself a glass of WINE (made in France) and turned on her TV (made in Indonesia), and wondered why she can’t find a good paying job in America.

    At bedtime, Jane Smith took at look at her financial situation. And realized she’s deeply in DEBT (made in USA).”

    I became the casualty of the recession, globilization and protectionism.

    The verdict: Guilty as charged.

  • April 29th, 2009

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    Recession to Swine Flu, from diaster to diaster

    It never rains, but pours.

    The images from Mexico are scary, people wearing masks everywhere. A reminder of the SARS past.

    But this time around, we are ready. Here are some of the lessons learned, so far.

    Quick Ided     The disease started in Mexico, and has been identified as H1N1 type A Influenza, a new type of virus that is a genetic mix of pig, bird and man influenza, and can be transmitted from human to human.

    Containment of outbreak     The World Health Organization has been monitoring the virus and its spread ever since the outbreak, although slowly upgrading its warning system, but surely. Individual countries and their health authorties are taking action and have their emergency plans in place, ready to tackle any pandemic, if ever it occurs.

    Economic fallout     Mexico is hard hit by this outbreak. Amid a potential economic diaster, the government has no choice but went ahead to close schools and universities, theatres and any other mass gathering places and events, limit opening hours of restaurants, and will have to deal with the economic consequences later. The world will have to lend a helping hand.

    Corporate preparedness     Corporations like banks, airlines, telephone, Internet companies and other large government firms are closely monitoring the outbreak. They are advising employees to reconsider travel plans, and to wash their hands and to cover their mouths when sneeze. If condition gets worse, they are considering to stockpile antiviral drugs for key employees and to determine who can work from home etc.

    Globilization     An article on “pandemic preparedness” stated “an interdependent, interconnected and highly mobile world appears to be concurrent with potential and threats to global public health security on scales heretofore unimagined.” Some countries have already banned flight from or to Mexico, but still the spread of the disease worldwhile is inevitable. The only comforting news is, cases from all countries except Mexico, are mild and treatable.

    Myths     One problem though, myths spread over the Internet worse than the actual disease itself. Although WHO stressed on the fact that it is an air-bourne disease, some countries still ban the import of pork. This lead to the outcry of the pork merchants: change the name of the bug. But WHO refused, insisting swine is appropriate since it comes from pig. But if that is the case, it should be called the swine-avian-human flu instead.

    OK, take a deep breath (but don’t breathe into others), calm down and look at this havoc objectively. The world has already moved fast, trying to avoid a pandemic and to contain and nib a diaster in the bud.

    Just wish that we have done the same with the recession.

  • April 28th, 2009

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    Frugality — Our New Best Friend

    As the recession deepens, our pocketbooks suffer. Drastic time needs drastic measures. We joined the Frugal Underground Movement. Shhh… keep this to yourself, it is sort of, mmm, illegal.

    We combed through our family budget with a magnifying glass and a surgical scapel.

    For our food budget, it is a multi-approach. Before each grocery shopping, we go through the supermarkets’ flyers for sale items and clip coupons. We changed our diet, eat more vegetables than meat, cooking in bulk and freeze them. We eat more home cooked meals than frozen food now, and eat less out in restaurants. We have our own patch of garden in the backyard and grow vegetables for own consumption. We bake our own bread. For the office, we bring coffee from home, and drink water instead of juices and pops.

    For leisure and entertainment, we cut back too. Instead of going out to movie theatres, we rent movies and watch as a whole family, and play board games more frequently. Instead of buying new books, we go to the library, although the Top Ten List will take a very long time to appear on the shelves, it is worth the wait.

    For vacation, we try the new “staycation” way. We take short trips around town or do own designed walking tours, exploring the different ethnic sections of town. These are quite entertaining and educational.

    For clothing, we no longer go for the brand names alone. Price comes first. Swap shop is another option. Also organizations like the FreeCycle Network are springing up everywhere and quite popular, where people recycle their used clothing to others.

    We are re-assessing our use of the cell-phones and Blackberries, and wonder why have we spending so much on such communication devices. We even cancelled the TV cable and newspaper for now.

    Yes drastic time needs drastic measure. Fragility becomes our best friend.

  • April 27th, 2009

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    Guru said: ‘Change within’ to fix the economy

    new economy

    Dr. Deepak Chopra, the spiritual guru of body-mind medicine is on a speaking tour in Canada recently. He commented on the recession in an interview in Halifax.

    “In these troubled times, prosperity won’t be found in bailout plans or economic stimulus packages, it will be found in a much more personal commitment to building a better world.”

    “There will be a new economy,” according to the guru, “but the old one has to die first.”

    “We spent money we did not have on things we did not need to impress people who did not matter,” he says.

    Bailout plans, he says, aim to revive that old economy, and that’s a mistake. Better to focus our spending and production on things that society really needs. Deciding what that is, begins with some personal reflection on what matters most to us, and dropping whatever we don’t need or whatever we buy simply to impress – or keep up with – others.

    “We have to change within to change the world outside,” says Chopra. “The world mirrors what is in us.”

    Chopra says he would like see money directed away from defence and armaments, pointing out that the United States alone has the ability to destroy the world several times over.

    “Once is enough,” he deadpans.

    Better, he says, to shift our creative energy away from building new weapons or complicated financial products that few can understand – and that many blame for the current economic downturn – and channel it toward finding new sources of energy and medical breakthroughs.

    The comments mark part of Chopra’s recent shift to be more political in his public statements.

    (Excerpts from an article by Stuart Laidlaw, Toronto Star)

  • April 26th, 2009

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    Survival of the New Grad

    Already end of April, college and university examinations are almost over and pretty soon, a new crop of graduates will be let loose into the cruel real world, facing a bleak future. Studies showed, there can be long-lasting adverse effects on those who graduate during a recession.

    According to an article “I wiil survive”, from McMaster Times, McMaster University of Hamilton, Ontario, new grads should change the way they look at this new reality.

    For those having to make drastic changes, beware that during recessions, alcohol abuse, emotional and family tensions register in higher rates of personal and family problems. Professional and personal transitional support, specific career transitional help and learning stress management techniques are key.

    People need to change their expectations and be creative about their job hunt. Expert advised, “know who you are, your passions and strengths.” During an interview, “if you understand the environment and have emotional intelligence about it, you’ll blow them away if you can show how structured and forward thinking you are, and if you can demonstrate passions and strenghts that can help them in this downturn.”

    Don’t panic. “The economy will recover, but you need to think about new areas of interest and new ways in which the skills that you have can be used somewhere else. Social sciences graduates, for example, end up with a set of very portable skills, such as writing, research, analytics and measurement, but often these grads don’t actually appreciate how portable their skills are, and that they can be applied to multiple settings.”

    For those about to graduate, may be their best choice is to stay in school and wait out the recession. Stay in for another year or continue to graduate work. “Or at least have that in your back pocket and if you get a job can always turn down the acceptance or do it part-time.”

    Remaining positive and viewing your situation as a platform for next steps will be crucial in this time of upheaval. Increase your chance of getting a job by “having networking cards on hand, with your name, contact information, degree and area of expertise; take advantage of chance meetings and don’t underestimate the power of weak links, because someone you have even a loose connection to has an entirely different set of information and contacts. You don’t necessarily need to be talking to CEOs to get a job, you just need to be trusted by someone they trust and that could be their child, their haridresser or even their neighbours.” “Build a directory of employers to apply to, because you will have a much better chance of getting a job with a company that is not posting a vacancy than with one that is.”

    (excerpts from the spring issue of McMaster Times)

  • April 24th, 2009

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    Not a Shirt on My Back

    Washington is in an uproar.

    In the May cover of Washingtonian magazine: Barack Obama is in the buff, with only a swimsuit, but looking darn good.

    So what is the problem? The debate is on the issues of propriety and ethics. Was it disrespectful to display the presidential pecs – alongside a headline calling the chief executive “hot”? And, in a separate journalistic flap, was it wrong to alter the colour of his swimsuit from black (or dark navy) to a bright red?

    For us ordinary citizens, these are the non-issues. Isn’t it true that when Obama took office, he inherited from GWB a whole mess and trillions of deficit, just like the photo symbolizes. He inherited a naked shell, with not a shirt on his back, and definitely in the red. But he is our hero, we are sure he will rise up from the ashes, like the golden phonex, as our saviour, although not born in a manger, but from Krypton (his own words). He is the one, that sent to us, to save us from the world of economic woes.

    About the issue of altering the color of the swimming trunk from black to red, that was GWB’s doing, during his 8 years of reign. Isn’t red the color of the deficit. This redness further symbolizes Obama’s eagerness to buster the recession, as if his pant is on fire.

    Rough time requires drastic measure. Our president needs a new image, a complete makeover. This photo did the right thing and is very appropriate. It represents not actually a sex symbol, but a husky muscular guy, our mighty super-hero, who will part this turbulent water of recession, and lead us out of this red sea of deficit, of financial diasters, in no time. Yes we can.

  • April 21st, 2009

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    SHAME-wow –– The CEO Super-absorbent Towel

    Shame-wow is the revolutionary super-absorbent sucker towel used by thousands of CEO and top salary executives of the big coporation of our civilized world today. This amazing shameless product has worked its way into the culture of Wall Street and beyond. Do you find monetary crisis all over your company from mismanagement you have previously inflicted, while running your corporation? Have you always want to have the right tools to get you out of this mess? Well, accidents tend to happen all the time, we are human after all. How about companies with tons of angry shareholders, shouting at your door? Nowadays you’re almost bound to find discontent oozing from all levels, all around you. Further, your marvelous re-structuring plans don’t help either.

    Cleaning up can become a drag, especially when you don’t have the right equipment. May be it is time to retreat. Today it’s your lucky day, you have this great Shame-wow tool (bonuses by any other name) at your disposal. Very few products have this special offer for getting you this win-win formula. If your company prospered, good, you get all the credit, plus a big fat bonus, but if you are forced to quit, or even fired, you will still get a big fat bonus. That’s why you need this new Shame-wow monetary Absorbent Tool of greed, no matter what situation your company got into. This new product was designed to make cleaning up with monetary drainage (into your pocket) much more efficient for you to do and is priced right when you are planning for a quick retreat.

  • April 21st, 2009

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    Beware Recession Rage

    News Flash: Two officers were wounded after the man opened fire on them when they responded to a domestic disturbance. The gunman was later arrested after surrendering following a four-hour stand-off. Richard Poplawski, 23, was armed with an assault rifle and two other guns and was said to be depressed after losing his job and feared the Obama administration was poised to ban guns.

    News Flash: It was reported that the man who shot dead 13 people and then killed himself at an immigrant community centre in the small American college town of Binghamton on Friday was depressed because he was unemployed and had difficulty in learning English.

    News Flash: In Los Angeles, an unemployed man with an MBA who was despondent over his financial problems shot and killed his wife, three children, mother-in-law and himself in an upscale home in a gated community. Officers found the bodies yesterday morning, after the wife failed to show up for work. The father left two suicide notes that detailed his money problems – one for police and one for friends and relatives. A will and a gun were found near his body.

    News Flash: On Sunday a gun man entered Pinelake Nursing Home of North Carolina at around 10 a.m. with more than one weapon. Witnesses report that he used both a deer gun and a shotgun as he blasted through the hallways. Wanda Stewart hid out in a secured washroom while her estranged husband Robert Stewart allegedly went through the nursing home will a gun.

    News Flash: In Toronto, a young woman, cuddling her eight-week-old infant, comes seeking help for physical abuse by her spouse: her eye is blackened and the baby has a broken arm. Another woman has also reached out in desperation: an argument over a dental bill ended with her enraged husband stuffing the invoice, literally, down her throat.

    The country’s economic indicators may be falling, but incidents of domestic violence are rising. Hotline calls, shelter visits, and domestic violence-related crimes are all up significantly, according to recent reports from US, Canada and UK.
    Job loss and declines in income add even more strain on violent relationships. A study on recent domestic-violence homicides found that “limited access to services for victims and unemployment for batterers” were key risk factors of abuse. And women often feel trapped in abusive relationships during tough economic times.

    The economy is not causing domestic violence, but it definitely influences it.

    Beware Recession Rage. Don’t feed the beast, seek help.

    Keira campaigns against domestic violence

    Keira Knightley is doing what Rihanna should do.

    Taking a firm and public stand against violence toward women.

    The award-winning British actress is shown being brutally attacked by her boyfriend in a disturbing new anti-domestic violence video for Women's Aid.

    The two-minute clip opens with the actress heading home from a long day of filming. When she arrives home, her boyfriend verbally and physically attacks her, accusing her of having an affair with a costar.

    But be warned. It looks real.

    Knightley lays on the floor as the beating continues, and when the camera pans out, you see an empty film set.

    "Isn't it time someone called cut?" the ad says. The video will air on April 6 in movie theaters.

    Knightley volunteered to star in her "Atonement" director Joe Wright's video  because "while domestic violence exists in every section of society we rarely hear about it. Domestic violence affects one in four women at some point in their lifetime and kills two women every week."