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    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 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 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)