Category Archives: news

Swine Flu exposes the ugly side of our ego-centrism

I’m not claiming innocence, I’m as guilty as the next self-centered person, but I am increasingly annoyed by the seemingly total lack of perspective that gets displayed by people caught up in the brain numbing 24 hour news cycle.  The recent “Swine Flu Outbreak” is a great illustration of what I’m talking about.

People in the news are are drooling over themselves as they can’t seem to say the word “pandemic” enough times.  Reminds me of my daughters when they learn a new word that they think sounds funny, they say it over and over and over and you begin to wonder if they even know what it means.

How about some perspective:

In Africa, malaria kills more than 3,000 children a day; in South Africa, HIV/AIDS has taken 2.8 million people and infected 5.3 million more. Every day in India, 1,000 people succumb to tuberculosis. Those are just the big diseases. According to the United Nations, a recent cholera outbreak killed nearly 4,000 Zimbabweans and infected 80,000, while in India diarrheal diseases kill an estimated 600,000 children under 5 every year.

So, when the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that deaths in Mexico from the H1N1 swine flu leapt to nine, you can see why the news didn’t make the front page in Africa or India.

How come CNN isn’t covering these stats in prime time?  How come you pray for your kid not to get the Swine Flu at school, but haven’t even blinked at the thousands killed by malaria in Africa?  Is it because it’s all about ME, ME, ME, ME?  Do you suffer from willful ignorance, thus affecting your perspective on the Swine Flu?

Am I wrong about this?

Ponzi, Not Fonzi!

fonzMaybe it’s because I have not lived in America for awhile, or maybe my education was lacking in this area, but for whatever reason, I had no idea what the media was talking about when they talked about Bernard Madoff and kept referring to a “Ponzi Scheme” without explaining what it was!

All I kept thinking about when I read it was “Arthur Herbert Fonzarelli” aka, the Fonz.  (Those were some Happy Days!)

So I eventually broke down and googled it and got an answer from Wikipedia:

Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation that pays returns to investors from their own money or money paid by subsequent investors rather than from profit. The term “Ponzi scheme” is used primarily in the United States.

There you go, I learned something today… and maybe so did you!  Doing my part to educate my readers (both of you.)

Here Comes Winter!

sweeping snowThe China National Meteorological Center (NMC) urged the country to prepare for a harsh winter and to be prepared for freezing rain and snow disasters.

 BEIJING, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) –   Over the past month, heavy snow or blizzard have hit many north China provinces and regions, while Hunan, Guizhou and some other south China provinces suffered freezing rain or snow related complication.

Last year, between Jan. 10 to Feb. 2 of 2008, Hunan province was hit by freezing rain and snow four times in a row, shutting down transportation and cutting off basic necessities (water, food, electricity) for weeks.

We were not in China last winter, but everyone I talk to who was here last year said it was terrible.

I think we might prepare some ‘supplies’ just in case…

Excuses

I know, it’s been real quiet around here at stevewebel.com, there are a few reasons for this.  Besides being extremely busy, I just haven’t been able to get motivated to post anything here.  This is mostly due to the issue that my last post cryptically refers to… milk in China.  It’s depressing.
Toxic?

BEIJING (AP) — China’s Cabinet vowed a complete overhaul of the scandal-ridden dairy industry Monday, pledging to inspect every link from the farm to the dinner table to try to restore public trust in Chinese-made food products. 

In its strongest action yet, China’s highest level of government called the industry “chaotic” and acknowledged there was a lack of oversight.

08.08.08

Well, the big day has arrived…  The day of the opening of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China.

I feel like I should tell my Chinese friends, “Ok, everyone can breathe now.”  This day has been so highly anticipated for so long, I’m afraid there is going to be some let-down when things don’t live up to the unrealistic expectations many have manufactured for the 2008 Summer Games.

     With the Olympics finally coming to China, tens of thousands of young people have rushed to marry or deliver babies.

    The Games are due to open on Friday, or 08/08/08. “Eight” is a lucky number among the Chinese, and many couples plan to tie the knot on the “triple 8 day.” Civil affairs authorities have predicted that Friday could set a one-day record for marriages since 1949, when the People’s Republic of China was founded.

As a lucky day, 08/08/08 is also a favorite for many pregnant women. In central Chinese city of Changsha, Hunan Province, several hospitals have increased the number of beds for expectant mothers.

    “I want to have an Olympics baby on Aug. 8. It is such a special day worth remembering,” said a 38-year-old woman surnamed Xie at the Hunan Provincial Maternal and Children Health Hospital.

    At the request of Xie and several other expectant mothers, doctors will help them undergo Caesarean births on Friday, said a head nurse surnamed Li at the hospital.

    “We advised them that natural births are better, but they are eager to have Olympic babies,” Li said.

If all of this strikes you as a bit over the top, well it may be, but it’s also exactly the way the Chinese want it to be.

It appears that the Chinese are not the only ones taking advantage of “triple 8 day”, President George Bush attended the dedication of the 600,000-square-foot US embassy in Beijing with his father, former President George H.W. Bush. The elder Bush once served as U.S. ambassador to China.

As many of you know, thanks in part to the 2008 Olympics, I am in Hong Kong right now working on getting visas for my family and I to live in China.  What would have normally been a simple process, has become a bit of a red-tape nightmare.

It’s not all bad though.  I LOVE Hong Kong, so if I have to be ‘stuck’ somewhere, this is the place!

Oh, and there is a bit of Olympic spirit here, nearly 1,000 miles south of Beijing, as the equestrian events of the Olympic games are all being held here in Hong Kong.

Internet Addiction

Medill News Service reports that the Internet has become an out-of-control habit for more and more people. In fact, experts say that Internet addiction is a growing psychological and behavioral problem.

It’s estimated that 5% to 10% of Americans may be addicted to the Internet – that could mean as many as 30 million people. And, it’s an even bigger problem in other parts of the world. As many as 30% of the people living in China, Korea and Taiwan may be hooked.

Rubber DuckieSounds like ‘quackery‘ to me. An additional revenue source for psychologist who make their living convincing wealthy people they are sick in one way or the other and that they can get better by coughing up some cash and sitting through some ‘sessions.’

I don’t deny that some folks may have issues, my guess though is that it’s a problem that goes deeper than “the internet.”  

The percentages don’t even make sense.  The report from ‘experts’ say that “30% of the people in China” are suffering from internet addiction…  Based on the number of people in China who use the internet (38% according to the Pew Research Center), that would mean just about every person who uses the internet in China is also addicted to it…  I don’t think so.

I guess with $4 dollar gas, everyone has to find new ways to get by.  Airlines do this by charging for things you thought you already had paid for, it seems psychologists do this by inventing new ‘illnesses.’