Wednesday, October 13, 2004

To see what I'm ranting about now, please go to

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Ahhhhh, time for my monthly blog entry... It's almost the end of the semester and time to tie up loose ends: classes, exams, papers, moving out, taxes, etc.. There are a lot of random things floating around in my head at the moment: thoughts from 502, Iraq and Bush's statements earlier this evening, DJ Shadow, and Gansu survey stuff, med school. Sigh.

I read the first couple of chapters of The Little Prince to Wilson over the weekend. Doesn't seem to be his "thing". Also Where the Sidewalk Ends didn't seem to strike any chords with him either. I wonder if there's any difference in the sort of imagination that my education has fostered in me compared to that of Chinese students my age. Then again, there are certainly other Americans my age who do not share my taste for children's books and poetry.

Okay, I'm going to bed.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

It's been a long week. Jiugong passed away on Monday when I was in New York. I flew back to CA on Sunday morning for the memorial and came back that evening. Popo shared some stories of her childhood and laughed about how things were back in the day before the Japanese invaded Hangzhou. Dad says she never really talked about her past much so I take every little story as a glimmer of understanding where my family came from. The fact that there are even pictures of popo and jiugong as children suggests that they were at least comfortable at that point, in the early 1930s. One funny thing about Jiugong that I didn't know before was that he had chosen his English name, Felix, because of Felix the Cat, since his last name was Mao (but not the same tone). Auntie Sally and Auntie Dora both talked about how as kids he took them on road trips and would always take huge detours to check out the nearest dam, since he had designed dams in his days as a civil engineer in Taiwan. ;) There was one picture of Jiugong standing in front of a villa that was later occupied by Chairman Mao when he was in Hangzhou (I want to figure when this was. Maybe during inspection tours of the countryside in the mid-1950s?). One thing that I just didn't have the guts to do was the three bows to Jiugong's coffin to show respect. I think it was awkward mostly because I wouldn't have done that to him in real life and act of sudden formality felt too contrived. But just in case, I did do it my mind. It was hard to look at Jiugong in a coffin. Perhaps it's due to all the Chinese studies stuff running through my veins, but my mind just can't help but wander to Lenin and Mao in particular whenever I see somebody's body on display. I think I prefer to remember Jiugong the way I see him in my mind and not the way he was in the coffin.

I want to at least mention that for the other part of Spring break, although I didn't get much schoolwork done, I did get to catch up with many good friends and it was refreshing to see them after all this time. Sigh of contentment. In New York, Wilson and I met up with Annie, Cheline, Amo, and Becca. In Boston, I stayed with Asia and Scott, met up with Annie, Shirley, and Kenny. I have a stories to tell, but I don't want it all to sound like a timeline so I will save it for another entry.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Saw "Fog of War" this evening with Micah, Dan, and Wilson. The four of us walked out with surprisingly different impressions of the movie. I think it was less a history lesson than a portrait of a man. The irony lies in that the "lessons" learned of this very uncommon man were oddly common sense, but still very insightful. He is at the very least an incredibly sharp guy.
Ethics. Philip J. Ivanhoe. He's a Chinese philosophy professor that once taught at Stanford and Umich. Albert says that somewhere in his work he highlights the fact that there is no "always" in ethics, that somehow sticking to any absolute can be very wrong in some situation. So just exactly HOW did I fall in to an ethical debate with my advisor (not really a good situation to be in, I'll have you know. It's just a little awkward.)?

This comes up in reference to the GSCF because the "third" leg of the survey is a one to two county eyeglass intervention for all school children who need glasses. I personally find it a little bit too idealistic to be true, but I'm holding out and putting my faith in Albert on this one. He really believes in it and I can see at least the beneficial value this adds to the project. Jason Carr, from the School of Public Health, who is also working on the health part of the project, has made a point that a limited intervention in the context of the entire survey is not entirely ethical from a clinical research point of view since we would be "selecting" a sample out of the entire cohort of 20 counties to receive the intervention, which we know for certain has a beneficial impact on the recipients. I see his point, but my view is that the county level intervention is separate from the rest of the survey in many ways and may be considered an almost entirely separate survey in of itself, in which all those who need the intervention receive it.

This is relevant to maternal-fetal HIV transmission prevention clinical trials in Africa. Here's a quick sum up from pubmed of the significance a paper on exactly this question by G. J. Annas and M. A. Grodin, published in the American Journal of Public Health (Apr 1998):

"The human rights issues raised by the conduct of maternal-fetal human immunodeficiency virus transmission trials in Africa are not unique to either acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or Africa, but public discussion of these trials presents an opportunity for the United States and other wealthy nations to take the rights and welfare of impoverished populations seriously. The central issue at stake when developed countries perform research on subjects in developing countries is exploitation. The only way to prevent exploitation of a research population is to insist not only that informed consent be obtained but also that, should an intervention be proven beneficial, the intervention will be delivered to the impoverished population. Human rights are universal and cannot be compromised solely on the basis of beliefs or practices of any one country or group. The challenge to the developed countries is to implement programs to improve the health of the people in developing countries both by improving public health infrastructure and by delivering effective drugs and vaccines to the people."

Rather than purely an issue of ethics, they argue that this infringes on human rights? What's the difference between ethics and human rights? Anyone? I'm wading into foreign territory here... More thoughts later. I'm going to go feed myself.

Friday, February 06, 2004

Okay, I'm not going to complain about the weather for once. Today started with Lieberthal's Asia Security Issues Seminar with CIA China Issues Manager, Dennis Wilder, as a guest. Nice to have an "insider" view on the credibility of the CIA, just as Bush announces his panel for investigating intelligence's role in presenting info to policy makers in washington. Right at noon, I attended a talk by the Singapore Ambassador to the UN, Kishore Mahbubani, who emphasized golf as a relevant link to the peace between member of ASEAN. Then I had Chinese class and once again arrived a couple minutes late because of the talk. Chen Laoshi definitely gave me that disapproving 'look' that language teachers in my life seem to have mastered so well. At 2pm, I rushed back over to the social work building for another talk by Dennis Wilder, which essentially echoed the sentiments about the CIA that he had expressed earlier in the seminar. He and Likairu certainly come off as great buddies.

Then I took a break and ate Sun tofu chigae with Elissa and Micah. Had a good time just chillaxing with my CCS crew and lamented online shopping woes. Great way to unwind after a day of asian security issue overload.

Then printed out a few copies of my resume in hopes of procuring a johnson and johnson internship from the Asian Business Conference career fair. It was clear that they weren't interested in the likes of me. Too community minded for them--not to mention I don't have an MBA. Did notice that the MBA types dress a lot better than the rest of the students I see on campus. Nice threads, but it's just clothes. I do expect that most MBAs will make more money than I can imagine. I just hope they have the big picture in mind and don't forget about the externalities of what they're doing. After the disappointing showing at the career fair (BUT I DID get a free pen and a lancer evo promo booklet. It was ALL worth it.), I headed over to the breakout session with the secretary of ASEAN and Mr. Mahbubani. Reminded of what dad said about the global labor market. I'm not just competing with ppl at stanford or umich or the U.S., but everyone on planet earth. I better start studying harder. Gotta make myself indispensable somehow. I don't want to be a waste of space and oxygen.... ;P Hahah. Well, in my own personal universe, all i can really compete against is myself... At least this way, I can never lose, right? ;)

Thursday, February 05, 2004

ARRRRRRRRRGHHHHHHH! I somehow contracted cabin fever the other day. But maybe I at least deserve a little bit of credit for getting all the way past Groundhog's day before going crazy. I need to box. I need to run. I need to see the sun. I need to get awaaaaaaaay. I want my car. I want fresh fruit. I want yummy veggies. I hate my kitchen. My room is closing on me. It's minus three degrees outside (minus ten considering windchill). Sigh. I need to go, but I feel so lethargic. I can't get anything done. I can't seem to motivate myself to do ANY thing. There are so many things going in the world and I'm stuck wallowing in my room! Jebus, that's just depressing.

Things will get better though. Because I know for a fact the days are getting longer. There will be fun times ahead. I will see my friends soon. I can go to the gym.

Life goes on, even in cold weather.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Ahhhh, hello blog world. Long time no talk. The weather gods have been playing tricks on me. One day they let me wear tank tops and the next I'm in thermals. Here, if you call it "lake effect", it's all okay apparently. Ann Arbornites are easy to please.

A whirlwind of stuff in my life has put me behind on my random ponderings. I was even behind on reading nytimes! On Friday, Micah brought to my attention a rather depressing manisfestation of the Comprehensive vs Selective Primany Health Care debate in Henan, China (article in the nytimes). So finally, the Chinese government has pledged to to provide AIDS treatment to anyone positively infected with HIV, but (there's always a "but") the government is unable to offer anything besides the most archaic drug cocktails, the ones that are no longer under patent. Some rural farmers encounter such violent side-effects (vomiting, etc) that they decide not to continue treatment. Here's where the debate comes in: selective phc can theoretically be more cost effective in targeting specific problems, like HIV/AIDS patients, but it's inherent narrowness precludes investment in more sustainable comprehensive care that could potentially be more effective at monitoring AIDS patients. Comprehensive phc would be the ideal, but it's geometrically more difficult to convince people to fund broad programs without obvious milestones or fashionable pr quips. For the short term what comes to mind for effective monitoring is perhaps modeling the Henan treatments with a looser form of DOTS or simply more training for counselors. Just a reminder that just getting the "goods" is not enough for health.