Friday, January 25, 2008 just doesn't get it

My letter to

Dear Hulu:

Please stop being your own worst enemy. I am an American who travels a lot for business and spend most of my time in Asia. Was quite excited to join the beta, but, true to your sclerotic, old-school, Old Media roots, you deny me access to programs on because I am abroad.

Sigh... Back to Youtube and other sites then...


Boyd R. Jones

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Tests reveal toxic delta vegetables - Pearl River Delta, China

Well, I guess it is not enough that one can not breathe the air in Guangdong let alone exercise (for fear of injuring your lungs), but now apparently you can not eat the vegetables there due to toxic pollution.

Tests reveal toxic delta vegetables
High lead, cadmium levels in food
Zhuang Pinghui and Cheung Chi-fai

Jan 18, 2008

Serious heavy-metal contamination has been found in vegetables from the Pearl River Delta and in the soil they grow in, a mainland report says.

Surveys of densely populated cities such as Guangzhou, Foshan , Dongguan and Zhongshan discovered the soil contamination, the Guangzhou Daily reported yesterday. Samples taken in areas such as Nanhai and Xinhui - among the province's main vegetable-producing areas - showed serious contamination.

An expert said the areas did not supply Hong Kong's vegetables.

Although the contamination may not be serious enough to lead to food poisoning - because most chemicals can be washed away before consumption - the findings confirm the fears of environmentalists that Guangdong's breakneck economic development over the past three decades has caused serious environmental damage.

The soil sampling - initiated by Guangdong's Agriculture Department - is being carried out after Chen Riyuan , a professor at South China Agriculture University, submitted his own study to the government last year alerting it to the problem of heavy-metal contamination of vegetables.

Another study conducted by Sun Yat-sen University examined vegetable samples taken from 12 wet markets in Guangzhou. It confirmed that contaminated vegetables had found their way to consumers.

Lead levels in leaf samples tested were 37.5 per cent above acceptable limits and cadmium levels were 18.1 per cent too high. In samples of root vegetables, the level of lead was 26.3 per cent above acceptable limits and cadmium 9.7 per cent too high.

It is not the first time researchers have found chemical contamination of Guangdong's farmland. In 2005, a State Environmental Protection Agency survey found 40 per cent of the delta's cities suffered from heavy-metal pollution, with the contamination "serious" in 10 per cent of cities.

Contacted yesterday, Professor Chen said he hoped the government would be able to come up with solutions. He said his study showed the problem had been controlled in big cities but was prevalent elsewhere.

"Land that has suffered low levels of pollution can be treated through technology," he said. "But it will be very costly to deal with land with serious pollution."

He suggested growing flowers or trees as an alternative.

Professor Chen said Hong Kong should not worry because vegetables supplied to the city mainly came from so-called "pollution-free" production bases in the province. According to the Guangzhou Daily, Guangdong has 260,000 hectares of farmland qualified as pollution-free.

Wong Ming-hung, director of the Croucher Institute for Environmental Science at Hong Kong Baptist University, said there was no cause for panic since most of the chemicals could be washed off leaf vegetables.

"The top priority now is to conduct research to find the sources of these heavy metals. Contaminated land should be left vacant," he said.

Edward Chan Yue-fai, of environmental group Greenpeace, cautioned that the problem could spread as polluting factories moved inland.

Hong Kong's Centre for Food Safety would not comment on the Guangzhou Daily's report.

High levels of lead can damage virtually every system in the body. It is especially harmful to the developing brains of fetuses and young children.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I'll Tumblr for you

I just started using Tumblr having seen quite a few VCs (whose blogs I read) use it. Seems like an interesting middle ground between Twitter and long-form, traditional blogging.

Here's a link to my Tumblr bloggette.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Taiwan's medical system > USA's

When Americans live abroad for an extended period of time, we learn very quickly how much more expensive pharmaceuticals are in the US as compared to the rest of the world. For example, a good American friend of mine suffers from acid reflux and was prescribed Nexium by his American doctor (when he was visiting the States recently).

He assumed the price of Nexium in Taiwan would be much cheaper. The price difference was amazing. In the US, he bought Nexium for about US$300 for 30 capsules. (He, like a lot of Americans living abroad, has no health insurance in the US and the US has no national system like Taiwan does). In Taiwan, he is able to buy the EXACT SAME capsules for NT$1,040 (US$32 or so).

In the US, he needs a Rx to buy. In Taiwan, Nexium is over-the-counter.

When my friend related this story to me, we waxed poetic about medical tourism -- if one lived in the US, one literally might have to fly back to Taiwan to see the doctor and purchase medicines.

Something is wrong with the US medical system... Very wrong.... And, the Economist Intelligence Unit was "spot on" when it rated Taiwan's medical care system as the world's 2nd best in 2000.