Monday, May 7, 2012

Why I don't like One-Child Policy

Recently, Chen Guangchen, the blind lawyer who was saved by the US ambassador Jiahui Luo has come to the media exposure and show how a modern government ignore human rights in the basic human nature: birth.He was jailed and tortured by Chinese government for his brave behavior in helping rural residents who failed to protect their rights, of which the the right of having a second child in one  family is the primary one.

Of all the facts that affect us, the most urgent one is the 4-2-1 effects. The 4-2-1 effect refers to situation that when children who were the only child in one family grows up and have their own child, they have four parents to take care and one child to raise up. That is, one couple has to take care of at least five people in one time. As Chinese people value family bond and there was no mature healthcare system for senior people, the responsibility of taking care of seniors falls on to the young couple, which cause enormous to middle-aged person.

Take myself for example, I am the only one child at home and I have the responsibility to take care of my parents when they are old. That means I cannot choose whatever career I want, like staying in another country doing reporting. When  I get married, if my husband is the only child for his parents (which is mostly likely because if you marry another single child, you can have two children instead of one, this is the new policy), so we have to take care of four parents and two children. I cannot imagine how I can solve this economic puzzle by my poor payment.

Natural disasters aggravate this problem when parents lost their only child in the middle age or even senior years. For instance, in the Wenchuan earthquake that happened in May12, 2008, more than 680,000 people were killed, among whom 5335 were students in primary school and high school. The number 5335 were based on families who report the loss of children for applying for relief and help, so it was far smaller than the real number since many families were killed as a whole and many families did not apply. Couples who lost their children and want to have another one have to deal with problems like the increasing risk for pregnant women over 35, and many husbands or wives have done the sterilization surgery so that it is difficult for them to be pregnant again. As a result, the Chinese government introduced the special policy there---allowing couples who lost their children to bear another child, and provide healthcare to those pregnant women in related to the psychological and physical problems due to depression and age risk. 

This also leads to a problem of a lack of bide in China, when bachelor are hard to find their wives. The ratio of boys to girls in mainland China reached 117:100 in the year 2000. And because the Chinese tradition requires men to pay a certain amount of money to their wife’s family when they are getting married, men in poorer communities are hard to find wives. As a result, women trafficking became their solution. The movie <Blind Mountain> tells a story of a female graduate who was abducted to a village and was forced to have babies with a guy. After more than ten years of struggling she finally got connected with her family and was let to go. It was reported by the Xinhua net that in the year 2011, the Ministry of Public security has arrested 3195 groups of women abducting and trafficking, saving 1,5458 women and 8660 children. We have no idea how those women who were failed to be rescued or even unknown by the public and were still living with the trafficking family.

This concern affects me even I am not suffered from any natural disaster. Before I left for another country, like most of other parents, they forbid me to take single trip, even a two-hour single trip, jut because they are afraid of losing me. Now I am in a different country. And before I came to US, I told myself that my primary goal to be here is survival, to be more specific, to be alive. This is ridiculous but I do keep it in my mind. Because I am the only child in my family, they invest all the savings on me so that I can glorify the whole family, if by any chance I let them lose everything, I don't know how will they survive. My grandmother also told me this when I was packing the luggage, I am sure this is the fact.

Randomness is the only rule?

Book review of the Drunkard’s Walk: how randomness rules our lives

For me, the definition of a good book is that it inspires me to read more books on a subject, instead of making me feel that I’ve learned all I want to know. The Drunkard’s Walk: How randomness rules our lives definitely fits this definition.
There are ten chapters in this book, and author Leonard Mlodinow tackles  mathematics and logic first, then statistics, and ends up with psychology. Meanwhile physics, especially astrophysics is woven into every chapter. The book is full of surprises even for a person who loves these topics, because Mlodinow connects them in such a fluid and smart way.
Even though I’ve read many other books about philosophy, physics, mathematics and logic reading this book was exciting because The Drunkard’s Walk  connected topics in new ways, filled gaps in what I knew and aroused more questions. For example, I am fascinated by ancient Greek philosophers for their balanced, beautiful and intelligent concepts and debates about the world. I am saddened that the ancient Roman domination brought about the demise of the great Greek culture to a degree.
This book challenged my thinking by explaining how the concepts of statistics arose from Roman culture because they were practical, and cared more about actual lives, and realized that statistics were both useful and sexy. Greeks, on the other hand, believed that gods are everything and that everything is determined by universal rules, so there is no need to talk about statistics – not to mention randomness, a concept that could not coexist with the Greek idea of gods.
The Drunkard’s Walk reminds me of one of my favorite Chinese books, and the two would be great to read together.  The title of the second book is Does God Throw DiceThe history of atomic physics.
The author of the earlier book, Tianyuan Cao, though claiming to be an atheist he seems to admit the existence of God. Much of intellectual debate through the ages, and certainly high-level physics, boils down to a debate about whether god exists.
The main focus of Does God Play Dice? is how the quest to understand the nature of light – as wave, particle, or both --led to many big steps in modern or late physics. And, as the reference to a game of chance suggests, this is also a book about whether randomness exists, and whether randomness actually paves the way for every discovery. Physicists seeking to understand light, for instance, discovered electro-magnetic waves and wave-particle dualism. The most interesting part, to me at least, is that without randomness or the understanding of the randomness, the laws of physics would be a less standardized and more random.
Leonard Mlodinow, the author of the the Drunkard’s Walk, approaches many of the same questions from the opposite direction and describes how the rules of mathematics, or logic, yields randomness. As physics depends heavily on math it discusses it from time to time, these two are perfect match for me. Why does randomness exist? Is there any point in making plans for the weekend? Can weather reports be trusted? Mlodinow puts forth some answers in this book.
The only thing that I didn’t like about this book was that it persuaded me to see the world as more random than before. I now understand why some physicists commit suicide after learning that there is no universal law to explain everything that happens in this universe; in my own life, I understand waves of hopelessness better.
But I haven’t given up. After all, Issac Newton and Albert Einstein each made massively important discoveries during their failed quest to discover a unifying principle. I am looking to what I might discover while looking for something else.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Do we need cure for cancer?

Like many people, the most impressed lecture that I had in AHCJ conference was the speech by chief medical and scientific officer of American Cancer Society, Otis Brawley. I still remember that journalists in the restroom were all talking about this even after it was over. 

My boyfriend, who majored in pre-med for four years before transferring to linguistics major, long believed that there already has cure for cancer. He thinks that it was because of the lusts of politicians and doctors that it was prevented from being used as medical treatment. I am not surprised by his perspective because he also believes that the huge profits of battery industry stops electronic producers from launching the long-lasting battery power, the technology of which is also mature enough but was prevented to people like you and me. 

I may never know whether cure or new technology was hided from me in my life, but I don't expect there to be a cure from the beginning. Or, if there is cure for cancer, I would not see it as a good news.

To start with, I believe that the earth and the whole biological circle has its own balance.For thousands of years, species extincted and regenerated, temperature of the atmosphere increased and decreased. That's one of the reason that I do not buy the concept of global warming. To be more accurate, even the earth is warmer than before, it may because that it has come to another warm period like thousands years ago---like ice ages, our planet also experienced warm ages. I see huge ego when politicians are calling for investments and steps to stop the earth from being heated up. For me, they are trying to save themselves, not this earth. 

Back to cancer, I see it as a way of balancing the number of people living in this world. I am strengthened of this thought after I read articles about people who live pretty healthy lifestyles in clean environment got cancer still. 

I do not mean that people should ignore this terrible disease. I believe the man-made cancer needs to be eliminated: lung cancer from smoking, or gastric cancer from disordered diets. However, fatal disease like leukemia happens to people without certain characters or lifestyles. That's why people always ask : why me? 

And it is hard for me to develop a situation of human beings without cancer. Would people abandon healthy lives and do whatever they like? The mindset of us would be much different than the current situation that we are bounded by many things in spite of cancer: time, space, IQ, EQ and so on. My limited imagination stops me from thinking what the world would like without these cruel but sensible limitations. 

Back to a desirous people, I still believe health is the primary of treasure in one's life that's why I chose healthy lifestyles and also expects the technology would help me stay healthy and relieve pain if I get disease. If these are all done, I will see cancer as part of my healthy life.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Society Needs to be Healed

March 23rd, Heilongjiang, China. A patient stabbed three doctors after the intern doctor, Wang Hao told him that prior to the treatment for his spine disease he must first cure his TB.  Two doctors were severely injured; this medical student stopped breathing right away.

After the patient was arrested, he said that the reason he intended to kill the doctors was that he believed they refused to cure him.

The tragedy was soon reported, among 6000 comments under the news, more than 4000 readers voted "happy" about news while fewer than 2000 voted "sad". One citizen wrote: let's have some beer and music, celebrate!

It is understandable that people in China are generally dissatisfied with the medical care from doctors and the whole system. For a long time, doctors are known for charging extra money for treatments and extract money from patients by prescribing expensive but impractical drugs. And from time to time, news about patients dying due to the misdiagnosis comes up. Most people who voted "happy" reflect these facts and think these doctors deserve their death.

However, it is also known that doctors in China are not well-paid and respected. The medical system is more like a bureau system in which doctors' salary are fixed by rank instead of by effectiveness and number of treatments. Doctors are hard pressed to recover their tuition expenses under this low-paying system. With general acceptance of Chinese traditional medicine, patients are more apt to second-guess the western medicine treatment they may receive.

From a professional perspective, an article which was posted right away on a medical website which defended the young doctor's decision because his TB would create serious life-threatening syndrome for the treatment. That's to say, the patient killed the doctor who tried to save his life.

Wang Hao was just admitted to a top doctoral programs in a Hong Kong University. For five years he interned in a hospital without receiving any salary. Wang Hao was kind-hearted and he often personally advanced the required prepayment fees on behalf of his patients who could not afford the hospital fees, as reported by his colleagues and classmates. However, it is coldblooded and inhumane to discuss whether the killer and those who commented "happy" are in the right or wrong because obviously no living being deserves this.

I am very sad at such a new, though i don't find it very surprising. Several years ago, one of my friends who worked as a doctor told me that medical workers are frequently assaulted; all doctors and nurses in his hospital have to keep the windows open so in case they must escape from a disgruntled patient who comes threatening. I saw several reports of revenge by patients who feel they did not receive fair treatments.

What is wrong with our society? Are we living in a society in which doctors are believed to be killers instead of people who save lives? Do people not trust the experts any more? Do we need a moral treatment besides the physical treatment? From among the 4000 out of 6000 who express happiness at the death of a young devoted professional healer, will there rise another killer?

Many a friends have sent me this news and ask if i can do something about this, as a medical journalism student. It is a sad state of affairs when so many of in our society have developed the dark thoughts that doctors could deserve such a fate.  We should consider the positive contribution and the countless lives that the medical profession save on a daily basis and keep a balanced attitude about the advancement of our medical system. Tragic events like Wang Hao must not occur again.