Monday 26 September 2005

The Butterfly Effect Of Katrina And Rita

Notwithstanding the human costs of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the long-term economic and social costs will be equally devastating and wide-reaching. In Canada, oil prices had risen dramatically since the disasters hit the US. Consumers had seen unparalleled increases in gasoline and diesel prices. Yet, many of the economic downfalls to come will be more pervasive and indirect. This is because, in today’s materialistic society driven by a resource-heavy economy, oils are essential in both the manufacturing of virtually all consumable products and the transportation of these manufactured products to markets. Business sectors, such as agricultural, energy, manufacturing, and transport industries among others that are heavy consumers of “non-green” fuels, will be severely stressed by the economic impacts of the US disasters. In turn, consumers will see prices rise over time in products and services provided by these sectors. Moreover, jobs from these industries will need to be relocated away from the affected regions, resulting in further unemployment and diversion of human resources in these areas. In the end, such economic and social costs are likely to be as immeasurable as the costs of human lives, and we will bear the consequences of such costs for years to come.

By Philip Jong • At 05:49 AM • Under Column • Under World
Public Post • CommentsTrackbacksPermalink

Monday 19 September 2005

Disguising Racial Segregation In Schools

Last week, the Toronto District School Board was publicly cited for considering the establishment of a black-only school in the city. The motive was to improve public education for minorities by fostering an ethnic-sensitive learning environment with black teachers and Afro-centric curriculum. The public reaction towards this recommendation had been swift and polarized. The formal institution of racial segregation in schools had never been done in Canada. In United States, racial segregation in public schools existed until 1954 when the US Supreme Court ruled against the “separate but equal” doctrine of public education and required the desegregation of all schools across America. Today, racial divide and tension still prevail in our educational system that supposedly teaches tolerance, diversity, and multiculturalism. Regardless of the motive behind the decision, the establishment of a black-only school is simply a form of racial segregation in disguise. It will neither provide a more nurturing environment to minorities nor improve tolerance between different ethnic groups in the community. As an immigrant of Chinese descent myself, I have greatly benefited from a multicultural educational system that promotes ethnic diversity and racial tolerance. As Winston Churchill once said, “Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.” Enforcing segregation is not the answer; teaching tolerance is.

By Philip Jong • At 04:34 AM • Under Column • Under World
Public Post • CommentsTrackbacksPermalink

Monday 12 September 2005

When Is A Drug Not A Drug?

These days I see many infomercials and ads on television selling “miracle” pills that promise to cure a wide variety of ailments. Among the common health miracles made by these advertisements are promises such as weight loss, hair growth, and pain relief. These pills are sold as nutritional or dietary supplements in order to avoid the strict regulations existed in many countries that forbid false health claims and advertisements of pharmaceutics to the public. While government agencies had been successful in prosecuting many unscrupulous vendors and removing these offended products, the legal process was often slow and could not protect the public from the next “false” drug or “miracle” cure. Moreover, special interest groups in many countries had successfully lobbied their governments against the need for these supplements to provide the same level of scientific proofs to support their health claims as traditional pharmaceutics.

As a health professional myself, I see little difference between traditional drugs and so-called supplements. Any substance that is given outside of its natural form or concentration or extracted for the purpose of consumption for a health problem is a pharmaceutic, regardless of the origin and nature of the active ingredient. Even water can be toxic to the body in non-physiologic amount. In other words, there should only be one dividing line for all health products—ones that work and ones that do not work. Any other divide serves little to protect the public’s health.

By Philip Jong • At 11:22 AM • Under Column • Under Health • Under Work • Under World
Public Post • CommentsTrackbacksPermalink

Sunday 04 September 2005

The Perception Of Truth

Is truth simply the way we may explain most easily what we observe of the world around us? My work as a scientist demands that I continually question the perception of truth. Long ago, the Catholic Church hailed Ptolemy’s geocentric view of the universe as the truth to explain God’s creation of our world. When Copernicus proposed a simpler heliocentric model to predict the motion of planets in our solar system, his view was quickly scorned as a challenge to the biblical truth. Today, we know that the heliocentric view of the universe explains not only the motion of our planets but also the motion of planetary bodies in other galaxies. Yet, it will be wrong of us to choose the heliocentric view over the geocentric view just because it provides a simpler explanation of our universe. This is because while Occam’s Razor may dictate the principle of parsimony when selecting a theory to explain our world, the same principle may not guarantee that the chosen theory indeed represents the truth. In other words, truth is not simply the way we may explain most easily of the world around us. Truth does not stand alone. It stands besides all other truths of the universe. The only way to pursue truth is to continue to challenge existing belief with other truths, rather than accepting it in isolation.

By Philip Jong • At 09:02 PM • Under Column • Under Life • Under Work
Public Post • CommentsTrackbacksPermalink

Saturday 03 September 2005

The True Tragedy Of Natural Disaster

Seeing the human tragedy brought on by Hurricane Katrina in the US has made me question my own readiness to survive in a similar disaster. We live in a structured society that is maintained by the laws of our land. These laws protect our liberty rights and uphold civil orders in our community. When our own survival is threatened, we quickly cast aside these laws and create our own. We ignore other individuals’ rights and place our own needs above others. Civil disobedience ensures and chaos runs rampant. The destruction by Hurricane Katrina extends beyond that of properties and human lives. It has destroyed our civil conducts and moral values that define us.

By Philip Jong • At 02:41 AM • Under Column • Under World
Public Post • CommentsTrackbacksPermalink

Friday 02 September 2005

Should Blogging Have A Purpose?

My blog is just one of the millions and millions of blogs now on the internet. If there is a topic, there is a blog on that topic. These blogs range from insightful commentaries to mundane one-liners. Because there is no policing of what is allowed in a blog, anyone who seeks to speak up can put up a blog for the world to see. The end result is a sea of mingled content, much of it worthless except to those who wrote the blogs. More tragically, these noises drown out the voices that should instead be heard aloud. When I blog, I choose to blog with a purpose—to inform, to educate, or to share. A blog should not be written solely for self-gratification. A writer must blog with a responsibility to the readers, so that its content will not add more noise to an already noisy world.

By Philip Jong • At 09:25 AM • Under Column • Under Life • Under Play
Public Post • CommentsTrackbacksPermalink

Thursday 01 September 2005

Why Must We Care About The World Around Us?

No man is an island. We live in an interconnected world—interconnecte by geography, culture, politics, and economics. In this interconnected world, events that occur far away can deeply impact on the lives we live daily. Each day I keep myself informed of the events of the world around me through newspapers, books, radio, television, and now the internet. This is because, in today’s world, we can no longer live in a sheltered life as our ancestors once did. To be observant of the world around us allows us to be more perceptive of our own lives. It reminds us that we must be grateful for what we have been given in life when compared to those who have not been given what we take for granted. When our way of lives is threatened, we must step up to protect them and help others who share our way of lives. To refuse is to ignore the interconnected nature of our existence. We must care about the world around us, for otherwise the world will not exist for us to care.

By Philip Jong • At 02:05 PM • Under Column • Under Life
Public Post • CommentsTrackbacksPermalink