Friday, June 29, 2007

China is not our friend

If the people with extremely high IQs in China outnumber the population of the USA, how does it come that Chinese manufacturers are so damned stupid?

I am sickened by the endlessly unfolding saga of Chinese manufacturing corruption.
I am sick of writing about it - but I can't let go, since it is up to us in the Blogsphere to maintain the rage and propagate the message which is - boycott all things Chinese, including the bloody Olympics.

The Chinese must be made to realise that its corporate behavior has been internationally unacceptable.

OK, action is being taken in China. Factories are being closed down, they say.
BUT, the breadth of the criminal activity is only beginning to be uncovered.

Now we discover that people all over the world have been brushing their teeth with antifreeze.
Hundreds of thousands of people. Old folk in old folks' homes, for instance. All those in institutions wherein cheap generic products are supplied.. And, we are not sure who else and what else. Yet.

Now this, from today's Boston Herald.

Also Wednesday, Beijing police raided a village where live pigs were force-fed wastewater to boost their weight before slaughter, state media reported.
Plastic pipes had been forced down the pigs’ throats and villagers had pumped each 220-pound pig with 44 pounds of wastewater, the Beijing Morning Post reported Thursday.
Paperwork showed the pigs were headed for one of Beijing’s main slaughterhouses and stamps on their ears indicated that they already had been through quarantine and inspection, the paper said. Suspects escaped during the raid and no arrests were made, it said.
Earlier this week, inspectors announced they had closed 180 food factories in China in the first half of this year and seized tons of candy, pickles, crackers and seafood tainted with formaldehyde, illegal dyes and industrial wax.
"These are not isolated cases," Han Yi, an official with Wei’s quality administration, was quoted as saying in Wednesday’s state-run China Daily newspaper.
Han’s admission was significant because the agency has said in the past that safety violations were the work of a few rogue operators _ a claim aimed at protecting China’s billions of dollars of food exports.

The blood runs cold.

Just pop onto the Made in China directory to see how deeply exposed we are to the vast range of products being manufactured and exported by that populous nation.

Then on this technology site which reports on tainted dietary supplements, fake Chinese medicines and, for heaven's sake, lipsticks containing the carcinogenic Sudan red dye.

I would say that we can trust nothing bearing the words "Made In China" but, terrifyingly, some of the cheat products don't even reveal their origin.
We are in trouble.

Shame, China, shame!!!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Media screws the message

One thing I find deeply irritating in my beloved America is the media's preoccupation with health scares. The old control-by-fear policy seems aggressively ubiquitous in this country. There are fresh scares every day - and endless marketing of drugs to either deal with or add to the scares.

Today a research finding on antidepressants and pregnancy has hit the media - with absurd results.

From the Los Angeles Times we get reportage headlined "Study shows antidepressants increase birth defects" with a story whipping up worry about pregnancy and depression treatment.
From the Associated Press comes a report headlined "Antidepressants pose low birth defect risk".

As one who reads two papers in the mornings, I reeled when I found these conflicting treatments of the same report. The AP report was carried in the Boston Globe, the other in the Nashua Telegaph. AP's was a much shorter report and it avoided the hysteria-raising of the Californian counterpart. How could this be?

Editorial sensationalist policy versus dispassionate reportage?
You can bet your bottom dollar on it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

China Redux

Oh, no, it goes on. Now it is tyres or, for Americans, tires. Chinese manufacturers just happen to have left off a certain safety feature. Recall, recall!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The China problem escalates

I feel another burst of China-bashing coming on.
It has been building up for a week along with the reports of China providing the world with toys covered in lead-laced paint. Toxic Thomas the Tank Engine? This could be seen to imply a whole generation of brain-damaged boys.

For someone who has always loved the Chinese people, this growing saga of perfidy from China is as heartbreaking as it is enraging.

What are they thinking? Is it greed or expediency that has an era of Chinese companies sending poisons to the world?
It certainly is not stupidity. The Chinese are not stupid. Therefor it is the most wicked and duplicitous greed which is rampant in modern China - industries all over the country substituting cheap toxins for the proper ingredients in the goods they purport to manufacture.
Shame, China, shame!!

This phenomenon is out of control. It is ongoing, consciously masked by hierarchies of of Chinese businessmen as they pocket the profits.
The New York Times reported vividly on the obfuscations placed in front of the US Food & Drug Administration as it sought to find the source of the diethylene glycol which has been poisoning children in fever medicines - killing children, for heaven's sake!
The Chinese subsituted antifreeze for glycerine.

I have written about this before, of course.
I reiterate because of the new crisis with lead paints on children's toys. Yes, again the victims are children.
Thomas the Tank Engine has been painted lead red. Millions of Thomas the Tank Engines!! Toys children often put into their mouths. Everyone has known for decades that paint with lead content is ferociously dangerous to children. Don't tell me the Chinese never caught up on the news.

Of course the Western passion for economic rationalism bears responsibility here, too - and the West should not be off the hook just because China has been the culprit.

Bottom line is that it is all about outsourcing.
Everything is made in China these days - cheap products made, supposedly, to the specifications of the ordering companies.
Cheap goods from China are the secret to much wealth among Western companies, just as they are creating new wealth for Chinese companies.

It could be a comfortable arrangement but the Chinese are cheating. They are in a hurry to catch up with Western affluence and any short-cut will do.

Who knows what other short-cuts are being taken?
These crimes may be just the tip of an iceberg of manufacturing corruption.
Already, with the Chinese melamine which has been used in lethal animal food and the diethylene glycol used cough medicines and toothpaste are all over the world as bulk chemicals ready to be used for who knows what!

The Chinese have created a consumer mine field in the West and we must all now beware. We must see the words "Made in China" as an alarm, a danger signal. For our own wellbeing, we must not buy Chinese goods. And we must keep on and on and on making a fuss until we can force our own corporations to cancel orders and stand up for the West.
Even if it means we have to pay more for things.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Toughing it out

Blogging has taken a back seat while this blogger struggles with self-deprivation.
Being at the computer is a powerful smoking cue in my life - so I have been prowling about it rather than spending time on it. This means that I am desperately behind. And it also means that in doing without one thing I love and depend upon, I am also having to step back from the other thing I most love and depend upon.
It is tough.
I can't believe that the patches are really helping. The cigarette cravings come at all the usual moments and they are intense - rather like a desperate thirst.
They come from some deep visceral source, rising up to make a million receptors strain and reach for the soothing comfort of the cigarette, the civilized rituals, relief.
Only smokers known the calming pleasure tobacco delivers.
Only smokers appreciate the way tobacco can focus the mind and power the productivity.
It is extremely sad and mean that it has become the great danger - the most maligned of activities. Beer-swilling men who fall down dead drunk after beating their children and raping their wives are less criticised than smokers. Alcoholics are nurtured by society, given sympathy and treated as people who have a sickness. It is never their fault. Not even the massive collateral damage left in their booze-stewed wake.
But smokers?
The grotesque manner in which society has treated smokers is one of the things which has made me resist giving up. So repulsed am I by the behaviour of the Australian anti-smoking lobby that I do not wish to be associated with them - even in the business of not smoking.
They are self-righteous bullies who have blackmailed their way into sanction of society - inflicting their ugliness not only on smokers but on everyone. Look what they have been doing by way of shock tactic graphic advertising in Australia?

The medical grotesqueries they expose on television and cigarette packets is a form of violent pornography. It is driven not by a sense of being helpful towards smokers but by spite.
The Americans handle the smoking messages much better than the Australians. Their television ads are suggestive, warm, positive, encouraging... They don't threaten or criticise. They hold out a hand.

And, as I give up smoking, I make it quite clear that those crass and shameful graphic Australian messages bore absolutely no influence. Rather, I had to be on the other side of the world, far away from the ugly Australian anti-smoking campaigners, to be able to undertake the battle. The American hand of kindness has quietly worked.

Ah, but the American advertising industry is way more sophisticated than Australia's.
Here, in the land of Vance Packard and Marshall McLuhan, advertising is an art form.

Australia never quite got the media message about the media message. Gawd, I dread getting back to the cheap crap they call television advertising in Australia. It's nothing more than a talent-free con job. And, giving the advertising industry low-lifes lots of money from the anti-smoking lobby, they have come up trumps with a truly appalling job.
The campaign is a failure. It has not worked. It is a disgrace. It is a national embarrassment.

So I had better succeed in giving up smoking here in America because I know that once back in Australia, there were be only the negativity of that squalid mob in my face.

How the hell did we spawn such malicious marketing inferiority!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

The Paris Hilton phenomenon

The world has ground to a halt in the USA. I have surfed and surfed the TV news channels and there is only one subject being reported - being reported with obsessive minutiae, repetitive minutiae - and, of course, it is Paris Hilton, the tarty hotel heiress who is famous for being famous.
At first, I was amused and horrified. It seemed that the celebrity gossip which has been passing for news in this country had soared out of control.
But, pausing to scrutinise some of the coverage, it became apparent that, while it is, indeed, celebrity gossip reportage, there is something else at play here - something very interesting.

It is an exercise in national schadenfreud.
It is the display of country renewing its commitment to principles.

America has been inflicted with a daily diet of Paris's vapid and vulgar activities.
She has been a grotesque media creation, a cartoon of the American fascination with celebrity, riding high on endless concocted photo opportunities, not to mention the most artificially contrived un-reality TV show of them all.
But now she has tripped in demonstrating contempt for the DUI laws, in believing that as the celebrated Paris Hilton she is somehow above the laws, and the country has turned on her in a spirit of unified loathing.

Even Martha Stewart did not cop this sort of national vilification when she was jailed for insider trading. For all her faults, Martha has talent and has contributed to the world, albeit her contributions are stencilled cards and DIY Christmas decorations.
Paris Hilton is just the cheapest rich girl in the world. Even stencilling a card would be beyond her. But her country now is forcing her to contribute something towards its social mores. She is to be an example of comeuppance.
To that end, there were five helicopters and hundreds of media surrounding her house when she had her brief liberation from jail yesterday. The media halted all other news coverage to mull over the justice and ethics of her case. From channel to channel, there were debates, discussions and analyses - from Fox's savage talking heads to Larry King, from The View to Jay Leno.
And no one had a good word to say about her.
All of which has given her a new crown to wear.
Paris Hilton has taken over from O.J. Simpson has the most hated celebrity in the USA.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Screaming audience aversion

When did women start screaming to indicate their enthusiasm?
Once upon a time there was a thing called "applause" - a clapping of the hands to convey delight or appreciation. Sometimes it came with added whistles.
Then the "whoop" arrived and audiences added whooping vocal sounds to applause.
Now they just scream.
If they are applauding with their hands, it is inaudible beneath the shrill of shrieks and screams.
It is a most terrible sound. It is a descent into inanity.
Is it clear how much I hate this development in the world of entertainment?
Or, how mystified I am about it?

The strident insistence of extended audience screaming has caused me simply to turn off television programs I otherwise may have watched, even enjoyed. Conan O'Brien, the offbeat late night presenter, actively encourages this animalistic nonsense from his audience, cueing the women to keep on and on with the screams as he basks in it its approbation.
On the NBC morning show, there are screamers waiting in the streets. The moment they see a camera light go on, they start with the screaming.
This mindless din accompanies more and more American television. Well, it accompanies anything that includes a live audience. God forbid they start injecting the canned screams to the recorded shows. Daresay it may come.
This phenomenon has acquired nauseating ubiquity. We have produced a whole generation of people who can only express themselves with primal high Cs.
And no one seems to complain, to ask them to try the old hand-clapping routine...

Am I the only person who is despairing of this?
It makes me want to scream!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Robin Cook, where are you?

It reads like a Robin Cook medical thriller. Man with serious infectious disease defies his government and endangers innocent travellers in his desperate bid to slip back home under the radar.
But it is not fiction.

There are many questions we want to ask about Andrew Speaker and his rare and dangerous form of tuberculosis - the very variant which engages his new father-in-law in clinical research. Where and how did he contract this treatment-resistant illness? The microbiologist father-in-law, Robert Cooksey, has been facing news cameras, saying it has nothing to do with him or his work. But, what a co-incidence!

Speaker just married the doctor's daughter in Greece, we understand, and went on honeymoon in the Greek Islands, Italy and as yet unnamed other European countries. It was while he was out of the US that the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention notified him of the exceptionally dangerous nature of his disease and instructed him not to take commercial transport. So what did Speaker do? He jumped on commercial transport. Lots - some six planes. To escape detection by US authorities, he took a Czech air service and flew to Montreal whence he drove into the US. The border guard who ignored the warnings for apprehension and quarantine which popped up on his computer now has been taken off the job.

Speaker's fellow passengers on the trans-Atlantic flight have been sought for testing. There are hundreds of them. But that is just a tip of the iceberg of possible infection. How many people were crammed in airport cattle-grid queues with him, dined in cafes beside him, inherited a hotel room from him, sat in front of him in a cinema...?
One reels at the potential contact one man could have as he moved around popular tourist spots and through airports.
It is the nightmare we all have, most especially in the cramped confines of air travel. I always come down with something after a long-haul flight - and I have written about this issue many times before. It long has worried me.

Of course, one sympathises with Speaker. One would not want to be in his shoes. He must have been very frightened - but only for himself.

How deeply ironic. Speaker should have been more conscious of his culpability than most. He is a personal injury lawyer.

He is a personal injury lawyer who may be having a lot to do with other personal injury lawyers.
Meanwhile, the his law firm's website is down. Too many hits or deep embarrassment?