Monday, October 24, 2005

Avian flu economics

Amidst increased fears of the possible breakout of a bird flu pandemic, it was only a matter of time before someone's capitalistic instincts kicked in to attempt and make the most amount of money out of the whole ordeal.

When news first came out about the disease, it was pointed out that a single drug, Tamiflu produced by the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche, can be effective in fighting the flu. If you check the date on the Tamiflu link above, you can see that information about the drug's effectiveness was known since early last year. When worries about the disease escalated this fall, many reports came out about the lack of readiness of many countries, including the US, in terms of appropriate stockpiles of the known effective drug to fight the flu. Roche was still the only man
ufacturer and the news simply said that they cannot keep up with the large demand for the drug, that countries were on a waiting list, and the drug would be delivered on a first come first served basis.

Now kudos to Roche for owning Tamiflu, I'm all for them making large profits from their products, heck I even wish I would've bought some Roche stocks back in early 2004... but you need to supply enough drugs for the demand! It's only now that Roche is in negotiations to license production of the drug by other companies. But Taiwan, in true East Asian disregard to patent laws, took matters into their own hands and decided to copy the drug. "Taiwan officials said they had applied for the right to copy the drug - but the priority was to protect the public." I say, good for them.

The story won't be complete without mentioning the eBay connection, yes you've guessed it listings started to appear on ebay for selling the drug, it's the wonderful world we live in.

And to close on an even grimmer note, Tamiflu is not an answer-all drug for the flu, there have been reported cases of the virus resisting the drug.

Monday, October 17, 2005

A movie off the beaten path

What Dreams May Come is a movie that I first saw about 6 months ago, and again tonight. All you ever wanted to know about life, death, the afterlife, family, and of course love. The film has a couple of things working against it, but overall it's a stunning visual feast of wild imagined ingenuity. If you're in the mood for a different film, I highly recommend it.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Ping Pong, with an Asian opponent

This evening I have a Ping Pong match with a gentleman with the name of Juhing Fu. How did this come to be? You might ask, last month the university created a recreation room in the new apartment complex I live in, I've played with some friends and managed to beat on them pretty much at will, doesn't say much about my skill as they mostly suck :) last week, announcements were posted in the complex for a tournament, I figured what the heck.. I'll sign up.

I never really was that good and it's been ages since I've played regularly, think back to the early 90s in Jordan. But I did play a few games maybe 6 or 7 years ago with a follow graduate student, she'd let me see a slither of hope of winning a game before going all ninja on me and beating me to submission, did I mention she was from Taiwan? So luck (or lack thereof) had me paired with the only Asian player in the tourney. Ever wonder why us, West Asians aren't as good as our continental neighbors to the East in sports like Ping Pong and martial arts?

So this post is in keeping with the Jordanian sports tradition of providing the excuse for losing before the match, and as always hadafna al mosharaka w al i7tikak lel khibrah! (our goal is participation for the experience).

Disclaimer: the soul intent of this post is humor, I'm aware of the racial stigma the post falls into, and I hold nothing but respect and intrigue for and in the diversity of human races.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Fall is a magical time of the year in the northland, the skies are clearer, the air is crisper, and the lakes are bluer. Now the trees are a whole different story, the maples change into flamey red, ash turns a mix of orange and yellow, while aspens become pure gold.

Below are some pictures of Maplewood state park in Minnesota, you can find the full set on my flickr, enjoy :)



The family dinner, and better grades?

Last month ABC news ran a story about a survey that found teens in families who have regular family dinners 5 times a week are more likely to have better grades at school, and are less likely to drink alcohol, smoke, and try drugs.

The results of the survey are interesting, of course the survey results speak more to the nature of a family who is a dedicated to a regular family dinner, rather than to the meal itself. Growing up in Jordan in the 80s, the family lunch (the main meal in Jordan) was considered something sacred, you'd only miss it if there were some extraordinary circumstances. People today are on such hectic schedules with working late, working multiple jobs, kids activities, that such an important daily event is often overlooked. This leads me to wonder, is the Jordanian family structure still as tightly knit as it used to be? Especially in the ever diminishing middle-class families.

Monday, October 10, 2005

I'm a Democrat

I took the Politics test after seeing it on Banzeen and Sabbah's Blog. It's a fun test, give it a try.

You are a

Social Moderate
(56% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(28% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Ramadan did start Tuesday


The moon whose crescent was so elusive while watched with so much anticipation last week, has been making brilliant yet quiet appearances every evening now. This is a shot of the moon Sunday evening, it's clearly a big moon looks like more than half a moon to the naked eye, which would mean that it's more likely that tomorrow is the 7th of Ramadan rather than the 6th. Big surprise, ISNA got it wrong..

The month is 1/4 done, and has taken a turn to the better for me, several Iftars with the family and homemade gatayef yesterday (notice the emphasis on food :)

What I'm about to say is probably one of the most overused statements, but man is time flying or what?!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


According to the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) Ramadan starts Wednesday October 5th. Some communities, as well as individuals, decided to follow suit with most Arab countries and start the fast Tuesday, so did I. Ramadan day 1 is done, I went out to dinner with a friend who also decided to fast, The Olive Garden is a far cry from a homecooked meal enjoyed with family and loved ones. Talking about heartbreak over chicken parmigiana on the first day of Ramadan is just not right.. Ramadan stateside is just like any other time of the year.

Maybe I'll write a more appropriate Ramadan post later in the month :) Happy Ramadan everyone.