September 25, 2008

Quincy Fertilizer complex

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:32 pm by changisme

In 1997, Seattle Times went through a series of articles on some fertilizer issues in Quincy Washington. The summary is basically that some fertilizers use recycled industrial wastes that contained heavy metals. The issue that was under the hot iron is that whether or not the heavy metal was contaminating the soil and the crops. See the following link:
http://www.ejnet.org/sludge/#fertilizer

During our orientation for public health, the department kindly went through lots of pain to arrange having both sides of the conversation to speak to us and answering questions, although they would not be in the same room with each other. yeah, it’s that extreme, even after more than 10 years.

On the first day, Patty Martin, the formal mayor of Quincy and who lost her job hence after spoke. She didn’t have a speech written and was somewhat unorganized, but she did have lots of emotions and contents in her speech. Obviously, she’s representing the farmers whose crops were reduced and who worry about their children’s health being compremised. She said that there was very little scientific evidence available.

However, the next day, several speakers came and presented what they believed to be the scientific evidence supporting the innocence of those fertilizers. The strange thing was that the fertilizer companies refused to come. One of the speaker is from the Asparagus Association, called Alan. He spoke through all his titles, many of them too, so fluently and fast that I’m sure he says it day in and day out. he said that if we don’t use fertilizers we are not competitive on the market. He described the whole process of fertilizer perchasing. According to him, each large farm would take a soil survey of where needs what, and then they’d go to the fertilizer company and buy the fertilizers and then Quincy Agriculture (or some department like that) would mix the fertilizer for you. Nowadays even spreading the fertilizers is controlled automatically by machines. He said that the conventional farms are all heavily monitored in terms of what metals and how much of them are put into the soil, because each type of crop needs different hings and each patch of soil is different also. He also said that organic farms are a little different. They actually may end up having more heavy metals because they first of all have less a harder time controlling what goes in, because they are all natural and one can’t really tell how much of what is in a dead fish for example. Also, dead animals tend to have more heavy metal accummulated in them, like mercury. He concluded with a very harsh comment about the book a journalist wrote about this issue which only takes on Patty Martin’s side of the story.

Another guy who spoke was Dennis Bowhay. He said that "certain individuals" judges this matter way too emotionally. He presented a lot of soil survey result fromt he State. I think he’s working for the State though. He said that the natural deposits around the area has more cadmium than oth er places, and it’s not caused by fertilizers, but rather rocks from the mountains. He also said that putting in more Zn would prevent the plants from soaking up cadmium.

The last speaker had a very sensational beginning, about world hunger and people dying, but eventually she made it back to her point: if we don’t use fertilizers, we won’t have enough food to feed those kids in Africa… >_< Okay, I won’t comment on that. She asked why we are bringing this up again after so many years even though we have nothing new to say? She makes the point that scientists are the missing voices in this issue and many alike. Reporters don’t like to bother with the detailed sciences, they like the sensational stuff, ironically she says that. She also  makes the point that Patty Martin keeps on asking for the proof that the fertilizers are safe, and as scientists you(meaning us public health professionals) should know that it’s impossible.

The whole thing was very intriguing because everyone was so extreme and the battle went on. It sort of reminds me of American movies, I guess they are not using hyperbole.

I guess it’s a good thing that more research is really needed in these sort of situations, and there are lots of stories such as this. I’m not sure as a public health professional, is one supposed to take on one of these two positions? probably yeah, you’ve gotta make some kinda choice… I think after quite a few days.. I’m still processing this information.

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September 17, 2008

new atheletic director, hard to praise the selection process…

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:44 pm by changisme

I can’t help but not being impressed with the athletics in UW. Apparently, they spent $75,000 on seeking and interviewing an athletic director, and what’s more, they ended up just simply appointing the interim director who doesn’t sound a bit prepared or capable on his opening speech. What did he say? He pretty much said, well, we lost in football, so we need to fix it. We need to spend this much (a big sum I forgot) on the stadium because the hotdogs are colder and the chairs are chipping more often…
 
My god… this is so not coherent for someone who has already been in office for more than half a year! I can’t believe they spent so much on interview and just having this kind of result. On the other hand, since he IS planning to ask for half of the rennovation funds from tourism tax, it only makes sense to pay attention to hotdogs ad chipping benches in the audiance… Sigh…

September 13, 2008

Saudi Arabian Architecture

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:19 pm by changisme

These years Saudi Arabia certainly has been blooming, and photos and plans for amazing looking architechture are breathtaking. The common theme of these buildings seem to be twists from the eyes of an outsider of architecture. I think that it’s getting a little unimaginative. I don’t know how it is inside, but the pictures hardly shows the connection between the inside and the outside, but it would be cool if the inside infrastructural design is linked to the ouside, not just the artistic aspect, but also the practicalities. For example, if a certain twist also benefits certain sharing space, like a dome theatre, or making certain staircase more efficient in a emergency situation, or the shape of a building makes the in-the-air garden more presentable or having a little specialty. Or… some certain shapes are good for making a solar energy system. These would make it even better, stepping beyond the pure art, but more into the actual architecture terrotory. On the other hand, I haven’t any idea what architecture encompasses… just a guess.
 
Another though about architecture after coming back from a huge city like Beijing is that. They like to put tons of very powerful lights around it, wasting a lot of energy, At the same time, they use a lot of mirroring windows that make your eyes water during the day. Why can’t they use some kind of arrangement/material, so that the glass/windows can reflect lights during the night, so they buildings could be bright and beautiful, but not be too annoying during the day? They could at least do the prior I suppose? Electricity is pretty expensive I should say, should be a good incentive right?

September 7, 2008

ready?

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:57 pm by changisme

Once again, I am leaving. I thought that by this time in my life, I would already be numb to this process…
 
Yesterday morning, it was the cracking thunder between the autumn leaves. It’s the golden season in Beijing. I can already feel the chill into september, and that reminded me that this summer… somehow doesn’t really belong to my real life. Even though this feels more "in my bones", it’s not going to be a buckle of my chain of life. Sunlight in Beijing is not so bright, it’s intertwined with smog, but there are birds and people in these rays of sun. It was the birds this morning that welcomed me into the cool autumn morning. My first thought was that I didn’t want to leave… I didn’t want to leave even though Seattle will be exciting and new friends will be cool.

September 2, 2008

Tibetan education and residential schools

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:28 pm by changisme

I watched a video, and there were some data showing that in India, at least, the more remote a school is from the metropolitan, the poorer the teachers’ ability and willingness to remain in the school is. These data show that the quality of teaching is not even correlated with the wealth of the villages. I’m notsure if the result could be extrapolated to China, but as far as I could tell from my parents’ friends and what I see in rural areas, it’s more o less true.
 
This reminds me of Tibet schooling. The chinese government pay for the children’s living and clothing and transportation fo rthem to go to residential schools, almost exactly the same as the residential chools for the First Nations. My first impression was cultural extinction, but then, I talked to some of my mom’s teacher freiends. They told me that the insentives to work in Tibet as a teacher is very large, like a Beijing condo is given to the teacher who goes only for a year, and then there’s 10 grand and so on. There are even more insentives if you stay there for longer… but still people don’t go. So they had to send the kids to other provinces. There used to be talks about training local teachers, but since you have to start with some generation, so when they send some tibetans to school in other provinces, they don’t really want to go back, especially not outside Lasa, the biggest city.
 
However, this doesn’t solve the problem, if the teachers are trained inland, the problem of cultural preservation is not going to change. I’m not a separatist, because it seems like back in the days when Songzangambu started Tibetan Buddhism, it was because he saw that India and China were both wealthy and both Buddhist, so he took much from both nations. I think the religion was from the on start a fruit of cultural amalgamy, it would be sad to think that it is separated. Nonetheless, it is unique, and I don’t think Chinese deny that either. It’s just that there doesn’t seem to be a working way to do anything about it.