Thursday, July 30, 2009

Legalized lying

One of the good things about the British Broadcasting Corporation is the lack of advertising. I know many people find the idea of paying over one hundred pounds per year proposterous when they can get TV for free. Yet for the quality of programming the BBC offer plus the added bonus of not having to sit through minutes of non-sensical advertising is a price worth paying.

I remember two great quotes of advertising. One is by the great science fiction writer H.G. Wells: "Advertising is legalized lying." Any advert just tells you want you want to hear. Most of the stuff said in advertising is the twisted truth. There are two types of products whose advertisements illustrated this points - baby milk formula powder and beauty products. For those milk formula adverts, they always sprout multiple acronyms such as DHA which the formula milk contains. They insist it will make your baby more cleverer. It may be that these added nutrients will help your kid more intelligenct but as a doctor of the Hospital Authority, we are not allowed to recommend any milk formula powder and quite rightly. I, as a normal citizen and a doctor, will still insist that breast milk is still the best. And what is wrong with cow's milk anyway?

Just by looking at the woman in Hong Kong just shows none of the beauty products offered on TV and in magazines don't actually work - I don't see any beautiful women walking the streets in Hong Kong. I especially hate the adverts by FANCL starring that annoying Gigi Leung. Woman look up to her because they think she's beautiful but I don't find her that attractive. She really cannot sing or act in my opinion. All that is going for her is she's tall, but men don't necessarily want any lady taller than them.

The second quote I like by advertising is this: "Advertising gets you to buy items you don't need or want." It is quite shocking to hear the largest department in a company is usually the marketing department and most of the cost of a product is usually due to advertising and marketing. If we had half a brain, we would consider the advertisement but not necessarily obey it.


Why do I feel listless at work? I'm cruising through my job at the moment, currently in first gear. I don't do any studying in the evening, which I should do. At times I do wish my job was a little bit harder and more demanding.


I found out in a news report that women my age outnumber the males in Hong Kong. It should make me more in demand but I don't feel that. I am looking for someone but with my job, my personality, my psychiatric history and my demands I fell I'm more a liability than a piece of treasure.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The nanny state

Whilst watching an episode of the new series of "Top Gear", this game of 'car sauna' popped up.

The last part of the clip is what I want to emphasize about. Nearly every part of our lives requires pampering from the government. Every summer in Hong Kong there are alerts issued by the Hong Kong Observatory warning us that the weather is really hot. I can tell it is really hot by the sweat running down my face and my need for a cold drink. I don't need the weather girl to tell me go into the shade and get out of the sun.

I think 99% of the population comes under the category of "competent enough to know what 'hot' is". I understand the alerts and warnings are mainly for the elderly and other people who are generally incapable of thermoregulation. Yet if really cannot tell that the temperature is rising, should you really be living at all? What gets me are the people who know it is hot and do nothing about it. These are the really stupid hikers who trouble the ambulance services by not bringing enough water or shade with them.

The other area which really miffs me is hygiene. Since Hong Kong has been greatly affected by SARS, avian influenza and human swine flu, there has been great emphasis on washing our hands after doing anything dirty. I know this is supposed to prevent the spread of infection amongst the community but there is a downside to all this handwashing. We won't challenge our immune system enough if you don't give it enough virus and bacteria to fight. This leads to an inability to handle minor infections plus increase rates of allergic diseases such as food allergies, asthma and eczema. It is true the more hygienic a community becomes, there is a decrease in infectious diseases but there is an increase in allergic diseases. I also believe it might lead an increase to cancers, as the immune system handles those as well but I have no evidence to support this - it is my own personal opinion.

What I want to state is that we don't need a Big Brother to make decisions for us - we just need to get the information ourselves and make the choices ourselves.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Boy racer crazy

I was on-call for the second time in orthopaedics at on Wednesday. I admitted four patients throughout the day, was able to go out for dinner and sleep throughout the night. The work hasn't been that taxing. Since it is a small hospital, I don't have that many patients to handle. Currently I have eleven patients under my care, most of them run of the mill problems like back pain and foot ulcers. The cases are varied, so I have a great exposure to everything. The situation has left me with a considerable amount of time. I should be studying orthopaedics and ENT but my mind is not in it. I need to start picking myself up soon.


Currently I'm in the process of buying a car. At the moment my father is driving me to work. It is not the most ideal situation, as the current hospital I'm working at has this strange policy that only the doctor or his/her spouse can be the owner of the car if applying for a parking permit. So I'm spending most of the trips in the morning eating breakfast whilst my dad chauffeurs me to work.

So what car am I buying? Since it is a first car for me (I'm excluding the Renault Megane Espace I had since I didn't own it), I'm obviously going for a small car. Unforunately the options are quite limited. My dad is always going on about resale values, so I had to rule out cars that I liked such as the Suzuki Swift. Also many of the European cars are expensive here in Hong Kong and if I was back in England, I would have considered the Ford Focus or the Fiat 500. I don't want something too run of the mill and boring, so the Honda Jazz and the Toyota Yaris are out.

I was seriously considering the BMW 1 series. It is a great car and well built. It is also rear-wheel drive, which I like. The only problem is that it is really costly on the wallet, going at HK$300K+ and that is a BMW. Unfortunately bankers who buy BMWs give them a bad name. I consider most BMW and Mercedes owners/drivers as cocks, who think they own the road just because they have an expensive car.

Most of us having some form of stereotyping people depending on what car they own.... which I'll elaborate on in a latter blog entry.

So what is my choice? I've decided to plump for the new VW Golf Mark VI. Not the GTI since that is out next year in Hong Kong. There is a waiting list for the car and I won't be able to get the car until about October - that is how popular it is.

So what does the VW Golf make me? A boy racer.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Cultural identity

I've just finished internship and started my life as an resident in family medicine. I will be rotating through various hospital specialties for the next two years. The hospital where I'm at is quite small, the patient workload is currently very small. Actually life is very easy at the moment. The maximum number of patients underneath my care is sixteen. I'm on-call today and I haven't had much to do. I've had two patients to admit and they weren't very difficult cases. There is a lot of benefit to having a nice 2nd on-call medical officer to call upon.

There are problems with being at a small hospital. The variety of cases at this hospital is not that great compared to a large hospital, so my scope will be very limited. There are no interns. Many of the duties which would have been performed by interns, such as printing specimen labels and renew drug sheets, have to be performed by medical officers. ]I will be performing various 'intern' duties for the next year. I already accepted I would have to intern duties but thankfully less than usual. That's the price to pay for the next two years and for having a reduced workload, compared to being at a larger hospital.

Also I have to attach to other specialties during each rotation. For this rotation, I have to attach to Ear, Nose & Throat Surgery. I don't mind it but the only problem is I have to go to another hospital ten times for the next three months, which has serious consequences on my time, duties and wallet.


After ending internship and before entering residency, I went for five days in Chiang Mai, Thailand. It was a very good holiday, with the hotel resort I was staying at a very good choice. If anybody stays in Chaing Mai, try "The Chedi" hotel resort for its service - truly world class.

That's not the main point of my blog entry. Whilst on vacation, I just couldn't help about the well being of the locals. Tourism is a big industry in Thailand with the economics and the culture a selling point. There are good sides to tourism, bring in much needed revenue plus exposing people to other people's cultures. Yet I was always thinking about the adverse effects of tourism. It brings out the unsavoury personality of people, trying to make as much cash as possible with as little ethic as possible. There were massage places and people selling their wares in every street. I don't oppose to people trying to make a living but at times there is a need for regulation, to prevent people getting ripped off.

Also I went to a local village to see the culture of the hill tribes. Most of the village was filled with shops trying to sell products varying from bags to dried fruit. I don't know if tourism is that great when you are trying to sell your cultural identity to raise a few bucks. I know Thailand is not alone in this problem, with every country having this dilemma.

I think exposing your cultural identity without looking like a sell-out can be done, it is just fine balance.