My video response to Intro to Global Health @ Copenhagen University: What is one of the greatest global health challenges we face today?

Essentially what I’m trying to bring into light is the access gap. 1/3 of the world’s population have no access to medicine and many die from diseases that are treatable. Reasons for this problem are diverse: lack of political will, lack of infrastructure (proper roads to transport medical supply, lack of sanitized water, lack of refrigerator to store medicine), lack of medical staff, and last but not least the high pricing of medicine in which many people cannot afford.

Couple issues I would like to highlight:

1) An objective question you may pose is: The production of medicine is high. Usually it takes approximately millions to billions of dollar to launch a new drug into the market. How can one expect pharmaceutical companies to sell medicine at a lowered price?

Well my answer to that is simple. I am not against pharmaceuticals making money. But I am against the fact that they make money at the expense of public health. The cost of launching a new drug is expensive but we also need to keep in mind that the price of these medicines are sold at approximately 3X to 150X higher than the cost of production. Yes, pharmaceuticals need to make money, they need to pay their staff and they can be good because they provide jobs. But lets also clarify another point. Pharmaceuticals can make a lot of money, but are these money distributed in a fashion where everyone working for that company benefit from it? No, the big guy up there gets most of it. “Big Pharma CEOs rake $1.57 billion in pay”. I tend to keep my emotion and composure intact when discussing an issue, but allow my humane side to express this: the hell you need $1.57 billion for? With that sum, all the UN humanitarian projects can be funded. Note: I am not against pharmaceuticals making money, but when making money neglect the needs of many, when accepting the death of many is alright, then there is surely something preposterous about it. Huge profit should not be prioritized at the expense of public health.

2) Another question you may pose is: how can we make medicine accessible to people?

Medicine could become more accessible if the cost of it is lowered. This can be accomplished by adding generic pharmaceutical companies into the picture. Generic pharmaceutical companies, if have the same rights to produce drugs that other pharmaceutical companies are producing, can act as a competition, thus forcing drug prices down. The issue with this is that it is difficult for generic companies to obtain license to produce drugs that larger pharmaceutical companies are already producing. Many pharmaceutical companies want to hold EXCLUSIVE LICENSE (in which they are the only one holding the rights to produce a drug) because it gives them absolute control over drug price. With no competitors, they have complete monopoly. There are many initiatives that are trying to implement policy change in the licensing of drugs to have medicine be disseminated equitably. An example of one of these organizations spearheading this would be Universities Allied for Essential Medicine.

3) The problem doesn’t stop here. 90% of research funds are channeled into researching diseases that affect 10% of the world’s population. That’s because research is correlated to profit. There are profits to be made in discovering cures that affect 10% of the world’s population. Those 10% would include people from developed worlds, where they have purchasing power, and correspondingly, a market to profit from. What does this mean in terms of research on diseases that affect 90% of the world? Too bad for them. But do not lose hope yet, currently there are initiatives taken by global players trying to de-link research from market. Aiming to make research driven by need base instead of capital base. More will be discussed in my later posts.

I’ve submitted a video on the access gap issue. But in reality there are more issues in relation to the access gap. Some examples would include the influence of business; the influence of regulatory bodies (which may prevent or promote certain business conducts); licensing activities on local, national and international levels; the intersection between World Trade Organization, World Health Organization and World Intellectual Property Organization and its role in global governance; and last but not least the research gap (as mentioned above). Many issues are political, geographical and cultural. This excerpt is an attempt to raise awareness of such crisis. It is written to touch the surface, not written with intense depth. I wish we could use our resources, mobilize intellectual minds and dedicated people to come up with a holistic plan to alleviate, not wishfully fix, but rather to alleviate the problem that is ahead of us to a certain realistic degree. Myself and my other fellow blagger are slowly working on it, for we refuse to do nothing, but much help is required.


Shh… we’re not ready for equality yet


Your grampa is too old for this world. Just respect him and let him rant out his last few years in peace.

We’re already a meritocracy. Just be quiet  and if you don’t point out your gender/race/sexuality, and you won’t be discriminated against!

Everyone is so nice. Why do you have to make everyone awkward by pointing out us our conscious/subconscious/unconscious discrimination?

This was always okay in the past! What’s wrong with it now?

The people in the developing world have it much. Worse. The homeless have it much worse! Not that I’m going to help them instead of bitching on equality promoters in this society.

A spokesperson of your own gender/race/sexuality spoke out and they’re okay with this. Why aren’t you?!

You look really angry and you need to calm the fuck down. Why are you so sensitive about this anyways?

This started as a feminist rant, and then I realized that it applied to other types of discrimination. Let me know if you can think of more to add!

Do Farmers Have Choices?

[ j. l. d. ] Photograph Blog

Farmer Choices.jpg

There seems to be a consensus going around that farmers have no choice when it comes to the seed they choose to plant. Or if they do have a choice, large corporations like Monsanto force it upon them. And if anybody tries to voice their opinion and let the farmer’s themselves speak upon their choices, the individual suddenly becomes a pawn for Monsanto.

Okay so the above example may be a little extreme. Doesn’t mean I haven’t seen it happen again and again online. Why is it that because we are behind a computer it gives us the license to be disrespectful? Anyway, back to farmers. I was interested in what the farmers themselves have to say about their seed choices, how they choose the seed they do, and why do they CHOOSE to plant GMOs or maybe they don’t? So I asked several farmers some questions… And here’s what…

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Fave Five: map games, raptor plushes

When the wonderful Felicia Day started her vlog The Flog, she had a Fave Five list every week full of mechandise, web links, webcomics, etc. And I LOVED it and really missed it when she changed it to Trio Mio…and then stopped flogging. =( So this is our take on the top 5 things every week!

  1. Map games! Trying to guess where you are in the world based on a Google Maps streetview is hilariously and refreshingly fun. geoguesser exploded after the XKCD comic, leading to SMBC to advertise a similar game, Map Race. I’m horrible at these. Also, how DO you categorize terrains? The Rockies all look the same.
  2. It’s ADORABLE. It’s a plushie!
    feather raptor chick by kimrhodes

    feather raptor chick by kimrhodes

    It reminds me of this: Read the rest of this entry »

CREATE (AKA, why have a blog? why anything?)


It’s so easy to give into the humming mellow mediocrity of life. To check your Facebook feed and Twitter feed and RSS feed and go out to eat and just exist. Like zombies. I mean, the blog authors should know. We just lived like that for the past 4 years as university students. We were practically zombies. Smart zombies, sleepless zombies, tired and stressed zombies, but still definitely zombies.

Image also (or perhaps more accurately) applies to Apple fans. I mean, I’m sure that’s a MACBOOK PRO he’s holding there.

Read the rest of this entry »

What we do in a quantum optics lab

ETA: This is more a masterpost for my own purposes. The intended audience is senior undergraduate/early graduate physics students, and assumes at least an undergraduate electromagnetism and optics course. At some point I’ll work on explaining things to a lay audience, but right now I have to focus on learning and communicating technical concepts to a senior undergrad/grad physics audience.

My friend and labmate makes stuff vibrate with light, and made this video about our research, our lab, and his project for a student competition next week:

My talk for the Canadian Undergraduate Physics Conference last October, hacked together from my undergrad thesis introductory talk and some pretty pictures from my summer project:

(If I sound stuffy or high or not entirely there, I had a cold the whole four days of the conference.)

Working with/for my undergraduate research advisor and research group is the best thing that I can remember happening to me in my life so far. Even as I cared not about food or sleep or classes, I held on to the thought of working in (being welcome in) a photonics lab with warm hearted and interesting people. All I can say is that at the end of this project I have some external evidence to suggest that I may actually (have the potential to) be competent as a researcher, even if I don’t have a 4.0 in my honours degree.

Short Lived Identity Crisis

So I was having an identity crisis and I didn’t even know it. Couldn’t sleep properly for a couple nights. Couldn’t get the committee in my head (I like to refer my head as a committee cause it feels like there are 12 little minions in there analyzing, debating, strategizing and arguing all day)…anyways, I couldn’t get my committee to shut up. One side tells me that I’m over analyzing things and should chillax, the others side tells me to start planning and have 500 different contingencies. Its quite annoying when your head is going at mach 3, or should I say mach 4? Cause mach 3 is obsolete like Avro Arrow age (I’ve seen that plane before btw). I guess I’m in a position where I don’t know where I’m going and I’m trying to escape from some stuff in life that is hard to deal with. But lets face it, stressing out is actually ineffective. It bleaches your youthful hair (3 strands of my hair turned white, but my aesthetic conscious friend pulled it out). Stressing out is time consuming because the very action of thinking about something takes time. And since time is valuable, it should be spent wisely, like reading a book by CS. Lewis, or write a rap, or write a letter to the Members of Parliament because our government [Canadian government] is crappy to the point that it’s quite despairing to follow Canadian politics. By stressing we fantasize all possibilities when nothing is really happening and we’re really just psyching ourselves out.

The post continues!