Notes from the other room.

Here’s a question for the cost-benefit analysts among you: if the annual flu vaccine contains three inactivated virus types, and I’ve already been through my second round of the flu in the last two months, is there any sense in getting a flu shot, now? Feel free to share thoughts and suggestions.

A couple of quick hits before I shuttle back to the other room.


On Saturday I visited one of Shanghai’s most respected medical institutions in hope of receiving confirmation of my self-diagnosis, and some medication to relieve the symptoms. Instead, the doctors insisted that I needed a CAT scan. In retrospect, the CAT scan would have been nearly as helpful as what was prescribed to me (that is, not at all), and I probably should have stayed at home to begin with. Still, all credit to this Shanghai medical institution: their prices are far lower than what I would pay for similar services in the US (including the refused CAT scan), and I suppose they need to make up those margins from someone. Why not me?


Matthew Welch has written Bailing Out One of the Twentieth Century’s Best Industries (h/t Andrew Sullivan), a concise and devastating critique of those who believe that the decline of the traditional newspaper is a) the fault of readers who don’t want to pay for news, and b) a tragedy for democracy. A favored passage:

At the risk of alienating what few old newspaper pals of mine still have jobs, the industry they (and I!) so cherish, which has suffered mind-blowing valuation losses and several dozen rounds of downsizing both in personnel and column inches, is still bloated after all these years, with costs that no publisher would dream of incurring if he was starting a newspaper from scratch in 2009.

Additional thoughts regarding bloated newspaper costs can be found here. But first read Welch’s piece here.


  1. Are you planning on going to Hong Kong or otherwise leaving the country during “flu season?” At least in the Hong Kong version of the flu shot, one component is a flu that perfectly mimics many (but not all) bird flu symptoms. That is why they recommended at our HK doctor’s office. That one flu can be confused with bird flu. You could be denied entry into HK if your fever is too high and you exhibit any other bird flu symptoms.

  2. I’ve been getting the US flu shot for the three years that I live in China and I’ve never been sicker.

  3. Jen – I didn’t know that HK did that. Very interesting.

    Dorf888 – Are you from the American Midwest? If so, that explains everything. A brief survey of my Midwestern friends suggests an unusual propensity to become ill in China. It seems that – despite our hearty prairie upbringings – we inherited immune systems incapable of dealing with crowds.

    And with that, good night.

  4. I would recommend getting it, eventhought flu shot only protect against every few known flu virus. And if you live in China, there are new virus pop up all the time. But a flu shot will help you get better sooner.

  5. I hope you’re joking about the flu shot. The cost is so cheap that you are crazy or living on very little fixed income not to get one. Take the shot!

  6. Ha, well, I am also on my second serious illness of the season, and daggummit if ain’t from the midwest too. Seems to be brought on by long plane rides, probably being stuck with all them darn foreigners like a penned steer that cooks my pickle.

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