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The Doctor's Consultation 

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Money Matters

The Doctor's Consultation:  Better fed children do better at school!

by Dr. Iain Corness

Over the past twenty years there has been much research into just how what we eat determines the kind of people we are going to be. “Digging our graves with our teeth” has been a catch-cry for some time.

With children, not surprisingly, their food requirements are not the same as adults, but very surprisingly, some “healthy choices” may not be as healthy as many parents would imagine.

Unfortunately, especially in the so-called “developed” countries, the incidence of childhood obesity is rising. It is a well documented fact that if both parents are overweight, their children have an 80 percent chance of being obese as well. This is not totally a straight out genetic factor, but is a combination of Nature and Nurture. Children learn by watching and copying, don’t they?

One of the biggest problems with children is what I call the “picky” eater. Very often Mum gives in to the refusal to eat “good” foods, thinking that if the child will eat other items, then he or she is at least getting “something”. Unfortunately, that “something” can sometimes be quite wrong for growing children. One example of this is fruit juice. It is “natural” and therefore “healthy” as far as most exasperated Mums and Dads are concerned. However, any child that takes more than one litre of fruit juice daily is more likely to get dental caries, diarrhoea and even suffer from a failure to thrive. The best liquid for the thirsty child is, not surprisingly - water! One side effect of changing from juices to water is that the child appears to drink less. This is fine, because the child is now drinking to counteract thirst, not drinking for the sweet taste.

So what should children have in their diet? Pre-schoolers should get three serves of milk or milk products every day and three serves of meat every week. They should also have five serves of fruit or vegetables and three serves of cereals or grains every day. Low fat products, just like those recommended for adults, are also the go for children over the age of two years, though under two the high fat, high energy diet is satisfactory. There should also be no added salt or sugar. Water should be the primary thirst quencher, and snack foods and soft drinks should be restricted to once a week. (The soft drink industry will probably send me hate mail after this article!)

Dieticians are now also suggesting that this age group should only get a maximum of one hour’s TV daily as well. Not that TV viewing is edible - it is the plethora of snack food and drink advertisements that is the problem in dictating or influencing children’s choices! We ban cigarette adverts because of the influence - but unsuitable foods are ignored!

Now breakfast does matter! Kids who skip breakfast because they are running late, or doing last night’s homework, are more likely to fill up on high fat and high cholesterol foods during the day. And with those who do eat breakfast - a high fat breakfast tends to produce children who eat high fat meals for the rest of the day as well. On the other hand, high carbohydrate breakfasted kids are more alert and less hungry during the day. Finally, kids who get more than 20 percent of their recommended daily energy intake at breakfast perform academically better than those who get less than 10 percent. Makes you think, doesn’t it!


Agony Column

Dear Hillary,
You’ll be happy to know that I am about to start another business venture in Chiang Mai. I have developed a tiny piece of electronic gadgetry that attaches to all mobile phones thus converting them to lie detectors. Males will now be able to test their girlfriend to determine if deceptive behaviour is being demonstrated. At the push of a button the device will emit a hypnotic ringtone that puts the subject into a trance. Tiny wires are then attached to various body parts to monitor and record responses. Questions can be asked and a red light will flash if the person is lying. Each time she smiles at you, her thoughts will be visually interpreted and an image of either you, another lover or an ATM will be displayed on the colour screen of the phone. Customers will now be able to determine whether or not their Thai girlfriends are truly faithful, how many email addresses are stored in her Hotmail account and if the water buffalo has really died. Do you think that there are enough untruthful Chiang Mai girls to make my business successful?
Mighty Mouse

Dear Mighty Mouse,
Shame on you, my pet squeaker! How could you possibly infer that Chiang Mai girls could be guilty of being sparing with the truth? Have you been hurt, my Petal, and this is your way of getting revenge? Has Minnie Mouse been nibbling at more than just ‘your’ piece of cheese? I can’t really believe it, you have always been such a careful little mouse when chasing birds, leaving no tern unstoned on your relentless pursuit of truth and adherence to the law. However, in answer to the question, there are probably enough untruthful girls in Chiang Mai, but are there enough ‘savvy’ males In Chiang Mai, to buy your device? I think a much better business proposition would be peddling miracle cures for buffaloes, as the mortality rate in these imposing and expensive beasts seems to be way too high.
Dear Hillary,
After spending six months and much money on a young lady here I am confused. She has had a hard life so far and I started the relationship by thinking that I would be showing her there is a ‘better’ world out there, instead of a bar life. But now I’m not so sure of what is going on. This dame runs hot and cold and it only seems to me that she becomes satisfied when I am pouring money into her tiny little hands. If it’s not Mama that’s sick, it’s the buffalo or the brother’s motorbike. Are they all like this Hillary? Or have I just picked a gold digger?
Mike the Miner

Dear Mike the Miner,
There are many, many sob stories out there, my Petal, but working in a bar is surely the worst as far as any young woman’s future is concerned - but these girls pick the ‘profession’ and pick the suckers. The number of young ladies from Isaan who are forced into prostitution in the expat end of the scene is very small. Even poorly educated farm girls could get other employment, as maids, for example. Finally, a proper relationship is not based upon money, but I am sure that while your little lady knows what’s in your account, you have no idea what is in her account!
Dear Hillary,
Hillary’s boob! What pedaling? Spelling!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Mistersingha

Dear Mistersingha,
I’m sorry, my little purple plum (who never carries through his promises), but ‘pedaling’ is perfectly acceptable. With a single ‘l’ it is American spelling, with a double ‘l’ it is English. However, in either version of your mother tongue, ‘mean’ and ‘non-delivering’ is spelled the same, and apply equally to you. Get a better dictionary and try again, Mistersingha! By the way, in future please refer to my bra’s contents as ‘breasts’, not ‘boob’.
Dear Hillary,
I am intrigued as to why when eating Thai food you get given just a fork and a spoon. Yet at other times chopsticks appear as well. When I asked my husband who has travelled extensively throughout Thailand, he had no real idea either. I am really confused as to when I am supposed to use chopsticks and when to use the fork or spoon. Can you help us?
Jan

Dear Jan,
Like all things in Thailand there is a certain historical aspect to it, my Petal, wrapped up with the inherent Thai practicality and pragmatism. Chopsticks come from the Chinese element, and many Thais (in fact some authorities would say almost 90% of Thais) come from this background, so the use of chopsticks is fine with dishes of Chinese origin. So you will be given chopsticks with many noodle dishes (kwiteo nam, for example). With ‘steam boat’ dishes you will also get chopsticks to help you fish the food from the broth - the long sticks stop you burning your fingers from the heat. On the other hand, with curries you will be given spoon and fork. There is no need for knives as everything is cut into bite sized pieces before cooking. Knives are also a symbol of aggression and so these should not be brought to the family dinner table. One last thing, you eat Thai food with the spoon, not the fork, so you don’t leave the curry behind!


Camera Class:  Aperture Settings for Dummies

by Harry Flashman

For many people, the idea of taking the camera off the “Automatic” exposure setting is too difficult, however, after today you can try it without fear. And you will still get properly exposed photographs. Promise!

Learning how to take better photographs is really not all that difficult. There are only two main variables, and after you understand them and what they do to your photograph, it becomes very simple.

The first thing to remember is that the correct exposure is merely a function of how large is the opening of the lens and how much time it is left open to let the light strike the film. That’s it - photography in a nutshell. No gimmicks or fancy numbers - a straight out relationship - how open and for how long - this we call the “Exposure”.

Now look at the top of your SLR camera and find the knob which you have turned to “Auto” and left it there, or the menu system to give you different ‘modes’.

Let’s go straight to the position on the “mode” dial which is called “A” or Aperture Priority. Don’t be nervous about this function. It merely means that you can set the aperture, and the camera will work out the shutter speed that corresponds to the correct exposure. In other words, you can set the lens opening at any size you want, and the camera will work out the appropriate shutter speed. In other words, the camera will work out the correct shutter speed to produce a correctly exposed print.

So let’s play with this facility to give you some better pictures. Select “A” (or Aperture Priority) and then look at the lens barrel and you will see the Aperture numbers, generally between 2.8 and 22. To give you a subject with sharp focus in the foreground and a gently blurred background, you need to select an aperture around f2.8 to f4. Hey! It was that simple. To get those “professional” portrait shots, with the model’s face clear and the background all wishy washy, just use the A mode and select an Aperture around f4 to f 2.8.

Now, if on the other hand you want everything to be nice and sharp, all the way from the front to the back, like in a landscape picture, then again select “A” and set the lens aperture on f16 to f22. The camera will do the rest for you, so don’t worry about the shutter speed. Again - it’s that easy!

Having mastered “A”, let’s try “S”, or Shutter Priority mode. In this one, you set the shutter speed and the camera automatically selects the correct aperture to suit. Take a look at the shutter speed dial or indicator and you will see a series of numbers that represent fractions of a second. Usually these will go from 1 second to 1/2000th of a second. This is the way to “stop the action” by using a fast shutter speed, and it doesn’t need 1/2000th either. For most action shots, select S and set the shutter speed on around 1/500th to 1/1000th and you will get a shot where you have stopped the athlete stretched out over the hurdle, or the motorcycle in mid corner, or the horse jumping. Yes, it is that easy.

So this week you have learned that to get a good portrait shot use the A mode and set the aperture on f4 to f2.8 and forget about the rest of the technical stuff. Just compose a nice photograph and go from there. (Do remember to walk in close!) To get a great landscape shot, again use the A mode and set the aperture at f16 to f22.

Finally, to stop the action, choose the S mode and around 1/500th of a second and you won’t get blurry action shots ever again.

Now certainly there are some more points in advanced photography, but learn the above tips and you have got a good basic grounding that will improve your shooting - and give you more satisfaction with the results. See you at the photo shop.


Money Matters:  Portfolio building

Graham Macdonald
MBMG International Ltd.

We’ve recently been looking at the ways that you can build a portfolio that will perform satisfactorily in good markets, hold up extremely well in negative markets and overall produce extremely good levels of relative and absolute return over periods of longer than one year. In particular we’ve highlighted the need to avoid taking on board any uncompensated risks within a portfolio as being one of the main ways of adding value.

Enhanced index strategies typically have less tolerance for uncompensated risk than traditional active managers. However, investors have been faced with an increase in the different types of enhanced index strategies - for example, investors can now choose between enhanced index strategies that use an exclusively stock selection based approach or an exclusively synthetic (i.e. derivative based)approach or ideally a “hybrid” approach. It is therefore important that the investor be able to differentiate between the different types of enhanced index strategies and understand the different implications.

For the investor, the challenge is thus to identify an enhanced index manager that has demonstrated an ability to stay one-step ahead by discovering the latest investment insights and in applying these insights broadly, quickly and efficiently. In order to separate the wheat from the chaff, it’s important to understand the criteria. A “good” enhanced index manager must be able to:

A) Capture market inefficiencies.

B) Minimize uncompensated risk.

C) Demonstrate a consistent and repeatable investment process.

D) Prove stringent cost management controls.

Although all four criteria are of paramount importance, it is the art of capturing market inefficiencies that is probably the most difficult as today’s investment insight may be tomorrow’s old news – market inefficiencies can get arbitraged away and systematic changes to the marketplace do occur. Moreover, in today’s markets, new information is impounded at an increasing rate thus eroding traditional sources of capturing out-performance.

Also, the playing field is increasingly being levelled due to tighter regulations surrounding the disclosure of material information (e.g., in the US, disclosure standards recently changed under SEC Regulation Fair Disclosure). As such, strong research and innovation capabilities are pre-requisites to the success of any manager and these are the key qualities that an investor should look for in an enhanced index manager.

MBMG subscribe to the investment philosophy that superior investment outcomes are most reliably reached through Total Performance Management the management of return, risk, and cost. The philosophy centres around three core themes:

1) Markets are not perfectly efficient, and therefore securities become over/undervalued at different points in time. These mis-valuations represent opportunities systematically add value by superior forecasting of stock returns.

2) “Winning by not losing” - by minimizing all investment and operational risks that aren’t justified by increased returns.

3) Minimize implementation costs - an in-depth understanding of trading costs is coupled with extensive global trading capabilities designed to minimize them.

A systematic, quantitative approach enables forecasting stock returns and implementation of enhanced index and risk-controlled active strategies. Stock selection process should be rooted in sound economic principles that have been thoroughly tested, and unlike the processes of traditional active managers, are not driven by emotion. The process identifies and captures excess returns from diversified portfolios, based on an evaluation of literally thousands of stocks and other assets, including futures, commodities and debt instruments on a daily basis. It is this scientific approach that differentiates risk-adjusted approaches from traditional active managers.

With stocks, the important focus is frequently on understanding stocks’ fundamentals, their earnings and growth prospects, and insights that can be gleaned from the actions of corporate management and market participants. These sensible investment considerations form the foundation of many risk-adjusted quantitative processes, which carefully evaluate the trade-off between stocks’ expected returns, risk, and cost of trading.

All of these are factors that lead to efficient portfolios i.e. portfolios with high expected and realized IR. The driving force is therefore often the combination of strategy and research, often encompassing areas such as physics, mathematics, engineering and computer science, as well as finance and econometrics.

MBMG International has been in the forefront of the movement to bring these strategies and methodologies from the institutions that have been profiting from them for many years (as have wealthy accredited investors as we’ve mentioned in previous articles) to private investors everywhere.

In fact for as little as ฃ100 per month, an investor can now make regular purchase investments into a risk-adjusted portfolio. The institutions have served the role as proving ground for many of these strategies which complete with current refinements and enhancements offer a long track record of consistency and repeatability and bring investors the opportunity to structure their portfolios in a manner that carefully considers the risk taken to achieve the desired return outcome.

The above data and research was compiled from sources believed to be reliable. However, neither MBMG International Ltd nor its officers can accept any liability for any errors or omissions in the above article nor bear any responsibility for any losses achieved as a result of any actions taken or not taken as a consequence of reading the above article. For more information please contact Graham Macdonald on [email protected] na tional.com