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Your Health & Happiness

The Doctor's Consultation 

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Money Matters

Your Health & Happiness:  41 nations assist Thailand’s tsunami relief effort

Thailand has received donations and assistance from 41 nations and 10 international organizations to help with its tsunami relief effort, Interior Minister Bhokin Bhalakula revealed. Bhokin made the announcement after holding talks with a delegation from Switzerland led by Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey, who traveled to the country’s southern resort province of Phuket to express her condolences to Thailand.

Around 20 Swiss nationals are thought to have been killed the tsunamis, while scores more are still missing. The Swiss delegation traveled to hospitals around Phuket to visit survivors.

The unprecedented tsunamis on December 26 hit the kingdom’s six southern provinces of Phuket, Phang-nga, Krabi, Trang, Ranong and Satun, leaving nearly 5,000 dead, with over 10,000 injured and over 6,000 more still missing so far. (TNA)

The Doctor's Consultation: The Polymeal - Great news for wine and chocolate lovers!

by Dr. Iain Corness

Latest data out of Europe is great news for many people. 150 ml of wine and some dark chocolate taken every day has the potential to reduce your chances of heart attacks by almost 75 percent! The redoubtable Ms. Hillary will live forever!

A couple of years ago the scientific community put forward the proposal that we were now in receipt of enough evidence that certain pharmacological agents could reduce the chances of catastrophic cardiovascular events. Some of these I have mentioned before, such as the 100 mg of aspirin that I (and you) take daily. Other ingredients in the wonder Polypill included a statin, three antihypertensive drugs, and folic acid. It was postulated that taking this pill would reduce cardiovascular events by 80 percent. It would certainly reduce cholesterol and stop high blood pressure as well as making the blood less likely to form clots. All theoretical ‘good medicine’.

Certainly this would be expensive good medicine, but there are doubts that the world is ready to pay for such preventive measures. So researchers used this concept to look at foods that have been shown to produce health benefits. We all have to eat, so ‘healthy’ foods would not be an extra drain on our finances, but what should be included in the “Polymeal”?

The researchers from the Erasmus University in Rotterdam came up with a list of ingredients which were more natural, safer, and probably tastier than the Polypill and could reduce cardiovascular disease by more than 75 percent.

Data on the ingredients of the Polymeal were taken from the medical literature. The evidence-based recipe included wine, fish, dark chocolate, fruits, vegetables, garlic, and almonds. Data from the Framingham heart study (one of the forerunners in this preventive health research) and the Framingham offspring study, were used to build life tables to postulate the benefits of the Polymeal in the general population after age 50.

The results were spectacular. Combining all the ingredients of the Polymeal would reduce cardiovascular events by 76 percent. For men, taking the Polymeal daily represented an increase in total life expectancy of 6.6 years, an increase in life expectancy free from cardiovascular disease of 9 years, and for women 4.8 years increase in total life expectancy and a life free from cardiovascular disease of 8.1 years.

So what is in the Polymeal recipe and what will each ingredient do? First off, daily consumption of 150 ml of wine reduces cardiovascular disease by 32 percent. Fish (114 gm) eaten four times a week reduces cardiovascular disease by 14 percent. 100 gm of dark chocolate eaten daily reduces systolic blood pressure by 5.1 mm mercury and diastolic blood pressure by 1.8 mm equating to a reduction in cardiovascular disease events of 21 percent. A total of 400 gm of fruit and vegetables consumed daily produced a reduction in blood pressure similar to that observed with chocolate (4.0 mm mercury systolic blood pressure and 1.5 mm mercury diastolic blood pressure), producing a likely reduction in cardiovascular disease of 21 percent.

Daily consumption of 2 gm of fresh garlic reduced total cholesterol concentrations and they assumed a reduction of 25 percent in cardiovascular disease events for garlic. Consumption of 68 gm of almonds daily should produce a 12 percent reduction and if you like you can throw in olive oil, echium oil, soya oil, soya beans, tomatoes, oat bran, cereals, nuts, tea, and chickpeas too for extra benefits.

So there you have it - the wine and chocolate diet to good health! And thank the Dutch researchers!

Agony Column

Dear Hillary,
I do so much enjoy reading your column both for the problems that are raised for your advice and the pithy answers that you mostly provide. I even find your ongoing relationship with ‘mistersingha’ more entertaining than any ‘soap’ on TV, he’s so full of promise(s) isn’t he? But for downright good sense and excellent advice you will be hard put to better that which you gave to John the Singaporean on the 10th of last month. He, who’s so afraid that his plans for a loving, comfortable retirement have been dismissed by his current partner, would do well to heed your advice. No attempt to have fun at John’s expense was made and the advice for him to enjoy the days available whilst making other financial plans for the future which he may or may not live to enjoy was spot on. Good on you Hillary, keep it up, you are one of the Chiangmai Mail’s stars.
David, Western Australia

Dear David from WA,
Oooohhh! Hillary is all thrilled. Finally I am a “star”! Thank you, Petal, thank you! I do try to tailor my advice relevant to the incoming queries, and it is nice that some of the readers can see this. Let us hope that John the Singaporean does heed my words. However, as far as that mistersingha person is concerned, and all his empty promises, I shall continue to treat him with ignore until he makes good with the choccies and champers. Did you see last year where he offered to send a small bottle of Baby Cham? Baby Cham! Probably the second worst fizz-water in the world. If you don’t believe me, you had a concoction that came from Australia called Barossa Pearl that was even worse!
Dear Hillary,
Whilst not actually decrepit, we, the two undersigned, fall into the category highlighted by Judgmental John, in that our legal partners are both very young and indeed very beautiful - one Thai and one Filipina and certainly bringing joy and happiness into our lives. (John wrote to Hillary before the New Year saying, “I see these old farangs walking around everywhere with what we back home in the UK call ‘trophy brides’. Surely they don’t think that these girls actually like going around with these old geezers? They only look at them as ATM’s and as soon as they have emptied it, they’re off.”)
Both of us have lived in Asia for 30 years, both have worked here in senior management positions, with considerable exposure to the Asian environment and not an easy mark for gold diggers. In general, young men are not preferred by the young ladies of Thailand because they are seen to be very noisy, often drunk, naive, inconsiderate, cocky, and mainly out for as much sex as they can get, for as low a cost as possible. Rippling steroid induced muscles, heavily tattooed with inappropriate emblems do not really make anyone really macho or attract women, panting for a relationship. Judgmental John, obviously, has problems because, if he had found his ideal companion he would not have the time to closely study us old geezers and write to you, in criticism. It is clear that he is suffering from an inferiority complex so perhaps should retreat to someplace of meditation until he attains the age that would bring maturity and thus attractiveness to the opposite sex. Sorry John, our brides do like being with us, are very critical of those that snipe at our relationship and the only ATMs in their lives is for the banks where they maintain their personal accounts. Our suggestion Judgmental John, is put some pancake make up on those tattoos, accept that one day you may be an old geezer looking for a companion (without luck I am sorry to say if you do not change your attitude), and go out and be nice to the girls. However, do not stop watching us old geezers as you may learn from us! Oh and by the way, send Hillary a bottle of Champagne for New Year. Hillary dear, love and kisses.
Jimmy and Tony

Dear Jimmy and Tony,
I am so happy to read your letter, Petals, and I am sure that your wives are both as lucky as the pair of you appear to be. While there are many tales of duplicity that come across my desk (makes a change from chocolates and champagne which rarely come across my desk - especially from mistersingha) there are probably far more examples of good strong healthy relationships than otherwise. However, it is generally only those that feel they have been hard done by that write in. The happy ones don’t need advice. Everything in the garden is coming up rosy, generally without the need for Vitamin V either.

I am glad the smug attitude of Judgmental John was enough to spur you both into action. You both obviously have a good relationship with your ladies that demonstrates that it is possible, for what is often termed a ‘mixed’ marriage, to work. It depends upon the character of all concerned in the relationship. Thank you for your letter on behalf of all those who do not need my counsel (brilliant as it may be) and all the best to all four of you in 2005.

Camera Class: Kirlian photography and Kirlian cameras

by Harry Flashman

Kirlian photography is not new, despite claims to the contrary. What should be more correctly referred to as the ‘Kirlian effect’ was demonstrated at the end of the 19th century and was then known as ‘electrography’.

However, it did not get the publicity it needed to catch on until a Russian electrical technician Semyon Davidovitch Kirlian and his wife Valentina Kirliana published a paper in 1950 in the Russian Journal of Scientific and Applied Photography in which they described the process, now known as Kirlian Photography.

‘New Age’ followers seized upon this as being able to photograph the ‘aura’ of a person, and, at long last, show to the unbelievers that all the ‘bio-energies’ had a basis in science. Kirlian photography has been linked to telepathy, orgone energy, N-rays, acupuncture, ancient eastern religions, and other paranormal phenomena.

I am not going to get embroiled in semantics as to whether the Kirlian effect and the aura can be used for medical diagnosis (as is claimed), or whether Reiki practitioners have sparks coming out of their fingers when they are ‘healing’. However, I can reveal what is being recorded on film, and what you need to have your own ‘Kirlian’ camera.

First off, the Kirlian effect is ‘real’, but what is being recorded is not paranormal; it is a phenomenon called ‘Corona Discharge’. Corona discharge is seen in lightning and the sparks that come off your fingers after you walk on nylon carpets. This used to be done as a party trick by Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) who used to introduce new discoveries with his body glowing and sparks flying from his fingertips. Tesla, by the way, was a brilliant inventor, and it was he who introduced the concept of alternating current, used today, rather than Edison’s direct current.

The corona discharge that is recorded by the Kirlian photographers requires the object being subjected to an electric current and the size and colour depends upon moisture that is present on the skin, and this is why inanimate objects do not give off a discharge as do animate ones.

Terence M. Hines, a psychology professor says, “Living things (like the commonly photographed fingers) are moist. When the electricity enters the living object, it produces an area of gas ionisation around the photographed object, assuming moisture is present on the object. This moisture is transferred from the subject to the emulsion surface of the photographic film and causes an alternation of the electric charge pattern on the film. If a photograph is taken in a vacuum, where no ionised gas is present, no Kirlian image appears. If the Kirlian image were due to some paranormal fundamental living energy field, it should not disappear in a simple vacuum,” he said.

One team that spent some time examining the Kirlian effect has found a list of 25 factors that can effect a Kirlian photograph, including thickness of the skin, recent physical activity, and yes, mental stress. All of these affect the amount of moisture on the skin. Other factors include voltage level, voltage pulse rate, atmospheric gasses, the internal force and angle of the object held against the film, and barometric pressure. In effect, a single person can come up with different ‘auras’ simply by changing finger pressure and the amount of moisture found in the skin. That’s the science. As for the psychic energy claims, you can make up your own mind!

To make your own Kirlian photographs you will need a high frequency generator, as well as a camera, and ‘fortunately’ the old Polaroid SX70 works well here. A quick check on the internet came up with the following outfit that you can buy. The price includes HV/HF generator, Polaroid camera body, camera case, sample instant Polaroid film (3.25" x 4.25", type 669 or equivalent), instruction manual, interpretation guide, 11x17inch Laminated Poster, and “Life’s Hidden Forces”. Specifications - Shipping Weight: 7lbs, dimensions: 15in x 11 x 6, Power: 110/120V or 230/240V, please specify). And all that, which will allow you to make money at ‘alternative’ fairs will only set you back USD 745.

Money Matters: The Long and Short of it (part 2)

Alan Hall
MBMG International Ltd.

The short positions are obtained through “borrowing” the stock. The manager borrows the stock from its broker at an agreed price and then places a sell order to liquidate it. Putting it more simply, the manager sells a stock that it does not own. In closing his short position, if the manager could buy the stock from the market at a lower price than the price the broker agreed to lend in the first place, he will make a profit.

A short trade could be demonstrated using Microsoft Corporation back in March 2004. Although Microsoft is a giant software company that dominates its industry, the bearish sentiment was sparked by a negative catalyst. The markets started pricing in the news emerging from the European Competition Commissioner who completed a draft of his decision in the EU’s antitrust probe against Microsoft Corporation. The expectations were that a negative decision would lead to having the world’s largest software maker fined as much as 500 million euros, a figure around 2% of the company’s annual sales.

A long/short manager, picking up this negative catalyst, taking a short position by short selling the Microsoft Corporation for an average price of $28.50 a share from January 23 to 26, could have closed his short position by buying shares from the markets on March 23 at a low of $24.15 a share to deliver them back to their broker. This would have led to an 18% profit over 2 months, during a period when the overall direction of the markets was negative, with the S&P500 index registering a loss of 5.4% for the same period.

If used wisely, the ability to sell short provides managers with a great tool to control the market risk that they are exposed to. Successful long/short managers have been able to deliver double digit absolute returns over the tough times of 2001 and 2002 by controlling their market exposure. Coupled with such hedging abilities, the inherent ability to use leverage gives long/short managers the upper edge compared to the traditional long only managers.

Managers may also use leverage in order to have higher exposure to both long and short positions in order to enhance returns. For instance the manager above could have taken short exposure to Microsoft to the extent of 100% of the amount of his portfolio and long exposure to Google to the extent of 200% of his portfolio. This would have created a 100% net long position (the same as a traditional fund in terms of delta risk) BUT the return would have been over 210% instead of just under 100% for the same level of risk.

In reality many long short funds would actually try to achieve the same level of returns as the traditional fund (in this case just under 100%) but look to reduce risk (in this case the risk taken by the long short fund that achieve the same return as the traditional fund would have only been around 47% of the risk taken by the traditional fund). Long short, even in this basic example allows you to take the same risk and more than double your returns OR achieve the same return but at less than half the amount of risk.

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 Alan Hall on [email protected]