Your Health & Happiness:
Calls for gov’t to set up
independent consumer watchdog
A leading academic and child health
activist called on the government to establish an independent consumer
protection agency in line with the constitution, saying that it would help
solve the growing problem of child obesity.
Dr. Chanika Tuchinda, who leads a campaign against child
sugar consumption and acts as an advisor to the medical council of Siriraj
Hospital, described child obesity as a global crisis that is leading to a
host of related illnesses, including diabetes in children as young as eight.
Calling for urgent action to stamp out the problem, she
said that the government should address childhood obesity as a matter of
serious concern by issuing a raft of related measures.
“Clause 57 of the constitution makes for the
establishment of a consumer protection agency, but this has never been set
up despite five different deputy prime ministers having overseen the
issue,” she noted.
“As a result, consumers are not being fully protected,
particularly when it comes to snack food.”
She noted that other sectors of society also have a
responsibility to help crack down on childhood obesity, particularly schools
and parents, which has a duty to instill correct eating and exercise habits.
At the same time, local communities should be given
equipment to allow children to engage in exercise, while families should be
given more information from the Ministry of Public Health on the dangers of
childhood obesity and how to solve it.
The media, meanwhile, should slap controls on
advertisements for unhealthy snacks, while manufacturers should turn to the
production of healthier alternatives. (TNA)
The Doctor's Consultation: MRI, the non-invasive, non-radiating imaging
by Dr. Iain Corness
We are all conversant with X-Rays, those invisible rays
that can look through our bodies and end up as images on special X-Ray film.
When we first started using these as an aid to diagnosis, we thought that it
just couldn’t get any better. Of course we were wrong!
Since those early days we now have much more sophisticated
techniques, and one of these is MRI, which stands for Magnetic Resonance
Imaging. This aid to diagnosis has seen tremendous improvements over the past
few years with continued advances in technology. One of these improvements is
in the power of the magnetic field (measured in a unit called Teslas, named
after inventor Nikola Tesla). The greater the magnetic force, the better
images that result.
MRI simply uses radio waves in combination with a strong
magnetic field looking at the interaction between the radio waves and the
hydrogen atoms in the body fluids. Remembering that we are 95 percent water,
and that water is made up of two hydrogen atoms to every one oxygen atom,
there are enough for the MRI unit to focus on.
The strong magnetic field lines up the hydrogen atoms in
the same direction, and then the bombarding radio waves make the hydrogen
atoms give off a signal. This signal is then picked up by the MRI scanner
computer and turned into images that look like X-Rays, but in actual fact are
It is important to note that because the equipment uses
radio waves which are harmless (after all, we are surrounded by radio waves
every day that you tune your radio into) and a magnetic field which is also
harmless, there is not the danger from this technique as there is compared to
the usual ionising radiation.
A magnet strength of around 1.5 Tesla or greater, allows
for special examinations, including the assessment of acute brain haemorrhage
strokes), brain infarcts (another type of strokes), and brain lesions such as
tumours and infections. Other examples include extremely detailed imaging of
the eyes, inner ears, pituitary gland, temporo-mandibular joint, uterus and
ovaries, the heart, arteries of the abdomen, kidneys, legs, neck, and head,
and even the wrist.
MRI technology also allows MRA (magnetic resonance
angiography) which looks at blood vessels and blood flow in virtually any part
of the body, generally without injection of contrast medium. This is
important, as the contrast medium used in conventional angiography can be very
It is important to also understand the differences between
CT scans and MRI. Both MRI and CT make cross-sectional images (slices) of
almost any area of the body using a sophisticated computer system. The major
difference is that while an MRI uses a large magnet and radio waves to produce
images, a CT scanner uses ionising radiation. With the MRI studies, there is
no exposure to ionising radiation and there are no known side effects. Both
systems have their inherent strengths and weaknesses, however CT can only
directly acquire transverse and coronal images, whereas MRI can directly
acquire slices in any plane and is superior when it comes to soft tissue
Any part of the body can be scanned on the MR scanner. The
part being scanned must be in the centre of the scanner and near the scanner
coil which is usually shaped so that the body part will just fit into it. MRI
machines come with many different coils designed for imaging different parts
of the body - knees, shoulders, wrists, heads, necks - you name your body part
and we can look inside it - safely!
This is a sensitive subject, so I must choose my words carefully. The
subject is condoms. Do you realize that none of the brands on offer at
local pharmacies have instructions on how to use them?! Being a lifelong
bachelor, I rely on the ladies that staff the beer bars for female
companionship. But because of my hang-ups involving condoms, I never get
past the stage of carrying on conversation and drinking the obligatory
booze until I fall off my stool. This has earned me the nick-name “Khee
Mau” at these places. Here’s my problem with buying and using condoms:
First; all pharmacies have female clerks that ring up purchases. Being the
shy type, I just glance at the condom rack, and end up buying band-aids.
Second; I am aware that certain condoms are more reliable than others, but
to stand at the condom rack reading the labels while there are others in
the store would embarrass me. Third, of course is the aforementioned lack
of instructions on the package. I am pretty sure that if I can use the
condom properly, I have a good chance of scoring with one of these
lovelies. Can you advise me on a text or website that covers this subject?
I want to limit my drinking and get on with the more important reasons for
visiting beer bars.
Dear K. Mau,
My poor Petal! What a fix you have managed to get yourself into. It is
appalling that this state of affairs has developed into psychological
hang-ups, though in your case it sounds more like ‘hang-downs’
doesn’t it. Another victim of ‘Brewer’s droop’ it seems? But not
to worry, my shrinking Petal, you don’t need a web-site to help you work
out which way is up, while preparing for use - Hillary will tell you how
it is done. You have first off forgotten that your lady drinking
companions are often referred to as ‘service girls’ in the pulp press,
aren’t they? Now part of that ‘service’ can not only be just in
pouring your beers, but also helping you on and off with your jacket, and
even later, your overcoat! Another part of the service is supply and
personal fitting. Since the best quality is even more important from their
point of view, you can safely let them do the choosing and purchasing, and
I’m sure they’ll be able to correctly guesstimate the size you’ll
need as well. By the way, please do not ever consider repairing these
items with the vast supply of band-aids that you obviously have at home.
They are single use and throw away items, and please dispose of them
properly, that’s a good chap.
I recently had the opportunity to visit your great city for a look and
see. I stayed in a local hotel for one week. You have some of the
prettiest girls (ladies) in the world. I say this as a retired US Navy
sailor that has sailed the world over. This trip was a short one to see if
Thailand really had what I wanted in retirement. I gotta tell you, I
continually tripped over my feet staring at all the beautiful girls so fit
and trim. I am looking forward to returning to Thailand and establishing a
home away from home. In addition to opportunities to meet attractive
ladies, I look forward to deep-sea fishing, travel and shopping. I am
really not interested in hanging out in the nightspots though. Where is a
good place to meet lovely ladies?
There are lovely ladies in every city in the world, not just Thai cities.
How would you go about meeting attractive ladies in your own country?
Hanging around the bars and nightspots turns up the same sort of ladies
everywhere - the more ‘professional’ girls, and Thailand is no
exception. If you are serious about meeting a soul mate, you will find one
in groups that have similar interests to yourself. When you come here,
then join the groups and clubs and become active in the community.
However, if your interest is merely in propping up a bar while draped with
a gorgeous bar girl and discussing the downsides of the Thai society, you
will get what you deserve. It’s up to you, my Petal.
My girlfriend is becoming a pain, complaining if I go out for more than
two nights in succession. She accuses me of having other ladies and then
will not talk to me for days on end. I never complain when she goes home
to see her children and family. I have been a good partner to her and have
taken care of Mama and Papa and every month I give her 30,000 baht pocket
money for herself, but she still complains. What do you suggest? Please
not more money as I am running low!
Dear Tired Tim,
You have to accept the fact that she is the way she is, and she considers
two nights in a row is too much temptation. You have to make the choice.
Domestic quiet or disco duck twice a week. The answer does not lie in
spending more money, my Petal, the answer lies in spending less. There is
no point in flogging a dead horse with thousand baht notes. It will still
be a dead horse.
Camera Class: Get in close – but try to avoid being killed
by Harry Flashman
When war photographers are being discussed, one name will
always be mentioned amongst the bravest, and that is Robert Capa. In December
1938, the publication Picture Post featured what they headlined as “The
Greatest War Photographer in the World: Robert Capa” with a pictorial spread
of 26 photographs taken during the Spanish Civil War.
It was also war photographer Robert Capa who said, “If your
pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough,” and that in a
nut-shell encapsulates photojournalism, particularly shots taken in war-times,
but actually relevant to almost all photographs. “Step several meters
closer,” has been one of my catch-cries for many years for amateur
photographers who want to improve their images.
While Robert Capa is remembered as the intrepid American war
photographer, he was actually a Hungarian Jew who did not espouse war. Born in
1913 in Budapest, his real name was Andre Friedman. He became politically active
as a teenager and had to leave his homeland and studied political science at the
Deutsche Hochschule fr Politik in Berlin (1931-33). To finance this, he
worked part-time in a photo lab; however, the rise of the Nazi party drove him
out of Germany and into France.
In France he became conversant with the artistic community
including Picasso and Hemingway and met the female journalist and photographer,
Gerda Taro. It was with Gerda that Andre came up with the name “Robert Capa an
American photographer” and sold his prints under that name. Artistic license
was well entrenched at that time in France.
By 1936, “Andre Friedman” had been supplanted by the new
alter ego, “Robert Capa” and it was under this new name that he went to
Spain to cover the Spanish Civil War, with his photographs being syndicated to
several continental magazines and newspapers.
His 1936 photo showing the final seconds of an unnamed
Spanish Loyalist soldier as he falls to the ground has become one of the most
powerful symbols of war time tragedy. This really brought his reputation (or
that of Robert Capa) to the fore. Unfortunately the same Spanish Civil War saw
his friend Gerda Taro (Gerda Pohorylles) being killed as well, which apparently
was to have a lasting effect upon him.
Capa, now a sadder soul, left Europe and went to China but
then immigrated to New York in 1939. From 1939-45 he photographed World War II
as a Life and Collier’s correspondent in Europe, from the perspective of the
American Allies, including the landing of American troops in Omaha Beach, the
Liberation of Paris and the battle of the Bulge, and he received the Medal of
Freedom Citation from General Dwight D. Eisenhower. He was known for running
onto the beaches shoulder to shoulder with American troops, photographing while
those around him were firing. Capa was always in the thick of all the action,
even though sometimes he would be so shaken it was difficult for him to reload
his cameras. He certainly was close enough. And it was through this that his
reputation as a war photographer was sealed.
After the war, in 1947, along with the leading lights of
photography Henri Cartier-Bresson, David Seymour (Chim), George Rodger and
William Vandivert, he founded Magnum Pictures, one of the foremost photo
libraries in the world, which is still in existence today.
During the initial phases of Magnum, it was necessary for
them all to bring in award winning standard shots, which Capa did photographing
the post-war “good” times with his friends, including Picasso, Ernest
Hemingway and John Steinbeck, with whom he traveled to Russia and then to Israel
with Irwin Shaw.
With it looking as if Capa, the war photographer, was behind him, there came
a fateful call for him to stand in for an assignment. He had been visiting
pre-war friends in Japan when he was called to replace the other photographer on
a LIFE assignment in Indochina. Capa took the job, and was killed after stepping
on a land mine, the first American correspondent to die in Indochina. This time
he had gone just too close.
Dr Byte's Computer Conundrums
by Dr Byte, Citec Asia
As usual, Thailand’s internet connections to the outside
world continue to thrill and spill as we roll coaster around the world wide web.
Late January saw a new e-mail worm overloading Mail Servers and consequently
slowing the internet down to snail pace. Early February and both electricity
outages and telephone line disconnections between Chiang Mai and Bangkok stopped
internet in its tracks completely. Modem users continue to find Friday is the
day of the week where it’s faster to mail then e-mail. I wonder what the real
cost is to business and government. No one seems to know the answer to that and
so for now, the only consolation is a mai pen rai from those who control the
Some more Questions and Answers this week, starting with Josh
from Charoenprathet Road, Chiang Mai: I am setting up my first web home page
and when testing at a friend’s place, I discovered that when I move my cursor
over the menu items, it shows the URL. I can’t see that on my own PC. This is
a great help for finding problems but I have searched for a long time on my
computer and cannot find where I can turn this on, yet we are both running the
same version of IE6.
Answer: This is a great feature to have especially when
making sure links are properly set up. This is normally on by default but it is
not difficult to restore. You probably haven’t found the solution because your
delving too deeply while the fix is almost trivial. From Internet Explorer,
click on View and then just click on Status Bar.
Khun Pratchurn, Chang Moi asks: I have a laptop running
Windows XP Home edition. Over the last 10 years I have been using a Thai
software system for our costing and accounts on a standard PC operating on the
old DOS system. We are going to update to a new Windows based application and I
would like to know how to keep these records on my laptop for possible future
queries. I have been told that, while I have a CD burner, XP does not support
any data used with DOS.
Answer: You shouldn’t have any problems with your old
DOS programs. Usually the only programs that will not work are programs that
access the hardware directly without using the Windows system calls. These are
mainly old DOS games. The only problem you will have is printing since most of
the old DOS based applications were designed with old printers in mind and
probably won’t be able to print using the current standard printers.
To run your programs, just copy that folder to a CD and,
after restoring the files, remember to remove the Read-Only attributes.
Peter from Chiang Mai Gate asks: The toolbar which is
normally at the bottom of my desktop where Start and all the icons of programs
and clock are, has moved to the right of my screen. Without me knowing quite
how, the bar has moved to the top of the screen. How do I get it back to the
Answer: This is a question that I receive often, and
usually happens in the heat of the moment when you’re doing something else,
and Windows clicks and drags the Toolbar somewhere else on the desk top,
sometimes even resizing it several times larger.
The fix is not that hard but may need a bit of perseverance.
You just have to click on the Toolbar - somewhere blank, and drag it back where
it belongs. However, this is not always easy, as it can be stubborn. Try
clicking on the Start button or close to it and, holding the left mouse button,
drag it down. If it refuses to move, drag it to one side first and then repeat
the process to get it to the bottom. With enough persuasion, it will go. Just
keep trying till you succeed.
In the next column, I have a few more Questions and Answers
to share with you. Don’t forget to keep your preferred anti-virus and
spysweepers up to date. Do a full hard disc scan and sweep at least once a week.
Don’t open emails with funny attachments if you’re not expecting them and
last but not least, make sure your firewall is on. Dr Byte appears in Chiangmai
Mail every 2 weeks and if you have any questions or suggestions you would
like to make, you can contact me at Dr Byte, Chiangmai Mail.
Money Matters: Wall Street’s Crystal Ball Reveals Overcast in 2005
MBMG International Ltd.
As we have already seen, the Street is much more bullish
than MBMG about the prospects of the equity markets in 2005. How well
founded is this optimism? Let’s look at each analyst’s views and the
basis for these views:
Edward Yardeni, chief
S&P 500: 1385; DJIA: 11700
Fed-funds rate: 3%
10-year Treasury yield: 4.5%
Dollar: The euro at $1.45 in the first half
“The most critical element of my forecast is my very
benign outlook for inflation,” writes Mr. Yardeni, who predicts inflation
as measured by the consumer price index will hold steady at around 2% - for
the rest of the decade. That’s some forecast. He offers several reasons to
back it up. The end of the Cold War and China’s admission to the World
Trade Organization accelerated globalization, he argues, spurring the
integration of national markets around the world. That development acts as a
catalyst to free trade, which helps keep down inflation through increased
open competition. In other words, writes Mr. Yardeni “Prosperity, like
love, conquers all.”
MBMG view – there is a very strong risk that the
deflation much feared only last year has not gone away but simply been
deferred. Mr. Yardeni’s inflation numbers may actually exceed the
2000-2010 decade average so he certainly isn’t going out on a limb there.
Quite how he can equate such deflation/disinflation with prosperity is
beyond us – take the blinkers off and it indicates the opposite, a lack of
wealth liquidity and capital. To us Mr. Yardeni is like a man who, in 1927,
would have stood on Wall Street, sniffed the air and deduced prosperity from
the lack of sustained inflationary pressure.
James W. Paulsen,
chief investment strategist
S&P 500: 1325
10-year yield: 5.5% to 6%
Near the top of many market watchers’ lists of danger
signs is the relatively weak spending by consumers during the holidays.
While luxury goods flew of the shelves, low-income
consumers, crimped by a slack job environment and rising energy prices, have
hurt discount retailers such as Wal-Mart, which in November ratcheted down
its holiday sales-growth forecast to 1% - 3% growth from 2% - 4%. And with
interest rates on the rise, the days of cheap credit could be coming to an
end. Mr. Paulsen, however, thinks consumer spending will continue strong
into 2005. “In the last year, wages and salaries have risen by about
5%,” he says, while the core personal-consumption-inflation rate has gone
up by just 1%. Household net worth in the last year has grown at a 10.2%
rate, according to his calculations, primarily because property values have
skyrocketed. One figure Mr. Paulsen expects to focus on in 2005 is the U.S.
trade deficit. “The surprise of 2005 is going to be that the trade deficit
improves,” he says. “That’s why I think growth is going to be stronger
than people think and that job creation and profits will be stronger than
What does that mean for the market? “Stocks go quite a
bit higher,” he says.
The extent of the self-delusion on the Street is a
constant source of amazement to MBMG. Any improvement in the trade deficit
in 2005 can only come as a result of the utter impoverishment of the US
consumer. Sadly we see this as a near certainty. Re-mortgages have dwindled,
house prices are on the verge of collapse, the job numbers are extremely
worrying and the increase in personal net worth has seen an accompanying
rise in indebtedness that Mr. Paulsen simply ignores. Exhibiting such an
inability to interpret the symptoms in front of him, we’re glad that Mr.
Paulsen isn’t a physician.
Abbey Joseph Cohen, chief investment strategist
S&P 500: 1325; Dow: 11800
Real gross domestic product: 3.4%
Ms. Cohen also sees the spending-weary consumer as a
potential red flag heading into 2005. In recent years, “we’ve been
fortunate in that consumers have done what they do best, and that is
consume,” she says. “But that has to be followed up by businesses being
willing to spend.” As businesses start unloading all the extra cash
sitting on their balance sheets in 2005, job growth should pick up, says Ms.
Cohen. Since “balance sheets are in their best shape in a long time,”
that will lead to increased M&A activity, more dividends, share buybacks
and job expansion. Clearly the rate of job expansion has been disappointing,
and we’re going to be waiting to see what companies do in 2005,” she
says. “We’re hoping that there will be somewhat better job creation in
MBMG thinks that Abbey’s hopes hint of desperation. The balance sheets
are indeed in good shape but unless there are new customers out there
there’ll be no new investment. Cash-rich companies should perform
relatively well defensively when the recession bites. Abbey sounds like she
knows that but is hoping that we won’t see that in ’05. Whether she’s
right and disaster doesn’t actually strike until ’06 is the real
question for equity markets for the year ahead.
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
Life in the Laugh Lane: Think Thai or Die: Chapter Two
by Scott Jones
Red means stop. Green means go. If that’s what you think,
you’ll soon be driving yourself to the hospital or someone will be driving
you to the cemetery. In America, red and green are pretty black and white. A
red light means stop NOW and wait until the green light says you can go NOW.
(The yellow “caution” light between the red and green is definitely a grey
area. It either means slow down to stop on red or accelerate to the speed of
light so you can beat the red.) In Thailand, red and green just suggest a vague
period of time when you can stop or go, depending on your schedule, your
personality, the antics of the pack of vehicles near you, the time of day or
how badly you need a toilet.
Stop? Go? Whatever...
Intersections are four-way battlegrounds. You’re in front
at a red light waiting for the green while the enemy force builds up across the
street from you, in your lane, itching to make a right turn. Defiantly, the
entire troop of vehicles around you edge forward, tackling the opposing stream
of cars charging through their light that has changed to red and barely
avoiding the rogue pack of 26 cars and bikes that are now turning right in
front of you. At this point, it’s best to be driving a fully-insured,
disposable rental car, perhaps a used tank, or riding safely in a mammoth VIP
tourist bus with a shotgun out the window.
Some lights are completely ignored. New stoplights were
recently installed around the moat. Absolutely no one paid any attention to
them. “These lights weren’t here when I started driving during puberty and
I won’t accept their existence for at least 300 years.” After 10 p.m. the
stoplight by Tesco near the superhighway could be shut off to save electricity.
It stands there like a ragged evangelist shouting at people racing by to avoid
the smell of his clothes and the message from his mouth.
A few folks do obey every law, religiously follow all
cultural traditions and have never run with a sharp stick. They drive between
two and three kilometers per hour, are between two and three hundred years old
and think their cars are as wide and long as an ocean liner. A water buffalo in
a herd of gazelles, these vehicles are as dangerous as the rest. You finally
get used to the frenetic pace of go whenever wherever and you suddenly find
your motorbike lodged in their rear fender like the bug crushed in their front
How do you survive? Assume that everyone on the road is the village idiot, a
mafia thug with a contract on you or the offspring of Alien and the Predator.
Have a spirit house surgically installed on your shoulder. Remember that stop
lights are merely suggestions, like advice from your parents. The parents
aren’t around so you do the opposite. Even if you’re walking, wear a