Your Health & Happiness: Thai Public Health Department plays host to five SE Asian countries
Bird Flu vaccine coming?
Chiangmai Mail Reporters
The 11th associated conference of five SE Asian countries
took place on August 24 at Dusit Island Resort, Chiang Rai. The five countries
were Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand attending
with almost 100 public health officers, CEOs and professionals.
The highlights were discussions of diseases with human to
human transmission and from animal to human, environment hygiene and food and
Anutin Chanvirakul, deputy minister of public health said
that the conference was to follow up the current situation amongst member
countries to build up strong networks in which public health information could
be exchanged and updated continuously. This association would assist in dealing
with new diseases like bird flu or SARS.
“This conference has agreed to support bird flu antigen
even though this kind of medicine is hard to find and expensive and has a
restricted shelf-life. The parties have concluded that they would produce bird
flu antigen in sufficient amount to be used in case of the expected
epidemic,” he concluded.
The Doctor's Consultation: Beware of doctors’ neckties, they could make you sick
by Dr. Iain Corness
The heading to this week’s article was in an email I
received recently. Eye catching enough for me to read further, it went on to
say, “The next time you meet with your doctor and he or she is wearing a
necktie, feel free to compliment them on their taste, but immediately ask them
to tuck it in their shirts and then WASH THEIR HANDS. Neckties are the
carriers of a myriad of germs and bacteria. If the tie rubs against you, or
your doctor touches you after adjusting his/her tie, the chances for
contracting an infection are high.”
I read on further, getting more and more annoyed with the
sweeping statements, and then came to the punch-line. Here it comes,
“Available on DVD and VHS video tape for $29.95, (it) gives valuable insight
into the potential hazards of the hospital experience without instilling fear
or blame.” Excuse me? Without instilling fear or blame? That was the whole
thrust behind the email, complete with statistics claiming two million people
enter hospitals in America and contract infections, and 90,000 of them die!
Worry the reader enough and they’ll cough up $29.95 before they go to
hospital, for that DVD that will save their lives (suitably sterilized of
Now I am not going to deny that my necktie might have the
odd bacterium on it, but so also does my nose, and so does yours. And what
about the stuff in your pockets called money? Goes from dirty hand to dirty
hand and then into your pocket. Probably the most dangerous thing you
routinely take everywhere! Perhaps I should make a DVD called “Your money is
killing you!” Instill enough fear and they’ll sell like hot cakes for
$29.95 too. Just don’t pay cash, it’s too dangerous.
Hot on the heels of the DVD that will save my life if I
have to go to hospital (and since I go there every day as part of my work, I
am really facing certain death, it would seem), there came another email to
alert me to the dangers of aspartame, one of the sweeteners regularly used in
diet carbonated drinks.
The email warning went, “If you are using aspartame and
you suffer from fibromyalgia symptoms, spasms, shooting pains, numbness in
your legs, cramps, vertigo, dizziness, headaches, tinnitus, joint pain,
depression, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, blurred vision, or memory
loss-you probably have aspartame disease!” Wow! I think I’d better stop
breathing, just in case I inadvertently inhale some of this incredibly potent
and dangerous toxin.
Even Time magazine was prompted to write, “A widely
disseminated email by a ‘Nancy Markle’ links aspartame to Alzheimer’s,
birth defects, brain cancer, diabetes, Gulf War syndrome, lupus, multiple
sclerosis and seizures. Right away, the long list warrants skepticism. Just as
no single chemical cures everything, none causes everything.” Well said,
The very highly reputable medical journal, The Lancet
commented, “Our research revealed over 6000 web sites that mention
aspartame, with many hundreds alleging aspartame to be the cause of multiple
sclerosis, lupus erythematosis, Gulf War Syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome,
brain tumours, and diabetes mellitus, among many others. Virtually all of the
information offered is anecdotal, from anonymous sources and is scientifically
The email finished by stating that “Monsanto, the creator
of aspartame, funds the American Diabetes Association, the American Dietetic
Association, and the Conference of the American College of Physicians. These
Associations cannot criticize any additives or convey their link to Monsanto
because they take money from the food industry and have to endorse their
Gentle reader, let me assure you that this is fatuous
nonsense. Before any scientific papers are published, the researchers have to
declare any ‘Conflicts of Interest’ to ensure a lack of bias. They can,
and do, criticize the chemical industry, where scientific evidence exists.
Once again, scare tactics being used to distort public thinking.
However, if you want a chemical that does cause tremors,
brain function loss, ascites and liver failure, coma and death, go no further
than C2H5OH, otherwise known as Ethanol, and often called beer. And I had one
(or two) at the weekend! Perhaps I should strangle myself with my necktie
before it is all too late!
A frequent visitor to Thailand, I have read the books written about bar
girls also read with interest your column whilst in Thailand and at home
on the net, it is a great source of quality information and amusement.
Two years ago I met a young lady in one of the bars and the usual holiday
romance ensued, liking this girl too much I arranged for her to return to
her family home in Chiang Rai whilst I returned to Manchester sending her
money on a monthly basis.
After lots of contact via email telephone and a further few trips back to
Thailand we applied for a 6 month visa to the UK and brought my young lady
home, we returned to Thailand in the November last year and were married;
now we reside in the UK but hope to live in Thailand by this time next
All my family and friends adore May and she brings to me fits of laughter
on a daily basis, this Thai lady is a joy to be with full of genuine love
affection and compassion.
May works extremely hard in and around the house and garden and always has
a smile to give to everyone, the elderly people next door think she is a
true treasure and are extremely fond of her, so am I one of the lucky ones
or are the Thai girls too much maligned by a few bad apples amongst them?
Dear Happy Harry,
Firstly, may I congratulate you and your wife and thank you for writing
in, showing that there can be another side to the well tossed coin. In any
group there will always be a bad apple or two, and the question really
comes down to the relative proportion of bad apples in the local beer
bar(rels). Judging by the plethora (now there’s a nice word) of letters
of complaint, I would surmise that bad apples might be more plentiful than
nice fresh and tasty ones, but I doubt if there has ever been an in-depth
study, possibly because any researchers would probably have fallen in love
by the third evening and all results would be the subject of extreme bias
and too many “buy me colas”. Enjoy your times with your delightful
young lady, and always remember that 50 percent of UK marriages fail,
without any “buy me colas”!
Dear Hillery (sic),
Has it not come to your attention that the term “farang” is as much a
racist term as “Nigger” or “Gook” or “Whap”? The Thai people
have come to a place where they can choose to be racist or not. It is up
to you. Hillery (sic), are you a racist, or can you choose to be better
Al from Canada
Dear Al from Canada,
You’re not a lumberjack, are you? I’ve heard some bad things about
those guys. No, Petal, I am not a racist, but the term “farang” is one
used by Thai people to generally describe all the white-faced foreigners
with big noses. This is merely a terminology that says “not
brown-skinned locals with small noses”. It comes from the French, and is
a derivative of “francais” who were the most usual white-faced
foreigners with big noses a few centuries ago. However today, when
discussing people in this country, “farang” is non-specific as far as
the country of origin is concerned. Now if you had chosen “Kak”, which
is used to describe those of Indian descent, then it is a racial term,
even if not racist. There is a significant degree of difference, Al from
Canada. Racial refers to race, while racist refers to racial superiority.
And no, Hillary (get my name right, Petal) is not a racist.
I’ve got just a short one for you, Petal. Are you one person, or are
there more than one of you? Just can’t imagine some one person sitting
down and reading all the drivel that must arrive every week. Surely you
must feel like throwing them away unopened? Do you use a secretary or
anything? Just interested to know. I do enjoy the weekly columns.
Glad it wasn’t Jumbo, Jimbo. I must commiserate with you too. Having
“just a short one” must be a definite drawback these days (size does
matter, Petal, don’t believe what the other magazines might tell you).
No, there’s only one Hillary, and as for a secretary! Are you kidding?
On my salary? Although are you looking for a job? Was this a kind of toe
in the water exercise? Unfortunately, Jimbo, even if you stand in the
water to mid thigh, I still don’t need a secretary to open letters for
me. And as far as reading drivel every week - I read yours, didn’t I?
And I didn’t complain either. I get a masochistic pleasure out of some
of them, I must admit. By the way, do you know what a sadist is? It’s
someone who is nice to a masochist! Glad you are enjoying the columns, and
thanks for your letter too. Opened by myself, read by myself and answered
by myself (but sometimes I use a dictionary for some of the big words!).
Camera Class: The best digitals?
by Harry Flashman
I am not sure if the cameras mentioned in this week’s
column really are the best digitals around, but they are the ones that got the
nod from the judges at the TIPA awards in Europe. These are the European Photo
and Imaging Awards from the Technical Image Press Association (TIPA), and they
were presented in Cologne at the Photokina in August this year.
awards are given only to cameras and other photographic products released in the
past 12 months, so even though they might have won an award, it does not mean
that there was not something better released more than 12 months ago. The onus
is on you to judge what’s best for your needs.
The judging parameters included innovation, the use of
leading-edge technology, design and ergonomics of the products and their ease of
use and price/performance ratio. The main category winners in the digital camera
group were the Canon EOS-1 DS Mark II (SLR Professional), Fujifilm FinePix S3
Pro (SLR Midrange), Canon EOS 350D (SLR Entry level), Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ20
(Superzoom), Nikon Coolpix 7900 (Compact), Sony Cyber-shot T7 (Ultra Compact)
and the Sony Ericsson K750i (Mobile phone Imaging Device).
The Canon EOS-1 DS Mark II, the winning pro digital, was
described as the real sensation of the year, pushing digital photography to a
new level by creating image files up to 16.7 megapixels. This amazing output not
only enables print-sizes up to 60 x 90 cm, but also ensures that professionals
can safely crop images without the fear of losing quality. In addition to the
huge file sizes, its 24 x 36 mm CMOS sensor is a true full-frame, so keeps the
focal lengths of lenses exactly equivalent to those of 35mm film SLRs. This is a
huge advantage to users of wide-angle lenses, and the large viewfinder image
that results gives professional photographers the clarity they need for critical
composition and focusing. The image processing is also second-to-none, and
offers excellent detail at high sensitivity, up to at least ISO 800.
Best mid-range SLR went to the Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro. While
retaining the Nikon F-mount and the handling of the Nikon F80 film SLR, the
FinePix S3 Pro offers a new Super CCD SR II sensor, with a total of 12.34
million pixels. Being half the weight of high-end professional digital SLRs, the
FinePix S3 Pro is a very competitive option for studio, location or still-life
In the digital compacts, it was the Nikon Coolpix 7900,
incorporating several new features such as the D-Lighting function that adds
light and detail to dark areas of shots, while leaving brighter areas
unaffected. The In-Camera Red-Eye Fix function automatically corrects red-eye in
flash photos, while the most innovative new function is Face-priority AF, which
can automatically sense the presence of a human face in the frame and sets
accurate focus accordingly. Great idea, as long as the face was intended to be
the subject matter!
Best Digital SLR Entry Level was the Canon EOS 350D. With its
CMOS 8.2 MP sensor and Digic II image-processor, the Canon EOS 350D is both
powerful and compact with a very attractive price-tag (in Europe). While being
easy to use, it also incorporates the latest technology employed by high-end
models in the Canon professional range. It can be used either on its fully
automatic setting, or with complete manual control of shutter speed, aperture
and ISO settings, thus allowing newcomers to develop their photographic skills.
The EOS 350D is compatible with all Canon EF and EF-S lenses, giving a large
choice of optics for the discerning user.
Just to show that film is not dead (yet), Nikon picked up the Best 35 mm SLR
Camera award with its Nikon F6. With its robust build quality, its exceptional
viewfinder, its incredibly accurate exposure system, and its fast and responsive
auto-focus, the Nikon F6 gives the dedicated film user all the benefits of the
very latest developments in technology and ergonomics. It is without doubt the
best analog SLR that has ever been produced, and will provide its owners with a
tool that will never go out of fashion. It’s rugged construction will last for
many years - at least as long as film is available!
Money Matters: A short history of the only real currency (part 1)
MBMG International Ltd.
Further to our articles over the last couple of weeks the
one thing that concerns us is that while the long-term weekly charts look
bullish, there is negative divergence on the daily index charts. This
suggests that the long-term trend is up, but that a pullback will probably
Also, most of the internals that we track, such as the
summation indices, bullish percent indices and a few other ratios seem to
support the price action. However, the negative divergence is also starting
to show up on these indicators, thus a short-term pullback is a distinct
Oil stocks are actually setting up again for another
possible rally, and this sector may attempt to break out to new highs again.
However, use caution with this area because (yet again) there is negative
divergence in the MACD histogram.
This brings us to the focal point of this week’s
letter. Gold metal has been in a correction since late June. The commercial
net short position indicates that it may soon hit another major bottom,
possibly within another week or so. Gold stocks are outperforming relative
to physical gold bullion and the sector is starting to look interesting
again. I think a major buy signal could occur within the next month or so.
Last week we had an in-depth look at the action and
history of the US Dollar (A Short History of Nearly Every Fiat Currency –
26 August 2005). I thought it opportune to look at the market action of gold
and why we believe investors should hold some insurance (via gold bullion)
in their portfolios. If central banks and governments around the world hold
part of their reserves in gold, why is it that Joe Bloggs doesn’t keep any
of his hard-earned retirement money in the only currency that has stood the
test of time?
Before we have a look at the market action of gold and
gold equities, I think it worthwhile to quickly go through a couple of
economic figures as background information. Although this is not my
specialty, it doesn’t take a specialist to get the gist of it. If the
sheer size of the figures isn’t scary enough, the trend is!
The Internal US Lending
First quarter total US mortgage debt expanded at a $US
1.127 TRILLION seasonally-adjusted annual pace to $US 10.774 TRILLION. US
bank credit expanded $US 1.054 TRILLION seasonally-adjusted and annualised
over the quarter to $US 7.0 TRILLION. US total credit market debt
(non-financial and financial) expanded at a 6.9% annualised pace to $37.31
TRILLION. That’s 306% of US GDP.
The US economy supposedly expanded at an annual rate of
3.5 percent during the first quarter. But (and it’s a big BUT) US federal
government borrowings expanded by 13.8 percent, US household debt by 9.3
percent, US corporate debt by 7.5 percent, and US state and local debt by
16.7 percent. All this shows that the US economy - at all levels - borrows
at a rate which is now expanding much faster than the US economy.
A leap in the US Broad
Money (M3) numbers
Over the week to May 27, US M3 jumped $US 23.8 Billion to
$US 9.622 TRILLION. In one week, the US credit money machine created an
additional US $23.8 Billion out of thin air. Those new US Dollars are now in
full circulation. If the US Federal Reserve keeps this weekly rate of money
creation up for a year it will have added an additional $US 1 TRILLION 237
Billion to the already outstanding stock of money in the US monetary system.
This is where the global spill-over starts.
Let the record show
The wider US M3 money supply has grown from $US 7.3
TRILLION at the start of 2001 to $US 9.622 TRILLION through May 2005. Over
the mere four and one-half years from the start of 2001, the US money
machine has decanted this additional $US 2 TRILLION 322 Billion on top of
the pre-existing $US 7.3 TRILLION, which is an increase in the total stock
of money in the USA of 31.8 percent in that time!
US trading with the world
At $US 57.0 Billion, April’s trade deficit was up 18
percent from one year ago. Annualising the April trade deficit gives an
annual deficit of $US 684 Billion. US goods imports were up 15 percent from
April 2004 to $US 136.8 Billion. US exports were up 13 percent to $US 74.5
Billion. US May import prices were up 5.7 percent from one year ago. That
hits right at the everyday American’s standard of living, unless his or
her earnings (less taxes) have also climbed by 5.7 percent. It also hits
businesses in the US if they have to acquire imports in order to complete
their final products. Unless they can raise their selling prices to cover
for this cost increase, they will take the hit right on their bottom line.
The US Global Trading
Card - for April
The US trade deficit with Japan narrowed to $US 7.2
Billion from $US 7.8 Billion. The deficit with the Organization of Petroleum
Exporting Countries widened to $US 7.1 Billion from $US 6.6 Billion. The
deficit with Canada, the largest US trading partner, widened to $US 9.8
Billion from $US 9.3 Billion.
The gap with Mexico widened to $US 4.4 Billion from $US
4.3 Billion. The US deficit with Europe increased to $US 11.8 Billion from
$US 10.9 Billion. The real geo-political issue that arises here is why is
China’s trade surplus with the US such a huge problem? After all, the US
has a GLOBAL trade deficit.
Trading up a storm with
The US trade deficit reached $US 228.7 Billion over the
first four months of 2005. The equivalent in 2004 was $US 187.3 Billion.
Over 2004 as a whole, the US trade gap reached a new record of $US 617.6
Billion. The first four months of 2005 annualised comes to almost $US 700
Billion. The OECD has predicted a $US 900 Billion trade deficit for 2006. We
are looking at a totally out-of-control situation. Its cause is
straightforward. It is the immense generation of credit in the US; new
additional credit issued through loans and then spilling over into external
trade as purchases with the money which has been borrowed internally.
The Global US Dollar
Global international reserve assets being held by other
Central Banks (excluding gold), as reported by Bloomberg, were up $US 563.93
Billion, or 17.5% over the past 12 months to $US 3.778 TRILLION.
A couple of questions
How come the US doesn’t have to keep any meaningful
reserves? Is it because they can print reserves (currency) at will? Gold, as
a tool of fundamental personal savings, as globally tradable and very
private money, has at all times walked parallel with our new global fiat and
credit money regimes. It has been patiently waiting to roll over the hill
and charge when the monetary malfeasance has gone far enough. The IMF says
in its own rules that Gold is a useless item. If that is so, why does the
IMF hold Gold? Why does the US hold Gold? Why do the European Central Banks
hold Gold, more between them than any other Central Bank? Why did the ECB
acquire its own stock of Gold when it was established? If Gold is such a
“relic”, why haven’t ALL these Central Banks sold the lot, simply to
get rid of it? How come ANY financial institution is prepared to lend you
100% of the value of your gold, but not your share portfolio (especially if
it contains the likes of Google and Yahoo)? Because it IS a store of wealth!
Gold is never mentioned in polite Central Banker company.
Continued next week…
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: The S.S. Cellulite: Chapter Two
by Scott Jones
Last week Chapter One (online at
www.chiangmai-mail.com) set the sinister scene for my performance on the
Christmas leg of a world cruise on the QE2. For the first 36 hours, we skied up
and down Mount Waves during the Storm From Hell. Somehow I survived while
driving the white porcelain bus in the bathroom.
Finally, Mother Nature mellowed. When the bones in my legs
solidified, I retrieved my stomach lining from the toilet, and ventured out. My
performance was only a few hours away. The elderly audience was laying by the
pool, eating and sleeping as the ancient organist played the best loved
melodies from Mesozoic Era. The salty smell of the sea was masked by the sweet
odour of cocoa/banana suntan oil. The bodies looked like hundreds of
over-stuffed, self-basting turkeys, browning in the hot sun. I went to prepare
for the show and considered new stage names more familiar to my audience -
Jerry Attrick, Arthur Rightus, and Ben Gay.
Half of the passengers came to my first show. 600 people
hoping to hear Mr. Muzak and the Elevator Sisters. I started out fine with a
couple of jokes about the storm, but lost them during a routine about getting
the most out of a motel room. They couldn’t grasp why I’d take a shower
until I had used up all the soap and hot water. They completely forgot I was
joking when I told them I dried myself off with toilet paper, and were visibly
shocked when I said I saved the towels to wash my van in the parking lot. When
I took out my props and threw them around the room, pacemakers began to
I regrouped and brought out my letters from little kids.
Senior citizens had always loved the kids’ letters. Sorry. These people hated
kids. Why would anyone be on a Christmas cruise unless there was some discord
at home? There were all the Uncle Adolphs and Aunt Ednas that plague innocent
families everywhere, “We put up with ‘em last holiday, so it’s your turn
this year. No way. They ruined our whole day. Let’s all chip in a couple of
hundred bucks and send them on that Christmas cruise.”
Hordes of them tried to leave. A simple spotlight mounted on
a six-foot stand at the top of the main aisle lit the stage poorly. As the
Uncle Adolphs and Aunt Ednas stood up and turned around in the aisle, they
caught the spotlight in the eyes and became legally blind. They were stranded
like deer on a highway, frozen by the light, so no one could see me, though no
one seemed to care. I’m not sure what happened next, but I remember the
kneeling position in the men’s room.
Somehow I got through the second show with different
material although the attendance was a bit slim. Word had travelled fast about
some maniac throwing things around the room and drying himself with toilet
paper. Normally, if a performance isn’t acceptable, I can leave town quickly
and everyone forgets about it. Sorry. I had to remain on the ship for five more
days while people avoided me and spoke in hushed tones whenever I was near.
“Careful Edna, he might start throwing around those rubber things.”
I haven’t been back on a cruise ship. I love hanging out
with older people but not performing for folks quite this advanced. I’m not
sure how old this one guy was, but his social security number was 7. Since
then, I’ve done a few nursing homes which worked well because my audience was
incapable of leaving the room.