The Doctor's Consultation: Work is the curse of the drinking classes!
One of the lesser known medical specialties is Occupational
Medicine. This is the study of worker health, how the workplace affects
health, the man-machine interface, industrial exposure to contaminants and
many other occupational hazards. One example of occupationally induced
conditions is known as ‘Vibration White Fingers’ and comes under the
general umbrella of an interesting set of conditions known as Raynaud’s
Since doctors like to have conditions named after them,
Raynaud’s phenomenon comes from Dr. Maurice Raynaud, a French physician who
published a report in 1862 of a young woman whose fingertips changed colors
when she was cold or under stress. He is credited with the discovery of the
condition. Thank you Dr. Raynaud!
Raynaud’s phenomenon, sometimes called Raynaud’s
syndrome or disease, is a disorder of blood circulation in the fingers. This
condition is usually produced by exposure to cold which reduces blood
circulation causing the fingers to become pale, waxywhite or purple. This
condition is sometimes called “white finger”, “wax finger”
or “dead finger”. These attacks occur when the hands or the whole body get
cold either at work or at home. Ordinary activities resulting in cold exposure
can include washing a car, holding a cold steering wheel, or the cold
handlebars of a bicycle. Attacks of white finger can also occur when a person
is outdoors watching sports, or while gardening, fishing or golfing in cold
Typical attacks occur with tingling and slight loss of
feeling or numbness in the fingers, blanching or whitening of the fingers,
usually without affecting the thumb, and pain, sometimes with redness, which
accompanies the return of blood circulation generally after 30 minutes to two
Many cases of Raynaud’s phenomenon are such that we
cannot identify the cause. To escape the embarrassment of admitting that we
just don’t know, we call this
“primary Raynaud’s phenomenon” or even “constitutional” white
ver, when we do know the occupational cause of Raynaud’s phenomenon we call
it “secondary Raynaud’s phenomenon”!
In the occupational sphere, there are many causes of this
secondary condition. It is most commonly associated with hand-arm vibration
syndrome but it is also involved in other occupational diseases. Awareness of
the condition can help prevent the disorder from occurring or progressing, as
if not detected in the early stages, the disorder can permanently impair blood
circulation in the fingers.
Exposure to vibration from power tools is by far the
greatest concern in secondary Raynauds. Hand-held power tools such as chain
saws, jackhammers and pneumatic rock drillers and chippers can cause
“hand-arm vibration syndrome”. This disorder is the “vibration white
finger”, “hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS)”, or “secondary
Raynaud’s phenomenon of occupational origin.” In early years, before the
cancer-causing effects of vinyl chloride monomer were known, workers exposed
to high levels of this chemical also experienced Raynaud’s phenomenon.
Although Raynaud’s phenomenon is not life threatening,
severe cases cause disability and may force workers to leave their jobs and
workman’s compensation issues may end up in courts of law. Although rare,
severe cases can lead to breakdown of the skin and gangrene. Less severely
affected workers sometimes have to change their social activities and work
habits to avoid attacks of white finger.
The underlying cause relates to the physiology of
maintaining an even body temperature. Usually, the body conserves heat by
reducing blood circulation to the extremities, particularly the hands and
feet. This response uses a complex system of nerves and muscles to control
blood flow through the smallest blood vessels in the skin. In people with
Raynaud’s phenomenon, this control system becomes too sensitive to cold and
greatly reduces blood flow in the fingers.
So that is the story of Raynaud’s phenomenon.
Fortunately, in our warm tropical climate it is rarely seen, other than the
occupational secondary variety.
I have been reading your columns for many years and can see that you have
a sweet tooth. Every week there’s you crying for champagne and
chocolates. Have you got any teeth left? Have you ever been stopped for
driving with too much champagne? Honest answer, please. I’ll still love
you even if you have.
Don the Dentist
Dear Don the Dentist,
What a sweet man you are, and let me assure you that I still have a full
mouth of teeth, however I have to admit that not all of them are
originals. But a couple still are. My dentist says it’s because I have
chalky teeth, and since I always clean my teeth after choccie chewing,
it’s nothing to do with the chocolate. Yes, my Petal, I do love
champagne, or the sparkling ‘methode champenoise’ from other wine
growing regions, and I can honestly say I have lived in many countries but
I have never been arraigned for drinking and driving over the limit. And
what about you, Don the Dentist? Do you still have as many teeth as you
once had, and what about driving? You have to be honest too!
Beats me how all these blokes get themselves into so much trouble with
the local girls. Surely they know that their most important feeture (sic)
lies in their trousers, and its not in the crutch, but in the pockets.
Don’t they know it after all this time? Who would go out with these sad
sacks if they weren’t being paid? Somebody called them the “living
dead” and I reckon that’s about the best they would be. The local
girls will soon finnish (sic) them off, or at least their bank accounts.
Bar room Bert
Dear Bar room Bert,
Aren’t you the high and mighty one? So what if these “living dead”
as you and your friends call them are getting a little fun and excitement
in their lives, even if it is towards the end. At last count there were no
pockets in shrouds, so they can’t take it with them. Why not have a
little fun, even if they are paying for it? In their own countries, they
can’t even pay for some fun, as all the moralists come down on such an
idea. When you look at it all, without putting some sort of judgment on
it, it is a win-win situation all round. He gets looked after, while she
gets money to send home to mother who will be looking after the baby left
to her by the boyfriend who ran away as soon as he knew she was pregnant.
It may not be the ideal situation, Bert, but we live in an imperfect
world. Just like your spelling. Learn to live and let live, Petal.
You have quoted many times in your answers to the hopeless people who
write to you that “You don’t lose your girl, you only lose your
turn”. Is this really true? Is this how the farangs see the Thai women?
I think it is disgusting, and we would never let this kind of thing happen
in England. Somehow this place turns them into animals. Why?
Just sign me Disgusted
Dear Just sign me Disgusted,
Maybe the reason that Thailand makes animals of your men is that you keep
them caged up in your country and when they come here it is like being let
off the leash. These downtrodden men who now think they have found the
Garden of Eden. I also take exception to your referring to my letter
writers as “hopeless people”. After all, you have written in too. Are
you “hopeless” as well? I think it is time you took Sense of Humor
classes, before it is too late, though it may be, when I read your letter
The other day you gave advice to some poor chap who had loaned money
to a bar girl and more or less said that he was foolish. Surely you have
been in love at some stage in your life, Hillary. By the end of the night
he was probably seeing the finest girl he had ever seen in the whole
world. Why shouldn’t he loan her some money? I’d be interested to know
just how many run off with the money and how many give it back. Do you
You work it out! You are the one in the area to do the research. I
certainly has been in and out of love frequently (depending on who was
buying the champagne, and what vintage it was), but never was the amount
of time I have spent sitting and drinking on a barstool the measure of my
affections. Hillary is not a miser either and will often contribute to
renowned lost causes. Like buying bananas for the elephants or giving, not
loaning, a bar girl 100 baht to buy noodles for herself and her friends.
There is a difference. When you view the world through your beer glasses,
you end up with a distorted view on life and often with an empty wallet as
well. Whether or not it gets re-filled is another question. Ask your
friends on the other barstools.
Camera Class: Looking through the lens (darkly)
by Harry Flashman
Here we are in the electronic age of digital cameras that are so small they
will fit in your shirt pocket, but there is one factor that has remained the
same since the early days of photography. And that is the lens. Whether it is
film that the image falls on or a garden full of pixels, that image has to go
through the lens.
If you go into the darkroom in any national daily newspaper
overseas I will wager you will find an old photographer with an equally old
camera. It will be scratched and battered and done the miles, and so will he.
The camera will be stuffed full of outdated technology and will have manual
focussing. It will be tossed into an old camera bag, apparently carelessly, yet
it will produce black and white newspaper prints that are as sharp as a tack.
My introduction to this school of photography came when I was
offered the contract to write some photography columns for one of media baron
Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers. Part of the deal was free use of the darkroom.
Up till then, my choice of camera had been Hasselblad medium
format, but it soon became evident that everything in the darkroom was set up
for the usual 35 mm
film, so enquiries were made around the pro suppliers for a new 35 mm camera.
One of these outlets had just received the latest in auto-focus, super
electronic 35 mm cameras and left it with me for appraisal for a month.
On paper it was wonderful. It had programmes on pro-
grammes to cover every conceivable photographic situation. It had a “brain”
that was supposed to understand that you were attempting to shoot a moving train
and would work out the best split second to fire off the shutter as it
follow-focussed. It could automatically “bracket” theexposures to give one
slightly underexposed and another slightly overexposed compared to the auto
exposure setting. It could even remember what settings had been used to produce
This piece of gear should have impressed the old
photographers. It didn’t. My pictures weren’t sharp. Reasoning that it had
to be poor technique, for the next week the camera was mounted on a tripod and
lo and behold – the results were still “soft.” Hard bitten press
photographers with outdated equipment were producing the goods, and the very
latest bit of electronic whizzbangery was producing something which at best
could be described as “average.” I was in despair. Here I was, the
“outside” hot-shot, brought in to write columns on photography and my photos
I confided in the pictorial editor who threw me an old Nikon
FM2 which had probably seen more rolls of film through it than I’d had hot
dinners. It was well worn. “Try this for a week” was his reply. So I took
the “old” camera away and shot a multitude of photos. Off to the darkroom
and guess what? Every one as sharp as a tack. The super electronic marvel was
returned and I bought some second hand Nikon equipment, and never regretted it
since. In fact, old Nikons are still part of my camera equipment.
So what was the difference? Well, the end result will always
rely on super sharp optics in the lens department. If the lens is not spot on,
neither will your photos. The actual exposure values are close enough for just
about any camera these days, so the real differences now come down to just how
good is the lens!
The important lesson from all that is that to get good
results you need a camera that has good optics. There are plenty on the market
these days, and although the Nikon brand may be my favourite, there are other
manufacturers which have equally as sharp good glass at the front.
Unfortunately, the results from these great cameras can become poor if you put a
cheap “after market” lens on it. Good lenses are expensive, but the end
result is worth it.
Dogs - Man’s best friend: General Health Care – internal parasites
There are many kinds of parasites that can become a
health hazard to our pets, including endo- and exo-parasites and others such
as protozoa, bacteria, viruses and fungi.
can roughly be divided in intestinal and heart worms. The most common ones
in dogs are roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, threadworms, tapeworms and
The worms live within their host where they, in order to
survive and reproduce, obtain nutrients. The more parasites the less
nutrients will be available for the host, resulting in a declining health of
the animal, or sometimes even death. However, dogs are capable of developing
a resistance to the roundworms, hookworms and threadworms. Resistance to
roundworms appears to be age-related. Immunosuppressive drugs like
cortisone, stressful events and emotional upsets have been shown to activate
large numbers of certain worm larvae lying dormant in the animal’s tissue.
Intestinal worms can be acquired by eating or licking
contaminated soil or feces. Tapeworm is commonly acquired by fleas, and
heartworm is brought over by mosquitoes.
Symptoms of an intestinal worm infestation can include
weight loss, pot-bellied look especially in puppies, diarrhea sometimes with
blood, anemia, loss of or increased appetite and poor coat condition.
Heartworm infestation can be recognized by chronic cough, lack of stamina,
difficult breathing, weakness, fainting and heart failure.
Prevention starts with a good nutritional diet and
adequate exercise. Many of the intestinal parasites will be sloughed off
while the animal detoxifies and builds up strength. Also, good sanitation
and maintaining clean, dry living quarters will help. And further, by simply
mixing supplements such as ground pumpkin or papaya seeds, coconut meat and
one or two cloves of garlic twice a week through the animal’s food, the
intestinal environment will be made unpleasant for the parasites to live in.
Dogs in heartworm areas, such as Thailand, should be kept in the house at
night or sleep under mosquito nets. In the evenings their coats can be
rubbed with eucalyptus oil or lemon rinse. And there are several heartworm
prevention medicines on the market.
For intestinal worms it is advisable to have the
animal’s stool checked every three months. If there are many found, then
the animal can be treated with regular or homeopathic medicines. Regular
medicines are safe and easy to apply, although sometimes resistance or
side-effects can occur. The latter is not known in the homeopathic
medicines, which even improve the animal’s immune system and condition.
Disadvantage is that these medicines need long-standing application.
Recurrent infestations, however, indicate that the animal’s resistance is
not high and, therefore, its underlying poor health needs to be addressed as
well. Heartworm treatment is dangerous to the animal and very expensive.
To be continued …
For more information on pet diets, and on dog and cat boarding, dog
training and behavior, please visit www.luckydogs.info or contact LuckyDogs:
09 99 78 146.
Money Matters: Early winter is here (Part 1)
MBMG International Ltd.
Much of what we believe about the right
ways to approach equity investing right now is derived from our views on the
global economy - the biggest single component of which is the US economy.
The fate of the global economy is now more dependent upon the US economy
than ever previously. The States doesn’t even need to sneeze now for the
rest of the world to catch a cold, just breathing out its germs is enough.
There is no doubt in our mind that the US economy is sick - seriously ill to
the extent that major surgery is required and the illness will prevail for
up to 5 years before full recovery is achieved.
The twin deficits afflicting the US are well documented -
to such a degree that we should actually remind ourselves of the actual
numbers because we’ve all become so inured to the fact that the US is
heavily in debt, we sometimes tend to actually forget the full extent of it.
Firstly though let’s just familiarise ourselves with the terminology of
very large numbers. The convention in global financial reports is to use
rican terminology, namely
1) a thousand million is called a billion (in British
terminology it’s a milliard) and looks like this 1,000,000,000
2) a million million is called a trillion (in British
terminology it’s called a billion) and looks like this 1,000,000,000,000
Every single day the US Federal government is spending
over $2 billion more than it receives as income - around $800 billion this
year - at that level it sounds bad enough, but ultimately this isn’t
sustainable once you realize that it is eating around 80% of world savings.
Dick Cheney has said that deficits don’t matter because the world is happy
to finance these deficits. Today it may well be willing and able to do so.
Before too much longer it will be unable to do so, willing or not.
Generally, however, breakdown occurs before then - as money starts to become
more scarce it also becomes more expensive (like any commodity, money is
affected by the laws of supply and demand) and the lenders will become less
supportive of extending further credit as America’s ability to offer
attractive incentives for lending becomes increasingly squeezed and
therefore less happy.
So why is the US spending more than it earns every day?
Since the Dickensian economics of Mr. Micawber (“Annual income twenty
pounds, annual expenditure nineteen ... happiness. Annual income twenty
pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result: misery.”)
it’s been recognised that unless you live within your means, you’ll face
problems in the long run. To understand this we simply need to look at long
term economic cycles and human nature (the two are largely interwoven
On this page is Ian Gordon’s long term Kondratieff Wave
model. Long term readers of our views will already be familiar with this.
The economic cycle is like the 4 seasons of the year. The business cycle
starts with spring. Business trade, demand for goods and services grows,
people generally feel good about the future and inflation, from zero or
negative levels starts to gently take root. This most recently occurred in
the roughly synchronised western eco-nomies from around 1949 to around 1966.
In the ‘summer’ part of the cycle, people and
corporations borrow money to increase their expenditure capacity, spending
increases unabated and inflation gets out of control leading to high
interest rates. This last occurred in the west between 1966-1980.
In ‘Autumn’ inflation is low as a sequel to the
higher interest rates of the previous season and, therefore, interest rates
fall to low levels. This encourages a late burst of economic activity that
is largely funded by unsustainable increases in debt. This last occurred in
the western economies from 1980-2000.
The final part of the cycle is ‘winter’. Heavily in
debt, people and governments can no longer afford to buy increased levels of
goods and services (which is what is needed for economies to grow) and
instead of growing, economies contract. Negative growth or recession leaves
these carrying heavy debts unable to service them leading to
widespread defaults and bankruptcies, the focus moves to cost-cutting and
unemployment levels soar. The West has been in the early stages of winter
for the last 4 or 5 years (although we have been protected from seeing the
full effects of this by government economic polices, especially in the USA).
In terms of the impact on the stock markets, spring and
autumn are very positive, summer is fairly neutral and winter is disastrous.
The last complete winter season that we endured took in the Wall Street
Crash and the Great Recession. If you work back from that then the cycle has
been pretty constant as far as data is reliable (probably around 1000 years
in Europe). For instance the previous winter season in the West took in the
great US deflation from the 1860s to the 1880s, and was followed by a
spring, summer and autumn cycle that lasted into the late 1920s.
All of which rather begs the question - if this is so
predictable why hasn’t anything been done about it? Partly it’s because
the cycle reflects the inevitable nature of capitalism and mercantilism - if
we want our good years, we do have to pay for them in the long run - you
can’t have a boom without a bust.
It also reflects the fact that the policy makers in all
countries exaggerate these same flaws, although we probably do get the
policy makers that we deserve. If a candidate had stood in the US elections
of 2000 on the platform of “America needs a short sharp recession now so
that we can ensure that the winter season is as mild and brief as
possible” he would have stood little chance against a platform of “We
can keep this boom going a while longer as long as you don’t worry about
the aftermath,” which is why both main candidates stood for economic
policies that echoed this latter - although the Bush ticket was undoubtedly
the more willing of the two (both in 2000 and 2004) to adopt aggressive
policies that ramped up the short term most at greatest long term economic
Former IMF consultant and Financial Sector Specialist of
the World Bank Richard Duncan describes in detail (Richard Duncan: The
Dollar Crisis - Causes -Consequences - Cures) how the US economic growth of
the last 20 years has been fuelled by credit (Fed policy has been to make
available sustained easy credit by lowering interest rates to a 40 year low
thereby encouraging consumers to take out cheaper mortgage loans and to
spend, spend, spend and then re-mortgage and spend some more!), thereby
creating a total US debt of almost US$40 trillion (more of that next week).
In other words, long term economic cycles are really
accurate reflections of human nature, which is why they have been so
constant throughout relatively modern times. Unless people change their
fundamental attitudes to wealth, security and their entire
hierarchy of needs, these trends will almost certainly continue.
So that explains how we allowed ourselves to get in such deep debt. Next
week, we’ll have a more detailed look at this debt and what it means.
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: Right, Left or Wrong?
by Scott Jones
Americans drive on the right side of the
road. Brits drive on the wrong side of the road, I mean, the left side. Thais
just drive: right, left, wrong, sidewalk, ditch, whatever.
am Supreme! You are nothing! Yield or die!
66 percent of the world drives on the right, directly
related to the fact that most people are right-handed. Why? Our great-great
grandfather to the tenth power, the first ape to pick up a bone and club his
mate, did the deed with his right hand. In survival of the fittest fashion, the
pack followed suit for centuries until the Brits formalized the custom by
walking and riding on the left so clubs, swords or lances carried
in their right hand were ready to dispose of sinister strangers and the rest of
the world. In 1300 Pope Benefice decreed that all pilgrims entering Rome to
grovel and give him all their money will henceforth walk on the left. In
France, the aristocracy and other flush folks wearing ridiculous, frilly
outfits rode briskly and haughtily on the left while the rabble walked and
crawled on the right. When the French Revolution changed the tides, the rich
donned rags and travelled incognito with the poor to keep their heads out of
the guillotine basket. Napoleon Bonaparte, whose name can be rearranged to
spell “A peon? Nope, anal brat” was descended from the short, balding
left-handed monkey family and finally got his revenge on apekind by decreeing
that all vehicles drive on the right and that it is socially acceptable to
scratch your navel in public while wearing funny hats and silly, skintight
With thumbs on their noses, shouting “neener, neener,
neener”, the upstart Yanks took the advice of France’s General Lafayette
who helped them run the British bullies out of the neighborhood and switched to
driving on the right side of the road and eventually convinced Canada to do the
same. The Asian history follows another lengthy circuitous route but this
column isn’t 40 pages long. Cross the bridge from Thailand to Myanmar, Laos
or Cambodia, it’s left to right. Hong Kong to China, left to
What happened in Thailand? The law says left and the
citizens sing “I’ll Do It My Way.” Weaving through the Land of Smiles
there are thin strips of concrete called the Land of Belligerents ruled by
people who don’t sub-scribe to national rules, only those from their own
reptile brains. On a recent motorcycle trip, I cannot count the amount of times
that cars, trucks or other belligerent vehicles almost forced me off the road,
speeding into “my” lane around blind curves, over mountain tops and even in
construction zones clearly marked with no passing signs when the road was a
winding, hazardous hodgepodge of sand, gravel, piles of demolished high
way parts and the dusty remains of entire families dislodged from their Honda
Dreams. In survival of the misfittest, biggest and half-wittest fashion, they
raced toward me honking, flashing and transmitting their malignant message:
“I am Everything! You are nothing! Yield or die!” Okay, fine. In America
you may get shot over a parking spot, but at least it’s personal and not an
offensive war against inno-cent bystanders around the bend.
In spite of the customary kindness and respect in the Land of Smiles, the
Thai heritage is just too hard to shake for brutes in the Land of Belligerents.
“I’m riding on an immense elephant through a path in the jungle. Move over
or you’re toe jam.”