HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Your Health & Happiness

The Doctor's Consultation

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Cats - the individualistic feline

Money Matters

Life in the Laugh Lane

Your Health & Happiness: TAT and Visa Card invite Thai tourists to experience the Thai spa

Preeyanoot Jittawong

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has cooperated with Visa International (Thailand) to organize “Thai Spa Invitation 2006”, one of the five main ideas in “Thailand Grand Invitation 2006”.

Junnapong Saranak, Director of TAT Northern Office Region 1 provided details concerning “Thai Spa Invitation 2006”. He said that this activity offers a special spa package called “Thai Royal Spa Package” which will be available at spas all over the country with a 25 percent discount for customers who pay by Visa card. Other Spa packages paid for by Visa card will receive a 20-50 percent discount. Any spa that joins the project will display a symbol indicating that “Thai Spa Invitation 2006” is available at that location. The spas will start introducing this package to tourists on March 1, 2006 and there will be ceremonies to herald this project, to be held at ISPA, Queen Sirikit Convention Center, Bangkok, on May 3-5, 2006; Samui-Surat Thani Spa Fair on May 10-14, 2006; Thai Spa Invitation in Hau-Hin in July; Thai Spa Invitation in Phuket on November 17-19; and Thai Spa Invitation in Krabi on December, 2006.

Initially, TAT and Thai Lanna Spa Association will introduce the idea of the project at the Flower Festival at Buak Had Public Park, Chiang Mai during February 3-5, 2006. The experience of a Lanna spa will be demonstrated at a booth exhibiting the “Thai Royal Spa Package” and special price spa package, presenting the
five senses of Lanna spa including image, taste, smell, sound, and touch. By introducing the “Thai Spa Invitation 2006” at the Flower Festival ahead of the commencement of the project, it presented an ideal opportunity to announce the package to the tourists.

The Doctor's Consultation: Hear tomorrow but gone today!

A couple of weeks ago, I used the headline “Hear today but gone tomorrow”. This was after being rendered partially deaf by Children’s Day ‘entertainment’ in one of the main shopping centers. Industrial deafness being force-fed to our children. But I digress. As well as progressive and ‘never to hear as well again’ conditions, there are also several conditions causing temporary deafness.

One of the causes of temporary deafness includes wax. That wonderful brown-gold sticky stuff that your ear seems to manufacture. This is actually called Cerumen, a waxy substance that helps to protect and lubricate the tissues, but a build-up of wax can block the ear canal, leading to short term conductive deafness. Fortunately, the skilled ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) doctor can suck or syringe the ear canals to remove the ear wax plug. Please do not use the ignition key from the car, unfolded paper clip or cotton bud to try and remove a wax plug. Some olive oil once a week (or a commercially available liquid called Cerumol) will also help stop the rapid build-up if you are a good little bee!

Another cause of temporary (reversible) deafness is an impacted foreign body. This can often happen with small children who will happily stuff small buttons into any available orifice, the ear being a favorite one. Other foreign objects we often find lurking down at the bottom of the ear canal include the cotton wool tip of cotton buds (Q tips) which again block the transmission of the sound waves to the ear drum.

An infection in the external ear canal can also block the transmission when the lining of the canal swells and then gets covered in a pus exudates to block the inside of the canal.

That covers the external ear, but there are some conditions that can cause temporary deafness in the middle ear. Excess mucus, from the common cold for example, a bout of flu, hay fever or other allergies can cause a build-up of mucus that may block the Eustachian tubes of the ear. With the inner ear being unable to balance the inside and outside pressures through the Eustachian tube, this will reduce the hearing ability.

Ear infections (otitis media which is infection of the middle ear) can very quickly ‘gum up’ the little bones in the middle ear, so the amplitude of the movement of the ear drum does not happen. Fluid and pus don’t allow the full conduction of sound too.

Another cause of reversible deafness can be related to medications being taken for many reasons. One of these is the aminoglycoside group, which includes some of the lesser used, but important antibiotics, such as tobramycin and neomycin. Fortunately, after stopping the aminoglycasides (after a short course) the hearing returns to previous levels. Another drug is chloroquine, which can cause temporary deafness in susceptible people.

One of the compounds that we manufacture ourselves can also affect hearing, especially in the neo-natal period. This is bilirubin, the excess of which causes the condition often called ‘yellow jaundice’. Sulfa drugs and ceftriaxone can also increase bilirubin (and resulting deafness) in young babies, which settles after stopping the drugs.

There are even reports of reversible hearing loss that has occurred after general anaesthetics for operations not involved with the inner ear at all. It is believed to be related to nitrous oxides in the anaesthetic gases.

However, it should always be remembered that the irreversible deafness caused by repeated exposure to loud noise is one of the commonest causes of hearing loss, which is progressive and does not return after being away from the noise which has caused it.

Agony Column

Dear Hillary,
Nit and Ying, the adorable wee Isaanettes, have both turned over a new leaf and are getting into Sherbet Fountains. I wonder if you have turned over a new Petal and are trying a little Turkish Delight.

Dear Mistersingha,
Are you working on the principle that I might be suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and have forgotten your empty promises? Quite frankly, I hope your Isaanettes drown you in one (Sherbet Fountain, that is). It would be no real loss to the literary world. Actually, I wonder if you are attempting to emulate the great Baron von Munchausen? Next week, on February
22, two hundred and eight years ago, Karl Friedrich Hieronymus Baron von Mnchausen passed away. Known as the “Baron of Lies”, he was born in 1720 in Bodenwerder, and served initially as a page to Prince Anton Ulrich von Braunschweig, and later as a cornet, lieutenant and cavalry captain with a Russian regiment in two Turkish wars. Mnchausen was known during his lifetime as an excellent raconteur of anecdotes about war, hunting and travel adventures. After the death of his first wife, Mnchausen married a 17 year old, but his marriage was an unhappy one which constantly drove him to debt and caused scandals. From 1781 to 1783 a collection of Mun-chausen’s tales was published, and an English version of the tales was published in 1785 under the title Baron Munchausen’s Narrative of His Marvellous Travels and Campaigns in Russia. Eventually, Munchausen’s name became associated with the amusingly preposterous story or the lie winningly told. Just as you are associated with the word ‘renege’ (look it up, if you’re not sure). You are certainly trying, Mistersingha, my Petal. Very trying!

Dear Hillary,
I am not sure if anyone has written to you before about this, but there seems to be even more lady-boys than ever before. I (almost) got trapped the other night by this gorgeous creature who stopped me in the street the other night. I will say I had a few under my belt, so maybe my judgment wasn’t crash hot, you know the old beer glasses routine, but how can a man be sure at times like those? Any foolproof way, Hillary? You seem to know the answer to everything else, so this should be easy. And make it quick before I go out again, that’s a sweet pea!

Dear Muscles,
Well Petal, it probably is a little difficult to arrange a chromosome examination at the side of the road, but there are a few pointers. Firstly, Thai ladies tend to be small, while the lady-boys tend to be tall. Look for wide shoulders and narrow hips and the tell-tale Adam’s apple – but remember they can have this surgically shaved. The voice also tends to be dark brown too. As far as the figure is concerned, Thai ladies are generally not well endowed, while someone with a Pamela Anderson superstructure has bought it at the local plastic surgery shop! And like all of these sorts of transactions, Caveat Emptor (let the buyer beware)! And I am nobody’s sweet pea!

Dear Hillary,
I am thinking of coming over for a holiday with my girlfriend at the end of the year. When I was over there a couple of years ago there were a few beer bars in every town, but from what I can read, there’s lots of them now. I am not into the bar scene, and neither would my girlfriend be, so I am a little worried about taking her over there. What do think? Should I take the chance and bring her anyway, or should I leave her back in the UK and come on my own. I know she wouldn’t be too happy about that, and I am worried it might break us up. I really do want to come over this coming August. What should I do? Really has me bamboozled at present.

Dear Johnny,
You have some serious problems, Petal. You say you’ve been here before, so you should know there are plenty of places to go in Thailand and things to do. You don’t have to go trawling round the bars every night. It certainly isn’t compulsory! Nobody forces you to drink in them, or do they? There are plenty of other pastimes that both you and your girlfriend might enjoy. Like golf, swimming, fishing, diving, sailing, go-karting, movies, dining and touring. Even spend some time meditating in a temple. Thailand really is like an a la carte restaurant - everything is on it, it is up to you what you choose. Now, this fear that a holiday apart will break you up is more worrying to me than whether the pair of you will be dragged off screaming and kicking into some bar somewhere if you both come for the holiday. If you are going to leave your girlfriend behind, what is she going to do? Run off with the milkman? You need a little more trust for a lasting relationship, and she needs to trust you too. I suggest you talk this holiday and the various options through with your girlfriend before you book your plane seat(s). You’ve got a few months yet to mature.

Camera Class:  The changing face (and body) of the pin-up

by Harry Flashman

Pin-up photographs have been with us ever since photography was invented. Cameras and women seem to have a very close relationship. I have mentioned this before, however, it is interesting to look back at the origins of this type of photography.

The word ‘pin-up’ was invented in America during World War II. The GI’s on overseas duty pinned up photographs of their wives, or more likely, beautiful women, to presumably remind them of the good life back in America, and from there we derived the term ‘pin-up’ to cover this.

However, study of the female form is probably as old as the caveman drawings of countless thousands of years ago. Prehistoric Adam immortalizing his Eve. Such a shame all those drawings were basically ‘stick man’ images!

From there, the artists amongst the human race began to sculpt and paint. Certainly there were heroic battle scenes, village life, warriors and - women. Venus de Milo, as well as having lost her arms has lost several items of clothing too. Delve into your memory the topless Minoan goddesses, the naughty drawings from Pompeii, the sexually very frank temple sculptures from India and Japan or around the cathedral at Albi in France. Everyone was, and has, been at it! That men like looking at ladies should not then come as any surprise, which goes a long way towards the popularity of certain establishments in Thailand.

But in the past it was only the lucky few who were rich enough to afford a statue in the garden or a pin-up done in oils. (These days it is most likely that the pin-up herself is oiled!) The common man had to wait until Daguerre made photography possible for the masses to see, and do. Since then, thousands of photographers have snapped the images of thousands, perhaps millions, of women - all in provocative pin-up poses. Those images in turn have been reproduced thousands of times to make enough pin-ups for every bedroom wall in the world. Pin-ups are undoubtedly one of the most popular “art” forms of photography.

However, I should point out that this type of photography is very difficult, and not at all the erotic charged sessions you would imagine. They are hard work.

One other of the aspects that makes pin-up photography difficult, never mind the lighting, the pose, the back drops, roses and reclining couches, is the changing taste in pin-ups. The pin-up photographer has to anticipate the tastes of his fellow travellers in the 21st Century and produce images that suit the current climate (and I am not talking about monsoons or snow falls).

The earliest pin-up still in existence is an unadorned full frontal dated 1852. A daring step for the Daguerrotype photographer and probably even more daring for the young lady herself. It is a shame that history has not inscribed both their names, and they have gone to the great photo-booth in the sky remaining anonymous.

There was one good reason for this, the very act of making or selling photographs of nudes was deemed illegal in Victorian England, France and America. The allowable titillating pin-ups of the day were clothed in tights from bosom to ankle. These were the ladies of the theatre - the burlesque performers.

It was then in the late 1850’s that a Parisian photographer called Disderi introduced a new type of photograph - the “Carte de visite” which was intended to be a type of photographic visiting card, not unlike the present day name cards that often have a photograph of the owner. Disderi mounted a bank of cameras, all pointed at the model and could take up to 12 shots at the one time. All of a sudden, multiple photographs of ladies were available and collectible. The pin-up for the masses had arrived, even if the ladies were still in tights, displaying a fairly heavy leg or two.

But the Victorian oglers were not to be denied. Pin-up photography was flourishing - underground. In 1874, according to a publication called “Victorian Erotic Photography” they printed an account of a London photographer who was raided by the police, leaving behind 130,248 obscene photographs.

That should have read, 130,248 photographs that these days could even be published in their entirety in this newspaper. How times have changed. For your edification, and definitely not titillation, I present some for you here. Untouched, unexpurgated and unerotic.

Cats - the individualistic feline:

Linda L. Galloway

This is “Sanook”, a blue lynx point Javanese boy who happily enjoys the indoor life without complaints!

Now that you’ve decided to adopt that sweet kitten you saw at the shelter or formalize your casual relationship with the lovable stray you’ve been feeding at the back door, or buy that gorgeous pedigree kitten you’ve been thinking about, you need to learn all the facts you can about cat care…and FAST! Unfortunately, many of them are buried under piles of phooey masquerading as common knowledge. One of the worst cat myths I’ve heard is this one.

MYTH: Keeping a cat indoors all the time is cruel and unnatural. Let’s look at the truth behind this gross misconception.

TRUTH: It’s really the other way around! Letting cats fend for themselves outside, even for a few hours a day, exposes them to a host of dangers and diseases. In our local Thai tropical environment, hidden beneath the beauty of nature, lurks the highest level of rabies in the world! Many of the local feral cats carry other infectious diseases which they can pass on through saliva, bites, or prolonged contact. These diseases kill and there is no cure for them even after vaccination: Feline Leukemia, Feline Aids (FAIDS), Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) to name a few. Mosquitoes carry blood parasites that can kill. Among the more curable diseases lurk the less lethal
parasites (worms) and skin diseases (fungal) such as Ringworm which also pose health problems for the humans who own the outdoor cat! Poisoning from eating harmful plants or spoiled food on the streets or in the garbage cans is a risk as well. Unfriendly dogs and snakes prey on unsuspecting cats and may inflict a painful and bloody death, just as motor vehicle accidents. In the best case scenario, a friendly beautiful cat might be picked up by a friendlier passer-by and re-homed without your permission! Cats, especially young ones, can get lost on their own and may never return, having forgotten their way to their beloved owners. Your outdoor kitty might be well-loved by you, but your neighbors may not feel the same way if your kitty intrudes uninvited upon their living conditions. Unwanted pregnancies can result if the cats are not neutered as they should be.

SOLUTION: If you or your cat insists on enjoying the outdoors, you can provide a backyard free of harmful plants, with small trees for climbing, surrounded by a 10 foot fence with a top that curves inward towards your garden, and your cat will have the best of both worlds. However it is not essential and your cat can enjoy a long and happy life without ever setting a paw outdoors. Offer your indoor kitty plenty of perches, scratching posts, window sills, napping spots and toys, and kitty won’t wonder about outdoor life because what’s going on indoors is just as exciting! Another way your cat can enjoy the outdoors safely, if you have enough space, is to construct a screened-in ‘run’ that allows access to sunshine, fresh air and the sights and smells of nature. Or you can buy a manufactured ‘kitty condo’ that
offers similar benefits. A screened-in balcony or window box can provide plenty of safe thrills for your kitty just as well, as he/she tries to catch the birds and bees that fly by. The screens are essential, by the way, since the major cause of death to cats in homes, especially high rises is, guess what! Falling or jumping out of
windows! For more information, contact Linda Galloway ([email protected]).

So protect them you must, just as if kitty is your own little innocent baby, and so they are!

Money Matters:  Early winter is here (Part 6)

Alan Hall
MBMG International Ltd.

A weaker dollar would, of course, make U.S. exports less expensive to foreign buyers and thus more competitive on overseas markets. A weaker dollar also can raise the prices of imported goods flowing into the United States. You can’t manipulate a currency against its primary trend for a long period of time (our research suggests usually only a few days but at most 2 weeks). So, once the current policy has totally undermined the dollar there will be little that anyone can do to prevent market forces having their full effect.

However, while a weakened dollar may be the first step to correcting the problematic twin deficits, it would bring attendant problems with it - “If you want to scare yourself, contemplate the following. The dollar begins to fall. That is, its value slips
relative to other currencies. Foreigners with massive investments in U.S. stocks and bonds begin to sell their holdings. They fear currency losses on their American investments because a depreciated dollar would fetch less of their own money. The selling then feeds on itself. The stock market swoons. American consumer confidence withers. The recession resumes and spreads to the rest of the world through lower U.S. imports...” - Robert Samuelson, The Washington Post, May 29, 2002.

“Up to a point, a falling currency is a blessing. After that, it’s a curse. The dollar has fallen 16% against a basket of its trading partners’ currencies over the past three years. In theory, that should, with time, make U.S. made goods more competitive with those made abroad, boosting U.S. growth and employment. But a growing chorus warns that the U.S. gaping budget and trade deficits will lead to a crisis in which
the dollar falls much more sharply, driving up interest rates and squeezing the economy.” - Greg Ip, The Wall Street Journal, January 18, 2005.

The Fed have comforted themselves by publishing their view that there would be a reduced likelihood of US asset disposals following a currency fall because, “In a world of rational expectations, such a scenario would be unlikely: as the dollar
declined, investors would judge that the dollar had less far to go to reach its equilibrium value, and this decline in expectations of depreciation would buoy stock and bond prices.”

In other words they see crashes as ending themselves - as assets start to fall in value they look more attractively priced and investors rush in to buy the dips. Were this the case no asset would ever fall in value. I find it hard to believe that the Fed’s researchers could write this if they’ve ever lived through a correction. The more that stocks fell in 1987, the keener investors were to sell. For some investors this is a rational decision based on increasing uncertainty changing the investment landscape, for others it may well be a matter of no choice if they are leveraged or their financial positions are suddenly changed in a contracting economy. For many, periods of uncertainty breed fear and lead to irrational selling even beyond the point where fair value has been passed. The researchers’ idea that further currency falls and a slowing economy could each take place independent of U.S. stock and bond markets is highly theoretical and contradicts all empirical experience of such downturns. We fail to see how the appetites of both foreign and domestic investors would not be reduced either of their own volition or as a matter of compulsion, deliberately and irrationally in such a situation. This is how crashes develop.

The Fed also delude themselves in Research Paper 682 that a weaker dollar would cause such an uptick in exports from the US that the negative effects on the US economy and US stocks of a reaction to a weakened currency would be “perhaps more than fully offset by the positive effect on net exports of dollar depreciation.” In other words, the US econo-my would be bailed out by suddenly turning from a net importer to the extent of around US$ 600 Bn per year to being a net exporter of around twice that amount. This fails to recognise that the only import market of that size globally is the US market! There is nowhere to be seen any sufficiently sizeable consumption markets for US exports on the scale that would be necessary to address the effects of a deficit of this size.

So the very consequences of the current economic situation will, at some point, have a cataclysmic effect on US stock markets and almost all other stock markets will suffer by association. Research shows that in a major crisis, all markets correlate to one - i.e. everything falls. We expect that all equity markets would crash in the event of a collapse of the US stock markets - not necessarily so far and they would, in some cases, quickly de-couple and bounce back upwards again while the US and other markets might remain in the doldrums for many years.

We’ll wrap up bleating about the global economy 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 [email protected]

Life in the Laugh Lane: Snow Tired

by Scott Jones

I have a love/hate relationship with winter, depending on where I am. Here it’s green, warm, plants bloom and the rain stops. In February in northern America, it’s white, frigid, the snow never stops and people kill each other over parking spaces. Blizzards stop the world for days at a time. Bare skin freezes to metal. Kids learn this lesson when a strange, uncontrollable desire forces them to put their tongue on a metal car door handle. The tongue and lips immediately become one with the door. A frightened child will never calmly mumble, “Mom would you please bring the hair dryer out here in the driveway?” Their only reaction is sheer terror as the head is jerked back leaving a frozen tongue fossil on the handle.

I remember a monster storm that dropped a meter of snow as the temperature dropped to 30 below. People ventured from their homes and never returned. The disc jockey on the radio couldn’t leave the station and no one could get in to relieve him. On the third day, he mainly played music. During dinner, we heard an odd sound coming from the next room. We entered the kitchen to see the radio quietly broadcasting “zzz.” Mr. Jock had dozed off, his microphone was on and the radio was snoring. I shook the radio, but it didn’t wake up.

Dangerous weather can control dangerous human, since crime cannot compete with the cold. At 100 below, gangs of hoods are not inspired to stand around outside dressed in down snowsuits. A bunch of colorful pillows with legs is not particularly threatening. Mittens just don’t work with guns and you’d better not touch the barrel with your hands. A different breed of criminal lives in Canada, which stands for Cold Arctic North American Desolate Area. While on tour in Winnipeg, I shuffled out at dawn to start my truck at 40 below, never expecting the battery could turn over the engine. The doors were frozen shut and it took 30 minutes and 20 matches to get into the driver’s seat. I turned the key…no whirrs, no clicks, no sound at all. I opened the hood to jumpstart the engine…no battery. The police found no fingerprints, but discovered several fingertips frozen to the hood.

On my way home to Minneapolis, my plane circled the city above a massive blizzard. The pilot finally gave up, landed in Chicago and my flight was cancelled, the night before the Thanksgiving holiday. I didn’t want to share O’Hare airport with hundreds of harried humans so I rented a car and drove away shouting, “I was born in North Dakota! I can do anything in the winter!” I did Illinois and Wisconsin very well, but 10 miles into Minnesota, the wet pavement turned to glare ice as I careened sideways down
the highway at 55 miles per hour…the speed limit. When the snow settled, I was very alone, very far away from any town and very deep in a ditch. By the time I staggered to the top of the gulley, a tow truck had appeared from heaven. He rolled down his window and said, “You can’t park there.” Thinking of several nasty things to say and many new uses for a tire iron, I asked, “Can you get me out?” He said, “Maybe.” Seven minutes and $50 later, I was back on the highway. His last words were, “See you down the road.” He probably earned his kid’s entire college tuition that night.

If I ever see another snowflake, it will be in a toasty movie theater here in Thailand.