The Doctor's Consultation: AAA – and it’s not your credit rating!
by Dr. Iain Corness
AAA stands for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm, and as I have
often pointed out, we doctors love acronyms. I am sure that the education
bodies have decreed that the medical course should contain three years of
acronyms, as well as another three years of clinical practice.
So what is an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA)? First off,
what is the aorta? The aorta is the main artery of the body, directly
connected to the heart and taking the vast majority of the blood from that
important central pump to the abdominal organs and the legs. This artery is
around 2 cm in diameter.
However, a situation can occur, whereby the artery begins
to bulge and can grow to four or five times the normal diameter. It is this
swelling that is called an ‘aneurysm’. Being of the Abdominal Aorta then
explains the AAA description. An aorta is considered ‘aneurysmal’ when it
grows more than 50 percent over its normal size. By the way, aneurysms may
occur in any blood vessel in the body, but the most common place is in the
abdomen below the renal arteries (the blood vessels that provide the blood to
your kidneys). Interestingly, aneurysms are four times more common in men than
women and occur most often after 55-60 years of age. Elderly males have yet
another aspect to monitor, as well as their prostates!
The danger of the AAA comes from the fact that this can
burst, like an over-inflated balloon, and the patient experiences a
catastrophic internal haemorrhage. This is generally fatal. Aneurysm rupture
affects approximately 15,000 people per year making it the 13th leading cause
of death in the US. The incidence of aortic aneurysm increases every decade as
the population ages. Fortunately, early detection and diagnosis is
increasingly possible as more sophisticated medical screening methods become
So why does this aneurysm occur? Aneurysms are caused by a
weakening or damage in the wall of a blood vessel. There are many conditions
known to contribute to the weakening of the artery wall including
atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), cigarette smoking, high blood
pressure and inflammation or infection.
Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) is the most
common cause of abdominal aortic aneurysms. This occurs when substances such
as cholesterol, minerals, and blood cells build up in the walls of the artery,
and thus damaging it. The muscular wall of the aorta weakens and with the
pressure inside the artery, it begins to bulge. High blood pressure may speed
up the weakening, but it is not the cause. Aneurysms also tend to run in
families, so there is the thought that genetics may play a role in who gets an
aneurysm. (When in doubt, blame your parents – for everything!)
There is a strong link between cigarette smoking and the
occurrence of aneurysms. Smokers die four times more often from ruptured
aneurysms than non-smokers. Aneurysms in smokers also expand and weaken faster
than those in non-smokers, making this the one hundred and twenty thousandth
good reason to give up cigarettes.
Unfortunately, until an AAA bursts, there are generally no
symptoms to let you know you have one of these ‘time bombs’ sitting in
your belly. The discovery is then usually during an annual physical, where it
can be palpated by the doctor, but by far more accurate is an ultrasound,
which can give exact dimensions, and thus progressive indication of how
rapidly the swelling is growing.
The answer to this is an operation to replace the swollen,
weakened artery, with a suitable piece of highly expensive ‘garden hose’
of correct length and diameter. This is a major operation, but once you have
had an AAA detected, there is no other way around the problem. There is also
some work being done on encasing the aorta to contain the swelling, but this
is not the usual method of ‘defusing’ an AAA.
You should be lining up for a routine health check every 12
months, after you reach 40 years of age. When was your last one?
No choccies and champers for you this week, my petal! I’m afraid I
must correct your column of March 10. Captain Roy Brown, the airborne hero
who shot down the Red Baron in April 1918, was not British but Canadian
(from Ontario), although he was fighting with the Royal Flying Corp at the
time. You can read all about it at http://www.billybishop.org/bishop-baron.html.
A Canuck in Paradise
Dear Canuck in Paradise,
In your haste to cut me off from my chocolate supply line, you must have
skimmed my reply and missed the salient details. I wrote, “Captain
Arthur “Roy” Brown, was the British Sopwith Camel pilot who chased the
Red Baron to his death, thought to be from an Australian AA gunner on the
ground.” Note the fact that Sopwith Camels were a British plane, so my
phrase “British Sopwith Camel” is correct in fact. Your Canuck, who
was flying the British plane, did not however kill the Red Baron, but as I
also wrote, “his death, thought to be from an Australian AA gunner on
the ground.” The bullets that killed the famed aviator were not from the
machine gun on the Canuck pilot’s plane, but were of the caliber of the
Australian ground forces AA units! Here I was, trying to insert a little
education into the column, and I find the world is full of Sopwith Camels
with loaded machine guns, trying to blow poor Hillary out of the skies! If
they only knew how to make chocolates in Canada, I would get you to send
me some as an apology.
I’d just like to say how much I enjoy your column but not as much as
I enjoyed my last two months with my girlfriend of three years in Pattaya.
I often hear farang complaining about their Thai girlfriends, stop
whinging and don’t expect your Thai girlfriends to put up with things no
European lady would. Am I the only farang (Irish) man in Pattaya happy
with his girlfriend? Counting the days to get back to Somporn and
Sabai Sabai Des
Dear Sabai sabai Des,
You are not the only farang man happy with his girlfriend in Pattaya (or
elsewhere in Thailand, for that matter), there are many of them. The
success or otherwise of a relationship in Thailand, as in anywhere on the
planet, depends upon the two people in that relationship. If you have gone
into the relationship with your eyes open (and your wallet closed), and
have the best of intentions yourself, then you have a greater than 50
percent chance of success. Many farangs will not apply the same standards
of fidelity they expect from their girlfriends, to themselves. These
relationships, must fail. I am glad you are enjoying yours, my Irish (four
The wife of one of my husband’s friends will be coming to visit next
month, along with a couple of her girl friends. They would all be in their
50’s, and shocked me when they wrote and said they wanted to see a
“sex show” while they are here. Do you think it’s proper for me to
take them to some of the more outrageous places, or what? I’m really
blown away by this. What do you recommend, Hillary?
Shocked and Shamed
Dear Shocked and shamed,
There is nothing to worry about, my dear. Everybody knows we don’t have
sex shows in Thailand. The nice policeman told me so. However, if you’re
really worried, get your husband to take them. There will be a little man
holding a grubby list in the red-light areas which will have enough sex
shows with more positions than the Kama Sutra. But if you look carefully,
you will see that position 47 is exactly the same as position 23, except
you cross your fingers. At 50 years of age, I doubt also that your friends
have enough dexterity to do the contortions.
You are often telling people that they should learn Thai if they are
living here for some time. I have retired here, but at my age (70), I find
it very difficult to learn a new language at my time in life. Is there any
quick way of doing this, or do you have any special tips for people trying
to learn this (for me) very difficult Thai language?
Dear Linguistic Larry,
We are really going educational this week, aren’t we my Petal. So you
want tips about talking (Thai). What next? Larry, it is a problem I know,
but if you are retired and not working, then there is one quick (but none
of them are easy) way to learn. It’s called Total Immersion and
Hillary’s language teacher friends all tell me it is the quickest. Go
and stay in a village up-country in a little local hotel and put yourself
into the situation that you have to speak Thai or starve! I am told that
in six weeks you will have picked up reasonable Thai and you are on your
way to complete mastery of the tongue. You will probably have picked up a
small language teacher as well, so you can practice 24 hours a day. Lots
of luck and “Chok dii, Kha”.
Camera Class: Why Kodak is doing (digitally) very well
by Harry Flashman
A few weeks ago I mentioned that Kodak, the grandfather of
film, was now the top digital camera seller in the US and ranked third in the
world. A tremendous result for a company that everyone predicted would go to the
wall, as digital technology overtook film imaging.
stay on top of the game, Kodak took a huge leap of faith, boasting that their
next-generation camera offers medium-format image quality and yet with 35 mm
One of their top end cameras was the Kodak Professional DCS
Pro SLR/n, where “n” refers to the Nikon mount so it takes the top of the
range Nikon lenses, while there is also a SLR/c which has the Canon mounting.
With digital cameras like these, one enters a whole new world
of ‘computer’ terminology, where, as Kodak says, the DCS Pro SLR/n digital
camera contains a new high performance imaging system with an entirely new 35 mm
size CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) sensor, which delivers 14
million pixels with a total available ISO range of 6 to 1600.
Without having to get into e-jargon, 14 mega pixels is an
outstanding number, and to cover the “film” speeds of ISO 6 to ISO 1,600 is
a huge range. With that capability, Koadk said the DCS Pro SLR/n was ideally
suited for wedding photographers and event, portrait, commercial and advanced
amateur photographers as well.
“The DCS Pro SLR/n combines the best of medium format image
quality with the convenience and flexibility of 35 mm photography. Its high ISO
provides excellent performance in low-light settings and captures images with
stunning detail that wedding and event photographers expect. It also creates
amazing images at low ISOs using long exposures,” said Madhav Mehra, General
Manager, Professional Digital Capture. “We’ve accelerated the evolution of
the digital SLR with this camera. The DCS Pro SLR/n is able to merge
high-resolution and the best image detail with a broad ISO range,” he claimed.
Some of the key features were a full-size sensor, so
photographers could regain the benefits of true wide-angle lenses and can use
their F-mount SLR lenses the same way they used them with 35 mm film. With many
other digital SLR’s, the image area is smaller, and you have to apply a
conversion factor to the lenses, as for example, a 24 mm wide angle lens does
not give the same broad lateral coverage in a digital camera, as it would on a
Aside from a broad ISO range, the camera’s feature set
included long exposure capabilities, enabling exposures of up to 60 seconds at
lower ISO settings.
The camera captured images at about 1.7 frames per second.
Images could be saved as DCR raw files, normal JPEG files or ERI JPEG files. The
ERI-JPEG files provide two stops of exposure latitude and extended color space
within a JPEG workflow – a benefit which Kodak claimed no competitor offers.
This is equivalent to ‘bracketing’ in the old film days, to try and get the
best exposure. Now in the e-era, this camera did it for you.
With the electronics covered (and in fact you could download
upgrades from the internet for the DCS Pro SLR/n) and Messrs Nikon (or Canon)
supplying the high quality optics, it would seem that a camera such as this had
the best of both worlds. There is only one major drawback. Kodak stopped
production of it in May last year!
So if this camera was so good, why pull the plug? Kodak
explained it very simply, “Kodak has today (31st May
2005) confirmed that the DCS Pro SLR/n and DCS Pro SLR/c digital SLRs have been
discontinued and will no longer be manufactured. Kodak will continue to develop
CCD and CMOS image sensors and this announcement does not affect their consumer
digital cameras. Kodak was keen to stress that this does not mark the end of
Kodak digital SLR’s but that they wished to concentrate on market segments
which are more profitable.” So there you have it – the bean counters said
there was not enough profit in high-end professional equipment!
However, that’s why Kodak continues to make money. And will
be around for many years to come, as they have not lost the financial vision!
Cat’s Home! What’s Next?: Colorpoint Shorthairs:
We are Siamese if you please! (Part 3)
Linda L. Galloway, PhD, FGA,
Take one Siamese and paint its points (ears, paws, tail,
nose, genitals) in myriad colors and there you have what is now known as the
Colorpoint Shorthair! These lovely colored Siamese type cats, first created
around 1947-48, in fact have 16 different point colors instead of the four
traditional colors of the original Siamese (seal, chocolate, blue, lilac). They
are the first cousins of the Siamese, named as a separate breed by CFA (Cat
Fanciers’ of America) in 1964.
Colorpoint Shorthair looking distinctly Siamese!
The early breeders of these elegant creatures concentrated
on fabulous red and cream colors using hybridizations with domestic shorthairs.
More solid colors were introduced with time. And then came the tabby or lynx
point varieties which added stunning tiger stripes to the colored points. Next
the parti-colors or torties were developed as an interesting phenomenon of the
red gene. Torties are particularly memorable because of their loving but
independent, distinctive attitudes (better known as “torti-tude”!). It’s
as if the blotchy halloween-like markings of red, cream and black on their
faces give them an unpredictable clown-like nature. They are the Lucille Balls
of the cat fancy to be sure! And true enough, the tortie pattern is sex-linked,
so torties only come as females. Their parti-colors are the product of the red
gene on top of the four original Siamese colors, with random “blotching” of
the reds and creams against a dark background. With some luck, a blaze may
appear as a symmetrical split of the red/cream colors on one-half of the face
and the Siamese solid color such as black (seal) on the other half, giving
these lovely creatures a striking appearance.
Colorpoint Shorthairs have the same elegant structural
standards as their Siamese cousins, differing only by their unique point colors
and patterns. Like all their relatives (short and long haired alike so
including the Balinese, Javanese, Oriental Short and Long Hairs), they require
little grooming and so they are especially good in households with allergies to
cats since they have little dander. Only an occasional bath is recommended but
you must allow the freshly bathed cat to dry in a warm spot without blowing dry
puffs up the coat!). As with the Siamese and Oriental
Shorthairs (but different from the Long Hairs), the coat must be brushed with
the concave side of a small rubber brush to remove loose hair and make the coat
lie straight and flat. The coat can then be “finished” by smoothing with a
chamois cloth to add some gloss.
As with all pedigree cats, price depends on type,
bloodlines, distinguished wins in the lines (Grand Champions, National or
Regional Wins, Distinguished Merit titles). Kittens are usually available after
16 weeks of age, inoculations and neutering/spaying, providing their new owner
with a most wonderful and beautiful pet! For more information on pedigree cats,
or cats in general, contact me by email ([email protected]).
Dogs - Man’s best friend: Dogs: General Health Care: Grooming
Grooming promotes a clean and healthy coat and skin,
gives the opportunity to check for irregularities such as tangles, bumps,
wounds and parasites, and it’s rank-confirming.
13 year old Lady Jasmin.
Tangled coats form perfect hotbeds for skin parasites,
bacterial and fungal infections. Old hair, dirt and foreign objects, like
grass seeds or twigs, can get stuck in it, new hair can’t come through
properly, the skin can’t breathe properly, and flea and tick sprays and
powders can’t reach the source, resulting in irritation, biting and
scratching and a damaged skin with an high chance on infection.
Combing and brushing at least once a week, keeps the coat
free from tangles, removes old hair and foreign objects, improves the
air-flow and stimulates the blood-circulation as well as the natural skin
oil production, the animal’s natural protection against parasites,
bacteria, fungi, heat or cold and/or dry skin.
It is best to start with the least sensitive body parts,
the shoulders or hindquarters, back, head and neck, and then down to the
softer parts and the paws. Brush or comb always in the direction of the
hair-growth with short firm and gentle strokes, right behind the other hand
that holds the skin tight. Too rough grooming can injure the skin or scare
your animal, resulting in possible growling, snapping or biting. And an
animal that has learned it can stop it’s owner actions by showing
aggression may become difficult, if not impossible, to handle. Being too
soft, though, results in a nicely groomed coat’s upper layer while the
under-layer becomes more tangled. Therefore, make sure you reach the skin
and brush every part of the body, meaning also behind the ears, under the
armpits, the abdomen, the tail, around the anus, vulva and penis.
All dogs, no matter the coat length, are entitled to
grooming sessions. For long and half-long coated dogs a comb with smooth
round teeth and a brush with natural bristles or a wire-pin brush are
suitable. Rough and curly coats need a wire pin brush, and smooth coats a
rubber brush and a moist towel to remove dust and old hair.
Many owners think it’ll be easier to cut the animal’s
coat. However, the old hair remains in the coat making it difficult for the
new one to grow, changing the hair structure into a soft and easily tangible
one, decreasing the air-flow, and often gives irritation. Therefore, for
most dog breeds stripping the old hair out is much better than cutting,
which isn’t painful when done properly as the old hair is already loose
anyway. Exceptions are some curly coated breeds, like the poodle, Bedlington
and Kerry Blue Terriers; their coats need to be cut.
To be able to reach all body parts the groomer has to put
the animal in all sorts of submissive positions, such as laying down or on
its side. Grooming is, therefore, not only good for the dog’s health, but
above all, when done well, it allows you to give your dog a few moments of
special attention, enough to establish a pleasant bond.
For more information on pets’ health, dog and cat
boarding, dog training and behavior please visit www.luckydogs.info or
contact LuckyDogs: 09 99 78 146.
Language Works: Myths Meanings and Origins
by Ian Smith
An email from my Brother
My brother Don, who turns 70 this year, is what you might
call an email junkie. I say this with some pride as I know many people of his
age are still reluctant to trade in their quills, leave alone enter into the
alien landscape of cyberspace.
But Don is no technophobe. I get an average ten emails per
day from him, mostly forwarded jokes and photos. Apart from keeping him and his
delightful wife Mary never far from my thoughts, there is the added benefit of
never lacking light reading material.
A few days ago, one of his forwarded emails caught my
linguist’s curiosity. It began as a list of mostly unrelated trivia: the
identities of the kings in a set of playing cards; the meaning of horse’s
legs in statues; windshield wipers and laser printers were invented by women
and so on.
However, the last four items were related in that they were
each about the origin of a word or phrase. Unfortunately, one of those words
does not belong in a family paper such as the Chiangmai Mail, but here
are the other three:
In Shakespeare’s time, mattresses were secured on bed
frames by ropes. When you pulled on the ropes the mattress tightened, making
the bed firmer to sleep on. Hence the phrase ‘goodnight, sleep tight’.
It was the accepted practice in Babylon 4,000 years ago that
for a month after the wedding, the bride’s father would supply his son-in-law
with all the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer and because their
calendar was lunar based, this period was called the honey month or what we
know today as the honeymoon.
In Scotland, a new game was invented. It was entitled
Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden and thus the word GOLF entered into the
I accepted this trivia at face value at first. Certainly,
‘sleep tight’ and ‘honeymoon’ seemed plausible enough – but G.O.L.F.?
Etymology and Dave Wilton
Etymology is the study of word origins. For anyone
interested in language, it gives a fascinating perspective on how living
languages evolve over time. Google (have you noticed that google has recently
become a verb?) the word etymology and you will be faced with eleven million
links to choose from.
By a happy accident, I ended up in Dave Wilton’s Etymology
page. It seems Mr Wilton is THE expert on word myths and has even written a
book about it. Added to that, his passion, painstaking research and witty prose
frequently make the truth a lot more interesting than the myth.
As I had half suspected, all of the word origin items in the
email were fanciful bunkum. The story about Shakespearean beds is quite
correct, but the phrase ‘sleep tight’ comes from much later. For a while,
in the 18th Century, the word ‘tight’ could mean soundly or roundly, a
meaning it had not yet acquired in Shakespeare’s day.
The word honeymoon first appeared in the 16th century, quite
some time after the fall of Babylon. According to Wilton, ‘the moon is not a
reference to the lunar-based month, but rather a bitter acknowledgement that
this sweetness, like a full moon, would quickly fade.’ It seems a cynical
view of marriage is nothing new.
And Golf? Simply derived from an old Germanic word meaning
Next in this week’s ramble through word meanings and
origins, if you take a look at most English-Thai dictionaries, you will find
‘terrific’ and ‘terrible’ listed as synonyms; that is, words having the
Both words are translated in the dictionaries as naklua –
literally ‘worthy of fear’, and there was a time, not so long ago, when
they did both mean frightening. Indeed, there are still traces of this meaning
in modern English usage; we talk about a ‘terrific’ or ‘terrible’
But these have now become secondary meanings. According to
the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, the primary meaning of
‘terrific’ is ‘very good …’, whereas the primary meaning of
‘terrible’ is ‘extremely severe …’
These two words are my quick ‘litmus test’ when
evaluating an English-Thai dictionary. Unfortunately very few pass.
Nicely done Melanie and Mike
Finally for this week, thinking about word origins reminded
me of one of my teachers correcting our usage of the word ‘nice’. We could
not, we were told, say that we had had a nice holiday, because ‘nice’ did
not mean ‘pleasant’ – it meant ‘accurate’. ‘How can you have an
accurate holiday?’ he would scrawl in nasty red ink across our innocent
I would like to think that Mr Nameless was stuck back in the
19th Century of his own childhood, but he really wasn’t that old. He was
simply confusing a word’s meaning with its etymology.
Dave Wilton offered no advice on ‘nice’ so I looked up
another favourite etymology website: Melanie and Mike’s Take Our Word for It.
I found that ‘nice’ had indeed meant ‘accurate’ for a couple of
centuries, and there are still traces of it in modern usage; for example, when
we say ‘nicely done’. What Mr Nameless was probably not aware of was the
extraordinary history of the word before its ‘accurate’ phase.
In the 13th Century, ‘nice’ meant, believe it or not,
‘foolish or stupid’. A hundred years or so later, that had evolved into
‘wanton’, and later still ‘extravagantly dressed’. By the mid 15th
Century, it had two completely separate meanings: ‘strange’ and ‘lazy’.
However, by the end of that century, it referred to dress again, this time with
a more positive meaning: ‘elegant’. In the next century, it flipped again
to negative: ‘fastidious’ and ‘effeminate’; and back to positive for
the 17th Century: ‘refined’ and ‘cultured’.
So ‘nice’ (13th Century) Mr Nameless, if you can choose
your period for the word ‘nice’ so can I, and I choose mid 15th Century.
Strange and lazy – now that is my idea of a nice holiday!
If you are interested in word origins, the link for Dave
Wilton’s site is: http://www.wordorigins.org and Melanie and Mike’s:
And as always, if you have any questions, or would like to
vent your spleen, feel free to email me at: [email protected]
Money Matters: MBMG Special Update - Commodity investing: As good as it gets?
MBMG International Ltd.
It is awfully tempting to cut back on ones
commodity exposure, especially after the spectacular run we have seen over
the last couple of months. The rally in mining equities, in particular, is
now 32 months in duration and relative to the previous cycles since 1972, is
the longest in duration. We would argue, however, that the cycle has still
much further to go and that we could see another strong year from commodity
investments. The market has been focusing on demand factors, but it our
belief that investors will increasingly shift their focus to the supply side
of the equation in 2006.
Over the last couple of years mining companies have been
loathe to spend money on Greenfield developments (iron ore and coal
excluded), despite the significant demand from China and other emerging
market economies. This is not surprising when one considers that experienced
mining executives have long memories of the ‘old days’ in the industry,
when commodity markets were characterised by short upward shifts in
commodity prices and long down-cycles.
Mining executives, today, are too focused on returns and
do not have incentives to take on risk to build new mines or smelters. Share
buybacks, higher dividends and M&A are a lower risk strategy than
developing a mine, with four-year lead times and the uncertainty of where
prices will be once the project is finished.
The other factor influencing companies’ decisions is
the inertia within the industry to raise long term commodity assumptions,
which were dragged down during the 1998 Asian crisis. Credit Suisse First
Boston argue that they are far too low, especially given the rising costs of
building new mines and smelters, with them estimating that costs have jumped
between 20% and 50% over the past five years. In just one example, CSFB
argue that to justify a return in investment on a new copper mine, the long
term copper price needs to be close to $1.50 per pound, compared with
current industry thinking of $0.90 per pound. Similar outcomes are true for
nickel, zinc and platinum.
Most producers believe that current high prices will be
short-lived; hence producing assets are being run very hot, with capacity
utilisation kept higher for longer. This increases production risks. In
addition, high commodity prices encourage labour groups to push through wage
increases (at a time when companies are already focusing on minimising cost
pressures), thus increasing the likelihood of work stoppages.
In a recent project update, BHP Billiton wrote the
following: “Industry wide, the supply side response to continued strong
global demand for raw materials remains constrained by a shortage of people,
equipment and supplies. This has led to tight labour markets and difficulty
in sourcing construction and drilling plant and machinery, which in turn has
led to rising input costs. Currency strength against the US dollar is also
adding further pressure.”
Caterpillar, the mining equipment supplier, has also made
similar comments, as can be seen by a recent FT report in which they had the
following to say, “Mining equipment is sold out through 2007 and that the
cycle has legs and looks stronger than upturns in the 1980’s and
1990’s.” However, Caterpillar also said that they “are cautious about
creating overcapacity and that they have had difficulty in obtaining some
supplies, such as tyres, restricting their own production, which is being
felt by their customers in the mining industry”.
In yet another reason why the industry has been slow to
build new capacity has been US Dollar weakness. With the onset of this
weakness in 2002, commodity currencies began to strengthen and strengthened
even more as the physical commodity prices themselves began to rise in 2004.
Currencies such as the Rand, Chilean peso, and the Australian and Canadian
dollars have appreciated by between 25% and 50% since 2002. The strength of
these currencies has created additional cost pressures on local producers
and discouraged new projects, despite rising commodity prices.
Over the last few months, growth investing appears to be
back in vogue and investors are starting to ask for higher earnings streams.
This has led to increasing M&A activity in the commodity space, as the
big majors realise that it is cheaper and a less risky strategy to buy a
smaller start up company, than go into these projects themselves. CSFB are
predicting that 2006 will be one of the most active M&A years for
corporations in the past two decades, as the big miners start to appreciate
that there is still significant value that exists in a target’s share
price, provided they eventually come round to adopting higher long-term
This in itself will underpin the mining sector this year.
However, there is not an infinite supply of smaller companies out there and
it will only be a matter of time before companies are forced to spend on
exploration once again. But the fact remains that the longer they hold out,
the longer the commodity cycle will be sustained.
The recent price rises in many commodities is still
daunting, however, but when one looks at them in inflation adjusted terms,
the moves do not appear so big. In reality, base metals have been one of the
worst performing assets since 1973. Over that time period they have
significantly underperformed real estate, equities and bonds. In real terms
commodities are not expensive.
Positive supply and demand fundamentals, coupled with
attractive “real” valuations have not gone unnoticed, with UBS and
Macquarie estimating that around $80 billion has been invested in commodity
index funds for 2005, up from $55 billion in 2004 and less than $30 billion
in 2003. Based on UBS’ calculations, they estimate that the equivalent of
around 3-4% of total annual production has been ‘bought’ via these
indices. But there appears to be more liquidity to come with Bloomsbury
Minerals Economics predicting that investment in commodity index products
could rise from around $80 billion currently to $105-$115 billion by the end
of 2006 and $140-$150 billion by the end of 2007.
If these predictions are correct that the impact on base
metals could be significant. UBS estimate that new funds flow into these
indices during 2006 could increase the fund position by another 50%. In each
case investment could be sufficient to either intensify a market deficit, or
in some cases turn what could have been a surplus into a deficit.
In conclusion, we do not believe that this is as good as
it gets and in fact we believe that the best is yet to come. However, this
recommendation needs to come with a health warning, especially if the US
consumer does precipitously slow down in the second half of 2006, leading to
an inevitable slowdown in China.
Commodity investments will be impacted by this, which we
think will present a great buying opportunity to buy these assets at cheaper
prices, for the growth in China is not a one year story, but one that we are
going to see played out for the next 10 years. According to research from
Macquarie Bank, even if China were to slow down from current growth rates,
China is still likely to account for 30%+ of world demand by 2010.
Finally, as David Fuller of Fuller money fame so
eloquently said, “With approximately one billion people in the developed
world and another five billion in developing countries, the largest of which
are scrambling to increase GDP and the standard of living for their
burgeoning populations, it is not difficult to envisage a steepening demand
curve for all resources, many of which are finite.”
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: Teeth are Fun
by Scott Jones
Many dentists kill themselves in America.
Their high suicide rate is probably caused by daily routines of charging an arm
and leg to remove a tooth while inflicting pain on wide-eyed, terrified people
who hate them, working in a haze of halitosis from patients whose breath could
actually strip paint from the ceiling and spending 40 hours a week worrying if
their next victim will bite them, taking a finger in exchange for each tooth
Safety Technique #19
This may also be true in Thailand since I’ve never seen an
old dentist. They all look about 17 years old, having gone from puberty right
into dentistry. Here in the Land of Smiles, teeth are fun and “fun” is the
Thai word for teeth. During a recent root canal at Funsabai (“Comfy Teeth”)
the staff was friendly and cheery with canines and cuspids so white and bright
I had to wear sunglasses if more than three of them smiled at once. Pop music
played in the background as Dr. Drill and the Dentalettes sang along while
probing my mouth with sharp metal objects and keeping the beat with suction
devices that sometimes reached into my stomach. Farang patients were happy to
be there knowing the cost for an entirely remodeled mouth plus a plane ticket
to paradise cost half as much as a few fillings in their own countries.
In spite of this carefree atmosphere, I was still tense from
the memory of the most intense pain I’ve ever felt during Dental Hell in
Kentucky, where dentists have marginal experience since its inhabitants as a
whole have very few teeth. (The toothbrush must have originated in Kentucky
because if it were invented anywhere else, it would have been called the
“teeth brush.”) My degenerating tooth gave out during a performance tour so
I spent my two-day break in the Land of Gums at the University of Kentucky
Medical Center. After an eternity of excavation of four roots in my large molar
I was sent to my hotel to throb for the evening. The next day Dr. Ken Tucky
tested yesterday’s deconstruction site by sticking an ice pick into each root
hole…before giving me the Novocain shot. Unfortunately he had missed a root
and stabbed his saber into the remaining raw nerve. I think I actually
catapulted from the chair through the ceiling into the morgue on the next
The dentist at Funsabai (named Win, a perfect moniker for
instilling confidence in patients) did nothing to stress me out. He was
sensitive, gentle and meticulous. Even his Novocain shot was painless unlike my
last dentist in Chiang Rai who plunged a syringe the size of a cattle prod
through the gums and into my brain in search of the individual cell that
controls tooth pain. (I suspect Win just placed his needle into the cavern left
by the previous dentist.) However, on the second day, I was back in the Land of
Gums. Win put his drill in my mouth before the pain-killer. (He had told me
there were only two roots on the tooth. Right. “Okay, I’ll let you probe my
canals with your Tools of Torture while I hold this scalpel next to your
eyeball.”) Not wanting to put a Scott-shaped hole in his ceiling and force
the entire clinic to commit suicide, I instructed him on the ABCD’s of
Dentistry: Anesthesia, Be Cool, Drill. Then I put on my motorcycle helmet.
Overall it was a very positive experience even during the times when they
put a towel over my eyes so I couldn’t see that Dr. Win plus two other
dentists plus seven dental assistants plus random people gathered from the
street all had their hands in my mouth holding hoses, files, pliers, shovels
and a queen-size mattress to keep my cheek away from the teeth. Next time
I’ll try Novocain shots in my ears and nose as well so I don’t have to hear
the incessant whine of the drill or smell the burning enamel. Perhaps some
trendy teak teeth? Or may just suicide.