Vol. VI No. 7 - Tuesday April 10, - April 16, 2007
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Columns
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

The Doctor's Consultation

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Money Matters

Arts - Entertainment - Lifestyles

Films on DVD for Rental in Chiang Mai

The Doctor's Consultation:  by Dr. Iain Corness

Your computer is killing you

Sorry about the attention grabbing headline, it’s an old journalistic trick. Your computer really won’t kill you, but sitting at your computer for hours on end, can! And backing up this contentious claim is one of the world’s respected medical publications, the New Zealand Medical Journal, with the results tabled at the annual conference of the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand.

Now everyone in the world, other than a few farmers in outer Mongolia, has heard of the “Economy Class Syndrome”, in which you end up getting blood clots in the legs from being squeezed into seat 176A at the rear of the Economy section of Fright and Flight airlines. The rationale is that after sitting in 176A for the 12 hour flight to bring the bad news to Outer Mongolia, the blood flow in the legs slows so much that clotting forms and you end up with yet another acronym, this time called DVT, or more correctly Deep Vein Thrombosis, or even Deep Venous Thrombosis. This has produced a group of nervous airline passengers, cowering in fear, waiting for hijacking or DVTs.

However, Professor Richard Beasley of the Medical Research Institute in New Zealand has studied the folk admitted to hospital with DVTs and found that only 21 percent had traveled on long distance flights, whilst 34 percent were sedentary office workers who would sit in front of their computer screen for three to four hours at a stretch without getting up, and do this for up to 14 hours a day. This showed two factors. Firstly their work habit was dangerous, allowing the blood to pool up in their legs, and secondly, they had magnificent bladder control.

Whilst I was joking about the bladder control, I would postulate that to be able to sit for four hours at a time, these office workers were not drinking enough fluid, leading to thickening of the blood, and even more likelihood of blood clots. Look around your office, how many of the staff have a water jug, or even a glass of water on their work station? In my office of 12, only two of us have water on the desk.

That’s enough on the factors leading to DVT, what can a DVT do? What happens is very understandable. The clot breaks off from the deep vein and then travels upwards towards the heart. In doing so, it will go from major, large diameter blood vessels into smaller and smaller again. Eventually, depending upon the size, the clot will become wedged in a very small vessel and shut off the blood supply to that area.

If the blockage occurs in the lung, the condition is called a Pulmonary Embolism (PE). This is potentially fatal. It is estimated that each year more than 600,000 patients suffer a pulmonary embolism. PE causes or contributes to up to 200,000 deaths annually in the United States. One in every 100 patients who develop DVT dies due to pulmonary embolism.

There is some good news in all this, if pulmonary embolism can be diagnosed early and appropriate therapy started, the mortality can be reduced from approximately 30 percent to less than ten percent.

Still, 10 percent is a little too high for my liking. So what can you do to prevent getting a DVT? Apart from the obvious maintenance of good health with sensible eating and drinking and regular check-ups, the important preventive factors include getting up and walking around at least every hour (both in the office and from seat 176A), drinking plenty of water and taking 100 mg of aspirin every day. By making it less likely that a clot can form, you remove the dangers of DVT.

Go and get a glass of water now! And use it to swallow your aspirin.


Heart to Heart  with Hillary

Dear Hillery (sic),
A couple of weeks ago one of your writers complained about some woman who had been kicked out by her boyfriend and said you shouldn’t give anyone anything because it gets taken the wrong way. This is stupid. Things only get taken the wrong way when people don’t know what’s really going down. I’d like to hear the other guy’s story. I reckon the guy who wrote in won’t get the rent money he lent out either, so who can he trust? You’ve got to do what you think is best, but you’ve got to let your partner know what you are doing too.
Vince

Dear Vince,
Or is that “not conVinced”? In my reply to JMS, I did say, “Perhaps there were other events leading up to this? You are only giving me one side of the story (the one you are being given by the lady), and in any relationship there are always two sides.” Then again, maybe we are not hearing all of JMS’s side either? Some days it is hard being an Agony Aunt, Vince my Petal. Very hard. Now you can understand why I need a constant diet of chocolates and champagne to cheer me up. By the way, my name is Hillary, not “Hillery”. Just where did you get that from?

Dear Hillary,
My work colleagues have all decided that I am gay because I don’t live with anyone, while they all are living with a succession of local girls. Every week I hear another tale of woe and how they have been cleaned out. Every week I thank my lucky stars that this is them and not me, but they just go straight back into another relationship, which ends up just like the previous ones - a disaster. They seem to think that I have something against women, while I don’t, but they keep on saying over and over, “Got a feller yet?” I haven’t got anything against gays either, it’s just that I’m not one. How do I get them to understand at work?
Getting Annoyed

Dear Getting Annoyed,
Jai yen yen! Maintain a cool heart! They are only keeping this up because you continue to rise to the bait. When they get no reaction from you, they will eventually stop. It may seem hard, but just a “suit yourself” response and nothing else, will produce the desired result. By the way, don’t comment on their relationships and they will give up commenting on your (lack of relationships) too.

Dear Hillary,
Every week I see all these old men tourists with young girls in the streets with the nightlife. Bold as brass, down the street they come, arm in arm or holding hands with girls one quarter of their age. From the leers on their faces you know what they are thinking. Surely they must know they are a joke? These girls are after one thing only and these old codgers are too stupid to see it. They certainly don’t have any sex appeal left. Don’t you think something should be done about it, or at least tell the old duffers to stop making fools of themselves?
Ginger

Dear Ginger,
You are all spiced up, aren’t you, Petal. The problem here is just who is “making fools of themselves”? The old dears I see on the streets seem to be enjoying themselves no end. Well, most of them seem to have smiles from ear to ear. Is there a law against enjoyment in this city that was passed by the city fathers and I missed it? I do not believe that the “old codgers” as you call them, think that they have managed to find their dream girl out the front of Moonlight-a-Go-go. What they have found is someone who is prepared to look after them on their holiday, don’t complain and make no judgments of their behavior. So what if the girls are “after one thing only” - if the visiting tourist is happy to look after his side of the bargain and the locals are happy to supply what the visitor wants, then why are we (sorry, you) pointing the finger of scorn? Lighten up, Ginger. Live and let live needs to be your motto. Or did this letter stem from just a teensy-weensy bit of jealousy?

Dear Hillary,
The beautiful girls of Thailand amaze me the way they can sit sideways so gracefully on the rear of a motorcycle. I have even seen one girl calmly drinking a glass of red wine as they threaded their way through the traffic. Do you know when did this custom start and do they fall off?
Side-saddle

Dear Side-saddle,
Traditional Thai dress has included the long wrap skirt for many years and the Thai women have ridden buffaloes, elephants and oxen, long before the invasion of the Japanese motorcycle. Riding side-saddle is an example of Thai practicality. Imagine wearing a tight skirt and trying to throw your leg over the rear of the Honda/Yamaha/Suzuki 125, the ideal motorcycles for a family of four. Impossible! But you can sit sideways. Do they fall off? Yes they do, but only if the rider loses control.


Camera Class:  by Harry Flashman

Your own time capsule

There are many time capsules buried all over the world, all with the intention that ‘sometime’ in the future, it will be dug up and our descendents will avidly study the contents, saying “Look at what they wore in 2007!” and similar. Things will be very different in 2107. (For starters, none of us reading this will still be around. In fact, will the world as we know it still be around?)

However, returning to time capsules, take a look at these two photographs, taken in 1911, of the Niagara Falls. Global warming was obviously not a problem, it was rather global freezing. These two photographs would have been very suitable for a time capsule, as they portray a condition of the world that has certainly changed since 1911. Photographically, they are also very good. Note the inclusion of the figures which give an indication of the size of the falls. I have mentioned this before, but when taking photographs of “things”, if you can incorporate a person in the photograph, you have immediately given a sense of scale to the “thing”.

Now some of you will be thinking, “Where do I get a waterfall that has frozen over in Thailand?” The simple answer is that you won’t, but there are many situations in Thailand that are likely to change by the time someone opens your time capsule in 2107.

If you think back at how your city or village looks today, compared to how it was 5, 10 or even 20 years ago, you will find there have been great differences. I remember that 30 years ago Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok was two bitumen lanes with dirt shoulders each side in the Soi 11 Ambassador Hotel area. The Ambassador itself was about three storeys high, and nothing like it is today. Now imagine what your village is going to be like in 30 years from now. “Ordinary” photographs of your local area will be a wonderful reference in another 30 years. And in 100 years will become exhibits in the local museums.

There are countless subjects that you can put in your personal time capsule, and obviously technology changes so fast that photographs of techo items should be included. Think back to the airplanes of Louis Bleriot or before that, the Wright brothers. Today’s aircraft are the Sopwith Camels of tomorrow. Wireless internet, iPods, Bluetooth, Blackberry, LCD screens - all the cutting edge of today will be the blunted edge in 100 years.

Now one important decision you have to make is the format for your photographs. Sure you can burn them onto DVDs, but will there be something you can play a DVD on in 100 years? Remember the eight track stereos, or the five and a half inch floppy disks or even Beta-Cam? Try playing one of those even today. Your DVD might be the same in 100 years. How do you download the information?

In my time capsule I will put prints, done in archival quality, and at least I know that my great grandchildren will be able to view the scenes and items and people of 100 years prior. Sometimes simplest is best.

I do encourage you to exercise your brains and think about what might be interesting in 100 years. And photograph it today.


Money Matters:  Graham Macdonald MBMG International Ltd.

To Be or Not To Be ... Domiciled (Part 2)

Last time we analysed the case of a pilot, Mr. Shepherd, where the commissioner decided Mr. Shepherd had left the UK only through “occasional residence abroad”, meaning he fell within s334 of ICTA 1998, which states that the commonwealth citizen whose ordinary residence is in the UK will remain taxable in the UK if they left for occasional residence abroad.

The consequence of this case was that, once again it was proved that the residence rules in the UK are far from black and white. It is not enough merely to count days in and days out; one must go further and genuinely go abroad for settled and permanent purpose. The case only suggests that the Revenue are getting a bit tougher on those who claim to be non-residents. It was something of a shock in that it went against what had previously been understood to be Revenue practice. In order to ensure that one is not a UK-resident for tax purposes, it had been usual to follow Revenue guidance, in their publication IR20, and limit return visits to less than 90 days per year. However, this case shows that reliance on this rule is not always enough.

Particularly vulnerable to attack will be those who work abroad, but who are employed directly by a UK company, especially if their families remain in the UK and they habitually return to the family home, for example working away from home during the week and returning at weekends.

Other points made by the commissioner are worth nothing:

- A reduced presence in the UK of person whose absences are caused by his employment and also are temporary absences does not necessary mean that the person is not residing in the UK

- The availabilities of living accommodation in the UK is a factor to be borne in mind in deciding if a person is resident there

- That the fact that an individual had a home elsewhere is of no consequence

- There is a difference between the case where a British subject has established a residence in the UK and then has absences from it and the case where a person has never had a residence in the UK at all

- Where there is evidence that a move abroad is a distinct break, that could be a relevant factor in treating an individual as non-resident

- That a person could become non-resident even if his intention was to mitigate tax

Time Apportionment Relief

This offers a very valuable relief against income tax for policyholders who have held an offshore life policy whilst abroad and have then returned to the UK and surrendered such a policy. The reduction assumes that the policy has never been held by offshore trustees or companies and is calculated on the following basis:

Period following as a UK resident (days)
Period policy has been in force (days)

Example: Mr. Bloggs has made a gain of ฃ100,000, has had the policy for 10 years and has been UK resident for only half this period. The gain is reduced by time apportionment relief:

1825 days x 100,000 = Gain reduced by 50,000
3650 days

If the investment was a UK life policy this relief would not be available but there should be a basic rate tax credit attaching it to a UK policy. If funds directly were held any gains would be subject to Capital Gains tax which has its own tax regime.

Summary

Following the case of the unfortunate Mr. Shepherd and also the HMRC’s publication of its proposals for the revised Residence Pages to the UK Self-Assessment tax return, there are substantial amendments which, if finalised, will necessitate a far more thorough disclosure on residence than previously required. Particularly affected will be those who fall into one or more of the following categories:

- Have a property available for use in the UK
- Perform duties of employment in the UK (includes attending ad-hoc meetings)
- Have immediate family resident in the UK
- Make many frequent visits to the UK

The clearest case should be where an individual moves abroad for full time employment which lasts for a period of at least one full tax year (6th April to the following 5th April), but even here the rules have been tightened and, as can be seen from above, all duties must now be performed overseas. Additionally, if an individual accepts a two year appointment abroad and, for understandable reasons, chooses to leave his partner and children in the UK, this would be regarded as something other than a “clear and distinct break” and non-resident status could not be assumed. Even if these factors don’t come into play, the issue of maintaining a UK property or of frequent UK visits can murky the water.

Without doubt, simply moving abroad to avoid UK tax is becoming much more difficult than it used to be, and HMRC is paying continued and careful attention to those wanting to adopt non-residence status. For anyone moving or living abroad a carefully planned strategy is vital if you want to achieve your objectives. It is critical to act sooner rather than later in this important area, to ensure that your tax planning strategy works with the changing guidelines and we would suggest an immediate review of individual circumstances in light of the new guidelines.

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 Graham Macdonald on [email protected]


Arts - Entertainment - Lifestyles: Let’s go to the movies

Now playing in Chiang Mai

Mark Gernpy

“Pan’s Labyrinth”: Mexico/Spain/US Fantasy/Thriller – In Spanish. Probably the most highly regarded film to hit Chiang Mai in recent years, if indeed it actually gets here. A sort of adult Alice in Wonderland in the world of violence that was Fascist Spain, 1944. Dark poetry set to startling images – a one-of-a-kind nightmare that has a soaring, spiritual center. By all reports, it’s not to be missed. Rated R in the US for graphic violence and language. Universal acclaim: 98/85 out of 100.

“Buslane”: Thai comedy. Songkran on a bus.

“Ma Mha”: Thai comedy — Thailand’s first talking animal picture: abandoned dogs in danger.

“Ghost Station”: Thai Comedy — A gay Thai couple leave the big city for a remote town where they buy an abandoned gas station but . . . it’s haunted!

“Norbit”: US Comedy – Eddie Murphy plays an overweight woman who is ugly and evil. Though he gives it his all, the consensus is that the material is crass and largely unfunny.

Generally negative reviews: 27/33 out of 100.

“The Reaping”: US Horror – Hilary Swank plays a former Christian missionary who lost her faith after her family was killed, and is now a world-renowned expert in disproving religious phenomena. She investigates a small Louisiana town that is suffering from what appear to be the Biblical plagues. Rated R in the US for violence, disturbing images and some sexuality.

“Primeval”: US Horror – Low-quality horror film, with inane political messages. News crew sent to Africa to hunt and capture a legendary crocodile, who stalks a local river in search of human prey. Rated R in US for strong graphic violence, brutality, terror, and language. Generally negative reviews: 35/34 out of 100.

Continuing current movies

“Mr. Bean’s Holiday”: UK Comedy — In his latest misadventure, Mr. Bean – the nearly wordless misfit who seems to be followed by a trail of pratfalls and hijinks – goes on a holiday.

“Alone”: Thai Thriller — Siamese twins who are separated, causing the death of one. Some extraordinarily disturbing images of Siamese twins. Well-done flashback sequences of the young twins and a boyfriend. I’ve seen this twice and like it quite a lot. Granted it has silly shocks from music that suddenly goes “boom” – but that’s required by the form, so that the Thais can scream and grab their dates even closer. But it also has some genuinely creepy moments, and the story is fascinating and very twisty. Worth seeing.

“Flushed Away”: US/UK Animated — A fun, consistently inventive, intellectually satisfying animated romp for kids and adults. Playing only at Vista and only in a Thai-dubbed version, no English subtitles. Generally favorable reviews: 74/68 out of 100.

“Ghost Rider”: US action film with Nicholas Cage. Motorcycle stunt rider makes a deal with Mephistopheles, tries to break pact. A lot of fun if you just relax and enjoy the mindless fun and stunning visual effects. Generally negative reviews: 35/42 out of 100.

Scheduled for this Thursday, April 12 – but no promises! Call the theatre to confirm.

“Number 23”: US Mystery – Jim Carrey becomes obsessed with a book that appears to be based on his life but ends with a murder that has yet to happen in real life. Rated R in the US for violence, disturbing images, sexuality and language. Generally negative reviews: 24/35 out of 100.

“Sunshine”: UK Thriller / Sci-Fi – Fifty years from now, the sun is dying, and mankind is dying with it. Earth’s last hope: a spaceship and a crew of eight men and women with a device which will breathe new life into the star. Rated R in the US for violent content and language.

“TMNT”: Hong Kong/US Animated – That’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” for you not in the know. The continued adventures of the four turtles as they go around kicking butt, ninja-style, to stop a mysterious evil that threatens to end the world. With Patrick Stewart and Laurence Fishburn (voices). Mixed or average reviews: 41/50 out of 100.

“Blood and Chocolate”: US Horror – Even worse than the usual werewolf flick. Generally negative reviews: 33/37 out of 100.


Films on DVD for Rental in Chiang Mai: Trip to India

Mr. I. Dewcritique

Krrish (directed by Rakesh Roshan, 2006, Hindi with English subtitles)

Krrish, A Bollywood export has humor, song and dance.

As a passionate film lover, I have long been unhappy that I am deeply ignorant of the products of one of the world’s major makers of films: the Indian subcontinent. Most of us have now at least heard of Bollywood, and there have been a couple of near breakouts (e.g Lagaan, 2001, but on the whole it is very difficult to find Indian films with English subtitles. Even when I was in Chennai a few years ago, when I asked around the movie shops no one could tell me where I could get discs to watch without first needing to learn Hindi, Tamil or another of India’s major languages. You can imagine, then, my pleasurable surprise when the other day I came across a subtitled Indian film in Central Department Store.

So not many evenings after, I settled down to a rare treat. To take the name first, Krrish is clearly a supped up version of Krishna with all its mythical overtones, the name of the disguised god of love, who fills the countryside with music and magical practical jokes. The film started well. The story was a mass of references to other films. Krishna in the film turned out to be a budding superhero with tremendous powers gained from an alien. The boy’s devoted grandmother feared his powers would only bring trouble and took him to grow up far from unscrupulous plotters in the idyllic foothills of the Himalayas. The scenery was beautiful, the music enjoyable, and the theme of conflicted superhero familiar enough from Superman, X–Men and Batman. I particularly enjoyed the camera work. Full use was made of the whole range of techniques: dramatic tracking shots, slow motion, fades, tilts, lens zooms, swirling 360-degree pans and so on. Then the love interest arrived, there was plenty of humour and the expected song and dance routine took place.

Possibly the film was a little innocent- maybe it was made for the younger teens- but Priya, the girl was certainly beautiful and it was refreshing to see a world where stars could run unselfconsciously through fields of flowers, the sort of scene long ruined for Western audiences by advertising. I, then, noticed, rather in contradiction to this, there was quite a lot of product placement going on.

Other things started to annoy me. There was too much glamour for my taste. The plot began to grate when it turned to computers based on astrology which could tell the future. Disillusionment was setting in. The pace seemed so slow, the story-telling so leisurely, the situations so contrived. The hero’s long leather coat served only to remind me of far better Chow Yun Fat movies of years ago. The scientific genius was so goofy it was derisory. The song and dance sequences were still pleasant but felt increasingly merely like music videos inserted into the film at regular intervals. Anyway, why go on? The message is clear enough: I didn’t like this film and I am really not sure if it is because it is not much good or because I am unfamiliar with the Bollywood conventions and in consequence producing all the wrong reactions. You will have to decide yourself whether you think Krrish would be your cup of chai masala.



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