The Doctor's Consultation:
by Dr. Iain Corness
Are “natural” therapies effective?
Before all the alternative
practitioners get their poison pens dipped in hemlock (a very natural plant
extract) ready to rebut, let me state at the outset that I am a
conventionally trained western medical practitioner. I would not know an
Echinacea if I tripped over one. So if that is the case, why would I devote
valuable column space to something I know nothing about? The reason is EBM.
Regular readers of this column will know that I have mentioned the acronym
EBM many times. This stands for “Evidence Based Medicine” and is a key
factor in modern medicine. It just means we test until we have the evidence
that any drug or treatment really does work. This all takes time, as the
evidence cannot just hang on one person who got better. It requires huge
series, across the globe. And even then, we can get it wrong.
Aches and pains in the joints and muscles are some of the commonest
afflictions. Who has not twisted and ankle? Who has not noticed a certain
ache in the knees after exercise? And who has not seen that as one gets
older, there appears to be more aches and pains that flit from joint to
joint with alarming alacrity?
Like all medical conditions where we cannot give the patient the “wonder
drug” there is then a tendency for patients to try something else, anything
else, hoping for the relief that conventional medicine has not promised or
delivered. For the musculoskeletal conditions, the “alternatives” are
multiple, from magnets to mussels from New Zealand. But do they work?
The problem with the non-pharmaceutical mainline pills and potions industry
is in unbiased scientific testing. The tablets that the mainstream
pharmaceutical companies produce are rigorously and vigorously tested. Not
only do the drug companies have to show that their pills actually work, but
they also have to show what side effects they can produce and whether or not
they interact with other pills and potions to make explosive mixtures. The
“alternative” lot have not had the same degree of scientific scrutiny.
There are those who will claim that because the pills come from plants, that
the ingredients are then “natural” and therefore OK for us humans. This is
poppycock. Extracts of plants and herbs are chemicals - and some chemicals
can kill, that is why wild animals can die after eating the wrong bushes. So
can you! Hemlock’s a good start.
So let us look at a few of the alternative treatments and analyze just
whether they are indeed efficacious. Willow Bark is one that is used for
arthritis, because it was imagined that since the tree grew in damp
environments, and arthritis was thought to be caused by “damp” then
treatment with the bark was “logical”. The herbalists got the right answer,
however, no matter how wrong the reasons! Willow bark does have an effect
because it contains salicylates - more commonly known as aspirin! Other
“natural” sources include poplar tree bark, black cohosh (a North American
plant), pansies, violets and meadowsweet. Aspirin works!
Have you heard of Devil’s Claw? This South African plant has been studied to
see if it has any anti-inflammatory action in arthritis. The small studies
that have been done show no effect, but it is an analgesic (pain killer), so
those people with arthritis do feel better when they take it. In fact,
demand is now outstripping supply - but they would do just as well with a
strip of paracetamol tablets. And cheaper too!
Another of the well touted treatments for arthritis is the green lipped
mussel. According to the pundits, this form of treatment has had numerous
clinical trials, and the same number of clinical failures. However, I
believe they are quite nice steamed with ginger and shallots!
One other niggling problem with the “natural” therapies is that for
musculoskeletal problems, most of which are of a long standing chronic
nature, even less scientific work has been done to see what happens when you
take these medications for a protracted period of time. Until long term
safety has been ascertained, I would counsel caution, and beware mixing
pharmaceutical drugs and over the counter “alternatives”!
Heart to Heart
My wife’s mother is coming down from the up-country village, to spend a
few days with us. I have not seen her since we got married and I was
wondering what I should call her? “Mum” sounds pretty silly to me, as I
am older than she is. What do you suggest I should call her to be
polite? I really don’t want to offend.
This is the easiest one I’ve had all year, Petal. You ask your wife!
Like all Thai wives, she will know what is best. About everything!
You may find this a strange request, but I am an American interested in
Buddhism and wondered if it would be possible that on my next holiday
here I could join a monastery. I would only have two weeks but imagine
that in that time I could at least get the basics of Buddhism. Is this
possible? I don’t mind where in Thailand that I would go as I am
interested in the study, not the geography or tourism side. I have
always been impressed watching the orange robes going along the streets
with their begging bowls in the mornings.
There is no such thing as “strange requests” in Hillary’s letter box
these days! I think I’ve seen them all. Now, to yours. If you want to
understand the basics of Buddhism, you have to start long before you get
on the plane to come to Thailand. To begin with, have you looked to see
if there is a Buddhist temple in your region in the US? Discussions with
the monks there will assist you in your quest. Monks in America can
generally all speak English, while in the temples here, they naturally
speak Thai and you would be lucky to find someone fluent in your
I would recommend that you get the following books before going much
further, “Buddhism Explained” (ISBN 974-7047-28-4) by Khantipalo
Bhikkhu, “Phra Farang, An English Monk in Thailand” by Phra Peter
Pannapadipo (ISBN 974-202-019-1) and “The Good Life. A guide to Buddhism
for the Westerner” by Gerald Roscoe (ISBN 974-8206-56-4). Read these
before ordering the saffron robes, Petal.
So you got another of those stupid letters from the Mistersingha person.
Why do you keep printing them? The only person who is impressed with
them is himself. I can see he is a nuisance to you, so just don’t print
and he’ll stop. Or do you need him to fill the space?
Sam the spaceman
Dear Sam the spaceman,
Yes, Sam, there are some days that there is a little space to be filled
and Mistersingha does it nicely. There are, however, many of his
epistles that don’t make it to the printed page, don’t worry. Hillary
can take care of herself, but your kind thoughts are appreciated. I’ll
let you know if I need a ‘contract’ taken out.
With the ban on smoking in restaurants and many of the public places, my
husband has decided to give up smoking. He has tried many times before
(he has been a smoker for almost 30 years) and every time has been
unsuccessful. He does seem to be truly interested in giving up this
time. What can I do to help?
What a wonderful wife you are! What can you do to help? Well, the first
thing would be to understand that he is going to be in for a rough time
for a couple of weeks. Plan some activities that he enjoys, so that he
is not left sitting in front of TV with a beer, thinking about the
cigarette he wants to smoke. Stay away from friends that smoke and would
be likely to offer him cigarettes, and continually reinforce his
decision to quit. Suggest going to dinner again, now that he can taste
the food. Finally, get rid of the ashtrays in the house. Lots of luck to
They are doing alterations in my office building, and there is a little
man coming in every day with a jack-hammer and it sounds as if he is
drilling his way through to Singapore. This began several days ago, and
I was told it was going to be a two day renovation job. At the time I
wondered why they couldn’t just do it on Saturday and Sunday, which
should have given me ample warning, I suppose. It is now going on
forever and it is giving me a giant headache. I feel like strangling the
jack-hammer man. What can I do about this? Who should I complain to? Is
this normal in this country?
You do have a bunch of questions, don’t you my Petal. No it is not
normal. Most people when going to Singapore just catch a plane.
Honestly, though, surely just talk to whomever ordered the work. Can the
alterations be done at night? Can you take a week off work? In the
meantime, wear ear muffs and smile a lot. Get a perverse pleasure out of
making them think you like it. There is always more than one way of
attacking any problem, without attacking the workers!
Camera Class: by
Inspiration and Larry Dale Gordon
is a while since I mentioned Larry Dale Gordon in this column,
so forgive me if you think we should only ever deal with each
famous photographer one time only. But here I go again!
Have you a favorite photographer? No? Well, you should! Everyone
should have a photographer whose work stimulates you to greater
heights. For me, I have many whose work I enjoy - Norman
Parkinson and Helmut Newton rate high, but the one photographer
who inspires me not only with his images, but also with his
words, is Larry Dale Gordon.
Now when I say that your favorite photographer’s work should
inspire you, that does not mean that you should rush out and
slavishly copy their work. Don’t laugh, I have seen it done so
many times in camera club level photographers who have been most
upset when I mark them down for copying, rather than being
When I say “inspire” I mean that you look at the work and say to
yourself, “How did he/she do that?” You should look at the end
result and work out how you can use that technique, to produce
your own shot. Half the fun in photography is working out “how
to” with the other half being the enjoyment of looking at the
So why does Larry Dale Gordon inspire me? There are many
reasons. First off, he is a self trained photographer, who
believes that the way to learn is to do it. I relate to that.
Let me quote you from one of his books, “I learned photography
through experience; by putting film through the camera, peering
through the lenses, trial and error, and pondering every facet
of light. It’s the only way. If you think there is another way,
or a faster way, write a book telling how and you will make
considerably more money than by being a photographer.” These are
very wise words!
I’ve have tried to see just what it is about Larry Dale Gordon’s
pictures that appeal so much to me and I’ve come up with two
basic concepts. Simplicity and Color.
Look at the photograph I have used to illustrate this week’s
article. A classic. Taken right here on Jomtien Beach after I
noticed a boat owner repainting his craft for another season.
The red-lead paint predominating over everything else, and the
interesting shape of the propeller alluding to what this almost
abstract photograph is about. It is also back-lit, if you look
at the keel of the boat.
Now before you rip out down to beach at sunset and try and
duplicate this shot, read the third paragraph again! Let’s not
make slavish copies! But instead, let’s look at how we can
accomplish the effect of a color monochromatic picture and even
a silhouette. This can actually be done any time of day, but to
make it easier for you, pick your favorite beach or riverside at
a time when the sun can be behind your subject - be that people
or things. Now you need a tricky filter, called a “tobacco”
filter. On that bright sunny day, with the light behind your
subject(s) hold this brown/orange filter over the lens and pop
the shutter. Stick it on Auto if you will, the camera will do
the rest. Even experiment with different colors to get strangely
wonderful or weirdly dreadful results.
The only point to really remember is to get the light behind the
subject. A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned Norman Parkinson,
another great exponent of ‘contre jour’ (backlighting). By using
this technique you can produce all the effects used by both
these photographers - but you have to go out and try first.
Remember that the way to learn is to “do” it, and with today’s
digitals you will know straight away if you have produced the
effect you want. So what’s stopping you? Try a little Larry Dale
Gordon and Norman Parkinson (and Harry Flashman) for yourself
Money Matters: Graham
Macdonald MBMG International Ltd.
Portfolio Construction - Part 2
The second factor likely to challenge the view that
hyper-growth is here to stay in Asia - the region’s persistent reliance on
external demand as a major driver of economic growth - should be considered.
This is less of a story for India, with its relatively small trade sector,
and more a story for the rest of Asia. The Japanese economy is still
currently export-dependent rather than self-sufficient and although it is
slowly improving it’s unlikely to be able to step immediately to the plate
and fill the gap.
What is there in a widespread and sever western recession that would
suddenly make Japanese consumers step up to the plate (this is probably the
number 3 baseball loving nation in the world!) and start spending? US
imports might suddenly be much cheaper which may give a short term buying
boost but nowhere enough to combat the damage caused to brittle Japanese
consumer confidence caused by watching the economic pain suffered by the
What’s more, China is even more vulnerable. Its export sector, which rose to
nearly 37% of GDP in 2006, surged at a 41% y-o-y rate in the first two
months of 2007. Moreover - and this is an absolutely critical point in the
decoupling debate - the United States is China’s largest export market,
accounting for 21% of RMB-based exports. As the US economy now slows, the
biggest piece of China’s export dynamic is at risk. So, too, are the large
external sectors of China’s pan-Asian supply chain - especially Taiwan,
Korea, and, as mentioned above, Japan. Lacking in self-sustaining support
from private consumption, the Asian growth dynamic remains highly vulnerable
to an external shock.
Much of Asia remains vulnerable to a US-centric external shock. Furthermore
the region’s two most powerful growth stories - China and India - are now
both very focused on matters of internal sustainability. I haven’t yet heard
any counter arguments as to how, in light of these two factors, growth
prospects in China and India can be sustained. Therefore the global economy
is likely to be a good deal weaker than the decoupling crowd would lead you
So equity exposure needs to be downside protected (long short with flexible
bias, structured notes, market neutral) or based around active focused
stock-picking. Further exposure to the Chinese, Indian and Vietnamese
economies is better effected through structured exposure to those
commodities whose demand will be least affected by a dramatic downturn.
Whether the Chinese economy slows or not, the stadia and other facilities
for the upcoming Olympics need to be completed and the materials for these
still need to be delivered, the 250 million Chinese who will relocate to
urban areas over the coming years will still require the infrastructure to
allow that - in a slow down, premium housing prices may weaken but new
low-cost properties will still be in demand. Signs of RMB strength versus
the USD will undoubtedly face resistance from Beijing.
For a long time, whenever we expressed concerns about the state of western
residential property markets, particularly in the US and the UK, we heard
all sorts of reasons why it was impossible for there to be a correction of
any kind - any release of air from the biggest asset bubble that has ever
occurred in the entire history of this planet. Now that this correction has
indisputably started, we’re hearing all sorts of reason why it can’t sustain
and also why it can’t have any wider impact.
Gerard Minack who invariably looks at the same statistics as us, spots many
issues that we miss and expresses those issues that we’ve spotted in a way
that we wish that we had, has taken a fresh look at this. He has tried to
determine whether the bleak picture painted by the latest housing stats,
which will undoubtedly have an impact on US economic growth, will also lead
to a contraction in consumer spending and an ultimate recession. US housing
has not yet bottomed. The monthly data is pretty volatile of late because of
the unseasonable weather - but the trend series for both new home sales and
starts continue to fall.
Not only did sales fall short of forecasts for February, but there were
substantial revisions down to prior data: December was revised to 1047K from
1123K and January to 882K from 937K (all at seasonally adjusted annual
rates). Equally important, there has been also been an up tick in the
inventory of new homes for sale. The combination of falling sales and rising
inventory pushed the inventory/sales ratio to 8.1, a new cycle high, and the
highest level since 1991. The fall-out from sub-prime will hit this already
weak market. It’s worth noting that the sharp increase in home foreclosures
over the past year has more than matched the decline in new home starts. Put
another way, the rise in forced sales (albeit of existing homes), has
roughly matched the decline in new homes being built.
The resilience of existing home sales now looks very incongruous. It
therefore seems likely that this is related to the warm weather, and is
therefore presumably likely to weaken in coming months.
All of this points to residential construction continuing to be a sizeable
drag on GDP. On a rolling four-quarter basis, residential construction’s
share of GDP has fallen by 1%, but may have a further 1% decline to go. It
certainly now seems unlikely that the recent improvement in the
homebuilders’ index will accurately signal a turn in construction activity.
Note that previously the NAHB index also gave a false prematurely signalled
turn in construction activity in the 1991 recession.
Despite the weakness in residential construction, and the likely
flow-through to employment data, the critical uncertainty is not the direct
impact of the housing downturn, but the extent of spillover to consumer
The housing recession has slowed the US economy to near stall speed. For
this to happen, any further external shock that causes a reduction in
consumer spending will threaten recession.
Needless to say, the US-based analysts working in the same organisation
don’t see this risk as clearly as Minack does from his Sydney base. If you
want to know what’s going on in the US right now, the last place that you
can get a clear response not affected by emotional and psychological bias is
Wall Street. To some extent that has always been the case. The people whose
jobs most depend on a positive outlook for the US economy are generally the
last ones to heed the warning signs.
To be continued…
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]
Life in Chiang Mai:
by Mark Whitman
Riled up by some sequels
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned the spate of movies
then on in Chiang Mai which were sequels or sequels to sequels and lamented
their quality. Actually this is nothing new since most follow ups (I except
Godfather 2 and French Connection 2) are seldom the equal of their
predecessors. One movie I mentioned as especially dire was Oceans 13,
directed by Steven Soderbergh.
Now he is an interesting director who sprang to fame when his debut feature
Sex, Lies and Videotape won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Festival many years
ago. He has been busy ever since and is a very ambitious guy, who has formed
a production company with the talented, handsome, charming and politically
anti-war George Clooney.
An actor with everything one might say except the ability to say no to a few
million extra dollars in his bank account. He and Soderbergh have produced
some of the best and worst films to come out of Hollywood in recent years.
I suggested in that earlier column that the next time you head down to the
store to take out or buy a DVD that instead of the caper movie you look at
The Good German which is not going to surface in Chiang Mai cinemas or
indeed anywhere in Thailand I suspect but it is available in the mini
It is a superb homage to film noir and stars Clooney in a kind of Humphrey
Bogart role (he is the only current star with the charm and charisma of the
old style Hollywood greats, such as Cary Grant), plus Kate Blanchett as a
pared down Dietrich or Ingrid Bergman and a wonderful Toby Maguire, cast
against type as a vicious soldier. It is shot in black and white and takes
place in Berlin at the end of WW11. It has shades of Casablanca and The
Third Man and will be a delight to savour unlike Oceans 13, for which my
review follows just in case anyone is still tempted.
Watching a vanity project such as Oceans 13 is like being at a very glossy
party where the host, his partner and their cronies are having all the fun,
while you and the rest of the 400 plebs are treated as part of the help. In
fact, the party is so lavish that it seems that Danny (George Clooney) is
simply out to impress his younger and even prettier pal and has thrown it
just to see how gullible the rest of us are.
Once we’ve been suckered into the wonder of just being around the place,
overwhelmed by the vulgar glitz and so-called glamour we are left to our
devices. We are never allowed to get near the fab two as they swish and grin
(often in front of mirrors) during the tedious proceedings.
Their pals are supposedly in charge of the entertainment and set about
dressing up in disguises, setting off fireworks, organising charades and
inane party games. We are never told where they are happening or what the
rules are. There’s a feeling of contempt in the air and it is master minded
by the boss Steven Soderbergh who regards the whole thing as something of a
lucrative comedown from his other role as a director of arty movies which
receive some critical acclaim but minimal audiences.
The Oceans 13 saga is not in fact a movie but a happening. Narrative and
plausible action, let alone any attempt at characterisation, have been
briefly considered by the screenwriters and dismissed as irrelevant and
beyond their reach. They can be camouflaged by glossy camerawork (by the
film’s director under a pseudonym), with music as lousy as it is loud.
I’d just like to say grow up fellas, the wrinkles are beginning to show.
Let's Go To The Movies:
Let’s go to the movies
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: US
Adventure/Fantasy – A sleek, swift, and exciting adaptation of the J. K.
Rowling novel, which begins like a horror movie, and proceeds as a tense and
twisty political thriller, with clandestine meetings and bureaucratic
Harry, returning for his fifth year of study at Hogwarts, discovers that
much of the wizarding community is in denial about his recent encounter with
the evil Lord Voldemort (the extraordinary Ralph Fiennes), preferring to
turn a blind eye to the news that Voldemort has returned. The Minister for
Magic, Cornelius Fudge, fearing that Hogwarts’ venerable Headmaster, Albus
Dumbledore (the delightful Michael Gambon), is simply lying about
Voldemort’s return in order to undermine his power and take his job,
appoints a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher (the fine British
actress, Imelda Staunton) to downplay the threat and keep watch over
Dumbledore and the students.
But Professor Dolores Umbridge’s new course of defensive magic leaves the
young wizards woefully unprepared to face the dark forces threatening them,
so at the prompting of his loyal but increasingly estranged friends,
Hermione and Ron, Harry takes matters into his own hands. Meeting secretly
with a small group of students, Harry teaches them how to defend themselves
against the Dark Arts, preparing the young wizards for the extraordinary
battle that lies in wait.
Transformers: US Action/Sci-Fi – Big, loud, and full of testosterone-fueled
car fantasies, a gigantic, spectacular, and funny summer blockbuster movie,
with truly exceptional and unprecedented visual effects.
Two warring alien tribes, the good-guy Autobots and malevolent Decepticons,
have made their way to earth, their transforming abilities allowing them to
pose undetected as transportation vehicles (like your car) and electronic
equipment (like your cell phone). 16-year-old Sam Witwicky, the all-American
teenager is consumed with everyday worries about school, friends, cars, and
girls. His car, as it happens, is an Autobot in disguise. The two bond, boy
with car, the old story after which he gets to save the world and get the
Quote of the week: Mother: “Why are you so hot and sweaty?” Sam: “I’m a
child, I’m a teenager“
It’s an action movie, so there are many car chases, crashes, and explosions.
But it’s a real ride!
Die Hard 4.0: US Action/Adventure/Thriller – A fascinating plot of a
conspiracy to take down the entire computer and technological network that
holds the US together. Very scary stuff.
Bruce Willis once again plays police detective John McClane, an “old school”
non-technological hero, to take down the digital conspiracy. This is the
role Willis was born to play, an acerbic, caustic, unsentimental, cynical,
difficult man, one whom the years have only made smarter, tougher, and more
calloused. He is also a throwback to the classic lone hero, sort of a Gary
Cooper or John Wayne for the modern era, possessing the same sense of
decency, but with wittier lines.
Unlike other summer movies of recent days, Die Hard 4.0 boasts that it uses
a minimum of computer graphics; many of the more arresting sequences involve
old-fashioned stunt work. The director, Len Wiseman, has a passion for
physical stunts and thus there is a welcome human element to this film that
is missing from so many other action movies where you are always aware that
what you are watching is an actor in front of a green screen. Here, when
Willis takes a long fall to the pavement, the meeting between body and
ground is so visceral that you wince. When he bleeds, you believe it.
In fact, production on the film was shut down when Willis’s stunt double was
seriously injured in a 25-foot fall to the pavement, suffering broken bones
in his face and fractures in both wrists. It has been said that the real
heroes of this movie are the stunt men and women.
There are many explosions and car wrecks in this movie; just put up with
them – and you’ll be thrilled by the rest of it: the story, the acting, and
the very good dialogue.
Scheduled for Thursday, July 19
Kung Fu Tootsie: Thai Comedy – Another low class Thai comedy with a lot of
popular Thai television stars. Thais have been laughing uproariously at the
previews. I haven’t.
Life in the laugh lane:
by Scott Jones
A Crash Course in Computers and Harleys: Chapter Two
If you missed last week’s column, my 1,200 mile motorcycle ride from
Virginia to Minnesota began with my laptop flying off the bike and being run
over by a car. Be very happy you’re not me. I finally rode out of
Charlottesville at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, but by the time the sun was setting,
Mr. Harley backfired majestically and died on the interstate highway,
somewhere in the mountains. No cell phone signal. No highway patrolmen. No
good Samaritan bikers. After cooling off, the bike started and I limped
along the side of the road until it heated, died, limped, heated, died,
limped. Two hours later, I crawled into a motel, the “cheap” one, in between
the Holiday Inn and the Best Western, for fifty dollars. The check-in guy
said, “We’all gots wireless internet, but y’all probably aren’t packin’ a
computer on yer bike!” I jumped across the desk and strangled him. After
hiding the body in the ice machine, I checked out my dingy home for the
evening...vintage, fifties decor of avocado green, burnt orange and
cigarette stench. Traveling salesmen had smoked four packs a night in the
room for the past sixty years—I could have rolled up the pillow and smoked
it. Monday morning I found out the only bike shop in town was, of course,
not open on Monday.
somewhere between Virginia and Minnesota.
The Harley dealer eighty miles back down the road sent a truck and trailer
to pick me up. My bike entered the hospital around noon and emerged around
4:30 p.m. and $225 later. Once again, I rode out only to have the bike die
on the road in thirty miles. Luckily I had a cell phone signal and called
Mr. Service Manager: “I have a multiple-choice question for you. Do I have
to come back because you saw me steal the Harley ballpoint pen or do you
work for the Chamber of Commerce and you want me to live in Staunton?” Mr.
Deju Vu, the Same Trailer Man, arrived in an hour: “Hey, Deja. I like you
but you’re the last person I wanted to see again today.” Before heading to
the Hampton Inn sans Harley, a hundred dollars per night, I told Mr. Service
Manager, “You probably think I should just buy a house here, find a wife and
have a few kids, but I’m going shopping and will return tomorrow morning
with a chain saw, three German Shepard’s and a flamethrower. Good luck.”
On Tuesday my 1,200 mile journey started by walking a mile to the Harley
dealership—not a good omen, but better than walking the last thousand.
Perusing the Harley paraphernalia, I covet the $10,000 Harley jukebox, but
since it won’t fit on the bike, I settle for a Harley wind chime and a
t-shirt that actually fits me, found amongst the thousands of choices in the
XXXXXXXL size, designed for average Harley riders and Japanese sumo
wrestlers. Owning a Harley puts me into an exclusive club of large, friendly
brothers with whom I have only two things in common: we have Harleys and we
breathe air. “Where y’all from?” My standard answer: “Thailand, just around
the...world.” Their standard reply: “Y’all don’t look Taiwanese, ha, ha,
ha!” (I want to say but don’t: “That’s Thailand. Pull up your shirt and let
me tattoo a globe on your formidable belly!” but I also want to remain
alive.) Another $175 dollars poorer for repairs (plus motel, meal charges
and minus two days), I’m off at noon with a serious lack of confidence in my
steed and humble expectations of just getting to the next state of West
Virginia instead of the states of shock, confusion and chaos. If Mr. Harley
does his trick again, I’m going to ride the shoulder at 25 mph and hopefully
make it to Minnesota by Christmas. For some insane reason I fell in love
with the classic Harley vibration, but it appears that all of its, and my,
screws have come loose. Although I can forget anything else at any time, I
can’t seem to forget the advice given when I bought it: “You’d better tow a
big magnet behind your bike to pick up the parts as they fall off.”
After ten miles, my new Harley wind chime flies off the handle bars, through
the window of a semi-trailer and impales the driver in the neck. Headlines
read: “Terrorist attack on trucker. Suspect believed to be Taiwanese with
light complexion and slight Norwegian accent.”
Your Health & Happiness: 36 per cent increase
in dengue fever
More than 21,000 patients suffering from dengue fever have been treated in
Thailand during the first half of this year, with 17 persons having died
from the disease, a senior public health ministry official said.
Bureau of Vector-Borne Diseases director Dr. Wichai Satimai said a total of
21,251 dengue fever patients were identified during the first six months of
2007, representing a 36 per cent increase from the corresponding period of
Seventeen Thai victims died during the period. The sharp increase in the
number of patients during the period was attributed to the early onset of
the rainy season in Thailand, causing the quick breeding of dengue-carrying
striped mosquitoes, said Dr. Wichai.
The incidence of dengue has been significantly on the rise in other
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries including
Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Vietnam, and
Singapore also increased during the period, he added.
Earlier this week Cambodia reported 132 deaths from dengue fever in June
alone, and asked for Thai government medical assistance, which is being