HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

The Doctor's Consultation

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Money Matters

Life in Chiang Mai

Let's Go To The Movies

Life in the laugh lane

Your Health & Happiness

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  with Hillary

Dear Hillary,
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.
Dear Son-in-law,
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! Relax.
Dear Hillary,
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.
Dear Warren,
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 language.
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.

Dear Hillary,
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.

Dear Hillary,
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?
Dear Marie,
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 you both.

Dear Hillary,
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?
Dear Headache,
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 Harry Flashman

Inspiration and Larry Dale Gordon

It 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 creative.
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 final image.
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 this weekend.

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 west.
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 to believe.
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 spending.
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 format.
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: Mark Gernpy

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 conspiracies.
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 girl!
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.

Columnist 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” 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 last year.
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 extended. (TNA)