Vol. VIII No. 11 - Tuesday
March 17 - March 23, 2009



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


Columns
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

The Doctor's Consultation

Don’t Miss

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Money Matters

Life in Chiang Mai

Let's Go To The Movies

Bridge in Paradise

The Doctor's Consultation:  by Dr. Iain Corness

Hear today and gone tomorrow!

Sorry about the heading for this week’s column. I can’t help myself some days! However, hearing is something we tend to take for granted, and we shouldn’t.
I began to think about ears and hearing during Children’s Day. In one of the large shopping centers they had dedicated the stage area for children’s entertainment. The noise from the battery of boom boxes was so loud that foreigners were walking through the shopping mall with their fingers in their ears. Without the benefit of a sound pressure level machine to get an accurate reading, I would estimate that the children were being exposed to around 120-125 decibels (dB). The significance of this is that adult workers should not be exposed to more than 90 dB for an eight hour day (legislated in many countries). Children should be exposed to much less.
I have always wondered why musical performances/entertainment in this country need the volume control wound right up. Now I know. The audience has been rendered deaf after a few Children’s Day experiences! This also goes a long way towards explaining why the local populace does not hear phones ringing, and why the girl in the next office has her mobile phone ring tone set on maximum. I know she has an incoming call before she does!
However, the reason for deafness is not all the result of Children’s Day. There are other reasons, including (dare I say it) getting older! The effects of aging start around 20 years of age, and our hearing starts a gradual decline. Higher frequencies are usually the first to go. This age-related hearing loss is normal and is similar to the age-related effects with vision.
The two main types of deafness are called Conductive deafness and Nerve deafness. Deafness at birth is known as congenital deafness, while deafness that occurs after birth is called adventitious deafness, and the most common cause of adventitious deafness is noise, which accounts for over one quarter of people affected by hearing loss (which gets us back to Children’s Day).
A brief look at the anatomy of the ear will help understanding the causes of deafness. The ear is made up of three different parts, including the outer ear which is the part you can see. Its shape helps to collect sound waves. A tube, called the external ear canal, leads inward to the eardrum.
The middle ear is separated from the outer ear by the eardrum. The middle ear contains three tiny bones called the malleus (hammer bone), the incus (anvil bone) and the stapes (stirrup bone). These bones amplify the movement of the eardrum produced by sound waves making the drum move in and out. The Eustachian tube connects the middle ear to the back of the throat and helps to equalize air pressure.
The inner ear is where the sound waves are picked up by a tiny spiral-shaped organ called the cochlear. Hairs on the cochlear sense the vibrations and pass the message as electrical impulses to the brain via the cochlear nerve.
Now, Conductive deafness is caused by the failure of the three tiny bones inside the middle ear to pass along sound waves to the inner ear. Another common cause of conductive deafness is the failure of the eardrum to vibrate in response to sound waves. A build-up of fluid in the ear canal, for example, can dampen the movement of the eardrum. In many cases, treatment is available for conductive deafness and normal hearing will return.
Nerve deafness is caused by disease, trauma or some other disruptive event targeting the cochlear nerve. The rest of the ear, including the tiny bones and eardrum may be working, but the electrical impulses cannot reach the brain. Most cases of nerve deafness do not respond to treatment.
Remember that Deafness can range from mild to profound and has multifactorial causes including injury, disease and genetic defects, and excess noise accounts for over one quarter of people affected by hearing loss.

 

Don’t Miss

March 21- 25 - International Dance Festival: Please note that, according to the organisers, there may be last minute changes to the programme. Those interested are advised to check by calling the Mayor’s office, which is apparently responsible for much of the programming, or by visiting www.friends-of-the-Arts.info.Information may also be obtained on the file-sharing site http://www.mediafire.com/?sharekey =1878fc3ef46f6eb47432d3c9683f450a9 af927cd792599245be6ba49b5870170, although copying the numerical sequence correctly might not be fun! ! The programme at present is as follows:-

March 21: Central Airport Plaza, 5.p.m. to 7 p.m., Free public performance.

March 22: Opening ceremony of the festival conducted in front of the 3 Kings’ Monument by the Mayor at 6.30 p.m., followed at 7 p.m. by excerpts from ‘Touch’, danced by the Oplas contemporary dance group, excerpts from Janice Martin’s Gershwin Fantasy at 7.20 p.m., and excerpts from ‘The Last Silver Crane’ at 7.40 p.m.

March 23-24: Masterclasses at Chiang Mai Museum between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.

March 24: Contemporary dance performance, ‘The Last Silver Crane’ a collaborated work between performers from Thailand, Israel and Sri Lanka at the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Devi, beginning at 7.30 p.m.  Suggested donation 1,000 baht.  For reservations, please contact the hotel on 053 888-888

At the time of publication, we have not been given details of the venue for the Janice Martin concert, ‘A Gershwin Fantasy’, due to take place on March 25,  neither do we have confirmed details about the ‘Young Talent Showcase’ originally planned to take place before the official opening from 4.p.m. to 6 p.m at the 3 Kings’ Monument. Sorry, folks!

March 24 –CORRECTION. The Ladies’ Lunch Group will meet at the Empress Hotel’s Buffet restaurant at 12 a.m. for their monthly get-together—NOT on March 17 as previously advised! Please RSVP on the new date to [email protected]

April 3-4 - Strange Snow: An encore of the successful Gate Theatre production of Stephen Metcalfe’s play will be presented at the Studio Theatre, 7th floor, Kad Suan Kaew.  Doors open 7 p.m, curtain up 7 30 p.m. Suggested donation 300 Baht. For those that missed the play last year, this is a fine opportunity to see a great performance.

March 20: Café Pandau’s Latin Lounge nights- A Breeze from Brazil! Sylvia Patricia, sensual singer from Salvador, Brazil, will give 2 shows, at 7.30 p.m. and 9 p.m. The evening begins at 6 p.m.; tickets are 250 baht, including tapas, a drink and a donation to the Single Mother’s Project—a delicious veggie or non- veggie dinner is optional at 200 baht, served from 6.30 p.m. Tickets available at Café Pandau, on Nimmanhaeminda Soi 13, or by delivery. Please call Noriko on 053-222-018 between 11a.m.and 6 p.m., or email on [email protected]


Heart to Heart  with Hillary

Dear Hillary,
I’ve been reading you for some time and it seams (sic) to me that you’ve got a down on the bar girls. Why? They all speak English and know how to keep a feller entertained. They’d make a much better wife than the stuck up society girls you are telling everyone to hook up with. Time for you to be a bit more real old gal, and stop knocking the working girls.
Pete
Dear Pete,
I think it is time you went through the back copies of this illustrious newspaper, my Petal, and see and note what I have really been saying. However, you are right, the bar girls do speak (some kind of) English, and so I suppose if you are looking for a long term relationship with a woman and you are happy with the in-depth conversations of “Hello sexy man,” and “Sit down please” and “Buy me cola”, then you are in paradise. This depends upon, of course, you having an endless supply of cola at home, plus a rather large always-full wallet. The “working girls” are just that - they are working and like all good workers deserve their hire. What is forgotten in that heady rush of blood to the brain is that you are doing exactly that - hiring. “Mia chow” (rented wife) expects a monthly salary for her. It is not the more commonly thought of “housekeeping” money. She will demand a salary, which is untouchable. Does this make them a “better wife” as you claim? Each to his own, I suppose, but long term liaisons with working girls do not have a good long term history, Pete.

Dear Hillary,
I married my Thai fiancée after a year of engagement. She is a professional lady and we have always done everything in a proper fashion. My wife is 15 years younger than me and this gives us a problem. When we go out, many foreigners assume that my wife must be, or have been, a bar girl even though she in no way acts like one. She has no tattoos or wears sexy dresses or even smokes. I realize that as high as 85 percent of all Thai-foreigner marriages are between bar girls and “sex tourists”, but this is not so for other 15 percent of Thai-foreigner marriages. Please tell your readers that not all Thai-foreigner marriages are between bar girls and “sex tourists,” and stop making false assumptions.
Jack
Dear Jack,
Now you’ve got all that off your chest, do you feel a little better, Petal? However, I think you have made a few false assumptions yourself too. Where did you get that figure of 85 percent of Thai-foreigner marriages are between bar girls and what you call “sex tourists”? Let me assure you that sex tourists do not come to Thailand to get married. That is why they are sex tourists - they want the fun in bed without the filling out forms at the local Ampur office. Honestly, Jack, 85 percent of Thai foreigner marriages are between people such as yourself and your wife. The foreigners who “look down” on you are the foreigners who are not in the marriage market, just the bar meat market. Ignore them, my Petal.

Dear Hillary,
I will be coming to Thailand next month and I like to rent motorbike and ride all over your beautiful country. I arrive Chiang Mai and go Bangkok after two weeks. Is possible? Yes or no? Where do I get the bike? I do not need big bike as I am small man. I ride Vespa in Paris, so I am OK in the saddle. Is it with insurance and can I ride with French license? Will girl come with me on motorbike? Thank you.
Pierre.
Dear Pierre,
You have certainly got plenty of questions, especially for a small man, as you so quaintly put it. I really think that you should sit down on the seat of your trusty Vespa and think again, Pierre. I have been to Paris and seen the standard of hair-raising driving there - but Pierre, my Petal, it is nothing compared to the driving in this country. When you ride a motorcycle here it is not a case of “if” you have an accident, it is “when” you have an accident. You don’t meet another Vespa coming up the Champs Elysee the wrong way, now do you? The gendarmes would not allow it. Here it is a different story. Going the wrong way down a one-way street is normal in Thailand. They say that one of the ways you know you’ve been in Thailand too long is when you look both ways before crossing a one-way street! This country has one of the highest road tolls in the world, and that is just one of the reasons why. Forget it Pierre. Next month is the Songkran month and the last place you want to be in the water throwing marathon is riding a motorcycle. Take a tour bus. The girls are happier on tour buses anyway and will help negotiate a good price for you (while getting a small slice of the price from the tour bus operator as well).


Camera Class:  by Harry Flashman

A study of opposites

Diptych by Tom Moody

When you were very young, you were taught ‘opposites’. Hot and cold, big and small, young and old, black and white and so on. An endless list.
However, one very good way to give extra impact to your photographs is to ‘pair’ your images by use of opposites. This visual impact makes the use of contrasting images excellent subjects for ‘wall art’ - especially when displayed in diptych format.
The first, and one of the most obvious contrasts is to take the same subject, but at different times of the day. The old phrase “as different as night and day” is crying out to be used. Main streets day and night are again extremely good.
Now there are a couple of tricks here that you have to watch. The first is that you must take the shots from exactly the same position, even if you have to camp there all day! What I often do is to mark the spot where the shot was taken in the morning, so I can come back and find the identical spot later. The second factor is to make sure that if you are using a zoom lens, that you use the same setting each time. The idea is to ensure that the only item of change is the lighting.
Another contrast is to use the weather to give you a different look to the same subject. Even a street scene with pedestrians taken in daylight and then again with umbrellas in the rain tells a very different story. Once more, you are recording the same subject in another way. So next time it is teeming down with rain (and that seems every day right now) go outdoors with your camera and get something pleasing and then recreate it in the dry.
What we will do now is to exercise our minds (yours and mine) and come up with some opposites - then work out how to present these on film. As I have said so many times, a good photograph is “made” rather than just happening. The way the pro’s work is to build on a concept and then work out the way of showing it on film.
So let’s take some - there is young and old that springs immediately to mind. A shot of a very old person with a young child is always an attention grabber. Now, how many times have you seen big advertising companies use just that shot? Lots!
What about old and new? The range here is as big as your imagination. A shiny new car parked beside a wrecked one, a new beach umbrella beside a tattered old one, a shot of a workers corrugated iron and packing case ‘house’ beside a bright, spanking new mansion. Or even a photo of a box Brownie and a new Nikon.
There’s even more - hot and cold, rough and smooth, light and heavy - there is really no end to what you can portray when you start thinking about it.
But it doesn’t end there either. Think about the different ways you can do things. From digging a trench with an old shovel, to watching a huge mechanical ditch digger at work. How about a sundial with a watch hooked on it? A light bulb and a candle, a horse and buggy and a new Mercedes. Again, just let your imagination run riot and go from there.
Now presentation of contrasting images is important too. This is where you should finally select the best two shots and get enlargements done. 10 inches by 8 inches (called 8R by most labs) is a good size and then get them mounted side by side using a double matte. With the cost of framing being so cheap in Thailand it is very easy to produce great wall art. All that is needed are your images and some original imagination. This weekend, make some wall art and amaze your friends with your creativity. By the way, a real diptych is generally hinged between the two pictures. More expensive, but looks great.


Money Matters:  Paul Gambles MBMG International Ltd.

Where do we go from here? Part 2

A key theme in establishing credentials is that a manager needs to have a track record of making the right calls, both historically and recently. He also needs to be impartial and he needs to be up to date.
Do not be surprised if organisations who have a vested interest in equities are still recommending equity funds. If they do this because this is all they have or where their main strengths lie then you might find that they tend to recommend equities indiscriminately in all conditions. Such a recommendation ceases to have any meaning or significance - it is simply a mindless mantra, like a recorded message over and over again.
It is worth remembering that any assets that were bought prior to the credit crunch and the 2008 crash would have been bought looking at a very different global economy to that which we face now.
In 2008 alone, the following events occurred:
- Russia invaded Georgia (and then lost at beach volleyball in the Beijing Olympics to Georgia)
- Terrorists attacked Mumbai
- America elected its first black President
- Oil reached an all time high in July of $147.27/barrel but finished the year down by over 2/3 from the peak
- The financial system came close to collapse with the US rescue package exceeding $1 trillion as the year ended
- The UK banking system saw HBoS and Bradford & Bingley follow Northern Rock into oblivion with RBS and Lloyds falling into significant government ownership
- Thailand’s parliament and airport were occupied by anti-government protesters
- Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Washington Mutual and AIG were among the big casualties in America
- The governments of the Low Countries had to rescue ABN and Fortis
- The Australian Dollar came within touching distance of parity with the US$ before falling back to around 60 cents at the year end
- The S&P 500 had its second worst year ever
- US government bonds were at one stage rated higher risk than those of McDonalds Corp
- Bernie Madoff’s giant Ponzi scheme using US equities was uncovered
The world is a very different place now compared to a year ago. Any asset allocation strategy should be based on how the world looks today - not how someone mistakenly thought it looked pre-crash. New opportunities exist now and totally different information is available.
Look forwards not back - portfolio allocation should be driven by prevailing economic conditions. We would never, ever believe in the concept of holding onto an asset because of its value today relative to its cost. That has nothing to with its relative attractiveness. Two investors may each hold the same share which may today be valued at $10 per share. One investor may have paid $5 to buy the share five years ago. The other may have paid $20 just a few months ago. The prospects are the same for each investor going forwards irrespective of the fact that one is showing a 100% gain and the other is showing a 50% loss. The future behaviour of the asset is completely irrelevant to the purchase price.
This is, again, where the psychological aspect comes in. However, any understandable reluctance to realize an asset at a loss is based on emotion not rationality. Emotion generally does not predicate good investment decisions. The emotions of investors who feel more able to live with a loss on an asset so long as they do not realize that loss by selling the asset are entirely understandable, very human but ultimately pure self-deception - the asset is currently selling for today’s price whether you choose to sell it or keep it. The only question of relevance is, “Looking at today’s investment conditions, how much, if any, of that asset should I hold?”
To answer that, we would always go back to the only measure that we understand for deciding whether to buy, sell or hold any asset - the relative attractiveness of the disposed value of that asset compared to cash. In life, doing nothing is rarely the right solution to any problem.
Understand history - one widely used argument is that history supports the idea of holding onto assets that have fallen in value. I suppose the idea here is that empirical evidence can be produced that shows that it is invariably better to hold than to sell; better to stick than to twist as it were.
However, such claims are generally based on very flawed hypotheses. Fidelity analysed stock market performance over the period 1993-2008. Being primarily an equity manager, their research supported the idea of remaining invested in equities throughout a cycle. They supported this with a table showing the effect of missing the best days in the global equity markets over the last fifteen years. For instance, an investor into the S&P 500 had made returns of 8.39% per annum during this time. Take out the best ten days over that period that return fell by over 3% per year. That sounds a lot.
However, it should be remembered that the ten best days were widely interspersed throughout the whole time span. To manage to be invested for 3,644 days but to pull out JUST for each of the ten widely scattered days and be re-invested for the next day would take far more monkeys equipped with Quotron machines and dealing desks than would ever be needed at typewriters to produce the complete works of Shakespeare, Proust and Tolstoy.
It is a totally implausible idea that someone would choose to not invest for just ten days out of fifteen years and would, somehow, randomly pick ten days dotted so variously throughout the fabric of the period.
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 Paul Gambles on [email protected]


Life in Chiang Mai: by Mark Whitman

Farangs? Who needs them?

And some very wise words from a teacher…

There are two especially interesting articles I recently read in a magazine: one examines the iniquitous and counter-productive ‘double-pricing’ whereby farangs pay up to ten times that paid by Thais to enter such amenities as National Parks or those elaborate torture chambers know as zoos and safari parks and the second casts an eye over the life styles of students in Chiang Mai, with the skew towards females.
The racist, discriminatory use of high prices for supposedly wealthy visitors is something that should be made illegal, and I am sure that a case could be made for doing that. Instead, we either pay up and moan afterwards or walk or drive away, moaning slightly less. The writer, James Austin Farrell, got nowhere with TAT who cited that it was a sensitive issue and that therefore they declined to comment. How pathetic that they could not even manage an opinion on something which reflects directly on their work.
Even more extraordinary was another view that they did not want too many people in the parks, so pricing out farangs was a way of keeping numbers down. But, taking the biscuit was the director of the local zoo who considered it a form of tax, which was only fair since Thais pay tax and visitors and foreign residents do not. Apart from the fact that many (most?) Thais do not pay direct taxes on income (and in a cash society few will pay a fair share), we do, of course, pay taxes every day. I’ll leave you to add to the list but perhaps the said director might like to consider the following: vat on purchases, excise duty on wines and spirits, the tax element on petrol, tax on restaurant bills, airline charges, visas, cigarettes and a dozen other things. And let’s not forget that money paid into the economy creates employment and therefore produces tax. To say that this response is disingenuous is kind to the speaker. Tourists pay a great deal of tax in a short time. Those of us who live here and run homes and cars pay it non-stop. Rather more, I would suggest, than many locals.
It is not only foolish to discriminate in this way, it is exceptionally bad public relations. But then, as we have seen recently, Thailand seems incapable of doing other than antagonize visitors and long term residents. The fiasco at the airport will rankle for months, possibly years. The action of the red shirts over the gay pride is still being discussed in the press worldwide and has brought only condemnation. Their activities elsewhere make equally bad headlines. Instead of encouraging people to visit Thailand, the opposite seems to be the case. One is forced to wonder whether visitors, especially farangs, are welcome. Of course, the cash they bring is needed, and it was pointed out to me that the 6-7% I quoted for revenue brought in by visitors is the overall proportion of the national income. In places such as Chiang Mai, the figure is nearer 40 %, when one includes tourists, longer term visitors and the many residents. That high proportion will be echoed in towns and other places such as Pattaya and Phuket, Hua Hin and Krabi.
Of course, tourists are ‘ripped off’ in every country by taxi drivers and fancy bars, by high prices for food at airports and inflated prices at markets, but here it seems it is legalised. Perhaps I exaggerate the financial advantages that are brought to Thailand by incomers. But I doubt it. In fact, none of the above takes into account the ‘hidden’ revenue that pours into the pockets and bank accounts of Thais, especially youngsters.
The other article I mentioned, written by Jessica Mauer, mentions in passing that quite a few students are ‘sponsored.’ Mauer seems to think this is something enjoyed only by female students. Not true. And the number of other young Thais who receive regular support, mainly from overseas, is very high indeed. More, I would suggest, than Thai families here who receive regular payments from their children and relatives working abroad.
And yet, many of us love living here and put up with the hideous smog levels in the north, disgraceful though they are. We bemoan the double pricing, the inability to buy even a modest soi house outright, the visa problems and the surliness at the airport in Bangkok. But all this does not make for good interrelations. Despite the problems that some visitors bring (something which all countries have to contend with), I believe that Thailand would be worse off without us, especially with the way the economy is heading. Or is that arrogant wishful thinking?
Long ago, when I was about 15, I went on a school trip to Switzerland. There were about 20 or more boys aged between 14 and 18, chaperoned by two teachers. One morning after breakfast we were summoned into a room and told by one master that a visit by inspectors was scheduled in the next day or two. They were coming to check the hotel, its amenities and, no doubt, the way we spent our holiday and so on. He made quite a meal of this, telling us to be on our best behaviour. We must ‘act sensibly,’ not smuggle any beer into the hotel and, above all, we must not smoke. We were warned!
The second teacher looked all patiently during this peroration and then said calmly: ‘And remember, boys, when you do have a beer, dispose of the bottles carefully and when you smoke please use the ashtrays, although I’d much sooner if you didn’t smoke in the first place.’ This has stayed with me over the decades and I pass it on to those short sighted people who were complaining about one aspect of the gay pride march, where they alleged that condoms would be given out to underage people.
Only a fool believes that young people – say under the age of eighteen – do not indulge in sex. Only a bigger fool believes that they are the most careful group when doing so. And only someone with his or her head stuck in the sand does not know that sexually transmitted diseases are on the increase. Parents, teachers and concerned adults and so-called activists should learn a lesson from my teacher. You will not, can not stop the behaviour of young people. You can set an example, you may warn against ‘bad’ things, you may even criticise it. But when – if you will forgive the phrase – push comes to shove, the best advice you can give is ‘take precautions.’


Let's Go To The Movies:  Mark Gernpy

Now playing in Chiang Mai
The Reader
: US/ Germany, Drama/ Romance – Kate Winslet won a Golden Globe and an Oscar for her role in this film.  This is a fine film!  Perhaps somewhat removed and emotionally distant, but Kate’s performance is something definitely not to be missed.  I recommend it and urge you to see it.  It’s an absolute marvel that it showed up here in Chiang Mai at all – cheers to the Major Cineplex chain for bringing it in, especially right after the disastrous run of Revolutionary Road.
No one expected The Reader to get an Oscar best picture nomination, let alone the nominations for director Stephen Daldry, actress Kate Winslet, screenwriter David Hare and cinematographers Chris Menges and Roger Deakins.  David Hare, nominated for adapting the screenplay for The Reader from the novel, noted that it’s about “an unrepentant Nazi war criminal having an affair with an underage boy.  It puts a lot of people off. . . “. The underage boy is David Cross, who was 17 when filming began.  (To avoid legal consequences, the crew delayed the filming of the sexually explicit scenes until after his 18th birthday on July 4, 2008.)  Also starring Ralph Fiennes.  Rated R in the US for some scenes of sexuality and nudity.  Mixed or average reviews.
Dragonball Evolution: 
US, Action/ Adventure/ Fantasy/ Sci-Fi – This film doesn’t open in the US/UK until April 8; they’re testing it on us here in Asia!  It’s the tale of young warrior Son Goku, who seeks to fulfill his grandfather’s dying request to find the great Master Roshi (a very delightful Chow Yun Fat) and gather all seven magic Dragonballs before the evil Piccolo does.  Feels much like being caught inside an arcade computer game, but with less logic.  Based on the hugely popular 1984 Japanese manga by Akira Toriyama which lasted for 519 issues.  This live-action film, directed by James Wong (Willard, Final Destination), is vastly confusing to all who have not read all 519.
Miss You Again / A-Nueng Kidthueng Pen Yang Ying: 
Thai, Comedy/ Drama – The third entry in veteran director Bhandit Rittakol’s romance series that began in 1992 with I Miss You, then I Miss You 2 in 1996.  It’s a teenage movie about old school friends trying to save their financially-troubled school from closing and being sold to a big supermarket company.
Watchmen: 
US/ UK/ Canada – Action/ Drama/ Fantasy/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – This film simply blew me away!  I think that once you accept the violence and the comic-book origins, you will find this a monumental film.  If you liked The Dark Knight or A Clockwork Orange, you should appreciate this.  It’s complex and multi-layered, and set in an alternate 1985 America.  Amidst all the blood there’s a lot of philosophy, and a lot to think about and debate before you see it again.  Rated R in the US for strong graphic violence, sexuality, nudity, and language.  Mixed or average reviews.
Bolt:
US Animation/ Comedy/ Family – John Travolta does a superb job voicing Bolt, a canine TV star convinced of his superpowers who sets out on a cross-country journey to find his owner.  I found this whole enterprise a complete delight, containing many moments of real heart.  If you at all enjoy animation, don’t miss this one.  Great for kids – and adults!  Generally favorable reviews.
Best of Times: 
Thai Romance/ Drama – Yongyooth Thongkongtoon’s leisurely romantic drama centers on two couples, young and old.  A young vet struggles to forget his first love, but when he meets her again years later she doesn’t seem to remember him at all.  And an elderly man and woman, each alone in the world, meet and fall in love.  I found it tedious and unremarkable, though I did enjoy the performances of the older couple.
Power Kids: 
Thai Action/ Comedy – Except for the fights, a film of mind-boggling ineptitude about kids battling terrorists in a hospital.  Sloppy script and plotting, sloppy directing and photography – none of which seemed to bother the audience, who seemed to enjoy it immensely.  Also has sloppy English subtitles, e.g.,  “He’s been sleeping like vegetables for months.”
Scheduled for Mar 19
Seven Pounds:
US, Drama/ Romance – Rescheduled.  I find this a dreadful movie, and it makes me feel very uncomfortable just to talk about it.  I think it’s grim, morose, undone by an illogical plot, and shamelessly manipulative of your emotions.  But I must admit Will Smith is a charismatic actor, and you can hardly not watch him and get involved.  In this unbelievable and exasperating story, Smith plays an IRS agent who is depressed and guilt-ridden about mistakes from his past, and he sets out to make amends by helping seven strangers.  Generally negative reviews.
Meat Grinder: 
Thai, Horror – A slasher/horror, torture-porn thriller about a noodle-shop lady who serves up a special meat with her dishes.  Shades of Sweeney Todd!


Bridge in Paradise : by Neil Robinson

I recently played in a match in Chiang Dao with Chris Hedges, Kit Salisbury and Graham Forshaw. We had quite a number of interesting hands. See if you can make 5H, with South dealing, E-W vulnerable, and this very competitive bidding:

East      South     West      North
             1H           2D           4H
4S         5H           Dbl          All pass 

The full deal is shown below:
                         S: KQ2
                         H: KJ983
                         D: 4
                         C: 9862       
S: 875                                S: AJ1096
H: 10                                  H: 62
D: KQ1072                          D: A5
C: KQJ10                            C: 7543
                         S: 43
                         H: AQ754
                         D: J9863
                         C: A            

West leads the king of diamonds, which holds, and follows it with a spade to dummy’s queen and East’s ace. East switches to a club, won by South’s ace. Imagine you are sitting South. What is your plan to make the contract from here? You have a lot of low cards in both hands to deal with. If you start by taking out two rounds of trumps, you will go down, because you will be left with only three trumps in each hand. To set up your hand, you need to ruff four rounds of diamonds on board, so you will end up losing a diamond trick. Alternatively, to set up board, you will need to ruff three rounds of clubs and one round of spades – again you need four trumps. If you try to set up your hand, you might get over ruffed in diamonds, since the bidding tells you that East is short. So, you are better off trying to set up board.
To do this, lead to dummy’s king of spades. Then lead a club from dummy and ruff it. Now cross back to dummy by ruffing a diamond low – all is well since East follows. Now ruff another club and lead another diamond. This time you ruff with the jack and lead dummy’s last club. You ruff this with the queen and lead a low trump to the ten (you are very pleased to see this fall!) and king. Now, you ruff dummy’s last spade with the ace of trumps in hand. Dummy is left with the two master trumps and takes the last two tricks, for a tricky doubled contract made. If this was your plan, take 650 points (duplicate scoring).
However, you should really thank your opponents for a poor defence. An opening trump lead, followed by East leading another trump when he gets in with the ace of spades, dooms you. You will not have enough trumps left to do the cross-ruff. Trump leads often work well when the other side is sacrificing.
Chiang Mai now has an official bridge club – the Bridge Club of Chiang Mai. We welcome new players. For information on the Club please contact Chris Hedges at: [email protected] If you have bridge questions, or to send me your interesting hands, please contact me at: bridgethailand @live.com. I look forward to meeting you at the bridge table (provided you don’t double my shaky contracts!).



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