HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

The Doctor's Consultation

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Money Matters

Let's Go To The Movies

Bridge in Paradise

The Doctor's Consultation:  by Dr. Iain Corness

Dengue Fever - again and again and again

We are about to enter that phase of collective insanity in Thailand called Songkran. There will be many puddles of water left, despite water shortages, the ideal breeding ground for the Aedes aegypti mosquito to breed. The Aedes aegypti is not some opera (that’s Aida), but is the name of the mosquito which carries the Dengue virus.
We see many westerners in my hospital with Dengue Fever. These are not an isolated group that caught it from drinking out of damp glasses in the same bar. And if you don’t think it is important, there were 10 fatalities last year. That’s more than died from the SARS epidemic that had people cringing in their homes afraid to go out without a gas mask.
So, despite my previous pleas (and those of the Public Health Department), Dengue Fever and its potentially fatal variant, Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever (DHF) is still with us. The latest figures have now prompted me to repeat my advice on this subject. If you remember reading about it before, I apologize, but the subject matter is very important. This is an important ailment that can be avoided.
However, first you should understand a little more about Dengue. It was first described in 1780 by a Benjamin Rush in Philadelphia (so it didn’t start here), when the name Break Bone Fever was applied, with the symptoms of pain in the bones and rise in temperature. The name “Dengue” came in 1828 during an epidemic in Cuba. The new name was a Spanish attempt at a Swahili phrase “ki denga pepo” which describes a sudden cramping seizure caused by an evil spirit! Let me assure you that the local brand of Dengue Fever owes nothing to spirits, evil, bottled or otherwise.
Like Malaria, the virus is carried by mosquitoes. The virus itself is related to Japanese encephalitis, Murray Valley encephalitis and Yellow fever, and there are four “serotypes” or subgroups of it.
The mosquito lays its eggs in water containers, preferring the clean water found in water tanks and pots, in the saucers under pot plants and even under the pet’s food dish (or left over from Songkran). Inside discarded car tyres is another favorite spot. These mosquitoes are not of the adventurous type and feed during the day and spend their time within 200 meters of their hatchery. Consequently, the eradication of any local breeding areas becomes very important towards maintaining your own health, as you can see. Keep your home free from lying water for a radius of 200 metres and you’re looking good!
Simple Dengue (if you can call it that) has an incubation period of around four to seven days and then the full blown symptoms of high fever and headache begin. The headache is usually behind the eyes and is made worse by eye movement. From there the pains progress to the limbs with acute muscle pains, which gave it the old name “Break Bone Fever”. Interestingly, some patients complain of a metallic taste in the mouth. (Please don’t ask - I have no idea why!)
On the other hand, Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever can certainly be fatal! It appears that Serotype 2 may be the culprit here, but does not usually produce DHF unless you have been previously bitten by types 1, 3 or 4. In addition to the symptoms of Classical Dengue the skin begins to bruise very easily as the blood haemorrhages into the skin. Children are also more susceptible to this than adults. This also becomes much more of an emergency and is best treated in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of your favorite hospital.
With our ability to treat the viral ailments being very limited, the defense against the Dengue virus lies in the preventive measures. The other precautions are to wear long trousers and long sleeved shirts, especially at sun up and sun down, when the mosquito is at its most ravenous. The other factor to remember is “D” for Dengue and “D” for DEET. DEET is the magic ingredient in mosquito repellents, so when you go to buy some, check the label - if it has DEET, then get it. And then remember to use it!


Heart to Heart  with Hillary

Dear Hillary,
I have heard some comments about some Thai bar girls, who I think should be called ladies, as I have never had a bad experience with one. I made my 1st trip to Thailand last December for a couple of weeks. I spent the 1st week in Bangkok, which I found too commercialized and crowded, being a country boy. I heard Chiang Mai was a lot quieter, so I went to have a look. I soon found the bar area, and settled into a seat, when a young attractive lady welcomed me, hello sexy man she said, I was impressed as I thought that was a nice greeting which I never received in OZ. After we had a few drinks, I said to her what is your job here are you a bar girl? She asked me how long I was there for and I told her a week, she then told me she was the cashier, but the boss’s daughter was there for a week, so she was doing her job for a week and all she did was pick up the empty glasses and cleaned the tables and did not go with any man.
She left me and did some work and stopped and talked to some men, so I thought she must know them. Near closing time she came back to me, so I thought I would ask her to come back to my hotel, and she agreed. When we got back to the hotel, I said to her I had a crook knee so I will walk up to the 5th floor for exercise and you take the lift, half an hour later I got to my room and I had to wake her to let me in, she said she had a woman’s problem and had to go back to bed. In the morning she told me I owed her 3000 baht for her stay at the hotel, so I felt I had to pay.
We had just finished breakfast when she received a phone call, when she finished she appeared upset, and I asked what was wrong, she said her mother said her father was out in the rice field when his buffalo trod in a hole and broke its leg, it then stumbled and stepped on her fathers foot who then fell and pushed over a tin of pesticide which ran into the rice field, then his pet dog drank some water and had to go to the vet. I said can I do anything to help, she said she had B. 1000 saved but she said she needed B. 24,000 more to pay for all the damage. I felt terrible but she could be my future wife so I offered to pay her if she would pay me back when I returned and she said she would. When I got back to OZ I found out my job had gone to Asia and I could not afford my rent so I had to go to a boarding house, which isn’t too bad, there are a couple of people who speak broken English. My job center asked me what I wanted to do and when I told him he said there wasn’t much call for a 70 year old animal carer at the zoo, any way the local church puts on a good lunch every day.

Dear Scotty,
What trials and tribulations you have been through, my Petal. And all since last December, barely four months ago. But I do have a glimmer of hope for you Scotty. At 70 years of age you must be eligible for an old age pension, although in your case, it might be a mental invalid pension, I fear. What you have to do is come back to Chiang Mai and get a job as an animal carer at the Chiang Mai Safari Zoo, but bring your pension entitlement with you. Your future wife will be waiting, picking up empty glasses and cleaning the tables as before, as the boss’s daughter will be enjoying the cashier’s job so much she will have continued in the post.
Just like you, I hope the buffalo has recovered, but if not, don’t worry, the rice farmers usually have two, one for use in emergencies, but still prone to breaking legs and getting trench mouth as well as other expensive diseases. It might be cheaper to just buy Papa a tractor. And make sure you give your intended the bank book for the monthly pension check, so she can budget properly for you both.

Dear Hillary,
Pater has suggested that I give you a stiff one! What’s your bottom line, Hillary, a dram of Speyside’s finest, cognac de la belle France or aunties’ favourite, G & T? Bottom line, please!

Dear Mistersingha,
If you don’t know by now that Hillary’s favorite tipple is French champagne (vintage of course and you won’t go wrong with Veuve Clicquot, and La Grand Dame if you’re feeling flush) then you are even slower on the uptake than I imagined. Why don’t you and Pater and all your uncles pop back to Blighty for an extended holiday and leave us all in peace? That’s a good chap. And remember to take your tablets!

Camera Class:  by Harry Flashman

Portraits packing a punch

This week let’s put some punch into your photographs. Remember that the most commonly photographed subject is neither elephants nor local politicians, but is a person you know. Be that wife, parents, children or country cousins, the main subject for the majority of amateur photographers is people. Take a look at your photo albums if you don’t believe me. For many of those photos they are of the type, Mum and Dad at the zoo or the kids at the beach, or your sister in Chiang Mai.

Blue, white and yellow contrasts.

What you have to consider is “why” you are recording this split second in time for posterity (because that is what a photograph is - a slice of time ‘frozen’ for posterity). When you realize “why” - your shots will improve.
It is simple really - in actual fact, you are recording a time “when” your relative was “in” a particular place. Consequently, you have two important items to show in the shot - “who” and “where”.
Take “where” first. This is the background to the shot, and in many ways a most important item. While you may know that the shot was taken in Chiang Mai, nobody else does, and certainly not in a few years time, unless there is something in the photograph that relates to the location.
So rule number one is to make the background “specific” for the location. Mum and Dad with a giraffe probably does mean a zoo somewhere, but a sign always helps to pinpoint the location. Likewise with your sister in Chiang Mai. Get somewhere in the city that either says Chiang Mai, or use some local landmark that is unmistakable, like the moat in Chiang Mai or the bay in Pattaya.
Now remember that after you have found a good background location, you have to stick a person in it too, and the concept here is not to make the subject (Mum, Dad or your sister) part of the background. You have to well and truly separate the two. The subject is the “hero”, so bring the subject up close. So rule number two is to bring the subject away from the background, to make sure the subject is the principal item of interest.
What you do now is to juggle the two items around so that you get the best shot possible. Try taking one shot where the subject is central, and the background extends on both sides. The next two shots should be taken with the subject 1/3rd in from the left border for one and similar placement in from the right border of the shot for the second photo (back to the Rule of Thirds).
The third tip is to look again at the background before you pop the shutter button. This requires you to practice looking through the viewfinder with the critical eye. It means that you look beyond the breathtakingly beautiful model posed before your lens and stretch your focus through to the background. Now look for contrasts.
This simply means to have a light background if the person you are shooting has dark hair, and the reverse for those with blonde or white hair. Now to get this may require you to move the model, move yourself or move the location again. This is worthwhile. No matter how good the shot looks as you try so diligently to get a pin point focus on your subject - if there is no contrast between subject and background you will be disappointed in the final photograph. The person’s hair will disappear into the background. This is especially so when photographing the very dark haired people of Thailand. Just look at some of the social page photographs in this issue of the Mail and you will see just what I mean.
Probably the last item to consider is color. When all else fails, or is impossible, position your subject against a contrasting colored background. A yellow dress in front of a red door, for example, will always stand out. Blue and white are also good contrasts. And of course, never forget stark black and white, the ultimate contrast!

Money Matters:  Paul Gambles MBMG International Ltd.

Practicing the Golden Rule is not a sacrifice; it is an investment

Part 3

The reason that MK (Marshallian K - the money-relative-to GDP ratio) has any influence at all on the value of gold is that, as stated last week, many still believe it has a monetary standard. Thus when deflation is around and governments try to devalue currencies in order to reflate their economies, gold goes up in value.
However, this does open up a potential can of worms. As we know, the world is, putting it less than technically, in the pooh at the moment. Most nations when they get to this stage adopt devaluation as a strategy to kick start the economy again without worrying about inflation. However, if all countries did this then, in reality, no currency would be devalued.
This would then lead to a decline in interest rate, yet more money in circulation and constant revaluation of the money standard. To put it in context and, in particular Point 3, if there is no currency devaluation then all of them, especially the US dollar, must be devalued against gold.
Some people think that a rising money-relative-to-GDP ratio can actually lead to an increase in inflation. However, there is nothing to support this as, over the last thirty years, the link between MK and inflation has been negative. Basically, an increase in money-relative-to-nominal GDP has coincided with a decrease in inflation.
As mentioned above, there are also other areas that impact the value of gold. The safe haven to guard against political and economic crisis is one. Gold is seen as the place for wealth preservation.
Despite all this, the most important question on everyone’s lips is how long will the present gold bull market last and can it go up even more?
Anyone who is a long term reader of this column knows that I am a great believer in cyclical trends and the one for gold is very bullish. Nonetheless, there are a couple of problems that need getting out the way first. For instance, monetary reflation is not good enough and is stifling gold prices. With the recent announcement of the Fed saying it was going to buy bad debt then this has eased a bit but it needs more. Also, everyone is bullish on gold so there may be a short term correction soon.
Nonetheless, with the breakdown of economic activity and share prices falling through the floor means that the central banks are going to have to combat debt deflation by printing yet more money. There is a good possibility of a depression knocking at the door and quantitative easing will only increase as seen by the Fed and promises from the Bank of England to do the same. Without doubt, the Fed is being aggressive. On top of what it has already, the Fed has committed to Term Auction Lending Facility (TALF) and the Public-Private Investment Fund (PPIF) which could add another USD2 trillion to its balance sheet.
To put things more succinctly, the Fed has already doubled its balance sheet since September last year. It is about to double it again. With all this and the printing of yet more money the USD price of gold should finally break out to new record highs. This is just in America. What about the rest?
The UK has already committed and is in the same boat as the US.
The Bank of Japan is having massive pressure put on it to print money. Indeed, the country could well be in depression already. Industrial production is down by over 30% and exports have dived by 44%. If the authorities do weaken and edge to quantitative easing then the yen will weaken and the JPY price of gold will go up dramatically.
The European Central Bank is being cagey about its next step. However, it is in unchartered territory as a few countries have already fallen into debt deflation. In the past, these nations (usually the PIGS - Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain) would just devalue accordingly. This time they do not have this option. With ever increasing losses in the banking system, the question is who will bail out Europe? Some analysts are even asking if there will be a euro when all this is finished. Whatever the final decision is, it will probably include some sort of quantitative easing.
What all of this points to is that global MK will increase more and more as the central banks have to grow their balance books to combat the problems seen today. This war on deflation, and possible depression, could last a long time as could the continuous printing of money. All of this means the outlook for gold is good for many years to come.
For yet more confirmation that gold is still in a position of good health then look at a Gold Indicator as it should be based on real interest rates, trade-weighted USD and G7 MK. At the moment, the arrow is still pointing upward showing the market to be intact. This should attract new investors as they will regard gold as an investment, a hedge against major currencies AND a safe haven from any further economic and political uncertainty.
So, to conclude, the case for gold is good. The bull market is set to run for a few years yet. Yes, as stated before in this article, there will be ups and downs but the trend will be upward. In a deflationary era the central banks have to print money and all currencies must devalue against the monetary standard. This is especially true for the US dollar.
We would hold that as part of an actively managed, diversified, multi-asset class portfolio, investors should have 10%-15% invested in gold. If one looks at a regression model then the following may well occur:
Scenario A – Marshallian K grows 25% + US Dollar falls 10% = Gold at USD1,400 p.oz
Scenario B – Marshallian K grows 40% + US Dollar falls 30% = Gold at USD2,500 p.oz
Scenario C – Marshallian K grows 25% + US Dollar rises 20% = Gold at USD900 p.oz
This then is another sign that gold will end up anywhere between USD900 and USD2,500 per ounce. I would be amazed if it was less than USD1,400 p.oz. in three years time.

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]

Let's Go To The Movies:  Mark Gernpy

Race to Witch Mountain: US, Adventure/ Fantasy – A perfectly acceptable and innocuous action film for children (mostly) with all the standard chills and thrills, chase-movie suspense, and wisecracking humor – and a few slam-bang action setpieces.  Well done of its type, and the ex-Rock Dwayne Johnson is (mostly) charming as a Las Vegas cabbie who enlists the help of a UFO expert to protect two children with paranormal powers from the clutches of an organization that wants to use the kids for their nefarious plans.  Mixed or average reviews.

Monsters vs. Aliens:  US, Animation/ Sci-Fi – Has gotten some rave reviews from a number of reviewers, and some highly critical.  I found it half imaginative and amusing, half irritating – the really irritating part being Reese Witherspoon’s shrill voice and creepy character.  Mixed or average reviews.

Rahtree Reborn:  Thai, Horror/ Romance – Starring Love of Siam heartthrob Mario Maurer and Cherman Boonyasak, who played his sister in that film.  It’s a sequel to Yuthalert Sipapak’s famous horror films Bup Pha Rahtree and Rahtree Returns, set in the same apartment where the haunting story has been told before.  Straight razors and a barber’s chair are featured prominently in the posters for this film.  Shades of Sweeney Todd, again!

Fast & Furious 4: US, Action – Vin Diesel and Paul Walker re-team for the ultimate chapter of this film franchise built on speed and exotic cars, which started in 2001 with The Fast and the Furious, an unexpected hit movie.  It’s almost entirely about car races and car crashes.  There are some who like that!  Mixed or average reviews.

The Shinjuku Incident:  China, Action/ Drama – Featuring Jackie Chan in a dramatic rather than a fighting mode.  In the planning stages for almost 10 years, according to director Derek Yee, it now seems the film will not be exhibited in mainland China at all, due to censorship concerns over the portrayal of Chinese living abroad.  This will really hurt the financial prospects for this film, China being Chan’s biggest market.  Shown here in a Thai-dubbed version only, without English subtitles.

Sassy Player / Taew Nak Te Teen Rabert:  Thai, Comedy/ Drama – A gay teen soccer comedy in the vein of Iron Ladies, the internationally popular comedy about a gay and transgender men’s volleyball team.  There’s a little bit of everything in this film.  It’s fun.  Directed by Poj Arnon (Bangkok Love Story).

Knowing: Australia/ US, Drama/ Thriller – Delightful!  And a lot of fun, particularly if you like Nicolas Cage.  A teacher opens a time capsule that has been dug up at his son’s elementary school; in it are some chilling predictions – some that have already occurred and others that are about to.  Mixed or average reviews.

Khan Kluay 2:  Thai, Animation/ Adventure – The legendary elephant is back in action in this sequel to the animated movie Khan Kluay.

Scheduled for Apr 16

State of Play: US/ UK, Crime/ Drama/ Thriller – With Russell Crowe, Rachel McAdams, Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, and Helen Mirren.  Handsome, unflappable U.S. Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck) is the future of his political party: an honorable appointee who serves as the chairman of a committee overseeing defense spending.  All eyes are upon the rising star to be his party’s contender for the upcoming presidential race.  Until his research assistant or mistress is brutally murdered and buried secrets come tumbling out.  Based on the BBC mini-series of the same title, a team of investigative reporters work alongside a police detective to try to solve the murder of a congressman’s mistress.

The International:  US/ Germany/ UK, Crime/ Thriller – With Clive Owen and Naomi Watts.  An Interpol agent attempts to expose a high-profile financial institution’s role in an international arms dealing ring.  In this gripping thriller Interpol Agent Louis Salinger (Clive Owen) and Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Eleanor Whitman (Naomi Watts) are determined to bring to justice one of the world’s most powerful banks.  Uncovering myriad and reprehensible illegal activities, Salinger and Whitman follow the money from Berlin to Milan to New York to Istanbul.  Finding themselves in a high-stakes chase across the globe, their relentless tenacity puts their own lives at risk as their targets will stop at nothing – even murder – to continue financing terror and war.  Rated R in the US for some sequences of violence and language.  Mixed or average reviews.

Crank: High Voltage:  US, Action – The indestructible hopped-up hitman Chev Chelios, played to the hilt once again by Jason Statham, returns in Crank 2: High Voltage, picking up where the first film left off - except this time, Chelios is chasing a Chinese gangster who hijacked his heart and substituted it with a mechanical one that needs to be jolted regularly with an electric charge to stay pumping.  Rated R in the US for frenetic strong bloody violence throughout, crude and graphic sexual content, nudity, and pervasive language.

Bridge in Paradise : by Neil Robinson

This hand was dealt in a game with Chris Hedges, Graham Forshaw and John McDermed earlier this month. East-West were vulnerable and West dealt: 

                       S: Q6432
                       H: A98752
                       D: 73
                       C: -              
S: 108                               S: 95
H: 43                                 H: QJ106
D: A1098                           D: KJ6
C: AQ732                          C: J1094
                       S: AKJ7
                       H: K
                       D: Q542
                       C: K865        

The bidding was straightforward::

West        North          East          South

P                P                  P               1C

P                1H               P               1S

P                3S                P               4S

All pass                                        

The four of hearts was led. The problem is how to make the contract. Put yourself in South’s seat and decide on a plan before reading on. It is tempting to take the ace and king of hearts and then try and cross-ruff the hand out without pulling trumps. If you can make all nine trumps separately you will take eleven tricks for an overtrick, losing only two diamonds. The difficulty is that you run the risk of being over-ruffed at some point. Declarer tried this tempting line of play at the table and ended up going down one.

The alternative is to pull trumps first. But, if you do this, how can you set up your hand? You have eight potentially losing cards in the minors. One can be thrown on the ace of hearts. Even if you can pull trumps in only two rounds you will be left with only three trumps on board to ruff your losers in hand. That still leaves four losers and you go one down..

The solution lies in dummy’s six card heart suit. Dummy has no trump losers (when combined with the high trumps in hand), no club losers and only two diamond losers. If you can play the heart suit for only one loser, then you have the contract made. As the cards lie, trumps split. Pull them in two rounds, ending on board. Then play the ace of hearts and ruff a low heart. Cross back to dummy by ruffing a club and ruff another low heart with your last trump. Now dummy’s remaining hearts are good, and you lose only two diamonds. Eleven tricks made. Even if trumps are not quite so friendly and need three rounds to pull them, you will still make the contract after conceding a heart to set them up. You take five trump tricks, one heart ruff, two high hearts and two long hearts for ten tricks. This play is called a dummy reverse. It is often useful, particularly when dummy has a long suit, but sometimes difficult to see. All of us tend to focus on setting up our own hand, rather then dummy. If your plan of play for this hand was a dummy reverse, congratulations!

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 [email protected] I look forward to meeting you at the bridge table.