Columns
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

The Doctor's Consultation

Alliance Francaise de Chiang Mai July 2009 Film Programme

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

Are you insured? For everything?

A friend of mine is currently fighting his medical insurance company. It is the case of the little guy against the big corporation. They don’t want to reimburse, and he says he is entitled. Who is right?
At the outset, I must say I have never been one out of whom insurance agents grow fat. It has always been my feeling that there was something unbalanced about my attendant hangers on (AKA children) getting rich at my expense when I meet my final demise. When you really analyze it, you don’t even get to enjoy your own wake! No, if anyone is going to benefit from my paying insurance premiums every year, it is going to be me!
I have also been very lucky with my choice of careers. Being a medico does have advantages. If I couldn’t fix my skin rash or whatever, I could always ring a classmate who could (or should) be able to. Medications and drugs? Again no worries, just a quick raid of the samples cupboard in my surgery and I had everything I needed.
What about hospital in-patient insurance? I passed on that one too. After all, the only foreseeable problems that could stop me working were massive trauma following a road accident or suchlike, or a heart attack. In either case you don’t care where you are as long as there are wall to wall running doctors and plenty of pain killers. In Australia, the “free” public hospital system is fine for that.
So I blithely carried on through life insuranceless. I did spend one night in hospital with a broken leg 30 years ago, so as regards personal medical costs versus proposed insurance premiums, I was still miles in front.
And then I came to Thailand. Still I blithely carried on, after all, I was ten foot tall and bullet proof. Then a friend over here had a stroke and required hospitalization. Said friend was four years younger than me and I was forced to review the ten foot bullet proof situation to find I was only five foot eleven and my anti-kryptonite had expired. Thailand was a completely new ballgame.
Enquiries as to hospital and medical costs showed that they were considerably less than the equivalent in Oz, but, and here’s the big but, there’s no government system or sickness benefits to fall back on. Suddenly you are walking the tightrope and there’s no safety net to stop you hitting terra firma.
So I took out medical insurance. Still it was no gold plated cover. But it was enough to look after me if I needed hospitalization, and that came sooner than I imagined. I had always subscribed to the “major trauma” theory, but two days of the galloping gutrot had me flat on my back with the IV tube being my only life-line to the world. We are only mortal - even us medicos.
Do you have medical insurance? Perhaps it is time to chat to a reputable insurance broker! Yes, reliable insurance agents and reliable insurance companies do exist, but you need help through the minefield.
You also need help when it comes to filling out the application forms, in my opinion. And you also need to be 100 percent truthful. Yes, insurance companies will check on your records, and if it is found that you have been sparing with the truth over pre-existing conditions, expect a shock at settling up time at the cashier’s desk.
I cannot emphasize enough the advisability of getting a broker. It is no cheaper dealing direct and when it comes to a fight with the company, you need someone on your side.
Remember too, that just because you have an insurance card does not automatically signify that ‘everything’ is covered. This is why private hospitals will ask you for a deposit on admission. If the insurance company later verify that you are indeed covered for that ailment or condition, then you’ll get it back, but you have to prove that you are covered, not the other way round!
And remember that incredibly cheap insurance premiums means you are only getting partial cover.

 

Alliance Francaise de Chiang Mai July 2009 Film Programme

Friday, July 3rd, 8 p.m.
LA MARCHE DE L’EMPEREUR (2005)
by Luc Jacquet with Charles Berling, (penguin father’s voice)
Romane Bohringer (penguin mother’s voice) Jules Sitruk (penguin baby’s voice). 85 minutes. English sub-titles.
A film on the annual journey of Emperor penguins as they march, single file, to their traditional breeding ground in the Antarctic.
Friday, July 10th, 8 p.m.
LE PAPILLON (2004)
by Philippe Muyl with Michel Serrault, Claire Bouanich
Nade Dieu, Françoise Michaud m Hélène Hily. 85 minutes. English sub-titles.
Julien, an aging and cranky widower, collects butterflies. Isabelle and her eight-year-old daughter Elsa have just moved into his apartment building. The young mother is usually out, and lonely little Elsa starts visiting Julien. One day, Julien decides to go to the breathtaking Vercors plateau in search for a rare breed of butterfly, the Isabelle. He thinks he is alone, but young Elsa has managed to tag along on the trip. The little girl asks tons of questions, upsetting the tranquillity that the old man longed for.
Friday, July 17th, 8 p.m.
TOUCHEZ PAS AU GRISBI (1954)
by Jacques Becker with Jean Gabin, Jeanne Moreau, Lino Ventura. Black and White. 95 minutes. English sub-titles.
‘Don’t Touch the Dough’, Jacques Becker’s 1954 farce starring Jean Gabin, Lino Ventura and Jeanne Moreau visits the underworld of the Paris Mafia and the two gangsters, now in their 50’s, who have decided to retire, just like everyone else...
Friday, July 24th, 8 p.m.
CE QUE SAVAIT MORGAN (1974)
by Luc Bérault with Rufus, Anouk Ferjac, André Falcon, Jean-Pierre Brisson. 52 minutes. English sub-titles.
The Morren family hires Pemberton as a private tutor for their son Morgan. Pemberton is far from being wealthy and the social anti-conformity of his employers makes them unable to pay him his wages. However, a strong relationship sets up between the teacher and the pupil…
Friday, July 31st, 8 p.m.
TRAFIC (1971)
by Jacques Tati with Jacques Tati, Maria Kimberly, Marcel Fraval. 96 minutes. English sub-titles.
Mr.Hulot drives a recreational vehicle from Paris to Amsterdam in his usual comic, disastrous style.


Heart to Heart  with Hillary

Dear Hillary,
I would first like to say I love your column. I enjoy it every week. I read your article from the Thai Girl. In some ways I agree with her. I have married a bar girl and have been happily married for going on 12 years. And yes the Thai Girl is right in some respects the foreign man likes to have his cake and eat it too.
I visit Thailand at least 3-4 times a year and apart from visiting family, my wife and I visit her friends at the bar even though the girls change throughout the year as expected. But my wife always includes me on her outings and hides nothing from me. Our marriage is very happy and she has told me that she is happy.
I do not deny her many things and that I do say no to she understands. All it takes is a little co-operation between each other and that goes along way.
Oh before I forget Hillary I am currently in China with my wife - do you require anything? We will be in Thailand early July so just give the word and we will bring you a present.
Hillary keep up the good work. I believe you have all of the readers by the short and curlies just reel them in when you want to.
Baza and Jana

Dear Baza and Jan,
Well, aren’t you the sweetest thing? A present from China? I don’t think they make champagne over there (yes, yes, I know that “champagne” can only come from the champagne area in France), but I haven’t heard of Chinese ‘methode champenoise’ wines, but it might be fun to try? Getting real (for a change), you have hit the nail right on its head when you say, “All it takes is a little co-operation between each other and that goes along way.” That’s what Thai Girl was looking for, and you too admitted that “the foreign man likes to have his cake and eat it too.” If there were more foreign men like you, the world would be a happier place. Finally, Baza, are you from Australia? Your spelling is atrocious. You will see I have corrected the mistakes!

Dear Hillary,
I was just wondering, is there a new Hillary? The style of writing seems to have changed. Ms. Hillary does not seem as sassy. I trust all is well. BTW: I read the Mail on line.
A fan from the states

Dear A fan from the States,
My sweet petal, I am the same Hillary, and just as sassy when I see you don’t even remember to put a capital letter (that’s the big ones, sweetheart) at the start of the “States”. That’s short for the United States, Petal. If you write “states”, that relates to any old state you like. I’m glad you can read better than you write. There you are, sassy enough?


Dear Hilary,
Well, you have inadvertently disclosed something about yourself in making a “Freudian slip”. By admitting Freud was a friend of yours you most certainly must be a very ancient crone, as the man cashed in his mortal coil in 1939, that is 70 years ago to save you consulting your abacus. Or was this claim of friendship untrue, and you were merely seeking fame by association? Nothing is documented in his memoirs that he knew of your existence, but you are certainly of great age to even allege you were of his acquaintance !! It is a great pity wisdom did not accompany your ageing process. Now, what would Freud have made of you ? The mind boggles. As Freud once profoundly said in his book titled “Agony Aunts Are Always Abysmal” (it was awarded 5A ratings in the best sellers list), “There’s many a slip between hand and hip.”
And you have leapt to some unwarranted conclusions. By asking if I still have my rocking horse is akin to asking a total stranger “When did you stop beating your wife?” Of course I still have that memory of a very happy childhood, and his name is “Giddyup”.
But back to my original subject - the flaunting lady. Circumstance has forced her to cease her shameless behavior of showering in full view of neighbors. The other night, while performing her normal erotic ablutions, she unfortunately tripped over her Zimmer frame and sustained such injuries that she was whisked off to hospital on a stretcher. I haven’t seen her since, so perhaps the medics are having difficulty in putting her back together. However, knowing your penchant for such things, I do have photographs which I’ve saved especially for you to view.
Puritanical Parishioner

Dear PP,
You are indeed a very sick puppy. Whatever gave you the idea that I would be in the slightest interested in photographs of someone being whisked off on a stretcher? Or were you offering photographs of your rocking horse? Once more you have made conclusions not based on sound facts. There’s more than one Freud in this world, my peeping Petal. At last count there were 84 in the Austrian phone books. My friend Ziggy Freud (amateur psychologist) should not be confused with Sigmund Freud (professional psychologist and erstwhile author). I am glad your next door neighbor has now left you in peace, and this closes the correspondence on this subject.


Camera Class:  by Harry Flashman

Are you ready for a 400,000 baht camera?

Until recently, I have always been faithful to Nikons in the 35 mm range of photography. However, when looking for greater clarity and sharpness, I have always tended to go to the medium and large format cameras and slide film, but Nikon has now come up with a camera that, on paper, makes anything else obsolete, including medium format.
This new camera is the Nikon D3x, a professional level camera and an update to the company’s professional D3 introduced in 2007. This new full-frame, 24.5 megapixel camera has a list price of US$ 7,999.95 without lens. (As if the five cents off 8,000 would make you think that it is in the US$7,000 range!)
The D3x is really designed for studio use, weighing a hefty 1.2 kg without battery or lens. That is a monster weight, and whilst it can be toted, it is way too heavy for average outdoors use.
While the D3x more than doubles the megapixel count of the D3, it does so at the cost of dropping the maximum frame rate from nine frames per second to five. The one area where it excelled was resolution, demonstrating remarkable sharpness. The great advantage of the D3x over most other cameras is its broad array of customizable features and manual controls, in fact, this very latest Nikon has more features than the average car! It should also be noted that the D3x, despite its enormous price, does not have any auto modes. It is a dedicated manual camera for the professionals who need total control at all times.
Specifications:
Camera resolution: 24.5Mp
LCD screen size: 3.0"
ISO speeds: 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600
Max shutter speed: 1/8000
Min shutter speed: 30/1
Wired terminals / ports: HDMI Output, USB 2.0
The Nikon D3x has theoretically everything you could want in an all-weather, all-conditions digital camera. A magnesium frame body with rubber and plastic outer coating is resistant to shocks and drops, and all the buttons are large and embossed.
The ergonomics and design of the Nikon D3x are largely similar to Nikon’s D3 and D2X professional models. Two screens on the top and rear of the camera provide all necessary information about ISO, aperture and shutter speed. A (640x480) 3" screen is used for Live View, playback and menu adjustment and is very sharp - it can easily be used for focusing in Live View mode.
Dedicated buttons for ISO, white balance and quality allow for adjustments to be made on the run without delving into on-screen menus, while aperture and shutter speed dials surround both the top-mounted and side-mounted shutter buttons making the Nikon D3x easy to use for either portrait or landscape photography.
Now, despite the big spend, the new D3x is not the industry leader in many other features. ISO settings of 100-1,600 are not as extensive as the Nikon D3’s 200-6400 range. In continuous shooting mode, it is significantly slower in its frames per second capability. Sure it is shooting at double the mp, but the D3 is faster in the field.
To emphasize the complete control that the photographer can have over the camera can be seen in the three color modes (called Picture Controls by Nikon): Standard, Neutral and Vivid. Monochrome is also available. There are substantial customization controls for each mode, and all of the color modes can have their sharpening and contrast altered as well. For example, the non-monochrome modes also let you change saturation and hue, and monochrome can add filters (yellow, orange, red and green) and tones (sepia, cyanotype, red, yellow, green, blue-green, blue, purple-blue and red-purple).
One area where this very expensive camera did not perform as well as its rivals (and some cameras from its own stable) was in white balance, doing quite well in incandescent light sources, but not as good in daylight. However, since this is predominantly a studio camera, this deficiency might not be as great as it would appear.
But in the final appraisal comes the inescapable fact that this camera is off the planet as far as pricing is concerned, and the results cannot justify the price.


Money Matters:  Paul Gambles MBMG International Ltd.

Possibly the Greatest Economic Disaster Ever…

Everybody is listening, hoping that all the ‘expert’ evidence is true. According to the self-styled gurus of the present market forces, the worst part of the recession is now over and everything will be better from here on in. It only saddens me that people actually believe such rubbish. Certain analysts have compared recent events to that of 1929. If this is true then it must be remembered that the bottom of that market was 1932.
Porter Stansberry stipulated as much at the end of last year. He said, “The coming great inflation will destroy America’s economic leadership. It will lead - eventually - to the return of settling international obligations in gold instead of paper dollars. And this will happen much faster than anyone expects… The price of gold will be well over $2,500 per ounce… Americans haven’t experienced anything like this since the Great Depression.”
Please remember this was forecast weeks before President Obama took office and none of us had any real idea of how he was going to present his economic and fiscal policies. By the end of January this year we knew there would be huge deficit spending in 2009. What was not immediately apparent was that Obama also plans to increase deficit spending over the next decade as well. This means that the American national debt would double - at least.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has drawn up the table on this page. This makes comparisons between the deficits of the 1980s and 1990s to present and future budgets.
If it assumed that Obama stays in office for two terms then the CBO has calculated the deficit policy will put up the national debt by over USD10 trillion by 2019. To compare this, just think that ten trillion was the total federal debt just over two years ago. Also, remember that this is just what the CBO is forecasting. By the time the politicians have finished tinkering with it the chances are it will be much more.
If all of the above just looks like lies, damned lies and statistics then I would ask you just to bear in mind one thing. President Obama wants to borrow more money over the next eight years than all of the other presidents - combined.
The numbers defy belief. Twenty trillion dollars looks like this - USD20,000,000 ,000,000. How can anyone honestly believe this can be paid off? When the Republicans were elected in 1980 the total US debt was USD930 million - less than one billion or not even five percent of what Obama wants to cough out.
In case you’re having as much trouble keeping track of federal spending as I am:
The US government has spent the entire national output, 9 times over. And that’s without counting contingent liabilities and guarantees!
If the nation were a person earning $50,000 a year, he’d be in debt to the tune of $461,000 - If that person asked you for a loan, what would you say?
Even more important, this debt cannot be financed indefinitely. Sometime, someone is going to want to have their money back - preferably with interest. If the new president has his way then our children’s children’s children will still be manacled with this debt. If they do not make good roads into it then the US dollar will go the way of the Reichmark or Zimbabwean Dollar.
There is an argument to say this is already on the way. China, Russia and several other countries have put forward the idea of a basket of currencies to replace the US dollar and be the World Reserve Currency (WRC). Okay, this has not happened but the very idea would have been inconceivable just a few years ago. President Putin has recommended that gold be used for all international trade transactions. Given that all the US has done for the planet over the last few decades the real irony is that no-one wants to be a creditor to America in case they do not get their money back.
If this happens then panic could ensue as more countries and individuals try to get out of the American currency. Obama will have to act and the probability is he will cease free exchange of the USD into different currencies. In fact, the present president may follow the idea of Roosevelt in the 1930s and ban the buying or selling of gold.
At the time of writing, gold is not doing well, which is an excellent buying opportunity to get as much bullion and gold equity into your portfolio as possible. For any US expats, this time also is ideal for getting as much money out of the US as possible. Why is this? Well despite not getting a WRC the Chinese are still not happy. Over the last six years, it has increased its gold reserves by more than three quarters and is in the top five of countries holding gold. This is not all. As of the end of Q1 2009, the Chinese had the largest FX reserves in the world at almost USD2 trillion.
Due to Obama’s policies, the Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao, is very worried that the US dollar will weaken thus reducing the value of the US Treasuries that China now owns. This is now nearly USD750 billion. Many Chinese financiers are now advocating changing into commodities to protect Chinese investments. Other Asian central banks are also thinking along the same lines. As Si Kannan, associate vice president at Kotak Commodity Services Ltd, recently said, “While the IMF is selling gold, Asian central banks are diversifying into gold. That’s a good thing, in times of dollar uncertainty and the global volatility in the forex market.”
It is also the ideal time for American expats to invest using the multi-asset class approach thus creating a diversification of assets that they have never had before. By doing this they will be guarding against large increases in personal and corporate tax, inflation, restricting movement of money and massive unemployment.

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

Something for the Weekend?

There’s a saying that buses come along in two and threes. The same might be said of musical offerings in Chiang Mai. Do organizers ever consult with each other? On this coming Saturday, the 27th, there are no less than three interesting-sounding concerts, all starting at roughly the same time on that same day. The choice is ‘up to you!’
At the large Kad Theatre in Kad Suan Kaew, the Chiang Mai Youth Philharmonic Band is presenting music by living composers. Start time is 7.30, with students admitted at 100 baht, and the rest of us at 300 to 500 baht, according to location. Two main works have been announced. Farang Run Thoa, which is written for the combined forces of a Thai Traditional Orchestra and Symphonic Band, and a work intriguingly titled ‘Chaos Theory’. This is a concerto for wind orchestra and electric guitar, with the soloist Tanata Wongsing.
A cheaper option, (free admission!), begins at 7 p.m. at the Faculty of Fine Arts, in the Exhibition Hall of the CMU Arts Centre. Once again, the emphasis is on contemporary music and you can get further information on 081 530 6483. I must say this clash is particularly annoying for those of us who are more interested in music of our time, rather than the repeats of great but overly familiar music. There is not nearly enough exposure of 20th or 21st century music in Chiang Mai – or, come to that, anywhere in or out of Thailand.
There’s a third musical offering, also beginning at 7 p.m. at the AUA Auditorium in the old city. This is called ‘May We Fly – on the Rhythm of the Guitar’. The principal performer will be Bird Aekashal Jarakul and he will be joined by several friends. Admission is 250 baht but this also includes a ‘free’ CD. You can get further information from [email protected] or by phoning 087 870 1155.
On the previous evening, the 26th, there is a truly mesmerizing movie playing at the Alliance Francaise, beginning as usual at 8 p.m. with admittance a mere 30 baht. They have finished their run of films by Eric Rohmer and this Friday will feature one of the three great works directed by Jacques Becker. Casque d’Or was the film that established his reputation. It stars the magnificent Simone Signoret, along with two other fine actors Serge Reggiani and Claude Dauphin.
Becker began as a political director and, in the thirties, made one film in support of the Communist Party, but it was not until after the war with the bucolic thriller Goupi Mains Rouges that he made a breakthrough. Sadly, he died aged only 54 having made around 15 features, the last of which was his masterpiece Le Trou, (The Hole), a prison-set work which ranks with Hitchcock’s The Wrong Man, Siegel’s Escape from Alcatraz and even Bresson’s A Man Escaped. His other major work was the wonderful Touchez Pas au Grisbi.
He was always a humane and elegant director and Friday’s film is no exception. It won Signoret the best actress award at BAFTA and no director has served her better. It is a bitter sweet romance and you are unlikely to see a better movie in Chiang Mai in the coming months.
I was hopeful of saying that there would be a decent commercial film to complete your weekend on Sunday but sadly – and inexplicably - the scheduled State of Play has been either postponed or even cancelled. Our film guru on the Mail does not know why, so sadly, neither do I. This is a brisk, complicated, intelligent political thriller and would surely have attracted an audience of both Thais and farangs in the city. It was well received in the U.K. where I saw it and I was looking forward to seeing it again. Russell Crowe grabs the central role and creates a vivid portrait of the investigative journalist at the centre of the story. If it does surface, go see it!
Now that the Korean ‘A Frozen Flower’ has ended its run, there really is nothing much else worth your hundred or so baht. Except, that is, for the visceral Take Me to Hell. This movie, by Sam Raimi is in that normally rather under- nourished genre, the horror movie. But Raimi is a master at this kind of cheap flick and not a moment is wasted. It’s instantly forgettable but I defy you not to be carried along by the gory story of a revengeful old woman wreaking havoc on a young bank assistant who she believes has betrayed her. You could see it as a comment on the current malaise in the banking industry, but even those who have squandered our cash don’t deserve what happens to the young heroine. Then again, perhaps they do….


Let's Go To The Movies:  by Mark Gernpy

Now playing in Chiang Mai
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen:
US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi. It’s Autobots® versus Decepticons®, Round 2, in Michael Bay’s film based on Hasbro’s Transformers™ action figures. Look how we have to write about it! It’s all about trade names and merchandising! The action figures for sure will be on sale in the lobby. The plot: Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) again joins with the Autobots® against their sworn enemies, the Decepticons®.
It’s super-intense, and bigger and longer than the original. High noise level, smashing images, a loud and relentless score, everyone yelling their lines at high speed – if this is your idea of fun, go.
Pee-Toom-Tim / Phee Tum Tim:
Thai, Comedy – A goalkeeper on a Thai football team cracks his head on a goal post and dies. But wait, that’s just the beginning! Somehow his body is possessed by the spirit of a transsexual who has a burning desire to see the Thai football team make it to the World Cup. Shown in Thai only with no English subtitles. At Airport Plaza only.
Up:
US (Disney/Pixar), Animation/ Family – Everyone’s current favorite, tops at the US boxoffice, and the most loved film of the year so far! An animated fantasy adventure about a 78-year-old balloon salesman (voiced by Ed Asner) who finally fulfills his lifelong dream of a great adventure when he ties thousands of balloons to his house and flies away to the wilds of South America. But his biggest nightmare has secretly stowed away on the trip: 8-year-old Russell. Also starring Christopher Plummer, and a speech-assisted dog. Another masterful work of art from Pixar – an exciting, hilarious, and heartfelt adventure, impeccably crafted and told with wit and depth. Reviews: Universal acclaim.
And Up has a cartoon playing before it, called Partly Cloudy, a 6-minute Pixar study of cartoon genius which reminds me somewhat of the stork sequence at the beginning of Walt Disney’s Dumbo. Not too much has been made of this very funny short, but for my money it is pure brilliance.
Dek Khong:
Thai, Comedy/ Drama – The “King Kong Gang” is a powerful and invincible gang that rules and terrorizes all the kids in the kindergarten, led by a boy of such immense size that a high-school girl who thinks he’s in high school falls for him, rendering him incapable of leading his gang.
Drag Me to Hell:
US, Horror/ Thriller – Terrific! Director Sam Raimi started out making perversely entertaining horror fare, and he’s back, and in outstanding B-movie form. Get into your horror-film frame of mind, and go for a lot of laughs and chills. Alison Lohman stars as a loan officer who becomes the victim of a curse, with evil spirits on her trail and certain damnation in her future. A wickedly good time: blood-curdlingly scary and ghoulishly funny, it’s also taut and timely. It’s the best-reviewed horror film in years; I thought it a hoot! Reviews: Universal acclaim.
The Vista version is dubbed into Thai, with no English subtitles; in English at Airport Plaza.
Angels & Demons
: US, Crime/ Drama/ Mystery – A tight, taut thriller. The team behind the global phenomenon The Da Vinci Code returns as Tom Hanks reprises his role as Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, who once again finds that forces with ancient roots are willing to stop at nothing, even murder, to advance their goals. Mixed or average reviews.
Blood: The Last Vampire:
Hong Kong/ Japan, Action/ Horror – A thoroughly disgusting mess of violence and killing. It’s depraved in its depiction of the “beauty” of killing – the graceful spumes of blood, lovingly photographed in slow motion; the languorous way that severed limbs and chopped heads slowly curve to earth. I consider it a shameful and perverted use of the potentialities of cinema, and serves only to brutalize the people who come to see it. Rated R in the US for strong bloody stylized violence. In English, mostly. Please, skip it!
Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins:
US/ UK, Action/ Sci-Fi – In this new installment of The Terminator film franchise, set in post-apocalyptic 2018, Christian Bale stars as a man fated to lead the human resistance against Skynet and its army of Terminators. If you’ve seen any of the other three installments of this series, you know what to expect: Plenty of chases, explosions, and great effects. Mixed or average reviews.
Night at the Museum 2: Escape From the Smithsonian:
  USA/ Canada, Action/ Comedy – If you liked the first adventure, you’re sure to like this one even more – bigger, better, and with fantastic special effects. After their night at the New York Museum of Natural History, Larry (Ben Stiller) must infiltrate the Smithsonian after some of his resurrected friends were shipped to Washington for storage. He finds himself in the middle of a vast conflict between many of the museum’s most noteworthy historical figures. Mixed or average reviews.


Bridge in Paradise : by Neil Robinson

The Contract Bridge League of Thailand (CBLT), of which the Bridge Club of Chiang Mai is a member, held an Open Teams event last month. It was played on two successive weekends at the Royal Bangkok Sports Club. The results were reported in the CBLT Bridge News for June 2009. Khun Tivatavat and Prof. Prasong of Chiang Mai were on the Paisal team, which came in a very creditable sixth overall, and beat the two leading teams when they played them. The event was won by Magic Eyes and the runner up was Idhinand. Unfortunately the Bridge News does not give the names of the players on these teams, but congratulations to them anyway.
The Bridge News does describe a number of the hands played and I plan to write about a few of them in the next couple of weeks. This interesting hand came from the first round. Plan how you might bid each of the hands with your favourite partner. Most bridge players, myself included, do not use cue bids often enough. The reported bidding makes full use of such bids. North dealt and N-S were vulnerable: 

                        S: A4

                        H: 742

                        D: QJ98

                        C: KJ84      

S: K10632                           S: QJ75

H: AK9653                         H: J108

D: 7                                     D: 1063

C: 10                                   C: 973

                        S: 98

                        H: Q

                        D: AK542

                        C: AQ652  

The reported bidding was: 

North           East        South       West

P                   P             1D             2D

2S                 Dbl         3C             4H

4S                 P             5H             P

5S                 P             6C             6H 

All pass                                         

The bidding certainly needs some explanation! West’s 2D bid is a Michaels cue bid showing at least five cards in each major. North’s 2S is a cue bid (North cannot want to play in spades, knowing West has five). It shows a close to opening hand and support for South’s suit, diamonds. East doubles to show spade support. South bids his second suit and West bids 4H to show a good hand with more hearts than spades and offer East a choice. North cue bids spades again, to show a stopper or shortage. 5H by South shows a stopper or shortage in hearts and asks North to pick a slam. 5S by North says either slam (6C or 6D) is OK by me. South chooses 6C. West then sacrifices in 6H (and did not even get doubled). I count no fewer than five cue bids in the bidding of just this one hand, including three by North!
West made an excellent sacrifice, even if it had been doubled. 6H goes down only two, losing one club, one diamond and the ace of spades. N-S are cold for 6C, losing only a heart (the losing spade from dummy goes away on the long diamond).
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]