HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

The Doctor's Consultation

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Money Matters

Life in Chiang Mai

Let's Go To The Movies

Bridge in Paradise

The Doctor's Consultation:  by Dr. Iain Corness

Tourette’s syndrome - what the “F’s” that?

It has been shown to the satisfaction of the medical world that humor and a good laugh really is good medicine. Some hospitals even employ clowns to brighten up the days of the inpatients. And no, I am not the clown.
However, one of my favorite jokes involves a parrot that was prone to ‘bad’ language, and consistently used the “F” word. After threatening the talkative bird with dire consequences, its owner put it in the freezer chest for five minutes. After being retrieved from the freezer, the parrot was asked if it would now behave. “Yes,” said the shivering parrot, “I won’t say the “F” word again, but what did the ‘effing’ chicken say?”
Tourette’s syndrome can also be related to the magic “F” word, and is usually seen in children (not parrots) around the age of 5-7 years. Boys outnumber girls three to one!
So is this just a case of little Johnny parroting off (sorry about that, couldn’t help myself) dirty words he has heard at home? Actually no. This is a developmental problem that comes under the general heading of ‘Tics’ (as opposed to ‘ticks’ that are parasitic problems).
Tic disorders can affect up to almost 20 percent of children at some stage of their development. At one end of the spectrum are children with brief episodes of single tics, whereas at the other end of the spectrum are children with chronic multiple tics, including our friend Tourette’s syndrome.
Tics are abrupt and recurrent involuntary motor or vocal actions. Motor tics include eye blinking, grimacing, nose twitching, lip pouting (my daughter is good at that when she doesn’t get her own way), shoulder shrugging, arm jerking, head jerking, kicking (my son is good at that when he doesn’t get his own way), finger movements, jaw snapping, tooth clicking, frowning, tensing parts of the body, and rapid jerking of any part of the body are simple tics. More complex ones include hopping, clapping, touching, throwing, arranging, gyrating, bending, biting the mouth, the lip, or the arm, head-banging, picking scabs, writhing movements, rolling eyes upwards or side-to-side, making funny expressions, sticking out the tongue, kissing (one of my old girlfriends was good at that to get her own way), pinching, writing the same letter or word over and over, and tearing paper or books.
However the tic can also be vocal, with simple ones being coughing, spitting, screeching, barking, grunting, gurgling, clacking, whistling, hissing, sucking sounds, and syllable sounds such as “uh, uh,” “eee,” and “bu.” The complex vocal tics can involve complete phrases such as, “Oh boy,” “you know,” “shut up,” “you’re fat,” “all right,” and “what’s that.” Take that a little further and you get repetitive bad language (which we medicos call Coprolalia, because we love big words) and that is the best known example of Tourette’s syndrome.
Children who have these tics can be looked upon as fools by their peers, and there is a no more predatory group than other children. Parents also can feel helpless in these situations. From the medical point of view, one has to treat the entire family, not just little Johnny with the foul mouth!
Most children with tics can lead normal lives, and the tics themselves usually slow down in teenage years. Parents should be encouraged to get support for themselves from various organizations such as the Tourette Syndrome Association ([email protected]). With a good understanding of tics and related problems, including acceptance from teachers and education of the child’s peers, most children with tics do not need regular medical follow up.
Parents and children need to understand that although all these symptoms relate to an underlying brain disorder, breaking the cycle may be extremely simple - for example, just allowing the child to have a short “tic break” in a long school lesson may be enough.
Drug treatment can be used, though there are differences in opinion on the efficacy, with some researchers claiming only 30 percent can be helped. However, tic severity and frequency can be reduced. Studies of Risperidone (Risperdal) in Tourette’s syndrome have shown that it is efficacious too.


Heart to Heart  with Hillary

Dear Hillary,
With regard to Pat from PA and his comments about a PI to check his girl - does he not think that it’s pretty easy to follow someone in such a busy place as Chiang Mai and not that hard to follow a car either - all without being seen by a lady who won’t be trained to look anyway and won’t expect to be followed? An excellent service can be got at [email protected]
A Friend
Dear A Friend,
I think you underestimate our ladies of the night, my Friend. You have to remember that you are dealing not with one girl, but with all the girls from that bar and all the bars around that bar. The jungle drums beat loud and long. The network is very efficient, as more than one unsuspecting would be PI has found out. Proceed with caution. I replied to Pat from PA by writing “You men really go out of your way to make problems for yourselves, don’t you!” I think your friendly advice could produce more problems than answers, Friend.

Dear Hillary,
There is a nice looker I often see sitting in the local shopping mall who always gives me a big smile. I have almost gone up to talk to her a couple of times, but chickened out at the last minute. What if she can’t speak English? What do I do then? Also I worry if she’s a bar girl as I’ve heard so much bad about them that I don’t want to get into that sort of problem. I’m here for another five weeks and I’d like some company, but safe, if you know what I mean. Please let me know what you think as I don’t want to waste the time.
Dear Eric,
How old are you? Twelve? Here’s the girl giving you big smiles (that’s what we call ‘come on’ smiles, Eric) and your tongue dries up at the thought of trying to communicate with your gorgeous bit of pulchritude. If she didn’t think she could communicate, she wouldn’t be sitting on the shopping mall seats smiling at foreigners. And that’s all foreigners, Eric, not just you. You wonder if she’s a “bar girl”, well you can stop wondering. Of course she’s a bar girl, she’s just between bars right now. You men have to understand that girls who you can always find in shopping malls are not shopping for daily groceries and just having a little rest as you come by. They are there to pick up men, who in turn will donate money to their shopping comparison research projects. So you’re here for another five weeks, my Petal. Yes, the girl will give you company. Make sure she hands in her ID card at the hotel - if no ID card is forthcoming, then start running.

Dear Hillary,
There has been a crackdown recently about copy goods - shirts, CDs and watches and the like. Why is this? Everyone knows that you go to Asia and buy real bargains. I always bring back three or four watches for the girl friends and a couple of footy shirts for the blokes. What’s wrong with this. If I can’t get the stuff in Thailand, do you know where I can get them? I’m coming over in a couple of weeks, so if you can let me know early that would be good.
Dear Copycat,
How would you feel if you made some type of special goods and then found that cheap copies were being marketed at half the price you sell them for? You have to keep in mind the different copyright laws in China, theirs goes “It’s our right to copy.” Mind you, I think that many of these overseas goods (so-called originals that have been made in Vietnam) are highly over-priced too. The whole question of copyright is well beyond Hillary’s brain, I’m afraid. I’m just worried about getting ‘copy’ champagne. As to where you can go to get the things you want - the markets still have them I believe, but don’t tell the police. Unless the police are running the market!

Dear Hillary,
After reading your wonderful words of wisdom from afar, and cottoning onto the fact that you are a connosuer (sic) of champagne and chocolates, I am hoping you can also help me from afar. I am dating a wonderful young lady and just want to know what champagne I should buy to woo her, and whether dark chocolate or milk chocolate would be best.
The Gentleman Suitor
Dear Gentleman Suitor,
The first thing you have to do is attend to your spelling, my Petal. If you want to be a “connoisseur” of champagne, then learn to spell it! However, in your side of the world, my favorite champagne Veuve Clicquot (French and vintage, darling, vintage) is not too expensive, though the Grande Dame should be only brought out for very special occasions. Regarding the chocolate, you won’t go wrong with milk chocolate selections, though the white chocolate can be quite special. But it is a presentation box, my Gentleman friend, not a block! Dark chocolate is OK too, but we women like the milky variety.

Camera Class:  by Harry Flashman

The long digital road

Everybody and their grandmother has a digital camera of some sort these days, even though digital cameras have only been available in the mass market for a little over 20 years. The granddaddy of photography, the Kodak Company that brought film photography to the masses with the Kodak Brownie, was also very instrumental in bringing the new digital photography to the masses, at the expense of their own product - the photographic film.
When looking at the history of digital photography the significant technological step forward was the Charge-Coupled Device (CCD), invented by George Smith and Willard Boyle on October 17, 1969. Smith and Boyle were attempting to create a new kind of semiconductor memory for computers. At the same time they were looking for a way to develop a solid-state camera for use in video phones. It took just an hour for them to sketch out the CCD’s basic structure, define the concept of its operation, and outline the applications for which it would be best suited.
By 1970, Smith and Boyle had built the CCD into the world’s first solid-state video camera, and in 1975, they demonstrated the first CCD camera with image quality sharp enough for broadcast television. However, this was for video photography, not still photography, the basis of the mass market.
In 1981, the Sony Corporation produced the first prototype mass market digital camera, called the Mavica (Magnetic Video Camera) electronic still camera, which recorded images as magnetic impulses on a compact two-inch still-video floppy disk. The images were captured on the disk by using two CCD (charge-coupled device) chips. One chip stored luminance information and the other separately recorded the chrominance information. This camera provided a 720,000-pixel image (that is 0.7 megapixels; compare that to what you can get today). The images could be stored on the floppy disk either in Frame or Field mode. When the photographer selected the Frame mode, the sensor recorded each picture on two tracks. Up to 25 images could be recorded on each disk. In Field mode, the camera recorded each picture on only one track, allowing up to 50 images to be recorded.
Images were obviously less detailed than what is available today and were made visible through a video reader that was connected to a television monitor or color printer. However, the early Mavica cannot be considered a true digital camera even though it started the digital camera revolution. It was really a video camera that enabled you to see video freeze-frames.
In 1986, Kodak scientists invented the world’s first megapixel sensor, capable of recording 1.4 million pixels that could produce a 5x7-inch digital photo-quality print. We were on the way.
Next up was MegaVision, a small private company, which designed the world’s first commercial digital camera in 1987, but less than a year later the Japanese developed and released the world’s first consumer digital camera.
The Fuji DS-1P digital camera was a photographic revolution in 1988. It was portable, had a built-in battery and stored images on a removable flash card. The only thing that prevented a DS-1P from being a required camera in every home was the price - $US10,000 for the no-frills entry level model up to $US40,000 for the top-of-the-range version.
In 1990, Logitech came out with the Dycam Model 1 black-and-white digicam, the world’s first completely digital consumer camera. It stored 32 compressed images internally using 1MB RAM on a 376 x 240 pixel CCD at 256 shades of gray in TIFF format. This simple camera by today’s standards had an 8mm fixed-focus lens, standard shutter speeds of 1/30 to 1/1000 second and a built-in flash. The Dycam included the digitizing hardware in the camera itself, but the user had to connect the camera to a PC to transfer images.
In 1991, Kodak released their first professional digital camera system (DCS), aimed at photojournalists. It was a Nikon F-3 camera equipped by Kodak with a 1.3 megapixel sensor, and it was expensive.
As time has marched on, the pace of the digital camera revolution has also picked up, and with economies of scale, you can now buy digital compacts with many megapixels for only a few thousand baht.

Money Matters:  Paul Gambles MBMG International Ltd.

Obama has not learned from history, part 2

The only new thing in the world is the history you do not know - President Truman

   Year            German Weimar Republic               United States                Year

As we wrote last week, after World War I, the allies imposed Treaty of Versailles on the defeated Germans. The reparations were severe and everyone knew that Germany had very little chance in making the payments. The newly formed Weimar Republic decided the only chance they had was to print money. The value of the Papiermark was 4.2 to one US dollar in 1914. By late summer 1923 it was one million per dollar. People were forced to carry their money in wheelbarrows when they went shopping. Hyperinflation had hit Germany. To counter this, the Germans had to do what was called a “monetary reset” and brought in the Rentenmark at the old value of 4.2 to the US Dollar.
Now, bearing in mind the quotation at the top of the page from President Obama’s Democratic predecessor, let us look at more comparisons between Germany in the 1920s and America over eighty years later - the parallel to German war reparations then is derivatives now.

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


And Burma’s hyenas are no laughing matter

The temptation to over-praise a movie such as Sam Chuk is considerable, especially when seen in the context of everything else currently on view in Chiang Mai’s cinemas. Though - by an extraordinary coincidence - the two films currently worth seeing are both Thai. Like tuk-tuks, rare when you want one and then available in tandem. Well, two swallows a summer do not make, (let alone one and a half), but each is worth your hundred baht and one of them, Sam Chuk, is worth considerably more.
Dear Galileo is based on some aspects of the director’s time in Europe and follows the adventures and misadventures of two young Thai girls as they grow up in London, Paris and Venice, having fled because of, in one case, a suspension at school and in the second because of boyfriend trouble. As you can see, they have a lot of growing up to do.
Nicely shot, if a little clichéd in that direction, it is also prettily acted and does not require too much suspension of disbelief once they arrive in the west. There are accurate observations of loneliness and of unsmiling foreigners (you can’t depend on the kindness of most strangers, we soon learn) and it is certainly an intelligent and lively Thai movie.
Its big brother Sam Chuk (the title refers to a town in the Suphon Buri province, about an hour north west of the capital, not, as we farangs might think, a central character.) The director is Thanit Jintanukul and he too has chosen a ‘true’ story as the basis for his movie, but this one deals with the starker realities of drug abuse and juvenile alienation in a market town. I should add that the movie is anything but bleak, since its central theme is one of optimism and courage. I never understand when people say that such and such a film is ‘depressing’ or not entertainment, when in fact the words sad or thought provoking might be more apt. Perhaps having emotions stirred or being obliged not to check your brain in at the box office is a step too far.
As my film colleague on the Mail aptly noted, it is unusual for a Thai movie to tackle a social theme and even more so when it criticizes directly and obliquely those ‘in charge’. Any straightforward description of it will do it less than justice, since it will inevitably omit the wry and near tragic nuances of the plot but, briefly, here goes.
The setting is the recent present and the story concerns seven teenage boys who, for a variety of emotional and physical reasons, meld into a little gang of drug users. A wise and sympathetic teacher at their high school is the only person who attempts not only to understand but also to save them from a decline and fall. Parents, girl friends, other teachers and the local community all fail to some degree but through their own efforts and that of their new ‘father’, the youngsters pull through.
The director has managed his busy plot, following the trials and tribulations of the septet with some real skill and energy. The reasons for the individual problems are well sketched, the adult responses convincing and the actions of the boys (and the acting) utterly believable. Thanit Jintanukul has directed the youngsters most persuasively, even when the action and some dialogue is not entirely credible. A lot goes on in this film and the nearly two hours presents a roller coaster ride of emotion and drama.
There’s no special pleading here, even if the dice are shown as loaded against some of the boys. They are depicted as vulnerable teenagers (is there another kind?) Some give into temptation, others do not. ‘Judge not’, says the movie. Although of course they are judged, except by the quiet teacher who turns their lives around in a relentless, gripping and entertaining drama.
It would be easy to find faults in the film. The music is over insistent, especially in the second half. The teacher is a little sketchily drawn and there is some weak acting in the smaller roles. It really required a great editor to help shape the complicated story which at times overwhelms us. But to anyone who has the slightest interest in either cinema or Thailand this is a treat and an antidote to the mindless cash buckets which fill the cinemas every week.
When I recall the slovenly portrayals and the overblown presences of the leads in Pelham or the totally uninteresting ‘teenage’ leads in Potter, I realise that here is an inexpensive and honest film which is worth ten of those movies. It is not that the directors of those big works are untalented, it is simply that they lack both heart and brains. Plainly, Jintanukul has both intact. He has no need for pointless jump cuts, freeze frames, zooms, dissolves, slow motion, fast motion and the range of pointless so-called cinematic tricks which attempt to divert us from the paucity of material on screen. No, he simply offers us some truth, compassion and an involvement in the lives of fellow human beings. Something that Tony Scott has not achieved in dozens of mindless capers, nor ever will.
The dictionary definition of a hyena states: carrion feeding carnivore. It’s near fellow, the spotted hyena rates: resembles hyena, but has a hysterical (sounding) laugh.
Q. How do you turn hyena-style Burmese generals into the spotted variety?
A. You get the Director of the U.N., Ban ki-Moon, to send each of them a copy of the latest communiqué from the 15 or so most important members of the U.N. (including the big five and some ASEAN members), stating that they ‘confidently expect’ that Aung San Su Kyi and the 2000 plus political prisoners in Burmese jails will soon be released.
The result?
a biological miracle.
Still don’t get it? Let’s elaborate. The hyena is a widely despised species, which feeds off others. It is a cunning, relentless scavenger which is disliked by humans and other animals and no doubt by fellow hyenas who would soon turn on it at any show of weakness or illness.
As stated by the dictionary, the spotted variety is similar but for its shrill inhuman laugh, which makes it sound as unpleasant as it looks. So as that missive was sent last week following a behind –closed - doors meeting, the generals must have changed their spots, hysterically laughing at the suggestion of an amnesty or the slightest change of policy.
They and their corrupt courts show no intention of long term reconciliation, or of letting people go free. No intention of holding fair elections. No desire for peace internally or achieving proper relations with foreign powers, except those who supply arms, buy jade and rubies and consider helping them obtain nuclear weapons. They make occasional gestures, but still insult emissaries, consuls, ambassadors, even prime ministers and the head of the U.N. They let people die in their thousands after a cyclone and steal from the charities who try to give aid. They have held a mock trial and make a mockery of the rest of the world. The U.N., the E.U. and all the other initialed organizations and groups may ‘confidently expect’ precisely nothing. Truly these hyenas are no laughing matter.

Let's Go To The Movies:  by Mark Gernpy

Now playing in Chiang Mai
US/ Canada/ Germany, Horror/ Mystery/ Thriller – This is a dandy little horror film!  I thoroughly enjoyed it!  A husband and wife who recently lost their baby adopt a 9-year-old girl who is not nearly as innocent as she claims to be.  Rated R in the US for disturbing violent content, some sexuality, and language.  Mixed or average reviews.
If you enjoy a good spooky horror film now and then, I recommend you check this out.  It’s quite well done.
But there’s an interesting side note to this showing, which is apropos of the new ratings system supposedly soon to be implemented, and throws into relief the whole question of film censorship in Thailand.  There are two glaringly obvious censorship cuts in this film as shown here in Chiang Mai, clear for all to see – one having to do with sex, one having to do with violence.  They are just crude chops in the film, no question of pixilation or the like.  You can’t miss them.
It has ever been thus in my time in Thailand.  There has been one current of censorship, legally sanctioned, that has gone the pixilation, fuzz, or blob route, and at the same time an independent cutting current that, with authority to do so or not, just simply cuts a scene or a part of a scene that someone somewhere finds objectionable.
I have a feeling that these kinds of cuts will continue, no matter what film rating system may be enacted.
Trail of the Panda:
China, Family – A Disney live action film directed by Chinese director Yu Zhong and shot in the wilderness of Wolong, Sichuan (the area that was destroyed during the massive earthquake of May 2008).  It’s the story of a panda cub that is separated from its mother and subsequently rescued by an orphaned boy after going through a series of hardships and dangers in the forest.
Pandering to the Panda craze sweeping Thailand, this film seems tailor-made for Thais.  From whatever language it was in originally, we have a pure Thai-dubbed version on the soundtrack here, English subtitles, and Thai and English language on the screen for titles and such.  Made in conjunction with China’s Wolong Panda Reservation, it’s a plea for understanding of pandas and for preserving their existence.  (The parents of the new Chiang Mai Zoo panda cub born May 27 are from the Wolong Panda center.)
The story is sweet and the film has several things to recommend it – including the very winning 11-year-old boy who stars, the loving shots of the countryside, the animal photography – and I think it’s overall a good film for families with kids.
Jija - Raging Phoenix:
Thai, Action/ Romance – Martial arts film starring the amazing girl from the film Chocolate, Jija Yanin, a true female action icon, who here combines her startling martial art style with a love story and break dancing.  A rather odd mix of a film, but it should please martial arts fans.
In Country & Melody 2 / E-Som Somwang:
Thai, Comedy/ Musical – Som and Somwang from the first episode abandon their musical band to pursue their dreams in Bangkok.
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra:
US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – From Hasbro the toy-makers we get another action-adventure film based on toys, very much like Transformers: Nonsensical mayhem, and very loud, but stylish.
The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3
: US/ UK, Crime/ Drama/ Thriller – I found it a thoroughly engrossing and exciting film, and a satisfying dramatic experience.  Rated R in the US for violence and pervasive language.  Mixed or average reviews.
Dear Galileo:
Thai, Comedy/ Drama – A pleasant enough diversion about girls on their own in Europe – low-keyed and low-powered, slow and meandering.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
: US/ UK, Adventure/ Fantasy/ Romance – This, the latest and darkest Harry Potter episode, is a dazzling film, with brilliant cinematography, fantastic effects, and moments of emotional power. Generally favorable reviews.
Scheduled for August 20
Inglourious Basterds
: US/ Germany, Action/ Adventure/ War – Quentin Tarantino’s long-awaited (over ten years in the making) and exceptionally bloody tale of Jewish-American troops on the hunt for Nazi scalps in World War II France, starring Brad Pitt. Rated R in the US for strong graphic violence, language, and brief sexuality.  Early reviews: Generally favorable.
: US, Comedy/ Drama/ Music – Probably the only film ever with a character named “Sa5m.” (Hint, the “5” is silent; it’s a sign of her independence, you know?)  A new kid in town, teenager Will Burton, assembles a fledgling rock band to compete against the best in the biggest event of the year, a battle of the bands.
Buppha Rahtree 3.2: Rahtree’s Revenge
: Thai, Horror/ Romance – The incremental sequel to Buppah Rahtree 3.1: Rahtree Reborn that continues the romantic-horror story of the revengeful ghost of Buppha and her love struck cartoonist.

Bridge in Paradise : by Neil Robinson

This hand was played by Andrew Robson in the 4th European Open Championships. It is a perfect example of whether to choose a technical or a psychological play to make a contract. South dealt and all were vulnerable. This was the bidding:

South   West      North     East

1C         1H           Dbl          P

1N        P              3N           All pass 

Imagine you are sitting South. West led the six of hearts and you see dummy and your hand as below. You may wonder about South opening 1C instead of 1D—Robson was playing an unusual bidding system. North’s double is negative, showing the unbid suits. You have a good stopper in hearts so you bid 1N and your partner raises to 3N. These are the North and South hands: 

                        S: KQ75

                        H: K73

                        D: KQJ7

                        C: 32                 

?                                                ?

                        S: A10

                        H: QJ10

                        D: A965

                        C: 9876               

From the bidding, West surely has the ace of hearts so you are bound to win the first trick. You have four diamond tricks and three top spade tricks to go with it. But that still leaves you one trick short. Furthermore, you are wide open in clubs—a club switch will find you losing four clubs (at least) to go with the ace of hearts and you will be down. So, how do you make the ninth trick?
There are three possible routes there. You could play another heart, losing to the ace and hoping to make a second heart trick next. However, your opponents are experts so will switch to clubs immediately and get you down (dummy’s strong suits will put them off playing spades or diamonds). The second possible route is the technical one. Win the king of hearts on board and lead a low spade to the ten, hoping the jack of spades is with East. After all, this rates to be better than a 50% chance because West must have five or more hearts and therefore has fewer cards outside the heart suit. Do you see the third possible route? This is the psychological play in which you attempt to fool your opponents. Win the king of hearts and immediately lead a low club towards your hand. With luck your opponents will think you are trying to set up clubs and will continue hearts. So which would you choose? Andrew Robson tried the technical approach and went down when West showed up with the spade jack (see full deal below). I don’t really know what I would have done at the table, but I hope I would have led a club, because there is a special pleasure in fooling the opposition! 

             S: KQ75

             H: K73

             D: KQJ7

             C: 32      

S: J932                 S: 864

H: A9864             H: 52

D: 2                      D: 10843

C: AQ5                                C: KJ104

             S: A10

             H: QJ10

             D: A965

             C: 9876    

The Bridge Club of Chiang Mai welcomes new players. For information on the Club go to the web site at or contact Chris Hedges at:  [email protected] If you have bridge questions, or to send me your interesting hands, please contact me at: [email protected]