Vol. IX No. 9 - Tuesday
March 2 - March 8, 2010



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


Columns
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

The Doctor's Consultation

Care for Dogs

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Money Matters

DVD of the Week

Let's Go To The Movies

Bridge in Paradise

MAIL OPINION

The Doctor's Consultation:  by Dr. Iain Corness

Do you positively want to live longer?

You can begin by humming, “If you wanna be happy for the rest of your life, never make a pretty woman your wife,” as sung by Jimmy Soul in 1963. Was he correct? If you are happy, will you really live longer?

After much research, including clinical studies, the researchers have the answers. Be happy and stay well. Be aggressive and get heart attacks and cancer, and shorten your life correspondingly.

Now that does not mean that all happy folk live to be 100 and the misery bags turn in their credit cards at age 45? No, but there is enough evidence to show that your personality type influences the kinds of diseases you will get later in life, and some of these can be very conclusive. And not just a ‘coronary conclusion’!

However, this is research is really nothing new; it is more of a reinforcement of previous knowledge. In the times of Hippocrates, the healers were interested in the personality of the patient, because even then they felt that this had a bearing on the disease process. This conclusion was reached after observation of the patients. Observation was the great trait of the great medical minds. We would not have developed many ‘cures’ if it were not for the physicians who noted the deviations from the normal patterns in the first place.

The combination of mind and body and disease is the basis for holistic healing, and even though Hippocrates and his healers did not have all our pharmaceutical treatments wonderful tests and MRI’s, they did treat the person, not just the disease.

So why do we fall ill in the first place? Is it a personal weakness, is it just “lifestyle” or just plain bad luck? Since I am not a great believer in “luck” be it good or bad, my leaning after many decades of medicine is towards a type of personal “weakness”. After all, you can take two people with the same lifestyle but one gets ill and the other does not. Why? Simply, the sick person was more susceptible than the other - in some way they had a pre-disposition or call it a “weakness”. Simplistic I know, but it seems to fit.

So what factors seem to be involved in bringing about the pre-disposition. Genetics are one, and do play an important part. If your parents are diabetic then you will most likely have the problem too, but it is not absolutely inescapable. The modern scientific studies with large numbers of people have come up with interesting statistics. One famous researcher, Eysenck, lumped us all into four main personality categories.

Type 1 have a strong tendency to suppress their emotions and tend towards “hopelessness” and are unable to deal with personal stress.

Type 2 people, on the other hand, are also unable to deal with personal stress, but react to life with anger and aggression.

Type 3 is less clear-cut with a mixture of all these personality traits.

Type 4 covers the optimistic and relaxed who deal much better with interpersonal stress.

Using these broad categories and looking at disease profiles that each type gets, returned some amazing facts. Type 1 was the cancer prone group, Type 2 got heart disease, Type 3 got both while Type 4 people were not prone to either cancer or heart disease. Can you see what’s coming next?

Eysenck did not stop there. He went on to show that when people modified their personality they also modified their disease profile. When you think about it, this is staggering stuff! By attention to your personality profile you can modify your disease profile!

The most significant personality trait was “anger”. Learn to modify your anger response (and this can be done) and you become less “at risk”. This is approaching Buddhist philosophy and “jai yen yen” - but you can modify your personality. That last sentence can make you live ten years longer, happier and disease free. Forget all the wonder cures, just look at yourself first! Hippocrates did more than say oaths!

 

Care for Dogs: By Ana Gracey

Looking for love

Grover here is a cute, calm, smaller sized dog who loves attention and is a little sad at being left behind for so long at the shelter. He has been through a lot in his little life and now needs to feel the kindness of strangers.

If you feel you can give his coat a brush every now and then, feed, walk and pet him daily you could be the one for him.

Don’t be a stranger... Contact Care For Dogs, English (08 47 52 52 55) Thai (08 69 13 87 01) or e-mail: contact @carefordogs.org to make an appointment to visit the shelter & meet him or any of the many other dogs waiting for you. www.carefordogs.org


Heart to Heart  with Hillary

My Darling Hillary,
My response re my hurtful depiction of your sweet self in my recent cartoon is to tell you that you brought it all on yourself by rejecting my advances in so many ways especially when I wrote under the alias of Nairod Remraf (yes it was me) which culminated in your telling me “to pitch my tent on the Sukhumvit fast lane.” Talk about a man scorned! Also recently you exposed my weakness in using the apostrophe to demonstrate your animosity to thousands of readers. (I still say my English master was right) causing me to strike back in the most hurtful manner possible knowing that there’s nothing more important to a woman than her looks and it worked! But Hillary, who finished up the most hurt? (Your turn to gloat.) Because while cracked up with mirth at your expense (and this is the truth) I stooped to open my fridge door for a celebration beer and something cracked in my back which confined me to my bed for twenty hours and then a further day and night in hospital until able to walk again. Both painful and expensive and I haven’t laughed since. Re your bottle of bubbly compensation, I might just when returning home to Warwickshire for a couple of months in the spring, purchase the substance that has altered my mind, a bottle of the local scrumpy cider which doesn’t travel well especially in the heat and will likely cause you never to ask again! Oh, and my English master was also my Maths, History, Geography and Sports master, was Turkish and drank scrumpy.
Love, Dorian

Dear Love, Dorian,
What a twisted young man you are, though obviously your English teacher has to shoulder some of the responsibility, including your excessive use of the exclamation mark and brackets, and I’ll ignore the split infinitives for now. You hide behind a pseudonym (better word than “alias” in this situation, my Petal), and who would have guessed that Dorian Farmer was in reality Nairod Remraf? Certainly not sweet Yrallih from the Ayattap Liam, who has never spent a summer in Warwickshire drinking scrumpy. As you yourself, for both of you, admit, your mind has been altered by that substance. You will also see that I have published your “cartoon” if I may bestow upon it a greatness that it does not deserve, despite the fact that I have been depicted as a fat nude, with a towel and the shower still on. Dorian, I, and most sane people, turn the shower off before grabbing for the towel. Sorry to hear about your health problems. Nothing trivial I hope. Finally don’t exert yourself trying to get scrumpy through customs. I have seen what it has done to you.

Dear Miss Hillary,
My friend Dr Iain has told me of your distress that Cadbury chocolate is to be taken over by the plastic cheese giant Kraft - its hard, I know, and I do hear rumors that Moet & Chandon will soon by taken over by Coca-cola. So get used to it - cheese slices and Coke will have to be your comfort foods.
But keep up your good work, it must be reassuring that you will always have a job as there is no end to male stupidity.
Dr Michael

Dear Dr Michael,
How nice to hear from someone cultured like you, my Petal, though please remember that any friend of Dr Iain’s is not necessarily a friend of mine. Whilst I applaud your attempts at being a wine connoisseur, do you have to single out the cheapies for me? The ‘better’ labels will never be taken over by the pop fizz bizz, I can assure you, even if chocolates have been besmirched - but please note that the Belgian chocolates remain unsullied. Hint, hint, nudge, nudge.

As you have so correctly diagnosed, male stupidity is endemic, or even epidemic, but fortunately not pandemic, so that is probably why the World Health boffins haven’t descended upon us with brooms at the ready to vaccinate the drinkers in every beer bar. Or perhaps they have already? Disguised as ladies of the night, they entice the passing males with calls of “Hello, sexy man. Sit down please.” Once seated they distract the male with several glasses of brown liquids, remove the wallet with surgical skill, and then send the unsuspecting male to recover in intensive care rooms, generally upstairs.

Thank you for saving me from the plastic cheese, I have made it my business to avoid the wrapped slices - you never know if the plastic wrapping is still on them - they taste just the same.


Camera Class:  by Harry Flashman

Changing needs

When we all began with a Kodak Box Brownie camera, we were delighted with the ability of this equipment to record scenes, and even people (as long as you didn’t get too close). From there, most of us went to folding cameras like the Voigtlander Bessa (am I bringing back memories now?) and from there to an SLR like the Canon AE1 + Program.

For the keen amateurs there would be a number of SLRs from various manufacturers, until you settled on one and built up a system from there. I have one friend with the complete range of Pentax lenses as well as a couple of camera bodies. I have another who has to drag his Nikon cameras in something that looks like one of those wheeled cases and weighs half a ton. He is a professional.

Very recently in an article about flash guns, I wrote about a DVD I had been given, saying, “Being a Nikon produced video lesson, there was a very strong message to use Nikon equipment, and I will admit to using Nikon myself until I was seduced by the ease and simplicity of the Panasonic Lumix.” That prompted an email from Don Griffith who wrote, “Smiled when I read this Panasonic Lumix - but I think you may be talking about a DSLR. I bought a little Panasonic Lumix TZ7 myself -the only thing it has not got that is really important to me is RAW. It has quickly become indispensable-and the picture quality is generally excellent.

“Would recommend any serious photographer to buy a super-compact, if they can afford it - beats lugging all the Nikon/Canon gear around every time you step out of the door - and missing some critical opportunities because you have decided to give your shoulder a rest and have left it all at home. Never waste money on the official case - it is an advert to get it stolen, as often it advertises what is inside - buy a similar cheaper case at a bargain store about one eighth of the cost - just as good - in some cases better, as rigid instead of soft, offering some protection if dropped.

Put the saved money towards a spare battery instead.

Don Griffith”

Now I was remiss here, because I should have stated my Panasonic camera more accurately. I bought the ‘bridge’ Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ50 and not the TZ7. The FZ50 does have the RAW files capability which Don Griffith is looking for. I also bought the camera because I didn’t want to walk around lugging lenses any more either, and the DMC FZ50 has a Leica zoom covering 35 mm to 420 mm and with optical image stabilization, you can even hand-hold through the zoom.

Another photographer who agreed with my choice was Alan Puzey who wrote in with his own experiences of the FZ50. And he was another tired of lens lugging. He wrote, “I no longer wanted to carry around a case of equipment with additional lenses, flashes, etc and so SLRs were out. Of this sort of alternative the Lumix looked just what I needed - and has proved to be so.

“I love the lens quality and the positioning of controls around the camera. Very logical and easy to use. When I have to revert to the ‘on-screen’ menus, they are pretty good. I didn’t at first like the feel of holding this camera, but now I have got used to it, it’s no problem at all and now feels ‘normal’.

“I only use the ISO 100 setting; the sensor is not the best available and all speeds higher than this bring quality down. ISO 800 and 1600 I wouldn’t touch with the proverbial barge pole!

“There are far more detailed reviews on the internet, but these are my main feelings, and I hope they’re of use. A little in return for your good columns.

Cheers, Alan Puzey”

And is there a downside? Yes there is. It would be nice to have a wide angle capability, but so far the adapters are not good by all reports and the built in camera flash is woeful. You can’t have everything!


Money Matters:  Paul Gambles MBMG International Ltd.

The Real Estate Market is just not real, part 1

In the US, jobless claims went up before Xmas and Bloomberg stated the “shadow inventory” of houses is also on the up. This is what people call property that would be up for sale if the owners thought they could get a decent price for it. Also, as the Wall Street Journal has reported, “A growing number of people in Arizona, California, Florida and Nevada, where home prices have plunged, are considering what it known as a ‘Strategic Default,’ walking away from their mortgages not out of necessity but because they believe it is in their best financial interests.”

There are millions of people in America who have property which is worth over twenty percent less than what they are paying for the mortgage. One of these was highlighted by the Journal: this poor chap has a house worth USD230,000 and a mortgage of nearly USD330,000.

This idea of ‘Strategic Default’ is starting to grow. You just wipe out your own debt. Okay, it does not look good if you want credit in the future but at least you do not have the continuous worry of wondering if you can meet the monthly payments. In the case above, the bloke has just improved his balance sheet by USD100,000. The bank will then seize the house and put it on the market hoping to recoup some if not all of its losses. Thus, the house leaves the ‘shadow inventory’ and enters the real housing market and pushes the prices down further.

The UK is not much better. Who would have thought it? It is less than three years ago that HBOS was riding high as one of the top banks in the world. Everything it touched turned to gold. It was only later we discovered it was ‘fool’s gold’. HBOS was one of many banks to find itself overexposed to the sudden drop in the property market.

In the world of commercial property, prices fell by more than forty percent in the UK, the US and elsewhere. This would have been bad at the best of times but most of these investments had been financed by debt. Thanks to that wonderful phrase, Quantitative Easing (QE), the pain of this has not really been felt yet. However, there are signs the morphine of QE is wearing off and the worldwide banking system is about to suffer.

There is a real problem in that billion dollars worth of USD, EUR and GBP in bonds which have been secured against commercial premises could be worthless because of the fall in the value of property.

According to the Financial Times, “Over USD3,500 billion of commercial property debt is outstanding in the US alone.” Approximately 25% of this was securitized. Moody’s has advised that these will suffer from default as there has been a drop in value of over forty percent from when they topped out. It should also be noted that a lot of riskier investments have already gone belly-up. Things will only get worse before they get better. The rating agency has also advised that of the USD150 billion of commercial mortgage backed securities which will mature over the next three years at least two thirds will be have problems with refinancing. The US government has basically had to guarantee these otherwise the market would just collapse.

Fitch believes this will also happen in Europe where the same sort of mortgage backed securities account for GBP60 billion. The UK has been honest about its problems but what about the rest of Europe? It has not and there is a lot more to come out which will not do the real estate sector any favours or the Euro either. Germany is meant to have twice as much exposure as the UK which does not bode well.

As one Fitch analyst said, “It is questionable whether a recovery will be in time and in sufficient magnitude to absorb the wave of bullets falling from 2011 onwards.”

As time goes on there is more restructuring of original deals as more and more defaults come to the surface. As mentioned above, forced sales are already on the up. What happened in Dubai is a perfect example of this and it cannot be the only time this will happen. The fear is this is only the tip of the iceberg and there is a lot more to come. As reported in the Financial Times last month, “Real estate debt for banks is the pig in the python and the question is when it will be digested. It has looked like it will kill the python.”

The outstanding property debt in America and Europe alone is USD5,000 billion. Banks just do not have the cash to loan, despite what their respective governments have done. HSBC reckons that well over eighty percent of UK loans made over the last 60 months are now in breach of their original lending agreements. However, the banks are now turning a blind eye to this. They are actually rolling over loans as they near maturity. This is because they are praying the capital values and Loan To Value (LTV) ratios will go up to a level that can be refinanced.

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]


DVD of the Week: By Mark Whitman

The Lady Vanishes (G.B. 1938) and Strangers on a Train (U.S.A. 1951)

Just thirteen years divide the release of Alfred Hitchcock’s penultimate British film and the production of an American masterwork. Both are superb cinematic experiences, separated by those years, a war, an ocean and the arrival of a new and very different world.

The Lady Vanishes is based on a 1936 novel and anticipates World War II. It was shot on a small stage in a modest north London studio (Islington) and makes extensive use of models, back projection and every technical device of the period to simulate (very effectively) the train journey from a mythical country back to the safety of England.

A group of people, marooned by an avalanche, head to safety, whilst a group of unidentified (Fascists?) men and women try to kidnap an elderly lady who is in fact a British spy. The violence is muted, there’s much derring do and comedy. Stiff upper lips are kept in place, even when a bullet pierces a character’s hand, romance blossoms and appeasement is shown as not to be an option. Good triumphs – for now.

The movie is lively, charming and often very funny and strangely moving in parts. There is a whimsicality about it which hides a tougher undercurrent and the film belongs to a by-gone age of fading innocence. The direction is fluent and the result is one of Hitchcock’s best British works of the 35 or so he made from the silent era until he left for Hollywood in 1939. Fine acting from the romantic leads (Michael Redgrave and Margaret Lockwood), with scene stealing support from Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne as the cricket obsessed Brits for whom a test match seems more important than an imminent war.

During the second half of his life (he was born in 1899 and died aged 81) Hitchcock made another 40 films and was often thought of as an American director, rather than Britain’s most talented film export. In the early fifties he was alerted to a new novel, a thriller by Patricia Highsmith (later author of the Ripley books) and secured the rights for 7,500 pounds. A modest sum but this first movie adaptation set her career in full motion.

Strangers on a Train is masterly, not least for the brilliant dialogue. It is cynical, ambitious and hints (and occasionally shows) the darkest side of human nature. The two central characters – tennis player Guy and socialite Bruno – are sides of the same coin: both good looking, intelligent, young, but the former is gullible, sporty, straight and – well just a little dull and unimaginative (Farley Granger). Bruno (Robert Walker, a fine actor who became an alcoholic after his wife Jennifer Jones left him for movie mogul David O. Selznick and died shortly after this film – his best- was completed) is sharp, indolent and anything but straight and a murderous psychopath with a doting, scatty mother and a rich, remote father.

The film follows their collision course as Bruno murders Guy’s flirtatious wife, who is refusing him a divorce. In turn Bruno hopes that poor Guy will reciprocate the ‘favour’ by killing his overbearing father. Tit for tat with a literal vengeance.

Like the Lady, much of the movie is set on a train. But there the similarity ends. In the former case the adventures are high spirited and ominous but not omnipresent. In the latter people go about their lives in a more ordinary fashion but Hitchcock was – from his first great American film Shadow of a Doubt (1943) – showing the evil that lurks beneath the complacent surface of those everyday lives. He surveyed neat, manicured gardens and then looked beneath the stones. Nothing in a good Hitchcock film is ever what it seems.

These and other of his great works are available from DVD Movie and Music, 289 Suthep Road. Tel: 053 808 084.


Let's Go To The Movies:  by Mark Gernpy

More disappointments this week!  No Up in the Air with George Clooney.  No Invictus with Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon.  Both had previews and posters up at Airport Plaza, but once again Major Cineplex badly disappoints film fans.  I urge you to complain!  Make your views known in a message to Patcharee Wonkumyod, Assist Cinema Manager, at [email protected]

Now playing in Chiang Mai

The Book of Eli: US, Action/ Adventure/ Drama/ Thriller/ Western – Not for everyone, but I found it thoroughly engrossing.  The story revolves around a lone warrior (Denzel Washington) who must fight to bring society the knowledge that could be the key to survival.  Gary Oldman is great as the despot of a small town who’s determined to take possession of the book Eli’s guarding.  Directed by the Hughes brothers (Albert and Allen), who inject some fresh stylish fun into a post-apocalyptic wasteland.  I think Denzel is terrific!  Rated R in the US for some brutal violence and language.  Mixed or average reviews.

Who Are You?: Thai, Horror/ Thriller – About a mother whose son has withdrawn from social life and locked himself away in his room for five years.  The only way she can communicate with her son is to write on a piece of paper and slip it under the door.  This is the psychological condition of “hikikomori” mostly afflicting Japanese, for some reason.  This thriller comes from writer Eakasit Thairatana, who wrote the terrific 13 Beloved, and director Pakphum Wonjinda (VDO Clip).  No English subtitles.

Kong Phan / Gong-pan: Nobody knows how to translate the title.  Kong Rithdee calls it The Exhilarating Regiment.  Film Business Asia calls it Jolly Rangers.  Plot: You’re in the Army now!  Ain’t it fun?  (Remember, this is what we get instead of one of the Oscar contenders.)  Studio synopsis: “Jiwon, a young lad, is enlisted to the army where he meets his new and unusual friends.”  Uh-huh!

True Legend / Su Qi-Er: China, Action/ Drama/ History – A wealthy man living during the Qing Dynasty loses his fortune and reputation as a result of a conspiracy against him.  After being forced out onto the streets, he dedicates his life to martial arts and reemerges as a patriotic hero.  With David Carradine, Jay Chou, and Michelle Yeoh.

Shown in Chiang Mai in a Thai-dubbed version only, no English subtitles.  At Vista it’s shown in 2D; at Airport Plaza it’s shown in partial 3D: there are two 3D sequences, with a total time of about 18 minutes.  The film features one of the final performances by actor David Carradine, who died in a bizarre accident in Bangkok during post-production.

Little Big Soldier: China/ Hong Kong, Action/ Adventure/ Comedy – An old soldier kidnaps a young enemy general and takes him on a long journey to collect a reward.  Written for Jackie Chan (and by Jackie Chan), who came up with the story idea about twenty years ago – it took that long to wrap up the script.  The film is also produced and directed by Jackie Chan.  Shown at Airport Plaza only in a Thai-dubbed version only, no English subtitles.

The Wolfman: UK/ US, Horror/ Thriller – An excellent spare, dark, and brooding gothic version of the famous tale, told with great style and much blood.  For those who like straight-up Gothic horror and blood, this is a welcome remake of the 1941 Lon Chaney movie.  Starring Benicio Del Toro and Anthony Hopkins.  Rated R in the US for bloody horror violence and gore; 18+ in Thailand.  Vista also has a Thai-dubbed version.  Mixed or average reviews.

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief: Canada/ US, Fantasy/ Comedy – Zeus’ lightning bolt has been stolen, and high school student Percy Jackson is the prime suspect in this sprawling and entertaining teen adventure.  Logan Lerman as Percy is an excellent new teenaged hero.  Mixed or average reviews.

Valentine’s Day: US, Comedy/ Romance – Intertwining couples and singles in Los Angeles break-up and make-up because of Valentine’s Day.  Generally unfavorable reviews.

Avatar: US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi – In 3D this week at Airport Plaza, one showing on weekdays.  No longer showing at Vista.  Nine Oscar nominations, including best picture and director.  I do think it’s a very good film as well as a major technological breakthrough; it’s exciting and beautiful, and has received near-universal rave reviews from critics and fans. 

Scheduled for March 4

Alice in Wonderland: US, Adventure/ Family/ Fantasy – Seems to me like a perfect marriage between director Tim Burton and the Lewis Carroll classic.  The film stars Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, with Alan Rickman as our favorite caterpillar. 

Given their recent track record, it’s getting difficult to predict what will actually show up at the cineplexes.  This one seems pretty sure, as it has a worldwide release date.  If Alice doesn’t show, I think we should storm the venues, demanding satisfaction and “truth in advertising.”


Bridge in Paradise : by Neil Robinson

Last week was a tricky heart contract. Here is another one. No one was vulnerable and South dealt. This was the bidding: 

South   West       North     East

P           P              2C           3C

3H        P              4H          All pass 

Most people are intimidated when an opponent opens 2C. As you can see from the bidding above, East was not among that group. My feeling is that there is always much to be said for getting in the way of the opponents whenever you can. If nothing else, it helps direct the defense. Imagine you are sitting South, with the dummy and hand below. The opening lead was the queen of clubs. You have a great dummy. Surely with 30 HCP between the two hands the contract should be easy. But how do you play it? 

                        S: AK5AK5

                        H: AQ6

                        D: AQ754

                        C: A8                  

??                                                  ??

                        S: Q10

                        H: 98732

                        D: KJ9

                        C: J107                                                                                            

At the table the ace of clubs won the first trick. A low spade was led from dummy to the queen in hand. Declarer finessed in hearts, with the queen losing to East’s king. East then led the king of clubs and another club. West ruffed with the jack, forcing the ace of hearts from dummy. The six of hearts was led and the trick was won by East’s ten, with West discarding. East now led a low spade, which dummy was forced to win with the king. You have already lost three tricks (the king and ten of hearts and the king of clubs) and cannot afford to lose any more. The situation now is shown below. What do you lead from dummy? 

                        S: A

                        H: -

                        D: AQ754

                        C: -                      

??                                                  ??

                        S: -

                        H: 987

                        D: KJ9

                        C: -                        

At the table, declarer tried to get to hand by leading a low diamond to his king. East ruffed and the contract was down. The correct lead is the ace of spades, which you trump in hand. It is critically important to get to hand to pull the last trump.  You have plenty of winners in diamonds and do not need the ace of spades, so the correct play is to trump your winning ace! (If East trumps the spade first, you simply over ruff.) Now you can pull the last trump with your nine and claim the rest. Congratulations if you found the right play. The full deal is shown below: 

                        S: AK5

                        H: AQ6

                        D: AQ754

                        C: A8                  

S: J943                                         S: 8762

H: J5                                             H: K104

D: 108632                                   D: -

C: Q5                                            C: K96432

                        S: Q10

                        H: 98732

                        D: KJ9

                        C: J107                 

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


MAIL OPINION : by Shana Kongmun

From the editor

I recently attended the Creative Economy Conference at the Shangri La Hotel here in Chiang Mai and listened to the government’s plans for Chiang Mai to become the center of the creative and IT economy in the North. All very commendable and certainly a direction Thailand needs to move in. However, herein lies the rub. Chiang Mai seems to lack the infrastructure to make such a leap and it seems unclear how much is being invested to complete that vital piece of the economic pie.

In an area within the city, I find myself having difficulty obtaining internet access. 3bb tells me that new servers for the area, a well established neighborhood, are set to be installed in March. These kinds of promises always make me wonder which particular March they have in mind. I was told I could get 3BB ADSL if I had a TT&T phone line. Alas, TT&T has no available phone numbers in that area. I wonder why they can’t just install some more since I know of more than a few businesses currently on a waiting list for a TT&T phone number. True tells me, “sorry, we don’t’ cover that area”. TOT promises me coverage and a phone but, from what I understand, this government owned internet service provider is notoriously poor. Other options include the fairly expensive AIS 3G, which, according to reports so far, works fairly well. At least, until it is oversubscribed and no further facilities are added.

Internet access is a vital component not only of everyday life but for businesses and educational institutions. It is rather surprising that in the heart of Chiang Mai city, it would be so difficult to come by. In addition to the inability to actually gain internet access are the equally troublesome service interruptions that many friends frequently report. The creative economy is a truly useful, forward looking concept. It needs equally useful and forward looking investment into the infrastructure before it can become a reality.



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