The Doctor's Consultation: by Dr. Iain Corness
Passive smoking - should we take it passively?
Every so often I
return to one of my favorite subjects - smoking and it effects, and how to
stop. Stopping is not an easy task, once you have become a committed smoker.
Stopping requires dedication and commitment, and I congratulate all people
who have given up smoking. You have done your health profile in the future a
great service. While smoking cigarettes does not mean you will automatically
get lung cancer, or other smoking related illnesses, by becoming a non-smoker
does guarantee that your chances of getting the above conditions are very
much less. And before the cigarette smokers out there start waving their
arms (or cudgels), the evidence is in the arena of public knowledge. Read
it. And please do not mention atmospheric pollution to me when you are
happily inhaling cigarette smoke into your lungs 25 times a day.
However, there is one more aspect of smoking, which I
should mention. That is “passive” smoking. So what exactly is passive
smoking? In essence, it is breathing in other people’s cigarette smoke,
which the scientists break up into two parts - “sidestream” smoke from the
burning tip of the cigarette which the scientists say accounts for 85
percent of the smoke in an enclosed area, and “mainstream” smoke that has
been inhaled and then exhaled from the lungs by the smoker. I usually refer
to this 15 percent as “second-hand smoke”.
The situation associated with passive smoking has been
well investigated by the scientific communities of the world, and the
following information was extracted from the Scientific Committee on Tobacco
and Health (SCOTH) in the UK. For example, is tobacco smoke a simple
compound? No, tobacco smoke contains over 4000 chemicals in the form of
particles and gases. The particulate phase includes tar, nicotine, benzene
and benzo(a)pyrene. The gas phase includes carbon monoxide, ammonia,
dimethylnitrosamine, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide and acrolein. It has
been estimated that tobacco smoke contains as many as 60 substances which
cause - or are suspected of causing - cancer. And many irritate the tissues
of the respiratory system. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the
USA has classified environmental tobacco smoke as a class A carcinogen -
ranking it alongside asbestos and arsenic. You don’t need to be an academic
toxicologist to understand that formaldehyde and hydrogen cyanide are hardly
amongst the compounds that are “good” for you!
SCOTH looked at the situation and concluded that passive
smoking can cause eye irritation, headache, cough, sore throat, dizziness
and nausea. Just 30 minutes exposure can be enough to reduce blood flow
through the heart. If your blood supply to the heart is only just sufficient
under normal conditions, this could be enough to tip the scales. More than
slightly worrying! There is also evidence to show that people with asthma
can experience a significant decline in lung function when exposed.
The advantage of well based scientific study is that
large groups of people can be examined and findings collated. When large
exposed groups show a preponderance of any sign or symptom, compared to a
group not exposed, then you can place some credence on the findings. Here
are some of them. Non-smokers who are exposed to passive smoking in the home
have a 25 percent increased risk of heart disease and lung cancer.
Researchers from London’s St. George’s Medical School and the Royal Free
hospital have recently found when you include exposure to passive smoking in
the workplace and public places the risk of coronary heart disease is
increased by 50-60 percent. A major review in 1998 by SCOTH concluded that
passive smoking is a cause of lung cancer and ischemic heart disease in
adult non-smokers, and a cause of respiratory disease, cot death, middle ear
disease and asthmatic attacks in children. Children in smoking households
have a much higher risk of respiratory problems (72 percent) than those
raised in non-smoking households. The UK Government’s Committee on
Carcinogens concluded that environmental tobacco smoke is carcinogenic, and
responsible for several hundred deaths a year in the UK.
I do not need further proof. Do you?
A lot of dog in a little package!
Hi, I’m Rambo! I am a somewhat shy but solid little dog who would
love to protect your home and family. I am around 2-3 years old, am
sterilised and fully vaccinated. I would love a place to call home
where I can push my little head into your hand or get a generous pat
to thank me for doing my work so well. If you are interested in
meeting me, contact the shelter English (08 47 52 52 55) or Thai
language (08 69 13 87 01) to make an appointment, e-mail: [email protected]
.org or visit the website for further information.
Heart to Heart
Keep the bright side of life going - for those of us
not lucky enough to be in Thailand all the time we certainly appreciate
the Thai sunshine you bring to us. My Thai wife and I get over about
three times a year and you’ve got no idea just how much I look forward
It is certainly refreshing to see a Farang / Thai
marriage success story. For the doubters out there - yes, there are very
many others who share in the wonderful experience of being married to a
Thai woman. Dare I give advice? Okay then, but it is the same as for any
other prospective long term union irrespective of nationality -
“remember to engage the brain before slapping the gear stick into top
and then pressing the turbo button.” Yes, there are many differences in
culture to overcome and the rules are not quite the same, “face” was
certainly a new concept for me to understand! But a good Thai woman with
some education and a sensible and flexible Farang man who can listen and
try to understand can match just perfectly - it is after all only the
fool and his money that are soon parted, but parting with a little here
and there occasionally to help the family is expected and is not so bad,
is it? Not when you look at the rewards.
I am so glad I can add you and your wife to the
‘happy’ relationships pile, my Petal. You are correct when you say that
there is a certain amount of flexibility required to overcome the
cultural differences, but that comes from both sides. She has to
understand you just as you have to understand her. Financial assistance
for the family is expected in Thailand, but provided this is kept to
within agreed limits there is no problem. In fact, most farang husbands
enjoy taking on the additional responsibilities. I hope you will always
I see motorcyclists riding down the road, riding with
one hand and talking on the telephone. Surely this can’t be inside the
law? It is dangerous as well. No wonder the road toll is so high. Do you
know how many are motorcyclists?
Dear Road Sense,
Your letter shouldn’t really be addressed to me,
as it is a subject too deep for the ‘Advice to the Lovelorn’, but since
you did send it, I will reply. Sure there are laws against this, and
also riding without a helmet, but as you may have seen, application of
the laws is a little haphazard, to put it mildly. The road toll is
horrendous, and I am told that 80 percent are motorcyclists and 50
percent involve alcohol. How many involve mobile phones I do not know,
but there are more pressing public problems than using a mobile on the
move. Take my tip - don’t ride a motorcycle.
My husband is looking for an old motorcycle to
restore, but we live in a condo and have no place to work on anything
like that. Totally impractical as always. Thank goodness we live on the
10th floor, or he might be tempted to put one in the elevator. Why don’t
grown men grow out of these things? I thought they were supposed to
outgrow Lego before they got to their teens, or is mine just a trifle
Dear Mrs. Meccano,
I don’t know where you got the information that
the men folk grow out of these things. All the ones I know all want to
get their hands dirty, and they’re 40 years on from their teens at
least. The best idea is to help him find a small shed somewhere so he
can go off there and get out of your hair. You can always then invite
the girls over for a session.
I have heard about golfing widows, but at least golf
is played in the daytime. My problem is that I am turning into a
football widow. Football matches seem to be played at any time of the
day (or night) and he is always off to some pub or other to watch the
game. I am not interested in football, or else I’d go with him, but I am
getting lonely left at home. What should I do? Tell him it is football
or me? (I’m afraid he might go for the football.)
Dear Footy Widow,
If you make life difficult for your football mad
mate, then he will go for the football and it will be an ‘away’ game
every night. Men will always take the easy way out when pushed into a
corner. They have no real goals in life, you see. Before you get right
cross and relegated to Left Right Out, I would ask around to see if any
of his football watching mate’s wives would like to come over for a hen
session. Even if you are not interested, a night out at the pub might
also be fun. Let him watch while you gossip with the other women there.
That is much better for everyone, rather than sitting fuming at home,
while plotting how to give your man a red card.
by Harry Flashman
Cinematography for Dummies
the outset, I do not claim to be an expert in shooting video,
but there are certain aspects of it that are true for all types
of photography, still or moving. These are almost the basic
building blocks of all photography.
Let us begin with the first very important fact.
Still photography freezes a moment in time, while video photography
tells a moving picture story. Try not to shoot ‘stills’ with a video
camera and your videos will start to look professional immediately. Like
all aspects of good camera-work, you have to think about the end product
before you begin to shoot. For the still photographer it is a case of
looking at the background and then working out the best combination of
shutter speed and aperture. For the video photographer it is a case of
working out the story line and then how to shoot the various elements in
One of the ways you can pick the first time video
user is the fact that the camera operator spends much time taking shots
of still subjects. Having not made the mental adjustment from still
photography, many minutes are taken up with video of his girlfriend
standing by the front door of the hotel you stayed at in Chiang Mai.
That, Mr. Cameraman, was a ‘still’ shot. With video, you film your wife
checking out at the cashier’s desk, picking up her bags and walking
towards the exit door. Then you rush outside and the next footage is her
coming out of the hotel and hailing a taxi. You have just shot a living
Just as still photographers have photographs in books
and magazines to study, the video photographer has a very ready source
of informative examples to scrutinize. This is called TV! Sit down in
front of the goggle box and see how the pros do it. Start to look
critically at technique. Where was the camera relative to the subject?
Did they zoom in or was it one far shot and another close up to follow?
How many times did the cameraman actually use the inbuilt zoom? You may
be amazed to see how seldom! However, I do recommend that you study
anything but not Thai TV soaps.
One of the common problems for both the video and the
still photographer is low light levels. Filming while the light is too
low produces poor and muddy video because the camera has to do all sorts
of electronic trickery to artificially increase the apparent light
levels. This function is generally called Automatic Gain Control and
while you can continue to shoot, the end result is very disappointing
Another of the common problems with both types of
camera work is ‘camera shake’. For a still shot you get a ‘soft’ and
blurred image. For a video shoot you get drunken backgrounds, jumping
foregrounds and seasick viewers. Now the still photographer can avoid
this problem by the use of both hands and a tripod as well if necessary,
and guess what, the video cameraman should do the same. Ever seen a pro
video shoot? The camera is mounted on a ‘dolly’, a tripod on wheels and
moved around. Ever watched a news video cameraman? He has the camera
mounted securely on his shoulder and uses two hands to hold it there.
Yet how many times do you see the one handed video approach? Lots!
Focusing. This is a common problem with still cameras
with Auto-Focus (AF), and 99% of video cameras are AF too. The magic eye
in the camera focuses on a spot in the middle of the screen. When you
are filming a couple in front of the Wat Arun, if the magic dot is not
on one of the people, they will end up out of focus and the Wat
perfectly sharp. This is where you may need to use manual over-ride.
Be critical with your work and it will be much more satisfying for
Money Matters: Paul Gambles
MBMG International Ltd.
The ups and downs of the world’s currencies
Rampant volatility in currency markets recently surged to a
three-month high. There is little sign of this turbulent trend abating. Such
uncertainty can have a dramatic impact on key economic drivers, as well as
having a crippling effect on the individual finances of expatriates based in
Thailand who are remunerated in weakening western currencies or who have not
bothered to hedge their investments and savings.
While the Greenback and the Euro have slid down the league
table of global currencies over the past eighteen months, the Baht has held its
ground - although it has fallen against other trading partner currencies such as
Canadian and Australian Dollars. This has led senior figures from both the
foreign and Thai business communities to repeatedly call on the central bank to
cause the Baht to weaken in line with other regional currencies. This would help
boost exports by making them cheaper and could provide some solace for the
tourism industry by making Thailand a better value destination.
Currency management is one of two control levers which
central banks use to influence events related to their country’s financial flows,
with the other lever being interest rates. Essentially when one lever is pulled,
the other is free to find its own level in response. Fixing or “pegging” the
currency rate would cause interest rates to fluctuate in response to market
activity. Conversely, if a central bank fixes interest rates, currencies
It is possible for both levers to be pulled at the same time.
However, if the combined levels are set at or become too different from the
market expectations, pressures build up. Typically these end up being released
explosively. A good example of this is the Baht’s valuation in the mid-90s which
failed to fully reflect the requirement for overseas capital, foreign goods and
expensive imports. Capital tended to be imported in hard currency due to
exchange restrictions on the Baht. Foreign investors typically leant in Dollars
and demanded Dollars back because they did not want to hold an overvalued, hard
to trade, artificially priced currency. The problem eventually became self-fulfilling.
Pushing interest rates up into the high teens did nothing to address the
structural problems, merely papering over the cracks and tending to attract hot
money which tried to head for the hills at the first signs of trouble in 1997.
Global Markets Asia’s John Sheehan recently mooted the idea
of implementing a fixed Baht exchange rate now, on the grounds that we are
currently in the opposite situation to 1997. Today, we have a global currency
system where competitive devaluations are the likely order of the day and fixing
the rate at a defined level lower than the current market rate can stimulate
growth. Ultimately the explosive pressure could lead to revaluation upwards at
some point and meanwhile inflationary pressures may be unleashed but that would
not necessarily be a bad thing right now and could stimulate badly-needed
inflows too. A competitive rate fix could also be very good for Thai exports.
The proposal is not as crazy as it sounds but may be too risky for most
mainstream politicians to consider at this stage.
A key point is that right now both China and the US are
accusing each other of manipulating their currencies for their own ends and the
truth is that, in different ways, they are probably both right. Ultimately, the
Yuan will probably win the battle with the Greenback, though essentially it is a
game of chicken to see who will blink first. Meanwhile, all other currencies
that “play fair” are paying an exorbitant privilege by subsidising the US and
Chinese gross domestic product. Thailand does have alternatives - however
The impact of recent volatility goes beyond economic
management and central bank policy; it also creates huge difficulties for expats
living in Thailand whose finances are built on foreign currencies.
Scott Campbell, three times S&P award-winning CEO of
international portfolio management company MitonOptimal, can claim to have made
more prescient currency calls than anyone on his recent trips to Bangkok. In
2007, he predicted the weakening of the US Dollar. In June 2008, he called a
Dollar bounce when consensus was that the Greenback had become a banana currency,
and in February last year he once again correctly called a weakening of the
His recent take has been that US Dollar was due short term
strength but Asian currencies could prevail in the mid- to long-term once the
various local and global crises are over. Even though currency volatility could
surge going forwards Asian currencies that are not linked to the US Dollar, such
as Singapore Dollar and Baht, are poised to benefit. Amazingly these two
currencies have become a relatively safe haven now, a far cry from events in
One potential solution to successfully navigate the shifting
sands of the currency market and the profit at the same time is to hedge into
Asian currencies. Scott Campbell has pioneered the only global investment
portfolios available fully hedged into Baht and Singapore Dollars as well as the
major currencies. As with most things in life hedging your bets is a sensible
strategy to adopt, and for the time being the safest bets may be in Asia.
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 ‘Best’ of the genre movies
a change from DVD of the week with one movie or a double bill recommended,
here is a longer list of films which come into various categories, more
poshly known by their French equivalent, which has now become
internationally used: Genre – ‘Type or style of artistic endeavour’.
Cinema thrives on genre and so do critics, especially the
French who take both film making and film analysis more seriously than any
other nation. The earliest examples of cinema in France were the realist
works (Train Entering a Station, Feeding the Baby by the Lumiere Bros) and
fantasy (Voyage to the Moon by Melies) and in the U.S.A. a while later the
short narrative western The Great Train Robbery.
From these early works on the various genres developed:
war films, gangster movies, comedies and later the musical. There are sub
genres such as film noir and whole other areas of cinema such as animation
and documentary which are not in the following list.
Most if not all of the following classic examples are
available from the DVD Movie and Music Shop at 289 Suthep Road, other
outlets or to buy via Amazon and elsewhere.
The concentration here is on ‘Hollywood’ movies, since
certain genres obviously ‘belong’ there – not least westerns and musicals.
There have been great gangster movies from France (Le Samurai and others by
Melville) and Britain (They Made me a Fugitive) and the list of fine war
movies from elsewhere would fill this page, but Malick’s masterpiece is
unique. It’s a shame to miss out Some Like it Hot, but I prefer Stan and
Ollie to Curtis and Lemmon even though all four do drag superlatively well
and perhaps The Bride of Frankenstein should replace Cat People. But no list
is definitive and will inevitably miss out films which ‘mix’ genres, such as
Michael Powell’s great drama/horror/thriller Peeping Tom, which ranks with
Psycho in such a category. The list is alphabetical by genre.
Biopic: The Terence Davies Trilogy. Dir. Terence
Davies G.B. 1980-84. The first of his incomparable portraits of a life.
Comedy: Way Out West. Dir. James W. Horne U.S.A.
1937. Stan and Ollie in sublime form.
Fantasy: The Wizard of Oz. Dir. Victor Fleming
U.S.A. 1939. Judy discovering there is no place like home.
Film Noir: Detour. Dir. Edgar G. Ulmer. U.S.A.
‘Noir’ has never been blacker, no femme fatale more
Gangster: Scarface. Dir. Howard Hawks U.S.A. 1932.
Hawks and star Muni create the definitive portrait of a fearsome mobster.
Horror/Fantasy. Cat People. Dir. Jacques Tourneur U.S.A.
1947. Sublime movie about a woman who turns into a ‘big cat’…sounds banal
but this is elegant and frightening and subtle.
Horror/Thriller: Psycho. Dir. Alfred Hitchcock
U.S.A. 1960. Just re-issued on film in Europe and the U.S.A. but not yet
here. Never go into the shower alone! Scary stuff.
Historical: The New World. Dir. Terrence Malick
U.S.A. 2005. Malick’s poetic vision of 17th century exploration of the new
Musical: Meet Me in St. Louis. Dir. Vincente
Minnelli U.S.A. 1944. Judy growing up and falling in love, in a ground
breaking musical which redefined the genre.
Neo-realism: Ossessione. Dir. Luchino Visconti.
Italy 1942. Film historians still debate the emergence of neo-realism; no
one questions this film’s eminence and power.
Science Fiction: The Invisible Man. Dir. James
Whale. U.S.A. 1933. Claude Raines acts mainly with his voice in this
spellbinding journey into insanity.
Thriller: Double Indemnity. Dir. Billy Wilder
U.S.A. 1944. Another James M. Cain adaptation: another incomparable
screenplay about love, murder and fate.
War: The Thin Red Line. Dir Terrence Malick.
U.S.A. 1988. America’s greatest living director blends poetry and harsh
realism to examine war and the unanswered question.
Western: Ulzana’s Raid. Dir. Robert Aldrich.
U.S.A. 1972. No tougher, more authentic portrait of the west (and Vietnam?)
exists than this searing vision of conflict.
Let's Go To The Movies:
by Mark Gernpy
Now playing in Chiang Mai
Iron Man 2: US, Action/
Adventure/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller –– Directed by Jon Favreau, starring Robert
Downey Jr., Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Glwyneth Paltrow, Mickey Rourke,
Garry Shandling, Paul Bettany (fresh from Legion), Samuel L. Jackson, and
CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. Seems like it has turned out to be a wild, lavish,
and expensive film that’s a lot of fun. The wonderful actor Robert Downey
Jr. again, of course, plays the role of Tony Stark, the wealthy playboy
whose exploits as Iron Man are now public knowledge after his admission at
the close of the first film. Tony is under pressure from the government, the
press, and the public to share his technology with the military, but he is
unwilling to give away too much. Airport Plaza also has a version of this
with digital sound and image in their Cinema 3 (but not 3D – this film
doesn’t come in 3D).
Kheaw Ar-Khad / The Intruder: Thai, Horror/ Suspense –
It’s payback time when hundreds of cobras attack residents of an apartment
that was built on their breeding ground. The story goes that when the film
was in production last year, two of the actors were actually bitten by the
snakes. Make of that what you will.
Edge of the Empire / Kon Tai Ting Pandin: Thai, Action/
Drama – A film inspired by Thai historical heroes who sacrificed their lives
to fight against an invasion by the Han tribe. In southern Mongolia over
1,000 years ago, a small tribe existed called “Tai,” a colony enslaved by
the Great Han. They were the forefathers of the present-day Thais according
to legend, but this belief has been disproven. At Airport Plaza only.
The Crazies: US, Mystery/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – A remake
of George Romero’s 1973 film, by director Breck Eisner, the son of Disney’s
Michael Eisner. Definitely not a Disney movie! What is it? It’s part zombie
movie, part apocalyptic bioterror, part military conspiracy thriller.
Reviews say it’s tense, nicely shot, and uncommonly intelligent. A husband
and wife in a small Midwestern town find themselves battling for survival as
their friends and family descend into madness when a mysterious toxin in the
water supply turns everyone exposed to it into mindless killers and the
authorities leave the uninfected to their certain doom. Rated R in the US
for bloody violence and language; 18+ in Thailand. Mixed or average reviews.
At Airport Plaza only.
Legion: US, Action/ Fantasy/ Horror/ Thriller – In the
first minute, the angel Michael falls to earth and then cuts off his wings.
God, who has given up on mankind, gave him a command that he didn’t want to
do, as he thinks there’s still hope for us. The first 40 minutes are
terrific – evocative and stylish. Then I suggest you leave. With a quite
impressive Paul Bettany. Rated R in the US for strong bloody violence, and
language; 18+ in Thailand. Generally unfavorable reviews. At Vista only.
Kick-Ass: US/ UK, Action/ Comedy/ Drama – An unnoticed
high school student and comic book fan decides one day to become a super-hero,
even though he has no powers, training, or meaningful reason to do so. It’s
been hailed as a rollicking, virtuoso comic-book adaptation that fizzes with
originality, feisty wit, and an unexpected degree of heart. With Nicolas
Cage, to boot. Rated R in the US for strong brutal violence throughout,
pervasive language, sexual content, nudity, and some drug use - some
involving children. 18+ in Thailand. Generally favorable reviews. Vista also
has a Thai-dubbed version. At Vista only.
Opening tomorrow, Coronation Day
Ong-Bak 3: Thai, Action – Tony
Jaa in the historical martial-arts conclusion of the two-part prequel to the
Ong-Bak movie that made him a star in 2003. Cutting-edge martial arts
by one of the most creative, driven, and energetic personalities in
A Nightmare on Elm Street: (Possibly, not sure!) US,
Fantasy/ Horror/ Thriller – Critics have not been kind to this remake,
saying that it lives up to its title in the worst possible way. They say
it’s visually faithful but lacking the depth and subversive twists that made
the original so memorable. Generally unfavorable reviews. Rated R in the US
for strong bloody horror violence, disturbing images, terror, and language.
Bridge in Paradise :
by Neil Robinson
Imagine you are
sitting in your favourite Thai restaurant enjoying a spicy, flavourful
curry. Suddenly you are ambushed by an explosive chili and your mouth is on
fire. You lose all hope that your taste buds will ever live again. But,
gradually (with the aid of a large bottle of Singha) you begin to recover.
More than that, you discover that you have gained from it all—the food
actually tastes better after the ordeal. It is the same with bridge.
For most players, me
included, squeezes are difficult to even think of, let alone play for.
However, sometimes you are lucky enough to fall into them. When they work,
the results seem almost miraculous, resurrecting apparently dead contracts
and making certain tricks disappear! This hand was dealt at a table where I
was playing, with dealer North and all vulnerable:
S: 84 S: QJ1063
H: 43 H: AQJ108
D: 97 D: 52
C: J1087653 C: 9
What do you think the
contract should be? 6N played by North or 6D by South both work. Both
contracts score seven diamond tricks, three clubs and two spades, losing
only the heart ace. But this was the bidding:
North East South West
1H 1S 2D P
2N P 4N P
5D P 6N P
P Dbl 7D P
P Dbl All pass
In response to 4N
(Blackwood), North bid 5D, which shows one ace. South therefore placed the
contract in 6N, to make North declarer and thus protect North’s spade
stopper from a lead coming through it. East doubled, expecting that North
would have to try and make at least one trick from his bid suit, and relying
on his heart stack. The double sounded confident to South (even though this
confidence was actually misplaced), and he feared that East had running top
tricks, possibly in hearts. Consequently, he pulled to 7D, in spite of the
missing ace, in order to limit possible losses and to put West on lead, in
the hope that he might lead the wrong suit (whatever that might be!)
West now had to choose
a lead. East’s double was not Lightner (asking for an unusual lead) because
the grand slam was not freely bid. Also, the double of 6N was certainly not
Lightner, because the doubler would have been on lead. Consequently, West
led his partner’s suit, spades. After that lead, would you prefer to be
declarer or defence?
It looks like the
contract is dead—the heart ace must score for the defence. In fact however,
the contract is now cold, with likely defence. Watch the heart ace go away!
Declarer won the lead in dummy, ran all the trumps and then ran clubs. The
key is that he knew, from the bidding, that East held the missing high
cards. West kept his only cards of apparent value, the clubs (would you be
clever enough to keep the lowly four of hearts—I don’t think I would!).
Dummy discarded one spade and all his low hearts. This was the situation as
the club queen was led:
S: - S: QJ
H: - H: A
D: - D: -
C: J108 C:-
C: Q (led)
West followed suit and
dummy threw the heart king, but what is East to do? He has a choice of ways
to commit suicide. At the table, he threw the spade jack. Declarer then led
to the spade king and took the last trick with the nine. It would have been
more spectacular if East had thrown the heart ace. Declarer then leads his
singleton heart, and takes the critical trick with a two, on the very first
round of the suit! Doubled grand slam made and South, writing plus 2380 on
the score pad, felt much better for his ordeal.
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 : Rainbow shirts and Facebook
By Shana Kongmun
As a long term resident of Thailand I can’t help but feel
pain at the dire straits she finds herself in these days. With violence on
the rise, bombings and what appears to be an increasingly divided nation, I
feel sorrow that it has come to this.
There has arisen a new phenomenon, a group of people,
linked, it seems, mainly by their desire to have peace and calm reign once
again. Joined together by a multitude of ways, one of the biggest unifiers
seems to be that social networking tool often descried for its foolish
applications and the seeming need of many members to broadcast their every
Online social networking has often been criticized for
limiting face to face communication; I even read an article where it said
that normal social relationships are suffering because of it. I am not
convinced. At least for me, personally, living overseas for many years now,
it has allowed me to re-kindle relationships thought long lost. Some of them,
perhaps I wish I hadn’t but many I am grateful to have again. I can see
photos of my niece, nephews and now a great nephew, see how my family and
friends are doing. It allows my family and friends to keep track of my life
in a way that letters never could and email made difficult.
A friend of mine told me about his teenage son’s
girlfriend visiting with her family from Singapore. Confused I asked how he
had a girlfriend in Singapore and received the notice that I was behind the
times, kids, at least on the international scene, met people through social
networking as much as face to face.
Additionaly, it’s proving a tool for social change.
Allowing people of a like mind from all over the globe connect on issues
that matter to them. From petitioning the Discovery Channel to keep Sarah
Palin from hosting a show, to battling whale hunting, to uniting disparate
groups in Thailand; Facebook is making a mark on the activist scene. There
has often been criticism of the social movements on Facebook, that those who
join are activists in the least sense of the word. That by simply joining a
group they are proving they don’t have the wherewithal to actually get up
off the couch and do something.
Perhaps that has changed with the recent actions in
Thailand. From the groups in Bangkok and now Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son, it
seems that Facebook is providing itself as a communication tool in a way
that perhaps its founders never foresaw. Whether they are called the multi
coloured shirts, the Rainbow shirts, or maybe just a Facebook group, it
seems that social networking may have taken an entirely new leap forward in
How does your garden grow?:
By Eric Danell,Dokmai Garden
Inspirations for gardeners
Newcomers to Chiang Mai may have difficulties in finding fellow garden
lovers, good nurseries and public gardens. At the ”Garden Discussion and
Full Moon Cocktail Party” on the 28th of April (http://dokmaidogma.
wordpress.com/) you will meet other garden lovers, but until then here are
some other suggestions: 1) The Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden is the
national botanical garden of Thailand, aimed at research and preservation of
Thai plants. It is located in a very scenic mountain area on the Mae Sa road,
which can be reached from the Samoeng road or from Mae Rim. 2) Tweechol
Botanic Garden (Horizon) is located just outside town on the road to Chiang
Rai. It is a nice family destination, with mini zoo, paddling boats and
fantastic topiaries. 3) The Khamtieng flower market is located behind Tesco
Lotus north of town, near Highway 11. This is the best source to buy
ornamental plants in northern Thailand. Customers bring trucks from Chiang
Rai and even Laos to shop at this market. You will find CITES-registered
orchid dealers, trees, stones, designers etc. 4) The Doi Ang Khang Royal
project is located a 3 hour drive from Chiang Mai, towards Fang. This
project aims at cultivation of temperate crops as a substitute for opium,
aimed at the hill tribes. If you long for roses, this is a good place to go
in January-April. Personally I admire the combined rock- and bonsai garden.
This is one of the most interesting gardens in Thailand, small, but a lovely
continuum from rocky lime stones with indigenous species, to a parkland with
bonsais mounted on posts. The bonsai material is very diverse, including
ginkgo, bamboo and conifers. 5) The Phuping Royal Palace is located on the
same road as Doi Suthep temple, but higher up. This is another nice option
for studying high elevation indigenous plants, as well as temperate species
like roses. 6) The Chiang Mai Gardeners Bulletin Board can be found here:
http://groups.google.com/group/chiangmaigardener 7) Finally, you are of
course always welcome to Dokmai Garden if you search for knowledge about
monsoon plants. www.dokmaigarden.co.th
Life in Chiang Mai:
By Mark Whitman
Dramatic changes in the temperature
Political changes in the U.K. —- and here?
When I left for the U.K. in late March, the red shirts
were heading for Bangkok and reports suggested considerable turmoil in the
Thai political situation. That’s for Thailand – not outsiders – to correct,
but by the look of the streets devoid of visitors, sooner rather that later.
What I had not expected on arrival in Britain was to
witness a sea change in political happenings over there too. It was as
dramatic as that which occurred in the weather during the first ten days of
my stay there and a change that may well have far reaching consequences. We
shall know in a few days (perhaps in Thailand too?).
When I touched down in London, the weather was appalling:
wet, windy and bitterly cold. The remnants of the worst winter in decades.
By the time I managed to get a flight back to Bangkok – delayed by five days
thanks to a volcano erupting in Iceland - Spring had sprung, colour was
everywhere, blossoms abounded, leaves were on the trees, the hedgerows were
thickening, the grass greener than I could ever recall and the sun shone,
albeit somewhat ineffectively against cool winds.
And at the same time the political temperature had warmed
from a very lack lustre ‘tepid’ to something approaching ‘hot’. The old
saying, now almost a clich้, that a week is a long time in politics was
never truer. The first fortnight of the election campaign (the actual
polling day is Thursday May 6th with about a six week
run up) had been little short of predictable and dreary. It was by no means
the sort of settled result which had been anticipated back in the heady days
of 1997, but there was a general assumption that 13 years of one party might
prove enough and I had a non-financial bet with a friend that the Tories
would gain a smallish but workable overall majority of around 30, perhaps
even more. There was some talk of a ‘hung’ Parliament i.e. no one party with
a majority but nothing significant.
(For those not familiar with our system, it is a first
past the post with the Labour (left) and Conservatives (right) in the great
majority and the Lib-Dems (liberal) trailing third plus other minority
parties. Such a system is unfair on the smaller parties who are under
represented in relation to the votes cast – but naturally the two big
parties cling on to their advantage, the Conservatives most of all).
As I write this, a few days before the vote, the
situation has changed markedly. This is largely thanks to the first ever
televised debate between the leaders of the three main parties. The Lib-Dems
have always been sidelined (they came into being in 1847, ahead of the
Labour party, as the Liberals and were a riposte to the ruling land owning
conservatives) and this proved a fillip to them that can hardly have been
The debate had been widely touted by the Tory party as
the chance for their leader, the unctuous David Cameron, to shine over the
younger and seemingly inexperienced David Clegg (Lib-Dem) and the weighty
but rather tired and uncharismatic Gordon Brown (Labour and present Prime
Minister). Strict guidelines were negotiated: an audience from which
questions would be invited, with no applause, no heckling, a neutral
moderator, and three programmes each of 90 minutes dealing with 1. General
topics, 2. Foreign affairs and 3.the economy. Even the position of the
speakers standing on the stage would be alternated with each of the weekly
events. Fairness was to be the key word, with equal time paramount. The
result was to be dependent on the leaders and how they acquitted themselves.
This Presidential style discussion, modelled on the
American debates, was a first for the U.K. and the result was widely
anticipated as an easy run for the slick Cameron and a solid second for the
P.M. with Clegg having nothing to lose. At least he was up there with the
big boys. The result was – I must say – exaggerated but the following day
one might have thought the aforementioned flowers and buds of Spring had all
emerged over night. Clegg was considered triumphant and (daftest of all) the
most popular politician since Winston Churchill in his hey day.
The camera – as had been widely observed – loves some
people more than others. This is how stars are made. And for a brief period
Nick Clegg was in the ascendant with Cameron sounding the hollow man he is
and Brown sounding a tad dull. Three days later the knives were out. The
right wing press concocted smears against the ‘newcomer’, fed it was
believed by researchers at the Tory H.Q. Even the normally respectable Daily
Telegraph headlined a story about political donations being paid directly
into Clegg’s private bank account. Something which was known and declared
but had been purely an administrative ploy. Both the main parties were
rattled and the right most of all.
By the time of the second live television and radio show
there had been 400,000 young people newly registered to vote, Clegg was a
known quantity and the media was talking of little else but the real
prospect of a hung Parliament, or a balanced one as some people prefer to
call it. Cameron did his homework and rehearsed his lines to much better
effect and Brown lightened up a bit and became more critical of the new
pretender. No one, it seemed, was taking anything for granted any more and
that, dear reader, is more or less how I left it.
The third discussion is on the economy and that should
favour the Prime Minister who was in charge of finances for over 10 years.
But all such live debates are open to chance and this could – with an
audience of ten million prospective voters - determine the final outcome.
Before the first encounter, the polls suggested the Conservatives with the
largest number of supporters, followed by Labour and the Lib-Dems quite a
way behind. Because of the way the country is divided into rural and urban
constituencies the Labour party is slightly favoured. Recent polls suggest
the parties nearer 30 per cent each and the notion of a ‘hung’ Parliament as
a very definite outcome.
Nothing is certain, but my bet would be that if the
Conservatives do not gain an overall majority, then Cameron will also lose
his position. Brown ditto and even if the Labour Party have the largest
number of seats, I doubt that he will be leader for very long. Clegg will
remain in his role whatever happens and could – just could – be the Deputy
Prime Minister in a coalition government between Labour and the Lib –Dems,
with a new Prime Minister. I still have a feeling that my ‘bet’ of several
months ago may be right.
Even so, the prospect of electoral reform is now very
real and unless the media and pundits and pollsters are very wrong then this
will be the most interesting election in the U.K. for decades. With the
press (which is mainly right wing) spreading alarm about the dangers of no
clear ‘victory’, no one really knows. Money has poured into the
Conservatives campaign and posters and advertisement slanted against their
Whatever happens, a normally rather tame event in Britain
has been enlivened and no one can ever doubt the power of that box in the
corner of so many living rooms.
By Jane Doh
Classic cars: different
strokes for different folks
Some of the classic cars on display every month at Rimping
Popular with both Thai and Western car owners,
the classic car meet at Rimping is well attended.
Sunday April 25th saw another vivid
mix of vehicles at the monthly meet of Classic Cars of Lanna at NIM City
Daily, otherwise known as “Rimping near the airport.”
Now allied with the newer group Chiangmai Classic Car,
the 6 year old CCL club meets there from 10.00am until noon on the last
Sunday of each month. Coffee and chat is often followed by a convoy run to a
local place of interest. Membership is free and a wealth of information and
advice on old car parts and service is available.
The April get-together was again well attended with
possibly the greatest variety of vehicles yet. A 1950’s ‘split screen’ VW
Microbus towered over a Mini 1000, two Mercedes spanned a time gap of over
40 years and a Mitsubishi Jeep vied for attention with an immaculate Alfa
The younger Thai members are currently showing a marked
trend towards small pick-ups, and Khun Kamon saw no loss of face in proudly
showing off his newly acquired old Datsun 1600, long before it gets the
For English updates, see www.classicarsoflanna.com and in
Thai see www. chiangmaiclassicar.com or e-mail David Hardcastle at