The Doctor's Consultation
by Dr. Iain Corness
Happy, healthy 2007 is within reach
column has really the same message last year’s column at this time. This is
because it is that time of year when we make all those good resolutions that
we have absolutely no intention of keeping, but it all sounded right at the
New Year parties! Well, that’s the truth, isn’t it?
However there are a few resolutions that if you follow or abide by them you
will get even more New Years to celebrate. Interested? You should be - I am
offering you up to 10 more years, but like all great offers, there are some
conditions that apply!
The first resolution, for all cigarette smokers out there, is to give up the
weed in 2007. It is no use trying to deny it. We have shown, more than
adequately, that cigarettes are the greatest killers of mankind, even
including all the terrorists on the planet. All smokers are on borrowed
time. End of story. And I don’t care if your grandfather smoked 60 a day and
lived to be 123. The big numbers that have been examined in studies all over
the world say it all - smokers do not live as long as non-smokers. Smokers
get all kinds of cancers much more than non-smokers, and that’s all kinds -
not just lung cancers. Smokers get more heart attacks than non-smokers. Do
you want me to go on? In the face of all the evidence, continuing smoking in
2007 is just plain dumb. So how do you give up? I am not going to say it is
easy, but the best method still remains your positive desire to give up and
then go Cold Turkey. You tell yourself you are giving up right now, and
never take another cigarette. Forget the other ways of giving up. Cold
Turkey has been shown to be the best - and as a bonus, it costs you nothing!
The next resolution is very easy. Take 100 milligrams of aspirin every day.
Once again, the big numbers prove the hypothesis. Your chances of having a
heart attack are very much less by that simple expedient of 100 milligrams
of aspirin a day. You can either buy 100 milligram tablets, such as
Cardiprin, or take quarter of an ordinary 500 milligram aspirin tablet,
which is 125 mgm. Close enough.
Another easy resolution is to get more exercise - daily. This is a
resolution that will tone up your cardiovascular system and reduce your
chances of having that final coronary occlusion (or as it is often called, a
coronary conclusion!). You don’t need to go to a gymnasium, pump iron, take
steroids or wear those silly strappy singlets either. Half an hour of brisk
walking, or fifteen minutes of exercising each day will do. I keep fit by
walking, and if I have not done enough during the day will go for a walk
with my little daughter in the evening.
Since you are what you eat, or so it is said, your next resolution should be
to look at exactly what you do eat. Cut down on animal fats (where you get
your cholesterol from) and increase your intake of fish is a good start. Eat
‘Asian’ twice a week, fish twice a week, and sensibly for the other three
How’s the alcohol intake these days? Fuzzy heads in the morning? Then
perhaps you should include alcohol reduction in your resolutions too. Four
‘standard’ drinks a day for men and two for women (sorry girls, but you
don’t handle alcohol as well as we do!). Plus at least one AFD (alcohol free
day) per week.
What is a ‘standard’ drink? That is taken as 10 grams of alcohol - equal to
one glass of full strength beer (285 mls), one small (100ml) glass of wine,
or one measure (30ml) of spirits. One can of regular beer contains about one
and half standard drinks, while a bottle of wine contains about seven.
Happy New Year, and stay well in 2007.
Heart to Heart
This is Delboy from Chiangmai, you were spot on with the comments you
made about my last letter regarding motorbike helmets getting stolen,
and me not locking up my motorcycle. I was not using my head so to
speak, and your advice was so right. Thanks for the common sense answer
We can get the Pattaya Mail and continue to read your column, that
stupid letter from “Cranky Franky,” I was surprised you even printed it,
what a jerk, nobody forces him to read your column, and I, like “Porno
Pete” turn to your column first when buying the newspaper.
Hillary have a Great Christmas and New Year, I am getting a bit on the
plump side and my New Year resolution is to get Trim, Taught and
Terrific (where can I get non fat Belgium Chocolates?).
Thank you for the best wishes and your contributions during the year. It
is always nice to know that one’s advice has not fallen totally on deaf
ears. Sorry I don’t know where you can get non-fat Belgium chocolates,
but I do know where you can send the fattening ones! Right here. When
someone sends me a bottle of champers it will be a right picnic. Have a
wonderful 2007, Delboy.
I enjoy your writing. Enjoy these chocs.
Big D USA
Dear Big D USA,
Oooh I love big strong men of few words! Thank you so much, your lovely
note pinned to a large bag of different chocolates. I overcame the
temptation to rip the cover off the Hershey bars straight away, and have
put them all in a cool place till Xmas, when I will bring them out and
make a right pig of myself all day. A great 2007 for you too, Big D USA.
Dear ‘Illary (sic),
Dearest ‘Illary (sic), me old wine binger, yes I’m back again for a few
months and am crackin (sic) me sides with lafter (sic) at the letters
youse (sic) still getting from all them ignorant twirps (sic). Lookin
(sic) forward ter (sic) some more clandestinnine (sic) get tergethers,
so its all on again me old froot (sic). Me digs is sorted and don’t be
surprised if something doesn’t pop up between the editers (sic) Lexus
and yer (sic) bike! Those flowery dresses you’ve given up’ll be fine fer
(sic) curtains an tell the milkman it’ll be two bottles, mekon (sic) of
course. Be seein yer!
Dear Ramrod, sorry Nairod,
I can’t really say I am over the moon with the news that you have
returned. Sorry I had to shorten your epistle with its protestations of
undying love and hoped for trysts on piers through space reasons, but I
really have to disappoint you. The flower print dresses are all gone (I
threw them away after Songkran after they got covered in all that messy
powder) so I certainly won’t be offering them up as curtains for your
new abode, which hopefully will be several hundred kilometers from the
office. I also wonder which editor you mean? My editor has a 15 year old
Daihatsu Mira and certainly not a Lexus, as he hasn’t finished paying
off the Daihatsu yet. He has registered his Non-Performing Loan on the
stock exchange, I am led to believe. And what’s this about a bike for
me? I’ve only just paid the last payment on my broom, a bike is totally
out of my league. Perhaps it is one of the other newspapers? There is so
much going on in Pattaya, after all. However, I must say your spelling
is improving. You almost got your name right this time! Happy 2007.
Will you still be here in 2007? I enjoy your bits each week and the
advice is sometimes right on. A few weeks back somebody said you should
get a raise from your editor and I reckon so. You are doing a public
service so you should get the top dollar. All the ones in the US like
Oprah get big money, so you should too. Keep up the good work and all
the best with the boss.
Aren’t you just the nicest man! Comparing poor little Hillary with the
mighty Oprah! However, there are some differences between us, you know.
She’s in America, for one! My Petal, if Hillary could get even 10
percent of Oprah’s salary, I’d be on the next plane to Milan for some
new threads, so that I wouldn’t have to worry about creatures like
Nairod lusting after my flower prints. Every time I hang them out on the
line I have to be just so careful when he’s around. Nicks ‘em. Gone, and
my undies. He’s a terrible man. You worry me though, when you say you
“enjoy my bits” each week. What “bits” are we talking about here? Some
of my bits are never discussed here in the column. This is a family
newspaper Hughie, and anyway, you’d never get to see them either. As far
as a raise is concerned, I’ll show your letter to the editor, but he’ll
probably just think I made it up, just as some people think I dream up
people like Nairod. That’s no dream, it’s a nightmare, and the damned
things are so long and are handwritten! Life’s hard some days!
Camera Class by
How pro shooters fool you
Photography is one of the least truthful pastimes you can take
up. For the pro photographer much time is used in working out
how to either show the product in a favorable way, or to
disguise some defect or other. There is a veritable army of
people out there who love to go through advertising brochures
and look for minute imperfections and write to the manufacturer
saying “Do all of your watches have scratches on them?” And who
gets the blame? Not the manufacturer who sent over the product,
but the poor old photographer, that’s who. This can really be an
enormous problem when you may be photographing a pre-production
item and this is the only one in captivity.
look at a few examples where the photographer has to stretch the
truth somewhat. Ever tried photographing champagne? There’s
never enough bubbles to keep art directors happy, so the
photographer drops some sugar into the glass. Only a few grains
are enough to give the almost still glass of champers that “just
opened” fizz look to it. You also have to bring the light in
from the back of the glass, as well as from the front. This
takes two flash heads, or at least one head and a reflector.
While still on wines, if you try and shoot a bottle of red wine,
it comes out thick dark maroon or even black. Restaurateurs who
have tried photographing their wines will agree. So what does
the pro shooter do? Well he has a couple of courses of action.
First is to dilute the red wine by about 50 percent and secondly
place a silver foil reflector on the back of the bottle. So what
happens to the half bottle of red that was removed to dilute the
wine? The photographer has it with dinner.
And so to food photography. This is one area where there are
more fraudulent practices than any other. Cold food can be made
to look hot by sprinkling chips of dry ice to give “steam”
coming off the dish. Not palatable, but it looks OK. Cooking oil
gets brushed on slices of the cold meat so that they look moist
That is just for starters. In the commercial photography studio,
the dedicated food photographer would erect a “light tent” of
white polystyrene and bounce electronic flash inside. Brightness
is necessary to stop the food looking grey and dull. If you want
a “warm” look to the food, then you can use internal reflector
tungsten bulbs as well, but be warned, that if you use the
tungsten light as the sole source the food will turn out very
orange. Lighting is just so important. If you do not have bright
sparkly light then potatoes will look grey, and even the china
plates look drab and dirty.
In places such as the USA, there are very firm rules about
photographing food. Mainly the fact that you are not allowed to
use substitute materials which “look” like food, but are
actually not. This covers the old trick of using shaving cream
as the “cream” on top of cappuccino coffee for example, or
polystyrene foam as “ice cream”. Personally I think this is a
load of ballyhoo, because the photograph is just to represent
what the food will look like - you don’t eat a photograph, now
Even in simple portraiture, the concept is to show the sitter in
the best possible way. For example, if the person has “bat ears”
the portrait should be taken with the head turned so that one
ear disappears from view. Not “lying” but presenting mother
nature in a different way. And always remember that when all
else fails, it’s a quick trip to the retouchers.
Another piece of photo-fraud was inserting an architect’s model
of a hotel, as not yet built, into the aerial shot of a beach
resort city. This required working out the height of the
helicopter relative to the height of the model and then
combining the two slides. It took two 12 hour days in the studio
to photograph the architect’s model and another day in the lab
to combine the images.
Never believe everything you see!
Money Matters Graham
Macdonald MBMG International Ltd.
2007 - Predictions Part 1
For all the doom and gloom predictors (me included) and despite some
troubles over the last twelve months, 2006 is ending in a very positive way
for investors. And this situation has encouraged many forecasters to come
out and say that 2007 will be, you guessed it, another decent year for
equities – even in the US.
So what has happened? The Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke survived his
probationary period. The housing market dived. The Democrats snatched
control of Congress, and the American public was constantly reminded that
things could be going better in Iraq. Through it all, except for a brief and
scary spell last summer, investors have enjoyed a strong rally that has been
hitting new highs over the last few weeks – at least with the Dow Jones 30
if nothing else. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is ahead by more than 15%,
and has hit new highs, more than six years after first surpassing 12,000.
And while lagging a bit owing to the sluggish performance of mega-cap
technology shares, the Nasdaq Composite has gained more than 10%.
At the time of writing, were the book to close today on 2006, the major
indexes would have notched their fourth straight year of gains, with returns
above the long-term average, at that. The Standard & Poor’s 500 is up by
over 12% with its total return with re-invested dividends approaches 15%.
That’s more than double the total return for the Dow Jones Corporate Bond
Index and triple what 10-year Treasuries have given.
It would be wrong to say that investors have liked or enjoyed this year’s
generosity, as they have had a bear of a time keeping pace with the bull
run. More than 70% of active large-cap fund managers were trailing the
market as of Oct. 31. To have exploited the year’s twists and turns fully,
one would have had to bet heavily on a commodity boom until May, a sharp
slowdown and commodity bust into summer and a recovery led by consumer
spending this fall. What’s more, much of the fuel for the recent rally was
provided by stubborn short sellers, who expected the market to swoon into
the mid-term elections, as history suggested it would. Their plans foiled,
the shorts were forced to cover their positions, sending stocks even higher.
The market’s gains are all the more impressive given that all the year’s
upside, and more, has come since the summer months, when concerns about
slower economic growth and commodity-fueled inflation culminated in an 8%
pullback in the indices, the largest decline of the bull market that began
in late 2002. Since then they have risen in each of the past five months and
in 11 of the past 12.
This continued upside has exceeded the forecasts of practically all of the
Wall Street strategists surveyed by a well known American journal just over
a year ago. Unsurprisingly for a bunch of people who make their living from
equities, they are very optimistic about next year as well. When all of the
forecasts are put together they are looking for an 8% gain (that’s both the
average and median prediction), which would place the S&P 500 at around 1520
by year end, on the threshold of its all-time record of 1550 set in early
Neatly summing up the group’s general view, Goldman Sachs’ longtime chief
investment strategist, Abby Joseph Cohen says, “Share prices properly
reflect a favorable fundamental picture for 2007. Growth is moderating,
inflation pressures are abating and the [Federal Reserve] is expected to
maintain a friendly stance. Equity valuation is supportive.” Cohen thinks
the S&P 500 can rise 10%, to 1550 in a year.
“We’re cautiously optimistic,” says Michael Ryan, chief strategist for the
wealth-management group at UBS, who has an S&P target of 1500. “The market
is fairly valued, at a level where neither bear nor bull markets usually
begin.” Says Henry McVey at Morgan Stanley: “Stocks look cheap relative to
bonds at current levels. When you have a 6.5% earnings yield [the inverse of
the price-earnings ratio], and a 4.5% bond yield, we want to own equities.”
Irrelevant of what they are saying, it is an idea to look at the other side
of the coin and find out which areas are susceptible to surprise or even
shock. Often there is at least one bear lurking somewhere. Contrarians might
argue that the Street is too happy for the market’s good. That said, no one
is calling for huge upside. The most ardent bull thinks the S&P can rise
13%. Everyone else is bunched between 2% and 10%. In this post-bubble
environment, strategists do not like to make rash forecasts. Similarly,
there’s a narrow range of opinion about several aspects of the current
outlook. All the strategists see 10-year Treasury yields of 4.5% to 5.10%,
and all but one is calling for the Fed to ease. Yet a majority assumes
either a flat yield curve or one that remains inverted by the end of 2007.
Therefore these equity experts would be totally unprepared for any
bond-market volatility and up that well known creek if the Fed did nothing,
or worse, tightened.
To summarize their collective opinions, the economy is in a classic
mid-cycle slowdown, engineered by the Fed’s 17 rate increases through last
June and aided by downsides in the auto and housing markets. Economic growth
will slow, but a recession will be averted. Inflationary forces will cool.
Rates will stay tame. The Fed will begin cutting rates by mid-year.
Corporate-earnings growth will take a step back from its double-digit pace
into the mid-single digits. But investors will pay up in terms of slightly
higher price-earnings multiples on stocks and shares as they support the Fed
and gain confidence that economic growth will persist. Liquidity is
abundant, companies are flush with cash and buyout activity is accelerating.
Of course, arguments are what make markets or at least what make them
interesting. Therefore, next week we should look at the most important
things that are separating this year’s bulls from bears.
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 Graham Macdonald on [email protected]