Graham Macdonald MBMG International Ltd.
Why people are worried, part 4
Ivy League Standards
The new markets needed people who wanted to lend. The first few years
of the new millennium provided both the people and products to suit what was
needed following on from the dot.com crash and the ensuing low interest rates.
Up until this time most balanced investment portfolios, pension, and endowment
funds had just divided up their portfolio between the traditional bonds, cash
and equity. This form of management had seen the value of what they managed
crash around the turn of the century and looked for a new solution.
They looked East (well, more accurately, the East Coast) for the answer. The
epiphany moment came after they found out what Harvard and Yale universities did
with their endowment funds. For many years these had been diversifying a lot
more than any other equivalent type funds by putting their money into equities
and bonds but also into property investments, private equity, commodities hedge
and foreign equity funds. The managers of these endowments had long believed in
the need to genuinely diversify in order to avoid suffering the same as everyone
else during a bear market and also in order to have access to a wider range of
opportunities during bull markets.
This strategy was proven to be right when both funds, in 2000 and 2001, achieved
gains of over 30% during this period, when most US investors suffered a
bloodbath. People were jealous and embarrassed that they had not been as active
with their own fund management. This brought on the great flow of money into
hedge funds over the last few years. University endowments alone have invested
more than US$40 billion into these kinds of funds.
As Business Week said at the time: “Just as most colleges look up to Harvard
University, most investment managers look up to Harvard Management Co., the
in-house firm that manages $27 billion for the university. Over the past decade,
Harvard has posted a 15.9% annual return; vs. just 10.1% for the median large
institutional fund… They are the Mickey Mantles of the investing world.”
They, too, distinguished between the diversified approach of Harvard Management
and that of the average investor, quoting Chief Executive Jack R. Meyer as
saying, “There’s not much plain vanilla in our portfolio.”
Meyer adopted a model portfolio soon after he arrived at Harvard from the
Rockefeller Foundation in 1990 and recently was holding just 15% of the fund
into U.S. stocks, and 11% into conventional U.S. bonds, whereas on average
American individuals or institutions were holding well above 90% allocated to
these 2 investments.
Meyer’s core belief has always been the need for real diversification –
non-correlated investments that don’t just move in lock-step with each other.
Equity diversification therefore means international and emerging. Bond
diversification means foreign bonds, high-yield bonds, TIPS [Treasury
inflation-protected securities], and emerging-market bonds.
As long as 3 years ago Meyer was already drawn to commodities – so called
alternative assets (commodities, hedge funds, etc.) were the second biggest
class of investments within the portfolio. At that stage around three quarters
of Harvard’s allocation to commodities was invested in timber. “It’s one of my
favorite asset classes right now because if you have a little skill, you can buy
timber today [and achieve] a 7.5%-to-8% annual real return, assuming flat real
log prices,” Meyer observed at the time, going so far as to take on board three
professional lumberjacks onto the payroll to select the forests Harvard bought
and to help to manage them.
This emphasises the diversification within the portfolio – if the ‘safe’ 7.5-8%
yield from timber was the ying then the staggering 28.7% annualised return on
exceptional private equity funds such as Kleiner Perkins, is definitely the
But can private investors draw any lessons from what Harvard does? Meyer
believes that they can as long as they genuinely diversify and come up with a
portfolio that looks a little like Harvard’s covering multiple asset classes.
Most investors failed to follow this advice and in general the markets followed
the dangerous combination of greed and facility. Wall Street marketed exactly
what it told them that they needed and enough people bought it. This was the
securitization of bank loans that we mentioned when we talked about Boulder
West. The loans that used to comprise assets on the balance sheets of banks were
now being turned into securities that could be sold on the world’s markets. When
Resolution took over S&Ls US$400 billion of assets they managed to offload them
within a very short space of by creating new asset classes.
By the mid 90s Wall Street had become even more adventurous, widely trading
these securities as collateralized debt obligations, or CDOs, with the kinds of
dicing and slicing techniques mentioned earlier – they were sorted into tranches
with a different rating of risk and return. The more risky ones were open to
losses if some of the underlying loans defaulted. However, other tranches
proffered lower returns as the higher risk tranches would suffer first if there
were any trouble.
Despite their opacity and potential risks and in many cases sub-prime content,
many of the CDOs were given triple-A ratings from the ratings agencies such as
Moody’s and S&P. Attracted by these ratings investors such as banks, insurance
companies and pension funds who might usually be expected to be rather
conservative invested in them because of their ability to deliver higher returns
then genuinely AA caliber assets.
The demand for these assets created a supply of lending that was no longer as
interested in the credit quality of the individual borrowers. In other words the
problem started to self-perpetuate as many people who could not previously get a
loan were now given the money they wanted. After all, in the US the government
stands behind the lending system and therefore this level of regulation was
believed to count for something. Sprinkle the magic fairy dust of government
guarantee and AAA rating and all of a sudden it looked like you really could
polish a turd. The risk was moved to those investors who were willing to take
them. The investors believed that the risks were negligible. The borrowers who
wouldn’t normally be able to obtain or afford credit were suddenly having it
thrust upon them. In turn this permitted the banks to give out more loans. The
newly confident investor would choose what level of risk was appropriate and
fortunes were made by those people who set these deals up. Oh happy days!
Except that the ever increasing spiral came to a crashing halt in 2007 when
investors realized that they did not actually have any idea what the real value
was of what they had bought and had no idea of what risk they had actually taken
on. This was because there were so many layers of what was between the original
loan and the end product that it was almost impossible to detect what was good
and what was bad.
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 Graham Macdonald on
Snap Shots: by Harry Flashman
Is the ‘thinking’ camera here yet?
the digital evolution (remember it was not a ‘revolution’, as all
cameras still work as light-tight boxes with glass at the front and a
light receptor at the back), it does not seem too far fetched that the
all-singing, all-dancing cameras of today will be able to do everything
Cameras that will even “think” for you and work out the required shutter
speeds for the kind of shot you are going to take. After all, the
technology now exists that can recognize a smile and won’t let you take
the picture if the subject isn’t showing some teeth. With this sort of
equipment we should all be award winning photographers. However, we are
not award winners by virtue of the camera technology.
The reason for this is actually very easy to understand. While the
modern camera can get the exposure close enough and the shutter speed
correct for the type of shot, it cannot arrange the items to be
photographed in the correct position. Nor can the camera position itself
in the right place relative to the subjects to be photographed.
To illustrate what I mean, take a look at these two shots. The brief is
to photograph a house (in this instance it is The House restaurant in
Chiang Mai, for all the northerners with sharp eyes). The shots were
taken in the Auto mode. The electro-trickery in the camera has managed
to handle the exposure settings, so that each photo is correctly
exposed. Each shot has the subject in focus, but the lower shot is much
better. Why? Because in the upper shot there’s a tree, pathway, gravel,
a shed and, oh yes, there’s a building in the background! But by walking
several meters closer, in the lower picture the photographer has made
the building the “hero”. The brief has been accomplished – a photograph
of The House, but this was done by the photographer using his brain, not
by the technology of the modern cameras.
One of the principal rules of photography is to remember just who or
what is the “hero”. This is one thing the camera as a piece of equipment
does not know. It is not a mind reader. You have to arrange the items
and compose the shot to make the subject the hero. Always remember the
rule, “Walk several meters closer” and do it. More good shots are
rendered useless by being too far away from the camera, than by being
too close to the lens.
Another classic situation where the camera has absolutely no idea of
what you are doing is the holiday shot where you want to get your
friends in front of the hotel, or in front of a temple or whatever. You
know what you want, but nine times out of ten, the amateur photographer
comes away without the definitive shot. Here is how to avoid the shot of
the Chaophya Park Hotel with several little people standing in front of
it, so small they are unrecognizable!
With these “people in front of a special place” shots, before you begin
to position the humans, first you have to compose the background of the
picture by moving the camera into a position so that you have all you
want of the special building. Only after having done that, now is the
time to put your subjects into the frame. You will note the quirk in
human nature where they will immediately move backwards to be close to
the building, making sure of ruining the shot for you before you begin!
To get round this behavior, what you have to do is while looking through
the viewfinder call the people forward till they fill the viewfinder.
Even go for a waist-up view to get the person even larger in the
photograph if you wish. The people are the real “heroes”, not the
building. It just shows where you were.
With this approach you will get shots that can be geographically placed,
and the people in the shot can be recognized. The photo you had in your
mind all along! The technology may belong in the camera, but the “eye”
is yours. Just remember to use it!
by Dr. Iain Corness, Consultant
Athlete’s foot for non-runners
Have you ever had the most intense itch between your toes? An
itch so bad you have scratched until the web spaces between the toes were
starting to bleed? If so, you probably have had Athlete’s Foot, a condition
that even non-runners can get.
It is one of the most common conditions in the world, and there is a whole
‘family’ of similar afflictions, that don’t just limit themselves to your
But let’s return to the ‘foot’ side of the condition first. Yes, athletes do
get it. Why? Because athletes, like so many sporting groups tend to stand
around shower/changing areas in their bare feet, spreading the little
organism that causes the condition.
And there’s more than just the itching, stinging and burning between your
toes, especially the last two toes, you can also get itching, stinging and
burning on the soles of your feet complete with itchy blisters, cracking and
peeling skin, especially between your toes and on the soles of your feet,
excessive dryness of the skin on the bottoms or sides of the feet and nails
that are thick, crumbly, ragged, discolored or pulling away from the nail
The correct name is Tinea, and we have several types depending upon the area
of the body that is affected. In the scalp we call it Tinea capitis, on the
body - Tinea corporis, on the hands - Tinea manum, on the feet - Tinea pedis
and in the groin we call it Tinea cruris, otherwise known as Dhobie itch,
Jock itch or Crotch Rot!
The organisms which cause all these are called Dermatophytes, and they have
the ability to live in skin and so can invade hair and even nails. Imagine
the dermatophytes are like cabbages planted in the garden and growing in the
soil, with roots growing downwards. The most common has the exciting name of
Trichophyton rubrum, a noble name for an organism that can live in the soggy
bits between your toes, I’m sure you’ll agree.
The symptoms generally consist of a spreading “rash” with reddened edges
that becomes itchy and eventually quite painful as the infection goes into
the deeper layers of the skin. This is the result of the organism putting
out roots which extend deeper.
Unfortunately, there are a number of other conditions that can manifest
themselves in a similar fashion, including psoriasis, eczema and some forms
of dermatitis. This is the usual reason for “Athletes Foot” preparations
that do not work - it wasn’t “Athlete’s Foot” to begin with!
There are various diagnostic methods, but the most accurate way, however, is
to take scrapings and examine under the microscope for the tell tale fungal
So what can you do if it really is our friend Trichophyton that is cropping
up between your toes and other unmentionable places? The first thing to do
is not to use high powered steroid creams, but use a topical
anti-dermatophyte preparation like Canesten cream. You can alternate with a
weak steroid, but remember that the steroid does not “cure” the problem - it
only masks it. And if it does not settle quickly with the cream(s), go and
see your doctor.
With some very stubborn cases it may be necessary to use oral medication to
attack the organism through the blood stream, but these can have some fairly
unpleasant and nasty side effects, especially on your liver. If your liver
is already having problems straining the blood out of the beer stream then
you need to use extreme caution.
To prevent re-occurrence it is necessary to be very careful where you put
your toes, never share towels and jump over communal bath mats - but even
then you may find it comes back. Remnants of the organism start putting out
their roots and the cycle is on again. And stop scratching!
Some dermatologists also believe that you should put your socks on before
you put on your jocks. This way Dermatophyton spores can’t fall off your
feet and get carried up to the groin to continue their interesting work in
that warm, moist area, which is just great for growing fungus. You have been
Heart to Heart with Hillary
In reply a couple of weeks ago to “Happy Camper” who had just celebrated 15
years of happiness with a lady who came from a bar, you wrote “I just hope that
the readers who are still looking for a partner also realize that your case is
the exception and not the rule.” Don’t you think you are being a bit sweeping?
When you look around, there are lots of happy marriages, so I put it to you that
the exception is the unhappy marriage where the foreigner gets ripped off (and
then writes to Hillary), rather than the other way around. Have you any
statistics to back up your argument, Hillary?
Dear Statistical Sam,
Unfortunately neither of us, you nor me, can have access to the kind of
statistics you want. So I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours, my Petal!
Divorce rates are generally quoted as being around 50 percent both here and in
the West, but there is no breakdown as to whether the Thai partner came from a
bar, was a professional lady, from university, etc. And by the same token, no
statistics as to where the man came from. Of course there are probably more
opportunities here for the older farang to make an unsuitable liaison. The Thai
women are not so stand-offish as the European style women, and set their sights
a little lower. If they can clean out a pensioner of one million baht, that is a
lot less than one million dollars an overseas gold-digger would be trying for.
You tried to explain to someone called Mona (I’ll bet you made that up) about
the situation between young Thai girls and older foreign men. You only touched
on the real reason – money. You did make a little mention of it in your reply,
where you said “The young girls have found a financial ‘sponsor’, whilst the old
foreign men have found themselves a gorgeous young companion who will take care
of their every need (until the money runs out). They know what the name of the
game is, Petal. So what is so wrong with it? It is a win-win situation.” That’s
what you wrote. Hillary, it is only a win situation, not a win-win. Everyone
knows (unless they’re blind) that the poor old guy is going to lose in the end.
You even said it – “until the money runs out”. So he loses everything. That’s
not a win in my book. She is the only winner. It’s criminal the way they get
away with it.
It’s time you showed a bit of heart, young Bart. You have spent more than enough
time here in Thailand to understand the rules of the game, but you do not show
much compassion for the players. Of course it is a game, and everyone
acknowledges that, and like all games, it has to come to an end. The players can
opt out any time they like. However, most of the old foreign men with young
ladies hanging off their wallets are here on holidays. They have bought a
commodity, just like they bought an air ticket and then bought a hotel room and
then bought someone to help them enjoy it. They have budgeted for the expenses.
They are not complaining. If you are trying to say it is criminal, then it is a
victimless crime. Time to live and let live, Petal.
I am a single male, so I do get around town a bit. The other night I saw my
boss’s wife at a boys club. She was there with another woman and they seemed to
be drunk. They bought a few rounds of drinks for some of the boys. They were
laughing and having a good time and the boys looked as if they were having a
good time too. I did go over and say hello, but she ignored me and went back to
the boy she was sitting with. The problem for me is whether I should say
anything to her, or to my boss? I see his wife every week as she comes in to
supervise the pays. What do you think I should do, Hillary?
You have been seeing a lot more than is good for you, Petal. Have you thought
why you want to get involved in something that does not concern you? If the
boss’s wife goes to bars, then this is something between the boss and his wife,
and not you. All that you will do is put your job on the line if something goes
wrong. I wonder if your real reason for wanting to tell your boss is because you
were rejected by the woman in question. If she doesn’t play games with you, then
you will make life difficult for her and stop her little games too? Stay well
clear of all this, Mr. Spy and try and pick up women in other bars that are
safer for you. Getting between a man and his wife is dangerous. You have been
warned. And for that matter, what were you doing in a boy bar anyway?
Learn to Live to Learn: with Andrew Watson
The day the wall came down
On November 9, 1989, the day the Berlin wall came
down, like a joyous, helpless fool I watched the day evolve on
my television screen, understanding perhaps, but a drop of the
euphoria washing over the western world. I was too young to
realise what it meant to people who had witnessed the
monstrosity rise from the earth, almost overnight, in 1961. Now,
I listened enthralled as “The death of Communism” was gleefully
announced. “The end of the Cold War”, proclaimed others. “A New
World Order” was born shortly afterwards, fathered by George
Bush senior. “I’m not sure I’ve been asked whether I want to be
a member of this New World Order,” I remember thinking to myself
at the time.
One late December afternoon between Christmas and New Year at
the tail end of 1989, swept along on the wave of excitement
generated by the 9th of November, me and four friends packed
ourselves into a reasonably quick Alpha Romeo and sped towards
Berlin, from London. It was on a whim that we had upped and
left, acting on the impulse and initiative of a party the
previous evening. No wives or children to leave behind, we felt
as free as birds as we raced across France and Belgium, too
excited to seriously consider our fatigue. A new Europe, a new
world (rather than a New World Order) was opening up before us
and we wanted to be a part of it. We wanted to help shape it. A
defining moment was upon us and we wanted to define it, not be
defined by it. New Year’s Eve in Berlin was going to be the
party of the century.
We drove through the last remnants of the day and then through
the night, taking turns at the wheel. I had just begun my turn
as we crossed into what was still officially West Germany.
Within minutes, our car with English number plates, packed with
people in their young twenties in party mood, had been stopped
by the German police, a breed not hitherto known for the
flexibility. He’d been following me for a while, I noticed, and
despite my revised rigorous respect for driving protocol, he was
clearly determined to have me. I remember his stern, angular,
unforgiving features melting away as he heard of our quest and
his breaking into a wide smile, even contented conversation. It
was all so marvellously improbable. He almost blessed us on our
way, banishing whatever Teutonic impulse to impose trumped up
charge to the dustbin of history, from whence it had come.
Most grabbed a couple of hours sleep, rocked to rest by the
rolling rhythm of the road. As Prussian blue at last started
turning lime green, thence to weak, wintry pink, Beethoven was
playing. As Berlin awoke before us, we entered gloriously
appropriately to the Brandenburg Concerto and made our way at
this traffic-less hour towards the centre, stopping briefly to
rejuvenate ourselves with hot coffee, with which, feeling like
Roman generals, we toasted our arrival. Blimey it was cold.
Central European cold; a different kind of unforgiving cold,
which bites into any part of the body carelessly untethered
We had a map of sorts, which enabled us to park a few hundred
yards to the East of Unter den Linden, the Champs Elysée of
Berlin. The early hour created the impression that nobody was
about, other than a few hawkers of drills and chisels.
“Unusual,” we laughed, as we moved in the direction of the
monumental Brandenburg gate and that which had fired our
collective imagination, the wall, “Die Mauer” itself. Then, a
remarkable thing happened, which I shall never forget. I heard
the wall before I saw it. As we strode purposefully along the
strasse, we became aware of a sound like the multiple clinking
of a million champagne glasses. As our pace quickened towards
this magical, musical sound, it became more pronounced; not
louder, for the sound was rhythmically soft, but more
pronounced, like a thousand starlings in the morning sky. Their
song echoed across Berlin. Then came the first, unforgettable
sighting and the source of the sound was revealed. Literally
thousands of people were lined along the base of the wall, a
riot of graffitoed colour against the drab, grey backcloth of
East Berlin behind, chipping away at the wall with their chisels
and hammers. It was as if the wall itself were moving. Indeed, I
suppose that it was.
In our adrenal push to Berlin, it was probably inevitable that
we would have forgotten to bring something or other with us.
However, none amongst us had guessed that chisels and hammers
would be the most necessary components of such a trip. At a
price that only feverish herding can generate, we purchased a
number of each from the hawker, who had eyed us with the knowing
look of someone who knew we’d be coming back and charged us
accordingly. “Good luck to him” we agreed.
We launched ourselves at the wall like tigers to fresh meat.
Five of us hacked and hit, slashed and missed as the thrill
threatened to overwhelm us. Thumbs throbbed. Our fellow
wall-breakers looked on, bemused but smiling. The party had
begun. Once our initial surge of adrenalin had passed, leaving
us breathless but with nothing in our hands but crumbs of
concrete, our attack became more methodical, more strategic,
more directed, more focused.
Quickly, we developed an unhealthy respect for the constructors
of this physical manifestation of human failure. The Germans, my
did they know how to build a wall! The “Brandenburg section” as
it became known to us, must have been two metres thick at its
widest point, tapering to a metre and less as it wormed its way
through the city. The most robust areas were of reinforced
concrete and were almost impossible to breach, whilst in the
suburbs, we later discovered, the three horizontal, rectangular
blocks placed on top of each other were only about six inches
thick and were surprisingly easy to destroy. Back at the
Brandenburg, more and more people were beginning to congregate.
Next week: Beyond Checkpoint Charlie
Doc English, the Language Doctor:
Learning English on the Web
Welcome back! This week we are looking at
the internet as a resource for teaching and learning English.
All parents these days know that the internet can be used in a variety
of ways to teach children; however, it’s often hard for us to work out
which sites are most suitable. The best sites to choose are those that
follow a national curriculum, such as the BBC site (www.bbc.
co.uk/schools) or the Scholastic Site (www.scholastic.com).
On the internet you can find activities for your child to play alone, or
for you and your child to play together. You can find information to
help you teach your children, or materials to use for teaching at home.
Older children can use chat utilities or email to practice their English
online and you can use the internet yourself to talk to groups of
parents and professionals to gain more information on learning and also
to share ideas. The internet is a great resource for learning and
teaching and it should be an integral part of your teaching program at
Sometimes your child can use these internet activities at home, but they
will be more effective if you can sit down and work through them
together. You can help your child notice things on the screen and
provide technical support! Sometimes children skip rapidly through
activities to get to the end and need to be encouraged to take their
time and listen or read instructions more carefully. Some of my students
seem to spend all night on the computer, but I think that one hour a day
on the computer is more than enough for any child. Don’t let the
computer become a virtual nanny! If children hunger for more, you can
usually find printable activities on the web sites I have included this
There are a variety of sites catering for young learners who have not
yet developed keyboard skills and good letter recognition. Sites such as
Sesame Street (www. sesamestreet.com) and Cbeebies
(www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies) provide good listening practice and the songs
and the interactive stories help introduce your child to learning
English in a positive way. They also help train children to use the
mouse and refine their fine motor skills and coordination.
For slightly older children (aged 4-5) there are a number of useful
sites for teaching phonics and reading. Sites such as Sparklebox
(www.sparklebox.co.uk) and Starfall (www.starfall.com) have a good
selection of downloadable materials and online activities. They are also
great for teaching phonics (letter sounds) as children can listen to and
repeat the sounds.
Children beginning to read and write in English will enjoy the huge
number of downloadable materials at the American Enchanted Learning web
site (www. enchantedlearning.com). To get the best out of the site you
may need to pay a small subscription fee, but it’s well worth it as kids
really enjoy the exciting range of activities on offer (book making,
crafts, puzzles and projects).
Everyone loves a good story. Interactive stories are good for practicing
listening skills and motivating your child to read. Try this Scottish
site (www.ltscotland .org.uk/storybook) for some great stories online.
For older children, sites such as Epals (www.epals .com) and Kids Space
(www. ks-connection.org) enable your child to correspond with native
English speakers around the globe. Register and your child may soon be
able to chat with children in Australia, America and the UK. Having an
English speaking pen pal is a great way to introduce your child to
foreign cultures and a gaining a greater understanding of Western
cultures provides more motivation for learning English. It’s best to
liaise with the children’s teacher before you start the exchange and
look up the school on the internet to ensure that the school is
reputable and the exchange is properly managed. With Epals, you can
monitor all ingoing and outgoing mail yourself, to ensure there is no
When your kids search the internet they are in danger of bringing up a
whole load of inappropriate sites. To ensure safe surfing you can set
the home page to the ‘Yahooligans’ web site (http: //kids.yahoo.com).
Your kids should find all the information they will need to complete
their homework safely on this site. If you need to provide a more
restrictive use of the internet, try Net Nanny (www.netnanny .com) to
restrict the type of web sites your child can access.
For parenting tips and help teaching your child at home, try the Family
Education site (www.familyeducation.com/home). I find their weekly
newsletter very useful and they have a lot of information on teaching
reading and teaching children with special educational needs.
Finally, single parents can enjoy making English speaking (and non
English speaking) pen pals through sites such as English Town (www.
englishtown.com) and Bell English (www.bellenglish.com).
If you want to recommend a good site for learning, please mail me and
I’ll include it in this column. Mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org
That’s all folks! Happy surfing!
Let’s go to the movies:
by Mark Gernpy
Now playing in Pattaya
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: US
Thriller/Drama – with Johnny Depp in the Stephen Sondheim musical,
directed by Tim Burton. This film has garnered a host of “bests” in
award listings already this year, including top honors at the Golden
Globes, and with Depp up for Best Actor Oscar. “What you will see is as
dark as the grave. What you will hear is some of the finest stage music
of the past 40 years.” Reviews: Universal acclaim.
American Gangster: US Crime/Drama – With Denzel Washington and
Russell Crowe. A true story from our own backyard, upcountry in Chiang
Mai, as American gangster Frank Lucas negotiates far-ranging
drug-running contracts with Burmese drug lords during the Vietnam era,
involving the shipment of heroin in the coffins of US servicemen killed
in Vietnam. Some parts were shot in northern Thailand.
First Flight: Thai Drama – A much-delayed production plagued by
problems, this eagerly anticipated film recounts the early years of Thai
aviation and the formation of the Thai air force. Seems to have been an
immensely complicated and expensive undertaking, with many technical
Siyama: Village of Warriors: Thai Action – Three Thai girls
studying ancient Thai warfare are miraculously transported in time back
to the time of an Ayuthaya battle, arriving just as a battle is about to
begin between the Thais and a ruthless enemy, causing great confusion.
Enchanted: US Animated/Comedy – I was delighted by this film!
It’s a smart re-imagining of your basic Disney fairy tales, featuring
witty dialogue, sharp animation, and a star turn by Amy Adams. A
full-blown musical that commutes between Disney’s patented cartoon
universe and the “real” world with cleverness and grace, this splashy
production reminds me a lot of Mary Poppins, not least due to the
“star is born” aura that surrounds Amy Adams here, just as it did Julie
Andrews 43 years ago. Generally favorable reviews.
Suay Sink Krating Zab/Busaba Bold and Beautiful: Thai
Comedy/Action – Two friends live in the Bangkok underworld jungle
passing their time in small-time criminal activity till an old
girlfriend of one of them shows up and causes both of them to fall in
The Flock: US Crime/Thriller – I found this a very disturbing
film about sexual predators and a federal agent (Richard Gere) who tries
to keep one thousand of them – his “flock” – from harming others. Seems
to me it wallows in the perversity it condemns. Rated R in the US for
perverse content involving aberrant sexuality and strong violence.
Cloverfield: US Action/Sci-Fi/Thriller – I was caught up by this
gripping monster attack on New York City. It’s told from the point of
view of a small group of people I didn’t particularly like with a video
camera recording it as it happens. This film, Blair-witch-like,
supposedly shows all that remains of their jittery, hand-held footage.
See it if you are one of those who adore shaky hand-held camera work and
fast editing in a Hollywood monster movie. Has some spooky, exciting
thrills, but I couldn’t wait for these uninteresting people to die.
Mixed or average reviews.
Hitman 47 – US Action/Thriller – Based on a video game, it’s
simply one meaningless violent encounter after another, with an
incoherent plot and inane dialogue. A boy grows up being programmed to
be an assassin by what looks like a combination of the Roman Catholic
Church and organized crime. He is now Agent 47, a killing machine who
obeys instructions announced to him, “Mission: Impossible”-style, via a
computer. Rated R in the US for strong bloody violence, language, and
some sexuality/nudity. Generally negative reviews.
Scheduled to open Feb. 6-9
Chocolate: Thai Action (Feb 6th) – An autistic girl is a
genius at martial arts.
CJ7: Hong Kong Comedy (6th) – Stephen Chow gives a toy to a
homeless boy which is actually a powerful alien device they want back.
Atonement: UK/France Drama (7th) – Nominated for 7 Oscars, only
rarely has a book sprung so vividly to life, but also worked so
enthrallingly in pure movie terms. A dazzling adaptation of Ian McEwan’s
celebrated 2001 novel, it’s a period piece, largely set in 1930s and
‘40s England, about an adolescent outburst of spite that destroys two
lives and crumples a third. Reviews: Universal acclaim.
L: Change the World: Japan Thriller (9th) – This prequel to the
previous two Death Note films focuses on the popular main character “L”
as he uses his superior intellect and deduction skills to solve various
Increase font size on Windows without using spectacles
This one is especially for those who want their new
technology to come with BIG text size on the screen. On Windows XP, it
is possible to increase the size of almost every text that you see on
Here’s how simple it is:
1) Right-mouse click on your desktop, on any empty area.
2) As a menu pops up, click Properties. You should get the Display
(You can also find Display Properties in Control Panel)
3) Select the Appearance Tab
4) In Font Size, choose Large and click Apply
5) Click OK
This would change the default font size used all over Windows. To some
it my look awkward, but for others who hate small text sizes, this is a
All right, you can take off your spectacles now.
For more tech tips,
log on to www.mrtechsavvy.com
Just for Geeks|
Did you know YouTube.com is the top-five most visited
website in the world today? Make a quick guess, who is number one?
News | Business | Features |
Columns | Mail Bag |
Sports | Auto Mania
Our Children | Travel |
Our Community | Dining Out & Entertainment
Social Scene | Classifieds |
Community Happenings | Books Music Movies
Clubs in Pattaya | Sports Round-Up
Pattaya Mail Publishing Co., Ltd.
370/7-8 Pattaya Second Road, Pattaya City, Chonburi 20150, Thailand
Tel.66-38 411 240-1, 413 240-1, Fax:66-38 427 596
Copyright © 2004 Pattaya Mail. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.