Graham Macdonald MBMG International Ltd.
The Ugly, The Bad and The Good
Part 1 - The Ugly
The extent of the global credit crisis was felt close to home
for Wall Street last month with the collapse of the once-venerable investment
bank Bear Stearns. The Fed responded to the threat of catastrophe with some
extraordinary manoeuvres. On March 18 the Fed slashed interest rates by 75 basis
points, adding to big cuts over recent months. As the takeover of Bear was being
finalized, the Fed extended lending through its discount window, usually
reserved for commercial banks, to all bond dealers. For the first time,
investment banks have a lender of last resort.
Meanwhile, other central banks have been doling out liquidity too - the Bank of
England, the Bank of Japan and the ECB have all jumped on the bandwagon -
although none has eased monetary policy with anything like the Fed’s urgency.
Whereas the Fed fears recession and financial collapse, most central banks
elsewhere, quite rightly, also have one eye on inflation / stagflation.
This difference in emphasis continues to feed into the currency markets. The
dollar continues to tumble against other leading currencies. It is now at its
weakest since the era of floating exchange rates began in 1973, following below
¥ 100 for the first time in 12 years and reaching new lows against the euro and
the Swiss franc over the month. Partly the prices of commodities jumped, oil
climbing above $100 a barrel, and gold soaring above $1,000, partly in response
to US$ woes. At these nosebleed levels, we were happy to take profits - both oil
and gold subsequently backed off 10-15% before rallying again.
On the economic front there were fresh signs that America’s economy is in
trouble. The index of consumer confidence fell from 76.4 in February to a
five-year low of 64.5 in March. The S&P/Case-Shiller home-price index, which
covers ten large cities, fell by 11.4% in the year to January, the largest
decline since the series began in 1987. Sales of new homes fell by 1.8% in
February, to the lowest level in 13 years. Despite a spot rise in sales of
existing homes in February, these were still 23.8% lower than a year earlier.
Most economists now believe that the US slipped into recession in the early part
of this year. Consumer confidence crumbled and durable goods orders fell
significantly underlining the impact of the slowing economy and weakening
consumer confidence on business spending. According to the Commerce Department,
corporate profits fell 3.3% in the final three months of 2007, much more than
the 0.1% drop that economists had predicted, amid one of the worst banking
crises in decades. The slide in home prices is the biggest monthly drop on
record and dampens hopes that the US housing market may be close to a bottom.
In the UK during this quarter the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee
made it clear that they will not move to cut rates dramatically like the US
Federal Open Market Committee. Britain’s economy is heading “into much jumpier
waters” according to Richard Lambert, director-general of the CBI, as the
employers’ organization marked down its latest economic forecast to account for
the deepening credit crisis. The CBI believes the credit crisis will prolong a
necessary economic slowdown that was already underway. The UK residential
property sector continues to show signs of weakness with house prices rising the
least since 1996 in March.
Official statistics showed that capital spending by Japanese companies fell by
7.7% - or by more than expected - in 4Q07. This was the sharpest fall in capital
spending in five years. The Ministry of Finance also published data that showed
that companies’ recurring earnings fell - in year-on-year terms - for the second
consecutive quarter because of higher costs of raw materials (and, in
particular, fuel). Going forward, the strength of the yen - which reached a
three-year high against the US dollar over the month - will also probably
constrain company profits. Government data also showed Japanese companies have
turned pessimistic about business conditions, as a spike in oil and many other
raw material costs have squeezed profit margins.
For the second consecutive month, Japan’s Cabinet Office lowered its assessment
of the country’s economic prospects and, in doing so, added to concerns that the
economy is losing momentum. Official statistics showed that, in January, output
fell by2.2%, or by the most in a year. The Cabinet Office also noted that
volatility in global financial markets (and, in particular, the weakness of the
major Japanese stock market indices) had been unhelpful. A significant positive
development, however, has been the recovery in housing starts, which have
slumped over the last nine months as a result of the introduction of new
regulations. In addition, Japan’s exports rose a little more than expected in
February from a year earlier as solid shipments of goods to Asia and Europe made
up for a fall in exports to the US.
Some analysts doubt if Japan will really decouple from the US economy in coming
months. They remain worried about the outlook for the US economy, which remains
a major, if no longer the largest, destination for Japanese exports. Economists
have warned that exports, the key drive of Japan’s economic recovery, could lose
steam in the first half of this year as the global credit turmoil shows no sign
of abating. Economists now expect the Bank of Japan’s closely watched tankan
survey due out on April 1 to show a broad slide in the business mood as well as
lacklustre capital spending plans. The central bank, now without a full-time
governor for the first time in more than 80 years, is expected to keep interest
rates on hold at 0.5% for the time being.
In its annual report the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the
Pacific said that Asian economies remained relatively immune to the credit
crunch in the US and Europe but faced heightened uncertainty as the subprime
crisis continued to unravel. The report cited Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea
as being the most vulnerable to the impact of a US recession and further
declines in the dollar, given their dependence on high-technology exports.
Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines would suffer to a lesser degree. Growth
in the region was forecast to moderate this year but would be a robust 7.7%
Even with a relative slowdown in the pace of growth in exports, China remains on
track to record another huge trade surplus this year, of about $260bn according
to one estimate. However, February’s inflation rate of 8.7% was the highest in
12 years, raising fears that China’s inflation could feed into higher prices
elsewhere. The implications of the higher-than-expected data are that China’s
monetary policy will have to be tightened more aggressively, policy uncertainty
from other ad hoc measures will intensify and growth is facing further downside
Elsewhere, the Bank of Korea noted that South Korea achieved economic growth of
1.6% in 4Q07, as both exports and business investment picked up. Year-on-year
growth was revised to 5.7%, the fastest pace for nearly two years. Corporate and
construction investment rose by 2.1% and 1.2% respectively in 4Q07. However,
private consumption growth slowed from 1.3% in 3Q07 to 0.8% in 4Q07. India’s
economy may grow at the slowest pace in four years in the next 12 months as a
global slowdown reduces foreign investment and curbs exports. However, the
country is still expected to grow in 2008-9 at 8%.
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
The problems with going digital
readers of this column will have noted that I have forsaken my Nikon
film cameras, which were my standby for many years, and have (finally)
taken up digital photography.
I had done the conversion rather slowly, initially scanning my photos
and storing the electronic form of the photo image in the computer, to
be manipulated further if needed. This rather long-winded procedure
meant that I was converting a negative into a positive print, then
scanning into a digital image. Two steps, each capable of losing
I then began having my negatives turned into CDs, rather than printing
the images and scanning them. This way I could import the images in
digital form directly into my computer via ACDC and then do the final
crop, fix lop-sided horizons etc through Adobe Photoshop.
Undoubtedly there will be those folk who are very computer savvy who
would say I should have used this or that software, but I am not a
computer geek, I am purely someone who uses a computer. My editors need
images at 300 dpi (stands for dots per inch, they tell me) and that is
what I supply.
Of course, by still using my film Nikon to capture the images, I was
left in the situation whereby I did not know definitely that I had a
usable image until the film was developed. I was also at the mercy of
the boy who changed the photochemicals in the autoprocessor. Crispness
in the final image could easily be compromised at that stage.
So I have finally entered the digital era, choosing a camera with
electronics from an electronics manufacturer and the lens from a lens
manufacturer. This has, I believe, given me the best of both worlds. If
you are going the electro-trickery route, use a manufacturer who knows
and understands all the subtleties of LCDs and pixels and all of that
stuff which I don’t really want to know, but why then get that
manufacturer to make optical glass lenses? Surely a recognized lens
manufacturer would be better? The end result was my purchasing a camera
made by Panasonic with a lens from Leica. Both of these firms being
accepted as in the top of their respective leagues.
Having used the camera for a few weeks now, I feel I am in a better
position to look critically at its performance. Whilst it has several
buttons on the body of the camera and one master dial, it still needs
much fiddling around in its menu system. Granted, the five drop-down
menus seems to cover everything a photographer might want, but I still
find it fiddly, pushing buttons to go from one menu screen to another,
just to change some aspect.
Having said that, after an afternoon of button pushing and scrolling
down the various menus, I now have a camera that automatically takes a
bracket of three images, and I dictated the half a stop difference
either side of the selected exposure setting. I also set the viewfinder
up with a grid system, giving me the intersection of thirds as well as
indicating verticals and horizons. All good clever photographic
settings, but ones that could have been done with rotary dials, rather
than giving my thumb cramps getting the setting I wanted. I also worry
that one day I might lose the Operating Instructions manual, all 135
pages of it, and be forced to push buttons aimlessly forever, while
hoping I stumble across the settings I want!
Now the experienced digital user will probably say that all I have to do
is practice a little more, so that the menu selection becomes easy.
Perhaps so, but I am still struggling with the remote on the TV, such is
the level of digital technology skills possessed by this writer.
However, despite all that, I am loving the ‘instant’ gratification with
the ability to instantly review the picture just taken, and the ability
to delete images within the camera, and the sheer range of functions
makes the Panasonic Lumix FZ50 the digital camera for me.
by Dr. Iain Corness, Consultant
The Nine-fingered Accountant
Lopping off a finger is a fairly traumatic experience, and
usually associated with work. There are about 10,000 cases of job-related
amputations in the United States each year; 94 percent of these involve
fingers. Few statistics are available for the outcome of replantations, but
with modern medicine (sorry, surgery) the success rate is increasing.
I did come across a report on a series of 208 digital replantations from the
frigid zone within the People’s Republic of China. The extremely cold
climate (down to 30 degrees below) presents the additional problem of
warming the amputated digits prior to replantation without causing further
damage. An overall replantation survival rate of 94 percent was reported,
and this included 45 cases of multiple digit amputation. Clever people,
these Chinese, but you never know, they might have been ‘copy’ fingers.
Now, to successfully sew the finger(s) back on needs the patient to appear
fairly smartly at the hospital, and to also bring the missing digit. Despite
some claims to the contrary, we are not yet at the stage of being able to
grow new fingers for you.
I was reminded of this recently where an injured person arrived at ER with
his nine good fingers, but without the 10th one that had been lopped off.
The wound was clean and so the hand surgeon sent the patient’s friends off
to find the missing finger, as there was a good chance of successful
replantation. They appeared later with a bag of chicken giblets straight
from the refrigerator, proclaiming the missing digit was inside. When the
surgeon looked, the bag of chicken pieces, which still had the name of the
supermarket on it, had not been opened! There was certainly no finger inside
with the giblets, and all that could be done was to trim up the traumatic
amputation, and hope that the patient was not an accountant.
So, provided the chap’s friends had managed to locate the missing finger,
how do you transport missing body parts (people lop off more than their
fingers, let me assure you)? To save the tissue from further damage, keep
the amputated finger wrapped in clingfilm, preferably in a jar or cup with a
lid. Do not put it directly in water as this will cause it to shrivel up and
become unusable for the surgeon trying to reattach the finger. Put the
container with the finger or whatever inside another large bag with cold
water, to keep the amputated part cold. Some authorities say ice water,
others say just cold water, and I tend to go along with the ‘cold’ concept.
Be sure to gather up all parts of a severed digit, no matter how small. The
body cannot grow a new nail bed, the tissue directly under the nail, so
being able to use the original tissue makes a big difference to whether a
full reconstruction can take place.
Generally, the tissues will survive for about six hours without cooling, and
if the part is cooled, tissue survival time is approximately 12 hours.
Fingers, by the way (and not chicken giblets) have the best outcome for
transportation survival, since fingers do not have a large percentage of
The micro-surgery required to successfully replant fingers (and the other
bits that get lopped off and offered to the ducks) is very exacting, as
nerves, arteries and veins all have to be reconnected. Very often the
surgeon has to shorten the finger, so that there is no tension on the sewn
up structures. All this takes an enormous amount of time and patience. With
one celebrated case in the UK, a woman lost six fingers and it took a team
of surgeons working in relays to reattach all six fingers during 17 hours of
microsurgery. It is said to be the first time so many fingers have been
replanted in one operation.
Many other factors are involved in whether there is a successful outcome.
Generally, severe crushing or avulsing (tearing away) injuries to the
fingers make replantation difficult. Additionally, older persons may have
arteriosclerosis impairing circulation, especially in small vessels.
But if you are unfortunate to cut off a finger, remember to bring it with
you, not the chicken giblets!
Heart to Heart with Hillary
What with all the doom and gloom internationally about the world going into a
recession, rice prices through the roof, petrol becoming a luxury, do you think
this will produce an increase in costs in the red light areas in Thailand?
I am not sure what you mean, Bill. “Red light areas”? Do you mean under the
traffic lights, but they also go orange and green and are ignored by all road
users as being unimportant, so I presume that wasn’t what you meant. If you mean
the bars, then you should be more specific, Petal. With rice, the staple food in
Thailand doubling in price, one must expect that beer, the staple drink in the
bar areas, will also be going up in price. I cannot think of any other costs in
the bar areas, as prostitution is against the law, and therefore does not
happen. Perhaps donations to one’s favorite Buffalo Rehabilitation Unit (BRU)
may have to be increased, but this I am not sure of. I suggest discreet
questions to the Mamasans might yield better results than asking me, after all,
I don’t really follow the international stocks and share indices.
What is the situation with Thai law when you split from a live-in girlfriend?
Does she have any legal rights to your property, cars, houses and such. I’ve
been with this girl for about a year, but it’s time to change, but she’s already
got the hand out and wants the house and the car. Hand them over, or tough it
out? What is your advice?
You are asking the wrong person, Petal. This is Hillary, with heart balm for
those injured in love, not a lawyer specializing in marital problems, even
though some days it seems like it. However, I would imagine that the crux of the
matter hinges on whose name is on the ownership documents. Foreigners cannot own
houses in Thailand in their own names, so many just put the house in the
girlfriend’s name, which is not such a smart move if there is a break-up. (There
are other ways of retaining ownership, such as formation of companies,
mortgages, etc, but your friendly real estate agent can explain all those, not
me). But remember if the piece of paper says it is hers, she is then legally
entitled to it. Same goes with cars and other big ticket items. Since you went
into the relationship, apparently knowing there would be a time to move on
(“time to change” you wrote), then you should have been clever enough to protect
your interests. See a lawyer.
Are all the women in Thailand on the make? Every last one seems to have her hand
into your wallet within days of going into a live-in relationship. At first it
was money to buy groceries, and I thought that was great, looking after me. But
then the grocery bill seemed to be going up all the time and the amount of food
was going smaller. Then it was some to send to Mama, school fees (in a village
school?) for her children being looked after by Mama, it just went on and on.
That ended that one. Then the next one was the same, and the one after that. Is
there one honest woman in Thailand?
Not an ATM
Dear Not an ATM,
Is there one honest woman in Thailand? Yes, me. Just send me your bank account
details so I can see if you are a genuine match (woops, almost wrote ‘catch’
there) and really deserve me. Petal, have you ever wondered why the women you
have formed a relationship with do this so easily? You are obviously looking for
your paragon of virtue in an area selling commercial friendships. Quite frankly,
you will not get a non-bar girl to just move in like that. However, when you
select a lady who will move in tomorrow, then she will move out the day after
that, once your financial support dries up. These are ‘mia chow’ (rented wives),
and it is a purely financial relationship, with you spitting out the money, just
like the ATM. It is time you began to look elsewhere and form a genuine bond
with genuine women, and there are many of them. But you won’t find them in a
The beautiful girls of Thailand amaze me the way they can sit sideways so
gracefully on the rear of a motorcycle. I have even seen one girl calmly
drinking a glass of red wine as they threaded their way through the traffic. Do
you know when did this custom start and do they fall off?
Traditional Thai dress has included the long wrap skirt for many years and the
Thai women have ridden buffaloes, elephants and oxen, long before the invasion
of the Japanese motorcycle. Riding side-saddle is an example of Thai
practicality. Imagine wearing a tight skirt and trying to throw your leg over
the rear of the Honda/Yamaha/Suzuki 125, the ideal motorcycles for a family of
five. Impossible! But you can sit sideways. Do they fall off? Yes they do, but
only when the rider loses control.
Learn to Live to Learn: with Andrew Watson
It had been too long since I had last been encased in a palatial
retreat without recourse to wireless internet, telephone,
television or DVD player and with neither hope nor desire of
escape. Here I was, at three a.m. on a cold, dark morning, with
a wind raging against the shutters, warmed by a roaring log fire
and inspired by the most convivial company, talking with people
with whom I shared a passion; international education.
It was one of those nights you never want to end. I felt like
fortune was smiling upon us, to have brought us together again
like this. Nick Hazell, IB Guru at TISA, Azerbaijan, had been
joined by his partner, Jen Tickle, one of the leading lights in
the IB Theatre world. Their bairn, sweet Emil, lay sound asleep
upstairs. I reflected for a moment on my own rather happy
paternal position, enjoying a period in my life where the kids
are more or less “self-managing”, remembering with ill-founded
nostalgia, as I looked at Nick and Jen, how bleary-eyed I had
once been - it seemed to last for a few years. Ah, parenting,
perhaps the most essential and difficult job in the world and
the one, it appears, with the least formal training.
Back to the Barolo; it was holiday time after all and this “tar
and roses” Italian wine was an appropriate companion for the
night. From parenting, naturally the conversation moved to
parent bodies in school, an integral aspect of the school
community, elements of which are only too ready to get involved
with school life. This, I observed, can have both positive and
negative effects on how people feel about school and indeed, how
well the school functions. When for instance, things are going
badly awry and leadership demonstrates disinterest in rectifying
serious issues, parental involvement in my experience, is
necessary. However, when a parent assumes and expects some
involvement in school affairs, things can very quickly get out
of hand. I have certainly seen the ugly side of parents assuming
too much weight in this regard.
But looking more closely at this phenomenon, Nick pointed out,
“Many parents are eager to get involved in various aspects of
school life and in various ways. Schools welcome this of course
- anything that helps to strengthen the home-school partnership
will have a positive impact on student learning. Speaking from
my experience of schools that have students from fifty or more
nations, it is important that a representational group of
parents from a wide range of nationalities become involved.
There tends to be a cultural factor involved in who steps
forward, however. Without wishing to stereotype cultures, it can
help to think of two contrasting cultural extremes -
individualist versus collectivist. We find that parents who are
predominantly from individualist cultural backgrounds that
emphasise the importance of the individual and where it is
acceptable to ‘do your own thing’, are the ones who step
forward. It is entirely natural for people from these kinds of
cultural backgrounds to act independently and put forward their
own ideas and opinions. This is in contrast to people from a
collectivist cultural background who will tend to value the
harmony of the community over individual needs. There is a
Japanese expression which translates as ‘the nail that sticks
out will be hammered down’. It can be bad form for people within
this cultural group to appear to disagree with anyone. It is
important for any learning organisation to make sure that the
needs of the whole community are addressed and that the agenda
is not driven by the cultural group who shout the loudest. We
cannot assume that just because alternative viewpoints have not
been put forward they do not exist - it may simply be that we
have not heard them because they are relevant to a part of the
community for whom it would be inappropriate to make them known
in a direct way.”
I had to admire the man’s intuitive sense of balance, reinforced
as ever, by extensive reading. We mulled over Hofstede, toasted
his health in fact. After Nick had alluded to individualist and
collectivist cultural backgrounds, I wondered whether it would
be possible to identify “Universals” in cross cultural terms?
“Whilst Pearce (1998) points out,” I argued, “that this notion
is problematic, Gellar (my easy reading for the trip) in
distinguishing between international schools and
‘internationally minded’ schools, a subtle but important
difference, claims that a clear and unambiguous statement of
universal values be made as an essential part of the ethos of
international education. Whilst it is important to recognise
that ‘international education’ is not necessarily synonymous
with ‘international schools’, it would appear naïve to imagine
that schools always shared the ideological goals of even the
bodies that accredit and authorise them. Many schools appear
afraid of becoming involved with values for fear of
disenchanting parents, which is perhaps where ideology fails and
financial imperative prevails.”
Nick appeared to be nodding, although he might just have been
nodding off. We were on the same page now though, as indeed it
appears, are esteemed educational gurus such as Bartlett,
Ellwood & Davis.
At this stage of an evening, as dawn threatened to gate crash
our party, not for the first time, Professor George Walker
appeared in the conversation. Perhaps literally and
metaphorically heralding a new dawn, we spoke of his
inspirational leadership and commitment to changing the world
for the better, nailing our ethical flags to the mast, as ever.
George said, “We exist to make the world a better place,” (2004)
and it’s a statement that is rather difficult to disagree with.
I took my book from the shelf (Gellar, 1993), found what I was
looking for and read aloud; “What takes place in the minds of
children as they work and play together with children of other
cultures and backgrounds? It is the child experiencing
togetherness with different and unique individuals; not just
toleration but enjoyment of the differences … international
schools are the building of bridges not of walls.”
A glimpse of ultramarine violet crept over the horizon. Dawn had
arrived. It was time for bed.
Next week: Einstein had it right.
DOC ENGLISH Teaching your kids how to learn English:
Creating independent (active) learners
Phew! It’s so hot right now it’s hard to
think about studying. However, with the end of the Songkran holidays and
the start of a new (Thai) school year, your child may be facing a new
class and teacher. So, what kind of teacher will they be getting? What
kind of approach do they adopt to teaching and what is their opinion of
the role of the student? Is the role of a student to sit, listen and
speak only when spoken to (passive leaner), or to investigate, discuss,
explore new ideas (active, autonomous learner)?
In traditional classrooms, teachers plan their lessons, control all the
activities in the classroom and evaluate learning through tests and
other forms of assessment. Students may have a fairly ‘passive’ role in
the traditional classroom, listening and responding to the teacher when
prompted and carrying out work that the teacher has provided. Generally
only ‘right’ answers are accepted in such a classroom and wrong answers
are swiftly corrected by the teacher.
These days it is becoming more acceptable for teachers to encourage
students take more control of their learning and adopt more of an active
role in their own learning. This does not mean that students are allowed
to run around and do what they want, it simply means that they are
allowed to have some say in how the lesson evolves and they are allowed
You might want to interview your child’s new teacher to find out how
much autonomy he or she allows your child in the classroom. How much are
children involved in the lesson? Are they dumb recipients, or active
learners, allowed to shape the direction of the lesson? What approach
does your child’s teacher adopt to the treatment of planning, materials,
activities and feedback?
How far does the teacher adapt lessons
according to their students’ needs? Is there a range of fun activities
catering for different levels of language ability, or do the students
all have to do the same work, regardless of their ability in English? Is
there a fair balance between reading, writing, speaking, and listening
activities? How far are books, displays, and other materials adapted to
the Western/Thai way of life? Are books, etc., culturally sensitive, or
mutually exclusive of your child’s own culture? Has your teacher made
any effort to ‘customise’ lesson materials for their particular
students, or do they teach ‘straight from the book’?
Are children encouraged to bring in their own
materials to study from (e.g. Thai / English Dictionary, other materials
in their own language)? Do they have access to and opportunities to
‘self study’ (e.g. library or computer room)? Are they allowed
opportunities to talk about their own country and culture? Inspect your
child’s class book. Are they allowed to write independently (‘free
writing’) or does it look like they just regularly copy from a textbook?
Does the teacher’s marking indicate that the students work is enjoyed,
respected and celebrated? Is students’ work displayed around the
classroom, or is it heavily augmented by the teacher and over-corrected
with hyper-critical comments in red pen? Do the classroom displays look
like they have been made by children or by adults? Often schools will
only display the ‘best’ work (regardless of the effort a child may have
put in) and will even go to the trouble of paying a teaching assistant
to augment the work to make it look better to prospective parents!
How much autonomous interaction does the
teacher allow in class? The classroom management and how the tables and
chairs are arranged can be a good indicator. If the tables are
separated, or children are regularly grouped by nationality, then this
may inhibit their ability to communicate in and share their knowledge of
the English language. Tables arranged in mixed (language) ability groups
offer more opportunities for language exchange. If the teacher moves
around the classroom and is rarely at their desk then they are probably
a good facilitator, taking care of their students needs. If they allow
the students to come to the front of the class and share their ideas,
even better! There should be a great deal of interaction in the ‘active’
classroom, with lots of students talking, discussing different ideas,
using and practicing the language as they work. This might make for a
noisy classroom, however!
Are children allowed opportunities for discussion and are their comments
valued or undermined? Are they allowed to digress and share their own
experiences? Are ‘wrong’ answers valued as much as ‘right ‘ones? Are
children unfairly criticized if they get an answer wrong? All answers
are valid in the active classroom.
Finally, students should be allowed time to
reflect on what they have learnt and to share their thoughts and
opinions on the lesson. Active learners should be given time to discuss
at the end of a lesson and their ideas can be integrated into the
planning of subsequent lessons. The opinions of all learners, however
young, should be respected. If students are allowed to feel involved in
their own learning this way, then they will probably be more motivated
and learn more.
That’s all for this week mums and dads. As always, if you have any
questions, suggestions or ice cream, you can mail me at:
docenglishpattaya@ gmail.com. Enjoy spending time with your kids.
Let’s go to the movies:
by Mark Gernpy
Now playing in Pattaya
Nim’s Island: US Adventure/Family/Fantasy – Nim is a
smart, independent 11-year-old who lives with her microbiologist father
Jack on an uncharted South Pacific island. She has a life most kids
would envy: no school, a host of tame animal friends, and a whole island
to herself. Then her dad goes missing in a storm, and she turns for help
to her favorite author of adventure stories. The film has impressive
scenery, an unexpectedly funny performance by Jodie Foster as a neurotic
writer who lives through her novels, and an unflaggingly spunky Abigail
Breslin as the young heroine. An exhilarating and enchanting family
picture, with enough inspirational messages for two movies. Mixed or
Four Crossroads / Phobia: Thai Horror – four horror stories by
four different directors.
In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale: US Adventure/Action – Be
advised that the director, Uwe Boll, is widely considered to be the
worst movie director ever, and that includes Ed Wood. There’s even a
petition out to forbid him from ever making another film, and it now has
208,056 signatures. This is a reworking of a video game, and a loose and
cheap rip-off of “The Lord of the Rings.” Example of the writing style:
“He has fallen into badness.” Reviews: Extreme dislike or disgust.
The Forbidden Kingdom: US Action/Adventure – I thoroughly enjoyed
this movie. It’s a wrap-up and summary of every Kung Fu/martial arts
movie ever made, encapsulating every known cliché, all of the standard
shots of beautiful scenery, and nearly all the tricks of martial arts.
If this is your first such movie, you don’t have to see any other. It’s
all here! And done lovingly and with a great sense of humor and style by
the tops in the business, the legendary Jackie Chan and Jet Li. I found
it quite witty indeed, and continually poking fun at the genre, like the
nearly impenetrable Buddhist words and concepts that only confuse (such
as “The Gate of No-Gate”).
The story: An American teenager obsessed with Hong Kong cinema
and Kung Fu classics discovers in a Chinatown pawnshop the legendary
stick weapon of the Chinese sage and warrior, the Monkey King. With the
lost relic in hand, the teenager unexpectedly finds himself traveling
back to ancient China to join a crew of warriors from martial arts lore
on a dangerous quest. Mixed or average reviews.
Horton Hears a Who!: US Animation/Family – With Jim Carrey. A
whimsical and quite witty version of Dr. Seuss that I found completely
delightful. An imaginative elephant named Horton hears a faint cry for
help coming from a tiny speck of dust floating through the air. That
speck houses an entire city named Who-ville, inhabited by the
microscopic Whos, led by the Mayor. Despite being ridiculed and
threatened by his neighbors, who think he has lost his mind, Horton is
determined to save the particle. Generally favorable reviews.
Superhero Movie: US Action/Comedy – A send-up of superhero films,
and I didn’t find it so bad after all. At least, I found myself laughing
a great deal throughout. I particularly adored the terribly cruel
portrait of the great Stephen Hawking, who, it turns out, is greatly
frustrated sexually, being nearly unable to move and having to speak his
come-on lines with a computer’s voice. There is also more farting in
this movie than in half an average Thai comedy, meaning a lot. Generally
Street Kings: US Crime/Thriller – With Keanu Reeves. I found this
a compelling, exciting film about an alcoholic LAPD detective forced to
go up against the cop culture he’s been a part of his entire career.
Rated R in the US for strong violence and pervasive language. Mixed or
Sex is Zero 2: Korea Comedy / Romance – a very popular (in Asia)
college sex comedy that manages to be raunchy, funny, and sexy, in the
style of American gross-out college comedies.
Orahun Summer: Thai Comedy / Drama – Misadventures of boy monks.
to open Apr. 30
Iron Man: US Action/Adventure. This long-gestating project
has Robert Downey Jr. as the superhero Tony Stark, a wealthy
industrialist who is forced to build an armored suit after a
life-threatening incident and ultimately decides to use its technology
to fight against evil. With Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, and Ghostface
Scheduled for May 1
The Eye: US Drama/Horror – A remake of the hugely successful
Hong Kong film written and directed by two of my favorite filmmakers,
the Pang brothers (Oxide Pang and Danny Pang). A young, blind violinist
is given the chance to see for the first time since childhood through a
corneal transplant. As she adjusts to a dizzying new world of colors and
shapes, she is haunted by frightening visions of death itself capturing
the doomed and dragging them away from the world of the living.
Generally negative reviews.
Why laptop when you
have a flash drive?
Did you wish you had a laptop so you can have all your work
anytime, anywhere? I think it’s a bad idea carrying that heavy
device with you when you travel. Why take the pains when you can
now carry almost everything on a little device called “flash
Whatever you call it, a handy drive, a pen drive, a thumb drive
or a flash drive, such a gadget was invented to give us mobility
and portability of data. A flash drive (let’s stick to this
name) has become a basic gadget for people who use multiple
computers and of course for avid travellers. And the good part,
as the storage capacity increases, the prices are dropping. As a
1GB flash drive is now at stock-clearance price, a 4GB is a
must-have carry-around gadget. Most people use flash drives just
for storing or transferring of work files, pictures, music,
videos, etc. Little did they know that this little flashy device
you carry around has a lot more capabilities than you ever
One of the most amazing capabilities a flash drive can do that I
recommend you to explore is that you can now carry your
essential applications with you wherever you go. And by
essential applications I mean, all office applications like word
processors and its crew, email applications, web browser,
instant messengers, anti-viruses and even more. Once these
applications are installed into your flash drive, never worry
about having to find a computer with the software you need
Is it really possible to install entire software into that
little device? Well, the question is an under-estimation of
flash drives. Not only can you install just software, but also
an operating system into that tiny gadget you hooked to your key
So how does it work? Just download the standalone application
and install it into your flash drive. When you are on the go,
plug your flash drive into any Windows computer and just launch
the applications you want to use. Yes, it’s that simple!
Here are a few essential applications you could start with:
Open Office Portable allows you to have your office life
on the go. This install includes all office applications like
word processor, spreadsheet, etc.
Portable Firefox, the admirable browser, comes to you in
a portable version as well. All bookmarks that you saved are
stored securely on the flash drive.
Portable Thunderbird is an email application that lets
you carry your emails wherever you go. Send and receive emails
from this application, running on your flash drive.
Pidgin Portable will never let you lose touch with your
friends again. With this multi-network instant messenger, carry
your buddy list with you and log on to your MSN, ICQ, Yahoo! or
Google accounts when you want to chat with them.
GIMP Portable lets you edit your photos and images the
same way you edit them on Adobe Photoshop. This is a credible
image editing tool that you must consider giving a try.
These are just a few. All these applications are easily
available for you to download at PortableApps
(http://www.portableapps.com/), a website that specialises in
providing you with a list of recommended portable applications.
So start downloading and install it into your flash drives.
Having a second thought about your laptop now? Leave it behind!
Go enjoy your vacation!
Site of the Week
Just for Geeks
Music lovers will enjoy this. Listen to non-stop music while you define
the genres, mood, tempo, year of release, etc. to your heart’s content.
Even better, mark your favourite songs and ban the ones you hate.
To last week’s Just For Geeks – Answer and Win! question “What
does Yahoo! stand for?”, here is the answer:
Yahoo! is short for “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle”. This
crazy long name was thought of in 1994 by two Electrical Engineering PhD
candidates at Stanford University, David Filo and Jerry Yang. Today,
Yahoo! is the number one website in the world.
That wasn’t too easy was it? We received a few answers to that and after
a lucky draw we have Royanne and Kik as the two lucky
winners to take away Carvery for two at Jameson’s The Irish Pub voucher
Got questions? Have ideas? Send them to
Till next week… Tata ;-)
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