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Heart to Heart with Hillary
Let’s go to the movies
MBMG International Ltd.
Nominated for the Lorenzo Natali Prize
Light at the end of the Tunnel? Part 2
So why has there been such a good rally over the last six
months? Well, to an old cynic like me, as stated last week, things have been
portrayed to be a lot better than they really are, so why shouldn’t Joe Public
believe what they are being told and try and get some of the money back that
they lost over the last two years. Also, with the banks offering three parts of
diddlysquat in interest rates then there is not really much of an alternative if
people want to try and earn money via savings.
The bad news though is that this is not a real rally, only a government funded
one and when the money runs out then things will dive again. Nouriel Roubini,
the renowned US economist who foresaw what was coming a few years ago, has
already said, “We are planting the seeds of the next crisis.” He carried on,
“There is a wall of liquidity chasing assets.” This cannot last.
Roubini went on to say that the consumer is too “debt burdened” to take over
from government spending. He further stated that, “The crisis is not over. I
think that there is a growing gap between what is the asset price and the real
economy. I see an economy where the consumers are shopped out, debt burdened,
they have to cut back on consumption and save more. The financial system is
damaged…and for the corporate sector I don’t see a lot of capital spending
because there is a glut of capacity.”
Roubini is another who thinks there are problems for US property and also
believes that there will be another fall in US house prices. Property prices
have dropped 13% over the last twelve months and more than a few economists
believe this could spread to the commercial market as well which would not
exactly do the banks any favors.
Another person, apart from me, who is not exactly positive about forthcoming
events is Michael Geoghegan, the CEO of HSBC. In an interview with the Financial
Times, he said, “Is this a V recovery or a W? It is the latter. We have to be
very careful we don’t grow the balance sheet so far before the recovery has come
only to write it back into the impairment line later on. I’m cautious about
growing too fast.” In the interview he then stated, “I’m not as convinced we’re
through the worst as others are. The reality is that profits will be quite
The only thing I would ask people is to be aware of what is going on and make
sure that all the investments are liquid and can be converted into cash
immediately if necessary.
However, if people do not want a rollercoaster ride then simple diversification
is the answer. Nothing does well all the time and, similarly, nothing does badly
all the time. For those who are living in fear of a falling US dollar (not
likely in the near future but, without doubt, will happen by the end of next
year if not before), or rising inflation (not an immediate problem but is
definitely round the corner) then gold is the refuge that many people take.
However, all that glitters is not necessarily gold. Silver sparkles as well. One
small word of warning though. If gold remains as a bull market then the price
should keep going up. If, however, the price does not continue upwards then it
will be a sign the bull market has finished. This is extremely unlikely but a
good investor should be aware of all possibilities. The probability though is
that gold will continue on its upward hike, if for no other reason than people
will run to it due to mass inflation in the near future.
The legendary Jim Rogers believes that gold will go through USD2,500 which will
beat the inflation adjusted mark of USD2,300. However, he is also diversifying.
He likes agricultural commodities because the demand for better quality food is
on the rise in India and China. But he is another who thinks the US dollar is in
for a hard time, “I am horribly pessimistic about the dollar. I am not selling
it yet. I think there may be a rally. I don’t think it will be sustainable if
there is one.”
Light at the end of the tunnel? We haven’t even got to the tunnel yet!
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 ultimate DSLR?
digital SLRs first came on the market, the average megapixel (mp) count
was generally less than 5 mp, and the results were just ‘average’ in my
opinion at the time. Film cameras could provide a photograph with much
However, in this world of electronics, it was not long before the DSLRs
were offering over 12 mp, and even the small compacts were edging up
towards 10 mp. Now we have the 24.4 mp offering from Nikon. The D3X.
Nikon was my camera system of choice in the good old days of good old
film, but it is interesting to compare the progress of the Nikon
digitals at the professional end of the scale over the past decade.
D1 1999 2.6 mp
D1X 2001 5.3 mp
D1H 2001 2.7 mp
D2H 2003 4.1 mp
D2X 2004 12.2 mp
D3 2007 12.1 mp
D3X 2008 24.5 mp
The X series denoted high resolution designed for landscapes and
fashion, while the H series were for high speed sports photography.
This new D3X is a sister camera to the D3, which is now a couple of
years old, and Nikon was remiss, I believe, in not calling the D3 the
D3H, because that is where the D3 is, relative to the D3X.
The D3 is a faster camera, providing more frames per second and capable
of performing at much higher ISO levels than the D3X, but only has 12.1
mp as opposed to the 24.4 mp of the D3X. Keeping in mind the
capabilities needed vis-à-vis sports photography and landscape
photography puts these two cameras, not as being against each other, but
as complementary cameras, in my opinion.
When you read the reviews, almost every photographer immediately begins
to compare the two, and with the D3X at USD 8,000 being almost twice the
price of the D3, and basically looking the same, the end result is the
decision that the D3X is overpriced. For example, the Good Gear Guide
reviewed the Nikon D3x and wrote, “At twice the megapixel count of the
earlier D3, the Nikon D3x is suitable for immensely detailed landscape
and nature photography. However, there are not enough additional
features to justify a price almost twice that of the Nikon D3.” However,
I suggest that the reviewers are comparing apples and oranges. Both are
fruit, and that’s where the comparison ends.
Remember that professional photographers (and this is certainly a pro
shooter’s camera) do not use the same camera for sports and landscapes.
These are almost at opposite ends of the scale. The sports/action
photographer needs a fast camera which is hand-held for 99 percent of
its work. The landscape photographer needs a camera that returns as much
detail per frame as possible, and that camera will spend 99 percent of
its life on a tripod. In fact, you will find that most pro photographers
belong to one camp or the other.
That being the case, the reviewers should be looking at how well the D3X
performs against the more usual professional cameras used in landscape
photography, and that is the medium format, or even large format
cameras. And this is where the D3X is actually cheaper than the others.
With the highest megapixel count, this new Nikon is challenging the
sharpness and detail produced by the medium format cameras, but with the
ease of an admittedly rather large but still easily portable SLR camera.
The Nikon D3x has everything you could want in an all-weather,
all-conditions digital camera. A magnesium frame body with rubber and
plastic outer coating is resistant to shocks and drops, and all the
buttons are large and embossed enough to be pressed while wearing
gloves. At 1220g it is slightly lighter than the D3, but its dimensions
The final word from photographer Dave Black who wrote, “D3X is not for
everyone, but make close examination of your business. If this 24.5 mp
camera can set you apart from your competitors by raising the quality
bar higher than others are willing to go, then perhaps the D3X is the
camera for you.”
To which I add - if you are a landscape photographer.
by Dr. Iain Corness, Consultant
The Feast of the Fallover
One of the greatest problems with getting older is what I
call the ‘felloffas’ and the ‘fellovers’. Unfortunately, as we get older,
our ability to bounce becomes much less. Any fall is likely to be a
fracture, and one of the most serious is fracture of the hip. In fact, my
radiologist son has stated that anyone over 80 who has a fall has a
fractured neck of femur until proved otherwise.
The problem is, that despite all the advances in surgical techniques,
anybody with a fractured neck of the femur (the thigh bone where it fits
into the hip joint), will end up with a prosthetic ball and socket joint.
Even with minimally invasive surgery, it is still a major operation, and as
such has “risks” and a prolonged post-operative phase, complete with
rehabilitation and training on how to walk again.
The reason that the elderly have this problem is through the bone becoming
less dense, and therefore more brittle. This condition is called
osteoporosis. Osteoporosis involves a gradual loss of calcium, which causes
the bones to become thinner, more fragile and more likely to break.
There are many people who are ‘at risk’ of osteoporosis, including:
Post-menopausal women and not taking estrogen.
A personal or maternal history of hip fracture or smoking.
Post-menopausal woman who are tall (over 1.7 meters) or very thin.
Males with clinical conditions associated with bone loss.
Anyone taking medications that are known to cause bone loss, including
corticosteroids such as Prednisone, various anti-seizure medications such as
Dilantin and certain barbiturates, or high-dose thyroid replacement drugs.
People with type 1 (formerly called juvenile or insulin-dependent) diabetes,
liver disease, kidney disease or a family history of osteoporosis.
People with thyroid conditions, such as hyperthyroidism or parathyroid
condition, such as hyperparathyroidism.
Those who have experienced a fracture after only mild trauma.
People with X-Ray evidence of vertebral fracture or other signs of
That list above seems to cover just about everyone, so how can you find out
whether you have already experienced calcium loss and osteoporosis? This can
be demonstrated very simply by Bone Density Scanning.
Bone density scanning, also called dual-energy X-Ray absorptiometry (DXA or
DEXA) or bone densitometry, is an enhanced form of X-Ray technology that is
used to measure bone density loss. DEXA is today’s established standard for
measuring bone mineral density (BMD).
The procedure involves wearing a gown in place of your normal outer
clothing, and lying on a clinical examination table that has an arm over you
to receive the X-Rays generated under the table. The arm moves with a
whirring noise, just to let you know that something is happening. The
technicians will also position your legs, so that they can get the best
X-Ray exposure of the lumbar spine and hips. The whole procedure takes
around 10 minutes and then it is just a case of waiting for a few minutes
for the results.
So what can you do to attempt to prevent osteoporosis? According to one
researcher’s findings and published in the Medical Journal of Australia,
lifestyle approaches, such as increasing calcium intake and weight-bearing
exercise, as well as avoidance of excess alcohol and tobacco use, are
recommended, even though the evidence for anti-fracture efficacy of each, or
a combination of these approaches, is lacking. Vitamin D deficiency is
common in elderly people who are housebound or institutionalized, and
vitamin D replacement should be considered in these individuals. Hip
protectors should be considered in elderly people at risk of falls, but
adherence to wearing these is very limited.
However, if the result shows that you already do have osteoporosis, and are
therefore “at risk”, what then? Well, there are treatments that are
available, and most of them are expensive. It is not a simple matter of
drinking two bottles of high calcium milk, I am afraid. Calcium metabolism
is very complex, and getting it from the belly to the bones is not easy.
For post-menopausal women, consider estrogen as a preventive. For everyone,
exercise should be continued as it helps build up bone mass. And if you want
to know if you are at risk, consider a DEXA scan.
Heart to Heart with Hillary
Every week I read about these guys who moan about the bar girls in Thailand.
There are books all about how they all get ripped off by these beautiful women.
But the same guys who are complaining wouldn’t be able to get any sort of a
woman in their own countries. Just look at the fat drunken fools, what sort of
catch are they? They take somebody who looks like a film star from the bar, and
imagine that the same lovely young film star is just as happy as they are, being
dragged around the place - not by Brad Pitt but by a drunken pensioner! What
sort of trade-off is that? All these beer soaks are the same. The savvy bar girl
comes up and say “I lub you too mut!” and they believe them. Savvy bar girl then
works out his PIN number and helps clean out his bank account as their reward
for having to put up with him. They deserve all they get.
Does your nom de plume mean you work for the famous newspaper in England, my
Petal? Are you offering me a job if I get the right answer? Ah well, a girl can
only dream. When you say “They deserve all they get,” who are you referring to -
her for cleaning him out, or him for imagining that a film star is interested in
him? Putting aside the complaints for the time being, the association between
bar girls and pensioners is really a win-win situation. He gets company in his
twilight years, and she gets a bag of money. The only real problem is the
pensioner’s self delusions, and that is not something I can change, and judging
by the number of books available on the subject, the written word doesn’t work
either, or maybe they can’t read.
We’ve just had Loy Krathong and the situation between the police and revellers
was ludicrous. Here were all the kom loy sellers being hotly pursued by half a
dozen police, but as soon as the police had swept the area, the kom loys were
back again. The same for the fireworks. I know the dangers of fire and every
year people get injured from fireworks, but these are nothing compared to the
600 deaths over Songkran. Is Thailand following the UK in becoming a ‘nanny’
You are quite correct in assuming that kom loys and fireworks are dangerous, but
in reality not as dangerous as Songkran. However, what you have been witnessing
at the Loy Krathong festival is the eternal struggle for supremacy between the
Health and Safety lobby and the fun-loving nature of the Thai people. If you are
a betting man, put your money on the fun lobby!
Criminals caught with kom loy
Most of the letters you seem to get are from men who are whining about what has
happened to them with girls from in the bar scene. Has the simple fact escaped
them that there is another side to living in Thailand? Surely they must see that
there is a big difference between that side and the other side? If they stopped
to look past the end of their noses they would see that there are some truly
wonderful girls out there. I have been married to my Thai wife for ten years now
and we have a partnership and mutual trust. This works very well and I have
never felt at any time that I am being ripped off. Adjustments have to be made
(by both the people) but that is normal in any marriage. My wife came from a
respectable family and had a good job before she settled down to be a wife and
mother to our two lovely girls. Why don’t some of these men who write in with
complaints spend more time to look for the “good” girls?
Dear Happily Married,
I thank you for your letter, as it is easy for the casual reader to think that
there is nothing but disaster in any relationship with a Thai lady. You are
correct, people with problems do tend to write in to a problems column, rather
than those who do not. It is always good to show that there is another side to
the coin. Unfortunately, the ‘professional’ ladies are the ones that the
newcomers meet, who are then swept off their feet in the rush to the gold shop,
the motorcycle dealers and the real estate agents. These men would not go
looking for their life’s partner in a bar in their own country, so why do they
do so here? Laziness and easy availability is the answer. Congratulations again
on writing in and 10 years of marital (not ‘martial’) bliss.
Let’s go to the movies:
by Mark Gernpy
playing in Pattaya
Slice / Cheun: Thai, Crime/ Thriller – You have to see this!
I know, you’re surprised, because there’s lots of gore – and I do mean a
lot! But there’s also a very affecting love story between two
adolescent boys. Beautifully acted by the two teenagers, this section
has some of the best Thai filmmaking since Love of Siam. Very
highly recommended. But hurry – ends soon! Playing at SF Central
Pattaya (Big C), and Major Cineplex. 18+.
Surrogates: US, Action/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – I really enjoyed this,
and I think you will too. Set in a futuristic world where humans live
in isolation and interact through surrogate robots. Mixed or average
reviews. Nevertheless, I recommend it highly.
2012: US/ Canada, Action/ Drama/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – Director Roland
Emmerich has given movie watchers several apocalyptic films
(Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow), and here he offers
another look at the end of the world. The film offers conclusive proof
that the world will end on December 21, 2012, so let’s hope the studio
recoups its investment before then. It’s the Mayan Long Count calendar
that contains the proof, and folks it’s irrefutable. So get your
affairs in order, and don’t make any plans for Christmas that year. For
further information, read John Major Jenkins’ treatise, Maya
Cosmogenesis 2012: The True Meaning of the Maya Calendar End-Date
(published 1998). You, too, will be convinced!
The September Issue: US, Documentary – A documentary chronicling
Vogue frosty editor-in-chief Anna Wintour’s preparations for the
September 2007 fall-fashion issue of Vogue magazine, which weighed
nearly five pounds, and was the single largest issue of a magazine ever
published. A fascinating look at the legendary editor, and her absolute
rule of the world of fashion. Generally favorable reviews.
9: US, Animation/ Adventure/ Fantasy/ Sci-Fi – A post-apocalyptic
nightmare in which all of humanity is threatened. I loved it, but then
I love good animation and nightmares in which all of humanity is
threatened! Director Shane Acker’s distinctively original and thrilling
tale is produced by visionary filmmakers Tim Burton (The Corpse Bride,
Charlie and The Chocolate Factory) and Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted,
Nightwatch). Mixed or average reviews.
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans: US, Crime/ Drama –
Directed by Werner Herzog. A demented cop on the brink of insanity.
That’s Nicolas Cage. He plays a rogue detective who is as devoted to
his job as he is at scoring drugs — while playing fast and loose with
the law. He wields his badge as often as he wields his gun in order to
get his way. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina he becomes a
high-functioning addict who is a deeply intuitive, fearless detective
reigning over the beautiful ruins of New Orleans with authority and
abandon. Complicating his tumultuous life is the prostitute he loves
(played by Eva Mendes). Together they descend into their own world
marked by desire, compulsion, and conscience. The result is a singular
masterpiece of filmmaking, equally sad and manically humorous.
Generally favorable reviews: 73 out of 100. But a wide divergence of
Law Abiding Citizen: US, Drama/ Thriller – Terrific! I found this
film quite entertaining and thought-provoking. Rated R in the US for
strong bloody brutal violence and torture, a scene of rape, and
pervasive language. In Thailand, 18+. Generally unfavorable reviews,
but I highly recommend it anyway.
Haunted University / Mahalai Sayongkwan: Thai, Horror/ Thriller –
Based on various horror and ghost tales current in universities. I am
not enthusiastic about this film; I found it generally a run-of-the-mill
exercise in Thai horror, with nothing to distinguish itself. It’s more
illogical than most such films; in fact, a movie without thought at
all. I must admit there were a lot of giggles in the audience during
the most comic of the four stories, about a hapless dental student
afraid of corpses who has to stand duty in a morgue. But mostly I
thought the acting amateurish, the direction unmotivated and
nonsensical, the whole more silly and childish than scary. In Thailand,
Vanquisher / Suay ... Samurai: Thai, Action/ Thriller –
Cleavage-baring female swordfighters, clad in cat suits. (18+)
Bangkok Traffic Love Story / Rot Fai Faa Ma Ha Na Tur (I Ride the
Skytrain to See You): Thai, Romance/ Comedy – A romantic comedy
shrewdly crafted to give single girls everything they want in a movie.
The top Thai film for the past three weeks.
Hangover: US/ Germany, Comedy – A Las Vegas-set comedy about a
bachelor party gone very wrong. Three friends lose their
about-to-be-wed buddy during their drunken misadventures, then must
retrace their steps in order to find him. With a clever script
and hilarious interplay among the cast, the film nails the right tone of
raunchy humor, and the non-stop laughs overshadow any flaw. Rated R in
the US for pervasive language, sexual content including nudity, and some
drug material. Generally favorable reviews.
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