- HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:
Heart to Heart with Hillary
Let’s go to the movies
Graham Macdonald MBMG International Ltd.
A brief introduction to life assurance
What is it? Do you need it? And if you do, how much for how long?
Given the state of the markets, you may be considering
heading to the tallest building and taking a running jump off. Before you do
then you may want to consider Life Assurance.
Basically there are two main types of life insurance, Term Assurance
and Whole of Life Assurance. You only need life assurance if a person, persons
or third party will suffer financial hardship in the event of your death.
How long you effect a policy for will depend entirely on the purpose of the
policy. If you are a parent wishing to provide for children in the event of your
death, typically you will be covered until your youngest child is 21 or 25 years
old, depending on when you deem them able to stand on their own financially.
Whole of Life is, as the name suggests, until you die, and the reasons for
taking this in preference to Term Assurance are many and varied, it could be to
pay inheritance tax, to guarantee your children a capital sum in the future or,
if taken in conjunction with critical illness, to cushion the blow in the event
of being diagnosed with a “dread disease”.
What is Term
Term Assurance provides cover for a fixed term with the sum assured payable only
on death. There are no investment benefits or payments on survival. Term
Assurance premiums are based primarily on the age and health of the life
assured, the sum assured and the policy term. The older the life assured or the
longer the policy term the higher the premium will generally be.
Types of Term
Term Assurance policies can be written on a single life, joint life (first or
second death) or on a life of another basis.
The most common form of Term Assurance is Level Term Assurance where the
premiums are fixed for the duration of the insurance term and a payment will
only be made if a death occurs during the insurance period. A Level Term
Assurance policy is taken out for a fixed term. This type of term assurance
policy can be a useful for providing security for dependents up to a certain
You must have a financial interest in the person that you are insuring when
taking out any Life of Another policy and the provider may require proof of this
before cover is given. It is this type of policy that is usually used for Keyman
Insurance or Cross Partner Protection. These types of policies either insure a
valuable employee who, if they suffered a fatality would be a serious loss to
the company, or to give partners/co-directors the opportunity to buy out the
other partner’s company share in the event of death or serious disability.
Premiums for these types of policies are usually tax deductible. However,
depending where you are in the world then, in the event of a claim, the capital
sum may be taxable.
What is Whole of Life Assurance?
Whole of Life Assurance policies give you protection for life. Unlike Term
Assurance that only pays out if you die during the term of the policy, a Whole
of Life assurance policy always pays out eventually.
For this reason Whole of Life assurance can be more expensive than term
assurance, although this is not always the case.
The main type of Whole of Life assurance used these days is a unit-linked
product which offers a variable mix between investment content and life cover.
Whole of Life
The initial premium is usually fixed for 10 years and is generally reviewed at
that point to see whether the growth of the investment fund is sufficient to
maintain the same premium level. It is possible that the premium may have to
increase, or sum assured reduce, at that point.
What is Critical Illness Cover?
This can usually be written as a stand alone policy or combined with a life
assurance policy. A Critical Illness policy will cover you in the event of a
pre-determined illness or disease. Not all Critical Illness policies are the
same and policy conditions will vary. It is vitally important to understand
exactly which conditions are covered before you proceed with a particular policy
or insurance plan.
With most Critical Illness policies a capital sum is paid out on diagnosis of a
specified medical condition or occurrence of heart attack, most forms of cancer,
kidney failure, major organ transplant, stroke, etc.
Critical Illness lump sum benefits
The lump sum benefits derived from a critical illness insurance policy are not
By the way, those who do take the jump will not be covered so keep on in there.
The markets will get better.
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
Digital time exposure for beginners
Digital photography is the ideal camera for time exposures. However,
talk time exposure and most photographers will run away. How many times
have you used the “time exposure” facility on your camera for example?
How about “never”! That’s the usual response to that question. And the
reason? “Looks too complicated or too hard to work out the exposure.”
Let’s address the “too technical” aspect first. A camera is purely a
device that lets a certain amount of light fall onto a sensor (digital
remember) for a predetermined amount of time. This is the old “f8 at
1/60th” sort of routine. The number of the “f” stop (the aperture) tells
you how large the hole is that lets the light in, and the 1/60th denotes
how long the hole was left open. Sounds technical - but it’s not!
Way back, when photography was in its infancy, the film material was so
insensitive that the exposure times were nowhere near as “short” as
today. 1/60th was unheard of - it was more like a three weeks at f4 in
those days! With today’s super-sensitive film materials and printing
papers you can get away with “short” time exposures and you don’t even
need to be accurate any more. Near enough is good enough!
What do you need for digital Time Exposure photography? Well, a digital
camera is a good start, but it has to be one with “T” or “B” settings.
The “T” setting stands for Time Exposure - one “click” opens the
shutter, the second “click” closes it. “B” originally stood for “bulb”
and the way that works is by holding the shutter release down keeps the
shutter open until you take your finger off, which closes it. Why two
settings? Simple, use “B” for time exposures up to a minute and “T” for
longer ones (mainly because your finger will go numb holding the button
down for 20 minutes!).
Yes, time exposure photography is fundamentally the same as ordinary
daylight photography, but there are some constraints, caused by the very
long exposures necessary. The main one is one of “noise” being simply a
breakdown of the light to produce blown out areas of the image. This is
in some ways similar to the production of ‘grain’ with film at high ISO
readings. So for best results in digital photography, keep the ISO
setting at 100 ASA (or ISO).
For night photography in cities it is best to use a low ISO setting to
reduce noise, an f/stop that gives enough depth of field and sharp
images, and a few different exposure times in seconds. As a rough guide,
20 seconds should be in the ballpark.
The last thing you need is a tripod, unless you are good at standing
motionless for twenty seconds or so. And a strong sturdy one, not one of
those lightweight skinny aluminium models that will blow over in the
breeze. However, if you have not got a tripod, it is not the end of the
world, but you will have to find some way to keep the camera steady. I
have taken 30 second time exposure with the camera sitting on a table,
or the roof of a car.
The important point to grasp is that all Time Exposure photography is
“hit and miss”. There’s no real way anyone can tell you exactly “f8 and
24 seconds”. The camera’s exposure meter doesn’t help here either.
There’s too many variables, but all you have to do is to take the same
scene or picture with several different exposure times - one of them
will be right. Believe me! And you don’t have to wait long with digital
photography to see the results.
Make a note of the order your time exposures were shot in, and jot down
the “best” result and then take another at that exposure. You may just
by Dr. Iain Corness, Consultant
The Great British Bottom
I have just returned from a week in the UK, and Scotland in
particular. I was joined by my eldest son, Dr. Jonathan Corness, for the
trip to visit my 91 year old Mum, and after being subjected to temperatures
of minus four degree at night and relatively tropical temperatures of
between four and six degrees in the day plus constant rain, we were in
complete agreement on one subject. Why did our forefathers decide that the
north of Scotland would be a good place to settle? Or for that matter, the
UK. They should have been locked up in a maximum security home for those
people with psychiatric problems. They used to call them ‘lunatic asylums’
in those days, and that is where our lunatic ancestors should have been
residing, and not trudging around the wet and misty moors herding sheep
while wearing a hairy skirt style thing and no undies.
However, there was something else we noticed, in between shivering and
trying to get into any place that was warm. (As an aside, it is amazing just
how long you can make a cup of coffee and a bun last, while hovering near
the fire in Annie’s Tea Room.) No, what we noticed was the Great British
This anatomical aberration is owned by at least 20 percent of the bonnie
lasses in Scotland, and an equal percentage of English ladies. How some of
them manage to get into the small cars which abound on the wet British roads
is beyond me. There is no way a standard seat could accommodate a 40 pick
handle beam. The overlap must hide the gear lever, or perhaps they all drive
To compound the problem, and at least draw attention to it, the British
female likes to wear very low hipster jeans, or the new fashion ‘ra ra’
skirt with tights. These garments are worn to display a fatty apron in the
front and a bottom cleavage which exceeds the one on their chests.
Now why they should think that these sights are alluring and attractive, I
do not know, or perhaps the British government has banned the sale of
mirrors? They seem to have banned everything else in the name of Health and
Safety. For example, I believe they were thinking of banning the Noddy and
Big Ears books we all read as children, because it has been presumed that
Noddy is gay because he didn’t have a girlfriend in Toyland, and you are not
allowed to make fun of people with physical deformities!
But back to the Great British Bottom. In the cold climates (read
‘freezing’), a high carbohydrate diet does help the metabolism, but it does
also help stack on the weight. (The British Army ration packs for cold
climates are 55 percent carbohydrates, for example, and the current U.S.
Military Recommended Dietary Allowance (MRDA) for males in environments that
are colder than 57°F (14°C) is 4,500 kcal/d.)
Now looking at the ensuing weight problem, I am not sure if this concept can
be applied to our subcutaneous fat, but gravity does pull everything
downwards, as noted by Sir Isaac Newton in 1687, and it settles to the
bottom, one might say. And that just may explain the Great British one.
Official obesity figures in the UK indicate 17 percent of men and 21 percent
of women are obese (a body mass index of more than 30 kg/m2). Frightening
thought - one in five British women could crush you.
So what should these women do? First I would suggest they get out of the UK,
and if the PAD allows planes to land, here is not a bad sort of a place to
Now, no matter how much excess weight or fat you have, if you want to lose
weight permanently, your diet program should be directed toward a slow,
steady weight loss. According to official UK government dietary guidelines,
you should lose no more than one kg of fat a week, giving the skin a chance
to take up the slack.
See a dietician, get a simple regime and follow it and wave goodbye to your
bottom (and your belly)!
Heart to Heart with Hillary
Yes you can buy cheese at the hardware store! I am an American who was raised in
Mississippi in the late 1940’s. When visiting my grandmother during the summer,
I often went to the local hardware store to hangout and look at all of the neet
(sic) stuff. For a 6 year old boy, this was heaven. While there, I would all
ways buy a chunk of cheese to eat. There was a large hoop, maybe 25 kilo,
sitting out in the open, no cover, no refrigeration, cut it yourself and take to
the counter for payment. Whenever you tell someone they will not find cheese in
a hardware store, it brings back fond memories from my childhood. Thank you for
I am glad I help bring back those childhood memories even though it was some
time ago, wasn’t it, my Petal. I wonder if you can still buy your cheese from
the local hardware store in Mississippi, or did that go the way of button up
boots and Santa Claus? By the way, Robert, I know that American spelling
deviates from the UK spelling, but what is “neet”? Surely, that should have been
Reference Archie’s recent letter. Even if a UK pensioner living in Chiang Mai
has a legally registered Thai wife, I would imagine if she is not a resident of
the UK you could not claim a married man’s pension. Is that right?
I am sorry I can’t help you there, Petal. The UK Pensions Department is well out
of my sphere of activity, but perhaps some of my other readers can give us a
clue. Can you claim? Are you in that situation? Archie says he is and does get
the married pension. Let me know.
Do tell Archie that as an ex-NHS (now Ministry of Work and Pensions) civil
servant, I know of no rules to qualify what he says.
Hasn’t Archie brewed up a storm! It really is time that people who know about
these things told us all the definitive answer, before there’s a queue at the
local Amphur with British pensioners and young Thai ladies all hoping for the UK
handout. To remind you all, I publish Archie’s letter again below.
Here is some advice to UK single pensioners, marry your Thai girl friend and get
a big pay rise (married man’s pension), then your wife will get also her UK
national insurance card, which will make her very happy. I know because I have
just done this, and we are both happy.
I sort of get the impression that your advice on getting married is the right
choice, but for all the wrong reasons! Being an old biddie with probably some
out of date ideas, I believe you should get married to show your commitment to
your partner and to share life together, not primarily as a way to extract money
from the British government. However, I am glad you are looking after your Thai
girlfriend, my Petal.
After reading that you have been getting success stories lately I thought I
could tell you about mine. Finally I have been successful, but there were a
couple of mistakes on the way to getting there. It certainly wasn’t plain
sailing. Like many young fellows arriving in Thailand, I could not believe my
eyes at first. So many beautiful girls, so available and so difficult to choose!
My first choice was Nid but she had to choose between being faithful to me or to
the two guys she had on the string from America and Holland. She was not willing
to tell them what was happening and chose the regular double income by bank
transfer, rather than my cash in the hand. The second girlfriend wasn’t much
better. She took the cash, plus anything else that wasn’t nailed down. You would
think I would have called in quits by then, but I didn’t. Number three ripped me
off too, but this time it was only a motorbike that went with her.
It was shortly after that when I began to think I was looking for my princess in
the wrong places and so I gave up the easy bars and the easy girls and met my
next lady in the glasses shop where I went to have my eyes tested. We went out
the next week and now, after two years we are married. I have never been
happier. To all the guys out there I say, don’t be a sucker. There are girls in
Thailand and there are ladies. They don’t live under the same roof. It will take
you longer to find your lady, but believe me it is worth it.
It sounds as if you should have had your eyes tested much earlier in the piece,
then you wouldn’t have stumbled around blindly for the first three times, Petal.
As you have correctly mentioned, life was not meant to be easy. Unfortunately,
if you are looking for a princess you sometimes have to kiss a lot of frogs.
Toads are even worse! Thank you for your success story and I am truly glad you
found the secret to life with a lady in Thailand.
Let’s go to the movies:
by Mark Gernpy
Now playing in Pattaya
Beverly Hills Chihuahua: US Comedy/ Adventure/ Family – In
this Disney comedy, a pampered Beverly Hills Chihuahua finds herself
accidentally lost in the mean streets of Mexico. Alone for the first
time in her spoiled life, she must rely on some unexpected new friends
to help her to find her way back home. Critical reaction seems to be
very mixed, with people either loving it or hating it. Overall, mixed or
This is not an animated movie – it uses real animals, and the actors are
the voices of the animals, apart from the small assortment of humans.
You must know fairly well at this stage whether or not you and your
child enjoy talking animal pictures. If this is your cup of tea, you
should enjoy it well enough.
Ong-Bak 2: Thai Action/ Adventure – With Tony Jaa. The first
Ong-Bak was one of the better Thai action films of recent years, and
expectations are high that this one will be very good entertainment
indeed. I must admit I enjoy watching Tony Jaa in action, and marveling
at his outrageous stunts.
Twilight: US Vampire love – Already a phenomenon, somewhat akin
to the Beatles frenzy on their first appearance in America - but this
time for one person - heartthrob Robert Pattinson, as the latest vampire
reincarnation. Here you have your against-the-odds teen love, your woman
in peril, your vampires, and your cult following. And girls are getting
injured in the mass near-rioting wherever Pattinson appears for book
signing. It’s a heavy-duty love story, quite well done, with a few
interesting twists, and I rather enjoyed it. Mixed or average reviews.
Last weekend’s opening in North American created a frenzy among teenage
girls, with more than 1,000 screenings across the country selling out
days in advance. The opening-weekend gross beat even the most optimistic
expectations – the film sold an estimated $70.6 million in tickets to a
huge young-adult audience, 75% female.
Teeth: US Comedy/ Horror – Directed by Mitchell Lichtenstein (son
of Pop artist Roy). Dawn, a high school student, works hard at
suppressing her budding sexuality by being the local chastity group’s
most active participant. A stranger to her own body, innocent Dawn
discovers she has a toothed vagina when she becomes the object of
violence. More enjoyable than I thought it would be, it is still pretty
sick and unpleasant, and with the number of appendages that eventually
litter the ground, I think Teeth bites off more than it can chew. Mixed
or average reviews.
007 – Quantum of Solace: UK/US Action/ Adventure/ Thriller – A
continuation of the 2006 Casino Royale, which was a reinvention of the
James Bond film series for present-day audiences. Here, with a different
director, I found the undertaking greatly diminished in charm and style
and elegance, with the action sequences more mindless and muddled, the
plot vastly more convoluted and confusing, but with much to still like
if you’re a fan of Bond films. Generally favorable reviews.
Midnight Meat Train: US Crime/ Horror – At last! A thinking man’s
slasher flick! I don’t usually like movies of this icky ilk, but I do
have to say that this one is a very creative and energetic adaptation of
a very bloody short story by the renowned horror writer Clive Barker,
with enough scares and thrills to be a potential cult classic. Unusually
literate for a slasher, it’s nearly a perfect bloody horror film.
Understand, it’s disgusting! Rated R in the US for sequences of strong
bloody gruesome violence, grisly images involving nudity, sexual
content, and language. Mixed or average reviews.
Tropic Thunder: US Comedy/ War – I heartily recommend the film
for those not easily shocked – you might just have the best laughs
you’ve had in years. Robert Downey, Jr. gives another amazing
performance. A group of self-absorbed actors set out to make the biggest
war film ever. Rated R in the US for pervasive language including sexual
references, violent content, and drug material. Generally favorable
Twentieth Century Boys: Japan Fantasy – A live-action film based on a
wildly popular manga comic. An expensive Japanese extravaganza with many
top Japan stars. Unfortunately, in a Thai-dubbed version only, which is
a real shame.
The House Bunny: US Comedy – About the travails of an ex-Playboy
Bunny. I did see it, and it is appallingly nauseous. Only for those who
enjoy dumb blonde jokes. Mixed or average reviews.
Headless Family / Hua Luud Family: Thai Comedy – The usual, this
time about a family that has a freak accident that leaves them able to
detach their heads without ill effects.
Sex Drive: US Comedy – An eighteen-year-old sets out on a cross
country drive with his best friends determined to lose his virginity.
Randy and raucous. Rated R in the US for strong crude and sexual
content, nudity, language, some drug and alcohol use - all involving
teens. Mixed or average reviews.
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