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Heart to Heart with Hillary
Let’s go to the movies
MBMG International Ltd.
Nominated for the Lorenzo Natali Prize
The Battle is Lost but can we win the War? Part 1
In a recent article, The Wall Street Journal stated that,
“Many lost jobs in the US will never come back.”
Nearly eight million people have become unemployed since the recession began.
Now, it has to be said that a lot of these jobs were created out of nothing
anyway by the fact they were related to the housing industry which boomed
earlier this decade. Bill Bonner calls this the Bubble Age whereby, apart from
the above, people also had jobs selling products to people who did not really
want or need them and, much more importantly, could not afford them unless they
were paid for by credit. Also, do not forget the support staff needed to make
all of this happen. People who worked in manufacturing, selling, transporting,
etc., are now on the dole as well.
Well, the Bubble has well and truly burst. Obama thinks he can ease the pain by
pumping in more money but it cannot really work. When he has run out of the
filthy lucre the status quo will remain; i.e., people will still be in debt and
out of a job. The Wall Street Journal reported recently that the casinos in Las
Vegas had now stopped any expansion projects for the foreseeable future. When
this happens you know things are bad.
Occasionally, there is good news but this is only short term. Nothing goes up or
down forever. There is always a bounce when there is a downward trend but this
is a dead cat one. The basics are:
- Just over one year since the collapse of Lehman Brothers there has been huge,
never seen before, state intervention in the American economy.
- The US government is now the country’s largest lender, insurer, car maker and
guarantor against risk for all typed of investor.
- The American government is basically paying for 9 out of 10 new mortgages. If
you purchase a General Motors car then you have bought something from a company
60% government owned.
- If you take a loan out or use your credit card, there is a good chance the
American government is financing both your debt and your bank.
- Finally, if you buy life insurance from AIG, then you have got something from
a company which is almost 80% owned by the state.
I have shown this because it shows that when there is no more federal money the
situation will not have changed one iota. People will still be in debt with no
light at the end of the tunnel.
Let’s go back to the employment statistics. During the last decade, America
employed over two million new people each and every year. In the first six
months of this year over 2.5 million jobs have been lost. For these people to be
re-employed again, new business needs to be created either by present companies
expanding or new ones starting. This is not going to happen in the near future.
It is always expected that people are laid off when times are bad but the slack
is usually, at least in part, picked up by someone. Not this time and economists
believe we will have large scale unemployment for quite some time. The head of
the IMF has said it will be the middle of 2010 before we start to see employment
pick up. I think this is highly unlikely and far too early.
The figures are there for all to see. Even if we could employ one and a half
million people per annum in new, sustainable jobs the fact is that almost eight
million have lost their jobs during this downturn. The probability is that more
will be lost as well. Therefore, by the end of next year we could be looking at
ten million people who have been made unemployed over the last few years.
What this means is that even if we get back to how rates of employment were ten
years ago there are still going to be many millions on the dole queue.
Obviously, this is not the first time we have seen large scale job losses but
they are usually restored when the economy recovers. However, this was when we
were still in the credit growth era of the last sixty years. The problem is that
this growth is no longer there. There are lots of houses out there which have
been repossessed. We don’t need any more new ones. We certainly do not need such
a big finance industry either. We need to get rid of credit not get more. So
these jobs are not going to be needed for many years to come.
Also, it must be remembered that companies will look for cheaper sources of
taking people on. Rather than use someone locally for USD50,000 they can
outsource to India or the like for USD5,000. Thus these jobs have been lost
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
Digital camera owners manual
other night I was at a concert with two friends, both of whom had
brought their pocket-sized digital cameras. Needless to say, both had
problems, all of which could have been easily overcome with just a
little thought beforehand.
The first problem with camera 1 was the flash would not go off. Not
being familiar with the camera, I could offer no suggestions other than
look at the manual. Not only was the manual not with her, but she
admitted she hadn’t read it recently either.
Mind you, I can sympathize with her, as I am still slowly chewing my way
through the manual for my digital camera. They seem to be written as to
be deliberately difficult to understand.
With no manual, my next suggestion was to look at the drop-down menu
that all digitals have these days. We managed to get that to happen, but
I’m damned if I could find anything about turning flash on or off. She
was left to take the shots under the concert’s lighting (dim) and so the
shutter speed was too slow and the images were blurred.
If that were not enough, the camera then told its owner that the battery
was about to run out. Did she have a second, or back-up, battery with
her. Of course not! And to finally top it all off, the camera then also
told her that the memory card was full. So much for the ‘take it
anywhere’ and record those great times pocket digital.
The other member of the photo brigade had a new fancy camera phone,
which would take both still and video. I am convinced it probably did
all that and received telephone calls as well, but again the instruction
book was not there. It seemed to be stuck on video, but with the stage
lighting being dim, as mentioned before, the video result was probably
fine for the tiny LCD screen, but it certainly would not stand being
blown up to domestic small TV screen size. As mementos of their evening
in Thailand, it was an utter failure.
All that was an introduction to some very basic photographic items
which, when understood can make your photos so much better.
The first and most basic is to hold the camera steady. Camera shake,
despite all the fancy ‘image stabilization’ technology, is very common,
especially when the photographer holds the camera in one hand while
counting one-two-three with the fingers of the other hand. Use two hands
to hold the camera and then say the one-two-three words.
Let’s address batteries and memory cards next. Always keep a spare
charged battery with the camera and that problem is fixed.
Now the memory card - get the largest that your camera can handle. At
least 1 GB and preferably bigger, and regularly clean out (delete) old
pictures and then save the good ones on your computer or get the camera
store to put them on a CD for you (which you will clearly mark as being
“holidays in Thailand” or whatever, so you can identify the CD without
having to play every one). Select the high resolution setting for the
shots, even though you get fewer photos on one card, rather than the 600
low resolution (blurry) images, being the other end of the resolution
scale for your camera and card.
Read and attempt to understand the owners manual, especially simple
procedures such as turning the flash on and off, and how to select the
various automatic modes, such as ‘Action’ and ‘Landscapes’. Practice
doing the maneuvers so that it becomes automatic as well!
The final tips should be well known and involve camera technique.
Remember the Rule of Thirds, being the optimum placement of the subject
- which is one third in from either side margin and one third down from
the top, or (rarely) one third up from the bottom. It makes your
photographs look much more professional.
And lastly, move in closer to make the subject the ‘hero’, rather than
sitting surrounded by extraneous background!
Happy digital photography this weekend!
by Dr. Iain Corness, Consultant
Christmas Disease - Hating the supermarket carols?
I know Christmas is coming in a couple of weeks, and my
hospital has its Xmas Charity Fair tomorrow (Saturday 12 December), but I
hope none of you have just found out you were suffering from Christmas
Disease - which has nothing to do with Santa or your melted credit card, but
everything to do with Stephen. Stephen Christmas, that is.
Stephen, a young British lad, was the first patient with a bleeding tendency
recognized to have a different form from “classical” hemophilia (or
haemophilia if you come from the right hand side of the Atlantic Ocean).
His condition was studied by researchers Biggs, Douglas, and Macfarlane
around 50+ years ago, who discovered that young Stephen was missing a
different coagulation factor than the more usual one, (which is known as
Factor VIII). They named Stephen’s missing factor as Factor IX, and his
condition later became known as Christmas Disease.
Just to confuse the issue, we also call Christmas Disease by other names,
including Factor IX deficiency, hemophilia II, hemophilia B, hemophiloid
state C, hereditary plasma thromboplastin component deficiency, plasma
thromboplastin component deficiency, and plasma thromboplastin factor-B
deficiency. There’s probably more, but Christmas Disease has a much nicer
“ring” to it. (Probably “Jingle Bells” at this time of year!)
From the diagnostic viewpoint, it is very difficult to differentiate between
classical hemophilia and Christmas Disease. The symptoms are the same, with
excessive bleeding seen by recurrent nosebleeds, bruising, spontaneous
bleeding, bleeding into joints and associated pain and swelling,
gastrointestinal tract and urinary tract hemorrhage producing blood in the
urine or stool, prolonged bleeding from cuts, tooth extraction, and surgery
and excessive bleeding following circumcision. (Why we have to chop bits off
our children I do not know - I am quite sure any rational person would not
like it, given the choice. Why stop with the prepuce? May as well lop the
odd ear off as well. And please don’t write in, I am aware of the religious
Christmas Disease covers around one in seven cases of the total hemophilia
incidence and is around 1/30,000 in the general population. This disease is
also male dominated, being called a sex-linked recessive trait passed on by
female carriers. This means the bleeding disorder is carried on the X
chromosome. Males being of XY make-up will have the disease if the X they
inherit has the gene. Females, who have XX chromosomes, are only carriers if
either X has the bleeding gene.
Hemophilia has been noted in history for many years, and Jewish texts of the
second century A.D. refer to boys who bled to death after circumcision (not
an ideal way to go - see my remarks above), and the Arab physician Albucasis
(1013-1106) also described males in one family dying after minor injuries.
In more recent history, Queen Victoria of Britain’s son Leopold had
hemophilia, and two of her daughters, Alice and Beatrice, were carriers of
the gene. Through them, hemophilia was passed on to the royal families in
Spain and Russia, including Tsar Nicholas II’s only son Alekei.
Initially the medical profession thought that the bleeding tendency was
caused by a structural defect in the blood vessels, but in 1937, a substance
was found that could produce clotting in the blood of hemophiliacs. This was
called AHG, or ‘anti-hemophilic globulin’.
However, in 1944 researchers found a remarkable case where blood from two
different hemophiliacs was mixed, both were able to clot. Nobody could
explain this until 1952, when the researchers in England working with
Stephen Christmas documented there were two types of hemophilia. They called
his version Christmas disease. So it became obvious that there were two
factors at work and when the different bloods were mixed, they supplied for
each other, the missing AHG’s.
The actual names were assigned to these AHG’s by an international committee
in 1962. Factor VIII deficiency became known as Hemophilia A, and Factor IX
deficiency as Hemophilia B or Christmas Disease.
I hope you will all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Heart to Heart with Hillary
As an erstwhile long-term resident of Thailand, I too ran into problems with
inflated bar bills. In one bar in Bangkok I saw the landlord deliberately add on
to my friend’s bill a beer I had bought for him myself. When I pointed this out,
the landlord looked at me in a way that boded ill for the integrity of my
physical person. We left hurriedly.
Again, in Pattaya, a German pal and I were charged double - the landlord swore
we had ordered drinks for the girls. We hadn’t. And we didn’t pay the inflated
bill. But this only causes bad feeling and I finally, after thirty-five years,
found the answer.
Quite simply, pay the bill each time you order a drink. Then tip the girls
generously at the end of your session. In dud bars, you’ll see the mama-san and
the owner are not amused by this strategy.
Another good way I found of avoiding the problem is to stop drinking. I have
finally achieved this after 49 years of insobriety.
I don’t recommend this method, though, at least not until you reach the age
where people think you’re an old git and do not sense the sensitive soul
underneath the wrinkles.
Here in England, I totter downstairs to the computer every Friday to read your
splendid column. So few women these days believe in the quintessentially floral
quality of men. We wouldn’t be ‘petals’ otherwise, would we?
I’m sure you’d rather be a petal than a stamen, and thank you for the nice
words. I’ll think of you every Friday morning (“Bob will be reading this,” I’ll
mutter excitedly under my breath), but I am sorry to hear (or presume) that you
have reached the “old git” era. I was hoping some young blood was coming to
sweep me away, after the champagne and chocolates!
Now, as regards the bar bill. Undoubtedly there are unscrupulous bar operators
and the sooner they get found out, the better. By the way, you don’t have to pay
each time, just sign the individual bills as they come, making sure you
underline the amount being charged. This way you can check the bills at the end
of the night and make sure each one has your signature and the amount
underscored. Of course, if you were taking me out on the town, we would be going
to ‘better places’, more upmarket, the kind of places I cannot go on my salary,
if you get my drift. By the way, don’t worry about the champagne now you have
given up drinking - I’ll drink it all by myself.
I asked my Thai girlfriend to marry me, but she said that she could not because
her family did not agree. I found this amazing as the girl, a woman really, is
28 years old and surely old enough to make up her own mind. We have been dating
for the last three months, and I thought everything was sweet with her parents.
I have been married before and have grown up children, but she does not. Do you
think it is because I am a foreigner? Or is there something else I am missing
here? I had intended taking her back to my home country after we were married.
I think there is lots that I am missing in this equation too. Where do her
parents live? Which stratum of society? What are their occupations, including
that of the daughter? Where in the family hierarchy does the daughter come? All
these can have an enormous bearing on the response by the family, as well as the
woman’s adherence to family traditions. You also have to remember that you are
probably more than twice her age, and again, as you have realized, you are a
foreigner. What would your response be to a daughter of yours who had a
boyfriend twice her age, and a foreigner as well, who might take her away to a
foreign country? You have not been dating very long either, Petal. You may think
you know this woman after three months, but I doubt it. Understanding Thai
society and Thai minds can be a very difficult process for foreigners. Finally,
it could really just mean that she didn’t want to disappoint you, so used the
usual excuse. Sounds like a lost cause. Better start looking somewhere else.
Last week there was a letter from some guy saying the upmarket Thai families
don’t want to see their daughters going out with, or marrying foreigners. Maybe
he’s only seen one such liaison, but there are plenty of farangs married to rich
classy Thai women. Not all Thai wives are trophies, you know. Of course, if you
want to be sure, marry the only daughter of a millionaire (dollar) widower.
You are correct, Petal. There are many marriages between farangs and Thai, and
that is Thai men and farang women, as well as Thai women and farang men. As I
pointed out last week, racial prejudice was not invented in Thailand. There is
also much religious prejudice in the western world, just take Northern Ireland
as a good example. The Battle of the Boyne, over 300 years ago, is still being
waged. Please read the letter above yours too.
Let’s go to the movies:
by Mark Gernpy
Now playing in
Disney’s A Christmas Carol: Animation/ Drama/ Family/ Fantasy
– It’s still the best thing in town, in my opinion. I think it’s
brilliant. Please, if you at all like animation, don’t miss it. Not
all of it is warm and comforting as you might expect in a Disney film –
large portions of the early parts are instead dark and grim. It’s a
faithful recreation of the Charles Dickens classic – one of literature’s
most haunting tales. Set in the impoverished gloom of Victorian
England, it’s both a ghost story and a morality play — and as such, it’s
meant to scare the daylights out of us. Before Scrooge can shed his
money-grubbing ways, he must stare death and damnation in the face and
have a full-on conversion experience: heavy stuff for a general-audience
movie. Only mixed or average reviews, but I can’t recommend it highly
enough. Shown in 3D, which in this case is a marvel, and only at SF
Pattaya Beach. (There are higher prices for this film because of the
The director and screenwriter behind the film is Robert Zemeckis, who
created the blockbusters Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Forrest Gump,
and the Back To The Future trilogy, and who has now made three
films running with his performance-capture technique. The first was the
Christmas-themed Polar Express, and then Beowulf. Next up
using this technique is a remake of Yellow Submarine, the classic
1968 Beatles animated film. And after that, according to rumors, it’s
back to Christmas themes with The Nutcracker.
Pai in Love: Thai, Romance/ Comedy – Thai romantic comedy directed
by Tanit Jitnukul, who directed the marvelous film Samchuk
released earlier this year; I was very impressed by that film, and am
very fond of it. Here we have a love story about a group of friends who
all happen to take a winter vacation to the same place – Pai. Somehow,
in that small province, they all find the true meaning of love. Well,
why not? In the cast is the Thai-award-winning actor, Ray MacDonald,
who though Thai has some Scottish ancestry, and has a string of Thai
movies to his credit.
Couples Retreat: US, Comedy – A comedy centered around four couples
who settle into a tropical-island resort for a vacation. One of the
couples is there to work on their marriage, and the others fail to
realize that participation in the resort’s therapy sessions is not
optional. Generally unfavorable reviews.
Yam Ya-So-Thorn 2: Thai, Comedy – Thai down-country comedy
with popular comedian Mum Jokmok, a couple of his off-spring, and a bevy
of the usual TV comedians, all in colorful costumes engaged in rustic
Isan humor. A sequel to 2005’s popular country comedy. In Isan
dialect, with Central Thai and English subtitles.
Ninja Assassin: US/ Germany, Action/ Crime/ Thriller – Seems to me
it’s essentially a blood-soaked combination of physical stunts and
digital trickery, featuring the shyly expressive Korean pop star Rain,
one of People magazine’s “Most Beautiful People” in 2007. Not
recommended, unless you’re easily delighted by ultraviolence for its own
sake. Otherwise, this thinly plotted movie with low-grade thrills about
a young ninja’s revenge against his cruel trainers will disappoint. I
found the shadowy action too often incomprehensible, and I think you end
up with nothing but a ceaseless muddle of sliced-off appendages, jets of
blood splashing artfully on walls, gurgling screams, and flashing
swords. But, to be honest, I guess there’s a cathartic value to all the
bloodletting. Rated R in the US for strong bloody stylized violence
throughout, and language. 18+ in Thailand. Review scores have dropped -
now “generally unfavorable” reviews.
The Twilight Saga: New Moon: US, Drama/ Fantasy/ Romance – This led
at the movie box office for the third weekend in a row, but narrowly.
As expected it dropped considerably in ticket sales, after a first
weekend of out-and-out fan frenzy. Running on the sheer momentum of its
massive opening, New Moon soared past the $200 million mark on
its eighth day of release and, in the process, eclipsed its predecessor
Twilight, which had a final haul of $192.8 million. That, of
course, also made it the biggest vampire movie on record.
Yes, it’s a phenomenon, all right, but it’s not for me; I was
fairly-well bored. It’s for teenaged girls with raging hormones who
want romance, not sex – very safe romance, with just the vaguest threat
of titillating danger. But remember, vast numbers of people love this
movie. It’s really just a matter of taste.
If you’re a teenaged girl with raging hormones, it’ll speak to you!
Mixed or average reviews. The third movie in the series, The Twilight
Saga: Eclipse, is already completed, and is scheduled to arrive here
June 30 of next year, or just seven months from now. Can’t you just
The Box: US, Horror/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – With Cameron Diaz, James
Marsden, Frank Langella. Directed by Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko).
A suburban couple with a young child receives a simple wooden box as a
gift, which bears fatal and irrevocable consequences. The box promises
to bestow upon its owner $1 million with the press of a button. But,
pressing this button will simultaneously cause the death of another
human being somewhere in the world; someone they don’t know. It’s been
called a curiously haunting, intriguing, brain-tickling mess. Mixed or
average reviews. At Major Cineplex only.
The Echo: US, Horror/ Thriller – An ex-con moves into an old
apartment building, where he encounters a domestic problem involving a
police officer, his wife, and their daughter. When he tries to
intervene, however, a mysterious curse entraps him. A moody piece of
work, a slow burner rather than a big shocker. It’s a remake in English
of the Filipino horror movie Sigaw with the same director, Yam
Laranas. Rated R in the US for violence, disturbing images, and brief
language. In Thailand, 15+. At Major Cineplex only.
2012: US/ Canada, Action/ Drama/ Thriller – The end of (almost) the
whole world, as only Director Roland Emmerich can show it, and very well
done indeed. The director’s had lots of practice. Mixed or average
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans: US, Crime/ Drama –
Directed by Werner Herzog. Nicolas Cage plays a demented cop on the
brink of insanity – a rogue detective who’s as devoted to his job as he
is at scoring drugs – and playing fast and loose with the law. In the
aftermath of Hurricane Katrina he becomes a high-functioning addict – a
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, but a wide divergence
of opinion. At Pattaya Beach only.
Yom Pee Poa: Thai, Comedy/ Drama – A mischievous orphan becomes a
young monk in a temple where the ghost of his father appears to ask him
for help. (15+) At Pattaya Beach only, and in Thai only.
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