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Heart to Heart with Hillary
Let’s go to the movies
MBMG International Ltd.
Nominated for the Lorenzo Natali Prize
It’s a lot of old Bull…
If you look from afar things do not look too bad when it
comes to equities. The Dow Jones 30 (DJ) has gone from the nadir of 6,500
earlier this year in March to over 10,000. People are saying the worst is over
and 2010 will be a much better year. However, if you look more closely then
things are not as rosy as they seem.
As we all know, nothing goes up or down forever. In a normal series of events
when the equity markets are in the early stages of an upward surge then there is
a good range and variety of stocks that lead the way. These are usually led by
companies which investors hope will be first to respond to any positive trends.
In fairness, this is exactly what happened a few months ago. However, if you
look at the companies which were the first to respond then you will see that
these gainers are not surging ahead as they did before. This is definitely a
sign that says the present bull market is getting old, especially when some of
these large companies are energy and financials.
Even though the S&P and DJ have kept on an upward trend (at the time of writing
in mid-December), the indices which govern SME companies, such as the Russell
5000, have not managed to do this and so remain below the highs of October. It
is not just energy and financials but also things like technology that are not
doing as well as they did.
Equities that rely on good, strong economic growth are not as popular as before
and potential investors now look to healthcare and telecommunications as they
are thought to be less volatile. This, in itself, is a visible sign that the
confidence of earlier this year no longer abounds. Proof of this lies in the
fact that since mid-October over USD14 billion has been taken out of American
stocks and funds.
It is not just individuals who are worried, a lot of the American pension funds
are easing themselves out of equities. This does then beg the question as to
what is keeping the DJ etc so high. Well the easy answer, as the Wall Street
Journal pointed out recently is, “Fast-money investors such as hedge funds and
proprietary trading desks of big brokerage firms.” Despite this though the
volume of trading has dropped quite dramatically which indicates people are not
as interested in equities as they used to be. If you look at the trading on the
New York Stock Exchange it can be seen the average has been over 5.5 billion a
day. This has now dropped to about 4.7 billion.
The Dow Jones has gone up by nearly 60% since early March but these recent
figures show the markets are not as attractive as they once were. Now this could
be because it is following the statement of above, i.e., nothing goes up or down
forever. However, this is ignoring a more fundamental situation. People have
been investing like crazy since the markets turned in the hope there would be a
real improvement in the world economy next year. As 1st January approached,
these investors were doubting if business can actually bring in the forecasts
being given at the moment. Miller Tabak analyst, Phil Roth says, “If people are
disappointed, the market could get blasted.”
The real test was in late December and early January. If the money taken out
recently comes back in then this is a good indication there is still life in the
old Bull yet. For example, Ned Davis Research (NDR) is still recommending to its
clients they invest 70% in equities and the remainder in bonds and cash. What is
interesting though is that it is no longer advising people to buy SMEs. This is
always an early sign of caution. Even more eye catching is that the company has
also told its customers to take hedges “such as option contracts” which can
provide a cushion against any quick drops in market values.
One analyst from NDR, Ed Clissold, opined, “The tailwinds from the economic
bottom are still blowing fairly hard…we are going to be on alert. We could still
get a stiff correction or even a bear market.”
Without doubt, NDR is worried about the number of shares now in the marketplace.
The older a bull market gets, the more smaller stocks start to go down.
Inevitably larger ones then follow. Concept Capital agrees there is a problem.
This company uses a system which tracks the percentage of S&P500 stocks that go
up quicker than the index itself. This is usually high when the market is going
well. However, it slows down when it is not. It is not nearly as fast now as it
was earlier this year.
There is one small curve ball in all of this - the US Federal Reserve. The real
question that needs answering is how much longer is it going to keep printing
money 24/7? As long as it continues to keep buying bonds and maintaining low
interest rates then some of this money will find its way into stocks and so
drive them higher. This is basically keeping the markets higher than they should
As Miller Tabak’s Roth points out, “The data tell you that we are late in the
bull market.” Unfortunately, all of this points to a massive correction in the
world markets and stock markets taking a dive. This is not the end of the world
if you have positioned your portfolio properly and have diversified your
investments across all asset classes. In fact you could end up taking advantage
of a large downturn…and that is not a load of old bull.
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
Giving the Golden Glow to your portraits
Photographs taken in the late afternoon are notable for the warm golden
glow that the afternoon light gives to the subjects. People are
positively ‘glowing’ with health and vitality. Sickeningly brimming full
of goodness, and golden hues just radiating from their every pore. Well,
I am sorry to tell you, but like so many things in photography, it is a
fraud! A photographic ‘trick’ but one that you can use to your own
advantage. A trick that will cost you about 100 baht for the equipment
and three minutes to master! Interested?
However, all photographic tricks still have to conform to the basic
rules of physics, in particular the rules of light. Light travels in
straight lines and will bounce off any non-translucent object. And that,
quite simply, is the scientific basis to this trick.
The ‘golden glow’ that comes from the subject in the photo is really
just reflected golden light, bounced back on to the subject. Portrait
shots benefit from this warm healthy look and when you use the technique
properly, the subjects will look many years younger because you can get
rid of saggy chins quicker than a plastic surgeon can say, “Get your
Now in the photographic sense, the natural golden glow comes in the late
afternoon, with the sun getting low on the horizon, as I mentioned at
the outset. There are good scientific reasons why this is so, but here
is not the place to discuss them. Just accept the fact that late
afternoon sun is the “warm” time. Take pictures at this time of day and
you will get that golden glow - but our photographic trick will allow
you to get that warm golden glow at any time of day - and control it as
well, something you cannot do so easily with the sun as your light
What you have to do is build a light reflector that reflects that warm
color. Go to the newsagent and get some gold foil paper. The sort of
wrapping paper you use for wedding gifts. It may be embossed or
patterned, and in fact it is better if it is, but must be gold in color.
Glue the gold paper on to a sheet of cardboard or polystyrene sheet
approximately one meter square. You do not have to be deathly accurate
or neat. If the surface gets a little ‘scrunched up’ that is fine too.
Your capital outlay is probably around 50-100 baht. Not bad, so far!
Now you have a reflector, which if you play with it near a window for
example, will shine “gold” on to any subject. You are now ready to
impart that golden glow.
The best photos for this exercise are people shots taken outdoors, with
the sun behind the subject. This we call ‘back lit’. You will find that
the subject’s hair becomes very bright around the edges, almost like a
Now for the addition of the golden glow. To do this, you position your
reflector to shine some sunlight back towards the subject. Prop the
reflector in the best position to give the degree of golden glow you
want (I generally just prop it up with the camera bag, or you can get an
assistant to hold it for you) and look through the viewfinder. See what
a difference this makes? The ugly chin shadow has gone as the light is
coming upwards, and the subject now looks brilliantly glowing and
healthy. The one meter square reflector will also impart catchlights to
eyes to make them sparkle as well. The end photo has shiny hair, bright
eyes and a golden complexion radiating warmth. A fabulous picture.
Now, the downside! It is more difficult to get the correct exposure
setting in the backlit situation. If your camera has a Backlight button,
then use it. If not, walk in close to the subject so that the persons
face fills the frame, and take your exposure reading from there. Use the
exposure lock, or just memorize the readings and put them in on manual
mode. It is worth it. Try bracketing if you are still unsure.
by Dr. Iain Corness, Consultant
A very nice lady came and saw me at the hospital last week.
“I just wanted to thank you for saving my husband’s life,” she said. I was
somewhat taken aback at this, but she went on to say she had read one of my
articles on rectal bleeding, saw how this described her husband’s situation,
and brought him in to see our gastroenterologists, who confirmed her fears.
Fortunately it was not too late, and her husband recovered. So, as thanks to
the lady and her husband, whose name I do not know, I am repeating the
substance of that article.
The rectum is the last portion of the large bowel that ends just before the
anus. Bleeding from this area can be a herald sign of a mild or
life-threatening importance, which is why all episodes of rectal bleeding
must be investigated.
Depending upon how high up in the gastro-intestinal tract is the cause of
the bleeding, it may be seen as black, tarry stools, maroon stools; bright
red blood on or in the stool, blood on the toilet tissue, or blood staining
the water in the toilet bowl bright red. Treatment can range from relief of
symptoms and let Mother Nature do the rest, to antibiotics, blood
transfusion, or even surgery. It all depends on the cause.
There are many potential causes, including Hemorrhoids (piles) which are
swollen rectal veins in the anal and rectal area. They can cause burning,
painful discomfort, as well as bleeding. External hemorrhoids are small
swellings that are easy to see and quite painful; however, internal
hemorrhoids are usually painless. A feeling of incomplete emptying may be
noted with bowel movements. Treatment focuses on relieving these symptoms
with the use of stool bulking agents and softeners, and if necessary,
removal of the bleeding piles.
Rectal fissure is another. This is a tear in the lining of the rectum caused
by the passage of hard stools, which can lead to mild rectal bleeding of
bright red blood. Exposed nerves and vessels result in moderate to severe
Diverticulosis, those little pockets on the bowel wall, can also bleed. The
stools are dark red or maroon. Pain is usually absent but surgery is
required in up to 25 percent of these patients.
Bloody diarrhea is often seen in Bacterial dysentery, which we have all had
to a greater or lesser degree. Responsible organisms include Campylobacter
jejuni, Salmonella, Shigella, Escherichia coli, and Clostridium difficile. A
most unsavory bunch! The treatment depends upon the organism, but generally
intravenous fluid replacement and an anti-spasmodic and broad spectrum
antibiotic will bring this under control.
Another common cause of rectal bleeding is inflammatory bowel disease
especially in young adults - typically those younger than 50 years of age.
Bleeding occurs in small to moderate amounts of bright red blood in the
rectum, usually mixed in with stool and mucus. Associated symptoms include
fever and abdominal cramps. This condition generally settles with steroids.
Of course, the one that everyone worries about is bowel cancer. We lump
these together under the general heading of Tumors and Polyps. Polyps bulge
out from the lining of the colon. Bleeding occurs when large polyps develop.
They can be hereditary, and are usually harmless, but some types can be
Both benign and malignant tumors are frequently found in the colon and
rectum. Those people older than 50 years are most affected; however, tumors
can be found in younger people. It should also be noted that less than 20
percent of people with tumor or polyps will have rectal bleeding. However,
when bleeding does occur, it is usually slow, chronic, and minimal.
Diagnosis requires careful evaluation with colonoscopy.
Rectal bleeding from a traumatic cause is always a critical concern. Rectal
damage from a gunshot wound or foreign body insertion can result in
extensive infection or rapid and fatal blood loss.
And yes, there’s more! A common source of bleeding is hemorrhage from the
stomach or duodenum. This can occur after someone has swallowed a foreign
body that causes injury to the stomach lining or bleeding stomach ulcers.
The list does go on, but these conditions are rare. However, the message is
that rectal bleeding must always be investigated.
Heart to Heart with Hillary
I can’t believe it’s 2010 already. It seems like it’s just 2001, because that’s
when I met my sweetheart, and even though you don’t like it, I found her in a
bar and we’re still together nine years later. We got married after a couple of
years of living together, because I wanted her to get anything here after I die.
I’ve taken everything out of the UK, where my first family lives. They’ve never
done anything for me over the years, so I’m quite sure I’m not leaving them
anything now. My Thai wife looks after me so well, it’s the least I can do is to
look after her. Before I go to sleep she makes sure I’ve got water, gives me a
back massage and sits there till I fall asleep. In the morning she’s already got
the breakfast going before I get up. What western woman would do all that? None.
I know there’s a risk with girls from the bar business, but I’ve got no
complaints with mine. She wasn’t the best looking one, but inside she’s a little
I am so glad you are a Happy Horace, and you are correct in that there are some
little diamonds that can be found behind the bar. Unfortunately there’s a few
cubic zirconias as well, so you have to be careful, which you were, waiting a
couple of years before you got married. I cannot really comment on your family
in the UK, Petal. They probably felt that you deserted them, while you think
they’ve done nothing for you. Might be six of one and half a dozen of the other,
I think. Whatever, they are still your family and you should keep in touch if
nothing else. Enjoy your new life with your new wife, and do thank the spirits
for the lucky choice.
Most days I walk up from my office for lunch and go to the 7-Eleven and I pass a
couple of little dress shops on the way. There’s a girl in one of them that I
have been speaking to, and she seems always happy to talk. I would like to see
if this can go any further, but I don’t know what you should do with a Thai
girl, especially one who isn’t from the bars. What’s the next move, Hillary?
Dear Shy Sam,
You really are a wimpy willy aren’t you? You work in an office, she works in the
dress shop and you’re on chatting terms. And you have to ask me what’s next?
I’ll tell you what’s next you shrinking violet. You say, “I’m going to get some
lunch, would you like me to bring you back a sandwich?” If she says yes, then
you go and bring her back a sandwich - and use your own money, that’s a good
little Petal, don’t ask her for the 22 baht. OK? After a few days like that, you
ask her if she’d like to have a meal with you when she finishes work. Be
prepared for the fact that dress shops can stay open fairly late, which could be
past your bedtime. Do you get the message now? Or do I have to order your
sandwiches as well? (What is wrong with the young men of today? No wonder I can
get crabby some days.)
Two years ago I met a bar girl in Pattaya who was from Esarn. She was
intelligent and very proud of her family - did not like her work - but as many
do, did it for survival reasons. We got along well together, and even though I
had to go back home, we discussed her leaving the bar if I helped her family
financially. She went back to her village two months after I met her and has now
her pride back and works in a simple family business and earns less than 150
baht a day. I send her help every month and visit her village three times a year
- and when I visit I am treated like a family member by all her family. We
intend to get married in a year’s time and yes you have got to provide for the
one you love no matter where you live in the world, but the rewards in Thailand
are well worth it.
Bill from UK
Dear Bill from UK,
Hillary does print these success stories, but I have to wait till people send
them in, but the successful ones are people who are happy in their relationship
and do not need advice from an ‘agony aunt’ column like this one, so this is why
you do not read them so often. Your point is well taken and should be understood
by everyone who is contemplating entering a relationship anywhere in the world.
Love (alone) does not pay the bills. There is an obligation to provide and I am
very pleased to see that you have accepted that, and that it is working out for
you, but remember too that one couple is not every couple, as you will have
found if you read this column each week.
Let’s go to the movies:
by Mark Gernpy
Now playing in
The Wolfman: UK/ US,
Horror/ Thriller – Starring Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily
Blunt, Hugo Weaving; directed by Joe Johnston. I think the trailers
look exciting! And stylish! Intended as Universal Studio’s $85 million
remake of its classic 1941 Lon Chaney monster movie. Many
behind-the-scenes shenanigans in this troubled movie involving crew
changes, long delays, reshoots, and re-edits. Rated R in the US for
bloody horror violence and gore.
Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief:
Canada/ US, Fantasy/ Comedy – The Mount Olympus gods are not happy:
Zeus’ lightning bolt has been stolen, and high school student Percy
Jackson is the prime suspect. Even more troubling is the sudden
disappearance of Percy’s mother. As Percy finds himself caught between
angry and battling gods, he and his friends embark on a cross-country
adventure to catch the true lightning thief, save Percy’s mom, and
unravel a mystery. Wow! Logan Lerman is Percy, and others in the cast
are Catherine Keener, Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean, and Uma Thurman.
Directed by Chris Columbus. Based on a best-selling children’s novel by
Confucius / Kong Zi: China, Biography/ Drama
– Set in 6th Century BC, this is the life story of the Chinese thinker
and philosopher, from his days as a court official through battles and
political intrigues, to his old age as a disillusioned sage. Directed
by Mei Hu. Some recent controversy over the film’s Hollywood-way of
pumping up the romantic and action-related angles of the man, even
casting an action hero (Chow Yun-Fat) as the man himself, and portraying
him as romantically attracted to a concubine.
Paris with Love: France, Action/ Crime/
Thriller – Starring John Travolta and Jonathan Rhys Meyers. A
low-ranking intelligence operative working in the office of the U.S.
Ambassador in France takes on more than he bargained for when he
partners with a wisecracking, fast-shooting, high-ranking U.S. agent
who’s been sent to Paris to stop a terrorist attack. Rated R in the US
for strong bloody violence throughout, drug content, pervasive language,
and brief sexuality. Mixed or average reviews. A Thai-dubbed
version at Big C, English elsewhere.
the Mountain: New Zealand, Adventure/ Fantasy
– New Zealand teen adventure/ horror film about redheaded twins battling
intergalactic planet-smashers who live under the dormant volcanoes of
Auckland. For the young-at-heart movie fan who doesn’t mind a family
friendly film with magical adventures, mystical strangers, and massive
monsters. At Pattaya Beach only.
Happens: US/ Canada, Drama/ Romance. A dull,
chemistry-free affair that under-utilizes its appealing leads, Aaron
Eckhart and Jennifer Aniston. About a self-help guru who is great at
giving advice to everyone except himself. Generally unfavorable
reviews. At Pattaya Beach only.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: US,
Animation/ Family – Quirky humor, likeable characters, and solid
slapstick. Generally favorable reviews. At Big C only and Thai-dubbed
Hong / Die a Violent Death: Thai, Horror/
Thriller – Now the top Thai film at the boxoffice. This omnibus film
consists of four short shocking stories of death and horror, exploiting
four real news stories, including one tasteless recounting of last
year’s deadly blaze at Bangkok’s Santika pub, which is truly shocking –
but shock at the incredible insensitivity once again shown by Thai
filmmakers toward traumatic Thai events.
by Poj Arnon (Bangkok Love Story) and three young directors. The
final story, by Poj, is a fairly enjoyable horror sex-comedy.
Valentine: Thai, Comedy/ Romance – A girl who
hates Valentine’s Day meets three young men, each determined to make her
his Valentine. Slightly less than the usual Thai rom/com, a mixture of
cute young Thais and older TV comedians.
Avatar: US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi/
Thriller – Nine Oscar nominations, including best picture and best
director. Now the highest grossing film in the world ever, bypassing
the director’s own Titanic. It’s a very good film and a truly major
technological breakthrough. It’s exciting and beautiful, and has
received near-universal rave reviews from critics and fans.
Pattaya, Major Cineplex and Pattaya Beach have a 2D version, which is in
English and Na’vi dialog, with English and Thai subtitles as needed.
Big C has a Thai-dubbed 2D version, no English subtitles. The only
Cineplex to show it in 3D is Pattaya Beach, and unaccountably the 3D
version does not have English subtitles for the Na’vi language, only
Thai, while the 2D version has English subtitles in a special font and
might want to see this in IMAX in Bangkok; the bigger the screen, the
better. Reviews: Universal acclaim. Not to be missed.
Sherlock Holmes: US/ UK/ Australia, Action/
Crime/ Thriller – The Golden Globes best actor award went to Robert
Downey Jr. as Holmes. This is a new take on the Holmes canon but once
you get over the shock of seeing Sherlock played as an action figure, it
isn’t all that bad. A bit of the old Holmes shows through. Purists,
however, will not be amused. Jude Law plays Watson. Mixed or average
Couples Retreat: US, Comedy – Four couples
settle into a tropical-island resort for a vacation. One of the couples
is there to work on their marriage, the others fail to realize that
participation in the resort’s therapy sessions is not optional.
Generally unfavorable reviews. At Pattaya Beach only.
Spy Next Door: US, Action/ Comedy/ Family –
Jackie Chan fans may be running to see this, but people in the real
world think it’s a sad little movie entirely designed to set up Chan’s
stunt sequences as he fights with pots, pans, and ladders. Reviewers
say it’s flat and witless – one of Chan’s worst ever, a juvenile,
generic, sitcommy mess that utterly fails to thrill or amuse. Generally
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