Dr. Iain Corness

Wednesday, 22 October 2014 17:19

Marchionne takes another set of reins

Fiat Chrysler CEO and now new Ferrari boss Sergio Marchionne vows the Italian team will fight back under his leadership following on from the departure of Luca di Montezemolo.

With Marchionne at the helm, some fear the return of the bean-counters and men in suits that oversaw a long, lean period in the F1 shadows that covered much of the eighties and early nineties, Marchionne appears to be taking his team’s return to the front very seriously.

“We’ve got to kick some ass and we’ve got to do it quickly. It takes what it takes. We might screw up, but we’ve got nothing to lose, right? Let’s risk something.”

“I keep getting reminded racing is not a science, that a number of factors influence performance,” he added. “Then I go to Monza and see the first six cars are not Ferrari or powered by a Ferrari engine, and my blood pressure just popped.

“A non-winning Ferrari on the F1 track is not Ferrari. I can live with periods of bad luck, but it cannot become a structural element of the brand. That continues to be my main objective in terms of Ferrari going forward.”

Unfortunately, strong fighting words from the top do not make up for personnel that are lacking, compared to their opposite numbers in other teams.

Michael Schumacher had the ability to fire up a technical group around him to make for the winning team. Can Vettel do this? Or did Vettel win the championships because he joined the best team that was already there?

Wednesday, 22 October 2014 17:17

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I mentioned that the Mazda MX5 and the Mitsubishi 3000 GT both were released in Japan, but they had a modification in common during their production run. I asked what was that? That was easy, when released they had pop-up headlights, but later in the production life they changed to fixed headlights.

So to this week. What car is this?

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Quiz carQuiz car

Wednesday, 22 October 2014 15:39

Stonefish - Australian to the bone

Peter Papanikitas, the MD of the renowned Australian wine label Stonefish Wines, made a quick visit to Pattaya last week. Tahe occasion was the Stonefish Wine event, held in the Pedro Gastrobar of the Hotel Vista on Soi 4 Second Road, celebrating the slew of medals won by the label in the latest wine shows in China and Hong Kong.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014 15:21

The history that saved me

“Almost” had a heart attack last week. As part of my annual medical the hospital arranges for an Electrocardiogram (ECG) as well as appropriate blood tests and the like, but I had managed to miss my ECG appointment. Never fear, the happy and efficient staff in the Check-up department, rescheduled the ECG for me, and I was all present at 8 a.m. on the Thursday.

After the ECG trace was completed, the sheet is sent to our Cardiology department, where one of our cardiologists reviews the tracing and sends the results down to the Check-up department.

All that went like clockwork, other than the fact there was a slight irregularity in the trace from one of the leads. Was this an impending heart attack? At that point I changed from being Dr. Iain, into patient Iain and an appointment was made for me with the Heart Center.

Now I won’t say that I was totally unworried by all this. After all, until me, no male member of my family had ever seen his 57th birthday, and all croaked with cardiac conditions. Was I next for the cardiac high jump?

I sat down with Dr. Prinya, one of our cardiologists, who asked me the standard questions covering was I a smoker (no), any chest pains, shortness of breath, swelling feet and legs, how much exercise did I do etc., and all my answers were the “correct” ones.

Dr. Prinya then scrolled up my history on his computer and all the blood tests from the past few years were very satisfactory.

He then brought up all my ECG’s for the past eight years and smiled. The slight irregularity was there in the previous readings, and had remained unchanged since 2006. The slight irregularity was not significant. The celestial invitation was not in the post.

The records from the past eight years had saved me from having exercise stress tests, angiograms, echocardiograms and more. That ability to be able to look back made it such that I could look forward too!

So where does all that leave you?

True story. A friend of the family has a brother who is diabetic and a nephew who is diabetic. The condition runs in the family, so obviously my family friend knows what his blood sugar is as well. But he doesn’t. No history which can show when (or if) the blood sugar starts to rise. No record of his blood circulation to the legs. No record of the condition of the blood vessels in the eye. No annual records of his blood pressure. Nothing!

Of course he has had good intentions to go and have a check-up, but other things just seem to get in the way. As they say, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

No, a good strong medical history is worth its weight in gold (or perhaps worth its weight in medicines you are not going to need)!

Look at this very simple fact - the longer you leave a medical problem in your system, the harder it is to cure it, but if you can nip it in the bud, it is easier. And even better, when you know there is a family history of some condition, being aware and watchful on that annual basis you will very easily be able to control it, and diabetes is a classic example.

Once again, looking into your medical crystal ball, unfortunately everything is exacerbated by smoking. Not just lung cancer, but all cancers, blocked arteries, heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, the list is almost endless. The worst thing you can do for your future is to smoke cigarettes. The best thing you can do for your future (life and health) is to stop smoking. I can’t emphasize that enough.

Going back to the start of this week’s message, it is not too late to start getting your medical history in order. Every two years if you are under 20 and do not smoke. Every year after the age of 40. The hospital has some bargain priced check-up packages generally available during December. Try and stay out of trouble till then!

Thursday, 16 October 2014 13:31

Rolls-Royce unveils its “city slicker”

Rolls-Royce must be getting desperate for the Names Department to come up with “Phantom Metropolitan” as the name for the 2015 models. The last time “Metropolitan” was used was on a Nash, and that was eminently forgettable too.

Thursday, 16 October 2014 13:29

Two wheels, 500 cc and no brakes!

We have all had many ambitions in our lives. How many of us wanted to be firemen and ride in a big red fire truck, when we were small children? Me? I didn’t want to be a fireman, I wanted to be a speedway rider!

Thursday, 16 October 2014 13:28

What did we learn from the Russian GP?

Well we learned that the new track at Sochi is very smooth, is kind on tyres, and is a typical Tilke track which does not encourage passing. It was compared to Valencia by commentators, and we all know what a bore-fest Valencia is. We also found out that Vladimir Putin considers F1 a great place for photo opportunities. And did you spot the video grab of our Bernie (AKA King Midas) sitting beside President P and opening his wallet. A picture is worth a thousand words!

Even though there are 100 points up for grabs in the last three races (25 points each for the US GP and the Brazil GP and double points for the final in Abu Dhabi), Hamilton (Mercedes) does not have a winning margin yet as he is only 17 points in front of his team mate Nico Rosberg. However, the smart money is on Hamilton to win the championship. Hamilton has the ‘win’ mindset, whilst Rosberg is showing desperation.

Bottas (Williams) is a future champion. Has great speed and the right character to succeed. Provided Williams can give him a top car next year, he could easily be the top contender. His Williams team mate Felipe Massa is coming to the end of his life as an F1 driver. Still shows speed, but not consistency and with so many new and hungry drivers ready to step up, it is time Felipe bows out.

Fourth and fifth went to McLaren with Button in front of Magnussen but whilst Button has had a good second half of the Grands Prix season, he is another who should go to pasture to open up a spot in the driver line-up.

Sixth was Alonso (Ferrari). How much longer will the Spaniard be with Maranello? He is free to move and the money is currently on a shift to McLaren - but there is still bad blood between Alonso and Ron Dennis (about $100 million of bad blood), so I do not think he will go there. Consider this - Massa out and Alonso in, at Williams for 2015. Williams have definitely a better car this year, and I predict it will still be better than Ferrari next year.

Red Bull did not star at Sochi. The only item of note was that once again Ricciardo finished in front of the German once known as “The Finger”. After four world championships in a row, Vettel has really gone from hero to zero.

Ninth was Raikkonen after another lack-luster drive. Ferrari bought him out of his contract once, but didn’t learn from the experience. There has been no comparison between Alonso and Raikkonen. If Ferrari want a better year in 2015 they will have to bite the bullet again and pay him out a second time. Massa would very happily go back to his old dressing room and could partner Jean-Eric Vergne who has lost his seat at Torro Rosso.

Maldonado (“Lotus”) showed once again that not only is he a liability on track but he is also the multiple Penalty King! But I am sure Bernie will let him buy his way out!

Also way down in the boonies was Kobayashi who was retired from the race, after management called him in, leaving Kobayashi in the dark as far as the reason was concerned. With all the financial woes at Caterham, perhaps a cheque bounced?

The next race is in the US which is screened at the most unglodly hour of 3 a.m. in Thailand. Sorry, but I will miss it!

Last week I asked what did the original FIAT 500 have in common with the 1961 Lincoln Continental? This was simple - they both had ‘suicide’ doors.

So to this week, the Mazda MX5 and the Mitsubishi 3000 GT both were released in Japan, but they had a modification in common during their production run. What was that?

For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Mitsubishi 3000 GTMitsubishi 3000 GT

Wednesday, 15 October 2014 16:16

Mammograms and BSE. Is it worthwhile?

Screening for breast cancer is still a subject that seems to be controversial, though honestly, I do not know why. The sensationalist press feeds on fear, and by instilling fear into women about detection of breast cancer will always sell a few more papers. Despite mammograms and suchlike, there were cases that escaped detection until it was too late and other such negative predictions. Was it all then a waste of resources and money?

No it is not, says the American Cancer Society’s director of cancer screening, Robert Smith, PhD, who says there is plenty of evidence that mammograms save lives, even for younger women.

“The American Cancer Society and other organizations have endorsed mammography screening for women in their 40s because direct and inferential evidence supports its value in reducing morbidity (injuries) and mortality (deaths) from breast cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death in women,” he says.

Other groups that recommend mammograms every one or two years for women in their 40’s include the US Preventive Services Task Force and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

The American College of Physicians guideline says mammograms can reduce breast cancer deaths by about 15 percent among women in their 40’s, but Dr. Smith says newer studies indicate the benefit is much greater - 40 percent or more.

Unfortunately, the cancer detection story is one that suffers from a problem which can be associated with an inexact science. Since we can put men on the moon, clone sheep (and even rabbits in Chonburi, apparently) and other incredible facts, we should then be able to diagnose human conditions with pin-point accuracy. Unfortunately wrong!

Diagnosis and detection are “real time” arts, not sciences, even though we would like them to be. Sure, we use science as a tool, but that is all it is. A tool to help us see the problem. Just like we can use a telescope to see things at a distance - even if we can’t see the object, that doesn’t mean to say it wasn’t there. The telescope was facing the wrong way, the object was behind not in front.

There has been a bit of that thinking with mammograms of late. A lady has three annual clear mammograms and then finds she has breast cancer during year number four. Was the testing useless?

Again I ask you to look at the “real time” situation. So today cancer was found. When did it “start” to grow? This week, this month, this year? The answer depends upon the type of the cancer. Some fast growing cancers would be impossible to pick up, even if the person had monthly mammograms. The slow growing variety can be picked up years ahead. Unfortunately mammography cannot be a 100 percent indicator - we are not that good - yet. But it is still one of the best diagnostic procedures we have. And it is better than nothing.

Likewise, Breast Self Examination (BSE) has its detractors as well as its proponents. Sure, a lot depends upon how well the woman carries out this self testing, but again, surely it is better to look than to carry on in blissful innocence?

I do not believe the doomsayers who would tell you that the outcome is just the same. Breast cancer is like all cancers - the sooner you find it, the sooner you can deal with it and the earlier treatment is administered, the better the outcome. In fact, studies from the American National Cancer Institute show that 96 percent of women whose breast cancer is detected early live five or more years after treatment. This is called a 96 percent five year survival rate, one of the ways we measure the severity of life threatening cancers. If it were a 10 percent figure - in other words, after five years only 10 percent of the people were still alive, then I would probably also feel that predictive testing was not all that worthwhile. But it is not that bleak an outcome - 96 percent are still alive and many go on for many, many years.

Ladies, talk with your doctor regarding breast screening, and ignore sensationalism in the popular press!

The newest F1 race on the 2014 calendar is the inaugural GP on the Sochi Autodrom (hence my impeccable Russian at the start of this article). A 5.853 km lap and the race will be held over 53 laps.

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