Dr. Iain Corness

Thursday, 13 February 2014 14:29

Autotrivia Quiz

So to last week’s quiz.  I asked what was this car?  Hint: a family fortune was squandered in the production of these cars.  It was the Bucciali TAV, one of my favorite cars from that era.

Thursday, 13 February 2014 11:27

BCCT looking at the needs of its members

The British Chamber of Commerce Thailand (BCCT) convened a meeting at the Amari Tower to gain some feedback from a selected group of members as to their needs from the BCCT.

Thursday, 13 February 2014 10:52

Make mine a Vodka over ice!

For every aspiring surgeon, an important milestone is the first time you fly ‘solo’, in charge of the operating theatre, and incidentally, also in charge of the patient’s destiny.  For me, this was in Gibraltar, where I was doing my six months as Junior House Surgeon, supervised by a member of the Royal College of Surgeons.

My baptism was in the form of a Russian seaman, taken off a ship in the Mediterranean as an emergency with appendicitis.  (By the way, I often hear people referring to their appendix as “I had them removed.”  You only have one appendix, so it is “I had it removed.)

Back to my Russian.  He had a classical appendicitis and we (me) asked the operating theatre to be ready and advised the anesthetist of the forthcoming procedure.

My anesthetist was a very well experienced ‘gas man’ and he set about administering the anesthetics, beginning with an injection to put the patient to sleep, to be followed by inhaled gas to keep him asleep.  There was only one problem - he wouldn’t “go under”!  Just when it looked as if he was going to sleep, to allow the anesthetist to insert the endotracheal tube in his throat, the Russian would sit up and ask what was happening!  (In Russian, so the translation was at best, a guess!)

The anesthetist said that he believed that the Russians drank so much vodka, their livers were capable of de-toxifying even the strongest anesthetic.  This meant that he had to administer far greater quantities than usual to get the patient under.

Finally we did manage to get the operation underway, though every so often another hand would appear and get in the way, and I would have to stand back while more anesthetic was given, and the hand tucked away!

Yes, the operation was a success, and I was very proud of my handiwork, but then, after the seaman was sent to the ward I received a phone call from the Nursing Sister requesting my presence straight away.  No details, just “straight away”.

With fear in my heart, I ran to the ward, to find my Russian fully dressed in his uniform, flanked by two restraining nurses.  He was standing to attention and repeating the words, “Vodka, vodka, vodka!”  So his liver was still in good shape, I decided.

With a promise that I would bring him a vodka in one more hour, and I would have one with him, he calmed down, and his further post-operative course was uneventful!

Now I was reminded of that nice little vodka story with a recent article in The Lancet which claimed that vodka is a major cause of early death in Russia and has a direct impact on mortality rates in men.

Over the past 30 years, changes in the availability of the national drink have been reflected in premature death statistics, say scientists.

A new forward-looking study has found that Russian men who drink three or more bottles of vodka a week are far more likely to go to an early grave than those who consume less than one.

“Russian death rates have fluctuated wildly over the past 30 years as alcohol restrictions and social stability varied under Presidents Gorbachev, Yeltsin and Putin, and the main thing driving these wild fluctuations in death was vodka,” said study co-author Professor Sir Richard Peto, from Oxford University.

The researchers asked 57,361 men in three Russian cities how much vodka they drank and watched their progress for a decade.

They estimated that, over a 20 year period, more than a third of male smokers drinking at least three half-litre bottles of vodka a week could expect to die between the ages of 35 and 54.

Excess deaths among heavy drinkers were linked to alcohol poisoning, accidents, violence, suicide, and specific diseases such as throat and liver cancer, tuberculosis, pneumonia and pancreatitis.

There were difficulties in compiling the statistics “Because some who said they were light drinkers later became heavy drinkers, and vice versa, the differences in mortality that we observed must substantially under-estimate the real hazards of persistent heavy drinking,” said co-author Dr Paul Brennan.

Something to think about perhaps while drinking vodka on the rocks?

Thursday, 13 February 2014 10:23

AFG looks at Myanmar

The Automotive Focus Group (AFG) will be holding a networking evening next Friday February 21 at the Nova Platinum Hotel, Second Road, South Pattaya.

I am typing this on someone else’s computer.  Mine has decided it doesn’t want to play and I am unable to download anything.  No self-diagnostic program available to help me.  Computers are never my favorite toys right now, or is that “write now”?

Researching this article left me with the feeling that very soon, my mobile phone will be driving my car, and not me.  In fact, VW has a system which allows you to park your car from the outside, using your mobile phone like the remote control for your TV set.

So here’s what is in store for the motorists in the next decade.  These examples are not “concepts”, but the technology is here now.  For many OEM’s, the integration of the new technologies is the only item slowing its adoption.  That and the price, of course.  In the competitive marketplace of today, the base cost is always a dilemma.  The answer, however, is to make all the new technological applications delete options.  And since the new car buyer is not really aware of what is coming, this makes it easier for the automaker.

If your car is equipped with a form of emergency brake assist, it already knows when it is too late for late braking.  The technology is simple.  It is easily programmed into the vehicle for it to appreciate how much traction it has, as well as how many meters it is going to take to brake in time to avoid an accident.  However, if you are still too fast, further braking is too late.  But this is where Emergency Steer Assist (ESA) comes in.

In this mode, the system does not take over and steer for you.  Designed to compliment emergency braking systems, ESA works with your electric steering rack to vary the torque by direction, thus very convincingly “suggesting” the proper steering wheel motion.  Suppose you need to swerve left - the torque in the clockwise motion is greatly increased (resistance), but it is very easy to turn the wheel counterclockwise.  Similarly, during the maneuver recovery phase (you may know this as a tank slapper), the inverse is true, the steering working in tandem with ESC (electronic stability control, mandatory on all cars in Europe) to control the after effects of the swerve.

The future sees the automakers bringing apps to your dashboard.  Continental showed its AutoLinQwith partners such as Navteq, Navigon, Shazam, Pandora and more lined up to bring the perks of your smartphone to your car.

Intelligent Tyre System/Fill Assist:

A new type of tyre sensor, mounted on the inner tyre tread (as opposed to the wheel), measures tyre pressure, temperature, g-force and load.  It weighs only a few grams.  When a heavy load is detected, for example, the system can notify the driver that more air pressure is needed to optimize gas mileage, handling and safety.  The sensors also communicate with ABS and ESC, so that these systems can optimize for a given tyre pressure or vehicle load.  Very much F1 technology brought to the daily traffic situations.

Select Your Drive Mode:

Continental is offering up a fully LCD interface to better broadcast differing personas.  Sample modes are Eco, Comfort and Sport, but carmakers will be able to customize these profiles.  Also, users will likely be able to create their own when the system goes on sale.  Like current cars, just about every system is affected with each button push, including throttle mapping, suspension damping, steering feedback, and more.

The difference here is that the actual look of the instrument cluster changes as well - for example, in Eco mode, there is a four-leaf clover that can be “filled” green by driving economically.  When all four leaves are green, the driver can head to the dealership for a reward.  This, the company hopes, will not only encourage green driving, but will also drive online customers to physical dealerships.  Also, the navigation will search for the most economical route, rather than the fastest or the shortest.

In Sport mode, red gauges and an accelerometer replace the green layout, and in Comfort, only the speedometer and relevant functions are shown.  The system also works with the new Accelerator Force Feedback Pedal.

Yes, smartphone is going to dictate our lives in the future.  Throw the old Motorola ‘brick’ away (it has been sold to China anyway), go Android and sit back and let Ann Droid drive you safely to your destination.

Thursday, 06 February 2014 14:40

And here is an unsafe vehicle

One of my favorite characters in motor sports is Art Arfons.  He was the “designer” of a series of vehicles, which were all called “Green Monster” even though some were red, white and blue!

Nissan has built a 1.5 liter three cylinder turbo gasoline engine that produces 400 horsepower from a 40 kg engine.  That is a better power to weight than a Formula 1 engine.

Thursday, 06 February 2014 14:34

Autotrivia Quiz

So to last week’s quiz.  I asked what was the connection between Ernst Heinkel - German Nazi aircraft designer, whose company produced the world’s first turbojet aircraft and jet plane, as well as the first rocket aircraft; Felix Wankel - German engineer, inventor of the Wankel engine and Erwin Rommel - German General and Field Marshal of World War II?  I know they are all Germans, but there was something else they had in common.  They all owned a Tatra!

So to this week.  What is this car?  Hint: a family fortune was squandered in the production of these cars.

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 .

Thursday, 06 February 2014 14:29

Natter Nosh and Noggin

The Pattaya car club meets at Jameson’s Irish Pub on Soi AR next to Nova Park.  The next meeting is on Monday February 10 at Jameson’s at 7 p.m.  A totally informal meeting of like-minded souls to discuss their pet motoring (and motorcycling) loves and hates (plus lies and outright exaggerations).  Come along and meet the guys who have a common interest in cars and bikes, and enjoy the Jameson’s specials, washed down with a few beers.  A couple of the members were scrutineers at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, so they may have some scuttlebutt about the F1 scene.  Always a fun night.  Be prepared to laugh a lot at some of the antics of the members (when they were younger)!  The Car Club nights are always on the second Monday of the month (not every second Monday)!

Thursday, 06 February 2014 10:45

Handicapped Tourism introduced to Skål

The Skål Pattaya and East Thailand monthly networking meeting for January was held at the Centara Grand Mirage Beach Resort Pattaya, and was one of the best attended functions of the revamped club, under the presidency of Tony Malhotra.

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