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Phuket Books: So it is with San Miguel

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Books: So it is with San Miguel | Thaiger

PHUKET: Anything by T Corahessan Boyle is worth reading. His first two novels – Water Music, about two African expeditions up the Niger by 18th century Scottish explorer Mungo Park, and Budding Prospects, about modern day marijuana growers in northern California – rank among the two funniest novels ever written in English – are wildly exuberant dances of demonic prose. He’s mellowed since then, dipping often into fiction about historical characters.

So it is with San Miguel (Bloomsbury, London, 2012, 367pp). This is the sequel to When the Killing’s Done, his first novel about the Channel Islands of Santa Barbara. There are three sections, each told from the point of view of a woman. The first is entitled Marantha. She is the tubercular wife of a former Union Army captain, who comes to the island in 1888 ostensibly for her health.

She has her good days on the island, but mostly this is a long lament about her crude shack, the isolation, the winds and rains, the treeless tracts grazed upon by 5,000 sheep. There is no company, except for two-hired hands and her 13-year-old daughter Edith.

The action picks up in the second section. Edith is now a beautiful 16-year-old girl. When the family returns temporarily to Santa Barbara, leaving the sheep ranch to a new caretaker, she is overjoyed.

“It was as if she’d never in her life seen or heard or felt or tasted, as if she had been color blind, as if her ears had been stuffed with wax and her tongue coated in magnesia. She’d been deprived, that was what it was, locked away on an island like some fairy princess, everything drab and changeless and the only sound the keening of the wind and the weak disjointed cries of the sheep, the seals, the birds. The world had been stilled and now – in a sudden explosion of color and noise, glorious noise – it had come careening back to life.”

Soon she is happily ensconced in a posh boarding school in San Francisco where she blossoms, accomplished in art, music and acting in school plays. Her ambition is to become an actress and singer on stage.

Then her mother dies. Her iron-willed father pulls her out of school and orders her back to the island. She runs away but her father retrieves her at the Santa Barbara train station and she’s off on a boat back to San Miguel. How will she escape? What will she do afterward?

In the final section, Elise is a plain 38-year-old New Yorker who accompanies her new husband, Herbie Lester, to San Miguel in 1930. A World War I veteran, Lester is wounded and recuperating at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington when he befriends another soldier, Bob Brooks, a Los Angeles millionaire with the long-term lease on San Miguel and ownership of the 1,500 remaining sheep.

The young couple live on the island for the next twelve years, expanding their home and fashioning a comfortable existence while hosting a parade of rich people who arrive by private plane and yacht. He expands his gun collection, she her library. She home-schools their two daughters and suddenly they are famous, featured in Life magazine. Herbie Lester is proclaimed “The King of San Miguel”.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor sparks a series of events that will end the idyll in tragedy.

“They were the Japs she read of in the newspapers, demonic twisted little men spitting babies on their bayonets, raping women wholesale, leaving Nanking in ruins and Shanghai in chains. That was the reality. And this, this cockeyed dream of wide-open spaces, of freedom and self-reliance and goodness, simple goodness, was the delusion.”

Boyle’s previous novel about the two larger Channel Islands, Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa, starts off with a shipwreck and ends in the mass slaughter of feral pigs. There are no such dramatic events in the sequel. The story of Herbie and Elise Lester is a quiet one of two honest, loving people making a family life against all odds. If this is not exactly a thrilling story, it is certainly an inspiring one.

T. Corahessan Boyle’s latest novel, San Miguel, is available for download for the kindle from Amazon (click here), or by order through the main bookshops in Phuket.

— James Eckardt

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Cannabis may ease lung inflammation from Covid-19, study

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Cannabis may ease lung inflammation from Covid-19, study | Thaiger
Stock photo by Washarapol D Bin Yo Jundang for Pexels

Cannabis may help ease and reduce lung inflammation for Covid-19 patients, according to a recent study. Researchers in the study claim the non-psychoactive component of cannabis, cannabinol, or CBD, has anti-inflammatory properties.

More research should be done on how CBD and treating severe lung inflammation from the coronavirus, according to researchers from University of Nebraska and the Texas Biomedical Research Institute indicates. Their recent peer-reviewed article in the latest issue of Brain, Behaviour, and Immunity investigates cannabis’ anti-inflammatory qualities.

Covid-19 can cause inflammation that leads to pneumonia which can clog lungs and cause breathing difficulties, an often deadly symptom of the coronavirus. This is why researchers are emphasising anti-inflammatory treatments for infected patients.

“There are drug treatments like Tocilizumab that clears patients’ lungs with a 90% success rate, but the side effects are harsh, including the risk of coronary artery disease and pancreas inflammations. Cannabis may be a key solution since it doesn’t carry such severe negative side effects.”

The CBD treatment made from cannabis does not carry the same effects of THC or smoking marijuana would, though THC has also been shown to be anti-inflammatory but is with more side effects. Cannabis already carries FDA approval, even being used for children with intractable epilepsy.

Aside from anti-inflammatory use, CBD also reduces several factors that contribute to severe Covid-19 cases and also increases proteins that prevent the virus from replicating by activating immune cells. Previous studies with asthmatic animals showed CBD reduced airway inflammation as well as pulmonary fibrosis, which can be an after-effect of Covid-19 damaging and scarring lung tissue causing breathing problems.

The cannabis study on lung inflammation shows that doses up to 1500 milligram a day were safe for up to 2 weeks. The researchers also noted that as an added bonus CBD reduces anxiety, something very useful for the stress of life during a pandemic. Helpfully, cannabis was recently legalised in Thailand and the government has been drafting regulations on importing it.

While the article doesn’t directly link cannabis as a treatment for Covid-19, the evidence on CBD’s effect on lung inflammation, a dangerous symptom of coronavirus, makes further research worthwhile. The researchers urge further research to experiment if cannabis can be directly incorporated into Covid-19 treatment to help with inflammation and anxiety too.

SOURCE: Forbes

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Thailand drafting new regulations for cannabis and hemp seeds

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Thailand drafting new regulations for cannabis and hemp seeds | Thaiger
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A new regulations for cannabis and hemp seeds imports is in the works by Thailand’s Agriculture Department. With certain parts of the cannabis plant now off the narcotics list, many are tapping into the market for CBD, or cannabidiol, the non-psychoactive component in hemp and cannabis.

With the rising demand for hemp and cannabis, the department is revising regulations to make the rules more clear, according to department’s director general, Pichet Wiriyapapha. Those importing cannabis and hemp seeds will also need to get permission from the department. He says they plan to announce the new plan on cannabis and hemp seed regulations in May.

“Now we have only four strains of hemp developed for higher fibre yield, but not for the strain for higher CBD that is currently required for cosmetics and healthcare products. That is why we do need to actively develop such a strain to respond to the high demand in the market.”

CBD is known for its relaxing effects. Although there is still little research to back the claims, many say CBD can lesson anxiety and depression as well as provide relief for muscle pain and arthritis. In Thailand, CBD is growing in popularity, but parts of the cannabis plant high in the psychoactive component tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, are still classified as a Category 5 narcotic.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thai farmers warned of hemp – growing scams

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Thai farmers warned of hemp – growing scams | Thaiger

Thai farmers are being warned of hemp – growing scams after the FDA says some farmers may be approached to grow without gaining permission to import hemp seeds yet. The possible scams have farmers fearing they may be cheated after some have reportedly already started setting up networks in other provinces in preparation to start new enterprises.

According to the FDA, there are only 7 companies currently allowed to import hemp seeds, but they haven’t been given permits yet. Furthermore, none have been told they can start growing hemp as the process has not been solidified. As of now, any company that wants to import the seeds, but notify authorities of where they are getting the seeds from.

They also have to notify authorities of what specific strain of hemp they intend to grow as well as what factories would buy the hemp in order to process it.

Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul is pushing the FDA to start issuing permits for the cultivation, importation and production of hemp seeds as he says it could help farmers increase their incomes, especially after Covid has hit Thailand’s economy hard.

“As for hemp cultivation, each farmer must seek permission individually.”

“A permit to grow hemp cannot be applied to a group of farmers because each one must inform authorities about which land is being set aside for cultivation and when.”

Potential hemp growers can visit www.fda.moph.go.th to get information regarding the application procedures with interested parties needing to contact the FDA to set the process in motion.

Thailand’s Narcotics Control Board agreed late last year to remove cannabis and leaves from its list of banned drugs for medicinal purposes. Now, restaurants are sprouting up nationwide, offering CBD – infused food and drinks for public consumption.

CBD is different from the psychoactive ingredient of THC, which is still currently illegal in Thailand.

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times

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