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Phuket Lifestyle: Christmas in the chamber

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Lifestyle: Christmas in the chamber | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Though only some divers know all the words to the Twelve Days of Christmas, every diver has heard or knows by heart a couple horror stories of “getting the bends”.

From our training and bar room chat we get the the picture of a panicking diver disregarding protocol and bolting for the surface. As they shoot towards fresh air, the nitrogen accumulated in their tissue during the dive turns into rapidly expanding bubbles, possibly headed straight for the brain.

Those scenarios are extraordinarily rare, and though the exact causes of decompression illness (DCI), also known as “the bends”, and the formation of nitrogen bubbles isn’t completely understood, the cure, a treatment in a hyperbaric chamber, is right here in Phuket, but that’s really not the place to spend your holidays.

“It’s not so much [about] messing up,” said Patrick Schindler, Operations Co-coordinator for the hyperbaric chamber at Phuket International Hospital.

“People say, ‘You can’t be ‘bent’ you followed your computer, followed your tables; your dive was good.’ That doesn’t matter so much,” Patrick explained.

Each person is different and without researchers getting proper funding it’s not possible to fully understand why bubbles develop in some individuals and not others, or why some people who do develop bubbles have symptoms and some don’t.

Many dive professionals have only a superficial understanding of DCI, due to its rarity, yet they are expected to teach it to the members of the dive community. This is one of the reasons Patrick offers his time to educate them and the general public about DCI and hyperbaric chamber procedures. The next five day seminar will be held in either April or May.

The hyperbaric chamber at Phuket International Hospital is only one of four chambers in Phuket, serving the entire west coast of Thailand. What the white-WWII-submarine looking contraption, or more precisely, pressure vessel for human occupancy, does is increase the air pressure around a person while they breathe 100 per cent oxygen. This increases the amount of oxygen that can be absorbed by the body, which helps eliminate the nitrogen in the patient’s system.

Most DCI cases that are handled at the Phuket International Hospital are the less serious ones. Sometimes people show up a couple days after diving and have lost sensation in their pinky finger or are suffering from persistent joint pain, one of the many places bubbles can accumulate.

“Denial is the biggest issue for all illnesses. People just go back to whatever island they were on and come to Phuket the next day or even later,” Patrick said.

People make up excuses for skin rashes and many of the symptoms of DCI. They often explain the rashes as unnoticed encounters with jellyfish or a sudden allergic reaction to neoprene. Avoiding the obvious fact that the rashes have developed only on their abdomen or hips, which were covered by the wetsuit as well as other parts of their bodies and thus unlikely to come into contact with marine stingers.

Many of these symptoms of DCI can disappear in a couple of hours or over-night, often allowing divers to justify getting back in the water the next day, instead of following up on the issue by consulting the Sub-aquatic Safety Service (SSS) Re-compression Chamber Network or a doctor who fully understands DCI and its symptoms.

“The next day, feeling better they return to their holiday diving. First dive – okay, second dive – okay and then, bang! They get three times worse,” explained Patrick.

Despite being on a stunningly beautiful island for the holiday season and participating in an activity with a reasonable safety record, divers shouldn’t neglect to call the SSS Re-compression Chamber Network on +66 810 819000 if they have any concerns or show any signs of DCI.

— Isaac Stone Simonelli

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Now you can study the success of K-pop band BTS – University of California, Berkeley

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Now you can study the success of K-pop band BTS – University of California, Berkeley | The Thaiger

PHOTO: BTS members posing with South Korean President Moon Jae In

400 million views, 500 million, 600 million. Just scroll through the group’s songbook on YouTube from the past five years and you will be watching music history in the making – a success built on a new pop genre, new ‘music business’ model and seven young South Koreans hell-bent on succeeding in the music world, beyond South Korea.

Now you can study the success of K-pop band BTS - University of California, Berkeley | News by The Thaiger

Now, the global success of K-pop act BTS lies at the core of an academic course launched at the University of California, Berkeley. The student-run course has been announced on the university’s website as part of UC Berkeley’s Democratic Education at Cal program.

The group – consisting RM, J-Hope, Suga, V, Jungkook, Jimin and Jin – have amassed a social media following (called ARMY), ignited live audiences with their happier sharp choreography and won international awards. It hasn’t all been easy and their story, from seven teenagers living in one dorm in Seoul, to international music stars has lessons for all interested in modern pop music.

On the course “Next Generation Leaders: BTS” students will learn about the K-pop boy band’s growing global impact, which led to their immense success.

Now you can study the success of K-pop band BTS - University of California, Berkeley | News by The Thaiger

The DeCal program allows students to create and facilitate their own classes on a variety of subjects, as reported by Yonhap. The BTS class is an option for media students at UC Berkeley and will be offered for the first time in spring.

The course outline for “Next Generation Leaders: BTS” on the school’s website reads: “This course will focus on Korean boy group BTS and their global impact. We will attempt to explore the group’s history, artistry, philanthropy, and many other aspects in order to analyze their growing impact in society as well as their international success.”

It would also dive into the intricate world known as ‘Bangtan Universe’ that the group has created through its album concepts and videos. Media articles and interviews would be utilized as well, and students would come up with theories about the group’s success.

The orientation session for the course was held on Feb. 5, and a Twitter account has been dedicated to the course. A photo on Twitter showed the enrolled students watching a video of BTS’ acclaimed speech during a United Nations General Assembly session in September. BTS fans expressed their support for the program on Twitter.

BTS attended this year’s Grammy Awards in Los Angeles and made history as the first K-pop presenters at the event. The group’s album Love yourself: Tearwas nominated in the Best Recording Package category. They made history in 2018 with two Number One albums on the Billboard Top 200 charts.

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Thai Life

Top 10 news sources in Thailand (2019)

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Top 10 news sources in Thailand (2019) | The Thaiger

…in English, in no particular order.

This post is mainly for newbies, tourists and people-interested-in-Thailand. Locals already have their home favorite news sources. But all these Top 10 do it well, in their own way. All are trying to navigate their way through the labyrinth of modern media, some better than others, whilst punching out daily news. We think they’re all stars because doing media in Thailand, in English, is a tough gig.

These are all news and information sources and the list doesn’t include the myriad of excellent blogs around – a topic for another Top 10.

1. Bangkok Post

Traditional news, still delivered as a daily newspaper, but with an expansive and thorough website. It’s been going since 1946 and reported on a coup or two, or three. As far as making the move into digital media is concerned, Bangkok Post is doing it better than most. Editorially it has has taken a, mostly, neutral political stance with a few exceptions. But, as newspapers go, it walks down the middle fairly reliably.

2. The Nation

The other major daily coming out of Bangkok is a lot newer than Bangkok Post, starting up in 1971. As the two broadsheets battle it out, The Nation has occasionally taken a more partisan line, famously turning its editorial voice against PM Thaksin Shinawatra. Recently the paper has been struggling with circulation and was taken over by Sontiyan Chuenruetainaidhama, founder of conservative outlets T News and INN News. At this stage there appears to be no impact on The Nation’s editorial stance but it’s falling circulation and advertising revenues are impacting its bottomline.

3. The Thaiger

Please indulge us as we put our own website and news in the Top 10. The Thaiger, only running as a national website since April 2018, is the fastest growing English-speaking online-only news and information site in the Kingdom (according to the ‘stats’).

The Thaiger are the new kids in town with everything to prove. The Thaiger curates the news and chooses topics it believes will be interesting, important or newsworthy, in English and Thai. The Thaiger bought out the Phuket Gazette’s digital assets in August 2017 but now has a national and regional focus, whilst continuing to pay homage to its home turf in Phuket. Currently has the third highest readership of any English-speaking news website in Thailand.

4. ThaiVisa

The biggest and most popular news website in Thailand (in English). If ‘The Thaiger’ curates, ThaiVisa splashes EVERYTHING onto its front page. If it moves or breathes, you’ll find the story on ThaiVisa. It’s big, bold and an eyeful of news. It’s also famous, or infamous, for its hugely popular forums where keyboard warriors dispense their opinions and wisdom on everything, usually tearing things to shreds. It’s the biggest English-speaking news website in Thailand and has been for a decade. Recently had a makeover and now has a purple cut durian as its logo – go figure.

5. Khaosod English

Fresh, selective, well-written and a rising star in real Thai english-language journalism. An offshoot of it’s much bigger Thai-language sister. To the point, original stories with a modern journalistic spark. They tend to choose their stories and provide excellent insight when they do. Original and deserving of your daily read.

6. Coconuts

Most would agree that when Coconuts started it was the best and cheekiest news blog for its time. Actually covering all of South East Asia, it’s Bangkok blog was a daily log-on for most hip expats. In recent times they’ve taken the brave ‘paywall’ option (because people want to pay for good journalism) which hasn’t affected their web hits, yet. In our opinion it’s lost a bit of its verve but it’s still a healthy and reliable daily read, for Thailand and the region. Singapore it its most popular location, Thailand is third.

7. Thailand News

A shameless aggregator, they copy and paste headlines and a few paragraphs with a link to the original story. Designed to rank in Google, the site is still in its early days. To avoid any copyright issues, the stories usually include a photo library ‘look-a-like’, instead of the real photo from the story. For all we know the entire site could be run by cleverly-coded robots. There is no sign of a human touch anywhere. Rather than a contributor to the world of Thai journalism, the site is just a parasite using everyone else’s news. But, hey, it’s a viable business model I suppose. Bottomline, it’s nicely set up and has, well, most of the stories around Thailand, all in one neat package.

8. The Phuket News

Phuket-based and Phuket-focussed, the weekly newspaper took on the well-established Phuket Gazette (which had been running since 1993) and eventually became the island’s one and only weekly ‘newspaper’ (somewhat of an oxymoron these days). The paper has always employed some of the best editorial staff in Thailand, runs a lifestyle and travel section and, well, is about as good a local paper as a tropical island could hope for. Also has a Russian and Thai version.

9. All Pattaya media

Whilst the rest of Thailand does things one way, Pattaya does things differently, in every aspect, including its media. It’s quite saturated with farang media – websites, Facebook pages, radio and cable TV – but there’s no single, ‘outstanding’ Pattaya news source. For the local expats there’s plenty of choice. Problem is there’s TOO much choice and the many are eating out of the same small advertising revenue pie.

10. Thai PBS World

A government news agency but has demonstrated its independence over the years. As a website it’s had more face-lists than Joan Rivers but remains solid, reliable and surprisingly (especially with the military government) unbiased. Also tends to cover stories the other don’t.

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Thai Life

Amnesty for possession of cannabis in Thailand?

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Amnesty for possession of cannabis in Thailand? | The Thaiger

The Government is looking at a plan to grant amnesty to those who have been using, or have, cannabis in their possession, But only if they report to authorities within a given time frame.

The Drug Committee approved three draft legislations for amnesty yesterday.

If the drafts become law even possessors of cannabis, who are not patients or research units, will be automatically pardoned, no questions asked.

The Food and Drug Administration secretary-general Tares Krassanairawiwong says… “We have already passed the draft regulations, but there are still many steps left. The FDA will have to put these drafts through public hearings and gather opinions for further review.”

He was speaking after chairing a meeting with the Drug Committee, during which the green light was given to several draft laws yesterday.

The approved drafts included three announcements designed to grant amnesty to government agencies, private firms, community enterprises, practitioners of traditional Thai medicine, research organisations, patients and everybody else who use or possess cannabis.

“They must report within 90 days once the announcement goes into effect,” Tares explained.

Under Thai law, cannabis is an illicit drug and possession or use of it is punishable by a fine and/or a jail term.

However, the Kingdom is currently in the process of allowing the use of medical marijuana, and several draft laws are being prepared to facilitate the enforcement.

According to the plan, patients who use marijuana for health reasons will be allowed to continue using the drug after they register themselves for amnesty and till the medical-marijuana system is introduced.

Marijuana is believed to be useful for patients battling Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, some stress conditions, chronic pain, and nausea related to chemotherapy.

SOURCE: The Nation

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