Pattaya Mail turns 12

Vol. XIII No. 37
Friday September 16 - September 22, 2005

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Fun City By The Sea

Updated every Friday
by Saichon Paewsoongnern

 



 

COLUMNS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Money matters

Snap Shots

Modern Medicine

Learn to Live to Learn

Heart to Heart with Hillary

Psychological Perspectives

Money matters: A short history of the only real currency (part 3)

More on what the market has to say about gold

Graham Macdonald
MBMG International Ltd.

From last week: Major buy signals are generated when downtrend lines are broken. The 50 MA is then used as a support level to keep an investor/trader in the major run up. After the buy signal is generated, as long as the ratio chart stays above the 50 MA, investors should hold their gold stocks. Major sell signals are finally produced when the ratio subsequently falls below the 50 MA support.

GRAPH 1

GRAPH 2

GRAPH 3

GRAPH 4

The recent buy signal on the HUI/Gold ratio is really a ‘minor’ buy signal. The major buy signal has NOT YET occurred.

IF we plot the HUI/Gold ratio on a weekly chart (see graph 1), this becomes apparent: Note how the past major buy signals have also been confirmed by the Aroon and Williams % R indicators. As you can see, a major buy signal has NOT YET occurred!

This tells me that the ‘mega’ buy signal for gold stocks has yet to occur. By my analysis, this could occur within a month or two. One could go long gold stocks here; however, the safer bet would be to wait for the major buy signal to trigger.

So when will this major buy signal occur and can we estimate an approximate date? As you can see, each consolidation period of the ratio has been increasing (see graph 2): The first consolidation period lasted approximately 7.5 months, while the second consolidation period lasted about 12.5 months.

Here’s where it gets interesting: Note that 12.5 months is 60% longer than 7.5 months. Logically I would assume that the recent consolidation time frame would be 60% longer than the previous one at 12.5 months. This means that the recent consolidation period should last between 20.5 - 21 months. This puts a breakout in the time frame of mid August to early September.

Is this for real? (see graph 3) I don’t know, but I thought I would present it anyway.

Let’s have a look at the daily charts.

The HUI has major resistance at the downtrend line and the 200 MA (see graph 4).

We remain bullish on the longer term outlook for both the physical (gold bullion) and the equities. In the short term we prefer the equities to the bullion. We hold roughly 5% in physical gold bullion in our portfolios, with another 10% in gold- related equity exposure. I’ll end with a quote from the venerable Richard Russell of Dow Theory Letter fame:

“But where to go? The euro? A fiat, untested currency. The yen? Not a big enough currency, but it will do in small amounts. The renminbi? It’s not convertible, it’s only an idea for the future, and the renminbi is the product of a Communist nation. Gold? Well, there’s always gold, but gold pays no interest, and gold works against the very concept that the central bank’s bunker artists are promoting - which is that their printed paper currency is really money and gold is an ancient relic.”

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 [email protected]


Snap Shots: Colour or Black and White?

by Harry Flashman

I can remember when all photography was done in Black and White (B&W). You too? To get different colours, toners were added to the final bath for the prints - selenium, sepia, iodine - they all gave a different “cast”, but it was still B&W with a tinge of something else.

The next thing we did was to hand colour B&W to give blue eyes staring out of a grey face which had red lips. Hardly realistic.

However, we then invented colour film. We learned how to make it so cheaply that everyone could afford to use it. We made it so responsive that any simple camera could handle it. We made it universally popular.

This is no object of wonder. We live in a colourful world - and especially so in Tropical Thailand. However, just how “true” are the colours you get back from your friendly one hour photo processors? (Incidentally, have you noticed that most one hour places tell you to come back in three?)

Unfortunately, colour changes from photo processing shop to photo processing shop and from brand to brand and film speed (ISO rating) to film speed. As an exercise, take the same subject with the same camera, at the same time of day with different films and then compare the end results. The camera never lies? It certainly bends the truth with colours.

You will also get spectacular differences in colour depending upon the time of day. The “colour” of the sun’s rays is measured in a scale called Kelvin degrees and this differs dependent upon the time of day. The “blue” end of the range is in the morning and the “red” end in the afternoon. When you are using sunlight as the source of light for your photographs, the colour “temperature” (the degrees Kelvin thing) of the sun’s rays will give the overall cast to the picture. This is why you get “warm” (orange-red) tones in the late afternoon and “cold” (bluish) tones in the mornings.

Now it doesn’t stop with orange and blue. If you use other sources of illumination for your photographs, you will get even more different colour casts. Look at any photographs you have taken where fluoro lights were the principal light source. The resulting photo will have a distinctly “green” hue. Similarly, if “ordinary” (tungsten) light bulbs are the light source you will get a very strong orange cast to the photograph.

Take a look at the shots I have used this week to illustrate colour shift. Even though they are printed in glorious newspaper grey monocolour, you will see an obvious difference. These shots were taken at an open air night concert, and the guitarist is Lam Morrison, for the music buffs. The two shots were taken less than 5 seconds apart, but they look totally different, do they not? The shot on the left was taken by using the flash with the camera (which overpowers the stage lights), while the one on the right was taken after turning the flash off and letting the stage lights be the source of illumination. If it were in colour, you would actually see that the left hand side is blue, while the right hand side is a yellow/green.

Pro shooters will use this colour shift to impart a mood to their shots. When taking a restaurant, for example, you want to evoke a warm, friendly mood. So, turn off all the fluoro’s and the camera’s flash and turn up all the tungsten lights. End result is that warm inviting glow.

Now, if on the other hand you want the bleak wintery feel to a photo, get up early in the morning and take the shot of someone standing alone on a windswept beach. The blue cast from the early morning sun will do that for you. If you are not an early riser, then bung a blue filter on the lens and get the same effect - that cold blue cast through the picture. (But that’s an old pro shooter’s trick!)


Modern Medicine: Antibiotics - the universal panacea?

by Dr. Iain Corness, Consultant

Perhaps one of the greatest discoveries in medicine was the antibiotic. The other major advancement came with the discovery of anaesthesia (or anesthesia if you come from the left hand side of the Atlantic Ocean!) For countless centuries mankind died from bacterial diseases. Microbes that could bring armies to their knees went unchecked. Plagues decimated populations, but smarty pants that we are, we developed antibiotics and we reversed the tables. “Human beings kill millions of bacteria,” could even be the headline for a newspaper! When we did manage to produce penicillin and sulfa drugs, we were so impressed with ourselves, that we gave out Nobel prizes to Alexander Fleming, Howard Florey, Ernest Chain and Gerhard Domagk, the first three involved in penicillin and the final chap in sulfa drugs.

However, it wasn’t that easy. We did develop antibiotics. They did kill bacteria. But the bacteria did not take all this lying down either. They developed new strains which became resistant to the antibiotics and started to become rampant again. We, in retaliation, developed new antibiotics and the balance of power returned to our favour. After all, the “good guys” should be the winners!

But are we? There has been a price to pay for all our “smartness” with now a plethora of pills and potions. That price is even more noticeable in countries like Thailand, where self medication is the norm. The price includes more antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria, more symptoms caused by the antibiotics themselves and an overgrowth of other organisms such as yeasts.

This was all brought home to me the other day when I chanced upon a discussion in my city office. The manager had a chronic sinus condition and was raking through his desk drawer to see what “antibiotic” he had to combat this. Coming across some self prescribed amoxycillin he asked me what did I think. I replied that I considered that it was probably next to useless for a chronic sinus condition, so he put them back in his desk. However, the office girl piped up that she needed some, so she would have them! Now both of them are intelligent people and I consider them as friends, but the medical training that either of them has had in pharmaceuticals, let alone clinical medicine, is one big fat zero. Yet both of them feel qualified to prescribe potent medications for themselves. This is potentially dangerous.

Coming back to the sinus problem - amoxycillin, one of the earlier penicillin derivatives, is not an antibiotic which gets good tissue levels in the sinus region and by this time, most bacteria which inhabit the ear, nose and throat have long since become resistant to amoxycillin. For my money, taking amoxycillin for his chronic sinus problem is a waste of his money!

Now the young lady - it turned out that her symptoms were not pathological, but represented a normal situation. If she had taken the amoxycillin she would have ended up with a severe attack of “Thrush” an irritating complaint that ladies can well do without.

So in these cases, indiscriminate antibiotics would have been a waste of money and not done the trick for one person and given the other another nasty condition as well. Perhaps now you can see why I am not altogether in favour of self medication with prescription drugs. If it were just a case of “any old antibiotic will do” then it would be different; however, antibiotic prescribing is a sensitive and difficult area of medicine.

Going back to our friend amoxycillin, adverse effects include superinfection, a nasty type of bowel disease and liver and blood disturbances as well as interacting badly with the contraceptive pill and gout medication. Is it worth it? I don’t really think so. See your doctor instead!


Learn to Live to Learn: Integrity

with Andrew Watson

Here we are, at the ‘I’ word, a word which in the dark world of gratuitous malevolence, people might dare only to whisper. Where fear and fascism reign, the voice of integrity is suspicious, seditious. In such places I would love to plaster the walls with the word, hang banners ten feet high! Daub the word on walls a hundred times in the fashion of Graham Chapman in “Life of Brian”.

Integrity can seem like a golden light which brings peace and warmth, purity of conscience and a clear path, free from regret. It is not the same as righteousness from which it should be distinguished. The remorseless pursuit of righteousness, if left unchecked, can easily develop into an aggressive nature, unforgiving and intolerant of human weakness and fallibility, unable to engage in reconciliation or consider compassion. In the place of integrity, paranoia and wild imaginings are cancerous impostors. Last week, I was sent a poem written by Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai, entitled; “From the place where we are right” which talks about the hardness which can overcome the determinedly righteous.

From the place where we are right
flowers will never grow
in the Spring.

The place where we are right
is hard and trampled
like a yard.

But doubts and loves
dig up the world
like a mole, a plough.
And a whisper will be heard
in the place
where the ruined
house once stood.

So, maybe in the self-chastening determination to demonstrate integrity, it is possible to lose sight of it altogether? The “wood for the trees” and all that? English poet Samuel Johnson offers some clarification here, “Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful”. So what, then, if neither integrity nor knowledge are present? I grant this condition is unusual, but is there anything to be done in such a seemingly hopeless case? In my experience, it’s best to follow Howard Gardner’s advice, echoed on these pages by many, which is; when asked or expected to compromise ethically, morally or even legally, Get out! If that’s the only way to keep your integrity intact.

I think it is true that maintaining your integrity can be a lonely business, especially if it is under threat. You can reach the mountain top and find it a desolate and lonely place. But the air is pure and you can take a long deep breath and just maybe, you can smile. But in some areas of the world, one might search long and hard before recognising kin. When you do, these people are like a new family. There is often much shared experience, sometimes but not necessarily painful, which might somewhere along the line, I would have thought, increase wisdom whilst simultaneously decreasing the potential we all have to repeatedly make the same mistakes. “What does ‘integrity’ mean, really?” Students ask me. “It means doing the right thing.” I reply. “Make sure you always do the right thing, with strength and honour”. I suppose integrity is like an ethical thread which weaves its way through our being. And, as my students remind me (they say it in the movies somewhere), “What we do in life echoes throughout eternity.”

In education, a belief that the primary purpose of schools is to nurture the human spirit and to shape society is one which can be uncomfortable. It is one which requires consistent reflection and challenge. Transformational leadership requires personal integrity. According to Chris Wright, part of the new breed of “Super head”, from whom integrity positively radiates, “The key role for the school leader is to communicate a vision for the school community which encapsulates what it is to be truly human within the context in which the school faces itself. To challenge the stereotypes of prejudice and the dynamics of hatred can be uncomfortable. For instance, to critically reflect upon the rise of terrorism in the UK can often lead to uncomfortable conversations.”

But if the role of a leader is clearly critical, it is important to point out that pursuing or maintaining integrity is not an elitist concept, the preserve of the few at the expense of the many. On the contrary. In its purist sense, integrity’s heart is egalitarian. It’s classless. It could reasonably be argued to have a spiritual dimension. I think it is true that in order to demonstrate integrity, we are often required to challenge and overcome our own preconceptions, assumptions and prejudice, and perhaps go still further, if we ever intend to fight iniquity on behalf of others. Moreover, it is a code by which we live, reflected in what we do and how we do it, personally and professionally. So how, you might very well ask, does someone like Chris Wright live out in reality what he professes to be important? Well, firstly, he is passionate about his personal Christian faith. Secondly, he is committed to living out his belief and understanding of his faith which is by demonstrating love and compassion for all human beings in respect of recognition of God’s image in each. Thirdly, his marriage to a Pakistani Muslim is a manifestation of his belief in love as the best way to celebrate life, with all its wondrous diversity. Fourthly, professionally, his work has included developing multi-faith “encounter” projects, publishing educational material on the Celebration of Diversity in the UK and taking a leading role in regenerating his city’s aesthetic, educational and cultural identity. Perhaps what Chris does sums it up. He is being true to his own self. Maybe that’s what integrity is, after all.
[email protected]
Next Week: Knowledge and the Curriculum


Heart to Heart with Hillary

Dear Hillary,
The neighbours in our condominium block have a cat. I think it is a kitten, but it is driving us both crazy. The owners are out all day and the cat calls out all day. When they come home it appears that it must be a perfectly behaved little kitty because there is never another mew out of it until they leave again the next morning, when it starts all over again. We have tried speaking to the owners, but they are a European couple and do not seem to understand any English. The condo management says that pets are not allowed. They are in the end unit, so we are the only ones that have to put up with their noisy pussy cat. What should we do? Will the management help?
George and Mildred

Dear George and Mildred,
There are only two people left to talk to here. Management and the cat itself. Since its owners do not understand you, I doubt if the cat will. Invite the management people up during the day to hear it, if it is that bad. Surely you could have thought of this yourself; however, I think you probably do need some help.
Dear Hillary,
Once a week I have a night out with the boys at work. Usually this means I get home in the wee small hours (2 a.m. closing time these days) and sometimes I am a little the worse for wear as a couple of the lads are top drinkers. My girlfriend is starting to crack up a bit about this one night a week. I reckon she is being unreasonable, as I used to get home even later before the crackdowns in the past year. What can I tell her to make her see that this is just harmless fun with the lads and is a break for me from family responsibilities?
Glen

Dear Glen,
I want you to change roles with your girlfriend for one night. She is going to go out with the girls from work and is going to come home at something past two, decidedly the worse for wear. In other words, very drunk. Are you going to sit back happily and let this happen every week? Will you happily sit at home and not wonder where she is? Will you sit there calmly watching TV soap operas about cheating husbands and wives (that’s all there is on Thai TV) and not worry? Or are you going to crack up about it? It is only Scottish stags that are the “monarchs of the glen”. I think you should reconsider your responsibilities to the young lady. One can’t be a stag forever!
Dear Hillary,
This year I went on holidays for a few days in Jomtien, instead of Chiang Mai. The beach road has certainly changed since I was there last, but the vendors were just the same, pestering us with fairy floss, wooden planes, sunglasses, hammocks, som tum, tod mun pla and ice creams. But there was something different there too, as we noticed that the police were coming along the beach and the vendors would go scurrying off like sandcrabs and disappear. However, about ten minutes after the police swoop, the vendors were all back again. Where do they go to Hillary, when the police come? They just disappeared like magic! Is it illegal for them to be on the beach?
Sandgroper

Dear Sandgroper,
Beach vendors are a curse and spoil my own little forays to the land of deck chairs and banana boats. Hillary would imagine that they should have some sort of a permit, just the same as the beach concessionaires have. I commend the police for helping clear the beaches, but I am just a little worried that I will next be woken up by a policeman asking if I would like to buy some peace and quiet. But that would never happen, would it! Not in Thailand, now that complete government backed transparency is here.
Dear Hillary,
I read much about the problems people seem to have with the songtaews and even though I only come here once a year I felt moved to write to you, following my experience with one the other day. Wishing to only go a short way to the market and then return, I hailed a bus and explained what I wanted. A fare was agreed upon and the trip was carried out successfully, with him waiting for me at the market. I was a little longer than I expected, but he took it all with good graces. When I returned home I gave him more than the agreed fare, because of the extra waiting time, but he refused to take the extra! Unfortunately I did not get his number, but I just wanted to let others know not to judge them all by one.
Nancy

Dear Nancy,
I am delighted to hear this, as undoubtedly the drivers do get painted in a bad light, but I must also add that some of their vehicles look as if they have also been painted in a bad light too! For a tourist venue, the drabness of our public transport, as frequent as the songtaews may be, is appalling. Hillary would like to see the city fathers suggesting some bright florals, rather than the dull rusting monochromes we have right now.


Psychological Perspectives:  Gestalt switch: Changing our relationship to nature

by Michael Catalanello, Ph.D.

The immense power and destructive forces of nature, revealed last December with the Asian tsunami, were demonstrated once again with Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis have the ability to change us, change our ways of thinking about our world in dramatic ways.

What was once the figure of a white goblet becomes the background to two profiles facing one another.

When one’s perception of the world changes in a fundamental way, we sometimes speak of a “gestalt switch.” At such times one’s total perception of a phenomenon undergoes a revolutionary transformation. A veil is lifted. A previously hidden reality is revealed.

Using the famous visual examples, what was once the figure of a white goblet becomes the background to two profiles facing one another. What was once an ugly, disfigured hag is now a beautiful female face. Nothing about the object has changed. What has changed is something inside of us, our way of perceiving it.

At some point during human history, our view of our relationship to nature underwent a gestalt switch. As a consequence of this perceptual change, the human species has become extraordinarily successful in dominating the planet. This was not always the case.

What was once an ugly, disfigured hag is now a beautiful female face. (From E. G. Boring (1930) “A New Ambiguous Figure,” from American Journal of Psychology,42:444-445.)

Anthropologists tell us that humans lived largely at the mercy of forces of nature during roughly 99.994 percent of our time on Earth. During that time, human survival, like the survival of other life forms, was governed by such things as climate, the availability of food, disease, predators, and competition with other species for land and resources. Then, sometime around 12,000 years ago, humankind underwent a gestalt switch, a revolutionary change in our understanding of our relationship to nature.

As the last ice age drew to a close, we cleverly figured out that we could exercise some control over the forces of nature. Rather than rely upon the limited supply of edible wild plants and game animals available in nature, we could grow crops and domesticate the animals we needed for our survival. We had, to some degree, freed ourselves from subservience to the forces of nature.

But nature would not easily yield its dominion. Droughts could still deprive our crops of water, our animals and human populations of food and drink. Seasonal flooding could wipe out an entire harvest, placing our growing populations at risk for starvation, disease, destruction.

Then, around 6,000 years ago, we learned that we could assume even greater control over nature by shaping the landscape. Large scale water engineering projects, we discovered, could help reduce the risk of seasonal flooding. Reservoirs could be designed to hold large amounts of water, and make it available during times of severe draught. Populations grew. Civilizations began to form.

Around 2,500 years ago, a civilization of Greek speaking people around the Aegean Sea began a series of unique speculations about the natural world that would eventually develop into what we today call science. With the advent of science, mankind would come into possession of a powerful new tool we would use to further overcome the limitations imposed by nature.

We learned to use the discoveries of science to further increase food production, to develop vaccines and cures for disease. We further improved our technologies, our methods of waging war, and brought about an industrial revolution. We would create weapons of mass destruction, and use them against human populations.

Today, as we peer out at our vast universe using powerful radio telescopes, we get a greater sense of the destructive potential of natural processes in our universe. Although momentarily tranquil, our blue planet appears a fragile island of life within an otherwise sterile solar system. We can see the stars of our galaxy, bodies like our own sun, being born, moving through stages of development, and eventually dying as they use up their fuel, expanding outward and consuming any objects captured by their gravitational pull. Scientists predict that four or five billion years from now, our sun, too, will die, taking with it our system of planets. Earth, however, will have become inhospitable to life long before this occurs.

We humans have shown ourselves to be adept, at least over the short-term, at overcoming the limits set upon us by forces of nature in our tiny corner of the universe. The human species, like all species before us, however, is marked for extinction. Whether it will be by climate change, ecological degradation, collision with a comet or asteroid, or whether we will exterminate ourselves with chemical biological, or nuclear weapons remains to be seen.

Our control over nature is temporary. In the end, nature will undoubtedly prevail. We may, at best, hope to avoid a premature or self-inflicted demise. Perhaps our prospects to extend our survival will depend, not upon our ability to conquer nature, but rather understand it, and a determination to bring human activities into harmony with its powerful forces: a gestalt switch.

Dr. Catalanello is a licensed psychologist in his home State of Louisiana, USA, and a member of the Faculty of Liberal Arts at Asian University, Chonburi. You may address questions and comments to him at [email protected], or post on his weblog at http://asianupsych.blogspot.com


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