Money matters: Early winter is here (Part
MBMG International Ltd.
A weaker dollar would, of course, make U.S. exports
less expensive to foreign buyers and thus more competitive on overseas
markets. A weaker dollar also can raise the prices of imported goods
flowing into the United States. You can’t manipulate a currency against
its primary trend for a long period of time (our research suggests usually
only a few days but at most 2 weeks). So, once the current policy has
totally undermined the dollar there will be little that anyone can do to
prevent market forces having their full effect.
However, while a weakened dollar may be the first step to correcting the
problematic twin deficits, it would bring attendant problems with it - “If
you want to scare yourself, contemplate the following. The dollar begins
to fall. That is, its value slips relative to other currencies. Foreigners
with massive investments in U.S. stocks and bonds begin to sell their
holdings. They fear currency losses on their American investments because
a depreciated dollar would fetch less of their own money. The selling then
feeds on itself. The stock market swoons. American consumer confidence
withers. The recession resumes and spreads to the rest of the world
through lower U.S. imports...” - Robert Samuelson, The Washington Post,
May 29, 2002.
“Up to a point, a falling currency is a blessing. After that, it’s a
curse. The dollar has fallen 16% against a basket of its trading partners’
currencies over the past three years. In theory, that should, with time,
make U.S. made goods more competitive with those made abroad, boosting
U.S. growth and employment. But a growing chorus warns that the U.S.
gaping budget and trade deficits will lead to a crisis in which the dollar
falls much more sharply, driving up interest rates and squeezing the
economy.” - Greg Ip, The Wall Street Journal, January 18, 2005.
The Fed have comforted themselves by publishing their view that there
would be a reduced likelihood of US asset disposals following a currency
fall because, “In a world of rational expectations, such a scenario would
be unlikely: as the dollar declined, investors would judge that the dollar
had less far to go to reach its equilibrium value, and this decline in
expectations of depreciation would buoy stock and bond prices.”
In other words they see crashes as ending themselves - as assets start to
fall in value they look more attractively priced and investors rush in to
buy the dips. Were this the case no asset would ever fall in value. I find
it hard to believe that the Fed’s researchers could write this if they’ve
ever lived through a correction. The more that stocks fell in 1987, the
keener investors were to sell. For some investors this is a rational
decision based on increasing uncertainty changing the investment
landscape, for others it may well be a matter of no choice if they are
leveraged or their financial positions are suddenly changed in a
contracting economy. For many, periods of uncertainty breed fear and lead
to irrational selling even beyond the point where fair value has been
passed. The researchers’ idea that further currency falls and a slowing
economy could each take place independent of U.S. stock and bond markets
is highly theoretical and contradicts all empirical experience of such
downturns. We fail to see how the appetites of both foreign and domestic
investors would not be reduced either of their own volition or as a matter
of compulsion, deliberately and irrationally in such a situation. This is
how crashes develop.
The Fed also delude themselves in Research Paper 682 that a weaker dollar
would cause such an uptick in exports from the US that the negative
effects on the US economy and US stocks of a reaction to a weakened
currency would be “perhaps more than fully offset by the positive effect
on net exports of dollar depreciation.” In other words, the US economy
would be bailed out by suddenly turning from a net importer to the extent
of around US$ 600 Bn per year to being a net exporter of around twice that
amount. This fails to recognise that the only import market of that size
globally is the US market! There is nowhere to be seen any sufficiently
sizeable consumption markets for US exports on the scale that would be
necessary to address the effects of a deficit of this size.
So the very consequences of the current economic situation will, at some
point, have a cataclysmic effect on US stock markets and almost all other
stock markets will suffer by association. Research shows that in a major
crisis, all markets correlate to one - i.e. everything falls. We expect
that all equity markets would crash in the event of a collapse of the US
stock markets - not necessarily so far and they would, in some cases,
quickly de-couple and bounce back upwards again while the US and other
markets might remain in the doldrums for many years.
We’ll wrap up bleating about the global economy next week.
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: The changing face (and body) of the pin-up
by Harry Flashman
photographs have been with us ever since photography was invented.
Cameras and women seem to have a very close relationship. I have
mentioned this before; however, it is interesting to look back at the
origins of this type of photography.
The word ‘pin-up’ was invented in America during World War II. The GI’s
on overseas duty pinned up photographs of their wives, or more likely,
beautiful women, to presumably remind them of the good life back in
America, and from there we derived the term ‘pin-up’ to cover this.
However, study of the female form is probably as old as the caveman
drawings of countless thousands of years ago. Prehistoric Adam
immortalizing his Eve. Such a shame all those drawings were basically
‘stick man’ images!
From there, the artists amongst the human race began to sculpt and
paint. Certainly there were heroic battle scenes, village life, warriors
and - women. Venus de Milo, as well as having lost her arms, has lost
several items of clothing too. Delve into your memory the topless Minoan
goddesses, the naughty drawings from Pompeii, the sexually very frank
temple sculptures from India and Japan or around the cathedral at Albi
in France. Everyone was, and has, been at it! That men like looking at
ladies should not then come as any surprise, which goes a long way
towards the popularity of certain establishments in Thailand.
But in the past it was only the lucky few who were rich enough to afford
a statue in the garden or a pin-up done in oils. (These days it is most
likely that the pin-up herself is oiled!) The common man had to wait
until Daguerre made photography possible for the masses to see, and do.
Since then, thousands of photographers have snapped the images of
thousands, perhaps millions, of women - all in provocative pin-up poses.
Those images in turn have been reproduced thousands of times to make
enough pin-ups for every bedroom wall in the world. Pin-ups are
undoubtedly one of the most popular “art” forms of photography.
However, I should point out that this type of photography is very
difficult, and not at all the erotic charged sessions you would imagine.
They are hard work.
One other of the aspects that makes pin-up photography difficult, never
mind the lighting, the pose, the back drops, roses and reclining
couches, is the changing taste in pin-ups. The pin-up photographer has
to anticipate the tastes of his fellow travellers in the 21st Century
and produce images that suit the current climate (and I am not talking
about monsoons or snow falls).
The earliest pin-up still in existence is an unadorned full frontal
dated 1852. A daring step for the Daguerrotype photographer and probably
even more daring for the young lady herself. It is a shame that history
has not inscribed both their names, and they have gone to the great
photo-booth in the sky remaining anonymous.
There was one good reason for this, the very act of making or selling
photographs of nudes was deemed illegal in Victorian England, France and
America. The allowable titillating pin-ups of the day were clothed in
tights from bosom to ankle. These were the ladies of the theatre - the
It was then in the late 1850’s that a Parisian photographer called
Disderi introduced a new type of photograph - the “Carte de visite”
which was intended to be a type of photographic visiting card, not
unlike the present day name cards that often have a photograph of the
owner. Disderi mounted a bank of cameras, all pointed at the model and
could take up to 12 shots at the one time. All of a sudden, multiple
photographs of ladies were available and collectible. The pin-up for the
masses had arrived, even if the ladies were still in tights, displaying
a fairly heavy leg or two.
But the Victorian oglers were not to be denied. Pin-up photography was
flourishing - underground. In 1874, a publication called “Victorian
Erotic Photography” printed an account of a London photographer who was
raided by the police, leaving behind 130,248 obscene photographs.
That should have read, 130,248 photographs that these days could even be
published in their entirety in this newspaper. How times have changed.
For your edification, and definitely not titillation, I present some for
you here. Untouched, unexpurgated and unerotic.
Modern Medicine: Hear tomorrow but gone today
by Dr. Iain Corness, Consultant
A couple of weeks ago, I used the headline “Hear today but
gone tomorrow”. This was after being rendered partially deaf by Children’s
Day ‘entertainment’ in one of the main shopping centers. Industrial deafness
being force-fed to our children. But I digress. As well as progressive and
‘never to hear as well again’ conditions, there are also several conditions
causing temporary deafness.
One of the causes of temporary deafness includes wax. That wonderful
brown-gold sticky stuff that your ear seems to manufacture. This is actually
called Cerumen, a waxy substance that helps to protect and lubricate the
tissues, but a build-up of wax can block the ear canal, leading to short
term conductive deafness. Fortunately, the skilled ENT (Ear, Nose and
Throat) doctor can suck or syringe the ear canals to remove the ear wax
plug. Please do not use the ignition key from the car, unfolded paper clip
or cotton bud to try and remove a wax plug. Some olive oil once a week (or a
commercially available liquid called Cerumol) will also help stop the rapid
build-up if you are a good little bee!
Another cause of temporary (reversible) deafness is an impacted foreign
body. This can often happen with small children who will happily stuff small
buttons into any available orifice, the ear being a favorite one. Other
foreign objects we often find lurking down at the bottom of the ear canal
include the cotton wool tip of cotton buds (Q tips) which again block the
transmission of the sound waves to the ear drum.
An infection in the external ear canal can also block the transmission when
the lining of the canal swells and then gets covered in a pus that exudates
to block the inside of the canal.
That covers the external ear, but there are some conditions that can cause
temporary deafness in the middle ear. Excess mucus, from the common cold for
example, a bout of flu, hay fever or other allergies can cause a build-up of
mucus that may block the Eustachian tubes of the ear. With the inner ear
being unable to balance the inside and outside pressures through the
Eustachian tube, this will reduce the hearing ability.
Ear infections (otitis media which is infection of the middle ear) can very
quickly ‘gum up’ the little bones in the middle ear, so the amplitude of the
movement of the ear drum does not happen. Fluid and pus don’t allow the full
conduction of sound too.
Another cause of reversible deafness can be related to medications being
taken for many reasons. One of these is the aminoglycoside group, which
includes some of the lesser used, but important antibiotics, such as
tobramycin and neomycin. Fortunately, after stopping the aminoglycasides
(after a short course) the hearing returns to previous levels. Another drug
is chloroquine, which can cause temporary deafness in susceptible people.
One of the compounds that we manufacture ourselves can also affect hearing,
especially in the neo-natal period. This is bilirubin, the excess of which
causes the condition often called ‘yellow jaundice’. Sulfa drugs and
ceftriaxone can also increase bilirubin (and resulting deafness) in young
babies, which settles after stopping the drugs.
There are even reports of reversible hearing loss that has occurred after
general anaesthetics for operations not involved with the inner ear at all.
It is believed to be related to nitrous oxides in the anaesthetic gases.
However, it should always be remembered that the irreversible deafness
caused by repeated exposure to loud noise is one of the commonest causes of
hearing loss, which is progressive and does not return after being away from
the noise which has caused it.
Heart to Heart with Hillary
Nit and Ying, the adorable wee Isaanettes, have both turned over a new leaf
and are getting into Sherbet Fountains. I wonder if you have turned over a
new Petal and are trying a little Turkish Delight.
Are you working on the principle that I might be suffering from Alzheimer’s
Disease and have forgotten your empty promises? Quite frankly, I hope your
Isaanettes drown you in one (Sherbet Fountain, that is). It would be no real
loss to the literary world. Actually, I wonder if you are attempting to
emulate the great Baron von Münchausen? Next week, on February 22, two
hundred and eight years ago, Karl Friedrich Hieronymus Baron von Münchausen
passed away. Known as the “Baron of Lies”, he was born in 1720 in
Bodenwerder, and served initially as a page to Prince Anton Ulrich von
Braunschweig, and later as a cornet, lieutenant and cavalry captain with a
Russian regiment in two Turkish wars. Münchausen was known during his
lifetime as an excellent raconteur of anecdotes about war, hunting and
travel adventures. After the death of his first wife, Münchausen married a
17 year old, but his marriage was an unhappy one which constantly drove him
to debt and caused scandals.
From 1781 to 1783 a collection of Munchausen’s tales was published, and an
English version of the tales was published in 1785 under the title Baron
Munchausen’s Narrative of His Marvellous Travels and Campaigns in Russia.
Eventually, Munchausen’s name became associated with the amusingly
preposterous story or the lie winningly told. Just as you are associated
with the word ‘renege’ (look it up, if you’re not sure). You are certainly
trying, Mistersingha, my Petal. Very trying!
I am not sure if anyone has written to you before about this, but there
seems to be even more lady-boys than ever before. I (almost) got trapped the
other night by this gorgeous creature who stopped me in the street the other
night. I will say I had a few under my belt, so maybe my judgment wasn’t
crash hot, you know the old beer glasses routine, but how can a man be sure
at times like those? Any foolproof way, Hillary? You seem to know the answer
to everything else, so this should be easy. And make it quick before I go
out again, that’s a sweet pea!
Well Petal, it probably is a little difficult to arrange a chromosome
examination at the side of the road, but there are a few pointers. Firstly,
Thai ladies tend to be small, while the lady-boys tend to be tall. Look for
wide shoulders and narrow hips and the tell-tale Adam’s apple – but remember
they can have this surgically shaved. The voice also tends to be dark brown
too. As far as the figure is concerned, Thai ladies are generally not well
endowed, while someone with a Pamela Anderson superstructure has bought it
at the local plastic surgery shop! And like all of these sorts of
transactions, Caveat Emptor (let the buyer beware)! And I am nobody’s sweet
I am thinking of coming over for a holiday with my girlfriend at the end of
the year. When I was over there a couple of years ago there were a few beer
bars in every town, but from what I can read, there’s lots of them now. I am
not into the bar scene, and neither would my girlfriend be, so I am a little
worried about taking her over there. What do think? Should I take the chance
and bring her anyway, or should I leave her back in the UK and come on my
own. I know she wouldn’t be too happy about that, and I am worried it might
break us up. I really do want to come over this coming August. What should I
do? Really has me bamboozled at present.
You have some serious problems, Petal. You say you’ve been here before, so
you should know there are plenty of places to go in Thailand and things to
do. You don’t have to go trawling round the bars every night. It certainly
isn’t compulsory! Nobody forces you to drink in them, or do they? There are
plenty of other pastimes that both you and your girlfriend might enjoy. Like
golf, swimming, fishing, diving, sailing, go-karting, movies, dining and
touring. Even spend some time meditating in a temple. Thailand really is
like an a la carte restaurant - everything is on it, it is up to you what
you choose. Now, this fear that a holiday apart will break you up is more
worrying to me than whether the pair of you will be dragged off screaming
and kicking into some bar somewhere if you both come for the holiday. If you
are going to leave your girlfriend behind, what is she going to do? Run off
with the milkman? You need a little more trust for a lasting relationship,
and she needs to trust you too. I suggest you talk this holiday and the
various options through with your girlfriend before you book your plane
seat(s). You’ve got a few months yet to mature.
Psychological Perspectives: Why are men both attracted to and threatened by sexually attractive women?
by Michael Catalanello,
Psychologists, as well as social
commentators from other professional backgrounds have long noticed an
interesting paradox: Men celebrate yet disparage, pursue yet fear sexually
appealing women. Perhaps nowhere is this paradox more aptly represented
than in Pattaya’s sex industry. Here men pay money for the sexual favors of
mainly women, while the activities of those same women are socially
denigrated, even criminalized by laws written by men.
Men’s ambivalence toward women is certainly not confined to this particular
activity, place and time. References to the dangerous and deceitful nature
of women can be found in folklore, religious texts, and other writings from
the earliest civilizations. Noteworthy examples are the feminine mythical
characters, Pandora and Eve, through whom evil and suffering were first
introduced into human history. The Sirens of Homer’s Odyssey were
powerfully seductive, yet harbingers of death and ruin, an attractive force
to be avoided at all cost.
Women have suffered greatly as a result of these attitudes. Women who
violate societal rules against sexual taboos typically face much more
severe sanctions than do men. The vast majority of individuals identified
and executed as witches during the 17th century in New England, U.S. were
women. Many cultures continue to practice the barbaric act of female
circumcision. Infibulation, a similar practice performed in some cultures,
removes the clitoris and stitches the vagina closed until marriage.
The reason for this curious ambivalence by men toward women and sex is the
subject of a report appearing this month in the Journal of Personality and
Social Psychology published by the American Psychological Association. The
team of researchers led by psychologist Mark Landau of the University of
Arizona proposes that negative reactions experienced by heterosexual men
toward sexual impulses and attractive women could be explained by
Greenburg, Pyszcynski, and Solomon’s “terror management theory” (TMT).
The central claim of TMT is that we humans, like other creatures, have a
basic impulse to avoid threats to our survival. In doing so, we primarily
rely upon our superior intellectual abilities. The sex act, according to
this line of thinking, by its nature, is a reminder of our animal heritage,
our vulnerability, our mortality. Because reminders of our inevitable death
tend to stir feelings of anxiety within us, our societies have developed
ways of thinking to counteract these disturbing emotions.
One method we have discovered to relieve these unpleasant feelings is to
elevate the sex act above the purely physical plane, to associate sexual
activity with lofty values that are uniquely human, such as spirituality
and romantic love. Furthermore, we suppress our natural biologically driven
sexual inclinations through social, legal, and religious rules and taboos
intended to govern when, where, and under what circumstances our sexuality
is properly expressed.
To test this theory, the authors conducted five innovative studies to
evaluate various predictions generated by TMT. Results tended to support
the notion that concerns about mortality play a role in the negative
attitudes of heterosexual men toward sexual attraction and women. For
example, when men were presented with reminders of their mortality, they
exhibited decreased interest in and sexual attraction toward women who
inspired lust. As predicted, no such decrease in attraction was found for
women who were presented as chaste and wholesome. No such patterns were
found among women.
Obviously, men are not a homogenous group, and individual men are likely to
experience varying levels of ambivalence toward sexuality and women.
Missing from this analysis is an examination of the worldviews and
attitudes of self- and other-acceptance of men with particularly healthy
attitudes toward women.
It would be interesting to discover what attitudes and values would allow
men to accept their sexual impulses and sexually exciting women
independently of the romantic and spiritual associations, or the socially
generated sanctions which are currently in place. If TMT holds true, one
would predict that men who are more attuned and accepting of their
mortality and animal nature would experience less ambivalence toward sexual
attraction and sexually provocative women. Future psychological research
will, no doubt, cast further light upon this interesting question.
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
A Female Perspective: Quincy Tanner
with Sharona Watson
When my husband Andy was asked by the
Regents School to interview one of their best known former students, but was
tied up with TV, I jumped at the chance to take his place. So I admit, he’s
the expert when it comes to education, but I was interested to talk to
Quincy Tanner for other reasons.
I’m what is known around the world as a “Jewish mother” and every time I
drive past the Regents School and see those huge signs saying, “Regents
Scholars win places at Oxford, Cambridge and Stanford,” I wonder who these
boys and girls are. One of my little girls (not so little now) is going to
be going to university sooner than I want to think about it, so I didn’t
just want to know about Quincy’s studies. I wanted to know really, what was
it was like for him, going to school in Thailand, then to one of the best
universities in the world.
Incredibly, it was Quincy’s first time back in two years since graduating.
Where does he live? Does he feel safe? What’s he going to do with his life?
Who does his laundry? You know, he was so polite, so lovely, so healthy. I
asked him first what it was like going to the Regents?
QT: I guess having gone to a relatively small school probably helped
me. If I’d gone to an American high school it would have been, like, a
really, really big high school where it would have been hard to find your
SW: You can get lost in those kinds of places. Do you live on the
campus of the university?
QT: Yeah, I do. But Stanford’s huge. When it was founded, it was a
huge farm and there’s remnants of that. You’ll see a barn that’s being used
for a clubhouse now, but it’s very, very modern as well.
SW: The cows have gone?
QT: Actually we do have parts of campus that have horse stables, but
no, I haven’t seen any cows!
SW: I know you’re on a full scholarship, but tell me, do you have to
do any paid work?
QT: Yes. When I started off, there were actually quite a lot of
opportunities for students. My first job was research in a psychology
department. Some of my friends prefer to work in the shopping malls in Palo
Alto but because my family is low income, I qualify for “work study” on top
of my scholarship.
SW: As an American, was it easier for you to go to university there?
QT: I think for a number of reasons, yes. I kinda had the government
behind me, whereas a lot of international students probably wouldn’t have
that. On the Stanford application, they make a promise that if you’re
accepted, they will make sure you can come. They will provide whatever you
need to get there.
SW: Would you have chosen any other university?
QT: No, to be honest. I had no idea how competitive it was, the
history it had … but the Regents teachers who had sort of become my good
friends – in a way like my advisors – helped me a lot. I felt very confident
that Stanford was the place for me. I grew up in San Jose, near Stanford and
my grandmother lived nearby. By the time I arrived, I already felt like it
was a second home!
SW: What do you want to do when you’re grown up?
QT: I’ve thought long and hard about this and it isn’t something I
tell a lot of people.
SW: Ambition is a good thing!
QT: Yes, I know but it can leave you a little bit vulnerable … but I
kinda want to be Secretary General of the United Nations. That’s my twenty
to thirty year plan.
SW: Great! Reach as high as you can!
QT: Sure, and I’ve already sort of started taking the steps. I’m
planning a research project this coming summer based on human rights,
working with a really brilliant faculty member in the political science
department called Stefan Steadman, who was Kofi Annan’s special advisor. I’m
learning so much from him. You know, it’s nice knowing what you want to do.
When you go to a school like the Regents and you take a programme like IB,
it’s kinda like you’re trained to be great at everything, trained to want to
succeed at everything.
SW: What’s the hardest thing for you at Stanford?
QT: Finding your path and sticking to it. The Dalai Lama came to
Stanford. I was at a meditation workshop and he said that the hardest thing
for him sometimes, is finding a way to get away from people – to just define
your own space.
SW: Where do you feel you belong most?
QT: I don’t really feel like I have a “place”. Whether it’s how I
dress or the perspective that I bring to the conversation, if it doesn’t fit
then it’s kinda shunned. But I realise that people are people. If they have
only been exposed to a certain aspect of the world then I can’t really hate
them. I feel frustrated.
SW: But you want to do something about it, right?
QT: I do, but it’s hard figuring out what to do and how to do it.
Looking at the way the world is going right now, in America it’s like, “Lets
build higher walls to keep terrorism out,” but I say, “No, what is it that
we have done that people want to commit these acts?” Until we find that out,
it’s never going to stop. I think that Bush and a lot of government
officials are working under the assumption that these terrorists are dumb.
In a hundred years time, higher walls aren’t going to make any difference at
SW: Quincy, thank you. You’re my first interviewee and you’ve been
very obliging. I enjoyed it.
QT: You’re welcome. Hey, I use to read the Pattaya Mail a lot! Thank
SW: You still can! Online!
And I never got to ask about his laundry!
Next week: The Passage of Time