HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Money matters

Snap Shots

Modern Medicine

Heart to Heart with Hillary

Psychological Perspectives

A Female Perspective

Money matters: Early winter is here (Part 6)

Graham Macdonald
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

Pin-up 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 burlesque performers.
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

Dear 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.
Dear Mistersingha,
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!
Dear Hillary,
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!
Dear Muscles,
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 pea!
Dear Hillary,
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.
Dear Johnny,
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, Ph.D.

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 place.
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 all.
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 you!
SW: You still can! Online!
And I never got to ask about his laundry!
Next week: The Passage of Time
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