Nov

27

 One must consider what the effects of moderation were during the times of Blue Laws and peer-imposed Sunday closings. In essence the process taught moderation and planning. Remember, before the days of 24-hour cable news there were professional sporting events that were nationally broadcast roughly once per week. This member, for one, appreciated such things more during those times. The planning element arose from the inaccessibility to certain consumable goods and services. Not to mention, dealing with real "free time."

Having spent a great deal of time in Latin America, with its numerous holidays and "service breaks," one can see how compulsory moderation can have negative results when applied to a relatively inefficient society where community planning is relatively nonexistent - i.e. Bolivia, Mexico, Brazil.

Jun

29

VNThere are many reasons everyone should read and study "The Enzyme Factor" by Hiromi Shinya. The first is that he promises a cure for cancer and an extension of lifespan. The second is that it will dispel a hundred myths about what is good for your health. The third is that it will teach you about the digestive system, providing knowledge that will help you in all aspects of your life. The fourth is that the book is like that written by a seasoned and very successful chartist. Instead of examining 300,000 charts, he's examined 300,000 stomachs, and based on the outcome not of price moves, but on subsequent relapse into cancer or death, he's formed a theory of what causes disease and come up with a method of preventing it. The fifth is that the book has sold two million copies in Japan, and presumably will affect the world in many ways for the good.

Dr. Shinya is best known as the inventor of colonoscopic surgery. He maintains the largest endoscopic practice in the world, delivering, with his team of three other doctors, in his 45 years of practice more than 300,000 colonoscopies. He practices in Japan and on E. 55 St. in New York, and regularly treats US Presidents, English Prime Ministers, and Japan's Royals. I was one of the 300,000 he treated and I have never seen a more efficient operation from start to finish in any field. He shocked me a bit by giving me a diagnosis on two occasions without a biopsy, but as he said like many chartists I know "I've seen more than 300,000 of these so I know without any tests or numbers." His book makes the unusual claim that he's treated thousands of patients for cancer and never had a relapse. This is like the chartist who tells you he's never recommended a stock that has not gone in the direction he predicted. Presumably a patient he's treated who did have such a relapse would complain in one form or another if the statement weren't true, with the inevitable other consequences. And since the normal death rate from such diseases is 25% or more, the actual observed number is 20 standard errors or more below expectation, truly a lower probability than the spare parts in a junk yard assembling themselves magically and spontaneously into an ocean liner.

Dr. Shinya has a Galtonian personality in many respects. Like Galton, he never recommends a procedure or medication without trying it out on himself. He takes a dose of every medication he recommends for his patients, but had to stop when he took some Viagra-like substance as it almost killed him in recent years.

The book is replete with side facts that will change your life. He recommends that hospitals immediately start feeding surgical patients a full diet of solid food, not the bland mush and cereals usually given. He recommeds that babies give up bottles at one year old. He recommends all adults should refrain from ingesting any dairy products. He recommends that no water or any foods be eaten for 5 hours before going to bed. He has a patented method for making all dogs love him— rubbing saliva on his hand ( the same saliva so important because of its rich enzymes   for proper digestion), and then letting the dog eat it

The essence of Dr. Shinya's recommendations is that you eliminate all dairy and meat from your diet, and maintain a diet of 85% vegetables and fruits, and 15% protein from fish. He recommends the elimination of coffee, tea, snacks, alcohol, chocolate, and fats and oil, and advises adding sea vegetables to the brown rice, beans and root vegetables that are the staples of most vegetarian diets.

He advises an active sex life, moderate exercise, and above all much good water, which he recommends as Alkaline Kangan water.

Like most books of this nature written by a clinician and not a statistician, there are a myriad of untested theories and single factor causes of disease that are singled out without any testing or documentation. He believes that since he's examined more stomachs and intestines than anyone else that if he sees a problem there, and notes a diet that seems to correspond to it over time or between countries, or between healthy and unhealthy patients, that is enough for him to tell without examining "worthless studies where the numbers don't mean anything because the researchers can get them to say whatever they want." This is the same defect that I find with charting and almost all of technical analysis, although in this field the problem is deeper because the cycles change much quicker than they do, for example, in Japan where Dr. Shinya attributes the 25-fold increase in stomach cancer there to the inclusion of milk in school lunch programs starting in the post-war years.

The problem with such clinical observations is that you can't differentiate the valid science from the anecdotal which is not valid. You just don't know without further study which of his recommendations have any validity.

The essence of the theory behind his recommendations is that enzymes are the key to health.That there is a single source enzyme that controls all the others, and that this is used up by ingesting foods that have free radicals that use up good enzymes, and by eating improper foods that use up the good enzymes, which are contained mainly in fruits and vegetables.

The theory itself is unproven. There is no evidence that it prolongs life or prevents disease. And it is hard to differentiate its recommendations from many other theories that recommend similar diets.

Because of the importance of the subject to all, I have followed up all of Dr. Shinya's recommendations and examined all the scientific studies that might provide valid evidence concerning the merits of his recommendations.

This is a difficult field, because most of the studies compare two different groups at the same time, and then follow them up, or are retrospective in nature, looking at the characteristics of diseased persons versus healthy. Also, there is observer bias, the placebo effect, the problem of self interest, fantastic high cost of a proper longitudinal study, lack of double blind outcomes in most studies, and the lack of incentive to test anything but patentable drugs that can be used on a large proportion of the population.The problems are the same as in our field, where you don't expect a practicioner to set forth his recommendations, and then follow them up for 10 years before accepting them as valid. But in our field as soon as such recommendations are made, the form changes, making it even more difficult.

Nevertheless, some excellent longitudinal studies exist, including a 50,000 patient dietary study, a Harvard-Dana Farber study of diseased people, a Baltimore longitudinal study, and a nurses' study. Also, an Italian study of elderly patients, and various Scandinavian studies and Seventh Day Adventist studies exist. It would be too tedious for me to review each of these studies and comment on their merits and demerits and how they affect my estimate of the validity of Dr. Shinya's conclusions. However, there is near unanimity in all the studies that a diet without meat extends life span and reduces disease. Many of the studies are contradictory on the merits of dairy products and poultry but a good working hypothesis seems to be that fermented dairy products are healthy for you and unfermented products such as milk are unhealthful. I find no evidence that drinking tea or coffee is bad. However there is much evidence that drinking much liquid in your diet is very healthful, and Dr . Shinya's recommendations of eight 12 eight ounce glasses of water a day seems to fit in with beneficial effects in all the studies I have seen. As for the value of Fletcherizing food, coffee enemas, eating uncooked foods, and deep breathing, and the removal of all desserts from your diet, I find no evidence either way. I have shown all the studies that support or infirm his theories to him, but with a practice that involves administering 40 colonoscopies a day, as well as the thousands of diseased patients he claims to have treated over the years without a relapse, I was not surprised when he rejected my offer to elucidate all the statistics to him. He commented that he can understand them on his own but he doesn't believe in statistics anyway.

I have sent copies of his book to all in my family and believe that despite the many defects and gaps in his theories, that if one does not mind "giving up pleasure in eating but eating for health," as he recommended to me, that following the gist of his recommendations will do much to put you in a much better frame of mind for living and trading.

Ken Womack adds:

This is a fascinating topic and the book is one that I find intriguing. About a year ago I began a vegetarian diet but encountered difficulty transitioning my new diet into the household kitchen lexicon. What I found immediately was that I gained a moderate amount of weight as I inadvertently mixed in too many carbohydrates. Once that was under control I noticed that I was more alert, that I didn't become as drowsy after eating, and that pH began to shift to a more alkaline composition.

In the end the pressures of carnivorous life and the human weakness bested me. Vegetarian lifestyle is demanding, especially at first. However, I plan on giving it a go again - this time better prepared.

I think that there are ways to overcome the amino acid deficiencies of the diet. Fish-eating vegetarians are even better equipped to handle the nutrient battle.

The idea of portion control too has merit. There is most assuredly a battle taking place within us all. Unlike some markets, however, I think we affect the volatility rather than react to it. The lows are certainly consistent in their emotional impact, though.

May

31

BikeDue to a series of planning errors I recently found myself on the cusp of a serious case of heat exhaustion. I was mountain biking a remote section of Texas Hill Country during a completely predictable heat wave. There is a reason why seasoned survivors and those with skills in the field of wilderness self-preservation advocate that travelers concentrate on their own immediate circumstances first and foremost. That reason is that worrying about peripheral issues is dangerous!

I had commandeered my wife's vehicle while mine lay wounded in the local mechanic's outfit. In summary, I'd planned a leisurely nine mile ride through one of the Hill Country's expansive biking ranches and then an uneventful drive back into town to secure my son as he was released from school that afternoon.

I got lost. To add insult to injury I realized two hours in that I was not only lost but that I was toting not one, but two, leaky bladders from my backpack mule. As if things weren't progressing badly enough I apparently did not secure the zippers on the mule after replacing the bladders. Twenty minutes of fruitless peddling later I came to the stark realization that the constant vibration had dislodged my cellular phone and only source of automated time-keeping. My mind began to race. Was I already too late to pick-up my son? Would my wife realize I wasn't coming too late, leaving my son stranded until late in the evening? What would my wife do in regards to looking for me? Would I even make it back with no method of communication and no way, other than the blazing sun, of knowing where I was or where I was going. My temples began to pound. My heart raced. I couldn't stop sweating, even in the shade. As my hydration packs ran lower my heart rate increased. My legs began to shake and my thinking became increasingly irrational. Maybe three miles later I felt my first muscle spam, followed by another, and another. Roughly four hours into the hellish ride I sensed the first wave of chills rattle my slowing body. Pebbles became as daunting as mountains. I was scared. I could barely lift my legs to breach the relentless cycle of canyon-rise-canyon.

If this scenario seems too awful to be true. It isn't. It happened to me on Wednesday. I was fortunate to locate a fire road and literally coast out of the outback chaparral on a downhill slope. Luckily after about 6 miles I was able to find my car. I drove to the Dairy Queen for food and drink. Still, I suffered through heart irregularities, headaches and nightmares for the rest of the evening. But it could have been worse.

In retrospect, it took me only a few quiet moments to dissect this abomination in judgment. Had I simply left my family out of the equation when I was out there I might very well have saved myself a great deal of physical trauma and more than a little heartache. I was alone in those hills and all the worrying, fretting, and emoting would do me no good. I now consider that God may have given us selfishness to treat like fire. A useful tool to keep on the side, to use from time to time, and yes, even to snuff out when it grows too large. But a tool nonetheless.

The issue is always in front of us, not fifty miles away, nor standing right behind us.

Jan

5

ViolinIt was going to happen. I have put it off in favor of other matters for decades. Yet, somehow, in the back of my mind, it never left my agenda as a priority through all these years. Today I purchased my first violin. I have been inspired by various individuals to embark on this journey, not the least of which was Vic, in his printed memories of his father.

The catalyst was my son's music teacher, who, each day, tolerates my standing by the salon door admiring the incremental progress of her diminutive understudies.

I am very excited. Somehow I know that it will make me a better speculator. A better thinker.

Marion Dreyfus adds:

As to your speculation on whether buying (and presumably playing) a new instrument will help you as a thinker, the answer is yes. Studies have long supported the supoposition that the parts of the brain responsible for learning the operation and performance of an instrument, and the subsequent ‘training’ of these new parts of the brain, produces a charge in the cortex such that there are more afferent and efferent pathways than before. The brain creates a specialty ’space,’ as it were, for developing familirities and competencies, and these add to the speed of synapses and add to the total brain enhancement process that we, hopefully, encourage daily by hobbies, investing in the puzzles of life, solving predicaments, discerning this choice from that, and the myriads of fine discriminations that determine our passage through the week and the world. So, yes, you will be giving your brain a ‘grad course’ in additional storage ‘rooms’ and thinking alternatives.

Nov

16

SprocketI recently had a conversation with a bike builder. I was watching him actually and we spoke in cadence, discussing colors, brakes, seats and the like as he spun a wrench over each exacting screw and bolt. I get excited when I see bicycles, more so than when I ride them. I think it might be the colors. Maybe it's the shape, or an image long held in my subconscious. The first bike I asked for was an orange bike. I didn't get it. I got a green one instead. It was accompanied by a neatly-typed note from Santa via "North Pole - North Texas Station" explaining that the cadre of elves charged with painting the bikes had lost their orange paint. The note was apologetic but firm. I was happy nonetheless. But orange bikes still make my heart beat a happy rhythm.

The bike builder told me that gadgets and foot pegs are the themes of the day. "Weird green is the most popular color." he said, his nose turned slightly upward. "The manufacturers know it…so they make more."

I guess Hunter green was the popular color of my day, I thought. Not orange. "They take what they get." said the builder, grinning, twisting a newly-devised disc brake on the back hub of a twenty-inch wheel. "Most have their favorites."

In trading I have my favorites, too. Trading provides a certain level of excitement…of newness. Is it comparable to the image of an orange bicycle? Maybe. There are some currencies that seem more energetic, more positive, more lively. I like those the best.

For the next month and a half children will enter stores with their parents. They'll grow mysteriously in love with one bicycle or another. Wheels, freedom, and color! Dreams will last forever, dashed by the reality of morning on the slow-moving days before Christmas. But, oh is that day coming! And the color of that bike will be the color of their dreams.

In that time I'll watch the Yen and the Dollar and the Aussie, Pound, and Euro.
I'll pick my favorites. I might even dream a little, if the mood strikes me.
I'll test every theory the way a child tests his dreams. And I'll invest my
resources the way a child invests emotion. I think there might be a good day coming, I tell myself. Do the banks know about letters from Santa…even those mailed from the post office in Texarkana? Do they know what I'm thinking? What I'm wanting? Am I big enough for them to care.

Please, please, don't let there be a letter in the mail! Just for this one day, this week… until Christmas. Just give me a little magic.

"Hey there!" says the bike builder, clapping his wrench across my wandering mind. "Can you hand me that orange frame?"

Oct

17

Chinese CheckersEvery other day or so my son and I take a break from homework to spar on the battlefield of Chinese checkers . The games begin on the house board but routinely transition to an Internet board for a chance to test our skills against four other players.

When my son began playing he demonstrated the typical childhood propensity to act on the first move he saw. Later, he became more aware of multiple jump moves, and ultimately the concept of the open space gave rise to the notion that one might go backwards in order to go forwards. Finally, at the end of his first phase of learning he grew to value the actual length of a move in relation to ground covered.

We watched the computer, time and again, seemingly stymied in the center, pull-off a spectacular nine-jump move, positioning itself boldly a full leap from its home.

My son later made the statement, "Everything is clogged-up in the center, Dad! Nobody can move at all. Then all of a sudden everything breaks free and the colors head to their homes like there's nothing in their way!"

I asked him what the catalyst for this "break-up" could be and he began to study the board more intently during the middle of the matches. After a couple of weeks he pushed the laptop away and grabbed a can of Mountain Dew stating, "Somebody does something he doesn't want to do!"

"What?" I asked.

"That's what breaks open the big pile!"

"Hmmm," I thought, it's simplistic but maybe…"

He activated several games in a row until he was fully convinced that, with the help of the CPU, he'd successfully clogged the middle to test his hypothesis. "See." he said, running his small fingers over the screen. Yellow doesn't have a move. Red and purple are all blocked up. Blue can only go here. Green still has three right here, and it's light blue's turn."

"It's not good to be light blue." he said, faking remorse. And he hit the button moving the light blue marble meekly by one space. "Now watch!"

With that the board began to roar back to life, first around the fringes and then weaving valleys through its center. All the while light blue seemed to lag to the point of delay in asserting his marbles. "You can't let 'em force you to move, Dad!"

I thought about his theory and wondered how many times, late at night, watching the blip, blip, blip of the dollar that I'd felt compelled to make a move that I didn't want to make. Could it be that a lack of nerve at the critical juncture is really just the "unwanted move", the one trader or collective of traders that perceive their limited options and act with a sort of "default spontaneity?"

Gradually, over time, my son was able to avoid taking that "unwanted move". He got closer and closer to winning. One day he blurted, "the winner likes all his moves!"

"And what separates the winner from the other five players?" I asked.

He answered, "Every round there's a player that makes a move he doesn't want to make. The winner knows the "unwanted moves" better than the other guys. And it takes a long time to know them all!"

With that he got up and grabbed his cycling helmet. Walking to the door of the garage he swung it open and I could hear the squeak of his scooter heading towards the sidewalk.

I waited until he was out of earshot and walked over to look at the laptop.

"Light blue wins!"

Aug

19

 We try to limit our children's use of television. Where we do so they invariably expand their use of other modes of indoor entertainment to make up the difference. I have determined that there is a consistency in the DVD selections that my three year-old makes throughout the week. One of the proxy selections available to my children is the use of the DVD player and selected films, teaching videos, animated works, etc.

My daughter selects some films occasionally. She selects other films rather frequently. And some films she selects routinely.

No matter what happens she returns to these films. Sometimes the frequency of the selection begins to decrease. However, there is always one film that takes the place of the former as the standard-bearer for consistency. And always every one in three days or so.

I have speculated that she needs to have a foundation, a basis from which to launch her entertainment regimen. Maybe she thinks she might stray too far from her good tastes and needs to view the old stand-bys to reassure herself.

I wonder if traders and analysts in banks from Tokyo to London do not have the same psychological complex working to affect their trading habits.

Is there by chance a "favorite" price at which a currency or a stock or commodity trades each day? Not a favorite based on statistical analysis but a favorite based preference? Is there a price that just "looks better" to the collective psyche?

I'll keep watching my daughter's viewing habits. I'll keep watching the Kiwi. And when Barney calls me for a margin call or the Bank of Japan advises against playing alone I'll know my theory has legs!

Jul

27

 In was some time before 2000 that I sat in a giant bar on the outskirts of Sao Paulo listening to my friend Paulo carry-on about why the giant city was "really Italian" and why that was a good thing. He waxed mournfully about the loss of the colonial sector and assured me that had the city governors been true Italians they’d have preserved those fine, old homes and taken pictures of them and placed them on postcards.

What happened to the colonial sector? I asked Paulo. "Oh…just gone." he said, waving his left hand like a broom while motioning for a beer with his right. "You know," he continued, "this bar - The Penguin - has six kilometers of copper tubing built into it. And the beer you’re drinking has passed through every centimeter!"

Did you say six kilometers? I asked in surprise. "Sixteen!" he replied, his finger now on his chin. "And there’s no bar in the country or in Mato Grosso or in this hemisphere that has more copper! Those colonial homes probably had copper wiring in them. We use copper in Brazil!" he confirmed seriously. "We know how to use it best!"

I thought about this three nights later when I was nearly electrocuted taking a shower in my Alphaville condominium. And I’ve thought about it since…copper, that is.

My late grandmother, a native Louisianan of Alsatian ancestry once gave me the harmonious news that my great-great grandfather cooked with "good copp-uh" and "that cooking was ideal cooking!" She also told me, somewhat less harmoniously, that the contaminated strawberry scare in 1995 was "a government conspiracy!" And ordered me post haste to the nearest supermarket for a double basket. I trusted my grandmother.

It was late in the evening on a dirty remote road in central Chile that my brother-in-law parked his smallish Chevy sedan and walked me to the edge the roadway, looking down on the eerie glow of some kind of gigantic copper leeching pond a kilometer in the distance. "Under your feet," he said, it’s flowing." What? I asked. "The copper fragments. They reach speeds of two-hundred miles per hour in that underground tube," he said proudly. "That’s the fastest vacuum-generated mineral flow in the world!"

And I find that we have barely a sixty-year supply of copper, if the venerable New Scientist is your source of information. If you use the Copper Development Agency’s figures then we have a nearly limitless supply based on current extraction rates.

If you ask my contracting next-door neighbor you’ll promptly get, "somewhere in the middle of those two."

An engineer friend of mine in Chuquicamata states, "too much copper! Copper! Copper! Copper! We don’t dig as much as years ago. But we got copper from here to China!"

"Don’t kid yourself!" says the coin guy in downtown San Marco, Texas. "There’s not as much copper in coins anymore. There’s not that much left on the market."

"Why are you worried?" asks a friend of mine who works where you smelt things. "You just recycle the stuff!"

"That’s why they steal it!" says an electrician I know. "There’s not as much out there as there used to be."

"You’ll know when copper dries-up," says my brother-in-law. "All those eucalyptus trees down there will just fall over! Oh, you didn’t know eucalyptus trees need buckets of copper to stay alive? Look at them! See the way they wind down the hill? They’re following copper veins!"

"I hope it doesn’t run out!" says the nurse-wife of a friend. "We use it all over the hospital. Kills all kinds of bad stuff!"

Then it hits me. My brother-in-law mentioned "eucalyptus". Don’t Koala bears eat eucalyptus? Isn’t that all they eat! What happens if copper does run out? Does that mean Koala bears run out?

And so I say, I should go long on the best, fastest, depleted, limitless, germ-killing, beer-shooting, particle zooming, electricity-conducting, aiguillette-frying metal in the world. And I can do with fifty years to spare before the Army of the Night tears through my grandson’s home to make off with his ice-maker hose.

Or, maybe I should just call my broker and say, "I short Koala bears!"

Jul

22

I would like to offer my suggestion on a tasty summer Chilean salad dish.

The "Chilean Salad" or simply, "la ensalada" in Chile, is very simple and pairs well seafood, meat, and even chicken, albeit with a subtle variation on the wine selection.

 Ingredients:

 2 large homegrown tomatoes
 1 large mild onion
 1 handful of fresh cilantro
 1 teaspoon table salt
 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

 1. peel tomatoes
 2. chop onion
 3. chop cilantro
 4. mix ingredients
 5. add salt
 6. ladle oil over mixture slowly, touching all parts
 7. toss gently

The Chilean salad mixes well with all dishes, especially seafood. The Chileans are especially fond of this side dish alongside fresh, mashed potatoes and pan-fried sea bass. It mixes well with both red and white wines, though not so well with Pinot Noir.

My brother-in-law, in his weekly phone call providing me the count of the full copper trucks leaving the Colina plant will normally comment, "All those tomatoes are going to burn your esophagus!" - a testament to my love of this simple dish and its popularity in my home. 

Jul

20

 When I was much younger in the small town on the Arkansas/Texas border where I grew-up I'd spend time with my father, an aspiring Cherokee Medicine Man and member of the Western Tribe (second string) of the Cherokee Nation.

Being proficient in animal behavior and especially in regional native zoology, my father is even now a great resource for general wildlife information. I asked him on a recent visit why we never saw bobcats when I was younger. He replied that we didn't see them because that was the way they liked it, and also because their range (about 10 square miles) made an encounter unlikely given their keen awareness of their surroundings. I do recall him telling me that I'd likely meet a bobcat the same day I discovered a black bear - both of which he assured where in plentiful supply.

Several days ago I was speaking with an employee of mine who revealed that she moonlights as a bead-seller. When I asked her in what location, she responded "oh, mostly in doctor's offices, hospitals, restaurants, and such as that."

I was not prepared for this revelation. First, San Antonio, despite its Mexican cultural influences, is not known for being a Mecca for peddlers of any stripe. Second, I frequent many of the restaurants that my employee named and I have never seen a peddler in a hospital or doctor's lobby either. When I showed amazement at such a discovery she was just as shocked at my ignorance. I've never seen anyone selling anything at those restaurants, much less at the hospitals. I said. To which she replied, "That's strange. Every time I'm in the medical complex I see the rolling massage guy. And the first thing the nurses at the hospital tell me every Thursday is 'the purse lady was just here!’"

I take pleasure in thinking that both my old, black woods back home and the wood-grained black market of Old San Antonio are thriving, even if I just discovered both.

Archives

Resources & Links

Search