Science and Medicine News and Comment

People who practice suffering every day do the same thing as people who practice their golf swing: they get better at it. You can’t control everything in life, but you can always change your mind.

More evidence for liquid water on Mars. The probability of alien critters is rising. I wonder what what color of slime you can make out of them?

Birth Control Pills Have Lasting Effects on Relationships If she’s on the pill she only wants you for your pocketbook and not that other bulge in your pants.

More self-medicating insects. This time bees, but I still haven’t seen any cases of insects doing it recreationally.

Study finds interrogational torture harsh and ineffective. Duh. Even the CIA knew that as long ago as 1963. The KUBARK torture manual, declassified in the late 90’s, was pretty clear about the threat of torture, particularly to loved ones, being more effective than actual torture. Besides, if they hate freedom wouldn’t they enjoy being detained?



Pseudo Random News and Comment

Maybe my favorite architect, Takeshi Hosaka. I wouldn’t necessarily want to live in them all but very striking designs.

Naked Capitalism comments on the study (linked to previously) which showed an inverse relationship between patient satisfaction and medical outcomes. If you can’t be bothered to take a serious interest in your health, you shouldn’t expect anyone else to be more interested. There is an inherent asymmetry between your concern with your health and anyone else’s concern for it simply because you have more at risk than they do. With all the information available online there is no excuse for not being a well-informed patient. Over time physicians can become jaded like everyone else, and uncaring patients will tend to produce uncaring doctors. I didn’t go into medicine because I knew that would soon be me, and my parents gave me a strong sense of fiduciary duty (which has cost me countless unethical opportunities).

Piece on long-term benefits of doping. It naively assumes suspended athletes stop doping. But it’s not the first time Don Caitlin has chosen to ignore the obvious.

Benefits of diversifying across asset classes. The time period covered is too short for my taste but does include both an internet bubble and lost decade for stocks so it’s not a bad sample.

California getting Fuk’ed by the plume.

Lotteries are NOT taxes on the poor. I’m tired of hearing this lame analogy. Taxes aren’t voluntary, lotteries are. If taxes are made voluntary I will gladly concede the point – after a delirious, 3 week, non-stop party.

Sino-Forest files for bankruptcy protection. Thank goodness they held on long enough for the insiders to cash out under the table.

“Massive” credit card processor breach. In my experience the fraud departments are generally pretty good at catching fraudulent charges (which means they know a disturbing amount about your spending patterns), but there’s no replacement for reconciling those statements every month.

Just because their families back home depend on them sending money, they can’t show a little more gratitude? Foxconn workers upset over reduced hours

Google planning direct tablet sales later this year. Cool, but I still like my rooted Nook.


Social Contracts

I find this one somewhat ironic since it required a worldwide division of labor and a large number of greedy materialists for the author to have that paint can in his hand.

Section 9 in the following now needs to be amended to reflect execution without due process. Revised copies should be included with your 2012 tax forms:


Between an Individual and the United States Government

WHEREAS I wish to reside on the North American continent, and

WHEREAS the United States Government controls the area of the continent on which I wish to reside, and

WHEREAS tacit or implied contracts are vague and therefore unenforceable,

I agree to the following terms:

SECTION 1: I will surrender a percentage of my property to the Government. The actual percentage will be determined by the Government and will be subject to change at any time. The amount to be surrendered may be based on my income, the value of my property, the value of my purchases, or any other criteria the Government chooses. To aid the Government in determining the percentage, I will apply for a Government identification number that I will use in all my major financial transactions.

SECTION 2: Should the Government demand it, I will surrender my liberty for a period of time determined by the government and typically no shorter than two years. During that time, I will serve the Government in any way it chooses, including military service in which I may be called upon to sacrifice my life.

SECTION 3: I will limit my behavior as demanded by the government. I will consume only those drugs permitted by the Government. I will limit my sexual activities to those permitted by the Government. I will forsake religious beliefs that conflict with the Government’s determination of propriety. More limits may be imposed at any time.

SECTION 4: In consideration for the above, the Government will permit me to find employment, subject to limits that will be determined by the Government. These limits may restrict my choice of career or the wages I may accept.

SECTION 5: The Government will permit me to reside in the area of North America which it controls. Also, the Government will permit me to speak freely, subject to limits determined by the Government’s Congress and Supreme Court.

SECTION 6: The Government will attempt to protect my life and my claim to the property it has allowed me to keep. I agree not to hold the Government liable if it fails to protect me or my property.

SECTION 7: The Government will offer various services to me. The nature and extent of these services will be determined by the Government and are subject to change at any time.

SECTION 8: The Government will determine whether I may vote for certain Government officials. The influence of my vote will vary inversely with the number of voters, and I understand that it typically will be minuscule. I agree not to hold any elected Government officials liable for acting against my best interests or for breaking promises, even if those promises motivated me to vote for them.

SECTION 9: I agree that the Government may hold me fully liable if I fail to abide by the above terms. In that event, the Government may confiscate any property that I have not previously surrendered to it, and may imprison me for a period of time to be determined by the Government. I also agree that the Government may alter the terms of this contract at any time without my permission.

X___________________________________, ___________________

Signature – date

Copyright 1989 by Robert E. Alexander.

May be distributed freely.

Pseudo Random News and Comment

Good piece on the results of former GS prop traders. Apparently front-running generated a lot more of their alpha than they realized. I wonder how they are rationalizing this turn of events, since they almost certainly believed the money they got from GS was entirely justified.

Intermarket correlations – 10 years ago and today. The market monoculture shown in these numbers is likely to lead to the equivalent of an extinction event at some point.

Researchers clobber Khelios spam botnet. But the new version, Khelios.C, appears within hours. The best of these programs now include their own antivirus software to clean out and competition and ensure nobody else’s bad code leads to discovery of a problem. It’s a fascinating evolutionary landscape.

10 Golden Rules to blowing your trading account out. It helps to start by funding the account with the minimum allowed too.

Student loans on the rise – for kindergarten. Depending on major and institution college barely makes sense already. How is this expected to pay off? If it’s pure status-seeking gathering the kids around a campfire of $100 bills, roasting marshmallows, and posting it on Youtube might generate a better return. can now detect your age. More or less. If this catches on men will no longer be able to lie about how old they think a woman is.

Dengue virus turns on mosquito genes that make them hungrier. We just have to hope it doesn’t evolve to where it causes the same behavior in infected humans.

Splitting out the longevity effects of Rapamycin.

Pseudo Random News and Comment

LOL. Shitter – turn your tweets into toilet paper

Fact checking the employers asking for Facebook passwords story. I was wondering about this.

Patents show their true face, once again. Regardless what the propagandists have to say, they aren’t there to improve the lives of consumers.

FBI taught agents they could bend or suspend the law. <sarcasm> I find this extremely unlikely </sarcasm>

Google+ Hangout Apps Come Out Of Hiding This may actually be pretty big news.

With you in the room, bacteria counts spike. Oh, you dirty swine.

Adjuvant compounds resuscitate antibiotics. For a while at least.

Let’s talk about dying. TED talk on the subject of death and dying, with some very bad news.

Good piece on Housing Bubbles, House Prices and Interest Rates. I did a similar calculation for the US a number of years ago based on the assumption that most people are buying a monthly payment rather than a house.

Overlooked Trading Books

Rather than coming up with yet another rehash of the greatest hits of trading books I want to highlight some that I’ve found valuable but rarely seen mentioned. I’ve read hundreds, if not thousands, of trading books over the years and gotten rid of most of them. These are all still on my shelves.

Outbreak! The Encyclopedia of Extraordinary Social Behavior, Hilary Evans and Robert Bartholomew. Besides being a fascinating read, it’s a great reminder that if you think things are crazy, they can almost always get crazier. Conveniently organized so you can read in bite sized chunks.

The Psychology of Finance: Understanding the Behavioral Dynamics of Markets, Revised Edition, Lars Tvede. Great book on the psychological underpinnings of market behavior and price patterns. A more qualitative view of technical analysis.

Business Cycles: History, Theory and Investment Reality, Lars Tvede. If you read one book on economic cycles this should be it. Comprehensive coverage of the subject in a way that is useful to traders and investors, and an enjoyable read too.

Super Trader, Expanded Edition: Make Consistent Profits in Good and Bad Markets, Van K. Tharp  Really a condensed and far cheaper version of his Peak Performance Course. As helpful as I’ve found NLP over the years I often find the way it’s presented enough to gag a maggot. But once you get past the late night infomercial tone it has a lot of useful information in a very condensed presentation, most importantly on understanding and controlling yourself in the markets.

Anatomy of the Bear, Russell Napier. This one makes some lists, for good reason. As the title implies it provides a summary of the characteristics of bear markets and how they end. Good information to have when the financial media is calling a bottom almost every day.

How To Become A Successful Trader: The Trading Personality Profile: Your Key to Maximizing Your Profit With Any System, Ned Gandevani. This is a questionable inclusion but I’m putting it on the list since it’s the only book I’ve read that uses a personality test to determine what type of system will work best for you. There’s really no science behind the method but taking the tests and thinking about the results and recommendations provides a different angle on system selection and view of yourself.

Security Engineering: A Guide to Building Dependable Distributed Systems, Ross Anderson. Not at all trading related on the surface, but the key to penetrating security is being able to see what others don’t, so I find reading about security and social engineering very useful for learning how to think about problems in a different way. Worth reading for the anecdotes alone.

Human Action, The Scholar’s Edition, Ludwig von Mises. One of the most impressive works of the human mind I’ve ever read. Ultimately the economy drives the stock market so if you don’t understand economics you will missing a big piece. Based on a number of ignorant mainstream economists’ critiques I think the less you know about what is passed off as economics the better you will do at understanding what Mises was trying to say. Either way it’s a difficult read which will highlight the deficiencies of your education within the first 10 pages, but definitely worth your time.

Options Trading: The Hidden Reality (“Options: Perception and Deception” & “Coulda Woulda Shoulda” revised & expanded, Printed in Color) (“Options: Perception and Deception” & “Coulda Woulda Shoulda” revised & expanded, Printed in Color), Charles M. Cottle. It very badly needs a good editor but if you can’t get through this book you really shouldn’t be trading options. It’s not pitched as an introduction to options but I wish I had skipped all those and read this first.

Unexpected Returns: Understanding Secular Stock Market Cycles, Ed Easterling. Frequently makes the lists but it really is the best book around for long-term investors.

Lastly, read all the market history you can get your hands on. History doesn’t repeat but it definitely rhymes so there is really little new under the sun when it comes to markets. Beyond the well-known ones like Kindleberger, etc. there are dozens of books on the subject that are well worth your time to read. My favorite recent one is Devil Take the Hindmost: A History of Financial Speculation. The sections on the earliest uses of derivatives are especially interesting to me. Current “financial innovation” doesn’t seem innovative at all when the majority of what they are pitching was done over 300 years ago.

Feel free to add your own hidden gems in the comments.

Transplant and Medical Links

Immunological Monitoring of Renal Transplant Recipients to Predict Acute Allograft Rejection Following the Discontinuation of Tacrolimus Time will tell. I find it hard to believe T cells are the only contributing factor.

Delayed mTOR Inhibition with Low Dose of Everolimus Reduces TGFβ Expression, Attenuates Proteinuria and Renal Damage in the Renal Mass Reduction Model This isn’t the first study I’ve seen with low dose mTOR having better results. But given the limited number of available agents, ensuring adequate suppression becomes a complex problem.

Rapamycin Ameliorates Kidney Fibrosis by Inhibiting the Activation of mTOR Signaling in Interstitial Macrophages and Myofibroblasts It would be great to find different targets that would allow the benefits of Rapamycin without the downward spiral that can occur from decreased wound healing combined with declining function.

Statins but Not Aspirin Reduce Thrombotic Risk Assessed by Thrombin Generation in Diabetic Patients without Cardiovascular Events: The RATIONAL Trial Statins may yet end up more a curse than a blessing in the general population but this is an interesting result in diabetic patients.

Calcineurin-Inhibitor Minimization in Liver Transplant Patients with Calcineurin-Inhibitor-Related Renal Dysfunction: A Meta-Analysis Liver transplant isn’t the highest hurdle by any means but it’s another victory for CNI minimization.

Renal Transplant Immunosuppression Impairs Natural Killer Cell Function In Vitro and In Vivo Just plain interesting. I don’t know why T cells became the glamor boys of immunity but ignoring other cell types can’t help long-term survival. Dendritic cells seem to be especially overlooked.