September 2008 Monthly Archive

September 30, 2008

CNBC Ratings Seem Correlated To Future Market Volatility




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September 29, 2008

We Are All Mercantilists Now


Marx was wrong: feudalism doesn't precede capitalism, it follows it.  And after feudalism comes this:

east india flag2.JPG

Welcome to 1600.


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September 28, 2008

Either Conservatives Are Cowards Or Liberals Are...

I.

A news story, talked about ad nauseam, concerning a study in Science that no one will bother to read.

Subjects-- liberals and conservatives-- are shown random pictures of scary stuff (spider on a person's face) interspersed between photos of neutral stuff (bunnies.)   Conservatives exhibit much more fear (e.g. startle response, skin response) than liberals.

In case the political implications of this study are not obvious, these are the titles of the news reports about the study: 


Etc. The message is clear: conservatives get scared more easily than liberals.

Right?  That's what the titles say--  I'm not off base here, right?  There's no other possible way to interpret them?

II. 

The methodology is fine-- but the interpretation is so demonstrably flawed that they are actually interpreting the results backwards.

Here's the most important line of all-- found only in the SA article-- in the second to last paragraph, of course:

People who leaned more politically left didn't respond any differently to those [scary]  images than they did to pictures of a bowl of fruit, a rabbit or a happy child.

Really?  Spider on face vs. happy child?  No difference?

That extra bit of info doesn't even appear in the Science News story-- or anywhere else, for that matter.


skin conductance.jpg

The graph shows that liberals and conservatives have a trivial skin response to neutral pictures, and liberals show no difference in response when confronted with a scary photo.

So the actual finding isn't that conservatives are fearful; it's that liberals seem not to exhibit much response to scary photos.

III.


But it's actually a little worse than that.

The typical use for such tests of startle and fear aren't to see how scared people are, they are used specifically to find out how scared people aren't.  For example, they are used to evaluate psychopathy, and the results are the same as here-- psychopaths have decreased responses, compared to normal people, to aversive photos.

So which is it?  Are conservatives fearful, or are liberals psychopaths?

I'm not picking sides in the debate, but I am pointing out how this study missed the actual result-- liberals are less fearful than would be expected-- and then the study was publicized in the media with an entirely backwards inference, that conservatives scare easily.

But it sounds like science, conducted by scientists; it's published in Science, and then publicized in Scientific American.  It must be true.

(more)




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September 27, 2008

The Women Of Lipstick Jungle Are The Same Age As Rachel From Friends

A quick observation on the premiere of Lipstick Jungle:

Has anyone noticed the age of characters in TV shows nowadays is older then it was, say, 10 years ago? 

Think back to, say, Friends-- 20 somethings.  Then Sex and The City-- 30 somethings.  And now Lipstick Jungle, 40 somethings.  "But that reflects the age of the viewers, they feature 40 year old actress because that's the age of the viewer-- or vise versa."

Agreed; but the 40 year old who is watching now was in their 20s when they watched Friends.

This isn't TV targeting a specific demographic, they are actually tracking the same people, as  they age. If you're watching, it's for you.

Wait ten years-- when shows like Lipstick Jungle will be for, by, and featuring 50 year olds...


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September 26, 2008

Obama And McCain On Mental Health Coverage

Applicable to their perspective on a wider range of issues.

NAMI released the results of their questionnaire to the candidates.  Obama answered the questions (24 of them) while McCain sent a formal statement.

On the whole, neither response is heavy on content, but I made one interesting observation:

Obama: 2 out of  2000 words
McCain: 8 out of 450 words

the word "cost"


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September 24, 2008

My Fellow Americans: The Speech President Bush Should Give



As government officials flounder trying to explain why the most important fiscal maneuver in U.S. history is so necessary, I offer a potential Presidential speech.  With footnotes.


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September 23, 2008

Teenage Girls May Be Having Oral Sex, But The Problem Is You


I sincerely pity the current generation of teens who have to live in a world containing the current generation of adults.


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September 22, 2008

Advancing Paternal Age And Bipolar Disorder



There is considerable evidence that advanced paternal age raises the risk of autism.  It appears that the same is true in schizophrenia.

Bipolar disorder, however, is an entirely different matter.


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September 22, 2008

Does CNBC Cause Market Volatility?


Books will be written about this financial crisis, but no one has brought up one important factor,  and it is summarized by this single soundbite, from Friday September 17, 2008, at exactly 4:00pm EST:

"...and there's the closing bell, I'm Bob Pisani, and I just have to say in my 18 years at CNBC, I have never been more proud of my news team than I am now...."

They are good reporters, dedicated and hardworking, I'll give him that, but was the reporting itself better than it was on other days?  What else would there be to be proud of?


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September 18, 2008

Recollections Of Your Parents Before And After You Have Children



Did you know my blog has more readers than Psychiatric Times and Family Process  combined?  That sad fact compels me to refer you all to something excellent in both.

For you parents out there (especially women):

Before the birth of your first child, what was your recollection of your own childhood relationship with your parents?  Were Mom and Dad close to you, distant, domineering, warm, etc?

If the question was then asked four years after the birth of your first kid, how would your answer change, if at all?






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September 17, 2008

Market Capitulation


Gun to head, this is the bottom.

They didn't cut rates, but they did issue new Treasuries because the Fed needs money.  And no, there's no inflation, because banks are deflating hard.  We may come out of this alive, who knows.  (Though for current retirees who had money in "buy and hold" safe financials-- or anything else, for that matter-- well... there's always Social Security.  I know, I know, I know.)

They also stopped naked short selling, which is huge.  I thought that was already illegal?

For you technical traders:

djia 9-17.JPG


If we hold 10827, then that's a double bottom and we go to 12500, maybe even 13000.  By January.  Not sure how that's possible, but there it is.



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September 17, 2008

The Process of Bringing New Drugs To Market


An interview with Alan J. Milbauer, a retired vice president from AstraZeneca and partly responsible for Seroquel, about what goes into the process we're all angry about.


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September 15, 2008

MMS Chicks: Oil, Sex, Drugs And Anything Else You Want To Imagine


This is the article I got on my RSS filter that uses the keywords, "things I wish I did in college."


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September 15, 2008

Cut Rates Now


I'm putting myself on the record (not that I haven't a dozen other times on this site):

there is no inflation, if there it is two, maybe three years out at the earliest.  This is massive deflation before your eyes, not even including the outstanding credit card balances and other personal loans  which will never get paid, especially when the jobs start evaporating.  No money=no buying, no buying= companies cut back, companies cut back=job cuts...

Add to that the pressure for the government to come up with (emergency) healthcare and other public assistance and the situation becomes untenable.

Oh, and Al Qaeda.  That's right, I said it. 

There are two solutions, and in order for them to work you have to do them today.

1.  Cut rates.   Dollar is stronger, oil is down, we can take it.  Worry about inflation later.  Worry about the never-going-to-happen wage inflation later.  This is better than bailouts, which will lead to inflation.

2. Cancel mark to market: there is no market.  You have ancient Chinese vase woth millions, but  because the economy's bad no one wants it right this second, so on ebay it's still only at $2.  Is it really worth $2?  Should the bank get to repossess it when you go under for $2?  That's where we are now. You're calling them 20% when they could be 60%. (The government may actually make money on FNM and FRE if/when this passes.)   The result is you might actually be worth something, but still evaporate.






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September 10, 2008

Scientists Find Evidence For The Unconscious


memory pairs small.JPG
Not exactly, but follow along with me.



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September 8, 2008

Odd Finding of Gender Differences In Walking

gender gait.JPG

A story about a study which claims to find a relationship between the perception of gender-- are the walking dots men or women-- and the direction those dots are going-- towards you or away.


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September 8, 2008

David Duchovny Does Not Exist


californication.jpg



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September 5, 2008

Undue Influence On Psychiatrists, Or The Public?



This is an example of why the controversy over Pharma influence on doctors is, while accurate, likely irrelevant.


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September 4, 2008

Doctors May Only Be Paid Once



The ACCME (the people who run CMEs) are asking doctors to comment on their proposal, which is:

Persons paid to create, or present, promotional materialson behalf of commercial interests cannot control the content of accredited continuing medical education on that same content.
In other words, if you're a doctor that is on Abbott's speaker's bureau for Depakote, you would not be allowed to present CME lectures on Depakote's use in bipolar, because even though CMEs are technically free of Pharma influence, you may have a bias because of your prior financial entanglements.

How could anyone be against this proposal?

Here goes...




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September 2, 2008

Why Are Athletes Barely Better Than Their Competitors?


I'll admit I know nothing about sports, so I am asking for help on this one.


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