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Posted by Adrian on April 3, 2009
Posted in Blogroll, Books, Comic Reviews, DVD reviews, Finance and Economics. Strategy and Society, Melbourne City Urban Visuals. Mixed images, philosophy and science, politics and social commentary, Popular Culture/Culture | 3 Comments »
Posted by Adrian on April 2, 2009
How does the mind cope with a ‘logic meltdown’, or mental fatigue? It makes analytical and judgment errors. More notably the ill fainted event surrounding the Korean airlines flight 007 that was shot down on September 1st 1983 by Russian jets. A slew of conspiracy theories, cover ups and the like emerged; although an article written by Micheal Brooks for New Scientist in December 2000 indicates that the pilots could have been suffering from mental fatigue or logic meltdown, as they flew off course and strayed onto Russian airspace. Even though their instruments said they had gone off course, they believed that they were flying the correct route. Other evidence of a logic meltdowns apparently occurred with the Chernobyl Nuclear power station disaster.
Princeton Professor of Psychology Johnson-Laird has researched logic meltdown extensively with various examples from testing his students. After a simple test to determine how the mind assumes a correct answer, in which 99% of the students got it wrong. It was determined that the mind attempts to find shortcuts to establish a correct answer. In other words the mind tries to establish an answer within the limited space of the brains working memory. Therefore the working memory part of the brain strips down analytical thinking to reach the best answer of it’s ability, which can prove incorrect and fatal in case of South Korean flight 007. As the mind is leaving out relevant information to reach a proper conclusion.
I am curious how a logic meltdown can also effect intuition or a gut instinct. Research is sparse and speculative at best, but despite the lack of research; there is still the underlying evidence that a gut feeling can almost be 100% correct.
Still the best way to determine a situation and event that requires logic, is to analyze without overloading the brain, nor looking for the quick answer.
A good example of a logic meltdown (in my opinion) is the Governments intervention and fiscal stimulus into economies and markets. Too me that fits the criteria, or test of a logic meltdown (albeit on a broader scale), in which a false situation is created. For example a policy decision is made on the premise of what it feels should be there (a result) even though it isn’t, which becomes an assumption. Poorly researched and analyzed, a belief that a right decision is made, that is reinforced in false flags (recent slight economic improvement and so on). So it continues onwards, going further and further into perilous territory (economically).
Posted by Adrian on April 1, 2009
GM and Chrysler pending bankruptcy (news agency’s tug of war of truth and speculation, amusing to watch), China PMI dead in the water, South Korea’s over producing (inventories swell on huge trade surplus), Australia’s retail slumping and over capacity in construction (housing) – pointing to huge downturn, Japan’s manufacturing index (Tankan) collapsed to -58% (worst ever), Mark to Market rules to be changed.
below is a video of Meredith Whitney who is an expert in credit/banks analysis, she also discusses Mark to Market rules and how it will effect banks balance sheets:
please click here for video
Posted by Adrian on April 1, 2009
One of my favorite episodes and one of the best Simpson characters created. Hank Scorpio is a successful business man, uses the Semco business model (not intentionally) ala treats his staff equally, runs a modern business of the 21st century. But he also is a villain, kind of a James Bond style of villain; hence the episodes ‘ You Only Move Twice’ play on the bond movie title ‘You Only Live Twice’.
Any click on the link and enjoy, a lot of funny quotes via Hank Scorpio.
Posted by Adrian on March 31, 2009
Stock markets are not recovering pe se, volatility is sill there; this is short term trading, lead by big institutional players. So their books look good for the the first quarter of 2009. Market rallies? On what good news? None. Japan’s jobless up, Germany’s jobless up, US consumer confidence and housing still collapsing. They are sucker rallies and as mentioned in US stocks over sold in bear market rally, I was correct as there will be sell off’s and there was on Monday 30th 2009 when the Dow dropped 254 points.
The G20 will be a bun fight as each country is going to try and figure out how they are gong to protect their capital without following the American path to bankruptcy. Namely protecting what little value they have left in their own currencies. The US with the OECD and IMF behind them do not want to see the USD lose it’s footing as a base currency for the world. China, Russia have showed concerns and would like to see a broader based currency to replace the USD. Will this happen? Well think price collusion in a deflationary sense, now thing about price collusion with a deflationary spin from country to country. What does that mean? Well the US will try and destabilize currencies to protect it’s own, the only way they can do that is to depress the other currencies. How? Well an attempt to try and get them to agree to start quantitative easing, which means dropping interest rates and printing money. This would depress all the currencies pretty much at the same time, hence keeping the USD as the base currency. Why replace it when all the other currencies are just as terrible. What’s in it for the rest of the world? Well the US wants to emerge out of the global recession first. A theory that the world needs them to restart consumption again. A dangerous and arrogant disposition. Especially with the the Federal Reserve buying treasures, yet housing is still terrible, which would indicate that Fridays (3rd April 2009) jobless (US) claims will be bad. The US dollar will continue to tank. And China’s investments in the US may not be paying off, there could be a massive sell on the USD in 2009
Posted by Adrian on March 30, 2009
Does the US want to bankrupt the world? To create an even Keel? Conspiracy theory?
Russia and China have called for a global currency to replace the US dollar. The US and the UK want a coordinated stimulus plan, in other words they want the rest of the countries in the world to start quantitative easing on a massive scale. This would keep the USD as a reserve (as most currencies would fall equally or worst than the USD) and allow the US to maintain some kind of economic status as opposed to disappearing into the economic abyss.
Despite the desperation of political rhetoric. All countries are sliding further into protectionism. Japan is dreaming when it says that a bottom is near, when they will need the domestic spending power that will rival the world. It will never happen. China inventories are swelling. The US and UK are printing money as both economies are internally hemharging to death.
Can it get any worst…?
Posted by Adrian on March 30, 2009
The other day I was going through a pile of old New Scientists, dating back to 2001 and 2003. I came across an interview with a psychologist by the name of Joe Griffin. I actually remember at the time reading this interview and the keys points from the interview stuck in my memory. The magazine was lost for five years (under a pile of other magazines), after some cleaning I found that issue of New Scientist and looked over the interview again.
I believe a lot that Joe Griffin says, I also believe that we are going to see massive depression and psychological problems in the coming years. So the World Heath Organization estimates could be correct, that depression in the 21st Century could rank 2nd to pan-epidemic diseases.
The human race is miserable, anxious and depressive. Trying to pinpoint the causes and the remedies has psychologists, psychiatrists and another professions that study the mind trying to reach an agreement of trying to cope with what could be an epidemic of depression.
“Emotional arousal is the handmaiden of tyranny – in the home and on the world stage. It stops clear thinking.”
Above is a quote from the interview and indication where Joe Griffin goes with his theory of managing depression. I especially like his theory on dreams as a clearing house for pent up arousal. In which it completes then you wake up to face a new day. It seems (according to his research) some people are stuck in a loop on unfulfilled cycle of emotional arousal, in which their dreams are just not completing and resolving that cycle of mental satisfaction and calm.
” How can you deal with serious depression in just a day?
The important thing is to know how depression is manufactured in the brain. Once you understand that, you can correct the maladaptive cycle incredibly fast. For 40 years it’s been known that depressed people have excessive REM sleep. They dream far more than healthy people. What we realised – and proved – is that the negative introspection, or ruminations, that depressed people engage in actually causes the excessive dreaming. So depression is being generated on a 24-hour cycle and we can make a difference within 24 hours to how a person feels.
But how is dream sleep responsible for depression?
My findings show that ordinarily dream sleep does a great housekeeping job for us. Each night it brings down our autonomic arousal level. Dreams are metaphorical translations of those waking introspections – emotionally arousing feelings and thoughts – that we don’t act upon while we are awake. Once aroused, our brain has to complete that cycle of arousal and, if we don’t complete it in the external world, we do so in our dream sleep. The patterns of arousal are metaphorically acted out and thereby deactivated. But depressed people do so much worrying and feel so stuck that the ruminations cause an overload of dreaming which uses up a lot of energy in the brain. They also have correspondingly less of the most physically recuperative element of sleep, so-called slow-wave sleep. Which is why they wake up exhausted and unable to focus their mind outwards and motivate themselves to get on with life.
This is a departure from the accepted view, isn’t it?
Yes, it is. But we have filmed hundreds of cases and you can see time and time again that when depressed people start talking about depression, they talk about waking up tired and unable to motivate themselves. All day long they feel low and emotional. Many describe how they have difficulty getting off to sleep because of emotional thoughts going round and round in their heads. And when it is explained to them how they are doing this to themselves, the explanation alone helps – and then the therapy we do with them is primarily aimed at helping them to stop all the negative ruminating. The common explanation that their doctors give them is that there is a chemical imbalance in their brain. But that’s a half-truth: the other half is that their low serotonin level is an index that their life isn’t working – their needs are not being met and they feel stuck – not that they’ve got something ‘wrong’ with their brain chemistry. Brain chemistry is not a cause, it is an effect.
So you tell your clients how they’re generating their depression, then what?
We use an integrated approach combining behavioural, cognitive and interpersonal methods, relaxation, humour, suggestions for exercise – all based on what we call the “human givens”, our genetic endowment of needs and resources. Any skills the person already has that can help them reconnect with other people and the wider community are particularly important. Above all, we get them to use their imagination differently, and this is not as difficult as it might seem. Our job as therapists is to stop them worrying and dreaming excessively. We do all this in the first session, and for some people that is enough. Others will need a little more work.
What exactly are the human givens?
Human givens is a phrase psychotherapists, psychologists, educationalists and others are increasingly using to encompass some new, large organising ideas that are developing from what science is discovering about the workings of the brain.
We are all born with a rich natural inheritance – a partially formed mind containing a genetic treasure house of innate knowledge patterns. These patterns appear as physical and emotional needs that must be met if our minds are to unfold and develop to their fullest potential. How well they connect with, unfold and become enriched by the world determines our own particular character, our clarity of perception and our own and our family’s emotional health and happiness – as well as the maturity of the greater society we create around us.
In addition to emotional needs, nature has given us a range of resources to help us meet those needs in whatever environment we find ourselves in. Depression is usually caused by worry about needs not being met – needs for control, for security, for meaning, for intimacy, connection to the wider community etc. – and by misusing some of the innate resources. Worry, for example, is a misuse of one of our most powerful innate resources, that of imagination.
What other techniques do you use?
We also use metaphor and storytelling. People are used to hearing stories and anecdotes so they’re not threatening. An appropriate metaphor, contained in a story, can bypass the defensiveness of the conscious mind and go in as a seed to the right neocortex, which understands patterns. Later on, when the client thinks about the therapy, that pattern in the right neocortex will fire off and makes connections spontaneously, so they have an “Aha!” experience. They can then “own” the insight, and it is easier for them to work with it.
Here’s an example. A colleague’s elderly client was depressed about becoming incontinent. He began telling her about his uncle and aunt who had a lovely old country house, where some of the family lived and which everybody loved. He himself used to go there often as a child. And then gradually he started to introduce the metaphor – that as the house grew older, it got damper, and there were a few damp patches and plumbing problems, but nobody seemed to mind, everybody still loved the old house and they kept bringing their families and their friends there. She came out of her depression without even having known that she had had help. This is because her brain had now absorbed a bigger metaphorical pattern which could override the one that had depressed her.
Are there kinds of therapy that people suffering from depression would do well to avoid?
Research shows that any therapy or counselling that encourages people to introspect about what they were unhappy about in their past will deepen depression. This type of therapy is based on a misunderstanding going right back to Freud. He had a model of the unconscious mind that saw it as being very like an underground cesspit – he believed that emotions that weren’t fully expressed are held onto in this cesspit of repression, and the job of the therapist is to release the noxious emotions and thereby free the person. But this just does not work. Research has shown quite unambiguously that dreams do this for us every night. In other words, nature actually invented the emotional ‘flush toilet mechanism’ long before Freud tried to. These kinds of approaches to therapy, by encouraging emotionally arousing introspection, are actually working against nature.
You have also ventured into one of the biggest minefields of all, psychosis, where you suggest that schizophrenia is waking reality processed by the dreaming brain. How does that work?
First you need to separate out the REM state in which dreaming occurs from the content, which is the dream. The REM state has the same characteristics as the hypnotic state – the left neocortex is generally much less activated, we have instant access to metaphor and our emotions, and we are responding to our own emotional inputs much more than we are to external reality. Now imagine someone who has been so stressed and depressed that their dreaming process has broken down – their brain doesn’t properly click out of the REM state. They still have to try and make sense of the waking world but are stuck in the emotional right-hemisphere … whose only language is metaphor. It’s a frightening place to be. They are going to experience all kinds of weird things.
Take hearing voices: left-hemisphere thoughts are still being generated in a psychotic person although they are overwhelmed by the power of the REM state that they are now largely operating out of. The only way the dreaming brain of the right hemisphere can make sense of left-hemisphere thoughts is to put it into a metaphor of ‘hearing voices’. And, as in the dream state, your sense of self is dissolved because you are now acting out a dream script.
So if you are trying to process reality, you won’t have a sense of self with which to orient the experiences coming in, and you’re going to feel that somebody else must be controlling everything. We are not saying that this is a complete explanation for psychosis, but when it has been put to people who have experienced psychosis, they have told us, “thank goodness, that makes such sense to me”.
How do all these ideas go down with the psycho-therapeutic community? Are some people hostile?
When we first started it was relatively easy. We were getting people who were already open to our ideas. Later we met quite a significant bit of hostility. We’d get mass walkouts of people trained by the Tavistock Institute in London and places like that. This happens because schools of therapy tend to degenerate into ideologies and don’t work with real knowledge. They become cults, with sacred texts and high priests. Then they tend not to be open to new ideas. But the encouraging aspect was the response of people at the coalface – occupational therapists, social workers, psychiatric nurses, GPs counsellors working in the community and so on. They knew their training didn’t give them many real tools to help people. And they were totally willing to take on board new ideas and skills.
So how does the school of therapy you helped to found itself avoid becoming a cult?
Science is based on the idea that any knowledge that we currently hold is subject to revision in the light of further facts. We incorporate the latest findings from all the sciences and we accept and recognise that all the major schools of therapy have stumbled on pieces of the truth. But these are just bits of information. We don’t buy into their various ideologies. Instead we look at the information and put it in a bigger model and integrate what is of value within various approaches and discard what is not.
I must also say that perhaps one of the biggest bars to the advancement of therapy in Britain is the criterion used for recognising properly trained therapists. It is mainly based on ideology, not reality. For instance, research shows that it is absolutely irrelevant whether or not therapists have themselves had therapy, in terms of assessing their effectiveness, yet the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) will not accredit counsellors unless they have had a minimum of 40 sessions of counselling (which they have to pay for) themselves. And some other schools of therapy require much more than that! So these power structures are more concerned with protecting their territory, how many hours training someone has had (not how effective that training is) and creating work for their members. Whereas I would say they should only concern themselves with what works and assessing how effective an individual counsellor or therapist actually is in practice.
And effective therapy is crucial given the alarming rise in mental illness. Has emotion spun out of control in our culture?
Our culture doesn’t really have a handle on emotions. An emotion is simply a ‘box’ in which the brain initially codes incoming stimuli. So each perception is ‘tagged’ in the anger box, or the anxiety box, or the sadness box. Our self-obsessed culture treats emotions as though they were something sacred and the most significant aspect of being human, rather than seeing them as a primitive classification system that usually needs further refinement. Refining perceptions is the job of the higher cortex, which can fill in the thousand shades of grey that usually exists between the black and white of emotional reasoning.
Does this explain how easily we become locked in conflicts?
Emotional arousal is the hand-maiden of tyranny – in the home and on the world stage. It locks attention. It stops clear thinking and facilitates the rise of psychopathic personalities who impose their will on others. The only long-term resolution of conflict is to devise a social order that enables more people to get their needs met.
And of course, conflict, whether it is on the battlefield or in the home, can result in people becoming traumatised…
Yes. Any brain can become traumatised if put under enough pressure from life-threatening events. It is not the amount of abuse, nor the length of the time the abuse went on, that is the key factor. It’s the amount of damage that has taken place to the development of personality, the failure to develop essential life skills among people who were extensively abused in childhood for example. It is when the whole of their life has become dysfunctional that there is usually a need for major long-term psychological and life-skills education. This is more likely when a close family member has done the abuse and thereby interfered with the unfolding of normal development.
What about victims of torture?
People who can retain an element of control during long-term torture or deprivation regimes are most likely to make a rapid recovery. Even if it is only control over when they scream – counting to ten, maybe, just before electrodes are applied. We have treated people who have experienced extreme trauma in conflicts in Eastern Europe, for example, and we found them very responsive. And we have trained a team in Northern Ireland, the Nova Project, which in the past 18 months has treated more than 300 victims of the violence from both sides of the community with amazingly good results.
How do you treat trauma?
We know that not everyone develops post-traumatic stress disorder. It is a proportion of people who are more vulnerable – very often those with good imaginations. When we are exposed to a life-threatening event, our initial reaction is to freeze to ascertain what is going on. Most of us will then activate our fight-or-flight mechanism. However, a proportion of people with good imaginations stay in the freeze state, which is essentially a hypnotic state, and an enormous amount of information from the traumatic event is programmed into their limbic system. Ever after, whenever anything at all remotely recognised as being similar to some aspect of what happened when they were initially traumatised occurs, panic and other symptoms are automatically triggered.
How do you deal with that?
We use guided imagery to produce a deeply relaxed, dissociated, trance state, then we use a technique involving the metaphor of a video, “replaying” the memories very fast to give the person control. This pulls the trauma pattern out of the limbic system into narrative memory. Of all the methods for detraumatising people we looked at this was the most effective. All the therapists we train can do this. It works because the limbic system is encouraged to replay the memories whilst the body is physiologically relaxed. This sends a different message to the amygdala, saying this event isn’t dangerous any more, so it doesn’t have to maintain the person in a state of hyper-vigilance. This technique will be invaluable in the aftermath of wars, which traumatise so many soldiers and civilians. “
Posted by Adrian on March 26, 2009
So watch for a sell off, could be anytime soon. Stocks rallied after Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner announced the Treasury plan (23rd March 2009) to purchase toxic assets from banks. To put simply a purchase agreement in which the American tax payer will guarantee toxic bank assets, with a small percentage of private investors (also guaranteed by the taxpayer) will contribute in the purchase. This is to clear out the banks depreciating assets, hence (in theory) get the banks to lend to each other. In effect an attempt to free up global interbank lending which in turn then will re-lend to the consumer. Of course the plan won’t work. Suffice to say stocks rallied. Although the rally is essentially an artificial stock rally as economically the US is still very weak (the US shrank by 6.8% last quarter).
Also Treasury yields hit negative, inflation could be on the rise with the US Dollar being sold off. Note also gold is rising. I think most traders gut feelings (trust the gut…it’s always right) something is going to give with the US government, as it becomes a monetary expanding debt binged monster.
The US stocks rallied in almost every industry, good to note that the banking sector rallied although somewhat muted. Note the 8300 line (US banks) in my opinion doesn’t show a sustained recovery, so it has to be put into context that the Tim Geithner plan is related solely to banks, not the broader economy. In may be a long time before banks return sustained profit as most of them are operating as zombies. In conclusion there is no major rebound in the banking sector, even with the rally.
The dow and s&P500 are both now sitting above the 50 day average and touching the upper Bollinger band, the RSI (although better suited for stocks) shows overbought signals.
Posted by Adrian on March 25, 2009
You don’t have to follow the market’s to know that there is some funny things going on. Despite the extreme volatility (thanks to goverment intervention) in the stock market (not to funny for your portfolio and nerves), there are other strange occurrences. There is a term that’s getting used for some off center and quite frankly out of tune dynamics in our current global recession. It’s called Recessionomics, I guess it’s a clever (in the sense of an internet/pop cultural term) adjective to describe strange consumption in an economic recession.
One that comes to mind is the coffee machine fiasco at the EU headquarters. Those hyperactive market interventionists who have thrown a lot money onto the European collapsing economy (yes to save it), have also thrown money towards their coffee addiction. The EU budget boys bought 21 ultra deluxe coffee machines at $7,500.00 (USD) each. These machines where bought one year into the global economic collapse. So they get these machines and guess what? The coffee taste like shit, The EU get’s all crazy and complains to the Italian company that the coffee taste like liquidized turd. Hence a settlement is worked out where by the Italian company who sold the EU the machines will show the EU officials how to clean the machine and prepare a good espresso.
Also it was discovered that the was a high level of metals in the water that the EU uses, apparently nikkel. Hence the coffee tasting bad.
Posted by Adrian on March 25, 2009
Further to my post Australia’s economic situation. The AAA rating has been stripped from local governments as the Federal government guaranteed banks deposits and their debt. This in turn has made it hard for Australian States to raise capital from their own debt (bonds). Now the Federal government will now guarantee State government debt.
This will put massive pressure on the Government balance sheet and it will need extra funds, hence the Reserve Bank of Australia will begin to print money. Either this or they start to raise interest rates to push the Australia dollar up to try and raise capital via the mining industry. Of course the problem is the world is gripped in a deflationary and currency downturn. But being a commodity producing country a higher AUD could become an investor haven. Unfortunately the US has sparked a money printing bonazza and currency meltdown (globally), as all currencies are trying to debase at the same time; more so commodity producing countries and their currencies as they compete with deflation on commodity prices. As China is shopping around.