Thursday, June 30, 2011

June 20-A

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Defying The Gods or I.M.F.: Argentina, Iceland & Greece.

The Yangtze River is rising. Man is on the roof. A traditional pigskin boat rowed along: let me get you off.
“No, Buddha will protect.”
Man is now knee-high in water. Naval boat came along: old man, let’s get you off.
“No, Buddha will protect.”
Man is now up to his neck in water. Rescue helicopter came along: let’s winch you off, stubborn old man.
“No, Buddha will protect.”
Man died and saw Buddha. “Why didn’t you come when I needed you most?”
I did, I sent pigskin boat, Naval boat and even my best helicopter, but you refused!

So first the Gods sent in Antigone:
So Antigone had a part in this tragedy too. That's ­Antigone Loudiadis of Goldman Sachs, who ­arranged a complex ­currency swap deal that helped Greece to conceal the scale of its debt, in what the Financial Times delicately calls "an optical illusion", as the country snuck into the eurozone.

Then God showed how it could be done in Argentina: defy the I.M.F.
When the Argentine economy collapsed in December 2001, doomsday predictions abounded. Unless it adopted orthodox economic policies and quickly cut a deal with its foreign creditors, hyperinflation would surely follow, the peso would become worthless, investment and foreign reserves would vanish and any prospect of growth would be strangled.
But three years after Argentina declared a record debt default of more than $100 billion, the largest in history, the apocalypse has not arrived. Instead, the economy has grown by 8 percent for two consecutive years, exports have zoomed, the currency is stable, investors are gradually returning and unemployment has eased from record highs - all without a debt settlement or the standard measures required by the International Monetary Fund for its approval.

He even took out the head of I.M.F. just to be on the safe side.

Then came Iceland:

Unlike other disaster economies around the European periphery – economies that are trying to rehabilitate themselves through austerity and deflation — Iceland built up so much debt and found itself in such dire straits that orthodoxy was out of the question. Instead, Iceland devalued its currency massively and imposed capital controls.

And a strange thing has happened: although Iceland is generally considered to have experienced the worst financial crisis in history, its punishment has actually been substantially less than that of other nations.

For good measure Iceland’s god huffed and puffed.

AP Photo/Brynjar Gauti

But no, the Greeks have not learned anything.

This was written last year:

Germany will agree to some form of eurozone bailout. However, it will only support the minimum needed to ­placate the gods, and only with the most astringent, Creon-like conditions being imposed on Greece. It is an ­important but ultimately secondary question whether this help comes in the form of bilateral loans, loans from the European Investment Bank, purchases of Greek government debt, EU ­spending transfers, jointly issued eurobonds or any of the other mechanisms ­suggested. EU leaders will deny that this is a ­bailout and everyone will know that it is a bailout. Guardian.

The Greeks will do well to go back to their own Gods and not the I.M.F.

Michael Lewis: The Big Short

NHS: Business Model? Spare Us Please!!!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Cello & Bach: Anorexia Nervosa

Cape Floristic Region (CFR) of South Africa
©Am Ang Zhang 2005
South Africa reminds me of my Anorexia Nervosa patient.

In The Cockroach Catcher I got my Anorectic patient to play the cello that was banned by the “weight gain contract”:

Jane got on well with me.

She had to, as nobody understood that to her achieving was not a hardship but something she secretly enjoyed. She was no longer allowed to pick up her books as she had not put on any weight since her admission.
Cello would be banned too, if her nurse was to have her way.

For the unit to function the nurse must have her way. After all I was not there all the time to watch her. To watch if she was eating, vomiting, exercising or whatever else they did to avoid gaining weight.
But I was determined that it would be the first privilege she would get if she put on half a gram. Or any excuse I could think of.
Brutal confrontation is often what happened in many adolescent units dealing with Anorexia Nervosa. The brutality is not physical.
But these patients are intelligent and have such strong will power that confrontation generally fails and the failure can be a miserable one. Yet it is the kind of condition that hurts. It hurts those trying to help. It hurts because these patients deserve better for themselves. It hurts because they are not drop-outs of society.
Was it too hard for Jane to keep at the top academically? Someone offered that as an explanation. Perhaps she should be moved to a state school.
The idea horrified me.
A fourteen year old non-smoking, non-drinking, non-drug taking, intelligent Audrey Hepburn look alike virgin turning up at your local comprehensive. It sounded like a major disaster to me.
I had to take the matter into my own hands. She did put on some weight and at the earliest opportunity I decided she should get back to the cello which had always been by her bed at the unit.

She missed the cello, the only thing she could use to shut out her worries.

Fourteen and carrying the burden of the world.

Then she started playing.

“Ah. The Bach G-major!”

“So you know it.”

Of course I do. The hours I spent listening to Yo Yo Ma and it was such amazing music, melancholic and uplifting at the same time.

For a moment I forgot that I was her psychiatrist and she forgot she was my patient.

“My grandma gave me Casals.”

I knew Casals was even more emotional than Ma, but Ma is Chinese and he was less affecting, allowing the listener to tune in to his own mood.

She played from memory. What talent! What went wrong?”

“I wish my dad could hear me.”

It was the first time she could talk about her father. They had a very comfortable life inSouth Africa when father was alive. It was very difficult to imagine what he would have looked like. It was never clear what he did but he was involved in a number of ventures. The plantation Jane’s grandfather ran was sold when apartheid came to an end. He was involved in some private reserve and he was a photographer of sorts but my junior told me that mum started to cry when she talked about him so she did not pursue too deeply.

Read more:

NHS: The Way We Were! Free!
FREE eBook: Just drop me a line with your email.

Email: cockroachcatcher (at) gmail (dot) com.

A Brief History of Time: Anorexia Nervosa

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Protea: Biodiversity

Not just a pretty flower!!!

Protea, Cape Floristic Region (CFR) of South Africa
©Am Ang Zhang 2005

Nikon 180/2.8 ED on Nikon D70(around 250mm)

Some parts of the planet with a Mediterranean-style climate have become species-rich biodiversity hotspots, a recent study reveals.

New species of flowering plants called proteas are exploding on to the scene three times faster in parts of Australia and South Africa than anywhere else in the world, creating exceptional ‘hotspots’ of species richness, according to new research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Proteas are most well-known for being the national symbol of South Africa. The international team behind today’s new study created an evolutionary ‘family tree’ of all 2000 protea plant species on Earth – the majority of which are found in South Western Australia (SWA) and the Cape Floristic Region (CFR) of South Africa.

This ‘family tree’ enabled the researchers to examine how these and other regions of the planet with Mediterranean-style climates have become so-called ‘biodiversity hotspots’.

Mediterranean hotspots
Until now, scientists have not known exactly why such large numbers of plant and animal species live in these Mediterranean hotspots. They are places of significant conservational importance which, like the rainforests, contain some of the richest and most threatened communities of plant and animal life on Earth.

The research published provides the first conclusive proof that plant species in two of these hotspots are evolving approximately three times faster than elsewhere on the planet. The study dates this surge in protea speciation as occurring in the last 10-20 million years, following a period of climate change during which SWA and the CFR became hotter, drier, and more prone to vegetation fires.

Dr Vincent Savolainen, a biologist based at Imperial College London and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, one of the authors of the new study, explains its significance, saying:

“Something special is happening in these regions: new species of proteas are appearing notably faster than elsewhere, and we suspect this could be the same case with other plant species too. This study proves that the abundance of different kinds of proteas in these two areas isn’t simply due to normal rates of species diversification occurring over a long period of time.

“This is the first step towards understanding why some parts of the planet with a Mediterranean-style climate have become species-rich biodiversity hotspots.”

The Cape Floristic Region of South Africa and South Western Australia are two of five areas on Earth with a Mediterranean-style climate which have been designated ‘biodiversity hotspots’ by Conservation International. The others are central Chile, California, and the Mediterranean basin.

South Africa:
Nature Posts:

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