Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Medical Journals - Acts of Kindness

(By the Underground Health Reporter)

Did you know that whether you are the giver, the receiver or the observer of an act of kindness -- you reap tremendous benefits to your health?

Yes, this is a phenomenon that has been discovered not too long ago. Numerous scientific studies have shown that kindness has a positive effect on the immune system and on the increased production of serotonin in the brain.

Serotonin is a naturally occurring neurochemical that has a calming, mood regulating, and anti-anxiety effect ... and it's regarded as a "feel good" substance because it serves as a pathway for pleasure in the brain.

The mechanism of action in most anti-depressant drugs is that they stimulate the production of serotonin chemically, which helps alleviate depression.

One of the most fascinating research findings to come out in recent years is that whenever a simple act of kindness is extended by a human being towards another, it results in a significant improvement in the functioning of the immune system and increased production of serotonin in both the recipient of the kindness as well as in the person extending the kindness.

What's even more amazing is that person observing the act of kindness also experience a similar strengthening of the immune system and increased production of serotonin!

Kindness is a win-win-win scenario which produces beneficial effects in the giver, the recipient and the observer.

People naturally feel good when they give, help or serve others because they experience something called "helper's high," which authors Allan Luks and Peggy Payne (The Healing Power of Doing Good) describe as a feeling of exhilaration and burst of energy similar to the endorphin-based euphoria experienced after intense exercise ... followed by a period of calmness and serenity.

The benefits of kindness are not limited to immune system strengthening and serotonin production. Research has shown that those who routinely engage in acts of kindness, such as volunteers, experience alleviation of stress, chronic pain, and even insomnia.

An article in Psychology Today titled "What We Get When We Give" (by Christine Carter, Ph.D., 2/18/10) states: "People who volunteer tend to experience fewer aches and pains. Giving help to others protects overall health twice as much as aspirin protects against heart disease. People 55 and older who volunteer for two or more organizations have an impressive 44% lower likelihood of dying -- and that's after sifting out every other contributing factor, including physical health, exercise, gender, habits like smoking, marital status, and many more. This is a stronger effect than exercising four times a week or going to church."

A study conducted at Harvard University, called this phenomenon the "Mother Teresa Effect." Researchers showed a film to 132 Harvard students about Mother Teresa's work among the poor people of Calcutta. They then measured the level of Immunoglobin A present in their saliva.

[Note: Immunoglobin A is an antibody that plays a critical role in immunity.]

The test revealed markedly increased levels of Immunoglobin A in all the test subjects -- this, after simply witnessing somebody else involved in charity work.

Considering the abundance of proof that acts of kindness increase one's sense of self-worth ... enhance feelings of joyfulness ... boost one's sense of physical and emotional well-being ... increase sense of happiness, optimism and self-worth ... decrease feelings of depression ... and diminish the effect of diseases and disorders ... one of the best things we can do is find opportunities to extend kindness, and teach children to do the same.

Here are a few suggestions:
  1. Smile at strangers ... especially those who are having a bad day
  2. Volunteer your time to do charity work or help wherever there's need
  3. Watch movies that display kindness
  4. Write a note to let someone know they are loved
  5. Give compliments often
  6. Give up your place in line to another person
  7. Donate blood
  8. Write a thank-you note, especially to someone who's not expecting thanks
© Copyright 2010 Think-Outside-the-Book Publishing, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

P.S This reminds me of what Portia said in one of William Shakespeare's works, "The Merchant of Venice". Disguised as a doctor of law, Portia has come to rescue Antonio, the merchant of Venice. Antonio had foolishly signed a bond granting the usurer Shylock a "pound of flesh" if he defaulted on the loan he was forced to seek - ironically, in order to help a friend court Portia. Portia said:

"The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth, as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice bless'd;
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes:
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway,
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this—
That in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer, doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much,
To mitigate the justice of thy plea,
Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
Must needs give sentence 'gainst the merchant there."

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Financial Journals - US Dollars (Part 2)

(By Porter Stansberry)
- Reproduced from The Daily Crux: First published on 29 June 2010

Porter Stansberry: U.S. is headed for one of the worst inflations in history

"It could never happen here"... That's the refrain we hear from our friends and colleagues. They say it after we've gone over all of the numbers involved in the government's financial position and explained our out-of-consensus view that the U.S. is not only heading toward a period of massive inflation, but such an outcome has long since ceased to be avoidable. People respond – "Oh, that could never happen here." – in the same way they repeat a catechism.

We don't think our view is shocking or even surprising. Much like with our GM analysis (we predicted bankruptcy as early as 2005), when you simply look at the numbers, the outcome is unavoidable.

And then there's history. Not a single brand of paper money has ever lasted. Or you might say, in all of recorded human history, gold remains undefeated. We expect that trend to continue. Likewise, we can't recall any nation that ever repaid its debts (in sound money) once they'd grown to 100% of GDP. And watching our neighbors "strategically" defaulting on their mortgages in record numbers, we see no reason to expect Americans will prove to be any more honest about their government's obligations.

Since America isn't the first powerful democracy to default through inflation, it may pay for investors to be familiar with the most famous such event...

In 1915, just after World War I began, you could exchange 4.2 German marks for one U.S. dollar – and that was when the U.S. dollar was still backed by gold. As you know, Germany lost the war. Its people were literally starving by the end, thanks to the British blockade. With no alternative except starvation and annihilation, Germany accepted an armistice that demanded $12.5 billion in reparations. The debt was equal to 100% of Germany's GDP prior to the war. At the time, the exchange rate stood at 65 marks to the dollar, a devaluation of roughly 95%. Most people believe Germany's hyperinflation was caused by this war debt. Not exactly.

After the war, Germany was broke... That's true. But the mark was cheap. It seemed like a terrific investment opportunity. Most people believed Germany would find a way to finance its debts. We imagine foreign investors at the time said, "Oh, hyperinflation could never happen in Germany..." And so speculators pumped another $2 billion of additional credit into Germany. Then came trouble. Germany's main creditor (France) refused to renegotiate the terms of the armistice. And the German people lost confidence in their own government. The people didn't want to pay the debts. Assassinations began to occur, most notably the murder of Walther Rathenau – the foreign minister. Investors lost confidence in the country. They abandoned the mark.

German prices rose forty fold in 1922. The mark fell from 190 to 7,600 to the dollar. When Germany failed to make a foreign debt payment in 1923, 40,000 French and Belgian troops invaded. To appease its creditors, the German government printed more money. It issued 17 trillion marks in 1923 (compared to 1 trillion in 1922). By August 1923, a dollar was worth 620,000 marks. By early November 1923, the exchange rate hit 630 billion to one.

Could something like this happen in the U.S.? Not exactly. We doubt, for example, China will ever attempt to invade the U.S. to force debt repayment. But we think what will likely happen could easily be worse than Weimar Germany. You see, the mark wasn't the foundation of the world's economy. Today, more than 60% of all bank reserves around the world are U.S. Treasury obligations. As the U.S. continues to run massive annual deficits and as the Fed engages in "quantitative easing," the world's supply of money is growing, by large amounts. Sooner or later, people holding paper money of every variety, not just Uncle Sam's, will come to doubt its most important quality – the stability of its exchange value. The resulting massive inflation will not merely strike the U.S., but the entire world.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Financial Journals - US Dollars (Part 1)

(By Porter Stansberry)
- Reproduced from The Daily Crux: First published on 11 May 2010

Porter Stansberry: The U.S. dollar is about to implode

Dear subscribers... we hope you pay special attention to today's Digest. The world has officially entered what we believe will be the final chapter of the U.S. dollar's reign as the world's reserve currency. The dollars in your wallet now not only back bankrupt U.S. money center banks and subprime home "owners"... they are also officially backing all of the economies of Europe. The world's monetary system has evolved into a new kind of global socialism. We don't think that can be bullish for long.

Here are the facts we've been told so far... The European Central Bank (the ECB) will spend $1 trillion (750 billion euro) bailing out Europe's sovereign borrowers (like Greece, Spain, and Portugal). It will also purchase billions of troubled assets from Europe's largest banks – like UniCredit. The mechanisms for these purchases will likely be convoluted. The EU treaties contain a no-bailout clause, forbidding any member to "be liable for or assume the commitments of" another EU country. And the European Central Bank cannot lend to countries or buy their debt directly. To get around the technicalities, the EU created an off-balance-sheet entity that will "borrow" the money and lend it to countries in trouble. Whether this matters to the EU's creditors or not, we can't say... but we certainly wouldn't lend to an off-balance-sheet entity of a central bank that's not represente d by any country. Buying euros used to be a game of "who owes me nothing." Now, it will be a game of "whose off-sheet entity owes me nothing." We doubt that will make Europe more creditworthy in the long term.

What does any of this have to do with the U.S. dollar? More than you'll ever hear anywhere else. On paper, the money is supposed to come from Europe's biggest governments and the IMF. But in reality, most of the money will be borrowed from the U.S. Federal Reserve, which just happened to re-open its trillion-dollar swap account with the ECB this weekend. Ironically, the Federal Reserve says these loans are risk-free because the counterparty is a central bank (or at least the off-balance-sheet entity of a central bank). But if the ECB is truly creditworthy, why couldn't Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, or Ireland raise the money for themselves?

At the beginning of the year, we declared rising interest rates in the U.S. as "the single most important trend in finance." We believe interest rates on long-term U.S. government bonds will rise to compensate investors for the increased risk of owning paper-backed sovereign debt. Our logic is simple: The more money the U.S. prints to bail out banks and other sovereign borrowers, the riskier the U.S. balance sheet becomes. By the first half of 2010, the Fed had already spent $2 trillion to bail out Wall Street's banks and the U.S. mortgage market. And as we reminded subscribers just last Friday, because the world's banking system uses the U.S. dollar as its reserve currency, the Fed would eventually be forced to bail out Europe's economy. Indeed, that's exactly what happened over the weekend. The U.S. Federal Reserve has officially become the world's lender of last resort. We would humbly suggest these policies will likely lead to a permanent loss of value for holders of U.S. dollars.

Why are we so concerned? Printing money to bail out borrowers around the world will not solve the problems of over-leveraged governments or debt-ridden economies. It simply shifts the risks from private balance sheets to the U.S. government's. The U.S. dollar has assumed all of these risks. Our currency has become a ticking time bomb.

You can watch the dollar die, one day at a time, by keeping your eye on the growing spread between the value of long-term U.S. bonds and the price of gold. Over the last year – even as the U.S. economy apparently improved – the spread widened by about 35%.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Medical Journals - Rubbing Away Your Stomach Fats

(By the Underground Health Reporter)

Did you know that you can rub your stomach away effortlessly using nothing but your hand -- for only 2 minutes a day?

This may sound hard to believe, but Dr. Stephen Chang, an M.D. and Ph.D. who's trained in both Western and Chinese medicine, states that this simple 2-minute internal exercise, which does not come from Western medicine, but rather from the wisdom of ancient Chinese sages -- has been used successfully as a self-healing mechanism for over 6,000 years.

Whatever you do, don't confuse this internal exercise with the external exercises of the Western world, such as sit-ups, crunches and other movements that only firm up the underlying stomach muscles ... but do nothing to melt the fat surrounding those muscles.

According to Dr. Chang, losing weight is a simple matter of increasing the efficiency of the digestive system. If you've ever wondered why you fail to shed pounds even when you reduce your food and/or caloric intake -- the reason is because your digestive and eliminatory systems are not functioning efficiently.

The following 2-minute exercise works like a gentle colonic irrigation that helps speed up a sluggish digestive system (which usually carries at least 5 pounds of fecal matter within it), and this elimination of useless sludge has the effect of burning off excess fat. The exercise effectively metabolizes the fatty tissues around the stomach and intestines, and flushes them out of your body through blood, sweat, urine, and feces.

Here's how to do the stomach-rubbing exercise:
  1. Lie flat on your back on your bed or on the floor. Take your top off or pull it up so that your abdominal area is bare.
  2. Rub your hands together vigorously for about 15 seconds, or until they feel hot.
  3. Place one of your hands directly on your belly button and begin to rub in small circles around your belly button, and gradually make the circles larger.
  4. Use fairly firm but comfortable pressure and rub at a slow, even pace, approximately 1 circle per second.
  5. Concentrate on the heat building up in, around and throughout your stomach.
  6. Do about 40 to 50 circles, or for an approximate duration of 2 minutes or more.
Note: It is important to keep the abdominal area warm while doing the exercise, especially during winter months when even heated indoor air tends to be cool.

For best results, do this routine twice a day for 2 minutes -- first thing in the morning (before breakfast) and just before you go to bed. Most people see noticeable results within 1 week of consistent practice.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the stomach is the center of energy. Massaging the stomach in the manner described above therefore accomplishes more than just melting away adipose tissue (fat). It also ...
  1. stimulates the abdominal organs
  2. helps speed up slow digestion and remedies constipation
  3. increases blood circulation in the abdominal area
  4. helps heal indigestion, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and the adverse
  5. effects of overeating
Caution: The stomach massage should not be practiced immediately after a heavy meal. Neither is it advisable for women who are pregnant, or have inflammation of the uterus, bladder, ovaries and fallopian tubes; and individuals who have the following conditions: hypertension; stones in the gall bladder, kidneys or bladder; general, femoral, inguinal and umbilical hernia; bleeding of the stomach, lungs or brain; or ulcers of the intestines and stomach.

© Copyright 2010 Think-Outside-the-Book Publishing, LLC. All Rights Reserved.