Monday, November 29, 2010

Choline and Fatty Liver

I've been writing about non-alcoholic fatty liver disorder (NAFLD) since the early days of this blog, because it's an alarmingly common disorder (roughly a quarter of Americans affected) that is typically undiagnosed. It often progresses into its more serious cousin non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), an inflammatory condition that causes liver damage and can progress to cancer. In a number of previous posts, I pinpointed excess sugar and seed oil consumption as culprits in NAFLD and NASH (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

Chris Masterjohn recently published two very informative posts on NAFLD/NASH that add a major additional factor to the equation: choline (6, 7). Choline is an essential nutrient that's required for the transport of fat out of the liver (8). NAFLD can be caused, and cured, simply by removing or adding dietary choline, and it appears to be dominant over other dietary factors including fat, sugar and alcohol. Apparently, certain researchers have been aware of this for some time, but it hasn't entered into the mainstream consciousness.

Could that be because the richest dietary sources are liver and eggs*? Choline is also found in smaller amounts in a variety of whole animal and plant foods. Most people don't get the officially recommended amount. From a recent review article (9):
Mean choline intakes for older children, men, women, and pregnant women are far below the adequate intake level established by the [Institute of Medicine]. Given the importance of choline in a wide range of critical functions in the human body, coupled with less-than-optimal intakes among the population, dietary guidance should be developed to encourage the intake of choline-rich foods.
I've dubbed beef liver the Most Nutritious Food in the World, Nature's Multivitamin, and I'll probably invent other titles for it in the future. Add yours to the comments.

Head over to Chris's blog and read about the classic studies he unearthed. And add The Daily Lipid to your RSS reader, because there's more interesting material to come!

The Sweet Truth about Liver and Egg Yolks
Does Choline Deficiency Contribute to Fatty Liver in Humans?


* For the brave: brain is actually the richest source of choline.

Caroline and Shawdee - Portrait of a Family

I am thankful to have Caroline, Shawdee and now Alexa in my life.  I've been staying with the three of them while my home is being rented.  They have been wonderful friends to me for several years.  They've always supported me in my decisions in life and more recently, supported my art.  One day while Shawdee was pregnant, I thought it would be fun to photograph them in bed in a John and Yoko style and they both agreed to do it!  Since then, I documented Alexa's birthday at the hospital and yesterday, a family trip to the beach.

Being on the road for so many months of the year, it can be difficult to hold on to close relationships since you can't be there physically to visit but when I saw them, it was like a day didn't go by except that Alexa is so much bigger!

They are both such loving parents and great friends.  I am lucky to have them in my life.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Want to make a lot of money...

Apparently, a lot of people want to make a lot of money without asking "what it is?" or "why?" or "what for?". They just have to have it, have to get it and regardless of any understanding of their process. This type of identification with "money", is a slow motion panic. It is a symptom of credit cheapening the value of money and thereby hastening the urgency to get it so one can get something with it before it becomes worthless. The proverbial mouse on the wheel. Central bankers really know how to play their victims and practice psychological warfare at an extemely high level.

"If we take man as he is...we make him worse. But if we take him as he should be, we make him capable of becoming what he can be" - Goethe

Below is a video of a lecture by Viktor Frankl on the "Search for Meaning..."

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Week And Black Friday

As you know, I came home only to leave once again.  I needed to get back out of the house on Tuesday so Max and I have been staying with two close friends and their baby, Alexa.

For once in a long time, I have been relaxing and doing nothing, really.  I've taken Max to the dog park every day so he can run around and get a workout and that always makes me smile.

Last year I spent Thanksgiving and Christmas alone so it was a treat to be able to spend it with a friend this year.  Since we are both "non cooks," we found a place that sold turkey take out meals so we bought two to go and sat on the couch and stuffed ourselves.

So, today is the biggest shopping day of the year.  Shopping is the last thing I would like to do.  I couldn't even imagine getting up early like so many do to get a deal on something they really didn't need to begin with.  After living out of my car for the past three years for six months at a time, I don't really get attached to things like I used to.  Don't get me wrong, I love my camera, computer and phone but I don't have a need to jump out and fight the crowds to spend money that I really should save.

However, the money I spend will be on handmade goods.  A good place to shop is etsy.  All items on this site are either handmade or vintage.  If you didn't know already, I have a little shop where I am currently selling my photograph art boxes.  Speaking of my art boxes...through Sunday, everything in my shop is 25% off when you enter code FACEBOOK25 at checkout.  So, that's handmade art for about $20 bucks each!  I have a few upcoming shows I will tell you about soon.  I hope you enjoy the weekend and spend it with loved ones.  That's all that really matters.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Manifestations of social phenomona derived from the values espoused via our system of credit are not limited to Wall Street

As if the abuses within the credit and banking system are not enough...those attitudes, distortions and unproductive motivations are also evident in the fabric of society as a whole...for massive crimes like the finance debacles to occur, society in general has to be complicit - so, government, judicial and regulatory complicity are required and end up compromising our liberties and freedom...

This is a great piece that illustrates some of the issues of a very similar incarnation in another forum...the legal system.

Market Update - perfect retest

Covered some of the index, forex and commodity shorts but left a core positions remaining.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Dog Art Weekend

My weekend was filled with viewing and appreciating art. More specifically, art including our canine best friend.

Friday and Saturday was "Art goes to the dogs" hosted by Paige Bauer at the 2nd city council art gallery in Long Beach, CA.  There was an array of beautiful photographs, paintings, sculpture and instillations everywhere you looked in the space.  I was fortunate to display my photograph of a corgie and an Airstream titled,"Dixie." Being camera shy, I took this photograph of another person being interviewed in front of "Dixie."

On Saturday evening, I went to the closing reception of "Dogs Dogs Dogs" at the 1650 Gallery in Echo Park.  I brought Max along to this reception since they had Santa there to take photographs with and I knew he was ready to tell Santa what he wanted for Christmas.  I saw him whispering in his ear but he wanted to keep it a secret from me.  I wonder what Max wished for...

Here are some snapshots I took with my point and shoot camera.  I look forward to seeing the photograph of Max with Santa that the professional took on hand.  Along with the Santa photo shoots, they actioned photographs to benefit "Dogs without Borders" to help homeless pets in the Los Angeles area.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Glucose Tolerance in Non-industrial Cultures

Background

Glucose is the predominant blood sugar and one of the body's two main fuel sources (the other is fatty acids). Glucose, in one form or another, is also the main form of digestible dietary carbohydrate in nearly all human diets. Starch is made of long chains of glucose molecules, which are rapidly liberated and absorbed during digestion. Sucrose, or table sugar, is made of one glucose and one fructose molecule, which are separated before absorption.

Blood glucose is essential for life, but it can also be damaging if there is too much of it. Therefore, the body tries to keep it within a relatively tight range. Normal fasting glucose is roughly between 70 and 90 mg/dL*, but in the same individual it's usually within about 5 mg/dL on any given day. Sustained glucose above 160 mg/dL or so causes damage to multiple organ systems. Some people would put that number closer to 140 mg/dL.

The amount of glucose contained in a potato far exceeds the amount contained in the blood, so if all that glucose were to enter the blood at once, it would lead to a highly damaging blood glucose level. Fortunately, the body has a hormone designed to keep this from happening: insulin. Insulin tells cells to internalize glucose from the blood, and suppresses glucose release by the liver. It's released by the pancreas in response to eating carbohydrate, and protein to a lesser extent. The amount of insulin released is proportional to the amount of carbohydrate ingested, so that glucose entering the blood is cleared before it can accumulate.

Insulin doesn't clear all the glucose as it enters the bloodstream, however. Some of it does accumulate, leading to a spike in blood glucose. This usually doesn't exceed 130 mg/dL in a truly healthy person, and even if it approaches that level it's only briefly. However, diabetics have reduced insulin signaling, and eating a typical meal can cause their glucose to exceed 300 mg/dL due to reduced insulin action and/or insulin secretion. In affluent nations, this is typically due to type II diabetes, which begins as insulin resistance, a condition in which insulin is actually higher than normal but cells fail to respond to it.  The next step is the failure of insulin-secreting beta cells, which is what generally precipitates actual diabetes.

The precursor to diabetes is called glucose intolerance, or pre-diabetes. In someone with glucose intolerance, blood glucose after a typical meal will exceed that of a healthy person, but will not reach the diabetic range (a common definition of diabetes is 200 mg/dL or higher, 2 hours after ingesting 75g of glucose). Glucose tolerance refers to a person's ability to control blood glucose when challenged with dietary glucose, and can be used in some contexts as a useful predictor of diabetes risk and general metabolic health. Doctors use the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), which involves drinking 60-100g glucose and measuring blood glucose after one or two hours, to determine glucose tolerance.

Why do we care about glucose tolerance in non-industrial cultures?

One of the problems with modern medical research is that so many people in our culture are metabolically sick that it can be difficult to know if what we consider "normal" is really normal or healthy in the broader sense. Non-industrial cultures allow us to examine what the human metabolism is like in the absence of metabolic disease. I admit this rests on certain assumptions, particularly that these people aren't sick themselves. I don't think all non-industrial cultures are necessarily healthy, but I'm going to stick with those that research has shown have an exceptionally low prevalence of diabetes (by Western standards) and other "diseases of civilization" for the purposes of this post.

Here's the question I really want to answer in this post: do healthy non-industrial cultures with a very high carbohydrate intake have an excellent glucose tolerance, such that their blood glucose doesn't rise to a high level, or are they simply resistant to the damaging effects of high blood glucose?

The data

I'm going to start with an extreme example. In the 1960s, when it was fashionable to study non-industrial cultures, researchers investigated the diet and health of a culture in Tukisenta, in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. The eat practically nothing but sweet potatoes, and their typical daily fare is 94.6 percent carbohydrate. Whether or not you believe that exact number, their diet was clearly extraordinarily high in carbohydrate. They administered 100g OGTTs and measured blood glucose at one hour, which is a very stringent OGTT. They compared the results to those obtained in the 1965 Tecumseh study (US) obtained by the same method. Here's what they found (1):
Compared to Americans, in Tukisenta they had an extraordinary glucose tolerance at all ages. At one hour, their blood glucose was scarcely above normal fasting values, and glucose tolerance only decreased modestly with age. In contrast, in Americans over 50 years old, the average one-hour value was around 180 mg/dL!

Now let's take a look at the African Bantu in the Lobaye region of the Central African Republic. The Bantu are a large ethnic group who primarily subsist on a diverse array of starchy foods including grains, beans, plantains and root crops. One hour after a 100g OGTT, their blood glucose was 113 mg/dL, compared to 139 mg/dL in American controls (2). Those numbers are comparable to what investigators found in Tukisenta, and indicate an excellent glucose tolerance in the Bantu.

In South America, different investigators studied a group of native Americans in central Brazil that subsist primarily on cassava (a starchy root crop) and freshwater fish. Average blood glucose one hour after a 100g OGTT was 94 mg/dl, and only 2 out of 106 people tested had a reading over 160 mg/dL (both were older women) (Western Diseases: Their Emergence and Prevention, p. 149). Again, that indicates a phenomenal glucose tolerance by Western standards.

I have to conclude that high-carbohydrate non-industrial cultures probably don't experience damaging high blood glucose levels, because their glucose tolerance is up to the task of shuttling a huge amount of glucose out of the bloodstream before that happens.

Not so fast...

Now let's turn our attention to another study that may throw a wrench in the gears. A while back, I found a paper containing OGTT data for the !Kung San (also called the Bushmen), a hunter-gatherer group living in the Kalahari desert of Africa. I reported in an earlier post that they had a good glucose tolerance. When I revisited the paper recently, I realized I had misread it and in fact, their glucose tolerance was actually pretty poor.

Investigators administered a 50g OGTT, half what the other studies used. At one hour, the San had blood glucose readings of 169 mg/dL, compared to 142 mg/dL in Caucasian controls (3)! I suspect a 100g OGTT would have put them close to the diabetic range.

Wait a minute, these guys are hunter-gatherers living the ancestral lifestyle; aren't they supposed to be super healthy?? First of all, like many hunter-gatherer groups the San are very small people: the men in this study were only 46 kg (101 lbs).  The smaller you are, the more a given amount of carbohydrate will raise your blood glucose.  Also, while I was mulling this over, I recalled a discussion where non-diabetic people were discussing their 'diabetic' OGTT values while on a low-carbohydrate diet. Apparently, carbohydrate refeeding for a few days generally reverses this and allows a normal OGTT in most people. It turns out this effect has been known for the better part of a century.

So what were the San eating? The study was conducted in October of 1970. The San diet changes seasonally, however their main staple food is the mongongo nut, which is mostly fat and which is available year-round (according to The !Kung San: Men, Women and Work in a Foraging Society). Their carbohydrate intake is generally low by Western standards, and at times of the year it is very low. This varies by the availability of other foods, but they generally don't seem to relish the fibrous starchy root crops that are available in the area, as they mostly eat them when other food is scarce. Jean-Louis Tu has posted a nice analysis of the San diet on BeyondVeg (4). Here's a photo of a San man collecting mongongo nuts from The !Kung San: Men, Women and Work in a Foraging Society:

What did the authors of the OGTT study have to say about their diet? Acknowledging that prior carbohydrate intake may have played a role in the OGTT results of the San, they made the following remark:
a retrospective dietary history (M. J. Konner, personal communication, 1971) indicated that the [San], in fact, consumed fairly large amounts of carbohydrate-rich vegetable food during the week before testing.
However, the dietary history was not provided, nor has it been published, so we have no way to assess the statement's accuracy or what was meant by "fairly large amounts of carbohydrate-rich vegetable food." Given the fact that the San diet typically ranges from moderately low to very low in carbohydrate, I suspect they were not getting much carbohydrate as a percentage of calories. Looking at the nutritional value of the starchy root foods they typically eat in appendix D of The !Kung San: Men, Women and Work in a Foraging Society, they are fibrous and most contain a low concentration of starch compared to a potato for example. The investigators may have been misled by the volume of these foods eaten, not realizing that they are not as rich in carbohydrate as the starchy root crops they are more familiar with.

You can draw your own conclusions, but I think the high OGTT result of the San probably reflect a low habitual carbohydrate intake, and not pre-diabetes. I have a very hard time believing that this culture wasn't able to handle the moderate amount of carbohydrate in their diet effectively, as observers have never described diabetic complications among them.

Putting it all together

This brings me to my hypothesis. I think a healthy human body is extraordinarily flexible in its ability to adapt to a very broad range of carbohydrate intakes, and adjusts glucose tolerance accordingly to maintain carbohydrate handling in a healthy range. In the context of a healthy diet and lifestyle (from birth), I suspect that nearly anyone can adjust to a very high carbohydrate intake without getting dangerous blood glucose spikes. A low carbohydrate intake leads to impaired glucose handling and better fat handling, as one would expect. This can show up as impaired glucose tolerance or even 'diabetes' on an OGTT, but that does not necessarily reflect a pathological state in my opinion.

Every person is different based on lifestyle, diet, personal history and genetics. Not everyone in affluent nations has a good glucose tolerance, and some people will never be able to handle starch effectively under any circumstances. The best way to know how your body reacts to carbohydrate is to test your own post-meal blood glucose using a glucose meter. They are inexpensive and work well. For the most informative result, eat a relatively consistent amount of carbohydrate for a week to allow your body to adapt, then take a glucose measurement 1 and 2 hours after a meal. If you don't eat much carbohydrate, eating a potato might make you think you're diabetic, whereas after a week of adaptation you may find that a large potato does not spike your blood glucose beyond the healthy range.

Exercise is a powerful tool for combating glucose intolerance, as it increases the muscles' demand for glucose, causing them to transport it out of the blood greedily after a meal. Any exercise that depletes muscle glycogen should be effective.


* Assuming a typical carbohydrate intake. Chris Kresser recently argued, based on several studies, that true normal fasting glucose for a person eating a typical amount of carbohydrate is below 83 mg/dL. Low-carbohydrate eating may raise this number, but that doesn't necessarily indicate a pathological change. High-carbohydrate cultures such as the Kitavans, Aymara and New Guineans tend to have fasting values in the low 60s to low 70s. I suspect that a very high carbohydrate intake generally lowers fasting glucose in healthy people. That seems to be the case so far for Chris Voigt, on his diet of 20 potatoes a day. Stay tuned for an interview with Mr. Voigt in early December.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Home (For Now)

As I was wandering around the streets of El Paso, it hit me.  It was time to go home.  I felt a little like the Forrest Gump in the scene where he stops running and says, "I'm pretty tired.  I think I'll go home now."

So that was it.  I decided that home is where I wanted to be at that moment.  I drove from El Paso back to Southern California in one shot.  I knew I was getting close when the Waffle House disappeared and Starbucks appeared more and more.  Also, people drove faster and everyone seemed to have blinker light problems since I didn't see any on merges right in front of me.  Ahhh...close to home.

As you might know, this is my third year traveling the country in a car with my dog.  I put together a little map with arrows to the places I've been in those three years.  Arrows in Red are from this year, purple is 2009 and Blue represents 2008.

It's been quite the journey.  As much as I would say that I am staying put, that is not necessarily the case.  I tend to get bored easy and need to keep moving and doing things so that is what I plan to do.  In fact, the homecoming will be short lived since I need to pack up again in a few days to make way for renters to come to my home.

I have a few things planned in the upcoming months so there won't be a dull moment.  I look forward to sharing more with you as they happen.

Thank you for following me on my journey and for all of the supportive comments.  I appreciate you and hope some of it has inspired you to get out on the road to explore this great country of ours.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Market Stuff

Weekly systems have reentered shorts in the 1195 area for ES and 720 for TF based on reticulation re-entries. Market looks rather frail...and they tried as hard as possible to get GM to stay above the initial offering price on the first day of trading. Given how fickle our fearless leaders are, I would not be surprised with an exit stage left scenario.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

El Paso, Texas

On my way out of Austin, I stopped at a hole in the wall restaurant for breakfast.  I told the server that I didn't want meat with my meal.  Before he left, he confirmed, "no meat?" I nodded.  When my meal came, I looked at it then looked at the waiter and said, "there's meat on my plate."  He looked at my plate and back to me and said, "That's not meat, that's bacon."  At that moment I was reminded that yes, I was in Texas.

There wasn't much I knew about El Paso except for the Pace salsa commercials from long ago.  For some reason, I was drawn to the area.  I didn't stay long but long enough to tour around the city for a while, which was empty for the most part.  There were a few locals browsing around at shops, feeding the birds in the park and waiting for the bus.  It seems to be a sleepy town.

I walked around the downtown streets and after a while, I drove around to nearby areas to see if I could find some locals sitting outside of their home.  I noticed a tree decorated with beer cans so I thought I would stop to take a look.  I approached the house taking photographs as the owner walked out.  I asked him about his hand made creation and he said that he's been working on it for years and that the local paper has done a story on it.  He said he's been adding to it "every now and then" and mentioned that he is pretty proud of his creation. Who wouldn't be proud of their beer can tree?

I asked him what to see while I was in the area and he pointed me to the downtown plaza.  I mentioned that I just came from there.  He asked if I saw the workers putting up the Christmas lights in the downtown square trees.  I said, "yes" while he replied, "Look at my beer tree...I beat them to it."

El Paso is as close to the Mexican border as you can get while still being in Texas.  Because of that, you will see a Mexican restaurant at nearly every corner and mixed culture throughout the area.  I love traveling to Mexico but haven't been in a while.  This was a nice reminder that I need to go back soon.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Impressions from the Wise Traditions Conference

I spent last weekend at the Weston A. Price Foundation Wise Traditions conference in King of Prussia, PA. Here are some highlights:

Spending time with several people in the diet-health community who I’ve been wanting to meet in person, including Chris Masterjohn, Melissa McEwen and John Durant. John and Melissa are the public face of the New York city paleo movement. The four of us spent most of the weekend together tossing around ideas and making merry. I’ve been corresponding with Chris quite a bit lately and we’ve been thinking through some important diet-health questions together. He is brimming with good ideas. I also got to meet Sally Fallon Morell, the founder and president of the WAPF.

Attending talks. The highlight was Chris Masterjohn’s talk “Heart Disease and Molecular Degeneration: the New Paradigm”, in which he described his compelling theory on oxidative damage and cardiovascular disease, among other things. You can read some of his earlier ideas on the subject here. Another talk I really enjoyed was by Anore Jones, who lived with an isolated Inuit group in Alaska for 23 years and ate a mostly traditional hunter-gatherer diet. The food and preparation techniques they used were really interesting, including various techniques for extracting fats and preserving meats, berries and greens by fermentation. Jones has published books on the subject that I suspect would be very interesting, including Nauriat Niginaqtuat, Plants that We Eat, and Iqaluich Niginaqtuat, Fish that We Eat. The latter is freely available on the web here.

I attended a speech by Joel Salatin, the prolific Virginia farmer, writer and agricultural innovator, which was fun. I enjoyed Sally Fallon Morell’s talk on US school lunches and the politics surrounding them. I also attended a talk on food politics by Judith McGeary, a farmer, attorney and and activist, in which she described the reasons to oppose or modify senate bill 510. The gist is that it will be disproportionately hard on small farmers who are already disfavored by current regulations, making high quality food more difficult to obtain, more expensive or even illegal. It’s designed to improve food safety by targeting sources of food-borne pathogens, but how much are we going to have to cripple national food quality and farmer livelihood to achieve this, and will it even be effective? I don’t remember which speaker said this quote, and I’m paraphrasing, but it stuck with me: “I just want to be able to eat the same food my grandmother ate.” In 2010, that’s already difficult to achieve. Will it be impossible in 2030?

Giving my own talk. I thought it went well, although attendance was not as high as I had hoped. The talk was titled “Kakana Dina: Diet and Health in the Pacific Islands”, and in it I examined the relationship between diet and health in Pacific island cultures with different diets and at various stages of modernization. I’ve covered some of this material on my blog, in my posts on Kitava, Tokelau and sweet potato eating cultures in New Guinea, but other material was new and I went into greater detail on food habits and preparation methods. I also dug up a number of historical photos dating back as far as the 1870s.

The food. All the meat was pasture-raised, organic and locally sourced if possible. There was raw pasture-raised cheese, milk and butter. There was wild-caught fish. There were many fermented foods, including sauerkraut, kombucha and sourdough bread. I was really impressed that they were able to put this together for an entire conference.

The vendors. There was an assortment of wholesome and traditional foods, particularly fermented foods, quality dairy and pastured meats. There was an entire farmer’s market on-site on Saturday, with a number of Mennonite vendors selling traditional foods. I bought a bottle of beet kvass, a traditional Russian drink used for flavor and medicine, which was much better than the beet kvass I’ve made myself in the past. Beets are a remarkable food, in part due to their high nitrate content—beet juice has been shown to reduce high blood pressure substantially, possibly by increasing the important signaling molecule nitric oxide. I got to meet Sandeep Agarwal and his family, owners of the company Pure Indian Foods, which domestically produces top-quality pasture-fed ghee (Indian-style clarified butter). They now make tasty spiced ghee in addition to the plain flavor. Sandeep and family donated ghee for the big dinner on Saturday, which was used to cook delicious wild-caught salmon steaks donated by Vital Choice.

There were some elements of the conference that were not to my taste. But overall I’m glad I was able to go, meet some interesting people, give my talk and learn a thing or two.

SP500 Update

Ultimate targets for the SP500 are still between 1120 and 1150ish but there is a support level here for an intermediate bounce. Again I think most of the elliotwavers are intellectializing the markets and will miss the trade looking for waves that are not there...as happend with this current move down. The 5th wave never happend on the intraday charts and it is quite likely that the there will be another theoretical missed wave on the EW dailies. Bounce at trendline will likely produce a lower high and then proceed to emmulate the 10 year Treasury Bond indicated on this chart with the blue line. We have diverged significantly for the last 6 months. The equity market should start to look like that chart.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Janet Tavakoli...fraudclosure, Rubin, Munger, Buffett etc


Janet Tavakoli on Bank Foreclosure Fraud from David Fry on Vimeo.

Bubblicious "Bernanke Span Krudman" Baby...

Well here we go again, QE is announced and the yields that Ben and Paul say will go down go up...yet they will apparently swear under oath that rates actually are going down, have gone down, will go down and will stay down. Ben is living in a fantasy world. The results of the vote of no confidence in the QE ploy are readily available in the Junk, Muni, Corporate and Treasury markets. Interest rates will go up since credit risk is also increasing.

As I indicated in my post regarding the ending well line...Bernanke was willing to risk all and try to trigger a technical breakout that would create a sustained rally. What he forgot is that he needs shorts for that...there are precious few shorts left to be squeezed. Additionally, when you make it apparent to all corporations that you are going to increase their costs while lowering the demand from their customers due their customers increased costs and jobs attrition that are the result of said increases in corporate costs and cost cutting...most CEO's will stand back from taking risks and feed the beast by cutting more and spending less...In an environment where there are less jobs and fewer consumers, credit risk increases with the commensurate need for better compensation for bondholders brave enough or willing to take the risk. These are ultimately the dynamics that will prevail regardless of our blind, deaf and dumb leadership. But take heart - for atleast a few days to a few months, insolvent bank balance sheets like JPM's, BAC's, GS's etc will look better...and that is sure to create a gargantuan increase in confidence which will surely fix everything.

So there we have it. Default risk has doubled for Muni bonds, increased dramatically for Junk and corporates and will likely increase dramatically in the future.

Additionally, Mr. Bernanke has triggered a fearless rush into commodities regardless of fundamentals. We have parabola everywhere. Silver, Sugar, Wheat, Corn, Uranium...these patterns are very unhealthy and will require new cyclical lows to flush out the excesses in these markets. This type of activity is also not good for a stable market place or economic environment. What is interesting is that these activites fall so nicely into the "stable prices" mandate for the Fed. Bernanke must have left his reading glasses at home when reading that part - as he clearly has misinterpreted it.

The MUNI bond market pumped by Goldman Tax's new division as ultra safe investments are now on their way to the same insurance scam, financial fraud triggered default territory that nearly blew them up in 2008. This will not be pretty. All these markets have gained significant fuel due to Bernanke's bubble blowing and have additionally added the public to the bus. The public will now be raped because they will get the bill for the Fed's abusive manipulations and they will lose after having bought into the parabola psycheout.

All the Elliotwaver's are busy looking for a new high towards the end of the year...to which I say they will probably get another missed trade - just like they got on this one. What happened to that missing 5th wave anyway? Where did it go? I got the shorts via my weekly and daily systems...but the current patterns do not look like we will be getting another high into the end of the year...though I do think we will get some sort of a bounce off my "ending well" line on the weekly SP500. In case you are wondering, we needed to avoid the breakout over that trendline, for the best possible outcome IMO...Benanke killed that and now we are going to have to watch the worst case scenario play out over the next few years. Below are some of the reasons that this will take years to unwind...and the world will likely look quite different when that is completed.

The Nasdaq has confrimed its overthrow sell signal and targets much lower levels. This is a dangerous pattern. 1,840 to 1,860 are possible if the pattern proves accurate.

The PIMCO Muni Fund 2 was stable for many years then broke out of its range and has now setup a bear flag which it has broken out of to the downside - perfectly timed with Mr. Bernanke's announcement that rates would be going lower. Apparently not!
Below is the PIMCO Califorania Municiple Bond Fund...clearly this is much weaker of a bounce and a much more bearish chart overall.
Picture perfect parabola...Silver is shown below. Popular wisdom apparently has it that Silver will go to new highs because there is a shortage, there is currency risk and there is a squeeze on the large commercial banks attempting to manipulate the Silver market...people tend to forget those were the reasons that the rally started...and will not likely be the reasons for its continuation.
 
The sugar parabola has started to break down. A true blow off top will require an appropriate bottom...lets start preparing to say hello to sugar below 10 bucks. 
A parabola before and after. This is what it looks like, except this was just one was relegated to just a relatively small group of energy markets. The recent parabola that hasve just happened have been much more pronounced and damaging. We are still recovering from the earthquake of the Energy complex parabola and Bernanke just had to make new ones for us...wonderful...we appreciate it Mr Bernanke.
The Schwab High Yield Bond fund was marketed as "...as safe as money markets and Treasuries" just like the primary dealers would like you to believe the Muni's and other paper are supposed to be now. We are now 2 years later and there is yet to be a meaningful bounce in this particular hyper safe, ultra conservative investment marketed by Schwab (among many others)...including the Auction Rate Securities that turned out to be a total fraud. The problem with MUNI's is that they are likley to reach a point where there simply is no bid. Selling in that enviorment could collapse the entire market so there will be intervention into our socialized markets.  There will likely be all sorts new limitations, rules and fake marking. Ultimately, I think it will be difficult to get money out of these securities at some point in the future.


Austin, Texas

I love this city.  I came here last year on my trip and fell in love with the place.  There is art everywhere you look, the people are weird and there are plenty of places to eat out of a food truck.  What is not to love about that?

During this short stay, I wandered around to several galleries on the East Austin Studio Tour.  The tour is pretty spread out so you won't be able to cover everything in a day.  I just stumbled upon several of the galleries, ate at some food trucks and met some amazing artists.  I loved finding The Wonder Craft.  It's an Airstream filled with handmade goodies that everyone loved.  You could see it in their eyes as they walked in. I know my face must have looked the same as I stepped inside.  It was the, "ooooo look at all of the hand made goodies!" face.

Along the tour route, I was able to chat with many of the artists and a few photographers I particularly enjoyed meeting were Sarah Wilson and George Brainard.

There is something for everyone in the city.  If you decide to tour 6th street downtown, you will get a completely different feel, when compared to the East Arts district.  There is always Congress Street, which is not to miss.  You can stroll the streets and find many vintage shops, restaurants and even eat cupcakes made in an Airstream.

Max also enjoyed the city since he was able to play at one of the many dog parks they have.  I know I will have to make a point to come back.  There are too many things to see and you just can't do it in a few days.

Here are a few photographs I took as I walked along the streets.