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10/1/2009:  Amber has had croup all week, and last night and today, I've had to miss a day. (We were up with her in the middle of the night last night.)

    The middle photo, above, shows Amber, the Honeybee, in her trick-or-treat Halloween costume, and the recent right-hand photo depicts Mommy and Amber (in Mommy's pinned-up smock).    
Science News Updates:  At least for the time being, I'm going to stop updating the daily Science News as of today and focus on (1) generating science news summaries in important areas such as cancer prevention and the slowing or partial reversal of aging; (2) pursuing and reporting upon what could be some landmark breakthroughs in boosting IQ levels; and (3) cleaning up this website. There are a number of contributions that I think I can make that I don't presently have time to address. (Amber's arrival 2½ years ago subtracted several hours a day from my discretionary time.)
Today's (Tuesday's) Progress Report
Update: It might be worth mentioning that not one but several (if not most) vitamin D researchers believe that elevating vitamin levels in the blood could lead to a 50% to 75% reduction in cancer induction rates! And just as exciting (for me), experimental evidence points toward these kinds of improvements occurring even in postmenopausal women, based upon modest increases in vitamin D intake over a period of a few years.
    I mentioned two weeks ago that I had interrupted my experiments in brain-boosting because I developed a digestive problem that took some time to clear up (in retrospect, nothing significant). I'm only gradually getting back to these brain improvement maneuvers, although I'm virtually certain my digestive problem had nothing to do with my  brain-boosting experiments.
    In the meantime, I'm trying to update the nutritional information described under (6) below. One of the enticing discoveries is the information (that vitamin D researchers have been trying to communicate to the general public for years now) that (1) our vitamin D recommended daily allowances are too low by a factor of several, and (2) vitamin D, in addition to its well-known role in bone and dental health, is said to be a main line of defense against a range of diseases including cancer, heart, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and other afflictions. They're suggesting that cancer may be a vitamin-D deficiency disease!
    There are other nutritional interventions such as green tea and minimally processed dark chocolate that might possibly also reduce the risk of cancer and other diseases. I was intrigued with what I learned about this a few years ago; I'm now updating and re-checking what I learned then.
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    The American Association of Individual Investors (AAII) has stock screens (portfolios) that promise extraordinary long-term returns. I had thought about recommending this as a viable investment strategy, but the markets have been so chaotic that I haven't followed up on this. Here's a discussion of some to the AAII stock screen performance claims.
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    Wednesday, I wrote this discussion of two current views of intelligence.
    Sunday, I probed others' experiences with the dual n-back program, as well as running it for myself.
Big News! There have been three major announcements in the field of aging remediation in the past couple of days.    Switching now to more frivolous topics, this business of "brain boosting" seems to me to have repercussions well beyond "Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the smartest one of all?" This would seem to me to be of importance to everyone who plans to grow old--to age-related cognitive decline, and to the avoidance of Alzheimer's Disease, not only for ourselves but also for those we love.
   This is game-changing.
    (1) My own personal story (Updated)
    (2) Preliminary impressions in re my personal "brain-boosting" experiment (Sunday Update)
    (3) The Flynn Effect and Age-Related Cognitive Decline
    (4) Brain Boosting: Quo Vadis, Dominie?
    (5) The first example of one of these lists is a set of 153 cancer prevention news articles dealing with the relationship between food, herbs, etc., and cancer. It may be found here.
    (6) A general listing and discussion of some putatively beneficial nutritional foods, spices, and supplements is given here. Entire books have been written regarding each of the items set forth in this list. I plan to expand upon this material, but this gives a skeletal outline of foods, and food-derived extracts that I try to consume. (What's needed most is a presentation of what these "nutriceuticals" have done for some of us and might do for you.)
    There should be a lot happening on this website over the next few days and weeks, given time to report on these topics.
2009-10-13: Today's Investment Commentary  

Links to Daily Investments Interpretations (Individual Dates) - (Corrected)
First-Half, 2009
Second-Half, 2008
First-Half, 2008

Investment Archive, July 1, 2009 to December 31, 2009

January 1, 2009 to June 30, 2009

July 1, 2008, to December 31, 2008
May 7, 2008, to June 30, 2008
   

2009-1-6 Update: Given the traumatic market losses of the past three months coupled with the threat of a deflationary spiral leading us into another Great Depression, should we still realistically be thinking about recouping losses in the stock market?
    I don't have a good answer to that question for either of us yet. This current stock market bounce may be just another bull market rally within an ongoing bear market. There are certainly plenty who think so. My Cabot China and Emerging Markets Newsletter's China indicator, after flashing a cautious, limited "Buy" signal, has turned negative again, leaving its investors with 10% "Hold" positions in two stocks. (After buying FXI per the newsletter's advice, I sold it at a loss.)  China might decouple from other world markets as the country refocuses its attention upon its internal consumers. But that's still an open question. Caution is still the watchword. I'm still hopeful that we can double our money or better from here (or from a little above where we are now) over the next two or three years. On the other hand, I don't want to lead anyone down the primrose path to further losses. Cash is still king.
    Given the grave concerns about our current economic crisis, I'm going to try to address, as best I can, some problems and concerns that we might be sharing about this subject. 
    I want to reiterate: even if you've lost half your retirement nest-egg, don't despair. There are (I think)  reasonably conservative ways to recoup your losses within two or three years even if the markets don't fully recover for a decade or more (see the sidebar in
Today's Investment Commentary).
11/12/2008: 
  The stunning implications of the fact that we're, perhaps, in a super-bear market are only now penetrating my skull.
A Buy-and-Hold Strategy Applied from the Start to the Finish of a Super-Bear Market (e. g. 2000 to 2018, Assuming That This Concept Is Valid) Would Typically Lead to 60% to 65% Losses Over the 17-18-Year Period After Correcting for Inflation and Adding in Dividends!
    Over the course of a (typical?) 17-to-18-year long super-bear market, the value of an S&P 500 index fund, after correcting for inflation and adding in dividends, typically drops to 1/3rd of its value from the beginning to the  end of the 16-year secular (super-) bear market period. In talking about a "typical" super-cycle, I need to mention that these super-cycles are inferred from the chart pattern of the S&P 500 from 1871 to the present. Over that time span, there have been 3 super-cycles and, it would appear, part of a fourth, from 2000 to the present time... if, in fact, these super-cycles are real enough to have predictive value. But no two of these super-cycles have been just alike. ("History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes."?) You might take a look at the above-linked chart displaying the S&P 500 from 1871 to 1997 and see what you think.
Where We Stand Right Now, and Where We Might Go from Here:
    So far, money invested in an S&P500 index fund in March, 2000, has fallen by now, after correcting for inflation and adding in dividends, to about ½ of what it was worth in March, 2000. However, because the S&P 500 was overpriced by... 65%?... in March, 2000 (by far the most overpriced it's ever been), then if we are in a super-bear market, this money in 2018 should be worth about 40% what it is now. In other words, money invested in a buy-and-hold S&P 500 index fund in March, 2000, should be worth, in 2018, only about 1/5th what it was when it was invested in 2000!
A Buy-and-Hold Strategy During a Super-Bull Market Yields Dramatic Gains
    (b)  All of the long-term gains registered by buy-and-hold investors occur within super-bull markets, and they're sufficient to overpower the fall of the price of equities, in real value, to 1/3rd of their previous highs, plus the average 6.8% a year that Dr. Jeremy Siegel has found for the long term average rate of return of the U. S. stock market from 1802 through 2004.
But... We're in Uncharted Territory
    Because we're in uncharted territory, experiencing the first deflation since the Great Depression, the markets could go lower than usual, although we might expect them to return to their hypothetical trend lines by 2018 (no guarantees, of course).
These Speculative Predictions and Interpretations Apply Only the the U. S. Stock Market
    These predictions, if they unfold as they have in the past, apply only to the U. S. stock market. I have no data concerning non-U. S. markets (although non-U. S. markets have a habit of moving more-or-less in lock-step with the U. S. stock market). I'm particularly hopeful that the Chinese and Indian stock markets  may decouple from the U. S. market over the coming years.
11/9/2008: 
  Over the weekend, I've re-examined the subject of super-bull markets and super-bear markets, and I don't like what I've found. Of course, there's nothing that says things have to work out this way, but the numbers are suggesting a super-bear market bottom in 2018 that would be 55% to 65% below where the popular indices stand today even if our current malaise turns out to be a standard, garden-variety recession, with a cyclical bull market starting up again in 2009 or 2010.
    A buy-and-hold strategy in most mutual funds in such a scenario would be a disaster, although there may be a few funds that can outperform the market sufficiently that you'd come out well ahead even if the blue-chip index funds lose 2/3rds of their purchasing power. The above-linked write-up will explain.
11/2/2008 Important (Second) Update:   This "recession" is categorically different in cause and consequences than any of the normal recessions we've experienced over the past 60 years. Unlike all the other recessions since World War II, this recession (Depression?) is deflationary, driven by a credit crisis, rather than a result of the Federal Reserve Board's overshooting its mark in its efforts to slow the economy in order to rein in inflation. This may be "The Perfect Storm".

6/7/2008: 
As many of us are probably aware, there are now techniques that seem to subtract 15 or more years off our biological ages. It will be decades before such results can be verified through large-scale, long-term studies, but some of us are availing ourselves of these "bleeding edge" stratagems, with dramatic improvements in such ponderable parameters as blood lipid profiles, fasting glucose, insulin sensitivity levels, and related health measures. Along with living longer (and, in fact, these disease reductions are prerequisites to living better longer) are techniques for putatively  reducing the risks of cancer, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and Type 2 diabetes. Again, there are no guarantees. It will take decades of large-scale, long-term, placebo-controlled studies to validate the various pilot studies that have been conducted to date... studies that are concerned with special nutritional and supplement interventions that don't involve patentable drugs. Still there's compelling evidence that some of these maneuvers really do work. For example, four years ago, I was going to my dermatologist every three months to have actinic keratoses--sunlight-induced, pre-cancerous lesions--frozen off the top of my head. After I began drinking green tea four years ago, these lesions disappeared and have never returned--in keeping with numerous studies showing that green tea fights skin cancer. Other members of the Calorie Restriction Society have had a similar experience. This is certainly anecdotal, but nevertheless, this is  what's happened.
    Another example of startling discoveries that, to my knowledge, haven't made it into widespread public distribution is Harvard Medical School researcher Dr. Norman Hollenberg's discovery that the Kuna Indians, who live on a relatively isolated group of islands off the Caribbean coast of Panama, have 1/10th (that's 10%!) the age-adjusted rates of heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, and cancer as their North American counterparts. (See this for diabetes.) The key to this seems to lie in their drinking 3 to 5 cups a day of "raw" hot chocolate (chocolate that hasn't been roasted, or extracted with alkali). (The crucial ingredient seems to be epicatechin.). These dramatic reductions in degenerative diseases aren't attributable to genetic inbreeding, because Kuna Indians who move to the mainland and adopt mainland diets suffer the same ills that plague the rest of us. (You can buy this unprocessed cocoa at outlets like iHerb.)
    Because this is more potent than resveratrol, I'm wondering what effect this would has upon aging and life expectancies.
    In the meantime, here's an article about aging interventions that I wrote in 2006 but never published.

5/6/2008: 
I Goof Up:
  Last fall, on the 21st of September (see below), I declaimed that "My personal guess is that the stock market is going to recover from its deep, steep dip and climb higher (with some ups and downs) for the remainder of the year. I'm also speculating", quoth I, "that we won't go into a recession before 2009, after the 2008 presidential election." 
    Boy, was I wrong! Actually, the stock market continued to rise to new heights, peaking on October 11th. But then it did the unthinkable: it immediately plummeted to new lows--like two tornadoes howling down the same path.
    Having lost all of my own August-to-October ill-gotten gains and a bit more besides, I'm going to try prognosticating again, along with some ideas about investments. (This will be changing rapidly over the next few days, so you may want to check back again.)
    Amber is now 20 months old and turning into a little girl.
We bought her an outdoor playhouse, and have turned the cardboard box in which it was packed into an indoor playhouse. Here's Amber sitting on her throne, with two of her dolls in attendance.
    Tommie and I have been busy almost beyond description. We spend several hours a day playing with her. We're spoiling Amber wonderfully. Amber has caught every virus that has found its way into Huntsville, and after years of freedom from colds and other viruses, Tommie and I are now catching everything Amber gets. But we're gradually, gradually getting more time. And Amber will only be these ages once.

4/29/2008:
 
The Day the Earth Stood Still 
  
    For the past few days, the media have been saturated ad nauseum with Barack Obama and the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, feeding the crowds bread and circuses. In the meantime, what may be one of the most important happenings in human history has passed as unnoticed by the world as the birth of the Son of Man in the hills of Judea two millennia ago.
    There have been several momentous milestones in human development... the taming of fire, the evolution of language, the development of writing, the appearance of craftsman and specialization in the early river-valley city-states... that have transformed what it means to be human. Today, came announcements of what I believe may possibly lead to the next millennial-class transformation in human development. Two psychologists, Susanne Jäggi and Martin  Buschkuehl in the Department of Psychology at the University of Bern, have discovered a training technique that appears to significantly elevate fluid intelligence. Further, the technique shows a more-or-less linear dose-response relationship over a period of 8 12, 17, and 19 days (with 25 minutes of training per day). More...

12-9
-2007As you can see, there's been a slight change in our title page--a hyacinth in our December.
9-21-2007
:  The last few months have been hectic, to put it mildly. Someone has to be with Amber around the clock, for four 44-hour shifts a week. Most of the time, Tommie and I are both engaged with her. Although we've tried to baby-proof our kitchen-family room, someone needs to be in attendance whenever she's awake, to make sure that she doesn't chew through lamp cords or climb up on the coffee table. During her all-too-brief naps, we either catch up on sleep ourselves, or service the infrastructure that supports her. She had her first birthday on August 28th, and is taking steps by herself and saying a few words. It has its rewards, though. I sing to Amber and walk her to sleep most nights, since that seems to work well. I'll forever cherish that little head snuggling into my shoulder as she heaves sighs and drifts off to sleep. It's rare and precious in this life that, as adults, we get this kind of unconditional closeness with another human being. We perform double handsprings in this life to earn others' approval. With a baby or a small child, it comes copiously and with no strings attached. It doesn't last forever, although the closeness of parent and child can remain for a lifetime.
    We've enrolled Amber in a playschool, which she seems to relish. This is giving us some discretionary time for the first time since last December. In the meantime, I've found myself drifting back to posting the science news on a daily basis. My plans to update the archives have come to naught, as I race from pillar to post, scrambling to keep up with all my obligations.
    One other time-consuming activity that has eaten whatever bits and pieces of time I've been able to muster is investment in the stock market. I'm not interested in making money to buy anything for myself. I'd like to make enough money quickly enough that I could give some away in ways that I think might be particularly effective. Of course, optimizing one's investment strategy is always beneficial. There's a lot I'd like to write about this that I think might be of interest. Maybe I'll have time in the next few weeks to present this. In the meantime, here are a few ideas.
    My personal guess is that the stock market is going to recover from its deep, steep dip and climb higher (with some ups and downs) for the remainder of the year. I'm also speculating that we won't go into a recession before 2009, after the 2008 presidential election. According to the Stock Trader's Almanac 2007 which analyzes 173 years of data stretching back to Andrew Jackson's presidency, the third year (e. g., 2007) after a presidential election is the best year for the stock market (up 10.6% on average), followed by the fourth year (2008) which is still upward-trending (up 6.7%). The first year (2009) is often a flat or down year (up 1.6% on average), bottoming during the second year (2010) and then starting up again (up 3.7% on average).
    Some investments that look good to me right now may found here.

4-9-2007
:    On Monday, August 28th, 2006, our oldest daughter, Lisa, delivered her first and last child: a baby girl. On the morning of Sunday, December 3rd, 2006, Lisa died quietly in her sleep, leaving Tommie Jean and me to rear her three-month-old infant. Since then, it's been a wildly busy time. Because of this development, I've to modified the website, changing it to provide news archives in various areas of interest rather than a daily posting of 120-130 science news items. I'll still be scanning the same news, but I'll be saving only items that seem worthy of archiving. Also, as time permits, I'll generate lists of links to specific archives, such as "Cancer: Food and Herbs". There is a wealth of potentially life-saving information in these Science News articles, and archiving it in specific lists should make this information much more accessible than it is now.
    The first example of these new lists is the list for "Alzheimers Disease"

11-1-2006
:  Michael McKay has written to say, "In your page http://www.oocities.com/rnseitz/Definition_of_IQ.html you start analyzing a Wal-Mart crowd. Your results are already skewed. The lower IQ people are less likely to be able to get to Wal-Mart in the first place."
    I think that's a good point. I hadn't thought of that. Offhand, I'd imagine that it might not make too much difference until the IQ gets well below average, but I don't know.
    I'd also think that in an adult population, IQ may not be that good a measure of someone's practical ability to cope. IQ tests purport to measure certain kinds of mental abilities having to do with pattern recognition and the potential to learn.. On the other hand, I would imagine that age-related cognitive decline (for example) could lead to serious degradation in the ability to do well on an IQ test without necessarily impairing someone's ability to drive, or to negotiate a shopping mall. Lack of sleep could slow someone down on IQ-testing-type activities without implying a lack of innate capabilities under more favorable circumstances. It's always possible to get an uncharacteristically low score on an IQ test. And there certainly are mental gifts that don't show up well in school or on timed IQ tests. (For example, untreated ADHD can probably interfere with IQ test performance.)
    It seems to me that we all do amazingly well driving every day. Driving under the influence can lead to accidents as can reckless or emotional driving and errors in judgment, but otherwise, I think we drive exceedingly reliably.

6-24-2006
:  Here's a 2006 Computer Technology Update.
    Beginning today, June 19th, I'm cutting back somewhat on the content of the daily web pages. New panels of "Calvin and Hobbes" are no longer available for download, and I'll have to drop them. Also, I'm closing the "Words-of-the-Day" in order to save time that I urgently need for other purposes. In return, I'll be posting a number of what I think might be important "essays", that I think you might want to catch. I've written these and published them in "Gift of Fire" but haven't gotten around to posting them here.
    Reducing the amount of material in the Science News pages hasn't reduced the amount of time it takes to prepare the website. I either have to cut back or shut down the science news service altogether. It takes too much time. I'm going to try retrenching like this and see if that solves the problem.
    Here is an article I published in the March issue of "Gift of Fire" reviewing recent articles and books that discuss psychopaths.

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9/15/2008:   Videos: (Note that it takes a little while to download these videos, during which time the screen is blank.)
9/15/2008:: Amber Eating Macaroni
9/15/2008: Amber and Mommy on the Garden Bench 1