Monthly Archives: October 2007

Stephen Fry on addiction

I have a great deal of respect for Stephen Fry and am happy to find that he has started a blog. In his latest entry, he tackles the issue of addiction:

At fifteen I find a new substance to feed the ravenous beast within. Tobacco. “A cigarette is the perfect kind of perfect pleasure,” Wilde said. “It is exquisite and leaves one unsatisfied.” I thought at first that this was just Oscar talking all pretty and silly. But of course he got it right. A cigarette is the perfect instrument of addiction. Perfect. It has no function, no point, no quality other than to make itself needful to the smoker. It doesn’t taste pleasant, it doesn’t modify mood (except inasmuch as it quells the need for itself) it doesn’t offer texture, elation, hallucination, bouquet, nourishment, calorific value, anything. And ultimately, as Wilde pointed out, it never satisfies: it is always necessary to have another.

Imagine that one day someone hit himself lightly on the head with a parsnip. Instead of stopping (for this is a foolish thing to do) he carried on doing it. When he eventually did stop he went about his business but discovered, much to his surprise, that he had a sudden unconquerable urge to hit himself lightly on the head with a parsnip all over again. So he did. And the more he did it, the more he needed to do it. The act of doing it gave him a tiny surge of joy, a little rush of pleasure that had to be elicited, never mind what a twazzock he looked, parsnipping himself on the head all day.

Smoking is no less stupid than that. In fact it is a whole bicycle-shed more stupid, because it’s smelly, unsociable, carcinogenic etc etc etc. But the principle is the same: smoking has absolutely no point other than to stop the misery of not smoking. Smokers claim that it aids concentration, soothes the nerves and so on, but we know really that it only does those things because it’s tobacco addiction that messes with concentration and jangles the nerves in the first place. Tapping your head lightly with a parsnip would aid concentration too if not doing it made you all jumpy and desperate.


Week 51 FX trading results

Trading: 0.0%.

Behavioural road-map score: 7 out of 10.

Another week with no trades and no profit. At least limited expenses have kept my equity line broadly flat.

Equity line

Fifty weeks in:


Week 50 FX trading results

Trading: 3.3%.

Behavioural road-map score: 8.5 out of 10.

I had a pretty good week this week, with a return of 3.3% (5.6% before expenses). While trading means less to me now that it once did, I remain respectful and am thankful for the positive return.

In a couple of weeks, I will celebrate the first birthday of this blog with a short collection of posts from my notebook.

Week 49 FX trading results

Trading: 0%.

Behavioural road-map score: 8 out of 10.

No trades last week.

Quotes on exchange rates

There is no sphere of human thought in which it is easier to show superficial cleverness and the appearance of superior wisdom than in discussing questions of currency and exchange.

– Winston Churchill, House of Commons, September 29, 1949   

My experience is that exchange markets have become so efficient that virtually all relevant information is embedded almost instantaneously in exchange rates to the point that anticipating movements in major currencies is rarely possible… Nonetheless, despite extensive efforts on the part of analysts, to my knowledge, no model projecting directional movements in exchange rates is significantly superior to tossing a coin. I am aware that of the thousands who try, some are quite successful. So are winners of coin-tossing contests. The seeming ability of a number of banking organizations to make consistent profits from foreign exchange trading likely derives not from their insight into future rate changes but from market making.   

– Greenspan, Fed speech on the current account, March 2, 2004.

Week 48 trading results

Trading: 1.1%.

Behavioural road-map score: 8.5 out of 10.

A couple of trades this week with a little profit to show for it, which is nice.

With my current equity standing at just over £11,000, I am raising my point-of-ruin to £10,000 – capital preservation becomes crucial when you start to lose faith in your approach (supported by weak results). On a positive note, my state of mind doesn’t seem to be swinging about with the ups and downs of my equity, and I feel quite objective in assessing my situation.

Best wishes.