16 April 2018

The Asymptote of Progress - part the eighth

This hot off the presses (7:56):
VALE Vale S.A. reports Iron ore production reached 82.0 Mt in 1Q18, 4.2 Mt and 11.4 Mt lower than in 1Q17 and 4Q17, respectively (13.12 )
Iron ore production reached 82.0 Mt in 1Q18, 4.2 Mt and 11.4 Mt lower than in 1Q17 and 4Q17, respectively, mainly due to management's decision in 2Q17 to reduce production of lower grade ore, reinforcing the positioning of Vale as a premium producer and resulting in higher price realization and better margins since 1Q17. The more intense rain season also affected production in 1Q18.

So, let's make America Great Again with imported iron ore, since we haven't enough in the ground worth digging for. Such a Wonderful Idea.

15 April 2018

The Deplorables - part the second

Yet another series, with unknown length, impelled by the Trumpistas. I'm going to guess that Bevin hasn't the faintest idea that he's indicting his state's redneck deplorables. And he's implicitly demanding that public school teachers be domestic violence cops, in addition to gun-totin', rootin-tootin eraser cleaners. Hillary is lookin righter by the day.
I guarantee you somewhere in Kentucky today a child was sexually assaulted that was left at home because there was nobody there to watch them. I guarantee you somewhere today a child was physically harmed or ingested poison because they were home alone because a single parent didn't have any money to take care of them.

13 April 2018

The Case for Public Goods

Since Orange Julius Caesar is the illegitimate love child of Ayn Rand and Benito Mussolini, we've seen (I'm talkin Pruitt, Ryan, et al) the rise of Social Darwinism to never attained heights. Which brings us to this "study".
When curing a disease with gene therapy is bad business

The answer, naturally, is that such science has no business being a business. Especially in the cited cases where the "cures" are for truly rare diseases, and not the faux types which Pharma is jumping into with both feet.

So, where's the moolah going to come from?
Novartis's projections that the treatment could bring in several billion a year in revenue also suggest that the company might charge unheard-of prices, perhaps $2.25 million according to Wall Street bankers.

Society as a whole, through whatever damn gummint insurance exists and "taxing" the privately insured, should shift mountains of money for some basic science?? Time to wake up and smell the coffee. There are public goods, and there's no benefit to piling on gobs of empty profit to the price. The science will out, no matter.

09 April 2018

The End of The World as We Know It - part the second

In today's news
According to Mintel's research, 43 percent of adults eat cereal as a snack at home. Of people who eat cereal, 30 percent choose cereal that tastes good regardless of how nutritious it is.

Stupid is as stupid does. Or as Mrs. Darcy says at the end of that 'Law and Order' episode,
Girl, you're as dumb as a sack of hair.

R.U.R. - part the second

The first installment in what is now another series of data analysis made this point:
The standard whipping boy of the lunatic right, who are clearly conflicted, is the unionized auto worker. On the one hand, they've spent decades demonizing such folks, just the Rust Belt angry white folks who're now out of work. But, now of course, Kim Jong-Don claims that he's their savior. Baloney, of course. Here's a detailed analysis of the way the world really was, at the time of the auto rescue.
A final note on all this: Labor costs only account for about 10 percent of the cost of producing a vehicle.

Today we get the news that Der Trumper Bankster, aka John Cryan CEO du Deutsche Bank, is out the door. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy. But, he's not the only one likely to get FIREd in the coming times. Last fall, we heard this:
AI has, however, piled pressure on costs by automating mundane and repetitive tasks. The implication is that employees like the accountants singled out by Cryan as "doing work like robots" are living on borrowed time.

Which raises that nasty existential question yet again: if high-value, high-wage, high-education FIRE jobs are on the bonfire, how is it that education is the key to prosperity? Will we really need millions of new EEs in the coming years? And if so, can your average MBA actually earn the lowly BSEE? My wild ass guess? Not in a million years. It's that Pareto gut punch, yet again.

08 April 2018

The Asymptote of Progress - part the seventh

Another note of asymptote existence. Anandtech just reviewed the latest SSD from Western Digital. For the first time in a while, they implemented their own controller. One of the comments complained that the review didn't reveal the entire design/implementation of said controller. Billy Tallis replied (in part):
We asked repeatedly, and all we could get was that it isn't RISC-V. But every other NVMe controller used in consumer SSDs uses Cortex-R, and there's no reason to suspect WD is doing anything different. There aren't many alternatives.

Which comment points to, at least, two asymptotic factors:
1) CPU availability (not the whole controllers, of which there are legion) boils down to something ARM or RISC-V
and
2) The designers assert that new principles are becoming rare in instruction set design, as the most successful designs of the last forty years have become increasingly similar. Of those that failed, most did so because their sponsoring companies failed commercially, not because the instruction sets were poor technically. So, a well-designed open instruction set designed using well-established principles should attract long-term support by many vendors.

That second is from the wiki article on RISC-V. This is the quote's link. That old Zeno problem, stepping halfway to the wall. Or as stated in recent missives, CPU is a manifestation of maths, and in the end there will be one "best" resolution to a maths problem. You really should read the whole thing. One, therefore, might wonder how much microarchitecture "evolution" is pointless wheel spinning?
If you are one of the few hardware or software developers out there who still think that instruction set architectures, reduced (RISC) or complex (CISC), have any significant effect on the power, energy or performance of your processor-based designs, forget it.
Not to say that engineering of chip production has hit the wall (it is close, though). (And an amusing stackoverflow discussion.)

The commoditization of even CPU and OS might lead one to ask the next question. What becomes the high-value/high-wage occupations? Do we really need to repeat the fiasco of FIRE burning down the global economy? But if real science/engineering becomes unnecessary (in the creation and production of consumer goods; cosmology need not apply), how should we educate all those little grey cells (yes, that's not original, and you should look it up) for what sorts of work? The soft questions are always the most difficult to answer.

And, it turns out, that RISC-V machines are being made. Not all is peaches and cream, naturally. A short tour of the innterTubes will dig up criticism. But CPU was, is, and always will be a manifestation of maths, and as every other type of maths, there's one best way to do it. Guido says so.

06 April 2018

Parts is Parts

"Parts is parts"
-- Wendy's ad making fun of Mickey D

I've been waiting for some time for the primetime pundits to figure something out. Which is that much of China's "exports" to the USofA isn't visible as such. So today, (I hate) Neil Irwin and Paul Krugman both point to the real issue. Which is that red-blooded, God fearing American corporations use Chinese labor and capital to a significant extent. That iPhone is a Chinese "import", even as Apple is an "American" company.

Irwin:
When Apple assembles an iPhone in Zhengzhou and sells it in Shanghai, that doesn't count as international trade, though the profits accrue to the benefit of a California-based company. The Chinese government has any number of tools to try to weaken that business if it wishes. It could decide that phones made by a foreign company are a national security threat, or shut down plants because of minor regulatory problems.

Krugman:
China is the Great Assembler: it's where components from other countries, like Japan and South Korea, are put together into consumer products for the U.S. market. So a lot of what we import from China is really produced elsewhere.

Just as American capital fled New England for the Rebel South, and then Mexico; they now decamp to China. The impact on American labor is not subtle, which fact played into Orange Julius Caesar's paranoid mind (note to self: some praise paranoia), and he lied on it to the Throne. As previously noted, the USofA no longer has the raw materials to make primary steel or aluminum in quantity. The salvation of redundant coal miners and steel workers is socialism. Taxing, which is what tariffs do (just read up Smoot-Hawley), just makes things worse for everyone. The right wingnuts, naturally, cry "but Pareto says you can't redistribute!!". There are only two choices; 1) let them perish or 2) support them. Socialism makes the support explicit and efficient. Tariffs and other market meddling only rewards the 1%, mostly.

Here's some arithmetic about the issue (2011):
[T]he total wholesale value of the iPhone — for the 3G model it was about $180 — goes on the Chinese import side of the trade ledger. As a result, says economist Rob Feenstra of the University of California, Davis, "The U.S. trade deficit with China tends to be exaggerated."
...
In a much-talked-about paper, Chinese economist Yuqing Xing took a stab at the figure. "If you look at the manufacturing costs, China's contribution is $6.50."
He says that figure represents the actual cost of assembling each iPhone. And he concludes that if that number were used instead of the entire wholesale cost, the U.S. trade deficit with China would shrink by roughly $2 billion.

So, we know that the net Chinese imports, and by net we mean product fully created within China with Chinese materials and capital and labor, is far less than the $375 billion (yes, Orange Julius Caesar brays $500 billion) that even the mainstream pundits state.

The moral of the story: figures don't lie by liars figure.