23 January 2017

The Asymptote of Progress - part the first

A continuing theme here has been exemplified by Gordon's book, which thesis was obvious to your humble servant long before the book was published. I expect, given this missive's title, more such.

On various forums, I've been the Debby Downer when the discussion turns to predicting future tech. Since much of such tech is mobile and semiconductor driven. And that means, perforce, battery driven. More function demands more power. Give me Power!!! And I've had the temerity to point out that battery power density hasn't moved much, certainly not on the order of magnitude scale, in a very long time. The counter argument has been, 'well, as nodes get smaller, they get more power efficient, so stable power availability doesn't make so much difference'. But we know that as nodes get smaller leakage and capacitance control go from nuisance to significant.
There are other issues. "The primary challenges will be contact resistance reduction and channel mobility improvement for better performance," Lam's Pan said. "We also need innovations to reduce parasitic capacitance."

Even if smaller nodes can be made, why would you?
In fact, it costs $271 million to design a 7nm system-on-a-chip, which is about nine times the cost to design a 28nm device, according to Gartner. "Not that many people can afford to (design chips at 10nm and 7nm) unless they have a high-volume runner and can see a return-on-investment," said Samuel Wang, an analyst with Gartner.
Ah, that old average cost, "we lose money on each widget, but make it up with volume" meme.

Or,
It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. ... It is an area which we call the Asymptote Zone.
[sorry about that, Rod]

Which brings us to today's autopsy of Samsung's burning batteries. In an effort to provide the oomph needed to drive function, they slid through the asymptote and over the cliff.
For batteries from both companies, the use of high-energy density cells increased the risk for thermal runaway during a short circuit, especially when the battery was in a high state of charge.

The NYT, on the other hand, notes (hehe) that design issues existed as well.
But battery scientists, including those who spoke at the announcement, said aggressive decisions in designing the batteries made problems more likely. Pushing to make the battery thinner and more powerful, Samsung opted for an exceptionally thin separator in its battery. As the critical component that separates the positive and negative electrodes in a battery, separators can cause fires if they break down or contain flaws.

While the tale is primarily one of manufacturing FUBAR, this was all driven by the demand for yet more power out of a shrinking volume envelope. It all started with Jobs (let's blame Steve; we do for everything else that goes sideways) tossing a prototype iPod into an aquarium, seeing the bubbles, demanded that said air spaces be eliminated. "Make it smaller."

You can't "alternative facts" your way around the asymptote.

Addicted to Big Data

Well, just got back from my dead trees NYT and coffee, and opened up my home page (CBS News), and see this item titled:

A way to predict who'll become a drug addict


So, I says to me self: "just another Trumpista; white uneducated unskilled guy". Well, yeah when I got about half way through came this -
A typical person with a chronic injury who might become dependent could be a middle-aged white male factory worker with a bad back.

Of course, he's just the guy who'll be tossed off Obamacare by King Donald, either explicitly or through the simple expedient of very much higher prices.

Travelers isn't in it to be nice, but to cut costs. Is this a good use of Big Data? May be. Would be good to know what the false positive rate is: how many are "encouraged" to not use opiates but really should be?

Is there some correlation between opioid addiction and Trump addiction? Well....

Of course, the Brits have the gonads to call a spade, a spade
There are strong correlations in most of the key states between a swing in favour of Trump and counties with lower income earners, white population, older voters, people with less education and a greater rural population.

IOW, stupid shit kicking white trash are the government. swell.

20 January 2017

Pig Latin

What King Donald said:
We are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the people.

What he really said:
The Red states will take every last nickel left in the Blue states, so they can handle snakes and fuck their sisters.

19 January 2017

Thought for The Day - 19 January 2017

OK, Donald, here's the last week you can blame Obambi for the USofA's troubles.
In the week ending January 14, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 234,000, a decrease of 15,000 from
the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 2,000 from 247,000 to 249,000.

This week is your week, and the next few until you're impeached. Put your money where your mouth is. Create 90210 jobs for all those shit kicking, snake handling, poorly educated, old white folks (you know, the ones with ancestors that frolicked with dinosaurs) in the empty states. I dare you.

18 January 2017

The Death of The Financial Quant

In a couple of days, co-incident with some other ceremony of note, we will have the internment (or pyre, whichever you prefer) of the financial quant. RIP. For, with the ascendance of The Donald to the throne, the adage, "what matters is who you know, not what you know" will be all that does matter.

The country, from municipalities to DC, is now under the thumb of the lunatic right. Check history, and you'll see the results: depression, deflation, and deprivation for the majority. Here's a review; the Wiki, too. You'll see that macro-economic carnage follows the lunatic right around like a sick puppy. What both reviews miss is that when the Senate has been in Republican hands with a Democrat in the White House, they've used the cloture rule to impose de facto control, so control of Washington is even more stark than the numbers show. Will the Democrats grow a set of gonads, and do the same to protect their constituents (many of whom were stupid enough to vote against their own best interest)? One can hope. The root problem: the lunatic right has always been in thrall to Rand (even before she put mania to page), which means a determination to destroy governance, they seek anarchy which allows the rich to pummel the rest; while the left has always believed that governance was not only necessary but beneficial, at least for the majority. See, for example
Pruitt doesn't see it that way. In a March 2015 column he co-wrote with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul for The Hill, Pruitt called the Clean Water Rule "the greatest blow to private property rights the modern era has seen." Pruitt and Rand maintain that states should be responsible for protecting the environment within their respective borders, not the federal government. Never mind that air and water pollution do not honor political boundaries and state legislatures are all too often dominated by corporate interests.
Externalities matter, if governance is a true priority.

So, what to expect? Well, tax cuts for the rich, which will trickle down, of course. Don't they always? Killing the ACA will have, as the Brits say, knock-on effects. Over the last few decades, FIRE and healthcare have been the dominant growth sectors.
Health care and real estate dominate a list of the country's 15 most profitable privately-held businesses, according to a report released Wednesday by Sageworks, a financial information company.

So, kill the ACA (and give back the tax moneys to the rich which help support it), and you reward the money changers. What can we expect if more moolah is gifted on the 1% and .1%? Let's look at recent history. The DotBomb happened because there was excess idle moolah lying around, looking for some place to inhabit. Well, the InnterTubes was obviously an easy way to make money, so a lot of that idle money flooded in. Then it became clear that any old web site wouldn't be a money printing machine, and so Kaboom!!! But, all that idle money pile kept growing. It looked for good return, but less risk than that damned InnterTubes thing. What might that be? Well, of course!! Why didn't they think of it sooner?? Residential mortgages had always been safe, and paid more than Treasuries ever did. But, on their own, they're hard to trade, so the mortgage companies and banks figured out how to bundle them up into tradeable securities. Tada!!! But, another but, the ever growing pile of moolah meant a level of aggregate demand for these securities far in excess of what traditional banking practice could produce as input into the sausage factory of securitization. So, the mortgage companies invented liar loans, and thus a better supply of raw meat for the sausage machines.

We don't, so long as the Fed doesn't fall into the hands of the more rabid Goldman Sachs alums, have that avenue anymore. The outcome will be more of the same; ever more moolah from the 1% and .1% chasing Treasuries (and thus, long term interest rates down), low to non- inflation since the 99% have ever less money, and thus low growth because macro-economic growth only happens when the middle class has most of the current and growing money. It's all about aggregate demand. If you want growth you have to have growth in aggregate demand (Laffer be damned). And if you want that, most of the money has to be in the hands of folks who both want and need to spend it. The 1% and .1% sit on their idle money, and demand that the damn gummint raise interest rates to at least 10% so they can grow their idle pile ever higher. They don't spend it and they don't invest in productive capital. Well, if such capital kills off a bunch of jobs, then may be.

But what will move the economy, for better or worse, won't be in the data, but in the policy events which dub the winners and execute the losers. Now, one might argue that this has always been true, and financial quants still managed to find employment. To some extent that's true. It's also true that a good deal of their effort was devoted to circumventing the rules of engagement: liar loans, LIBOR fiddling, London Whale, security ratings, and the like. It's just that the next few years, until The Donald is tossed out along with enough Republicans, will be utterly corrupt. One might be able to game that, of course, but that's not traditional quant.

So, as has been asserted here more than once, events drive the data. Data doesn't drive events, mostly. Detecting money flow changes, before the herd, can make you a lot of moolah. But the retail plunger doesn't have access to the data and compute cycles needed to benefit.

And, for the cherry on top, here's the maps of fat people in the USofA. You'll not be surprised that stupid and fat and Red all go together.
Here are the 10 states with the highest obesity rates.

1. Louisiana: 36.2%
2. Alabama: 35.6%
2. Mississippi: 35.6%
2. West Virginia: 35.6%
5. Kentucky: 34.6%
6. Arkansas: 34.5%
7. Kansas: 34.2%
8. Oklahoma: 33.9%
9. Tennessee: 33.8%
10. Missouri: 32.4%
10. Texas: 32.4%

11 January 2017

Thought For The Day - 11 January 2017

Given the "Access Hollywood" material, doesn't the notion of Russian honey traps make perfect sense? Two gigantic dots with a really short line betwixt them. So far, I've not heard or seen any of the dishonest media point out this obvious fact.

10 January 2017

The Real Villian

On and off, the thread of how the Great Recession came to be appears in these endeavors. The lunatic Right has, from the beginning, sought to blame Bill Clinton, long out of office when the boom started, much more so when it collapsed, and the Community Reinvestment Act (1977!). This attempt has always been propaganda, seeking to shift blame from the laissez faire W. banksters to inner city dark folks trying to buy a house. Various studies have been done over the years, and many have been mentioned here. All have put the lie to such narrative. The evil was in the white suburbs, non-bank mortgagers (CountryWide), and private mortgage insurers (MGIC). Doesn't fit the lunatic right's propaganda, of course.

Today, Mark Thoma reviews yet another study, from the Sloan School (that's MIT, by the way; another elite Eastern establishment). The Great Recession wasn't caused by poor folk trying to have a home, but by middle income white folks in white suburbs in sunny climes (Florida, Nevada, California, mostly) looking to flip McMansions that were experiencing rocketing prices. Caused by the demand for securitization instruments demanded by the Giant Pool of Money seeking high return on low risk. "Money for nuthin and the chicks are free."

The comments are replete with lunatic rightwingers bleating loudly. As it ever was.