31 March 2018

Thought for the day - 31 March 2018

Am I the last person on earth to be sick and tired of **everything** being sold as 'curated'? It doesn't even mean anything.

30 March 2018

The Left Behind [update]

The Orange Julius Caesar zealots have a world of grievances, primary among them that the coastal Blue States get all the breaks while they live in backwoods poverty. The reason, which they steadfastly refuse to admit, is that they have, from the beginning of the USofA, voted for fascist governments in their states. Which governments certainly treat education as a burden on the taxpayers. Since such states have radical upward income distributions, the rich get their own private schools while the rest get the crumbs.

Well, another Red state is beginning to understand that teachers are an enemy of the state. So to speak.
Shoring up the pension system has been a priority of [Republican governor Matt] Bevin's since taking office in 2015. But his efforts have met with difficulties. Thousands of teachers and public workers marched recently at the Capitol, and lawmakers balked under the pressure. Frustrated, Bevin called opponents of his plan "selfish" and "willfully ill-informed." His comments earned rebukes from Republican legislative leaders and galvanized the opposition.

As is usual with rightwing bait and switch, Kentucky didn't bother to put money into the pension fund along the way, too much taxpayer money of course, so now it has an actuarial shortfall of $41 billion. Or so. Keep 'em stupid and breeding.

[update]
Well, it turns out that most folks (although I'll guess that 'most' skews from Blue areas) understand that teaching is a short-changed occupation.
but Democrats (77 percent) and independents (69 percent) are more likely to say this than Republicans (54 percent).

28 March 2018

Sheeple

It should be getting clearer to civilians that all those "free" apps out there on the innterTubes aren't for them. They aren't the clients, but the product. Throughout history, the 1% have sought to keep the 99% in check. Orwell's greatest dissembling was his re-inforcing the notion that Big Brother-ism would be brought by the damn gummint. Orange Julius Caesar has said that he couldn't even collude with the rest of his campaign, much less the Russians. It appears that Manafort and Gates sure could.
Documents filed by special counsel prosecutors reveal that former Trump deputy campaign chairman Richard Gates was knowingly working with an individual with ties to Russian intelligence during the campaign, CBS News Paula Reid reports. In a late Tuesday court filing late, the special counsel alleged that this unnamed person worked for one of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's companies and was in touch with Gates in September and October 2016.

Big Brother is the 1% and corporations. And this was demonstrated years before most humans currently on the planet were born. In 1957, Vance Packard exposed the power of Madison Avenue. The book isn't a comedy. The social network cabal of today is advertising of Packard's day on giga-steroids. Cambridge Analytica is just the top of that totem pole. So far.
Packard explores the use of consumer motivational research and other psychological techniques, including depth psychology and subliminal tactics, by advertisers to manipulate expectations and induce desire for products, particularly in the American postwar era. He identified eight "compelling needs" that advertisers promise products will fulfill.

Just the sort of psychographic analytics that Cambridge Analytica claims to peddle.

Doesn't that sound a bit like "Make America White Again"? Of course it does. And documented 60 years ago.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

You want to be a quant? Check your morals at the door. Just do it.

26 March 2018

The Sad Truth

One doesn't often see the pharma press actually be fully honest. Turns out that Merrimack Pharmaceuticals recently upped the sample size of a trial. The share dipped significantly; relative to 1Y high, nearly crashed. Here's an explanation:
The company plans to increase the number of participants to 100 from 80 citing rapid enrollment and "robust clinical interest." Frequently, however, a sponsor increases enrollment to improve the chances of a statistically valid result.

Ooo! Did baby bump his head on the floor?

22 March 2018

Here Come Da Judge

More gaga news.
In addition to the new dual-rank 64 GB RDIMM module, Samsung is set to develop quad-ranked 128 GB RDIMMs and octal-ranked 256 GB LRDIMMs. Today's servers running AMD's EPYC or Intel's Xeon Scalable M-suffixed processors feature 12 or 16 memory slots - if the processors were capable of fitting all 256 GB modules, this could lead up to 4 TB per socket. This should be a massive advantage for applications like in-memory databases, virtual desktop infrastructure, and so on.
[my bold]

Such a machine, though costing a bit more than a generic white-box, could handle 99.44% of R use case data sets without the onerous cost of SAS/SPSS. I suspect such a machine could pay for itself in software license cost avoidance in a year or two?

21 March 2018

Iron Fisted Rule

Regular reader may recall a recent missive offering data on iron and aluminum ore reserves here in the USofA. It is not a comforting picture for those eager to return to the 19th century's industrial model. Today, Eduardo Porter reports on further research regarding tariffs on steel and aluminum vis-a-vis their use. The main point being: how many jobs are affected by tariffs in steel making and steel using industry. Not surprising, the numbers still say that the USofA workers (net, all of them) take it in the neck as do consumers of USofA manufactures.
For every job in Tupelo producing steel or aluminum, there are 200 jobs in industries that consume them that could be put at risk as tariffs push up the prices of these metals, according to research from Jacob Whiton and Mark Muro of the Brookings Institution.
Take a look at those colorful maps: the redneck knuckleheads, once again, voted for suicide. They don't need no education.

This finding is not an outlier, by any means. Total employment in steel and aluminum has been dropping like a rock since the end of WWII, when we gobbled up vast quantities of the Mesabi Range ore
While the Mesabi Range had single-handedly supplied the iron for steel during World War II, it essentially dug its own grave. The Range totaled output of over 188 million tons of ore during the course of the war, and exhausted itself of natural hematite until the process of making taconite into iron was discovered into the 50's and 60's. The Mesabi Range lived like a star, dimly lighting the industry, and going supernova when it was most needed, provided for the country and gave everything it had until it had nothing left. In being the key for us winning the war, the Mesabi Range gave its life force, becoming just another casualty of the war.

The USGS has a report on the levels of mining, production, and reserves. It agrees with other data from that previous missive.

Stupid people make stupid choices. That fact has always, and will always, be true.

16 March 2018

Shame

There are times when one couldn't say it better (scroll to 3:11 PM - 14 Mar 2018):
17 people die in a high school and a month later there's a nationwide protest to get the attention of lawmakers. One dog dies on an airplane and there's a bill in the Senate rectifying it within 48 hours.

As pointed out here many times, this is of a piece with HRC's "deplorables" and 'the states I won are 65% of GDP', IOW, the left behind knuckleheads are in that situation just because they insist on electing fascist governments. The coastal states mostly do otherwise. You elect government that treats you like chattel, you'll be left behind. And it's your fault.

HRC has been excoriated for telling the truth, even by pundit Democrats. The truth hurts some times.

14 March 2018

Jobs R Us

Here's the headline: "Toys "R" Us liquidation could cost tens of thousands of jobs"
Toys "R" Us is expected to start court proceedings to liquidate as soon as Thursday. That's a first legal step in moving to close all of its 850 brick-and-mortar stores in the U.S. -- and to lay off up to 33,000 workers.

So, let's see if Orange Julius Caesar thinks they're worth saving; the way coal miners and steel workers are. Ya think may be not????

13 March 2018

Predestination - part the second

Ben Casselman's at it again. As regular reader may recall, these missives have pointed out that macro and micro data are very much brothers from different mothers. Micro data is, within a teeny epsilon, population while macro is samples. Today's piece is filled with quotes from important pundits, which make the points seen here.

First
"We have trouble measuring any of these things," said Tara Sinclair, an economist at George Washington University and for the job-search site Indeed. "This is definitely one of those situations where you can feed in the data and get out whatever response you're looking for."

IOW, the wiggle room in the data is sufficiently large that one can make any argument, plausible or not. Just take a look at the technical section of the Monthly Report to see the admission that the numbers are of Gumby.
BLS analyses are generally conducted at the 90-percent level of confidence.

For example, the confidence interval for the monthly change in total nonfarm
employment from the establishment survey is on the order of plus or minus 115,000.

Let that warm and fuzzy sink in. OK, back to Casselman's quotes.

Second
Despite the familiarity of the average hourly earnings figure, however, economists say that it is among the least reliable indicators, especially in the short run.

Third
Most government statistics, for instance, have failed to adapt to the rise of the so-called gig economy and other trends that are changing the relationship between companies and workers. The hourly earnings measure in the monthly jobs report excludes Uber drivers and similar contractors.

Now, does that bit of missing data mean; A) higher earning folks are being missed or B) lower earning folks are being missed? The answer, naturally, is B. IOW, the data/report are, to an unknown degree, rosy.

Fourth
Moreover, Americans are increasingly refusing to respond to government surveys. The response rate to the monthly Current Population Survey, the data source that underlies the unemployment rate and many other key statistics, has eroded in recent years. Of the households that do respond, about a third refuse to provide information about their earnings, a rate much higher than for most other questions. Similar problems have affected other government and private-sector surveys.

Without accurate macro data, all we get is demogogic policies. Demagogues prefer to ignore data, but when the data is known to be wonky, pushback gets tougher.

08 March 2018

Blind Pundits

Yet another case where Red/Blue is being misconstrued, and over an issue of some significance. Here's a report on 'electric' cars. With this assertion:
Out of the top 10 states for new and used hybrid, plug-in hybrid and all-electric cars, only two -- Arizona and Utah -- voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, according to an analysis of 2017 auto sales from from research site iSeeCars.com.

I don't doubt that for a second. But it would be helpful to readers seeking to understand WHY that is true to explore the motivation. As they say in the real estate business, it's location, location, location.

At no time in the text is it offered that electric/micro cars only make sense in urban areas. If you have to drive 100 miles to the grocery store, and the only charging station would be the one in your garage (if you actually bought an 'electric' car), you're not likely to buy one. States which, in toto, vote Blue are ones where cities overwhelm empty counties. Red, the other way round. Why won't mainstream pundits figure this out?? I guess it's too sophisticated to actually think about a subject, and look at the data.

03 March 2018

Yes Ore No

To paraphrase Orange Julius Caesar, "if you don't have iron ore and bauxite, you don't have steel or aluminum". And, one might add, to turn bauxite into aluminum eats prodigious amounts of electricity.
CSIRO calculate that the embodied energy (all the energy used to make the material) for aluminium is 211 GJ per tonne, compared to 22.7 GJ per tonne for steel.

Not for nothing, our economy would rather burn all that electricity on bitcoins. Make sense to you?

As to base ore endowment, the USofA has nearly no bauxite and has depleted iron ore to about the noise level. Without imports, we don't have industry.

Here's iron reserves. And, bauxite; you're not missing something, the USofA isn't listed.
However, since 1981, none of the bauxite mined in the US was used to make metallic aluminium. US bauxite is instead used for abrasives, high-temperature refractory materials, and as a high-strength proppant for hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells.

Besides announcing tariffs while "unglued", there really, really isn't viable US supply. Moron.

We Don't Need No Education

The West Virginia teachers remain on strike. About time that someone in the Empty States takes a stand. From the beginning of these endeavors, it's been asserted that there's a reason they have been "left behind", and it hasn't been a conspiracy among the elite Eastern intellectuals and nattering nabobs of negativism. It has been the Right Wingnuts elected by the residents of the Empty States who treat said residents as indentured servants. And those folks accept the situation blindly.

It should come as no surprise that West Virginia ranks at the bottom, topping only a few other Empty Red States. Keep 'em stupid and breeding. Works OK, for the Marie Antoinette Class when your economy is largely agrarian/extractive. Not so much in the 21st century. Also not surprising that Orange Julius Caesar promised these morons that he'd send the country back to the 19th century. And they bought it. Stupid is as stupid does.

It's not a coincidence that the prosperous coastal Blue States are closer to socialist than social Darwinist. The West Virginia teachers are figuring it out.

01 March 2018

The Asymptote of Progress - part the sixth

As mentioned a few times, there's an advantage to having a NYT press pass: you get great quotes from intelligent folks. And so it is today with some reporting from Binyamin Appelbaum. The piece is, superficially, about the cost of mining bitcoin and follows on previous reporting from many sources. But it's really about the dirth of productive investing venues. In other words, the Asymptote of Progress©.
While Bitcoin mining may not be labor intensive, it diverts time, energy and capital from other, more productive activities that economists say could fuel faster growth.

"It appears that much of our evolving digital infrastructure is devoted to activities, like the proliferation of cybercoins, that are worse than frivolous," said James McAndrews, the former head of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Where is the next steam engine??

The driving notion behind bitcoin is the blockchain, naturally. And, naturally, it's spiffy spanking new. Well, not so much. Databases have been based on, and some are explicitly as datastores, append-only data files. Here's a famous one. Current RDBMS keep their data in immutable transaction logs. As you might expect, that's just a blockchain. Zebra skips the nicety of writing out to user-facing tables/files, and just keeps the log. Blockchain is nothing more. The use of cryptokeys as pointers is a minor tweek.

As mentioned here a few times. The Asymptote of Progress© forces the Marie Antoinette Class into odd places. On the one hand, there's risk averse Treasuries. On the other, all manner of MeToo Corps and crazy shit.

The problem with keeping only the translog as the datastore is that processing is a royal pain.
But Bitcoin remains so hard to use that a major Bitcoin conference in January had to stop accepting Bitcoin. It is, in practice, a speculative investment, like gold. And Tyler Cowen, an economist at George Mason University, said mining gold was a better use of resources, because even if it lost value, it could be used to fill teeth.

Oops!!!