29 December 2017

Spinning Wheel [update]

It's deja vu all over again. Anandtech reports on a "new" Seagate HDD with heads split between two arm sets. The comments don't think much of the idea. Nor do I. If only because it's a lousy implementation of an ancient innovation. My lower brain stem memory told me that mainframe DASD routinely had multiple arm sets, way back when.

So, off to the innterTubes for some documentation. A few minutes found this paper, from 2008.
A later work [45] explored the possibility of having multiple arms that are capable of moving independently, and the IBM 3380, which was a 4-actuator drive released in 1980 for the IBM System/370, embodied this feature.
[this is the note: [45] A. J. Smith. On the effectiveness of buffered and multiple arm disks. In Proceedings of the
International Symposium Computer architecture (ISCA), pages 242-248, 1978.]

It's not unimportant that the IBM mainframes use CKD storage protocol at the time such drives were in use (now emulated on hard-formated PC HDD).

And, here's the Godzilla of HDD. I knew there was such a beast. With CKD, head per track has lots o benefit.
Read/write heads were fixed in position over each track. That eliminated seek time and contributed substantially to system performance. Data could be written at rates up to 3 million bytes per second.

That rate was in 1970.

I Told You So - 29 December 2017

Many's the time I've asserted that Orange Julius Caesar is just a creeping dictator. Or, creepy dictator. Well, now he admits it:
I know the details of taxes better than anybody. Better than the greatest C.P.A. I know the details of health care better than most, better than most.
"Nobody knew health care could be so complicated."
Lying on demand is a dictator's best quality.

"I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department."

Spoken like a true dictator.

28 December 2017

Thought for the Day - 28 December 2017

Blockchain??? Well, just MVCC, but no VACUUM. How much fun will that be?

22 December 2017

Now, It's Your Turn

One might fairly say that Orange Julius Caesar has had a year, nearly, of riding on Obambi's economic coattails. So, here's what briefing.com had to say just now (8:33 am):
Just in, personal income climbed 0.3% in November (Briefing.com consensus +0.4%) following an unrevised increase of 0.4% in October. Meanwhile, personal spending rose 0.6% in November (Briefing.com consensus +0.4%), up from a revised increase of 0.2% in October (from 0.3%).

The PCE Price Index increased 0.2% in November (Briefing.com consensus +0.3%), while the core PCE Price Index, which excludes food and energy, increased 0.1% (Briefing.com consensus +0.1%). Year-over-year, the core PCE Price Index is up 1.5%.

November durable goods orders increased 1.3%, which is worse than the 2.1% increase expected by the Briefing.com consensus. The prior month's reading was revised to -0.4% from -1.2%. Excluding transportation, durable orders decreased 0.1% (Briefing.com consensus +0.4%) to follow the prior month's revised increase of 1.3% (from 0.4%).

So, giving away the Damn Gummint's tax money to the billionaires will surely cause the economy to rocket. Won't it????

Dat slope, it be slippery when dares nuttin but greased kiddie slide betwixt youself and dat Pit. And dat Pendulum, it do be swingin. Best keep yo neck out de way.

Or as the Wicked Witch of The West put it: "I'm melting!!"

21 December 2017

Bayes at the Moon - part the fourth

Gentle reader likely recalls the many times these missives have warned that Bayes is fundamentally evil, and should never be used in medicine. Luckily the latest scam has failed.
... BAN2401, an anti-amyloid beta protofibril antibody, did not meet the criteria for success based on a Bayesian analysis at 12 months as the primary endpoint in an 856-patient Phase II clinical study (Study 201).

Which report includes this gem
"By using Bayesian statistics in this uniquely-designed trial we had hoped that it would enable us to demonstrate clinical success faster than more traditional study designs. We now await the final study analysis which will be conducted after 18 months of treatment, which represents an amount of treatment time that is considered as appropriate for assessing efficacy in disease modifying agents for Alzheimer's disease," said Lynn Kramer, MD, Chief Clinical Officer and Chief Medical Officer, Neurology Business Group, Eisai.
[my emphasis]

Now, why would Bayes analysis generate stat sig faster? After all, the real efficacy is purely a function of the compound, not the method of analysis. In particular, there's a finite amount of information in the trial data. Bayes can't (well, not legitimately anyway) add any information. Well, investigators can fiddle with the priors, naturally. Obviously, that didn't work this time.


20 December 2017

Darwin In Action

The Tea Baggers incessantly bray that the "free market" solves all ills. So, today we find that DeVos is paying back her donors.
Students who attended for-profit colleges filed nearly 99 percent of the requests for student loan forgiveness alleging fraud, according to [The Century Foundation] the [sic] a liberal-leaning think tank.

Education should be priced at the students' additional life time earnings, discounted.

19 December 2017


Bust Your Stein!!

During last night's MSNBC pundit marathon, one of them off-camera announced that Jill Stein had come into view. There, again, was the still photo from the 2015 RT meet with Putin and Flynn, with Stein's profile in the foreground. Today, there's real news. The main point made by the pundit was that Stein cost Hillary the election, since the difference between Hillary and Orange Julius Caesar in the three Blue states (PA, MI, WI) was less than Stein's votes. Well, yes. But...

Not quite. Here's the Wiki table of the results. Note that Johnson polled about 3 times as many votes as Stein nationally and he got more votes than she did in each state. The net (or gross, as you prefer) is that Trump got ~63,000,000 and NotTrump got ~71,000,000. And most of that difference was Johnson+Stein (Johnson alone eclipsed Hillary's margin), not Hillary.

What would have happened if there were no Johnson or Stein? As a first approximation, let's assume that Johnson voters would vote for Orange Julius Caesar and Stein for Hillary. Some of both would have not voted, naturally, but this is a speculative thought experiment.

So far as the Three Blue States go, yes, Stein "took" enough away from Hillary to make up the difference with Orange Julius Caesar. But, of course, Johnson polled about 3 times the vote as Stein in those states, so having no third-party votes wouldn't have changed the result.

The following states would have flipped.

To Orange Julius Caesar:
Maine (at-lg.)
New Hampshire

To Hillary:

In the end, Hillary was, net, the benficiary of third-party, just not enough.

15 December 2017

Deja Vu All Over Again - part the second

As regular reader may remember, I've told the tale of my eclectic journey through the data worlds. One of those legs involved an ancient (even at the time I used it in the late 80s) TI-990 based VAR software for the construction industry. Even more odd, this company also had a side-line business in mechanical contracting parts, aka plumbing, which ran an application on a separate machine run by TI's then single chip version of that same 990. The contracting software vendor is defunct, while the wholesale application kind of still exists; the company's been bought and the software converted to normal chips and languages. I eventually migrated the company to (again) two applications running on an RS-6000/AIX and Progress. Since Progress wasn't/isn't especially relational while its 4GL is COBOL/BASIC-ish, and thus schemas were subordinate to code, integration wasn't as simple as falling off a log, but it worked. And last I talked with the folks, still running.

So, what has all of that got to do with today, you might ask? As well you might. Well, here's some of the news.
There are dozens of companies experimenting with ISC and early results look quite promising: offloading select tasks from CPU to SSDs can reduce latencies by a factor of 2-3 while also decreasing power consumption. The key purpose of ISC is to reduce (or even avoid) "expensive" data transfers from a storage device to a processor by performing computing operations on the former. Latency reductions will be crucial in the looming 5G era, especially for edge computing environments.

So, we have non-volatile DIMMs (somewhere, sometime in the future) and now a CPU that talks to SSD/foo skipping memory altogether. And that's not sort of new.

Here's the point of the 990 (from the Wiki):
The TI-990 had a unique concept that registers are stored in memory and are referred to through a hard register called the Workspace Pointer. The concept behind the workspace is that main memory was based on the new semiconductor RAM chips that TI had developed and ran at the same speed as the CPU. This meant that it didn't matter if the "registers" were real registers in the CPU or represented in memory. When the Workspace Pointer is loaded with a memory address, that address is the origin of the "registers".

There are three hard registers in the 990; the Workspace Pointer (WP), the Program Counter (PC) and the Status register (ST). A context switch entailed the saving and restoring of only the hard registers.

The reason this even made sense was that, in the 70s and 80s when the machine was in wide use, CPU and memory ran about the speed, so skip the middle man. It was a very successful machine among VARs for quite a while. But, as one might suspect, when chips and memory progressed to the point where load/store RISC architectures took off, the 990 was doomed. But the idea of compact circuitry talking directly to its data is not such a bad one. Back to the future?

13 December 2017

Thought for The Day - 13 December 2017

Friday the 13th falls on a Wednesday this month, and offers us this observation:
There's still much that remains unknown about the [Greenland] ice sheet, which at roughly 650,000 square miles is more than twice the size of Texas. The sheet, up to two miles thick, contains enough ice that, if it all melted, would raise oceans around the world by 24 feet.

Can you swim? Not a problem for you or your kids, but what about their kids?

09 December 2017

A Bit of a Problem

Bitcoin's tulip bubble price rise is in the news of late. While mentioned before, some points bear repeating, therefore.

1 - bitcoin, unless those in control change their minds, has a 21 million unit fixed limit. Recent reporting puts total mined ~17 million.
2 - bitcoin availability (per unit time) is halved every 4 years, approximately.
3 - the cost/amount of electricity needed to mine is going up extremely non-linearly.

Put them together, and what do we get? For one thing, some in the techno-geek world think the instant deflation that would ensue when all bitcoin have been mined (again, assuming that the powers that be don't bump the size of the lode) is a good thing. Given the asymptote situation, below, we may get the effect long before all bitcoin are mined.
Once all 21 million bitcoins have been mined, the supply cannot increase — regardless of growing demand. The result of this discrepancy between the supply of and demand for money is a steady and gradual decrease in the general price level, which equates to an equally steady and gradual increase in the purchasing power of money. Therefore, as Bitcoin miners collect transaction fees over time, no matter how large or minute, the funds gain value.

Even math oriented econ types know that deflation is not a benign experience.

Put another way, bitcoin is near/at the flat plane of its asymptote:
It is quite interesting to think about how far bitcoin has come since its inception. With a hard limit of 21 million BTC to be generated by 2140, a lot of people assume there are still a lot of coins to be mined for the next few years. While that is true up to a certain extent, we are getting closer to 80% of the finite supply being brought into circulation already. Said milestone will take place roughly 365 days from now [now being 1 February 2017].

The point being, if you do some back of the napkin arithmetic, that halving the number of new bitcoin/unit time, means you get to really sparse supply for way most of the time they're available. Remember that old conundrum: "if you step half-way to a wall, how many steps does it take to get to the wall? Infinity. And you never get there."

Some have ascribed the recent explosion in bitcoin $$$ value to creeping towards the end of supply. Could be. But, since the rule is to limit, in current period, the number of bitcoin released no matter the number/compute-power-used of miners (and that number is supposed to decrease on a published schedule: halved, appx. each 4 years and that hasn't happened this year), that seems unlikela. The improvement of compute power is also subject to the asymptote of progress, as the ability to create more compute cheaper as we near the limit of node size wanes. Either way, the bubble has been going bonkers recently. At least with gold, it doesn't get harder (mostly) as one empties the lode. The lode just goes dry all at once.

Imagine if we'd spent the money educating the spawn of the Red states, instead? They'd know better than to elect those out to make their lives worse.

If nothing else, bitcoin proves the foolishness of "store of value" in useless "things", including gold. Unless, of course, you want catastrophic (for the 99%, naturally) deflation. Just look at 19th century USofA. Mostly in recession or depression. The Garden of Eden of Freedom.

And it's not trivial to note that security of virtual money may well be (IMHO, is) much less than real. Yes, central banks can debase their paper money by printing with abandon, but that's a purposeful act. Hacking away data, on the other hand, isn't from the point of view of the money. You don't need a fleet of 18-wheelers to spirit away billions of virtual bucks the way you would real bucks or gold. And given the mono-culture that pervades the innterTubes, I expect we'll see yet more of it.

07 December 2017

You Don't See This Every Day

Yes, you don't:
In the trial, treatment for 14 days with SAGE-217 was associated with a statistically significant mean reduction in the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D) 17-Item total score from baseline to Day 15 (the time of the primary endpoint) of 17.6 points for SAGE-217, compared to 10.7 for placebo (p<0.0001).
[my emphasis]

Now, that's a p-value to love.

06 December 2017

New VT-220

Gentle reader has seen here the epithet, New Gold, referring to the US Buck and its effect on all things data. Well, all things in the end. Long ago, in the first essays here, gentle reader was offered the notion that Organic Normal Form™ databases and high bandwidth innterTubes connectivity mean a return to the thrilling days of yesteryear: the central host with all the data and logic over a wire to a (semi?) dumb terminal (VT-220 as example). The real question is whether networks/servers/engines can, in fact, support thousands+ of persistent connections. If so, then just call me Marty McFly. OLTP, modulo Amazon, why yes. Yes, of course.

So, today's news of Always Connected PC battle may mean just that. And I couldn't be happier. The revenge of RDBMS and 5th NF.

04 December 2017

The US of Mississippi

During the fiasco of the Leona Helmsley Memorial Tax Cut for the 1%, I heard some Red State Congressman answer the question about why remove SALT deductions with the bill, which would disproportionately hurt Blue States. His reply was that may be such states shouldn't tax so much. IOW, the whole country should be just like Mississippi: uneducated, unskilled, unhealthy, but God fearing and multiplying like rats. Such a model worked in the 19th century plantation South. Not so much today.

Let's consider what that situation might mean. If you look at this graph, you can see that the Red States all lag the national average in per capita GDP. Not only would the "average" go from $50,000 to $31,000 (that's a 40% drop), but it also means that said Red states lose their market.

Back before the Civil War, there was Bleeding Kansas, what most historians consider the real beginning of the Civil War. It pitted Free Soilers in the soon-to-be state of Kansas against Slavers. The Kansans understood that slaves were cheaper farm help than Freemen, so they went to war over it. The exact same effort is going on now: the Red State Slavers, aka Republicans, intend to impose their model on the rest of us. Since the US Buck is New Gold, even if they win, they lose; who will buy?

03 December 2017

Minority Report, part the fifth

In the continuing saga of creeping dictatorship, we finally get j'accuse from the likes of the American Enterprise Institute.
The failure of Republican members of Congress to resist the anti-democratic behavior of President Trump — including holding not a single hearing on his and his team's kleptocracy — is cringe-worthy. A few Republican senators have spoken up, but occasional words have not been matched by any meaningful deeds. Only conservative intellectuals have acknowledged the bankruptcy of the Republican Party.

So, yes Virgina, there is a USofA in your future. It's just all going to look like Mississippi. One wonders how the bible thumping Red Staters imagine they'll be able to sell all that stuff when there's no body in Blue States with any more moolah than they have. The Achilles heel of slave wage exporting autocracy is finding markets with currencies that are stable and (near?) par with its own. As these essays have said, and more recently so have some mainstream pundits described here, the US Buck is New Gold, so everybody else manages their currency to maximize against it. That's hard to do within the US of Mississippi.

According to a reporter (didn't note the name), the Senate is in the state (yes, a pun) where 40% of the population commands a super-majority. That's already minority rule. Better read your Bible.

02 December 2017

My, How Times Have Changed, Again

That didn't take long. AnandTech reports on Really Bigly DRAM.
The key advantage of 128 GB LRDIMMs is their density. For example, a dual-socket Xeon Scalable platform using the -M suffixed processors, featuring 12 memory slots, can expand the maximum memory size by 2X to 1.5 TB from 768 GB by using 128 GB LRDIMMs over 64 GB LRDIMMs. For DRAM-dependent applications, such as large databases, holding everything in memory is the most important thing for performance.
[my emphasis]

Not that I expect anyone's going to pay me enough to equip my development machine thusly. But still?? What the hell is wrong with 5NF at this point??

01 December 2017

Dirty Harry Speaks

"It's a tax bill for middle class"
-- Orange Julius Caesar

what it actually means
An updated Senate plan to overhaul the U.S. tax code could dramatically raise taxes on households earning between $10,000 to $30,000 starting in 2021, according to new findings released Thursday by the Joint Committee on Taxation.

But being this is a Billionaire's Tax Cut, the most powerful giveaway in the world and would blow your head clean off, you've gotta ask yourself one question: "Do I feel stupid?" Well, do ya, punk?
-- Dirty Donald/2017

29 November 2017

Yay! Miners

In keeping with today's theme that data isn't always real enough for some people, we get an admission that pharma isn't above lowering the level.
Basically, whenever a trial fails, there's almost always a group of patients — left-handed Peruvian men who hate the taste of basil, say — in whom it works. Drawing conclusions from such analyses is statistically fraught, to say the least, so why do scientists so often do so?

"One answer — unpleasant but real — is that pharmaceutical companies want to put a positive spin on their drugs, even when the trials fail to show benefit," writes Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, who has personal experience in the subject.

Barbarians at the Gate

Long time reader well knows that my view of R is its capability as a stat command language is the Goldilocks point, but surely not as a programming language. Ugh!! to the latter. "Real" coders want little to nothing to do with it. With the rise of C++ interface packages, I predicted that ever more "coding" in R would cede to C/C++, and R would develop into a better SAS/SPSS/BMDP (if you know the last, your old).

Well, another data point today:
1250 user packages is staggering. We can use the progression of CRAN itself compiled by Henrik in a series of posts and emails to the main development mailing list. A decade ago CRAN itself did not have 1250 packages, and here we are approaching 12k with Rcpp at 10% and growing steadily. Amazeballs.

This is actually a good thing, IMO. Let the bare knuckle coders do the dirty work, and the rest of us can get along with analysis. Even if, in the dawn of the Orange Julius Caesar dictatorship, policy will be driven by whim and conspiracy theory and self-dealing we can still try to get "facts" to the public.

28 November 2017

Flat Chested

The hawks, whether chicken hawk war monger (I'm talking to you Orange Julius Caesar) or zealous monetarists, are always walking around with their chests pumped up and out, saying "Look at me Snowflake!!!" Well, avid reader will recall warnings in these endeavors that, if those fakirs get their way (I'm talking to you McConnell and Ryan, too), you'll see a rate inversion that will blow a whole in your head.

Today's news brings some mainstream reporting inching closer to confirming that eventuality.
Finally, an inverted yield curve has predicted the past 7 recessions. Flattening isn't the same thing as inverting, but it is one step closer. Morgan Stanley notes that "we are not on recession watch now, and peg the 12-month probability of recession at 25% ... [but] by 2020, that probability grows to near certainty."

Note that the author makes the common mistake: asserting that the Fed "controls" short-term interest rate. It doesn't, in fact. The Fed coaxes the really short-term rate(s), but hasn't the power to set any rate by fiat. And, as mentioned here more than once:
Concurrently, as global central banks expand their balance sheets, that puts downward pressure on long-term rates.

Note, again, that it's not just central banks sending moolah into their economies through buying up existing instruments (thus generating more moolah in hands already holding more idle moolah than they can invest in physical capital), it's also the MegaCorps sitting on trillions of idle moolah, too. As they say in Econ 101: supply and demand work to set the market clearing price. That price isn't guaranteed to be in the medium, much less long, term benefit of the entire economy. In the end, all that idle moolah bids up Treasuries even more, and crushes interest rates. I'll remind gentle reader that the Right Wingnut Donor Class will soon be pressuring for fixed rate instruments, rather than auctioned. And take away holding time restrictions on capital gains, naturally. Much like Orange Julius Caesar's tax cut, most of the benefit often goes to the 1%.

27 November 2017

My, How Times Have Changed

I know... I like Sammy and all, but I'd like to see them go even lower. 2TB SSDs shouldn't be a luxury anymore.
-- lilmoe/2017

Boy howdy!! How times have changed. Comment on this AnandTech piece on the latest Samsung SSD.

25 November 2017

The Cost of Normalizing

What Orange Julius Caesar hath wrought. Nazi rides again.

22 November 2017

Lump of Coal For Christmas

Gentle reader likely recalls the many times these essays have called out the ingrates in Red states, in particular Appalachia whose population would still be getting water from hand pumped wells, shitting in the dirt, and reading their Bibles with kerosene lamps were it not for the largesse of FDR and developed states. They remain multi-generational ingrates, whose leaders continue to push the USofA toward the United States of Alabama.

Yet another tome telling the tale. I've not yet read the book, and may not, naturally given that I am a member of the choir.
He is aghast that so many Appalachians vote against their own interests. (West Virginia went heavily for Donald Trump.) He posits that jobs versus health is a false choice. He suggests a way forward that includes reparations, the creation of new kinds of communities, free college tuition and other remedies.

As stated here more than once: the uneducated, unskilled, unemployed won't be helped by the likes of Orange Julius Caesar. He's just a Barnum, fleecing the already dispossessed, so hidebound and uneducated that they'll blame The Others (city/black/educated folks) rather than themselves for their predicament if gulled by an expert charlatan.

The review closes:
If a country can be judged by how it treats its worst-off citizens, we do not seem especially virtuous. "What made politicians and investors think," Stoll writes, "that they could do whatever they wanted wherever they wanted?"

The answer, naturally, lies in the title of Thomas Franks' "What's The Matter With Kansas". It's the stupidity, stupid.

Minority Report, part the fourth

Another episode in the continuing tale of minority rule. Gentle reader should recall that these endeavors have made the point that macro policy, if done based on data, relies on government collected and dispensed data. Moreover, gentle reader will remember the posts dealing with the events of 2010, when I had interviewed at the DNC in advance of that election. The Democrats totally ignored the effect of the census, while the Right Wingnuts created REDMAP.

It's gotten worse. The 2020 census is slated to be run by this Nazi. It's one thing to gerrymander, quite another to fuck the basic data. Let's all slow goose step to the arena; dictatorship by slippery slope.

21 November 2017

Visitors Stink After Three Days

And, do you still believe all those corporations will give you a nice fat raise if they get huuuuuuuuge tax cuts? And ban unions? Well, do you punk?
They are paid as little as $10 an hour, and brought to the U.S. for six months at a time thanks to these visas, which allow foreigners to supervise work, but not actually do it themselves, a loophole we found being exploited at the expense of American workers.

Wake up Johnny Reb.

18 November 2017

Stupid People Ain't Got No Reason To Live [update]

More than a few folks have excoriated your humble servant for the observation that Democrats are wasting their time trying to win back Orange Julius Caesar zealots. The reason is straightforward: those folks have reached escape velocity from the Real World. They choose to believe anything from the Right Wingnuts.

Finding mainstream pundits who've also thrown in the towel is like looking for hens' teeth. Found one today.
But the problem is not the Russians — it's us. We're getting played because too many Americans are ill equipped to perform the basic functions of citizenship. If the point of the Russian campaign, aided domestically by right-wing media, was to get people to think there is no such thing as knowable truth, the bad guys have won.

Call it the Roy Moore effect; the desire to return to the false notion of 19th century USofA as nearly Eden. It wasn't, for all but the very rich. And these yokels have bought into the Cut Cut Cut Tax plan as good for the 99%.

About the scariest reporting:
When NPR tweeted out sections of the Declaration of Independence last year, many people were outraged. They mistook Thomas Jefferson's fighting words for anti-Trump propaganda.

The bright spot, most non-Right Wingnuts say, were the election victories in Virginia and such. Well, may be. But keep this in mind:
Northam did best in the metropolitan areas of the state like Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia. These places also witnessed the greatest bump in turnout. Northern Virginia saw a 12 percent jump, and Hampton Roads' participation grew by 9 percent. Combined, these two places accounted for more than 50 percent of Tuesday's vote.

Two points: the only way to counter gerrymandering and voter suppression is way, way, way above average turnout, and recognize that the split in the USofA is city/rural not Red/Blue states. Orange Julius Caesar won because the city folk just didn't turn out in PA, MI, WI.
In these three Rust Belt states [Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin], plus Ohio, Trump turned out voters from rural counties, improved on Republican Mitt Romney's 2012 percentage of the vote in most counties and closed the gap in or won Democratic-leaning counties, according to a cleveland.com analysis of unofficial election results.

Will the cities really Resist suppression next year? One might infer that Orange Julius Caesar and the Congress think they've only got a few months left given their frenzy. By most measures, the Base is about 25% of the electorate. The remaining 75% should be enough to toss out these bums.

Nick Kristof weighs in today on the topic. So some quotes.
Yet if one looks at blue and red state populations as a whole, it's striking that conservatives champion "family values" even as red states have high rates of teenage births, divorce and prostitution. In contrast, people in blue states don't trumpet these family values but often seem to do a better job living them.

And David Leonhardt has the wooden stake in the heart of the vampires.
"The G.O.P.," Henry Olsen, a conservative policy expert, recently said, "really wants to do nothing other than cut taxes for businesspeople and the top bracket based on what can only be called religious devotion to supply-side theory."

So, who are these folks?
And most Americans realize that the tax plan is dreadful. Only 16 percent of adults said they thought the plan would reduce their own taxes, according to a Quinnipiac poll released last week.

Just farmers and hedge funders? Strange bedfellows, to be sure.

16 November 2017

Weird Al

For all those looking to add to the Rightwing's slim majority in the Senate by tossing Franken out, a thought. Every male on the planet has, or will before croaking, kissed someone (mostly, females) who didn't really want to be kissed. No one should lose his job over that. There is a limit to punishment.

This is how stupid it gets.
A 6-year-old boy near Colorado Springs, Colorado, was suspended from school for kissing a girl on the hand. You read that correctly.

Al behaved like a 6-year-old, high on testosterone for sure. He isn't, on what we know, Roy Moore.

15 November 2017

Data Yoga

One of the benefits of finishing grad school in the middle of a major recession is that one will, likely, find a position at a much lower starting wage than those who enter the labor market during a raging boom. And that short fall will follow you for the rest of your life. Sweet. Another benefit is that said position will likely be a soporific 9 to 5, with minimal engagement. And the knock-on effect is that you find yourself going from an intense struggle with advisors and classes and papers to write that sucks up all your attention 24/7, to having gobs and gobs of unattended time.

What to do with all that time? Well, one could explore aspects of life not previously experienced. One might move from the brain to the body, for example. Say, yoga and tai-chi and karate and dance, for instance. And if one did so one would make an interesting discovery: as disparate as they sound, all are grounded in two concepts. Those being centeredness and flexibility. Yoga and tai-chi are quite explicit about those two ideas. Dance a bit less so, and depending on the style and instructor, karate yet a bit less so.

Centeredness emphasizes keeping the physical center, about a fist's distance below the navel, balanced with the ground. Flexibility mostly means the pelvis and large muscles as well as the spine. Notably, golfers and baseball players are now beginning to emphasize the need for both. Golfers talk about "getting the hips out of the way". Batters talk about the arms following the hips. And so forth. The light bulb has gone off for them.

Well, centeredness and flexibility are also important to datastores. Not for the first time, I'll remind gentle reader that Chris Date has said many times that there's only one "data model", the RM. The naming of hierarchical and network datastores as "models" is retronymic (if that's really a word). Neither is based on an abstraction, but both on hard-wired application specific structure. XML hell, as many now say.

I bring this up, again, because I found this post, which is chock-a-block with links, particularly NoSQL, particularly this one, which takes on NoSQL's alleged benefits. Gentle reader will likely not be surprised that it lists the issues that Date, Pascal, and humble self have been yakking about for years.

So. The RM is centered because there's an engine (at the center) which keeps the data in line. So to speak. Without that center, each application (in fact, each bit of application code) has to roll its own. Every time. And every time the datastore is changed. Any change to the datastore requires that all code accessing that data be, at least, visited. With the RM/SQL (the latter, sort of, naturally), if one starts with at least 3rd NF data, only the application bits concerned with that table(s) need be looked at. In fact, if one eschews the *, then only those narrow bits of code interested in the added/deleted columns/tables give a crap. You can't do that with XML. So, there's the flexibility of the RM: application code deals with the datastore on a "need to know" protocol. Go read the post; it's a gas.

Those are really good qualities in a datastore. We've had them for the better part of 50 years and only have SQL as implementation language which is only about 3/4 of a glass, and still the kiddies embrace the data tech that their granddaddies used: COBOL file defs. Reactionaries exist beyond the world of politics.

11 November 2017

Can I Have Moore? [update]

The Deplorables have another standout member in Roy Moore. And Bannon/Quisling think that making this country into a total United States of Alabama is a good thing. While the .1% get even richer off the "tax reform" which serves only to perpetuate the transfer of gummint moolah from Blue states to Red states. Where it will be used to support the local .1%, naturally. Schools? Hospitals? Hardly.

Well, here's the definition of Moore:
A person who has already graduated high school, yet still hangs out at all the high school spots with all the kids still in high school.

That definition has a list of synonyms, and yes, pedophile is one them. Of course it is.

Found a link to this post, which includes this comment:
Breaking News: Teresa Jones (Roy Moore's former Deputy DA at the time this stuff was happening) made a public statement today saying:

"It was common knowledge that Roy dated high school girls, everyone we knew thought it was weird," former deputy district attorney Teresa Jones told CNN in comments aired Saturday. "We wondered why someone his age would hang out at high school football games and the mall ... but you really wouldn't say anything to someone like that."
-- Over40VictimOfFate

This is the CBS News post.

09 November 2017

Mine Is Longer Than Yours

It's been some years now that auto loans have moved from the early long history of three year duration to as much as 8. There have been a few missives on the subject in these endeavors, mostly along the line: such loans exist for the sole purpose of lowering the monthly nut of the loan, thus making car purchases possible by folks who can't otherwise do so. The same thing (i.e., bend the norms to lower the nut) happened in housing with the run-up to the great recession.

And, it's been a while since the mainstream media took a look. Today brings some reporting.
... the CFPB noted that they're used especially by consumers with lower credit scores. The average credit score for buyers who take out six-year loans is 674. That's 39 points below the average for consumers who took five-year loans.

Note that 5 years is now defined as the new normal. It isn't.

06 November 2017

Ponzi Was From Boston

"Parts Unknown" remains the Best Show on the TeeVee, and when I saw the listing for the night's episode yesterday afternoon, Puerto Rico, I instantly wondered whether it would be a bookend to the Emmy Nominated "No Reservations" Beirut one. Not quite, but rather close. The recording was done around Easter, 2017 and begins with a voice-over by Bourdain about Maria and ends with a graphic for relief. The episode does discuss, through the lives of residents, the problem of the territory's debt.

Two kind of by-the-way points stood out to me, which this missive will now discuss.
1 - a teacher wonders whether her pension will exist for her in following years, since the pension system is paid on current account (not that either she nor Bourdain understand that). Bourdain describes it as a "Ponzi scheme".
2 - the flight of manufacturing installations after generous tax giveaways expired.

Let's look at 2 first, if only because John Oliver, coincidence or not, devoted much of his show later in the evening to just such blackmail. Studies have been done for decades, and few if any have found lasting benefit to such schemes. Oliver mentions in the course of his piece that the two Kansas Citys (Kansas and Missouri) have been engaged in stealing installations with ever increasing blackmail. In sum, Kansas netted about 1,000 workers at a total cost to both states of $331 million. Bourdain found just that, and showed the abandoned buildings.

As to 1, well both the teacher and Bourdain are totally wrong. Sort of. Pension programs, whether public or private, are by definition inter-generational Ponzi schemes. They have to be, if you consider what their purpose is for just a minute. Here's the consideration.

Social Security came to be in 1935. Whenever a pension program is created out of whole cloth (and to do otherwise is simply not possible), meaning to cover existing folks of age from the get go, it has to run from current account. There's simply no choice. Now, the next question is how to fund the program going forward. The government (the same applies to a private program as well) can "invest" the contributions in existing private corporations, with all of the risk that entails. And who would decide which corporations get the benefit of all that moolah? Or it can "invest" in public fiduciary instruments. Both have distinct problems. In the case of investing in private corporations, there is the fundamental question of conflict of interest: how can government make and enforce laws, if doing so reduces the value of the pension program's fund? Does government turn a blind eye to such violations? Does government, by definition, morph to Fascism (look it up)? The answer, naturally, is a big Boy Howdy.

So, to avoid that conflict, SS did the right thing by putting the moolah into government instruments. But, naturally, that's just moving the government's money from one pocket to another, both on current account and inter-generationally. The government moves some additional money (the return on Treasuries) to the SS account periodically. There is no real earned interest in this exercise, just some accounting sleight-of-hand. All governments do it, because it's the least bad alternative.

The problem for either approach is that real growth (aka, interest earned) derives from tech progress, not accounting manipulation. Since the Great Recession, and largely because of it, interest rates on government fiduciaries have hovered near 1%. The reason, naturally, is that The Giant Pool of Money continues to grow, and its holders continue to be risk averse; thus The GPoM chases those instruments driving up their price and down their rate of return. The GPoM, after the DotComBomb, sought above risk-free returns at near risk-free risk, and so turned to (mostly) US residential housing. After all, there had never been a sector wide collapse of value in the past, so why would there be one now? Everybody into The Pool!!!

The macro/global reality is that the low growth regime lambasted by Donald J. Quisling is not the fault of Obambi. It's the fault of the Asymptote of Progress. The first Dark Age happened because humans fell into religiosity and stopped thinking. The second Dark Age is happening because humans have figured out everything that matters in the macro world.

05 November 2017

Obscured Relational Management

Yet another, and quite fun to read, take down of ORM. A light read for a Sunday afternoon.
I still see many developers singing praises to ORMs, but I have stopped using ORMs several years ago. I have accumulated enough experience on both sides now, so I'd like to lay out my case against using ORMs.

04 November 2017

And the Winner Is...


There's a long standing convention that placebo controlled clinical trials are allowed for drugs (generally), but not for procedures. Particularly procedures which are considered standard or only-option. Among such are stents in cardiac care. I recall, long ago, reports that stents caused clots, which sometimes escaped into the bloodstream and caused great harm.
Early difficulties with coronary stents included a risk of early thrombosis (clotting) resulting in occlusion of the stent. Coating stainless steel stents with other substances such as platinum or gold did not eliminate this problem. High-pressure balloon expansion of the stent to ensure its full apposition to the arterial wall, combined with drug therapy using aspirin and another inhibitor of platelet aggregation (usually ticlopidine or clopidogrel) nearly eliminated this risk of early stent thrombosis.

So, this week Gina Kolata reports that stents aren't so useful for one of its major uses.
Then the subjects had a procedure: a real or fake insertion of a stent. This is one of the few studies in cardiology in which a sham procedure was given to controls who were then compared to patients receiving the actual treatment.

When the researchers tested the patients six weeks later, both groups said they had less chest pain, and they did better than before on treadmill tests.

But there was no real difference between the patients, the researchers found. Those who got the sham procedure did just as well as those who got stents.

Oooooops!!! Read the whole piece, and see how little data (well, none, really) supported using stents in this way.

02 November 2017

Lies, Damn Lies, and the NSA

The first thought which crossed my head when Comey announced that the FBI had been running a counter-intelligence investigation of Russia/Trump since July, 2016: the CIA and NSA have all the comms on storage and Trump/Quisling is dead meat.

This Monday, the Papadopoulos plea was released, and much the same thought: how did the FBI know he lied? After all, to know that Pap lied means they knew what the truth was. How dat? As of last night, none of the mainstream pundits had either posed the question or answered it. So off to the innterTubes went I. Which got me this piece from Daily Kos. It was posted Monday night. And, no, obviously I'm not a regular over there or I would have found it then. Still, it remains the only source of explanation. The obvious one, naturally.
It sure looks like someone in the intelligence community (CIA, NSA, foreign...) has been watching this professor for some time. And it sure looks like they knew a lot of details about Paps contacts with this guy, going way back to March 2016. And it sure seems like the FBI would be watching Pap closely from the moment they found out about his contacts with the professor. With the technology available to the Intelligence community, it sure would seem they would be monitoring every email, every phone call, and every other contact between this American, British, Russian trio.

Donald J. Quisling must have dumped some serious brown into his boxers when he saw the plea.

01 November 2017

Dancing to Destruction [update]

Eduardo Porter takes on Donald J. Quisling and trade in today's missive. He spends most of his text explaining that Quisling's approach has been tried before, and failed totally. Will Donald J. Quisling learn? Will Hell freeze over?
"Bilateral deficits are going to keep popping up everywhere," [Robert Staiger] said. "Trump is going to be playing Whac-a-Mole."

The overbearing cause of the trade deficit is the need to keep US Bucks in sufficient supply to sustain global growth; global deflation through the simple mechanism of restricted supply of specie (which, as you know if you've been reading these missives for a while, is the US Buck) will be a disaster for everyone. And, no, the loss of supply of goods from south of the Rio Grande and Asia won't mean that manufacturing capacity will pop out of the ground as toadstools after a heavy rain. FIRE has eaten the GDP.
Robert Lighthizer has been involved in international trade diplomacy long enough to remember this kind of go-it-alone trade strategy. He doesn't appear to have learned the lessons history has taught us since then.

Alas, Porter doesn't connect the dots through to the demand for the US Buck as support for international trade. Thanks to having won WWII, and rebuilding both Europe and Japan, we now have the responsibility, in perpetuity, for that trade.

for the record, here's a graph of gold stocks
[the wiki]

29 October 2017

Scared Out of Your Mind

Spent the last week on the Island, with no innterTubes but with a bookstore. Recently saw Kurt Andersen flogging his latest book, "Fantasyland", which was on the shelf and the appointed companion to DB2 and stat text brought along. His interview had convinced me to do the book.

Boy howdy!! This has to be the scariest book I've read in some time. He chronicles the war on science and reason going back some years. I'm down with that part, naturally. Centuries, in fact. Some of the Amazon reviews/comments condemn the book (and Andersen) of being anti-Christian, more specifically anti-Protestant. But the facts are the facts. Except, naturally, when they're alternative facts.

If you want to know how Donald J. Quisling came to be, this history will show you.

21 October 2017

Tone Deaf Kelly

Others have already dealt with Gen. Kelly's duplicity in his accusations against Rep. Wilson. They're right, and he lied. That's that.

OTOH, none of the pundits I've read/heard have considered the event the got this all started: what (and, likely, how) Donald J. Quisling said to Ms. Johnson. In Kelly's re-telling of the conversation between him and Quisling, he provided to Quisling the context of what he and his senior officer did in the same circumstance: offer the 'he knew what he was getting into' meme. Here's the problem(s):
1 - Donald J. Quisling has 0 empathy and 0 military experience
2 - Kelly and the officers he mentioned had decades of military experience and some years of combat experience
3 - the recipient of Donald J. Quisling's speech is a 24 year old pregnant mother and now widow
4 - La David Johnson enlisted in 2014, so not much past a recruit
He enlisted in the Army in January 2014 as a Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic (91).
here He was not a macho killer. He fixed trucks.

So Ms. Johnson gets this phone call from Donald J. Quisling which follows, to some extent the meme offered by Kelly. If delivered, as I would expect, in the flippant liarly way of Donald J. Quisling she reacted as anyone would: with horror. Her husband fixed trucks, and now she finds out he got killed in a combat ambush. We don't, and likely may never, know what Sgt. Johnson told his wife about his deployment in Niger, but I'll bet a nickel she thought he was in base camp taking care of trucks.

Why was as a truck mechanic out on patrol??

20 October 2017

Biggest Corruption

If you were a risk-averse member of the Billionaire's Boys Club, what would be your ultimate wet dream? Well??? By my lights, I'd say I would want Treasury instruments to be sold at interest rate value rather than auctioned at coupon value.

Translation: the way it currently works by 31 U.S.C. Subtitle III, Subchapters I & II, Treasury sets a return value, aka coupon, per some unit of instrument, say $100 per unit. Treasury then auctions those units. The resulting interest rate is the $100/X where X is the final auction price of the unit. If X is $1,000, then the interest rate is 10%. If X is $10,000, then it's 1%. For the last few years, X has been nudging much closer to 1% than 10%. That's driving the idle rich batshit.

Near as I can tell, nowhere in the statute is coupon/auction mandated as the method for selling instruments. Donald J. Quisling can/could direct Treasury to henceforth sell instruments with a fixed coupon (current practice) and fixed price (not auctioned to highest bidder), thus yielding the idle rich's 10% government debt. The fall out from this is clear. The secondary market for Treasuries would still be awash in moolah, and so would bid up the price of such instruments, thus giving the original buyers a massive capital gain windfall (which implies a change in tax law to remove holding periods for capital gains protection, naturally). The other, much worse side-effect is that US government debt just got lots more expensive. Yet another transfer of wealth from the many to the few.

Have a nice day.

19 October 2017

For So Long?

While watching the baseball games yesterday, I noted (for the first time, I suppose) that the home plate umpire wore glasses!!! The country has gone to hell in a handbasket. The only reason I could see this abomination was because the ump caught a foul off the mask, which he took off for a bit, on camera.

So, off to the innterTubes to find out how long this degradation of America's Game has been going on. I expected a few years, at most. Well, not so much.
On April 25, 1956, newspapers across trumpeted the news that Frank Umont had on the previous day become the first big league umpire to wear eyeglasses in a regularly scheduled game.

Damn! And to top it off, that's my sister's birthday, although not year. Instant karma.

Why the iPhone X?

The first decade of my life was spent in a 1,000 sq.ft. house-on-slab, built on an abandon wood lot. Thanks to that, the termites swarmed in the spring. Bad as it was, the parents managed to get foreclosed, so it was off to veteran's housing. This was 1960, and then at least one parent had to be a real veteran; during our years there the projects devolved into open welfare apartments.

The parents were a bit above average smarts, but below average ambition. Oh well. The point of the experience was this: by the time I was eleven or twelve I noticed that there were a lot of late model Buicks and Cadillacs in the parking area. Why, thought young Robert? Weren't there more useful and important things to own?

The answer from the point of view of those Caddy Daddies, as I eventually figured out, was: of course not. A fancy, even if old-ish, car was the most conspicuous object poor folk could still buy. Even if it meant lousy living space and lousy food and lousy clothes and lousy everything else. But that Caddy was parked outside the apartment.

The iPhone X is quite the same: a conspicuous object that doesn't do much more than far cheaper alternatives, but worth it as a measure of self esteem. Behavioral economists' fodder, for sure.

18 October 2017

New Gold - Part the Fourth

Yet another installment in the continuing saga of what it means for the US Buck to be New Gold. Today's contestant is Eduardo Porter, a many time returner. His jumping off point is the current account trade deficit. What he doesn't do is connect the dots from domestic bucks to international trade dependent on sufficient US Bucks in the system to support non-deflationary growth. That last bit is an oxymoron, naturally.

Here's where Porter finally gets closer to the point
But slashing the trade deficit for good will be very tough. That would require weakening the American dollar, the reserve currency of the world. That would be no easy task.

The dollar is the main currency used in global trade, as well as international capital market transactions. People and governments the world over store their wealth in American stocks and bonds. What's more, the dollar is the go-to currency in the time of financial crises, even if the crises at hand are centered in the United States. Against these forces it is hard to keep the dollar down.

From AnandTech we get the louder drumbeat of the Brave New World; run by Corps rather than the Damn Gummint, of course.
From the beginning, the NNP and its Nervana Engine predecessor have aimed at displacing GPUs in the machine learning and AI space, where applications can range from weather prediction and autonomous vehicles to targeted advertising on social media.
[my emphasis]

I wonder. Will they take payment in rubles?

17 October 2017

The Gull Flies True

Once again, the editors of the NYT have shown their sense of humor. Two articles which illustrate an issue, just not on the same page this time.

The easy one is this Kimmel piece. Kimmel, after all, is an obvious totem these days. And he knows it.
Of course, you want as many people to watch your show as possible. But some things are more important than bringing in a big audience. I hope that we, as a nation, get back to a time where I can have a normal, well-rounded show, that's more focused on Beyoncé and Jay-Z than Donald and Ivanka. But for the time being, this is what's at the forefront of people's minds.

Paired with this piece on the Trumpcare situation.
So for residents of the nearly all-white county, who overwhelmingly voted for President Trump, the fight over the Affordable Care Act is about both lives and livelihoods, access to care and to jobs. And the cloud that remains over the law's future is unsettling.

May be, just may be, these shitkickers will figure out that the Billionaire Boys Club founder cares not a whit about them. He gulled them right good.

12 October 2017

Where Quant Matters

There's only one field where quant really, really matters and it's not tech and it's not finance (666). It's biopharma. And the reason, naturally, is that, past the discovery process, it's all about the numbers. Do the numbers from the trials demonstrate that CompoundX is really better than some placebo or Standard of Care?? Bayesians, may you rot in hell if you get your hands on clinical trials.

If you follow biopharma more than casually, you know of Derek Lowe. Today's musing is mandatory.
How many of the bullish investors in that company [Axovant] realized (or really understood) that the same exact compound had failed a well-run Phase II trial in Alzheimer's, and that since then two other drugs with the exact same mechanism of action had done the same?

I've used the epithet more than once: "as any math stat will tell you, give me a large enough sample size and I'll get you stat sig for a ham sandwich curing cancer". Well, here's a snip from a comment to Lowe's piece
I went back to look at the REVEAL results, and no wonder they are not filing it. The CV event rates were 10.8% for anacetrapib and 11.8% for placebo. That is a microscopic effect size. True, the p-value was 0.004, but that is probably due to the "black hole" effect common to many outcome trials - small difference trend toward significance when the sample size becomes large. No payer would reimburse for this level of efficacy, p-value or not.
-- Emjeff

Read through the comments. As of when I type this, they're at least as acerbic as Lowe. Well, a whole lot more. Good on 'em.

Balance the Scale

Here's some of a comment on a Seeking Alpha piece on Apple's new iPhones
Perhaps you aren't familiar with a manufacturing concept called economies of scale. Apple produces hundreds of millions of iPhones a year, while most analysts believe Google built no more than 1 million units of the Pixel and Pixel XL in the past 12 months. Something tells me Apple spends a whole lot less on each iPhone than Google does on each Pixel phone.
-- Bradmeister

A rookie mistake, naturally. Non-quants generally view EoS as, at least, infinitely linear to 0 average cost. That's stupid, naturally. EoS is determined by sector/company specific factors. And there's no evidence that EoS follows a linear trend, rather that it reaches minimum at some asymptotic value. (oooooh!! that notion again!!)

To put it another way, there are four generalist parts of production: capital equipment, input materials/assemblies, power, and labor. EoS is a result of technological advances, not just higher production, it's not some magical side effect of simply making more widgets. Imagine a semi-conductor production cell. It takes in sand at one end and spits out finished chips at the other; that's fanciful, to some extent, but close enough. Now how are there EoS for such a closed world production method? There aren't, naturally. With such a fixed capital stock, there's no average cost advantage to make more chips than 24/7/365 use of such a cell. You have to buy/build another cell. If you can't run it 24/7/365, i.e. sell its full output, your average cost/chip overall goes up, not down. Since this cell demands little to no labor, there's nothing much to be gained through labor saving. Supply of input materials/assemblies may or may not in total decline based upon outside factors.

So, in sum, it's unlikely that Apple or Samsung has much production cost advantage, especially given that the vast majority of iPhone is built by others than Apple. To the extent that EoS exists, Apple benefits just as much as Samsung et al since they all buy from the same underlying vendors who build to satisfy all comers. A falling tide lowers all boats. The notion that Apple will in-house production is foolish; they'll slide down the EoS to higher cost. There's a reason Apple has never made much of what it sells.

11 October 2017

Ashes to Ashes

Ever since, at least, the "totally destroy" North Korea nonsense from Donald J. Quisling, I've had a bothersome homo economicus nag. We know that NK has thousands of artillery along the DMZ (remember, the Korean War is not over, only an armistice) aimed at Seoul and environs. SK manufacturing is scattered over the country, but the administrative centers of these companies are in Seoul. Cut off the head, kill the dragon.

So, kill a million or two South Koreans, and put an end to the American consumer economy. Such a deal. Lose, lose. America first; all those jobs will come back to the USofA. Dontcha think??

10 October 2017

Ace of Trumps

So, we have this report today, wherein Donald J. Quisling throws down the gauntlet. I expect you can find the same on your news source of choice, modulo InfoWars and kin.
Speaking to Forbes magazine, Mr. Trump was reacting to the report that Tillerson had previously called the president a "moron."

I think it's fake news, but if he did that, I guess we'll have to compare IQ tests. And I can tell you who is going to win.

Of course, yesterday I did some innterTubes surfing to attempt to confirm what Donald J. Quisling has said in the past, that he's a smart guy. Oddly, he's never provided verification of his grades anywhere. Can you believe that? One should see that in the graduation book.

09 October 2017

Robin Hood, Well May Be Not

The notion that giving mo moolah to the rich will, instantly, yield more jobs has been rejected by most analysts at least since Laffer/Reagan when the gambit was tried. It was tried again by W. Neither giveaway led to more jobs or growth. Nor would it, considering that The Rich have no interest in growth or jobs. Again, do the arithmetic: Treasuries keep getting bid up (interest down) just because the 1% are chicken hearts when it comes to investment. They've no gonads for that sort of thing.

But, one might assert, the argument is just academic jealously of The Rich. Well, may be. But today's reporting from a Job Creator supports this fundamental truth.
As an entrepreneur myself and a friend to many others, I know that lower tax rates will not motivate more people to start companies. People start companies for many reasons: a compelling idea, ambition for fame and fortune, a desire to be one's own boss, frustration with one's employer. I have never heard someone say, "I would have started a company, but tax rates were too high" or "I wouldn't have started this company, but then George W. Bush cut tax rates, so I did."

Finally, some good sense (you've read the same here a number of times)
I am an entrepreneur and a businessman, but I am also a citizen. I believe tax cuts that deepen our already severe inequality in income and wealth are not in the long-term interests of any citizens, not even the very wealthy. Extreme inequality is corroding our civil society, poisoning our politics, and undermining our effectiveness as a nation. This is an extremely hard problem to solve, but when you're in a deep ditch, the first thing to do is stop digging.

Thought for the day - 9 October 2017

Echoing Comey,
Lordy, I hope there are tapes.
Wouldn't it be a treat if Corker has recordings of his dealings with Donald J. Quisling? Proving, of course, that Donald J. Quisling really did ask him to run in 2018 and offering support.

07 October 2017

On Getting Old

simple-talk's Database Weekly (you should subscribe) has a link to this comment-less piece on the persistence of C. Which word structure always reminds me of Dali.

[the Wiki]

I only have a couple of points to add. C dates from 1969, so is 50 years old in decadal terms; although it was sequestered to Bell Labs, more or less, for some years. COBOL is an even older language, and going strong for the same reason: billions of lines of code which would be way too expensive to re-write in PHP. And the author offers this
C is often referred to as cross platform assembly.
The way I learned it, the epithet was a tad stronger: C is the universal assembler. And not at all, really. Years before Excel there was something called Lotus 1-2-3. The first few version ran in DOS assembler, with so-called character graphics. The machines of the day were 8088 cpu, typically < 512MB, no floating point co-processor (-87), and perhaps a 5MB hard drive. Mitch decided on MS macro assembler as the language to use, since he had only enough man-years for one effort. He decided on the IBM PC as the platform, and then he had to decide on the OS and language. Gates won. And it was a blinding success. It made the IBM PC the device to have in any serious business. But, for reasons I've never bothered to track down (but fairly easy to guess), around the 4th release it was re-written in C. This was DOS 3.0. Wherever I was working, we "upgraded" from the assembler version to the C version (I doubt the powers that be had any idea), but without upgrading the machines.

Boy howdy!! What had been instant screen updates turned into the cursor slow dancing across the screen. Assembler, indeed!! Which is why any serious compute work is still done in a real assembler.

04 October 2017

Why? I'll Tell You

During one of last night's MSNBC chat shows, one of the pundits (failing memory says Chris Matthews) said something like:
When they wrote the Second Amendment, they were talking about muskets!!

Which is true. Here's the text
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

In historical context, of course, a Militia in 1791 was the same as the National Guard today: a state entity, not insurgents in Montana or other shitkicker empty states. That's the main reason opponents of unfettered access to guns say the 2nd has no basis for civilian access to military grade weapons.


Look back at 1791, and you see that (esp. non-urban) American civilians and standing army soldiers used the same weapon: a musket. Yes, the army had cannon and ships and such, but the soldier and the civilian had the same weapon. While I don't follow the NRA at all, I expect that someplace they've made just that argument: the civilian deserves access to the same weapon as the soldier, or the army will subjugate the populace.

Spider's Web

The Supremes are reviewing the anti-gerrymandering case, and the thought crossed my mind that someone, particularly of the Democratic vein, should have done some research. Recall the thesis presented here, and subsequently repeated by some of the mainstream pundits (without crediting your humble servant, of course), that there aren't Red states and Blue states. There are Blue cities and Red shitkicker empty counties.

Given gerrymandering, Rightwing success in minority rule, and the actual distribution of Reds and Blues, one would expect that Red legislatures (which predominate in having re-districting power) would attack cities by pie-wedging their area so that it often/always ends up that districts have some Blue city folks outnumbered by Red shitkickers. Kind of like a spider's web. One might expect this would be easy to demonstrate with the funds, folks and time that major think tanks have. Dontcha think?

I did, and here's what I found.

Here's a Washington Post article, which references the latest Brennan Center report. Neither, that I could find explicitly calls out urban cracking.

And, here's something explicit
For example, a Republican-held district near Philadelphia that had been trending toward Democrats was stretched westward to take in more conservative voters. And Democratic-leaning voters in Scranton and Wilkes-Barre were shifted out of a Republican-held seat into a Democratic-led district to help protect the GOP incumbent.

Law Street, at least, makes the case that such a process exists, but doesn't show such a district map. Oh well:
An example of cracking is when poor, urban voters are spread across districts where a large majority of the voters are rural. This prevents the urban voters from carrying much weight during elections. This is the most common type of gerrymandering.

OK, so ThinkProgress has some of the Wisconsin map. Very pretty.
[W]here Democrats lived near large blocs of Republicans, Democratic communities were "cracked" up and placed in multiple districts that were overwhelmingly likely to elect a Republican.

AKA, cities chopped up and bundled into shitkicker empty spaces.


03 October 2017

Whites Only

One segment of the population, and vaguely multi-culti, has figured out that the Donald J. Quisling cabal is purely white racist. Over the last few weeks I've seen Ta-Nehisi Coates on various chat shows, due to the imminent release of his book, "We Were Eight Years in Power". For those who've not seen him, or don't read "The Atlantic" any longer (your humble servant included), the book is a chronological collection of (all of?) his essays over the Obama presidency.

Rather than just collect and reprint the texts, he includes an introductory commentary to each one. Anyway, today's NYT has a review by Jennifer Senior, which you just have to read. You may skip the book because you don't want to be that up close and personal with a black guy, but read the review. And, as you can see, she's very white.

Pardon me for piling on, but here's that word you so often see in these missives, although applied to a different problem:
With Obama's election, Coates briefly allowed himself to entertain the same belief. He was quickly disenchanted. It's clear he now believes this arc, at best, reaches an asymptote — that dastardly dotted line it can never quite touch. And even that's probably too optimistic a reading.

Near the end of the piece is the gut punch, and well deserved,
In the election of Trump, Coates sees an affirmation of his bleak worldview. "To Trump whiteness is neither notional nor symbolic but is the very core of his power," he writes in the final essay here, recently published to much attention in The Atlantic. "Every Trump voter is most certainly not a white supremacist," Coates writes. "But every Trump voter felt it acceptable to hand the fate of the country over to one."
[my emphasis]

02 October 2017

The Blind Leading the Blind

Just caught this from Feuerstein's twitter feed. Here's the money quote:
VP of research at State Street sent me an amazing chart. This yr 67% of companies in the $XBI are underperforming the $XBI itself by > 10%.

So, the Masters of the World of Finance are amazed that income and wealth, even among the Corporates is heavily skew right?? I betcha these guys all have MBAs from Harvard.

01 October 2017

Great Job, Brownie - part the second

Donald J. Quisling continues to bray about how wonderful the response has been to Puerto Rico. One of the news shows had a display:
Haiti earthquake - 50,000 troops and equipment one week in
Puerto Rico - 10,000 troops and little equipment one week in

Donald J. Quisling brays that Puerto Ricans haven't done enough to distribute materiel, which would be funny if it were reasonable. He brays that Puerto Rico is surrounded by water thus,
This is an island surrounded by water. Big water. Ocean water.

Spoken like any petulant six year old who's finally looked at a globe. But here's the salient fact
1,380 mi (1,200 nmi; 2,220 km) with ESSS stub wings and external tanks.

That's the ferry range of the Black Hawk helicopter. So, if you can get a squadron or ten to Miami, you can get them to Puerto Rico.
direct: Miami to San Juan - 1,031 miles
hopping: Miami to Nassau - 184 miles, Nassau to Turks - 469 miles, Turks to San Juan - 383 miles

So shut up. You could have had all the choppers in the USofA military distributing stuff all over the island in a few days. If you cared about a bunch of bankrupt dirty Spics who'd never vote for you. White grievance with maximum vengeance.

29 September 2017

Great Job, Brownie

We've been here before, and done a much better job of it. What job? Supplying a cut off population with the wherewithal for existence. Read up on the Berlin Airlift. It began in less time, post loss of access, than Donald J. Quisling has done with Puerto Rico and the USVI. It was, of course, run by the US military. Stodgy establishment.
The day after the 18 June 1948 announcement of the new Deutsche Mark, Soviet guards halted all passenger trains and traffic on the autobahn to Berlin, delayed Western and German freight shipments and required that all water transport secure special Soviet permission.

On 25 June 1948 Clay gave the order to launch Operation Vittles. The next day 32 C-47s lifted off for Berlin hauling 80 tons of cargo, including milk, flour, and medicine. The first British aircraft flew on 28 June. At that time, the airlift was expected to last three weeks.

Granted, the Berlin crisis had been on-going for some time, but Donald J. Quisling's dismissal of Puerto Rico is of a piece with W's disdain for New Orleans; now essentially white-ified.

27 September 2017

FIRE Alarm, part the second

Well, the mainstream pundit class finally has something to say about FIRE burning down the house. Were that this was the prevalent view. Sometimes, especially in the realm of human activity, data doesn't trump corruption.
Adam Smith, the father of modern capitalism, envisioned financial services (and I stress the word "service") as an industry that didn't exist as an end in itself, but rather as a helpmeet to other types of business.

Ya think? All those business school grads looking to Gekko-ize.
The financial industry, dominated by the biggest banks, provides only 4 percent of all jobs in the country, yet takes about a quarter of the corporate profit pie.

Minority rule: the many support the few. Only in Amerika. And Russia.
But it's not data or privacy or algorithms that are the fundamental issue with our financial system. It's the fact that the system itself has lost its core purpose.

Finance has become the tail that wags the dog.

Couldn't say it better me self. Well, may be.

26 September 2017

Thought for the Day - 26 September 2017

Recall the mentions, some recent, about how the Russian oligarchs got rich plundering the public resources? Well, here's more proof that Donald J. Quisling is on the same autocratic path. Drain the swamp? They're just a horde of swamp people. here.

24 September 2017

Don't Mess with Texas?

One of the more annoying bits of propaganda to emanate from the Right Wingnuts over the years was that Texas was special, and that Texans should really invoke their right to secede (there isn't one, as it happens). Texas has been, for the last century or so, just a bunch of Blue Eyed Arabs, sucking at the hind teat of petro. Geology has gotten smarter over the century, but it doesn't create that black goop. Either it's there or it isn't.

So, of course, they haven't seceded and want Uncle Sugar to send them gobs of moolah to fix Houston, which even an increasing number of Texans admit has been a cluster fuck for decades. The place floods like a wave pool without hurricanes just average rain storms, for crying out loud. I wonder if the Texans will also vote to fix Puerto Rico? Ya think?
It finally seems to be dawning on people that low taxes, less regulation and more oil are no substitute for actually governing.

Take a close look at that map. Notice something? Well, I'll tell you: greater Boston, including southern New Hampshire of course, is going great guns. As it has for a long time. Socialism works.
The tale of the Texas Miracle was a big fat lie: Plentiful oil, low regulation and even lower taxes are not a panacea. Sure, they don't hurt. But they don't help, not without consistent, well-considered state policy to attract and build businesses.

Still, there is hope. Harvey is forcing Texans to rethink our political dogma of small government at any cost. Harris County, which surrounds Democratic Houston and includes bedrock Republican suburbs, has placed everything on the table to prevent disasters in the future: from radical rezoning to land conservation and a giant Dutch-style engineering project to protect the region from another direct hit. That will take at least tens of billions of taxpayer dollars.
[my emphasis]

As Dr. McElhone (of UT/Austin) used to say, "Boy howdy!"

20 September 2017

Watch the Gap

I've lost count of the number of times that some comment on some board about this or that spiffy mobile device says that said device would be so much more better if it had a more better battery. Or, a comment that opines some new battery tech is just around the corner. My standard comment is some variation of "a better battery will appear when some genius invents an element better than Li". Consider that for a minute.

Comes the third iteration of Apple watch,
But the issues with Apple's new watch don't stop at bad reviews, inconsistent wireless, or even a short battery life. (It can only manage an hour of talk time when using LTE.)

Tim Cook, meet the asymptote of progress.


Serendipity (and some quasi-folk singers from the 1960s) happens when you least expect it. For some time I'd been intrigued by a title on Amazon,"Bayesian and Frequentist Regression Methods" by one Jon Wakefield. Never heard of him, but the table of contents promised a new approach: conpare and contrast real statistics and Bayesian foolishness (OK, that's harsh). So I've been wending my way through it in a desultory manner for a week or so. On the whole, IMHO, Wakefield demonstrates that Bayes offers little usefulness. Good on him.

He discusses a term I'd not run into, sandwich estimator (appears to be from 1960s and 1980s, though), as a palliative to heteroscedasticity. Now, for those who've not been through a baby stat or econometrics course as an undergraduate, one of the teehee moments was when the instructor starts discussing homoscedasticity and it's evil twin heteroscedasticity. Simply put, homo- means that variance is steady with increasing value, while hetero- means that variance increases with value. The problem with hetero- is that its presence mangles the maths' assumptions underlying the normal regression equations. The resulting regression results are "unreliable". Make mine with lettuce and tomato.

So, today Norman Matloff posts some slides from a talk and a new book on regression. The slides are linked to in his r-bloggers post. You should go through the slides, tons of fun. And more sandwich estimator. I will destroy you, heteroscedasticity!!!!

There are a slew of sentences that I'd turn into preamble quotes; they'd last nearly a year. My hero.
Contrary to popular opinion, statistics is not a branch of computer science.

And, my favorite
Myth #3: R 2 is only for linear models.
• R 2 (on either sample or population level) is the squared correlation between Y and Ŷ .
• Thus is defined for any regression procedure, even nonparametric ones like k-Nearest Neighbor.
• Example: Currency data.

Minority Report, part the third

Time has come for another installment in the Minority Report series (here and here for the basis). To recap, the whole point of a dictator is to extract value from the many and transfer to the few. One might argue that the 1% have been doing so for some decades, but Donald J. Quisling makes the gambit explicit. The mealy-mouthed Lefties keep bleating that Donald J. Quisling makes no effort to build a larger base. They ignore the facts staring, and hooting, them in the face.

So, now we have the Graham-Cassidy Trumpcare bill. Clearly even more Darwinist than the earlier attempts to take from the poor and give to the rich. The NYT has a write up today. In particular, a very nice graph showing the transfer. Likely done in R, of course. Note that the losers were those states that accepted Medicaid expansion, while the winners didn't. So, who's going to get the windfall moolah? The lower classes? Not likely. The key to block granting, of course, is the Alabama's of the world can use the money any way they wish. Mink coats for the governor and all his friends. Just like Joe Namath, Alabama player.

Guess Who's Buying ?

This from today's briefing.com @7:56
U.S. Treasuries have made it through another range-bound night ahead of the release of the FOMC Statement for September. The market is all but certain that today's update will not feature a call for another rate hike, but it is widely expected that additional guidance will be provided regarding the Fed's plan to begin reducing the size of its balance sheet. After recovering off this year's low, the benchmark 10-yr yield hovers near levels that have been revisited on multiple occasions since the middle of April.

Yield Check:
2-yr: UNCH at 1.39%
5-yr: -1 bp to 1.82%
10-yr: -1 bp to 2.23%
30-yr: -1 bp to 2.80%

Where, oh where, is the moolah coming from to drive up those prices? The 1% and corps? Ya think. Guess what happens if Donald J. Quisling and friends gives such 1) a huge tax break and/or 2) a tax holiday to re-patriate overseas moolah? Yet more moolah chasing Treasuries. The Donald J. Quisling solution: push through legislation to change how Treasuries are sold. No longer at auction, with a fixed coupon, but with a fixed interest rate. That way right wingnuts can explicitly transfer wealth from the many to the few without all the hand-waving that goes on these days.

The sell-off from the Fed is a hand-waving method to drive up the interest rate: increase supply of instruments will drive price down and interest rate up to where it should be for the idle money rich. Amerika, such a great country. Just don't get sick.

18 September 2017

Where Have Oli Garchs Gone?

For those with short memories, this is how the Russian Oligarchs got rich.
Zinke declined to say whether portions of the monuments would be opened up to oil and gas drilling, mining, logging and other industries for which Trump has advocated. It was not clear from the memo how much energy development would be allowed on the sites recommended for changes, although the memo cites increased public access as a key goal.

You wanna bet?

16 September 2017

Coin of the Realm

About two years ago, in these endeavors, was this
2) bitcoin, by design, is a pyramid scheme

And, not for the first time, the mainstream pundits didn't follow my lead. Sigh. But wait, there's more! In today's reporting, we find that a cryptocurrency vendor has second thoughts. Very, very second:
the cryptocurrency market "increasingly feels like a bunch of white libertarian bros sitting around hoping to get rich and coming up with half-baked, buzzword-filled business ideas."

Other high-profile skeptics have sounded the alarm about a potential crash in the crypto market, including Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, who last week called Bitcoin a "fraud," and compared the current digital money craze to the 17th-century Dutch tulip bubble. And even true cryptocurrency believers have started to worry that I.C.O. mania won't end well.

The goal, as always, is to get "in on the ground floor"
But more dollars are still pouring into cryptocurrency ventures every day, as giddy investors ignore the warning signs and look to multiply their money.

I wonder, how many stock certificates of pets.com do you gentle readers have lining your bird cages?

Alternative Fax

For those who may have missed it, the Equifax security chief was a music major. Now, it is well known that facility with music often accompanies one with math. But, come on!!!
[Susan Mauldin, who had been the top security officer], a college music major, had come under media scrutiny for her qualifications in security.

Well, no shit, Sherlock. I'll leave the sexist and elitest rants to the reader.

Here's a bit more detail.
Equifax "Chief Security Officer" Susan Mauldin has a bachelor's degree and a master of fine arts degree in music composition from the University of Georgia. Her LinkedIn professional profile lists no education related to technology or security.

And, according to further reporting, here LinkedIn pages have been scrubbed. My guess as to how she got such a position: it ain't what ya know, it's who ya know. I expect we'll find out the truth in due course.

14 September 2017

FIRE Alarm

For some time, these endeavors have discussed data analysis, and the (somewhat) artificial divide between micro and macro versions. There is the real difference, in that micro analysis (nearly) always has population data: all the products, inputs, customers, and the like. Macro analysis, on the other hand, nearly always is limited to sample data. What the alt-right call fake news, when the numbers don't fit their pre-determined result. What the non-stat literate don't or won't admit is that large sample theory kicks in with a rather small number of observations. Macro data sets easily exceed such requirements. The problem is that macro data is seldom actually used in setting policy. Policy is set by political favor-making, irrrregardless of the data. Sigh.

Along the lines of macro data, I've implored gentle reader to dig into FRED data. In particular the simple fact that FIRE has burned down the economy. Not a lot of mainstream pundits have picked up on this. Until today, of course.
In the postwar era, finance has grown enormously as a share of the global economy, often feeding debt-fueled bubbles. In 2015, the economist Alan M. Taylor and his colleagues looked at data going back 140 years for 17 leading economies. Before World War II, there were 78 recessions — including only 19 that followed a bubble in stocks or housing or both. After the war, there were 88 recessions, a vast majority of which, 62, followed a stock or housing bubble or both.

This leads, of course, to
Today, global financial assets (including just stocks and bonds) are worth over $250 trillion and amount to about 330 percent of global gross domestic product, up from $12 trillion and just 110 percent in 1980. Traditionally, economists have looked for trouble in the economy to cause trouble in the markets. But the ocean of money in financial markets is now so large, it's possible that ripples on its surface could trigger the next big downturn.