27 June 2018

Don't Let the Big Chunks Get Stuck

Over the years there have been commercial zero gravity rides. Whether NASA or otherwise, the name vomit comet applies. I imagine it's quite unsettling. Tender readers will recall the numerous times these missives have pointed out the coming rate inversion (that missive nearly two years ago) will have dire consequences. At one point, I offered up that when it happens it will snap your head off. Blow big chunks. Or something like that.

At long last, the mainstream sees fit to write about it. Took ya long enough, boy.

The Money Quote:
If enough investors begin to grow concerned about a recession, they will most likely put more and more money into the safety of long-term government bonds. That buying binge would likely help flatten, or invert, the yield curve.

Then people will write articles about the curve's sending a stronger signal on recession. And that could, in turn, drive even more people to buy into long-term bonds. Rinse. Repeat.

The fact remains, that American capitalists long ago ran out of new ideas how to spend all those trillions of Uncle Sugar Bucks. Risk aversion is just the polite way of saying they're greedy idiots. They've pissed away the additional trillion they got from Orange Julius Caesar on share buybacks, M&A, and dividends. None of which improve productivity, wages, or employment. Fact is, historically, M&A in particular has been a job destruction exercise. MAWA!!

25 June 2018

Splainin Trump

What follows is, so far as I know, new. It is, too, what Dr. McElhone described as intuitively obvious to even the most casual observer. I have expected that one of the mainstream pundits would get around to offering it up real soon. Real soon hasn't happened, so here we go.

What we know so far is that Orange Julius Caesar and his followers are motivated by white paranoia and white grievance. What we don't know is why it works. Certainly the message is 'Make America White Again' before we're no longer the one race majority. This is what appeals to the lower class white folk, whose only solace in their poverty is the certainty that black and brown folk could be treated even more poorly; there is 'an other' identified to be below them on the totem pole of society. But what motivates the Koch cabal? Ain't no black folk coming to take their billions. They don't need such reassurance. What gives with them, and pretenders to their throne?

Well, it seems pretty obvious. Consider how government is run. Citizens pay taxes of various sorts, and government spends such funds on public goods. Now, when income is more or less equal, each citizen pays more or less the same amount into the kitty. A progressive income tax, which we allegedly have, weighs the wealthy more than the poor out of a sense of fairness. No one, or group, has cause to complain. It is shared sacrifice for shared benefit. Prior to the income tax, most Federal revenue was from sin taxes and tariffs, the latter being in effect a national sales tax. Some assert that the income tax (by way of amendment) coinciding with prohibition wasn't a coincidence, rather an offset to revenue source.

Which brings us to now. What we know is that income and wealth continue to concentrate. We need only recall Romney's 47% admission. It turns out that among the 47% are some quite well off citizens. But the effect remains: as income becomes more concentrated, those at the top see little reason to pay taxes for services they expect they'll never need. After all, they've got plenty of money. In order to keep the government running as it has been, requires $X. But with fewer citizens having sufficient income to be subject to the tax, those privileged ones must needs contribute more to meet the $X requirement. And they just don't want to do that. So Orange Julius Caesar lowered their taxes overwhelmingly. In due time, he'll call for raising taxes and cutting benefits on those of the 47% who aren't well off. "The American taxpayer can't afford it!!"

This is the driver for the 'Donor Class' that pushes Orange Julius Caesar and Trumpism: revenge of the privileged class.

20 June 2018

Phat Country

"My girl left me, my dog died, and my truck won't start." Or something like that is the essence of country music. Now we can add, "I's so fat,I cain't see my dick no more."

The reality of the fat country sluggard is true; let's go to the videotape. Not that anyone paying attention should be surprised. Orange Julius Caesar rode white grievance and white entitlement to his throne. Most of his voters were so conked out on opiates that they likely didn't know what, exactly, Orange Julius Caesar was up to. They just knew he'd put those darkies in their place; while he picks their pockets, to be sure. Make America White Agin. May be enough will croak before the next election? Thinning the herd; just what Stephen Miller wants. Just not his herd, naturally.
Country folk are being hit harder by the U.S. obesity epidemic than city dwellers, two new government studies show. Nearly 40 percent of rural American men and almost half of rural women are now statistically obese, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers reported Tuesday.
For example, people who had a college degree were less likely to be obese or severely obese.

So, here's the question: how much longer will the heads of CDC and the unit(s) doing the research still be employed? I bet they're gone by the end of the week.

Not On My Watch

The outrage over asylum seekers' treatment by Orange Julius Caesar and his xenophobic cabal is genuine. But the wailing that "this isn't America" and such is nonsense. For most of its history, my country has been xenophobic and racist. Moreover, fish belly white folks, who came from countries considered lower than England and Scotland, the Irish as one example, got what Orange Julius Caesar is dishing out today. (This is source.)
Many native-born Americans claimed that "their incessant childbearing [would] ensure an Irish political takeover of American cities [and that] Catholicism would become the reigning faith of the hitherto Protestant nation."

Sound just the bit familiar? Do you want Muslims and brown people taking your country away from you? This is not new. If you don't read the wiki article through, that was in the mid-1800s during the Irish potato failure. For much of the 1800s, job postings carried, not EOE, but NINA. No Irish Need Apply. Orange Julius Caesar is just channeling age old xenophobia.

Site Launch

What's intelligence? What's insight? I'd say a close enough definition is the ability to see a real world truth before there's measurement. This was how Einstein figured out special relativity; observing a bell tower from a tram. Some refer to this process as intuition. Others as real intelligence, vis-a-vis the artificial version.

Which brings me to a David Leonhardt from the last week. One of the bones I've had to pick with the Right, who know they're lying, is their assertion that small business was, is, and will be the savior of American economy. Orange Julius Caesar went on a tirade at a small business conference yesterday. All one need do, over the last three or four decades is see what has happened in one's town, city, or state. The Big get Bigger and the Small get crushed. As Leonhardt says, mainstream punditry, and analytics as well it seems, hasn't been measuring. So he set out to do so. Good on him. I already knew it, of course. But it's heartwarming to see my insight validated.
Today, companies with at least 10,000 workers employ more people than companies with fewer than 50 workers.

There's a, as the Brits put it, knock-on effect of behemothing (that's now a word) of American business. In times past, economists and other analysts have made the point that the blue collar middle class emerged due to the confluence (or symbiosis) of big business and big unions. Auto workers made a middle class living because The Big 3 had oligopoly power, and the unions had the legal clout to force a sharing of that power in a form of enforced profit-sharing. The workers got a share of the vig. So, between the Right Wing destruction of unions and off-shoring of jobs (no, China didn't steal them, American corps. sent them), the blue collar middle class no longer exists. And those knuckleheads are convinced that a big city con man will make it all better? Here's the first paper that came up in a simple search.

You really want to MAGA? Bring back strong unions. With more market power held by large corporations, there's more 'rents' to share with workers. "Vote for George O'Brian. Get poor Charlie off the MTA!"

Ah, Truth

One of my many pet peeves with the right wing set is that they claim the increase in life expectancy since the beginning of Social Security is proof positive that SS is unsustainable. Just look at how many years have been added!!!!!! Well, as has been reported here a number of times, life expectancy increase, measured from any time before about 1960 (and any place), is not due to people of 60 or so living all those many years longer. Au contraire! It's been that young folks, from birth, now make it through young adulthood standing up. Vaccines and sulfa drugs and cleaner water and a host of other public health measures mean that an American baby in 2018 is better off than an American baby born in 1932. But not better than most OECD countries.

Here is a fellow thinker.
Life expectancy is calculated directly from death rates. And mathematically speaking, changes in infant mortality have a much greater impact on life expectancy than do changes in death rates in any other year.

Or, put more starkly:
More realistically, if death rates in the first year went up to 250 out 1,000 (which would be around the worst current day level, but well within historical ranges), life expectancy comes down from 79 to around 50, despite death rates at all other ages staying the same as in 2015 France.

17 June 2018

Thought For The Day - 17 June 2018

Just finished Bourdain's next but last (so far, CNN hasn't said how many season 12 episodes were finished and if so would be broadcast) episode, and did some innterTubes looking about, and came across a CNN piece where an anonymous CNNer allowed has how they should continue the show with a replacement reporter (or whatever Bourdain was; he denied being a journalist). I vote for Paul Theroux. I doubt he would do it, but he's as close to Bourdain as I've encountered.

Other nominations welcome.

13 June 2018

Neo Barnum

There are times, sometimes too many, when quant looks sheepish. This is one of those days. I have a few rules of thumb. One is that biopharma from the Boston-Cambridge axis is legit, while that of the San Diego version is garbage. I don't recall an instance where the latter has failed. But here's a case of the former proving false.
The biotech industry's Arctic ice-cube salesman Cristoph Westphal managed to raise $86 million Wednesday night in an initial public offering to develop a treatment for leg cramps made from food ingredients commonly found in your spice drawer and refrigerator.

That's one guy's assessment from three years ago. Here's today's results
... announced that the Company is ending its ongoing Phase 2 clinical trial investigations of FLX-787 in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) due to oral tolerability concerns observed in both studies, in a subset of patients being treated, with the oral disintegrating tablet formulation at 30 mg, taken three times a day.

What was it Barnum said...? It should be noted that cinnamon, by folklore, is a cure for diabetes. And my PCP swears by magnesium, not potassium, for cramps. Works for me.

09 June 2018

Phil and Tony

In the early 1960s, Bobby Zimmerman left Lake Wobegon, became Bob Dylan and was annointed the angry young man singer-songwriter doing protest songs. In due time, we all figured out that he was just another pop singer. About the same time, a real protest singer, in the folk tradition, emerged. His name was Phil Ochs. In 1976, age 35, he hanged himself in the bathroom of his sister's house. His records, when he could get them made, didn't sell. Live gigs had dried up. He despaired of making a living. You can get his 'greatest hits' from Amazon. And you should.

Friday Anthony Bourdain did the same, only in a five-star hotel in Kaysersberg, France while recording an episode of "Parts Unknown" with Eric Ripert, one of his best friends. He had his crew with him. He was not isolated. He was wildly successful. But he left for parts unknown. Regular readers recall that I've said his show the best thing on the TeeVee, so it's unnerving to consider TeeVee without him.

You'll find all manner of tributes, including one I missed on CNN last night; I didn't know it was on. It'll be run Sunday at 10pm. You should watch. The scheduled episode will go on at 9pm. Whether the remaining completed episodes will be shown, I don't yet know. It is a bit unsettling watching the 'favorite episodes' as I write this. Still, it would be a shame if CNN withholds completed episodes.


I can't say I know much about JOOQ. Seen it referenced here and there, but this piece just appeared, and I am heartened to see someone in the java world make a strong case for 'database first, code last'. There is hope for Western Civilization.
The real "truth" of your database schema, and the "sovereignty" over it, resides with your database. The database is the only place where the schema is defined, and all clients have a copy of the database schema, not vice versa. The data is in your database, not in your client, so it makes perfect sense to enforce the schema and its integrity in the database, right where the data is.

The only point missing from the article: an Organic Normal Form™ schema will be, to some small epsilon, immune to schema update modification problems, since tables/columns in normal forms are, more or less, orthogonal. They can be, if one wishes, fully orthogonal, and when so, there exist no side-effects. The re-generated client code will be restricted to the manifestation of such tables. Easy peasy.

Going database first does demand that rogue coders aren't welcome in development. Database first development demands careful thought aforehand, an approach not welcomed by the coding community. Coders want to keep making mistakes, finding them in the debugger, patching. Rinse repeat. There is a better way.

And, there isn't any such thing as impedence mismatch. That's been dealt with here more than once. This is spectacularly true in the java world of actionObject/dataObject. It's a witch hunt.

04 June 2018

A Hop, A Skip, and A Jump - part the fifth

Yet another carrot for the stew, a paper from last year directly discussing RDBMS on PM. Of all the references so far in this series, this one is *a must read*. Really. Not just because it validates every notion flowing from my noggin. No, not at all.
In this tutorial, we provide an outline on how to build a new DBMS given the changes to hardware landscape due to NVM.

Yum. And it's from what was Carnegie Tech (which accepted me, but I ended up going elsewhere), one of the first Computer Science curriculums!
In the case of memory-oriented DBMSs (e.g., VoltDB, MemSQL), they contain components for overcoming the volatility of DRAM. Such components may be unnecessary in a system with byte-addressable NVM with fast random access.

Exactly why the announced kludges for *nix/Windows aren't the end. The OS/400 turns out to be the winner. In some form.
Peloton is an open-source HTAP DBMS that we are building that is designed from the groundup to use NVM. Our intended audience are developers, researchers, and practitioners with knowledge of DBMS internals. They do not need any in-depth background or experience with NVM.

Here we see another step closer to the OS/400 model:
To cope with these shorter NVM latencies, Microsoft and Linux are adding support for direct access storage (DAX) in Windows Server 2016 [48] and Linux 4.7 [1], respectively. With DAX, a DBMS directly allocates and uses NVM without an intervening filesystem. This requires only one copy between the file and the user buffers, thus improving the file I/O performance by an order of magnitude compared to block-oriented filesystems.
[my bold]

Recall an earlier part of this series' mention that transaction semantics will be different with PM? Make it so:
The write-ahead logging (WAL) protocol supports efficient transaction processing when memory is volatile and durable storage cannot support fast random writes [58, 39, 33]. But this assumption causes unnecessary performance degradations in a DBMS with NVM storage [14]. Consider a transaction that inserts a tuple into a table. A DBMS first records the tuple's contents in the log, and it later propagates the change to the database. With NVM, a DBMS can employ a logging protocol that avoids this unnecessary data duplication. The reason why NVM enables a better logging protocol than WAL is two-fold. The write throughput of NVM is more than an order of magnitude higher than that of an SSD or HDD. Further, the gap between sequential and random write throughput of NVM is smaller than that in SSD and HDD. Hence, a DBMS can flush changes directly to the database in NVM during regular transaction processing [15, 14, 12, 64, 40, 62, 80].

The Future is Now.

A Hop, A Skip, and A Jump - part the fourth

During my near awake status, it occurred to me that the I5 System (nee, AS/400) would be the perfect candidate for PM. The machine after all, doesn't use a file system in the *nix/Windows sense, but an object store (in the pure data sense). It's machine designed, however well applications exploit it, to be Relational.

Turns out, some folks already have. And not just with the Optane announcement.
But key here is that when the object gets created, it is also created in a system-wide address space that IBM i calls Single Level Store (SLS). In the context of this article on persistent storage, it happens that SLS is also persistent; if you restart the OS — say after a power failure — the objects remain with the same address. Said differently, every byte of data out on your hard or solid-state drive has a corresponding location-independent high-level address used by the OS. If your program wants to reference that byte in whatever object, your program just uses the byte's address, no matter how many times the OS was restarted.

Some folks consider IBM to be a hidebound dinosaur. And, to some extent that's right. But here's a bit of history of the I5 OS:
IBM's design of the single-level storage was originally conceived and pioneered by Frank Soltis in the late 1970s as a way to build a transitional implementation to computers with 100% solid state memory. The thinking at the time was that disk drives would become obsolete, and would be replaced entirely with some form of solid state memory. IBM i was designed to be independent of the form of hardware memory used for secondary storage. This has not come to be, however, because while solid state memory has become exponentially cheaper, disk drives have also become similarly cheaper; thus, the price ratio in favour of disk drives continues: very much higher capacities than solid state memory, very much slower to access, and much less expensive.
[my bold]

A few years ahead of his time.

03 June 2018

A Hop, A Skip, and A Jump - part the third

Some more spelunking. Turns out that linux and Windows have existing mechanisms to leverage persistent memory under the covers of block-mode IO; i.e. mmap and DAX. Such might be sufficient to get by in the short term. Here's Intel's report.
Both Windows* and Linux* support memory-mapped files, a feature which has been around for a long time, but is not commonly used.

Interestingly, the BDFL of Progress database said, around 1990, that if your database didn't use mmap, get another database. That long ago.

Intel also has a FAQ, which has some interesting tidbits.

02 June 2018

A Hop, A Skip, and A Jump - part the second

Do you remember that Date, at least by his last version (re-gifted previous ones along the way so I can't vouch for them) of "Introduction..." included a section called "ACID dropping" in chapter 16? I wasn't convinced way back in 2003 when the edition was published. With hardware prior to Optane, updates are a serial process, thus the need for ACID.

With what's now being named "Persistent Memory", of which Optane is Intel's version, we have to re-think transaction semantics. Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that 4TB Optane machines with a slot or two of DRAM and an SSD for OS and applications storage (herein, Godzilla) are the norm in Server World. Who are the losers? I'll argue that ACID and MVCC are the most obvious candidates for being no longer relevant.

With HDD as permanent storage, the hop, skip, jump process is required to process updates. ACID is the mechanism to manage concurrency in a locking protocol (MVCC still locks, just late rather than early). With Godzilla as the platform for RDBMS systems, Codd's "all at once" is natural; no hop, skip, jump. Will it be faster than hop, skip, jump in all cases? I've no idea. We don't yet have on-the-record speeds for Optane. But my suspicion is that most of the code in relational/SQL engines goes away, particularly for schemas that are in Organic Normal Form™. Explicit locking, in the engine, won't be needed, since the OS takes care of memory locks, and that's all there are. Since updates become visible essentially immediately, the locking avoidance of MVCC is, also, not needed.

Godzilla won't be birthed for a while. *nix/Windows and datastore based applications will need to be modified, or more likely forked, to support/exploit Persistent Memory. File system no longer matters, objects (in the older sense) are all that exist. Search can, and should, be relational! No more silly one-way to the bottom hierarchies. And, that's not far fetched, since such machines existed in the past (not sure if the current progeny are the same), called AS/400, itself a development from earlier machines. The OS included an embedded RM-ish object engine, which got renamed DB2/400 for a while. In one incarnation of my employment, an AS/400 hosted application lost to one on an early RS/6000 and Progress. Worked out OK, since that company is still running the code.
Unlike the "everything is a file" feature of Unix and its derivatives, on IBM i everything is an object (with built-in persistence and garbage collection).
Remember, the hierarchy file system was concocted to support a server/terminal hosted word processor: Unix. Since Bell, as most any corporation, was built as a top-down org chart, so too was its word processor. All before Codd had released his first version, and when the state of the art datastore was IBM's mainframe IMS. Yes, the iconic hierarchical "database".