31 October 2018

Radio Free Europe

Well, oh my. So the Right Wingnuts are out to invent a smear of Mueller. Now, remember this: at least the Russians and Chinese have been tapping The Manchurian President's clear-text iPhone. Likely the Brits, French, and Germans at least as well. Also, this cute smear didn't come to light until after the tapping revelation. You can be sure that the tappers have tape of The Manchurian President okay-ing the gig. If not demanding it. Recall, also, the reason The Manchurian President uses this phone is that he doesn't want his calls to his cabal logged by the Damn Gummint, so he would surely do the deed on his personal device. If he did it, of course. Would the Brits be willing to share?? How about the Dutch?? Can you say, "even the GOP has to impeach"?

19 October 2018

Thought For The Day - 19 October 2018

OK. What are the odds that the latest 'caravan' was instigated by the The Manchurian President brigade? The perfect October Surprise. The Honduras nasties get a few bucks and rid of some malcontents. The Manchurian President gets his 'issue'. 99.44%.

18 October 2018

A Feature, Not a Bug

Just go read this piece. Calls bullshit. Just as any intelligent analyst did at the outset. Shift $1.5 trillion from the many to the few, blow up the deficit, and round up the usual suspects.
One way to think about it is from the perspective of a small-business owner. Let's say you run your own bakery. You sell bread for $4 a loaf. Today, you sold 90 loaves, for $360 in revenue. You expect that, because it's a busier day at the bakery tomorrow, you'll sell 100 loaves then, earning $400. But you"d like to sell even more than that, so you lower the price to $3 a loaf to encourage additional purchases.

Congratulations! You sell 125 loaves. Your revenue goes up, to $375. That's more than you brought in the day before. Your price cut, though, has not "paid for itself" - because you ended up bringing in less revenue than you would have otherwise.

In other words, you brought in more money than the day before. But it's less than you would have made if you hadn't cut the price.

It will be so much better for the country when SS, Medicare, and Medicaid are eliminated. Right?

16 October 2018

Good Quant, Bad Quant

What is your estimate of the amount of quant analysis or data analysis or data science that does neither descriptive nor inferential statistics? My guess is 99.44%. Sports stats being the most irritating. They're just numbers, fur cryin out loud. Which is not to say that decisions can't be bolstered by mere numbers. It happens a lot. One recent day in the life of The Failing New York Times brought forth some good quant and some bad quant. And no statistics to be found.

First, we get a story about a cranky investor, on the heels of the tenth anniversary of Lehman bullet to the back of the head.
Mr. Rasmussen, founding partner of Verdad Capital in Boston, has written an article and two reports that make a case against investments in private equity, venture capital and private real estate, and he has piles of data to back up his argument.

If you do read the article, there's no analysis beyond stating the obvious: buy small and cheap and sell out expensive. Nice work if you can get it. And no p-values to argue about.

Second, is an article Serena's meltdown, if it were such, and whether her (and others) claim that girls are treated more harshly by officials than boys. Bad quant in this one.

15 October 2018

Our Grey Matter as The RM [updates]

Some times I find the experts off in the weeds. Kind of like The Manchurian President does toward any area of endeavor. By now, if you're not living under a rock, you've heard of AI. Self driving cars. Individualized innterTubes adverts. And so on. Exactly what AI is, isn't clearly defined. By coincidence, a NYT crossword blogger of all folks, generated a very off topic discussion of 'what is intelligence, anyway' a few days ago.

So, today the regular NYT prints this profile. Here's where I go off the rails. Hawkins asserts that it's necessary to figure out exactly how the human brain works in order to make AI. As any discussion/argument over the issue of defining 'intelligence' tells us, humans can't even decide where accumulated knowledge ends and intelligence begins. Which is to say: AI has no need to work the same way as the human brain, only be able to solve problems correctly. Just as there are, at least, four distinct ways to store 'structured' data, there's more than one way to skin the problem solving cat.

That said, here's an intriguing quote:
As Mr. Hawkins looked at that cup, he decided that cortical columns did not just capture sensations. They captured the location of those sensations. They captured the world in three dimensions rather than two. Everything was seen in relation to what was around it.

Does three dimensional mean 3NF?? Well, not necessarily, but you get the idea.

Once again, a dude has figured out that the world isn't flat or hierarchical, it's relational. BooYah!! And it gets better:
"When the brain builds a model of the world, everything has a location relative to everything else," Mr. Hawkins said. "That is how it understands everything."

So, the moral of the story: intelligence is just a RDBMS made out of little grey cells. Now, should it be built on locking transactions, or MVCC? I can live with either.

Well, that didn't take long. The NYT has an additional section today in the dead trees version (on-line is a bit fractured); subject being AI. Who knew? Recommended. If only because one of the interviewees has this to say:
What remains the biggest misconception about A.I.?
People confuse intelligence with consciousness; they expect A.I. to have consciousness, which is a total mistake. Intelligence is the ability to solve problems; consciousness is the ability to feel things -- pain, hate, love, pleasure.

Sound a bit familiar?

And this bit of discomfort:
International Business Machines Corp.'s Watson Health head, Deborah DiSanzo, is leaving her role, Stat News reported on Friday. The high-profile departure, which a company spokesperson confirmed to Stat, comes as the famed computer system's usefulness in health care, including in treating cancer, has been criticized as overhyped, including in reports by Stat News and The Wall Street Journal.


13 October 2018

God's Punishment

This just in.
Michael -- a powerful Category 4 storm -- shattered late-season records. According to Colorado State University hurricane expert Philip Klotzbach, Hurricane Michael is the strongest storm on record to make U.S. landfall in October.
Just two weeks ago, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, New Jersey, published a study using a state-of-the-art hurricane climate model. They found that rising sea surface temperatures due to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions will likely lead to a greater number of major hurricanes in the future. That is a consistent finding in most hurricane climate research.

Everybody says that's baloney. It's God's punishment for electing liberals.

12 October 2018

I Bet You Didn't Know This

One of the most disturbing reports in quite a long time. I didn't know it. I bet you didn't either.
Native Americans did not obtain the right to vote in the United States until 1965, when the Voting Rights Act was passed, prohibiting voter restriction based on race.

Thought for the Day - 12 October 2018 [update]

The Fed is playing with fire, i.e. disaster. For the first time, The Manchurian President may be right in his yelling at The Fed. I doubt his yelling is motivated by anything more than self interest. He has a lot of debt in his Failing New York Businesses.

As has been posited in these missives since the Great Recession, economic health, i.e. widespread growth, is driven by increasing demand for the stuff (tangible and intangible) that we make. It's a long establish fact that the marginal propensity to consume goes down as income goes up. There're only so many bananas that one person will buy in a given time period. Giving Mo Money to those with lots o Money doesn't do the job. It makes them happier, naturally, but does nothing to promote growth. Business doesn't make Mo Stuff in the face of static demand. Much less falling demand.

Which brings us to this line from briefing.com today - 8:06AM:
Starbucks says executing a $5 bln accelerated share repurchase program as part of previously announced plan to return $25 bln to shareholders (54.86 )

What do you think will happen to that $5 billion?? Will it be spent buying a new car?? A new house?? Nah. It will be plowed back into the market, in some form. It might go directly to Treasuries, and push up prices and down yields. It might go (indirectly pushing up Treasuries) into some other share, pushing up its price and down its return. Some might end up in the hands of Joe Sixpack Retail Plunger who might buy an extra case of Bud each week, but that'd be the shrinking minority.

No matter how you spin it, liquidity is being pushed into the hands of, mostly, folks with more money than they know how to spend on consumer product already. So, they'll try to spend it on assets. And so goes up the price of assets, and down the various types of interest rate. Most of the recovery from the Great Recession has been driven by unwarranted increases in asset prices. This should be no surprise, as most of the recovery effort, intentional or accidental, has been directed at the 1%. Joe Sixpack hasn't seen much benefit. The financial pundits, and the elites who make the decisions, won't tell us the truth. It might just make enough folks mad enough to see that The Manchurian President has been scamming the Populist President label from the beginning.

By pushing short term rates higher, in the face of stagnant returns on long term real capital in the private sector, the Fed is shooting us all in the foot. Rate inversion, here we come. You won't enjoy the ride.

Here's some more reporting I just finished reading with my morning greasy spoon java:
When companies have more cash than they believe they can use productively, they typically return it to shareholders either with cash payments - known as dividends - or by repurchasing shares in the market. Buybacks raise demand, putting upward pressure on share prices.

And, as before, rising share prices drives percent return, aka interest rate, down. The Fed can do nothing to make the CxO class smarter at finding new, profitable, ways to build physical capital. Monetarism can go only so far.

11 October 2018

Database Option

This just published at AnandTech:
Q: Are you working with any database providers (Microsoft, PostgreSQL, etc.) to help them take full advantage of Optane's distinctive characteristics (latency/mixed workload perf/low queue depth perf)? Very broadly speaking, how do you currently expect Optane DIMMs' bandwidth and latency to compare to DDR4? Do you anticipate it being possible to create a RAID of Optane DIMMs? Is there anything else that you want to say about Optane and database performance?

A: Databases are a great fit for Optane technology. Yes, we are working with all the major database companies. Here is an example of our work with the Developers of MySQL. You can try it yourself here.

We are building a developer community for optimizing software for Optane SSDs with our partners at Packet. You can join this community on Slack. Details are here.

Similarly, we are growing a developer community for optimizing software applications to take advantage of Persistence, aligned to the Intel Optane DC Persistent Memory DIMMs. More info here.
[my bold]


09 October 2018

Yes Ore No - part the third

In answer to a diminishing number of requests, I offer up another data point in the argument over tariffs. Studious reader will recall "Yes Ore No - part the second" which contains this perfect gem of logic:
Now, you can't have steel, or aluminum, without the source ores. It's not a case of 'where there's a will there's a way'. Yeah gotta have ore.

Putting up tariffs is done for one or two reasons (mayhaps both); 1) to finance the government (here's the data) or 2) to generate excess profit to fledgling domestic industry. As stated, steel isn't fledgling, and aluminum is dead as a door nail. Steel is nearly so, based on known reserves of iron ore. We used to have bunches, but burned up much of it building ships and tanks during WWII. Moreover, to make specialty steels, other minerals are needed.

Which brings us to today's NYT missive about Finnish (mostly, stainless) steel. It's a case where there's no possibility of making such steel with American resources, and the amount of money that tariffs will bring is a spit in the ocean of government budget. Stupid is as stupid does.
Perhaps most important, there are no active chromium mines in North America.

You can't make stainless without chrome. Nickel and molybdenum are commonly added as well.

05 October 2018

He Did It [update]

One of my guilty pleasures is the "Law and Order" shows. Just the Original and "Criminal Intent", though. There must be thousands of actors in the NYC metro area, since they've got to have gone through that many. Some actors are considered "exotic looking". Bette Davis when she was younger. Among today's performers, Penny Balfour is the tops.

In the L&W episode "Hubris", the bad guy is played by Tim Guinee, also border line exotic. Certainly smarmy this time around. During the trial portion of the episode, Guinee is self-lawyer while Balfour is jury foreman. He flirts openly with her. He gets acquitted. She pushes the jury to do so.

With a couple of minutes to go, she comes to see McCoy. Admits that she steered the jury. And that he dumped her right after the trial.
Gibbons (Balfour): "He did it, didn't he?"
Carmichael; "Yeah, he did."

The episode ends with the cops called to her apartment, with Morriston (Guinee) dead on the kitchen floor with a knife in his neck. Seems he attempted to garrot her while she was making dinner, with null effect.

Kavanaugh did it, and listening to Collins dance around the truth for an hour...

A while back, I heard something about cum laude graduations from Yale around the time Kavanaugh did. Basically, it was a Lake Wobegon sort of place. So, here's the data:
Last year [1987], 46.4 percent of all seniors graduated from Yale with general honors - 11 percent graduated summa cum laude, 11.5 percent magna cum laude and 23.9 percent cum laude. In 1986, 50.5 percent of the graduating class received honors.

How special they were.

01 October 2018

Day and Night

More than once over the course of the last few years, these missives have asserted that the best show on the TeeVee is 'Anthony Bourdain, Parts Unknown'. That was said long before he died in June. As more information emerged about the circumstances, it seemed to me that the most likely situation was a Carradine. After the first 2 episodes of this final set, I'm not so sure. At the time of the suicide, he was in France with Eric Ripert recording an episode, and was later reported to show no signs of despair or other darkness. Ripert, by all accounts, was one of his closest friends. Perhaps first among many.

It was a bit eerie watching the remaining episodes of the then current season being broadcast. He was there in full view, but not. Then, CNN announced that episodes for season 12 in production were in various forms of completion, and would be shown. The season would be 1 fully complete episode, 4 episodes with sufficient location recording, but no post-production narration, and 2 'tribute' episodes. This could be difficult.

Sunday before last was the complete episode, Kenya, with W. Kamau Bell as tag-along sidekick. The majority of episodes over the seasons are just Bourdain going somewhere, meeting up with foodies, musicians, politicians, academics, chefs, cooks, and so on. The crunchier places require some number of fixers to keep things going, if only navigating language. This was a standard 'Parts Unknown', not to be missed, but known to be the last. Ever. What comes next?

Spain came next, last night. Again, a sidekick in the form of Jose Andres. And a good thing, too. Sort of. This episode proves what made 'Parts Unknown' so extraordinary: Anthony Bourdain's view of the human condition, spoken with heart and feeling and experience. Most episodes have Bourdain interacting with local folk for extended periods of time. I never took double stopwatches to time how much of Bourdain we got in situ, and how much post-production narration. I'm pretty sure it's more post, but not by a wide margin. I'll guess that the intent was for Bourdain to fill in the history of Andres, Asturias, the food, the people in post, because we hear very little of him in the episode. We hear Andres. I can't be sure, but I suspect having to do the post for the episode was not an easy experience. There's a short bit about a miners' strike that's just the sort of incident Bourdain would chew on. Loudly, mouth wide open. But we got only a bit of Andres and a local musician telling us about it.

We do get some tighter head shots, which struck me as out of the norm. His hair is silver, and his face is lined like a newly harrowed field. He looks tired. I don't know whether these episodes are in chron order. Which is to say, whether we'll see him change as he approaches his end. Will there be clues to his state of mind, and so on? Will we see him just a few days or weeks before France? Will we be told how these episodes mesh with France? Some of us really, really need to know. The Kenya episode had a few seconds of a wall GUI map of a game preserve, with incident locations and dates, that were February of this year. Just a handful of months left.

The remaining 3 episodes may be painful, if there's not a sidekick or two to fill the void. I'll watch, but I'll likely be angry at the bastard for doing what he did.