31 March 2021

The Tyranny of Average Cost - part the fourteenth

Well, another episode unfolds. Not surprisingly, the Ever Given's plugging of the Suez is yet another example of overestimating the bigger-is-better mantra. Turns out, not necessarily so.
"They did what they thought was most efficient for themselves — make the ships big — and they didn't pay much attention at all to the rest of the world," said Marc Levinson, an economist and author of "Outside the Box," a history of globalization. "But it turns out that these really big ships are not as efficient as the shipping lines had imagined."
In other words, not only do the shipping companies have to run these ships at, or very near, full capacity to reap the reward of size, but they also shift some externalities to others. Like being able to navigate in cross winds, or demanding deeper channels in ports.

The article ends with a mind meld:
"There's still economies of scale, but less and less as the ships become bigger," Mr. Merk said.

The bigger vessels can also call on fewer ports and navigate through fewer tight waterways. They are also harder to fill, cost more to insure and pose a greater threat to supply chains when things go wrong, like Ever Given's beaching in the Suez Canal. Giant ships are also designed for a world in which trade is growing rapidly, which is far from guaranteed these days given high geopolitical and economic tensions between the United States and China, Britain and the European Union, and other large trading partners.
One might also wonder whether the fate of the A380 portends ill for these ships? Some times hub-and-spoke implemented on behemoth vehicles is the wrong idea. What's further amusing:
[T]the savings from moving to ships that can carry 19,000 containers were four to six times smaller than those realized by the previous expansion of ship size. And most of the savings came from more efficient ship engines than the size of the ship.
[my emphasis]
If that sounds a bit like passenger airplanes, you would be correct. With aircraft, the savings have mostly been due to more efficient engines, which in turn have been due to the ability burn fuel at ever higher temperatures. Turns out metal turbines are approaching passe`. And, here is a more recent blurb from GE. (Note that the basic research and funding came from the Damn Gummint.)

So, in terms of ship engines, not quite so sophisticated technology, but still ever more efficiency. In case you were wondering (I was), the Suez has, since 2015, both a north bound and south bound lane, simultaneously. You guessed it: the Ever Given could have T-boned a south bound fellow behemoth. Wouldn't that have been fun?

30 March 2021

Quants' Hubris - part the fifth

Blythe Masters rides again!

By now you all have heard/read about the mess Archegos has made of the financial structure. So far, at least, it doesn't appear to have the horsepower to bring down the whole kit-and-kaboodle the way her credit default swap did. But both situations share a characteristic.
Much of the leverage used by Hwang's Archegos Capital Management was provided by banks including Nomura Holdings and Credit Suisse Group through swaps or so-called contracts-for-difference (CFDs) , according to people with direct knowledge of the deals. It means Archegos may never actually have owned most of the underlying securities — if any at all.
So, just like CDS, a pure bet on 'something'. No questions asked.
CFDs and swaps are among bespoke derivatives that investors trade privately between themselves, or over-the-counter, instead of through public exchanges. Such opacity helped to worsen the 2008 financial crisis and regulators have introduced a vast new body of rules governing the assets since then.
So, yeah, there is the risk that other Big Banks were/are doing exactly the same thing with/for other hedgeis behind everybody else's back.

How do a quant predict the future when the present is completely without data?

29 March 2021

Parallax View - part the fifty first

Another week's up, so here are today's numbers:
  >= 1,000 -   326
100 to 999 - 1,275
(New) grand total of counties reads at 3,083. While I've not gotten into an argument with the Topo folks over this re-definition of 'affected' counties, it certainly looks like a move to bolster wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024's perpetual lying.

Once again, these numbers just don't fit with other available data: the usual suspects, NYT, CNN, and Johns Hopkins directly. 31 states, with Michigan leading the pack, have been increasing. What's your bet that "... when you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that's a pretty good job we've done." will be true this time, too?

The really big news, hot off the presses, is that Bolsonaro has out-stupid wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024 and Ronny VirusSeed©:
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro replaced six of his ministers on Monday, in a reshuffle that appears designed to secure greater loyalty as the country's Covid-19 crisis balloons. ... Bolsonaro has refused to endorse lockdown measures, citing the health of the economy and the personal liberty of citizens. For now, most restrictions on gatherings have been put in place by individual state governments; Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Minas Gerais are among the states that have implemented nightly curfews. A recent lawsuit filed by the Bolsonaro administration to lift those restrictions was rejected by the Supreme Court.
So, between B.1.1.7 and Brazil's P.1, will anyone (on the Right, that is) listen to Walensky?
Walenksy reiterated warnings from many experts that the U.S. could be following behind by a few weeks what Europe has been experiencing. Countries there have seen some of their biggest spikes of the pandemic, leading to another round of restrictions and lockdowns.
Just as happened last spring, aided and abetted by Ronny VirusSeed© sicing all those Spring Breakers on the Eastern USofA and, mostly, wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024 sitting with his thumb up his ass for a couple of months; the self-same months, of course. What's the chance that the USofA never sees P.1? If you bet on 0, you'll win. The only chance, that's not 0, is that enough get vaccinated such that community spread gets really, really close to 0. The only way to stay ahead of mutations is to stop transmission. Too bad the last guy was a fucking moron:
My predecessor. Oh God, I miss him.
-- Sleepy Joe last Thursday
"I just gotta get me a game of darts and unlimited brewskis at the Dew Drop Inn." Not to mention all those white, angry, persecuted, shitkicker Republican old guys who are convinced of their immortality ('they ain't no Covid. it's just flu'; trust me on this one. I saw video of one such cretin saying that). As long as they are the only ones who finish feet pointing skyward soon, well, then OK. But, naturally, they'll get a handful of others sick in the mean time.

It's clear now that even tiny, isolated Bermuda can't stave off Covid. What's the chance we will with the likes of Red state governments going fucking stupid?

"Girl, you're as dumb as a sack of hair."

24 March 2021

It's Biblical

Way back in 2015, I mentioned the issue of CSC moving a/the major data centre to Australia from its US site. Did I mention that Australia is the driest inhabited continent? While some searching has not revealed that houses must be built with grey water and rain catchment, Western Australia particularly encourages such in homes. The incentive is economic: markedly lower water bills and the ability to sustain living conditions. Widely encouraged everywhere.

So, now the Flood. It is biblical. I guess God doesn't want white folks to despoil the native habitat.
"The trees are full of snakes," he said. "If you take the boat out over the paddock they swim towards it trying to get on something dry, same with the spiders."

22 March 2021

Parallax View - part the fiftieth

Another week's up, so here are today's numbers:
  >= 1,000 -   347
100 to 999 - 1,316
(New) grand total of counties reads at 3,101. While I've not gotten into an argument with the Topo folks over this re-definition of 'affected' counties, it certainly looks like a move to bolster wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024's perpetual lying.

Total is down a smidge over the last month or so. Will that trend continue? Only the Shadow knows. I am not hopeful.

[17-18 March] I contacted Tectonix about doing the cellphone scan from Lauderdale this year, but got back a boilerplate response. Hopefully, they'll do the exercise anyway. It's important.

[19 March] Remind us all. Where did Covid-19 in New York come from? Oh, yeah, Europe, specifically Italy and France. They're doing it (btw, youshould subscribe) again with nasty variants. No herd immunity before the variant assault, no survive the variant assault. That may sound a bit odd, but here's the logic: the longer a virus remains rampant, the more mutations are generated. Some mutations are meaningless, but others, as we now know, are nasty. The only way around this problem is to get vaccines into arms to quell the spread. The Red State governments can't, or won't, grok such a simple idea. They didn't last Spring Break, and they aren't this one either. Expect another surge in a month.

And, now Bermuda is ramping up infections. In the middle of nowhere in the Atlantic Ocean? Read the comments. There are a horde of Neanderthals, just like our Red States. Wait... Bermuda supported the Rebels, and much of its commerce is from South Carolina.

Will Ronny VirusSeed© (along with the Texas and Mississippi morons) send the USofA into another surge? Only the Shadow knows. At the moment, were I a betting guy, I'd bet more likely than not, yes. All those Red states are Covid deniers, and vaccine deniers to boot. What else is a reasonable bet? As mentioned earlier, I asked Tectonix to re-run the Lauderdale phone trace. I sure hope they do, particularly considering that this Spring Break assault appears to be even greater than last year's. Need I remind: Miami Beach, not Lauderdale, is anarchy this year. What could go wrong?

[22 March] Looks like there's a canary in the coal mine. Bermuda continues to grow Covid.
It is understood the current spike has been caused by the prevalence of a UK variant of the virus which is more contagious, particularly among children.
Forewarned is forearmed. Or may be not.

20 March 2021

The Tyranny of Average Cost - part the thirteenth

Once again, we see this happening. Here's a story about car making
The Volkswagen assembly line in Wolfsburg, Germany. Volkswagen's big advantage over Tesla is its size, which allows it to spread the cost of developing new technologies over millions of vehicles.
[photo caption and my emphasis]
Recognition, once again, that the cost of capital, like the poor, will always be with the bidnezz man. As labor disappears as a cost of production, and machines and tools wax poetic, the only way to survive is to maximize output. Your other options, reducing labor and using cheaper materials, either don't exist or eventually lead to customers figuring out the grift making do without. Thus another reason to pursue monopoly as hard as possible. Once you've cornered the market, then substitute cheap materials. Thus has happened with much of PC compute, especially consumer SSD.

The method until now has been to move production to Asian dictatorships, and the reduced labor cost. But that only works if more primitive production methods (i.e., less capital intensive) can produce sufficient output. Over the last decade and a half, even Foxconn is dumping labor, here (2006) and here (2011).

Should this trend continue long enough and deep enough, demand, along with employment and wages, will disappear. "I alone can fix it."

15 March 2021

Holy Shit, Batman!

Many moons ago, I first read of the possible breakdown of the Gulf Stream due to global warming. The gist of the story was that Arctic terrestrial ice, mostly Greenland, was melting, sending colder fresh water into the path of the gulf stream in the north atlantic. Sometimes referred to as a/the heat conveyor belt, the Gulf Stream is the reason Europe isn't as unpleasant as Siberia.

Edinburgh, Scotland is at 56° north. Novosibirsk, Siberia is at 55° north. So, the climate of Edinburgh is classified as maritime and the mean Jan. temperature is 39.6, while over in sunny Novosibirsk the climate is classified as humid continental and the mean Jan. temperature is 2.3. But you can tan. The difference, of course, is the friendly gulf stream.

What might happen if the gulf stream collapses? The scientists already know from the fossil and core sample records. And you don't have to go back all that far in time to see the evidence.

Unfortunately, the on-line version is mostly a pitiful slow motion animation. The dead trees text is much easier to deal with. We can go to the wiki for the overview information that's in the 'Times' article.
A 2015 study suggested that the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) has weakened by 15-20% in 200 years.
The AMOC is the technical term for what we civilians know as the gulf stream. The wiki article references a 2004 piece which seems like the earliest I heard about the situation.

In simple terms, if the gulf stream collapses, Europe is a popsicle, and the East Coast Elites are chilly. Russia isn't happy either, since the warm buffer of Europe to the west fades away. How far east the cooling will go is a good question. Here's a recent techy paper on AMOC. You won't like it.

Parallax View - part the forty ninth

Another week's up, so here are today's numbers:
  >= 1,000 -   405
100 to 999 - 1,453
(New) grand total of counties reads at 3,107. While I've not gotten into an argument with the Topo folks over this re-definition of 'affected' counties, it certainly looks like a move to bolster wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024's perpetual lying.

[11 March] Now we find the Spring Break Covidiots, Ronny VirusSeed division are the gift that keeps on giving
"Over 50% now of all the viruses coming from Florida, Texas, and Georgia, in fact, are this B.1.1.7 variant," said Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, on CNN's "New Day."
Osterholm has been the target of pushback from other 'experts', but so far, from my understanding, he's the voice more likely to be right. We'll know in a few weeks. If he is right...

[12 March] Well, that didn't take long. Ronny VirusSeed is now an international pariah: Florida Man has infected visiting Bermudians.
Members of the Bermuda football team have tested positive for Covid-19 after returning from a training camp in Bradenton, Florida.
[14 March] Not every pol in Florida is an idiot, Covid section
"We're seeing too much spring break activity," Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber told CNN Saturday morning. "We've got a problem with too many people coming here, we've got a problem with too many people coming here to let loose."
"We are concerned," the mayor said. "It's very challenging."
In Orlando, Mayor Buddy Dyer urged visitors to practice Covid-19 safety precautions.
One might wonder whether Ronny VirusSeed will attack like Abbott? Between the Spring Break Covidiots and motorcycle gang meeting, the rest of the USofA will now be assaulted, just as it was one year ago. Weigh to go Ronny.

Bayes At The Moon - part the fifth

Yet another attempt to use Bayes to put lipstick on a pig. Lowe gets it right. I love the guy.
The paper tries to make something about of a Bayesian disease progression model, but I can't make myself care much about that, either, because the treatment differences that anyone could possibly notice are just not there.
The piece de resistance
I'm sticking with what I said nearly ten years ago about another failed Lilly antibody: there's a nasty moral hazard in this business of marginal, hazy, Alzheimer's statistical benefits, because the first company that manages to get anything approved by the FDA will reap billions of dollars from the huge backlog of desperate patients and families who want something, anything, that they can use against the disease. I feel the same way about Biogen's aducanumab.
Earlier in the piece, we find yet again no correlation between plaque/tau and outcome
[T]he patients who showed the biggest decrease in brain amyloid were not correlated at all with any particular clinical improvement. Frankly, what does it mean if a patient has less amyloid protein if they're just as impaired with or without it? The real-world effects that we do care about (memory, orientation, function) are measured by the ratings just mentioned, and to me this looks like yet another therapy that simply does not work.
In due time the Gen-Whatevers are going to start asking, nay demanding, an answer to the fundamental question: why are we spending so much of our national wealth on keeping ever older Geezers alive and comfortable, when we could be devoting those resources to the health and welfare of those who can still contribute to Society? Being a (ever older) Geezer, I hope the Gen-Whatevers hold off a bit, naturally.

12 March 2021

By The Numbers - part the eighth

Boris BadEnough is, was, and always be a grifter, just like wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024. He and his handlers managed to convince the poorly educated shitkickers that mainland Europe was the enemy, and the UK (insignificant islands that they are) had the economic ooomph to best the mainland. And so it was.

Today we get the first report on the consequences of allowing the minimally intelligent to vote
The United Kingdom exported goods worth £8.1 billion ($11.3 billion) to the European Union in its first month completely outside the bloc, a 41% decline compared to December, according to the Office for National Statistics. The drop off in trade is similar when compared to January 2020, ONS data shows.
This was totally predictable, and was predicted by those not enthrall to Right Wingnut propaganda. Next, at some point, we'll see reporting on what the loss of Brussels' support to the needy shires of Britain has on the shitkickers. Will they finally get it? Or not? Will Boris BadEnough's administration replace the lost subsidy monies from Brussels? Or not?

08 March 2021

Parallax View - part the forty eighth

Another week's up, so here are today's numbers:
  >= 1,000 -   407
100 to 999 - 1,415
(New) grand total of counties reads at 3,105. While I've not gotten into an argument with the Topo folks over this re-definition of 'affected' counties, it certainly looks like a move to bolster wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024's perpetual lying.

[2 March] Once again, one of The Stooges does it again. I am sure it will work out just fine.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday he's lifting the mask mandate in Texas, even as health officials warn not to ease safety restrictions.
Also, effective next Wednesday, all businesses of any type are allowed to open 100%, Abbott said.
Well, just like the Social Darwinist approach to electricity.

[7 March] Once again, DeSantis is DeLuded. Remember this tracing from a year ago? I'll bet we'll see it again in a few weeks. Ronny VirusSeed is at it again. And, for good measure, Bolsonaro has gone batshit crazy, again.
Brazil's outbreak, among the worst in the world, has become a source of global concern as new, more contagious variants have become dominant in much of the country. Scientists say there is worrisome evidence that the variants can make reinfections more likely and they are urgently studying whether these variants reduce the efficacy of vaccines.
[8 March] So, today's report indicates that Ronny VirusSeed has a perfect situation to plant Covid at least as widely as he did last year.
So far, the agency has reported more than 2,600 known cases of the variant [B.1.1.7] across 46 states, Puerto Rico and Washington DC. Nearly a quarter of those cases are in Florida.
[my emphasis]

03 March 2021

Conundrum - part the second

Another conundrum to puzzle over.

We now have the J&J 70% solution, and Fauci, et al tell us take whatever vaccine is available soonest. The reason is simple: all of the vaccines keep you out of the hospital and out of the morgue. The worst that can happen is a mild case of 'the flu'. Take the damn vaccine.

We also know, nearly from the beginning of this problem, that mild to moderate Covid is the main source of long-haul syndrome.
About 33% of COVID-19 patients who were never sick enough to require hospitalization continue to complain months later of symptoms like fatigue, loss of smell or taste and "brain fog," University of Washington (UW) researchers found.

"We were surprised to have one-third of people with mild illness still experiencing symptoms," said lead researcher Jennifer Logue. She's a research scientist with the UW department of medicine's division of allergy and infectious diseases, in Seattle. "If you contract coronavirus, there's a good chance you could experience a lingering effect."
Now, there's the conundrum, if we end up converting lots of folks into mild disease, are we just trading severe disease at the outset for, perhaps life-long, debilitation? Only The Shadow knows.

01 March 2021

Parallax View - part the forty seventh

Another week's up, so here are today's numbers:
  >= 1,000 -   484
100 to 999 - 1,501
(New) grand total of counties reads at 3,113. While I've not gotten into an argument with the Topo folks over this re-definition of 'affected' counties, it certainly looks like a move to bolster wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024's perpetual lying.

[24 Feb] One explanation, hinted at here a few times, for the cliff dive of infections beginning the first week of January is that wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024's Herd Mentality has, in fact, occurred. Here's a news bit from last June:
Number Of Americans Infected With Virus Could Be 10 Times Higher Than Official Count, CDC Chief Warns

By CDC Director Robert Redfield's estimate, that means that up to 24 million Americans may have been infected by the virus. "Our best estimate right now is for every case reported there were actually 10 other infections," Redfield said.
Since today's total, from the NYT Covid page is 28.3 million (aka, 88.6% if you times 10 and divide by 330 million Americans), that's darn tootin Herd Mentality.

Of course, the Right Wingnuts have a logic problem, in that they've spent the last year claiming the reported number of infections is inflated by the Fake News Media and the Deep State, so if they now turn around and say that the real number is 283 million infections and we're out of the woods and can go back to Normalcy, huh? A rock and a hard place that even the shitkickers in the empty counties can't help but notice.
A growing number of conservatives (especially fringe sites like Alex Jones' Infowars) are embracing a conspiracy that government-approved death tolls are inflated for various political reasons—and some reports suggest President Trump will soon endorse the murky theory as well.
[26 Feb.] Yet another conundrum: the pundits are reporting that the reason for the cliff dive in infections since the first week in January is due to vaccination in nursing homes and the like. Okay? Here's the conundrum: the spike in infections that started after Labor Day (yes, that is when we started to climb the top hill of the Cyclone) is clearly seen in the NYT graph, with the ultimate spike coming after Turkey Day. As you can see, there were, if the numbers are accurate, dips after Turkey Day and Christmas. Now we have the cliff dive following New Years.

So, the question, do these numbers jibe with nursing homes? It seems to me no. Going back to at least, March it was clear that nursing homes were a problem, and steps started to be implemented to keep outsiders from bringing in Covid.

In all, then, two situations must be true for the nursing home & vaccination hypothesis as explanation for the cliff dive to itself be true:
1 - it was nursing home residents that drove the rocket ride from Labor Day
2 - the efforts to isolate nursing homes from outside Covid were a dismal failure (this report indicates not quite dismal, but not markedly greater than general community)

While one might see how 2 could be true, 1 being true stretches credulity. Reviewing the reporting following Labor Day, there is no extra weight put to nursing homes as the site of increase, rather the ususal Covidiot suspects: parties and such among the young at heart. This report supports such:
By November 6, 2020, approximately 569,000 - 616,000 COVID-19 cases and 91,500 deaths were reported among LTCF residents and staff members in the United States, accounting for 6% of total state COVID-19 cases...
IOW, long term care wasn't the site of the rocket ride. How, then, could it be the site of the cliff dive?

Now we have the scientists that be warning that the cliff dive is heading back up (see today's NYT Covid graph). And Newsom and Cuomo being flagellated, more or less over 'restrictions'. They both should retaliate with the truth: case counts go up when the populations refuse to do what they're told, just like 2 year olds.

It is still a puzzlement. But I am still not convinced that nursing home vaccinations could drive down an infection situation not made in nursing homes in the first place. The usual suspect is data fiddling in the Red states. We gotta prove wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024's Nero fiddling was the correct response!!