Saturday, March 22, 2014

Common Core

As a prelude, let me say that I have heard of Common Core but did not pay attention. Too, I have been seeing all sorts of oops; however, any of the well known are so multi-faceted that it boggles the mind trying to figure out where to start.

The Federalists Papers helped me a little. The image is from their site and supposedly shows a homework assignment to which a father responded. The Federalist Papers said that the father's response was awesome.

It looks like the photo started in Twitter (Ell_mari78) with 438 re-Tweets (as of today). That is where the Federalist Papers (School sends home) picked it up and pushed it to Facebook. There were responses/comments posted on all three sites: Twitter (19), FP (129), FB (48 with 244 shares).

I wrote a few responses (in the following order). All of these are a continuation of discussions in this blog and at the truth engineering site. It's nice that Common Core might offer some material to further the theme using a technical subject.
  • 6:49 pm The problem here is that the visual representation does not show the proper perspective. The leaps go from 100 to 10 to 1. Someone, earlier, mentioned that they would rather use a slide rule which was a functional piece of equipment used by many over many years (yes, it had a real mathematical basis, namely logarithms). --- This type of thinking focused on logic may have some merit, but it stinks. Russell gave it up Common Core folks. He and Whitehead took hundred of pages of terse, tedious logic to prove simple addition of two natural numbers. Then, our friend, Bertrand got smart. --- The Common Core folks ought to consider looking into an intuitive interpretation. It might just go much further. -- It may be that we best leave the dry logic to the machines (verifying their basis and extensions, as we are the masters - don't worry, it will not lead to the singularity).
  • 6:52 pm It would be funny if the results were not so sad.
  • 7:36 pm The parent is over complicating things. It's the same problem that adults get with the 5th grader comparison. Actually, a difference of 427 and 336 would have been more interesting. ... These differences are not those of differentials. But, the person was probably irate at the thought of this type of approach. ... The approach shown here is one of many rules that one could come up with. The trouble with some class work is that things like this are taught as if deus ex machina (all I have to do is appeal to Galois' experiences with the minds of the day). Why not teach a few principles and let the kids discover their own little tricks? Then, don't rate someone's result against another. If they have the right answer, what difference does the method make (path independence, so to speak). ... I told one of my early teachers (later on in life) that the first thing that I forgot was the times table. She was upset, a little. I told her that remembering the diagonal (squares) was sufficient. Everything else comes out by simple rule (eventually leading to the fingers). ... Of course, others have their own little tricks. Are any better than others? ... Well, when we finally get to where optimization is required (all sorts of reasons) then we might have the justification to evaluate and rate these types of rules of thumb. ... Otherwise, live and let live, especially in mathematics, in an operational sense.
  • 7:41 pm Try the method with 427 and 336 to make it interesting. ... Why not drill the squares and then use logic (loosely used) to fill in the table? Have fun with it? ... Mathematics is more amenable to the general populace than the experts will allow (arguable, but definitely one of the arguments against the singularity).. STEM will not stem the divergence between those with the supposed best-and-brightest approaches versus the rest. However, the rest, many times, are more broadly based in being-ness. ... It's sad that we have the lasting repercussions from the early travails caused by over-zealot idiots (an idiot is world-class when they impact a lot of others' lives; an idiot with a small sphere of influence is tolerable).

---

My first reaction was that this an example of mathematics being misused. As in, teach someone a little of the subject, and they become dangerous (like the bosses of quants). The approach is tedious and not really intuitive. But, as the second reaction shows, the thing is not as bad as it appears, albeit it's flaky (as in, more complicated than necessary). Finally, the push behind this type of initiative is to teach and assess the effect of teaching.

That there seems to be a bias toward the more formal approaches is troubling. But, we have gone over that a lot. Mathematics is not our God send. Rather, if one looks at the troubles of the world that are economic, a lot of the mess comes from world-class idiots abusing mathematics and the enabling computational system.

So, thanks Common Core. I'll have to catch up on what they're up to before proceeding.

---

Added this comment at the Federalist Papers site (03/22/2014 - 12:40 pm):

My mathematician friend (old-time professor) used to joke that engineers didn’t do math. Engineers open a book and find equations, he noted. On the other hand, by the time someone obtains an engineering degree, their mathematics exposure is far more than most math teachers face. Too, the engineer just might have a better grasp given that they bump up against the most reliable of truth processors. Nature. So, we’ll let that be.

I have not paid attention to what Common Core is up to. From a brief look, it seems that they want to partition people into those who can handle this type of tedium and those who cannot (not unlike a whole lot of scholastic testing). Yes, tedium, of the utmost extreme (cast that upon the number line).
Now, how that bifurcation of people will play out is something that we will have to see. Some of it is, like Scott says, to determine the class that will be subservient to the masters.

I am upset that the general educational community has bought into this warped way of thinking. From where I sit, they will cause even worse incursion of interlopers into mathematics than we have seen now.

From my long years of experience, this type of thinking is the culmination of gaining computational prowess. After all, are we all not worried by the Singularity? Supposedly, in some minds, tackling things this way will help us compete with computers and stay ahead.

No so. Mathematics (the real one) is peripatetic in nature (some of those who are drugged into submission now could very well be misunderstood geniuses).
Marie, in one sense, mathematics starts with our fingers and markings on what might be a line (however, not conceptually, but rather in the real life of being). Then, objects are the key thing (think sets and then classes). What we call the number lines come much later (remember, it took Russell and Whitehead hundreds of pages to get to proving a simple addition).

The older methods for teaching these simple maths were more intuitive (in the sense of the finger, and toes for that matter). And, many more got through the rigor than we see with the approaches that force feed supposed superior insight.
The kids ought to use operational means and see them work. Then, slowly the abstract can be introduced. Generalizations are best made upon something known. That there is some type of abstraction that teachers can claim has support, that support did not drop out of heaven. Rather, years of work went into the framework.

Given that this teaching method is new to me, I’ll look at the Common Core site and see what’s up. This introduction, though, is not encouraging as the world-class idiots (who, many time, could handle the above tedium) have over-laid us with an insidious entrapment that will cause hell on earth (even worse than we have seen so far). For some reason, I never suspected the teaching community as being meant to perpetuate such an infernal viewpoint.
Remarks: Modified: 03/27/2014

03/23/2014 -- Turns out that there was a story involved and that it was written.

03/27/2014 -- Based upon other examples that I've seen (say, friendly numbers), this whole thing aligns with my complaints about the misuse of mathematics. It has not been shown that mathematics is the way of truth (despite its operational successes), necessarily. As we know, numbers can be manipulated via interpretation (that is the human lot). To impose on young minds, the methods, etc., of elders, in the case of rules of thumb, is onerous. We need to bring out the "universals" to teach. Let the youngsters then discover their own approaches. What? Yes, look, mathematics came up with path independence in one area. There is a generalization of this. If the student gets the right answer, and the teacher cannot follow their thinking, blame the teacher (ala Galois' story).  


Friday, February 21, 2014

Beauty and the beast

All of us have had our oops. It's part of being human, that is, to err. Going through 'oops (hoops), by necessity, leads to oops. And, 'oops define our lives, whether by our own choice or that of another.

We also seem to have evolved into mostly a bunch of critics. There is an adage that could apply here: those who can, do; those who cannot, criticize. One might say that there are less doers than lookers, nowadays.

Aside: So doers? Becoming fewer, too, these doers, in the sense of middle people putting layers and layers upon what might be better left as simple (all sorts of things to discuss here). Examples abound. For one, think of subcontractors hiring subcontractors. In some cases, those in the middle had no idea what is going on. They just like getting their money. Too, the markets, especially with the layers being put in by algorithmic trading type of efforts. We can think of a lot more.

In the past, we could split people into doers and yappers. The yapping was limited, either to some locale (as in, gossip in the break room or at the water cooler) or in limited print. Or, we had the neighborhood idiot with an incessant mouth. As our prowess with publication increased, the range of yapping has grown, too. Gossip rags abounded; some are still around and quite visible (any market check-out stand). Some quirk of human nature pushed this type of thing, we could suppose.

Yet, technology and the cloud (meant to subsume the whole gamut that emerged the past 20 years) have made for tremendous changes in this regard. We'll look at a couple of examples, shortly. Let's just say that these examples are only two of many that could be brought forth. One has to wonder if we are seeing a swift descent to a bottom (bottom?, is there even an end to the potential abuse that seems to go along with this?).

In both cases, we can point to web-based events.
Faces of Olympic figure skating - The page has a collection of photos. In each case, the person in the photo is not poised. Rather, think of this. Have you seen high-definition, high-speed of animals? Say, think of a hummingbird captured at a flower. Are they not beautiful when performing naturally in their natural environment.

What we have here is a snap that illustrates the effects of concerted effort. For one thing, the actions are not normal, rather the person is stressing their body to perform according to some rules that will allow judges to rate the performance of different people. Now, saying that this is not "poised" is meant to point to our knowledge that a whole lot of media is fixed up (air-brushing, etc.). Too, those who poise have all sorts of photos taken, from which are extracted the best. The rest? The cutting room floor.

Now, in this case, again, someone is performing in a manner (and, given that it's the Olypmics) that is phenomenal. Most, we could claim, could not do what is being shown. Yet, the mere presence of this type of snapshot (one might ask if such precise rendering of one's person is ethical) ought to bring to fore another set of discriminators. What? Yes, the judges will be looking with their own sight, from a medium distance. They'll see a flow, as will the audience. As we watch, say pairs skating, we see the grace and dignity. Of course, some of us think of the power. Too, the female partner is in a state that is highly risky (limb and life).

In fact, the photos of the female being thrown shows that she (it's very obvious in one photo) is anticipating how to move through the air (spinning in a controlled manner) and land without falling (or she is coming back from being thrown and will be caught -- ought we ask whether any of the people commenting try to accomplish that feat?).

Discriminators? Yes, observe how the body reacts to the forces, for instance. Perhaps, a physics class could use this to talk these natural reactions. --- After seeing this page, I found out that it is an example of a new genre that has come about via the web. Has anyone studied the urge behind this type of thing (other than getting eyeballs in order to rake in ad dough)? Of course, people are curious; but, again, using this high-tech approach might show sophistication, but one has to wonder about the motivation, and such (okay, money -but, there are many ways to make money that are illegal, or very much socially unacceptable).

Hence, there is beauty in these photos; any beast might relate to how the human mind can overpower (sometimes) natural tendencies (how else our progress?). But, one might ask if a high-focused human is by necessity a beast (I would hope that your surgeon - if you were having surgery - was proper focused).  
Gossip, confessions - USA Today did a little about this bit of stuff. Early on, anonymous commenting was the norm. That brought out an insensitive reaction (via lack of responsibility) which ended up with flaming (and wars thereof) when things dealt with certain topics (a long list). Too, there was downright mischief, such as taunts (notice, that the taunts written about in the post were not anonymous) and bullying (it seems that in some of the situations, the victim set themselves up - go figure that). But, as the sense of (or requirement for?) responsibility came about (initially, the wild-west flavor of the web must have caused a whole generation to regress - when will we see maturity?), some organizations to require an account for commenting.

But, technology keeps moving along as does the ability to partake in this type of thing. One example might be ratings, that might have an account associated with them, however these are not verified, many times. Yet, that type of review can be very helpful, say, to someone traveling to a new area. The same goes for products.

How can we tell if a review is being done in good faith? Or, that some anonymous report has a factual basis (even if it does, the one commenting is applying her/his own interpretation)? Many other questions, and discussions, pertain to this. 

So, again, all types of oops are coming about from our growing prowess with technology. Some of these would have been considered unconscionable by thinking adults prior to the advent of ubiquity and its zombies. Does the tablet bring out asocial tendencies? Actually, the phone itself was problematic, say, those who talk loudly in the presence of others on some idiot phone as if their pollution of the wave space is a right. ... So, many examples exist all the way to the idiot parked in a lane of traffic completely unaware that those who were around him have left; he's there with a string of cars behind him (who can go around, but that can be difficult when traffic comes up from behind rapidly).

Remarks: Modified: 02/21/2014

02/21/2014 --

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Games and games (The taunt)

This post has a topical flavor. Yesterday, we were one day away from one week away from a game (paraphrasing Sherman). Need I mention the game (see disclosure below)?

---

A week ago, about this time, there was an instance of talking on the tube. I can't say the proverbial "talking head" thing as the talker was a player, which then presupposes ability. You see, the talking was about comparative ability (see disclosure below).

Then, the next day, there was the talker again, making claims about people's response to his talking. He was throwing around arguments about the use of "thug" being racist (does that apply, as well, to goon [or any other derogatorily thrown word] which many people have had cast upon them?).

---

So, a little perspective (after finding out more about who the character was). An article has been quoted (and mis-quoted) many times this past week. Per usual, going back to the source ought to be the rule of thumb. It was a "sympathetic" article from Sports Illustrated (last summer).

          Warning: Don't take the bait

But, search on Richard Sherman (see disclosure below) and see the range of material from just this past week. And, we're about six days from the game. In retrospect, there have been many games with drama surrounding them. Perhaps, they're a focal point for underlying social dynamics that need to be much better understood.

So, what can we learn from this?

---

Some are now getting behind the Broncos as they would like to see the talker's team defeated. We'll have to see how the remaining days converge to various loci of insanity. Again, will we learn anything?

Like what? Well, this post is in the context of 7oops7 due to the "oops" potential of all, and varied, sorts. So, perhaps, there will be something to write about prior to the game. In any case, we'll follow up after the fact if no motivation comes about.

---

Now to the disclosure: I did not see the game last Sunday (neither of them, see below). But, I did see the reactions on TV to the brief incident (over and over). And, the comments on the web are everywhere, from all perspectives. Lightening rod comes to mind.

What is going on? It'll be interesting to watch how this goes until the game (when is it again?). ... I will not see the game and do not watch football on TV (except, for a few moments when there is inclement weather - which seemed to have happened a lot this year - wait, if it's snowing in NJ, I might look to see how the SoCal guy is adapting to the elements). Of course, I can track web-provided updates now and then. ... I have not attended pro games except for some Rams game in LA way back in the 60s. That might have been due to my being at UCLA (classes) and USC (friends), at the time. The LA Coliseum is/was a remarkable structure. As well, I saw a couple of UCLA/USC games there. And, after that, I have been to a few college games. ... To boot, in the particular context of this game, I think that the NFL needs to support the older (current) players who were (will be) damaged during their playing years. Even with the big pay of some (not all), there is still the lord/servant dynamic going on (search that topic here). ...

One operative view to be explored further? Ever notice trash talking from people who are trying to solve really hard problems (other than that insufferable Sheldon on the Big Bang show)? Say: oh, cancer, we're going to beat your arse.

Now, having said that, I see that Sherman has been involved with charities, directly (as in, hands dirty). Too, he bumped up against the best-and-brightest (not on their terms, though) and came away unscathed (it seems). One hope: somehow we need to re-base our whole framework on an operational (meaning motion as orientation) viewpoint such that "truth" is more biological (physical sense of value) than that abstracted beast to which we are all supposed to bow. Perhaps, too, Sherman, if he thought about it, would understand.

Aside: In short, I don't recall being enthralled with any sports game, from beginning to end, in my adult years. Being of an anthropological bent is more fun. Fandom? Strange worldview that seems counter to the autodidact's mindset.

Remarks: Modified: 02/22/2014

01/27/2014 --  I actually had the WSJ issue (Jan 17, 2014) in my possession but did not get to it until after the Sunday of the games (yes, I stack good newspapers to be read after the fact - my way is not the early bird looking for the worms). Oh well. Reading of "The taunt" (gets back to that sticks-and-stones thing - yet, many good people have been persecuted) would have prepared me. But, given my way, I would actually rather have to deal with things from a new angle (serendipity was the old concept - getting out of the group minds [especially, those spawned, honed, controlled by the various media and their players]), even if the perturbation's effect takes some effort to dampen (to be discussed, at some point). Being in communications, Sherman must know that talk is cheap. But, he plays, too. And, he does charity work (see above). ... He may have many admirable characteristics - mouthing off isn't one. Now, can he put his Stanford indoctrination (PAC-12 bias showing?) to more use than arguing with nitwits, in their milieu? And, that does not mean that he'll have to spend his time with dead white men (more than any other of the lot of mankind's detritus [accumulation from eons on this planet] which is, many times, taken for quality stuff). The human world is bordering on all sorts of cusps; better understanding, and presentation, of these sits on the table (who has picked up the ring?).

01/30/2014 -- While reading this article from The Atlantic, and responding thusly (A not very clever viewpoint. --- Is there any sense of entitlement that is stronger than what we see with the (less than) 1%? In other words, the world is/was their oyster. Anything that thwarts the greedy grabbing of the group frustrates their entitlement sense. ... Why go to Hitler as an example? ... Let's try something else. --- We knocked out the commies, and the KGB, but have allowed business to adopt almost similar techniques cloaked under proprietary covers (metaphoric usage, people). Many day-to-day jobs (off-shoring was an attempt to limit oversight) are no better than what the gulag had to offer. Being driven by mechanized overseers (what else are smart systems?) is one characteric. At least, the gulag boss looked you in the face. ... An abstrac'd monster grows in power daily (entangling many further into gulag-hood). Which monster? That being spawned upon an unsuspecting mankind by the Silicon Valley ilks (not all are located in that blessed spot). ... Anyway, Perkins ought to adopt a more creative theme. How did he get his money, anyway?) and pointing to a WSJ book review ( "Members of a nation who rightly regard themselves as residents of a more just and democratic society than many others on the planet are collectively loath to admit that good and honorable policies were consciously overturned by a reactionary minority while thousands of people across the nation found it easier to look the other way.") and a Scientific American opinion piece (In fact, it may be that “in the cloud” really isn't the best term for the services these companies offer. What they really want is to have us “on the leash.”), I re-called a proper use of thug. Remember, Hitler's storm-troopers (booted thugs, whether jackbooted or some other boot). There have been many modern variants on this same theme, having little, if nothing, to do with racist's themes. It has to do with unconstrained power (leading, almost inevitably, to abuse - all types).

02/02/2014 -- Saw some of the pre-show. Not watching the game. At half, Denver was 0. Seattle had run up some points, I can see by browsing news sources. Is Manning frazzled?

02/22/2014 -- Looked at this while doing a post on high-tech photography's growing influence. Denver lost. The taunt issue went bye and bye. There are still lessons to learn, though.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Summary, 2013

The blog got its start in August of 2007. As of today, there have been 248 posts with 18 categories.

The image shows the highest-read posts for the Past 30 days and for All time. Compare this list with last year's.

 Past 30 days                            All time

Confoundedness, from 2009, was on the top last year. Perhaps, I ought to look, more deeply, at expectations and at how they ought to be managed. The latest thing of UPS not being able to move all of the packages (hey, Amazon guy, your little flying widgets would have a similar logistical problem) that were queued up to it by those who don't seem to know about planning. But, then, that is only one of many examples.

Too bad, that the best and brightest (see it on the list) are using algorithmic trading to screw up our world. Oh well, perhaps, this will be another topic to look at more closely.

Remarks: Modified: 12/31/2013

12/31/2013 --  

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Algorithmic Trading

Thanks to the ACM, a recent review article about Algorithmic Trading (AT) is available for public reading and is very much worth the effort. AT is the overall computational framework that includes High-Frequency Trading (HFT) and more. The thing to note is the large presences, as in a large percentage of the trades being done with these things (talk about out of control and running amok). The article is about technology and does not go into why these things are allowed (to rake in money by compounding the chimera?).

From the beginning, the authors (Philip Treleaven, Michal Galas, and Vidhi Lalchand) stress the lack of information about these approaches spawned by the financial engineers and the need for further research. From this overview, one can see how premature the push has been for financial engineering to get these things out for daily use. The authors remind us that just two failures had $1T consequences. Granted, in one case, the markets recovered the loss. In the other case, though, a company had to eat a big loss (as opposed to golden sacks who got their losses forgiven, as in, trades backed out after the fact - those on the other side of the trades lost what they thought were gains).

Moral: Consider, would you fly if there were huge unknowns that had not been handled? Are you familiar with the very low incident rate for modern aircraft? In fact, we went several years without a major crash. We put ourselves on plane daily due to our belief in the safety of the system (safety, as in the absence of gamers playing russian roulette with our economic lives).

Why the moral? Well, this blog started with a view to process required to present a new airliner to the market. And, we saw the amount of time and effort that was expended in getting the plane through manufacturing, testing, and such.

The finance folks? As you can see from the review, they have this little bit of testing that they do. What they are doing is running amok with our economy. How can this be?

For the past five years, I have been bewailing the gaming basis that has evolved for markets and that has been made much worse by the computer. For one thing, not many know computers, in the sense of the mathematics and software used by AT. That allows those who make the money to argue the necessity.

But, let this old guy tell you, these people are playing with fire in our house. It is true that many have made oodles, but, in a real sense, the gains are ill-begotten.

---

We talked to getting technical before, perhaps the time has arrived. So, thanks, ACM for making this review article available.

For one thing, we'll have to address a sandbox. But, the whole foundational framework needs attention, too.

Remarks:   Modified: 12/31/2013

12/16/2013 -- HFT's contributions to the turmoil'd (froth'd) markets.

12/19/2013 -- Ben did his parting shot (whimper that it was); they're going to taper slowly, less than a 1/3 on the bond buy, starting next month. And, he's going to torture savers for another year or so. We'll have to see how the pieces fall. The markets got heavily seeded today in hopes of luring in the idiots and moms/pops (who cannot afford the pending losses). So, it's pop, fizz, ..., again. Too, we'll see more goo-goo talk to the immature markets and the addicted investors thereof. One of many technical issues that we'll have to get into: Nanex's view.

12/31/2013 -- A popular post.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Are you being watched?

Sure, we all know that cameras are everywhere we go. For the most part, with little exception (even the can has been penetrated). But, before the advent of the technology of optics, we had people watching going on. Except, we could hope that we wouldn't draw attention unless we acted like fools or whatever.

Then, of course, we know that NSA, and other voyeurs, watch us.

So, we can see that there are many types of watching, including people being spied upon by their own computers via the webcam (ZoneAlarm bit on it). Of course, one can prevent this type of thing.

Yet, the oops here is that DOD's letting loose of the Internet has spawned more crap than good stuff. But, the genie is out of the bottle. What can we do? Where is the new Internet that has security (and other good things) as a basic quality?

I just saw an article of people's smart devices (a/c controls, and more) being grabbed for nefarious uses. That is, those things with an IP address, and little security to thwart misuse, can be taken over. Talk about an oops of major proportions.

Aside: The use of "smart" is facetiously made due to all of the current hype. These things are dumb, for a number of reasons, including that their use makes idiots of the users (again, many different ways).

So, we know we're being watched. So what? We can say to the watchers, get a life. One does have to think of the personality traits that drive one to such type of activity (as in, being higher up in a system such as we've seen come about in the modern world in no way implies super intelligence -- we'll discuss this here, and other places, in any way necessary).

Remarks:

10/19/2013 --

Modified: 10/19/2013

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Best and brightest of what?

Basis for the below? See the post on Fed-aerated.

---

Earlier (say 2008), I became aware of the pending downturn. Well, I was late waking up; but, hey, down to the end, Ben was saying that things were okay.

From whence came the idiocy (I even characterized, at the time, it as silly games) behind the financial turmoil? You see, I had spent my time working engineering technology, as in, things related to products (full life cycle, as well, I was working real algorithms). I remember hearing discussion about an influx in engineering, even computer science, sometime around the release of TCP/IP by DOD. But, then, later, there was talk of people going into finance.

"Why was this?" was the thought, then. However, it didn't attract my attention beyond the awareness. There were too many other things to look at. Besides, about this time, the tech downturn had hit, creating havoc for many people. Some friends lost bundles. In the case of one guy: he lost an inordinate amount in the crashes; subsequent changes to the company that we were with (motivated by the thinking of the likes of golden sacks) broke his heart (literally - turns out that golden sacks, and those of that ilk, got their rewards, but other investors took a bath - still, that didn't get my attention, since I knew better than to let the likes of the ca-pital-sino drain me dry); he's been dead now for several years (nevertheless, he never enjoyed the well-earned rewards - sheesh, Duffy - see the Fed-aerated post -- ever talk to real people?).

So, after all of that, my attention was not drawn until after I had retired. Yet, it took a couple of years. You see, I was enjoying the rewards. Too, due to the same circumstances that broke the back of many (see above), I had to take the retirement choice. Oh, there were offers, many of which were enticing. In fact, post the retirement, since it was early, I toyed with various roles. I even put my foot in the door, but, then, I decided to not opt that way (it's a long story that will be told - you see, employment with a corporation is only one step above serfdom for many - and, I'm saying that as a highly paid employee).

WSJ op-ed
I started this blog when a company rolled out something that has been compared to the potemkin event (Russia, yes). The questions of engineering with respect to planning and knowing status are formidable. Having improved software, and systems, does not alleviate the need to be careful and watchful. That whole set of points will continue to be topics of concern.

But, after thinking of why engineering goes so far awry (when management interferes, I might add), the financial thing started to impinge on my awareness. For one, I kept hearing of actions that were known to be problematic (and still are, such as? the whole idea of borrowing (without collateral - or, as these idiots did, with collateral that is already spoken for many time over) in order to play the ca-pital-sino that went out (as in, ruled out from what I learned decades ago) and was not allowed - hah!). Too, the talking heads were on all sides. Ben, as said above, was doing his coo-coo-ing (essentially, telling those who play with our economy (financially) that he'll support them - they're too big to fail).

My reaction was, say what? Toxic (Jerk or not, Sep 18, 2013) does not begin to describe the state of things  (best and brightest gone wild) ; a lot of this has not unwound due to Ben's interference. As said, the bankers froze their activity. Why? Well, they were crooks, they knew. So, how could they trust the others, who were most likely crooks, too? We went for years with things frozen; Ben kept upping his support (more and more things way beyond training wheels - gosh, thanks, guy).

So, fast forward to now. Seeing the Duffy bit brings forth a dichotomous state for me. It is nice, on the one hand, to see someone of the Wall Street ilk use the words and express the concepts related to being mature. Integrity? Wall Street? And, trust? Would it not be nice if this were to turn out to be a sincerely (know the concept?) offered viewpoint? Yet, on the other hand, haven't we heard this all before? Happy talk, and such? In fact, talk has been cheap the past 5 years. Once it appeared that the ca-pital-sino was going to push upward to new heights, would not a reasonable mindset draw the parallel with Ben's largess?

As say before, the likes of Harvard, in a very public manner, folks, needs to lead that realm toward a more sustainable future. Will the WASPers, augmented with the newer entrants who were not allowed before, ever step up to the role? That is my challenge to them. Let's go back to Winthrop, and such, and re-look at the issues. Given Harvard's mix of students, perhaps, even those of other cultures (and nations) would enjoy such an exercise.

Remarks:  Modified: 01/08/2014

10/03/2013 -- Oh, yes, two posts (Fed-aerated and 7oops7), but no mention of savers being slapped silly. Notice in the savers post that an image says no bullets left. Ah, yes, Ben panicked and used up his ammo. But, has he not shown all of us (and the world) that there was a whole lot of other maneuvering possible? But, too, does he not know that he has cowboy'ed (explainable) us into a corner?

10/27/2013 -- See Remarks, this day, at Best and Brightest of what? Yes, high-class pawns; why? Banks are not being banks as we would think of them. No, they're playgrounds for the like of the Jamies of the world. Now that they've had their crookery discovered, they're like the reformed whatever (holier than thou-ism) and are too stringent with the money. Actually, why would they lend (too mundane) when the ca-pital-sino is there for their take (raking off the top-ism)? King Alan now touts savings (in part); wonder what he thinks of Ben's breaking the buck (yes, where someone gets less than a dollar for saving 100 bucks and letting the crooks - as in, bankers -- keep it safe, supposedly); what of Ben's thought processes that lead him to continue to slap the savers silly (silly guy - is Janet any better?).

12/31/2013 -- A popular post.

01/08/2014 -- We're patiently waiting for Janet to get her feet wet. At some point, she'll get out of Ben's shadow. Hopefully, it will be soon for the savers who are being slapped silly by the day.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Jerk or not

We all know who is a jerk and who is not. Agree? Other connotations of the term abound. But, here, we'll use this to talk about how mathematics gets people going awry (jerk from 2008).

Example? Yes, like Ben and his crew continuing to slap savers silly. He started this when things were getting hairy; he had the duty to set things aright; but, Ben's view of this seems to not be firmly based despite his protestations of being data driven. Why is it that interest ought to be subsidized into an artificial state?

So, we'll have to have a little discussion to fill him in. But, given our experience so far, it'll take some time.

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As said before, all's not lost. Some accountants see a change that has been problematic. In short, it deals with pushing too many theoretically unsound things (my characterization) and losing any grasp on virtue. What? Such a term used in the business context?

Well, consider savers. These are those who are more than just risk averse; they put their actions where their mouth is by being prudent (never heard of this virtue?). One could argue that prudence can be expected, too, for fiscal responsibility; where did that concept go?

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WSJ look at a
mortgage-backed bond
Some claim that accounting has removed prudence in lieu of theoretical nonsense leading to situations, such as annual reports that are incomprehensible. Actually, the computer can make things go beyond our grasp, too (and, this is how I'm using singularity). The whole bit that underpins our world seems to have been given a shaky basis (was this done on purpose, to allow rooking the people? - or, through stupidity?). To wit? Look at this graphic from the WSJ that we'll get into later. It follows one bond and it basis while talking about the tranching issues. The WSJ actually used "toxic" in their description (pick Graphics tab; also, my use four years ago).

So, we'll be talking more on prudence and such; of course, the side that argues that prudence is quaint (well, it seems to be for quants) is vocal, too. Note that the practitioners (who make money at the gaming are responding to Lords - these guys aren't angels, either). Then, we have China asking prudence of Ben and the Fed?

Get it? China talking virtue to the US who seems to be a crap-game junkey?

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Now, the modern trend is toward mis-used mathematics and computing. How do we counter-balance this idiocy? Well, it won't be easy; the Harvard crowd is as much caught up as any (and, they have a proud (?) heritage of knowing about virtue). 

The idea is to use our humanness as the basis (how to do this is more simple than the brains let on) for discussion. And, to do this without letting issues of numbers (and facility with equations) become the focus. Sheesh, Ben. That data-driven argument is lame. 

So, on the Wiki page about prudence, they get a little mathematical. You see, they're talking derivatives (of a type that we see in nature, not the artifact that came out of financial engineering). And, they bring in the 3rd (jerk) which is the change in the 2nd (acceleration in the sense of some physical situations). Then, they go further to say that you're not prudent unless the 3rd is positive. 

That is categorically crap, folks, which we can discuss, as anyone wishes. You see, there is a subtle hint here that growth is essential in order to be (as in, being). And, "be" is related to having some property, okay (we're not talking ontology, except loosely)?

But, I can be prudent in my actions and choices without being a jerk (supposed to be a joke -- but, it's this type of thing that leads people to want to keep grabbing and grabbing - enough is enough). A 3rd of zero would imply a constant 2nd. Would you not still be in the region of prudency, thereby? Didn't think of that? 

Well, the text on the Wiki page does say that one meets risk by increasing savings. Not necessarily does one have to increase. It would depend upon many things related to the risk and it properties (note, object-biased viewpoint) at some point in time.

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This one little example can be extended far and wide. For some reason (methinks it's due to the (supposed) success of cosmology and physics), people think of mathematics as being grandly competent to handle truth. The truth? Not so, and it goes way beyond the concerns raised by quasi-empiricism.

So, those who are fluent in mathematics, and agile thus, dance around (flit) and lord it over others. Tell me this isn't so, Ben, given your academic experiences. Well, we'll learn the impacts (good and bad) from Ben's choices (the past five years, let's say) in the future (over a period time, to boot). We all know that some type of mortgaging of future generations is going on (to which Ben is contributing). How can we get a handle on this?

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I'll say one thing. Intuition will be necessary. Unfortunately, Ben hasn't shown us this, not that he couldn't do it if the fat cats, and politicos, weren't so adamant in getting their wants taken care of no matter how it might impact Main Street or the little people. But, search these blogs, and you'll see much written about the current state of affairs. Essentially, like some suggest, we are not any better off now than we were before the downturn. The next one could (will?) be even worse.

Remarks:

12/16/2013 -- HFT's contributions to the turmoil'd (froth'd) markets.

10/13/2013 -- Janet is awaiting in the wings.

Modified: 12/16/2013

Friday, August 23, 2013

Out of control

Yesterday, there was a three-hour period in which one of the markets couldn't process. Of course, people had to twiddle their thumbs during that period. Some say that it gave them a chance for a break.

One could ask: what finagling was going on in the background while traders were locked out?

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In the context of discussing investors, there has been some notion that we need to look at the "oops" potential for the market. In fact, that things are out of control has been obvious for awhile (look from three years ago). Let's use this as an opportunity to look at the situation.

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A New York Times article remarked about the "ghosts" that seem to be prevalent: In Markets' Tuned-Up Machinery, Stubborn Ghosts Remain. Jon Najarian, the options guy, points the finger at high-frequency trading; I agree, as their activity is of concern.

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CDO in the mortgage context
This image comes from a Wikipedia article dealing with CDOs. They are a type of structured financial instrument that one can put into the derivative class. You see, you're building pie in the sky, essentially. Another way to look at it is perpetual motion (post from 2009). People, perennially, try to obtain such.

In finance, there seems to be no grounding in reality. In fact, even accounting fiddles with its rules. Right now, the CDO is only put here as one example of the idiocy. There are many, many more that we'll be looking at.

Aside: the logic of business is far removed from anything natural or mathematical (though, that is not the total answer,either) many times -- actually, thank God for engineering's necessity.

The CDO is a good example and metaphor. Warren Buffet characterized derivatives, once, as WMDs (look back at Bush's use). Yet, he's silent now. Why? Well, for one, his insurance partners make use of these techniques all the time. Did they shush him?

Look, Warren, the stuff still stinks. ... You know, just like pushing the dump out of town, business people can live in their gilded environments without much thought to the reality of the human resources that they exploit. Derivatives are without any reasonable support for the most part (of course, we can talk some uses, such as proper hedging -- ah, moving things around different warehouses in order to fool regulators is real mature (golden sacks) -- and other look-ahead strategies).

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Now, mentioning Warren further, he touts stocks (equity) as important. At the same time, he knows that people lose their shirt all the time. In fact, look at the comments in that NYT article. One mentions that the costs of having markets with integrity would be prohibitive. Warren knows that he gets his pockets picked.

But, then, wait! Perhaps, the rich have a way around the money suckers and their games.

Aside: There are all of these studies that show equities gaining for the investor over time. Yes, some benefit. If we went back and did the proper analysis (costly, but, look, you have to pay to get the right type of market for the future -- and, software needs to be scrutinized in many ways, and at run time -- yes, it's not like simple error correction is sufficient, okay?), we would see that the gaming in the markets has caused a lot more loss than is warranted. So, people doing studies, please consider near-zero and the absent costs. In fact, doing the proper accounting would be a good, early step.

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What has happened is that the advent of computing brought on an entirely different situation. Ben did not see this when he let his doves tell him to take the route of largess. Their sacking the savers (FED, thank you for slapping us silly for all of these years) pushed people after risky moves. Of course, the rest of us are pulled along by the idiots even when we try to protect ourselves (sandbox, people).

Idiots? Yes, the size of the pocket is not the measurement. Those with big pockets have such from ill-begotten gains (post from 2010). This is fairly easy to show with the proper perspective. The trouble with such a demonstration? How do you show something to those who can (will) not see?

We have to, at some point, think of sustainability (as in the future of our progeny) and establish ethical (beyond integrity) markets. That is, if we believe the "capital" hype, then we have to tell those people that a ca-pital-sino is not the healthy approach.

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Jon (see above) bemoans the fact of the US losing its prime position in the markets. Well, if the markets are crooked, what glory is there? Too, Jon, what country can you point to that is ethical in its business dealings?

I say, Harvard types (egg-heads and beanie wearers of any institutional bias) ought to lead. Oh, I know, they (again, Harvard as archetype) went secular about 150 years ago. Let's go back further and pick up the heritage that was dropped.

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You see, people, these jerks are pushing out software systems that implement bastardized mathematics under the guise that their stuff is great. Ah, yes, it's great for sucking money (post from 2009) from the hapless. In fact, there are costs that need to accrue that are being pushed out (Ben, come talk to me, and I'll explain -- no chance of that as Ben will run after the money, no doubt) to those without power. It's obvious all around.

In the past downturn, we lost our chance to make a real impact. You see, Ben's loose methods set in motion this current aeration. Even if it comes out of the taper without sinking the whole ship, the economy still faces potential harm from the growing use of computers.

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The NYT says ghosts. I say stupidity. For one, the models are incomplete. Then, they're not thinking of side-effects that come from the inherent problem of the singularities that lurk (like ghosts, thanks NYT). Just what does that mean? We can say, as needed.

In the meantime, consider that a failure (of a systemic nature) is always around the corner. When this happens, things will hit the fan as who will understand the issue? You CANNOT build crap upon crap and expect to have a sustainable system (ah, the world-wide, wild web as a perfect example?).

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How do we got back to a more stable basis? Ah, for one, get the junkies out of the room. That is, we need a sandbox for this type to crap in. Then, they get to clean up, to boot. Can Warren participate? Well, it'll be harder for him than his giving away his money (by the way, if money is ill-begotten - by definition, since the underlying market is a trash pit --- does giving it away wipe clean the whole slate?) to the poor.

Sheesh, how many impoverished are helped with hand outs when they were put into that position by greedy maneuvers? It's like this, Warren. Ever think about how easy it is to tear down versus build up. Of course, you do. Now, consider the wear that business as it is being done now does to the fabric of our being in toto. Even with the burden (say, trying to raise a family on the minimum wage), people still get the energy to work (multiple jobs at little pay), the human motivation comes through. That work (that causes the body to disintegrate -- erode - become maimed -- oh yes, IPhone by slave labor), too, big business people, is harder than any done by the egoistic CEO (gosh that grates when I hear those jerks talk -- I've did hard physical labor as a younger man - some CEOs did, as well, however it's worse now -- being driven as if one were a machine by stupid people with computers ... so much to discuss there).  

Remarks:

12/16/2013 -- HFT's contributions to the turmoil'd (froth'd) markets.

11/24/2013 -- The ACM has a review article on algorithmic trading that everyone ought to read. Essentially, if we use a plane as an example (consider what Boeing has had to do to get the 787 out and about), we would say that the financial folks are putting passengers on experimental aircraft with little regard to their safety and comfort. The whole notion is atrocious. How does it happen? They've coached things in mathematics and computerese, plus they've bastardized Adam Smith's ideas. Where is our sandbox, and where is the stable economic system that we can build?

09/18/2013 --  Pop, fizz, ... Ben had to show largess because of idiots who ran the economy to the ground (rogues all around). Ben is going. What do we have to look forward to? Businessweek has a review issue (of the past five years). Several articles are especially interesting. Too, phrasing shines: spin dross into gold (in relation to mortgage bonds). Perhaps, we'll get back to some of the more pertinent ones, at some point. If we do, it would be to bring forward what has been said here, from the beginning. To wit? Tranche and trash (WSJ has a good take on that). Securitization? This article brings on weeping (one example of the misuse of mathematics and computing that has been harped about).

08/24/2013 -- Why do I think of golden sacks? Well, they represent the worse of the rogues, though I know that there are some good people working there who are doing the right thing. However, I have personal knowledge of two deals in which they were prime players in the role of experts in the matter. In both cases, workers lost their economic lives, some lost their pensions, both firms struggled. One actually went bankrupt due to the debt left by those golden players as they took off with bulging pockets. The incidents were within the past decade just prior to the downturn. Of course, golden boys/girls couldn't see that things would crash. But, any reasonable stance (based upon integrity, okay?) wold have foreseen that certain types of risks were not adequately handled. But, no, the context of the gaming rushes after reward (greedy accumulation) without proper regard to things related to the reality of near-zero. ... Much more can, and will, be said, in due time. In the meantime, the golden sack'ers (search) are archetypal in the world of economic misdeeds.

08/23/2013 -- To hear the market people talk, it's like they get a top going (balancing act), and everything is hunky dory. Oh yes, until the top topples and we have to clean up the mess. There are costs (to be discussed) that are not currently considered. An analog? People used to talk about clawbacks. That is, short-term decisions which had immediate success were rewarded with high pay. Then, when the crap became visible, the costs were pushed to the majority who had no say in the matter. That whole scenario is here, again, except the paybacks are of a nature that is not so visible. The costs have accumulated, though. The piper is going to come calling, again.

Modified: 12/16/2013