Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pause or not

Things sure do look different now than they did in 2007, from all sorts of angles. Yet, oops are and will be.

Those that are the most inimical come upon us gradually and subtly. And, these get us tied into warped worldviews from which it is hard to do the proper analysis.

There are several examples of this, but computation is right at the core of a lot of problems (current and latent). And, it is our principal focus for several reasons: applied mathematics, epistemology, and the phenomena of crowd'ish things (many, many examples).

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One big issue, not recognized, it seems, is lack of quiescence. We mentioned ca-pital-sino in a related discussion. Problems there are made more difficult due to the 24/7 (whatever) thinking. For one thing, many world views allow for rest. Yes, despite the markets being closed, somewhat, we still do not see the proper analysis being done (to be discussed).

Remarks:  Modified: 10/30/2014

10/30/2014 --

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Renewal of faith

The Internet has been more a source of chagrin than otherwise, of late. There are many reasons for this which we will elucidate coherently, at some point. As one ponders the changes over the past couple of decades, not all of the change has been progressive .
    To wit, we have legions of people already hooked with more clambering to join in the frey. What frey? Being tethered to masters (real and virtual) through a so-called "smart" device that can dumb one down considerably, but not by necessity (more below). 
    Bloomberg, this week, had an article about so-called, again, patent trolls who many want to hate. Yet, in one case, the leaders of the firm are quite technical and have related ambitions. They are not of the type who claim (I almost barfed): the cloud is a marketing space. No, one of these guys says that he is trying to do (as in, solve a problem with and produce) something that people want (as in, pay for and use) to use (again, more below).
Now, to the point. Below is a sequence that is chronological but which, as well, follows a logical progression. We are talking a little bit of information here that will be expanded upon, in time.

It was while visiting the TED site that I saw a page related to on-line courses. Not a new subject to me (see comment about Prof Osgood's take on Fourier's work). In fact, that such material is available, on the web (so far, I have dabbled with courses at Stanford, Harvard, and MIT - for one thing, the difference in culture is obvious, yet the underlying reality being taught is ONE - ah, yes -- of course, there have been other courses sampled, such as those that are based elsewhere, say, the U.K.), counters (can help counter), a little, the rest of the maniacal collective (aggregated idiocy). What I branched to, from TED, was a nice list of course options. We'll start there and continue in a bulleted fashion.
  • - Essentially, the sequence started with the openculture site. The graphic shows the list (shown here in that websites change, so we need a snap as of now). Notice the inclusiveness of the list, plus the mention of MOOC. Too, given that the autodidact's view is going to be the most important in many situations, that these things are accessible can calm things. 
  • - So, picking Math, we get this list of courses which is quite extensive. So, I picked Diff Eqs with Arthur Mattuck at MIT (Math 18.03). As with most courses, there are materials provided to the student that the web watcher does not typically have access to. In the case of this course, the students were allowed to use a program. The Prof mentions it several times in Lecture 1. 
  • - In Lecture 2, near the end (46:59), the Prof says that he wants to talk pitfalls (ah, my favorite subject - oops). He mentions two (this list I will enumerate, fully and completely, at some point). One of these the students are to work out. For the other he uses a particular equation and discusses the issues graphically (more below). He tells the students that the exercise won't cause them grief. But, the understanding that might come from doing the exercise will destroy their faith in the methods (I like that - there is too much love of abstraction and too many unwarranted pursuits for applying such; yes, big daddy data is a real big problem).  
  • - Later, I thought that I would see what the modern solvers do with y' = y^2 which the Prof says illustrates one of the pitfalls. Of course, Google was the starting point (could have been Bing or a number of others). But, an old friendly site pops up. Whose? Wolfram's. The company has been doing computational mathematics for a long while now (pre web). Too, the Alpha system is for knowledge searches. But, I got inspired on looking at their historical view starting at 20,000 BC. Naturally, there is something for recent advances with Wolfram on the list. But, note that the theme is computable knowledge (hence our friend Leonhard Euler is skipped over). BTW, the whole subject of computability will be coming back to fore.    
  • - So, let us go to Alpha: http://www.wolframalpha.com/ As one expects, there is an place to make a query. Otherwise, the interface has nothing that is noisy. All buttons that go away from this page are minimized (there if you want them, otherwise not intrusive). 
  • - Now, typing in y'=y^2 brings up a nice response. If you try other examples, you will see that the response can be quite lengthy. But, it returns quickly (letting you know if there will be more information coming later - after computing continues). Too, there are links to related material. 
  • - One final thing. Some links go to another Wolfram effort, MathWorld, which is a very extensive encyclopedia of mathematics started (and maintained) by Eric Weisstein (it is so good to see this type of effort).
Timeline of Systematic Data and
the Development of Computable Knowledge
WolframAlpha
This little sequence of events ending with Wolfram was so refreshing that it has motivated several things that will be added to my todo list. You see, news reports of Apple's little shindig last week talked swagger. Anyone who has bumped against hard problems knows that swagger does not bring anything to the table.

I have been following Wolfram's work (no swagger there), albeit from a distance, since the beginning (my life work has had computational mathematics at its core - see Truth Engineering, for one). Yes, swagger leads to failure and oops (ah, so many ways to address this).

However, even engineers can be tempted. Look back at the beginning of this blog, for instance. As one mathematician said: they just go by the book (nice, if the ground work was done well by the math and science types - otherwise, problematic).

As well, though, the main message is that there is no excuse to not know something if it is important to you and your life. That is, having a grasp of things of a knowledge basis (as opposed to the gossip-laden worlds that we see so much energy put into) is essential to coping with the current issues, such as that which ensues from complexity.

And, you know, folks, those who are the supposed best are not of any better capability, in this sense, than any other thoughtful, capable human. Perhaps, MOOC can help balance some of those issues related to the age-old problems of elitism (lots more on this).

Remarks:  Modified: 09/17/2014

09/13/2014 -- Seeing those who are tethered, I have to tell a story: supposedly, Newton was so involved in his thoughts that he did not eat his meal after it had been served. Eventually, his meal companion ate Isaac's food. At some point, Isaac noticed that his food was gone and mentioned that he must have eaten. ... Those with their nose to the devices are posturing in real life (think Rodin) as if their little brains are actively pursuing universals (when they are actually doing what? Playing a game, watching some video - tv included, reading some trashy novel, ... wait, it's elitistic to even think such thoughts). Like mentioned before, the management class started this with their love of the mobile (won't name the name) as indicative of their stature and status (tetheredness, 24/7).

09/13/2014 -- Have to mention Cyc and Doug Lenat. Alpha did not know the former; it knew the latter. ... Alpha's tie to equational parsing and processing is tremendously useful for those who are looking for such type of support.

09/16/2014 -- Is math discovered or not? Beside the quasi-empirical issues, we'll weigh in, soon (truth engineering).

09/17/2014 -- In a recent WSJ (letters to the editor), the writer rues that "smart" device tethering of a human's mind does contribute to shallowness. However, people were shallow before these mobile things came on the scene. What is new is that shallowness can now be broadcast far beyond what was the case before the new times. ... Message heard: the fact of the "smart" device is not the cause of (but, it is a contributor to) lack of depth (discussion: why is this important?).

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

FAME

Over the years, we have had many opinions of Finance (see Remarks at this post on how it goes toward non-realistic models - how is it to not get so entrapped, given funny money is our norm?) Now, let's stop and look at FAME. In short, Finance and Accounting MEmos.

     See, fame-jagazine.com.

Nice, like the business model which expends the effort to condense, summarize academic papers in order to present these little overviews in a coherent form. And, on-line access is free. The printed copy requires one to come up with money.

To date, there have been two publications. These will be the source for coming posts.

We will have to give a nod to editors and supporters. Great idea.

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As an aside, CALPERS seems to want to downplay equities. Perhaps, they're seeing that the aerated property causes things like the Minsky dump.

Remarks:  Modified: 08/12/2014

08/12/2014 -- 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Laser-like focus leaves out a whole lot of information

This post will be brief with only two concepts thrown out. The purpose for casting out these ideas is to raise the discussion level, if that is possible.

You see, data-driven and computational methods are insidiously entrapping us. Say what? Yes, unfortunately, those in the monied state want this of us.

So, we can use eye glasses as an example here. Notice how most are running around with narrow bands of glass that are supposed to do several things, I suppose. Now, whether this expectation works in general is something for study. But, it doesn't work on this guy (who has been four-eyed since childhood and who prefers a wider span of vision - you never know what you might miss).

Now, the more narrow the glass, the smarter the person? Isn't that the message of some ads? Or, does the narrowed frame indicate some notion of minimalism (which would be acceptable if done in a zen sense, rather than posturing)? One can ask several other questions. Is it vanity alone, with the eye glass and frame drawing attention to the eyes?

We could consider that the slightest of eye wear indicates some type of focus, as in concentration (which, incidentally, is one attribute of the best and brightest - oh, by the way, you knew that I would get back to that class, right?). And, isn't that [focus] expected with the growing emphasis on [an underdetermined] physicality? Now, that is all fine and dandy (as some used to say), except does life as a whole have to be subjected thusly (like we're all under the microscope - thanks, big daddy data)?

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The concepts: the Illusion of Now and the Blinders of Data.

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Antithetical to a whole lot of dogma? True. Stupid? Not by any necessity that you will be able to demonstrate. Perhaps, of bitter taste to those who think rich is smart and who want to enslave mankind? Well, why any other motivation?

... Again, a younger set has led us astray (I have seen many of these cycles) without knowing (said this way to acknowledge, at least, that intents were, may have been, worthy - except, chasing after money always leads to turmoil for the rest -- near zero, folks) since there are insufficient ways to improve their comprehension (heck, the older generation, time and again, bows - in some cases, they fill their pockets, too). ... We now have going on a quarter century of experience, so it's time to step back and to consider what the heck has happened here and there, ...,

Remarks: Modified: 07/27/2014

07/27/2014

Sunday, June 8, 2014

9 years ago

From seeing some of the questions that pop up in Eagle-supported forums whenever the related topic is discussed (or harped about), one has to ask: where is there a fuller summary of what happened then than what we have seen? Too, whenever the topic is touched upon, viewpoints come forth that lead to people taking sides in the issue (like bragging, "I work there - you don't know what you're talking about" ---- or, like from the other side, "it was wrong, wrong").

So, does it not look as if there ought to be a summary of what went down on that weekend in June, of what led up the weekend of infamy, and of what ensued (all sides - more complete look - as in, not representing that history is written by the victors) after the fact of the weekend?

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The topic? We'll get to that. Actually, one might argue that, since Boeing was such a major presence in the city of interest, for such a long time, those in the city ought to know what was behind all of this; too, the impacts upon those whose lives were seriously influenced make for stories that ought to be of interest both now and later.

Why? The recent downturn (recession) came about via those in power making decisions and being involved in activities very much of the type that can be associated with this particular affair (and its downs as well as it ups). So, the intent is not to belabor that which is misunderstood; rather, a bit of necessary analysis ought to have some attention, at some point. So, let's start that.

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Below is a brief look at the weekend. In time, the story will (ought to) be more fully told - especially, in terms of the larger picture that has emerged so clearly - bringing forth disparities, for one. Too, though, given that the tenth year has rolled around (started, the ninth completed), preparations for celebrating / bemoaning the tenth anniversary ought to be of interest.

As an aside, we are looking for stories which can be conveyed anonymously. The mechanism will be more fully described in time, but, for now, if you have something to offer, send a note.

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So, what is the timeframe? Nine years ago, last weekend, as in the first weekend in June, in 2005, Boeing (and Newco, so called, at the time) pushed all of its employees (who were under the proposed removal to Newco) out the door right before the weekend (lots of details glossed over here). Why? We'll see below.

Now, the more insightful workers took their stuff with them when they left on Friday as it turns out that many did not get an "offer" over the weekend and so could not come back.

Offer? Yes, an invitation to work at the Newco. In the planning, Nigel of Onex (who was running the show as the buyer) had this thought (which he denies): why not humiliate a whole bunch of people (Jobs, labor, disrespect) and make a statement? Remember, at the time of the planning, these people (not receiving offers) were still Boeing employees (until pushed out the door on Friday), so that whole bit of display was counter to what Boeing claimed was its ethical-ness.

The plan, you see, was that offers would come in the mail (which is, for the most part, private). Some seem to have thought that offers would be in Saturday's mail (actually, many got their offer on Friday). And, the other part of Nigel's plan, to which Boeing managers (yes) capitulated due to their starry-eyed lust for the big time (as in big pockets - and, folks, near-zero needs more attention), was how ought non-offer (read, rejection) letters be sent out.

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Why start with this? Well, when one considers the human aspects, that weekend looms large, as we will see. Too, such shenanigans represent deep seated disrespect for workers (albeit, one might claim that Unions having caused Boeing grief over the years were fair game - but, there are two side to that story).

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And so, some (many, by certain counts) did not get an offer. As mentioned here and elsewhere, many employees were left hanging and awaiting. Then, on the Saturday of that weekend in June, a DHL truck pulled up in front of a large number of houses in town in order to deliver to the occupant a package from their old-beloved (many times) employer that contained bad news: get lost, you were not welcomed back.

In many cases, this message was delivered to old-time, devoted employees.

Too, the package told the ex-employee about a day that had been set aside for them to line up at Boeing and get their stuff.

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Now, this is short, however we do intend to get as many stories together over the next year as we can. Too, we'll be researching the incident more fully, including making the arguments about how this little case represented the mania of those times. Mind you, the motivation is more toward a closure state than any other goal. Too, lessons learned are lurking there; so, let's pull them to visibility.

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Now, we can consider some cases, from that one weekend.

First, the winner side, as is that not the American way?
    - Of course, we ought to start with those who got an offer. Yes, they were many, of several types. But, all came back to work with a heavier non-disclosure onus (3-paragraph piece of paper replaced by three pages of small type) plus they were in limbo as the divestiture was not complete for a couple of weeks or so. Too, there are so many ways to characterize the state of the returnees, such as some came back with less pay.   
    - Most came back with lessened benefits, such as those related to insurance and retirement. Let's take retirement, for instance. Some who were within just a handful, or less, of years from being able to retire (so close as to smell it) had their 401K frozen and their pension taken over by the Newco. There was some controversy over this, but enough time has elapsed to see the effects. In one case, someone who recently thought of retiring (was close to the age of 55 that weekend) has a big disparity between the estimated amount shown by a Boeing report from the earlier years and the reality (a difference of greater than half). Is that winning (some wag might mention the downturn, sure, however recall that things behind the downfall were being done by those who were principal actors in this case)? 
    - You see, many of these older folks could not transfer to other Boeing sites, either within Wichita or elsewhere. That was part of the plan (more below). So, they were trapped. And, these people saw an immediate bifurcation. Many were over 55 and could retire. That meant that these workers had their Newco pay plus the Boeing retirement pay plus (and this is the biggie) Boeing retiree insurance that would be in place until Medicare age (as opposed to those insurance plans offered, in general, to Newco persons). Minor? Perhaps in the eyes of some, but, in the aggregate, these little stories add up to a hugh, stenching mess. 
    - Let's talk another type of winner. Those who received an offer but did not opt for Newco (more on that below). 
Now, for the loser side (perhaps of a much larger set than allowed if we looked at the near-zero aspects of this thing) of the issue:
    - One, of very many, long-time employees got the Saturday treatment. That person did not think to take personal things on Friday. What was lost? Years of information (contacts, etc.) that had been accumulated. Not his? Consider, please, that Boeing (as would any forward-looking company) sponsored many external professional relationships. Evidently, this employee did not catch a drift of the bad spirit'd-ness that was around and about. Fortunately, this guy landed on his feet and is doing very well (thank you, Boeing, for setting him free). Too, the guy got his retirement, and related benefits, after a wait of just a couple of years. Almost a winner would you not think?  
    - Others, of a certain age, who did not get an offer, were out of their early retirement by design. There was much discussion about this decision when it became known. Some even wondered how this whole way of thinking could be legal. That is, the shock was palpable in a whole lot of homes (both for those not getting an offer and those facing Newco's reality). 
    - There is one class that needs some attention (yes, Eagle). Some got an offer (supposed winners) and did not take the offer. Now, further below is one such case (with a little more detail). In general, though, many of those who made this choice to opt out suffered unexpected travails. Why? They did not believe that Boeing managers would stoop to such types of shenanigans that ensued. But, read below (doubters, especially). 
    - Then, there were those workers (winners who got an offer) who were not old enough to retire from Boeing such as the one example (above, winners). Many of these were just too young to be close to retirement. But, they had to go back to work with gloaters who could retire and get retirement benefits. Do we know the size of this class? Essentially, these people had reduced benes and pay from the new company while they were working alongside the double-dippers. 
No doubt, there will be more types of cases. I know of several who were heart-broken (Shattered dreams - see Comments) by this whole deal.

Also, Raytheon/Beech went with the same approach, later, which event was followed by so many deleterious results (Hawker spooked) that we all know (but that will be part of the story, too - imagine, all this in little Wichita).

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Now, about winning and losing. One person got the offer (winner?) but rejected it on Tuesday morning. Basically, Monday had been used to tie things up and to mull over the situation. On Tuesday, the worker told the boss about the decision.

At that time, the plan (Nigel's or of Boeing managers who were gleefully applying the boot to the behind) kicked in. The worker was summarily thrown out the door (perhaps, we could say, ceremoniously - ah, those gloating idiots with starry eyes) in a nape-of-the-neck, arse-kicking mode (yes, like a drunk from a bar being thrown into the dirty street). However, that was not the worst part of the deal this person would soon find out. Those Boeing managers put the worker on a slippery slope (details will be forthcoming, when the story is told). Essentially, "thugs" comes to mind when one considers these folks and their methods.

Briefly: retirement insurance taken away, stock options declared null, general trashing of the guy's record, etc. And, these were Boeing managers (the company that touted its best-ness and talks about fairness and so forth) doing this type of mischief!

Needless to say, the managers did not prevail as the worker was able to counter their attempts (for the most part - more to tell here), and their machinations were temporary irritations (and lessons).

In retrospect, one can understand the enthusiasm of these people chasing after their Newco goals (pursuing the American dream?). Too, one can get the gist of this type of thinking (Bush made it famous): you're either with us or agin' us.

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Yet, business does talk ethics (while stabbing you in the back simultaneously?). In the larger context, the little incidents from that weekend in June in Wichita are representative of so much. We will need to consider the totality of the historic unfolding that started so long ago on the shores of this nation and continue to this day. Yes, the historic perspective would put little Wichita right in the center of a whole bunch of messes (from which, perhaps, we can learn something).

The economic bifurcations, of so much interest currently, are the consequence of decisions (as said above), can indicate to us a whole lot of underlying problems, and will stand as a measure (almost) against which we might assess progress toward a more sustainable economy (assuming that we really want to attain such).

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So, finally, as we are being brief, here is little more of a tale (from BW, Boeing worker):
    On one day in early March, 2005, BW went to Ethics training. This was mandatory, that year. One CEO had been bounced; another was shortly to be bounced. Jim M was brought in - a little later - to raise the ethical standard. Has he (more to discuss)? At Ethics, the expert touted that the golden rule was (had to be) the focus. This rule was seen as essential; how else? any reasonable person might ask. Too, at the time, Boeing management stressed, quite emphatically (harped and harped), that relationships and dealings at work had to be open and honest (ah, we do have to get back to this - heard it on the telly today). 
    After the Ethics training of that day, the BW went to another type of indoctrination (in a room that, later, SPR used Greenwood - Weagle - to talk about, as being a "bat cave" -- er, rat hole?). Essentially, it was a war room that was being used to plan/execute this whole affair (as in, that event which included the infamous weekend in June). Actually, the cave/hole had been in operation several months, already (let's say, the Fall of 2004). On that day, the BW got marching papers, so to speak. 
    What ensued between that time of seeing the good (trying to be ethical), the bad (green-eye'd plotters who were at it with such vigor) and (what turned out to be) the ugly and of experiencing the weekend is an interesting tale of subterfuge, chicanery, almost sophomoric glee at breaking the Unions, and other un-glamorous behavior on the part of Boeing managers (is that point emphasized too much? not!). 
    Essentially, over those last few months, the extent of split-tongue'd talking at all levels was an eye-opener for BW. Remember, these managers had stressed that their ethical selves demanded such good behavior from the employees (classic moral: do as I say not as I do?). Too, the anticipation of "big bucks" was so palpable (yes, it was way before Google and Facebook, but the takings that have been recorded pale in comparison (say, with FB) - at the time, Boeing was doing something called the Chairman's Innovation Initiative -- this whole thing seemed to be a massive example of a CII project). But, there is more to the tale, here, too.  
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Some who have discussed what the DHL/email weekend meant to them have used a term related to early pre-WWII events; it was of such impact, especially to those who have not experienced, prior to this, such slapping up the side of the head (or, could not believe such bad manners could be associated with Boeing managers (ah, le creme) - oh well, they could point to Nigel).

In other words, we ought to express the facts about this and document the effects; in other words, even if they point to a reality of complicity, manipulation, and stench (all to be explained, in due time), the tales need telling.

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The above is only a part of the story. At the appropriate time, we expect to offer a means for others to tell their side of this story (no doubt, there will be many sides). Will lil jefe Jeffy give us his take? Yes, do you not want to hear from him?

All in all, the tale has not been told, as it ought. As well, can this whole thing be considered good, in general? Yes, Boeing might have some things to tell us about lesson learned.

Remarks: Modified: 07/10/2014

06/08/2014 -- We all need a fresh look (even those with big, distracting pockets). 

06/15/2014 -- Timing? This week, SPR celebrated shipment of the 5Kth 737, of a certain variety. Nice accomplishment (for a Boeing sub-organization?). So, congratulations are in order for maintaining output through the past nine years. ... To be complete, though, there has to be mention that this post was motivated, in part, by the discussions surrounding a possible sale of fabrication supposedly to make more room for assembly. Some comments at the site (see article above) seemed to indicate that many do not know what went down nine years ago. Is it important? Depends, okay. At least, the facts ought to be somewhere that we can see. ... Now, other talk, currently, is about whether the site (or SPR) would drop other customers and concentrate on Boeing work. Too, some rumors point toward other types of sales. ...

07/10/2014 -- Business week had a little ditty about Gerry. Thrives in the shadow, it says. Has a big impact upon the lives of  many, it does not say. ... As we're getting technical again, of course, this topic will be studied in depth. We'll, perhaps, have a journal, like this tech one. ... Along with this, we'll be considering Sandberg and more. This bit on what makes for success foretells some topics.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Modern programmers

I just ran into something on Quora (interesting place) that I had to respond to. I have removed the names to protect the innocent (guilty?). Also, I'm doing it here, rather in Quora. Why? It is from a discussion that started many moons ago. Yet, it is still of interest.


As you see, the question is: What are some of the things that programmers know, but most people don't? One comment says: sleeping, walking around, staring out the window, ...

Guess what? All sorts of people agreed with this. My response is shown. 

Perhaps, rather than belabor the modern youthful view, I ought to remind them of the peripatetic's usefulness. 

One could think of a lot of ways to get the mind to work than playing/lounging around. Is there some correlation with this type of thinking and all of the issues related to software (ah, let us count the ways?)?

But, the more interesting question is what do people know that programmers do not? Lots (important stuff, too). 

Remarks: Modified: 06/23/2014

05/15/2014 -- The indolence suggested by the comment, and that it had a bunch of agree'rs, suggests something. Firstly, though, we have to consider the lords of old and their jokers, in this regard. Lords had their middle men, to boot, who drove the serfs. What have we now? Programmers (and other ilk spawning off software systems) driving the lives, and minds, of the populace (on paths to perdition). What gave them the right? Have you thought about it (Google, et al)? Going further, mindless (even when cloaked as being thoughtful) propagation of wonders, via the cloud or otherwise, by software has deleterious side-effects (actually, insidious results). What are the measures of this? Let me tell you, in my time, okay? It will not be who has the biggest pockets from improperly (yes) obtained bucks. ... To be brief, if the true costs of systems were known, and accounted for, we would not have the big pockets as the costs would eat up those supposed gains. Actually, the metaphor of our infrastructure (what is it? 60,000 or more bridges are about to crap out? --- WTF?) applies since the software industry has spawned off crap now for decades (except for a few pockets of diligence and real accomplishment). ... Is it like the collection of deficits the handling of which is being pushed out to future generations? Some say karma. ... The valley of silicon has generated all sorts of negatives, in this sense; let's talk those (rationally and calmly).

Example of the coddled: Facebook's collection might provide a few that we could analyze.

Young men act out, see Businessweek. Talk about a juxtaposition. The opposite of the coddled. ... This old guy will have a lot to say about that. 

05/31/2014 -- Rifts from code? Well, that has been there from the beginning. Can we have some sort of commonweal? For what? To be discussed.

06/23/2014 -- Example of true cost being ignored: Phone app in eight hours.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Going forward

This may seem like a punt (perhaps, too insider of a joke), but it is not. Since the blog started, the world has changed (quite a bit); the blogger has definitely changed. But, the topics of 7'oops7? No, they are really eternal, albeit with a conceptual label that is of the time.

There are two things to this post. Firstly, the image shows what topics were of interest, in terms of the posts read using today's state. Compare this with the snap done in December, 2013. There is enough data for this type of look back to be interesting. Too, such will come into play was we rewrite some of those posts using the current viewpoint (that is, considering all of what has happened, say, like with the Fiction-in-Finance area).

Last 30 days                                               All time               
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When we consider some of the changes, one deals with more computational overlays over our lives. Many of these are insidious, for a number of reasons, however we do not, yet, have the means to differentiate the good from the bad. It will be a matter of science and analysis.

Speaking of analysis, one pall is just that, namely the sort of thing where our little drippings are assumed, in total, to represent ourselves (big daddy data's problem, for instance). Too, all sorts of mathematical approaches are being applied, seemingly willy-nilly, since the results seem to make sense. There we have issues like mean convergence, et al, to discuss. In short, being is never subsume by any collection, however large, of data about us.

An interesting discussion can be found at Rick's blog, where he asks if the SAT could be replaced by big data. That is, that we make the decision to not use sit-down tests where there may be more information that is more useful. You see, some test well; many do not. Are the good test takers in possession of superior abilities for being success? It can go the other way: can someone who is trapped within a depressed environment test their way out of the morass?

This snap is from a post on March 18, 2014. Enough is snapped in order to set the context. For instance, are their creativity issues related to honing a test-taking mindset?


But, note the reference to Amazon (second paragraph) going from recommending some choice to their customer to where they think that they can predict. My first reaction is that they cannot do this with me as I have not bought anything via Amazon. Could they use data from other places where I have bought things and tweak my interest? Maybe. Perhaps not, though.

I can say that I have not responded to any ads over all of these years where I purchased anything on-line as the result of an ad. My purchases are the typical thing of researching and then buying (say, electronic equipment).

But, ought they? Let me make a statement here that the question encompasses a whole lot of stuff, including morality. Yes, that is true even though the Amazon owner might defer from such discussions. One of our thrusts will be to argue that point, from several sides. So, consider that one of the changes in the viewpoint of the blogger.

Too, though, we will be more technical (see another SAT, Logic/Probability, ... from truth engineering). Timeliness? Again, just as morality looks at atemporal issues, so, too, must our ruminations about things of oops and 'oops.

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So, the title matches that of the other blog.

Remarks: Modified: 04/29/2014

04/29/2014

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).

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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.

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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 --