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: 01/15/2015

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.

01/15/2015 -- At last, a series that will establish the basis and extensions, as required. We are going to go back to some simple and come forward to the modern, complicated economy. Why? My long chain of ancestors (inherited via Prof. Lucio Arteaga) is one motivation.

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).


10/19/2013 --

Modified: 10/19/2013

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Best and brightest of what?

Context: See Tru'eng anewfocus going forwardmathematics.


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: 01/06/2015

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.

06/12/2014 -- One way to look at these things: cognitive elitism.

01/06/2015 -- Renewal of TE, see Context line.

01/06/2015 --  Best and brightest3rd most read (7'oops7),  1st most read (Tru'eng)7th most read (FEDaerated).

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.


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?


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?


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.


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?


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.


07/03/2014 -- The Magna Charta is a wonderful example for us to apply to provider (king)/user (baron) issues.

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

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

Modified: 07/03/2014

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?


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.


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.


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).


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.


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.


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.


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.


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?).


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).  


07/22/2015 -- Some of these are, now, poster boys.

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: 07/22/2015

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Brief visit

As said before, this post does not imply being back to this theme. That is, we're still not back (as we weren't after the battery incidents). There are too many others things of interest.

But, we reserve the right to stop, now and then, and make comment. Why? The Heathrow incident of late last week. What happened? We all want to know and will know soon enough (unless, it's another those unknowns that can't be explained -- where is Carson when you need him (unknown unknowns)?).

I just ran across an article in the Seattle Times that speaks to things alluded to here and in truth engineering. For instance, one cannot expect someone to do what one cannot do, when one is the expert (wizardry and magic, aside) -- we'll explain, if necessary. Now, in finance, one can see seeking a "perpetual motion" event (they can be forgiven since the class includes idiocy as a property); however, engineers do not follow such dreams (unless pushed to do so by managers).  

Aside: There are many things that are beyond our grasp, despite the fact that we get enough control to fuel hubris (I'm talking our relationship with nature, not those of the super-set (supposed) class who think that they have control over being). Engineering would be smart to incorporate this into their discipline (again, not talking chaos, etc.; rather, consider the ilk of truth engineering, please).

So, this will be an interesting problem to follow. We'll make comment now and then. But, the whole idea here is to have a progressive movement toward something that is understandable and of use. Consider the entrapments that we have to manage, for starters. My focus is the world of money, finance, and related. But, engineers are as enmeshed as are the silly folk (CAE would be a good place to begin discussion). The problem is pervasive and of imperative concern (ought to be?).


07/15/2013 -- The event will present the world with the "largest composite repair" project that has been seen so far in aerospace, according to a blog post at Composites World. Here is an interesting look at composite repair from the same site; this report dates from 2008 when the 787 was still getting configured to allow a first flight (Dec 2009). It'll take long practice to get to a data-based basis for making the necessary decisions. Too, is this damage in a heavily structural area that will require special attention?

Modified: 07/15/2013

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Borrowing addiction

We have to get back to finance (the times). Our first post on that was in 2007. The topic was tranching. A recent post had the same topic. To me, the whole notion seems to be like wanting perpetual motion. But, then, finance does not have any real grounding, nowadays, due to many things, such as fiat money.

Of late, another bit of errant thought has come to fore. People are leveraging to increase their equity stake. Again, leveraging (think of uses) is not bad. Improper focus? Yes, problematic.


So, this week we had a downturn. Those who bought with borrowed money would suffer more after a loss, due to the pain of debt. So, that's the oops. To take this type of stance when it is obviously not wise.


Yet, the central banks have fed the situation. Some use addiction as the analogue. Too, the whole emphasis seemed to have been to push people toward the more risky. And, there wasn't much jawboning about boneheads increasing their risk with debt.

Debt is a way to mortgage the future, pure and simple. We have been using debt far beyond what might be reasonable as the downstream pain is too remote for most to consider. Even those with progeny don't seem to get the drift of the issue.


Hence, oops abound, as was said before.


08/01/2013 -- Ben cannot unwind or taper downhe has too many Doves. We'll have to get back to the king thing (yes, the divine rights of the CEO, new royalty, in other words) and dampening of these types by a new outlook (Magna-Carta'√≠sh).

Modified: 08/01/2013

Monday, May 20, 2013

Closer to Truth

In our last post, we mentioned that we would be pursuing quasi-empirical arguments, again. Wikipedia has a nice write up on the subject, for starters.

The topic is open to discussion; the main theme is why has mathematics been so effective? In fact, it is so effective that people are using it zombie-like (where is this not true today?); and, science and engineering have rested their case strongly on the little thing (see below).

Getting back to quasi-empirical notions deals with reclaiming earlier views (to wit, this category with the label of Effectiveness; we had a similar category in the related blog).


even big T' aspects
I just ran across "Closer to truth" today and wanted to get it brought to the fore. The series deals with leading thinkers talking on a point moderated by Robert Lawrence Kuhn (he does a great job, staying in the background yet keeping the flow going). From the videos that I've watched so far, these are well done, albeit the talkers' biases, and faults, hang out (well, isn't that what video is all about? ever wonder why the talking heads spend so much time before a mirror - modern day manifestations of Narcissus' self-infuation?). Not being critical, but in the case of one well-known, and quoted, intellectual, his verbiage contained words that were self-contradictory. But, extemporaneous speech leads to that (we, that is, those who want to listen, gloss over those little errors in the spirit trying to understand what is being said -- after all, the whole notion of being error-free (as in, ..., infallible?) ought not come into any type of scientific query).

The below link is to a youtube video, but the show has its own site and cache. I noticed that those at the official site have extra frames (youtube is minimally presented) devoted to noise (opinion).


Now, to the crux of the matter. After seeing a lot of interesting videos, one motivated me to post. I'll use this topic in the truth engineering blog, to boot (and FEDaerated - financial mathematics as a sub-type which is more problematic, than not).

What topic? Mathematics as invention or discovery. This is an old question. In one talk, a historian said that when talking to most mathematicians privately, things seemed to go to the latter (ah, the mystery of it all). At the same time, when pushed in a public context, about all of the practitioners with whom he had talked would revert back to the former. This is meant to be cursory, as the topic will come up again.

The talker? Wolfram of Mathematica (the video, skip out to 7:45 for the quasi-empirical portion - or listen to that point to hear the preparatory matters). So, thank you, Stephen (not that I'm backing off of my semi-Platonist leanings; or, I'll just assume that he was talking small "m" mathematics - large "M" Mathematics, as of yet, has not received the proper attention, as discussions thereof border on areas filled with holes). Notice, if you would, his use of circularity (it's obvious to those who look - we'll consider this matter in terms of operational means).

I'll be getting back to this topic, in the the context of computability in the world, and more.


Aside:  The blogs had specific purposes at the outset. But, the crazy world (and idiocy, like finance) got my attention. It was a nice run, the past few years, to look at the mess. But, let's now get back to the real essence; being technically oriented will be one change (albeit quasi - no worry, as the issues at hand are amenable to the understanding of any reasonable adult - or smart non-adult).


05/20/2013 --

Modified: 05/20/2013

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Kudos to Engineering

... and to all who know their stuff.


We looked at two banes, earlier, and will have to get back to a long issue list related to computation (which is behind social media and much more, if you need to ask) and its inherent problems which seem to be ignored in the breakneck rush to profits (say, the social media'd types).

Before that review, let's pat the back of the engineers who got the 787 back into the air. Their concerted effort demonstrates what we have said earlier (needs to be updated) and leads to discussion of differences between engineering and business (silliness, many times).

In short, it's this:
  • Engineers can do (engineering does). But, since they work with real things, they bump up against nature (who is the ultimate rule). Of course, this is a gross generalization, yet needs to be understood. As, many computer engineers (say, software) deal with things that are harder to grasp and to measure (whence comes the problems). But, we'll account for that. The 787 battery problems dealt with material, systems, and more. That the root cause for the fires (see this blog) was not determined is a telling factor (..., as, in, we all know, except for *CEO*s and stupid investors  and children that we do not have 20-20 foresight; guess what? we do not have 20-20 hindsight, either). 
  • Comic take on the relationship
  • Business (especially finance) brags. And then, cooks (has to cook) the books in order to make its numbers (and to look good, a daily bit of activity covered widely by TV and other media). Tongues wag, in other words (that loud nuisance of the talking heads). Of course, again, a gross generalization. As, good business has to master matter and more. And, systems are essential, even if the *CEO*s (the modern counterpart of the feudal Lord) think that it all begins and ends with their little egos. Too, there are those who see how sustainable approaches need to be socially fluent (metaphors beyond the jungle). And, business ought to work with engineering to promote sustainable ways and means. 
As an aside, there are a couple of categories of a major sort to keep in mind: human and artificial. In both cases, we have entities (objects and properties, say) and milieus. Then, we have system-level things to look at. That is, we have human-based things, and the more modern things of system origin. Our real focus needs to be the overlap. We know (or think that we know) a lot more about people, having evolved jointly with the bunch (haven't found out how to live peacefully, though). Yet, there is a whole lot about humans that is unknown (for various reasons).

Do we know systems, especially those based upon computational prowess? Ah. 'Tis a whole new world which was understood more prior to the explosion of silly applications (yes, we'll have to go back to the 1930s and so) than it is now. Yes, we'll step back a time or two to think of people like Alan whose 100th was last year.


Note: *CEO*? Why, of course, the "star" CEO (MVP, anyone?) who, in many cases, is another of the many banes.


07/15/2013 -- A fire late last week bring an opportunity to see what goes into determining whether to do composite repair or to undergo a section replacement.

05/20/2013 -- As promised, motivated by Wolfram's comments.

04/27/2013 -- We will be using quasi-empiricism, once again.

Modified: 07/15/2013

Kudos to engineers and to others who know


Modified: 04/27/2013

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Two modern banes

A controversy that is boiling with a company of which I have some knowledge (as an outsider) made me think about the modern ways that lead to oops (getting back to the theme of this blog). One can pinpoint exercises related to WWII (or a little later) as the chief starting point for some of these things. There are two in particular with which we can being, namely optimization and lazy evaluation.
  • optimization - Being lazy (next bullet), let me say that it's part of applied mathematics, okay? There is much to discuss here, but let's talk Operations Research, as a field (note 9/18/2013 - incidentally, OR is being used to represent a whole class of disciplines and techniques - must I enumerate the whole mix?). All sorts of system (generic sense, not computational, though there is overlap) problems arose in WWII. Techniques to handle these evolved into the discipline of ORA (an analyst position in the field). What is the bane? As with anything, how well a model (being used lazily to handle a lot, again, okay?) can really fit the world (or predict accurately) depends upon many things. The crux here, though, is that the techniques are taught in school, now. And, that leads to misuse (a major failing about which we ought to care deeply). One really stinking method nowadays is computational modeling overlaid on human activity driving humans as if they were automaton. If you must, recall Steve Jobs' company little thing of suicides by workers who figured out that they had entered hell (albeit, why would a westerner care, it's in the orient?). Also, if you must, let me take you around to show you the same thing in good old America. Methinks (err, knows), some flavor of this reeks from the above-mentioned controversy. You see, many times there was an optimization scheme behind a decision process using incomplete data; the many times can be observed in noting mismatches between what was declared doable and actual accomplishment. It's one thing for you to brag from an armchair (nod to the Madness) about what you can do; it's another to have someone tell you that you ought to be able to do something (without them demonstrating such). "As if by magic" is how some techies have laughed off expectations that were way beyond realizable.  
  • lazy evaluation - Look. Watson (the guy, not the system of late) of IBM, and others, have touted laziness as being the parent of invention, if you would. Figure out an easier way to do something is the usual way to look at it. In computation, AI (as in borgs, et al) made use of this technique. Heck, the web is full of it. Ever notice an iterative push down of data off the web. That is, get back quickly with a little stuff and fill in as things progress. Too, large amounts of data can be partitioned out so as to not be too burdensome. In terms of the above bullet, one can overcome states that are insolvable (computationally beyond any scope that exists now) by using lazy techniques. You, the reader, do it all the time when you rely on other than your own knowledge (look, this applies to the issues of scientism, where everyone has their favorite expert to quote (err, misquote) or makes claims way beyond the bounds of their knowledge). In problem resolution, the lazy approach can help resolve issues, yet it can bring some other issues to the fore. Again, the bane? We have to be lazy (one way to avoid/break analysis paralysis). Yet, we ought to be smart about it. So, let's talk looking forward. It's more rational to talk about re-doing something that has already been done than it is to make prognostications prior to really knowing. Now wait! That applies to data-driven processes, to boot. Why? Extrapolation and false notions of equivalence are a couple of things to discuss here.  
This post is brief, intentionally lazy. But, the theme will continue (actually, we saw it before, quite a bit, as there are many aspects to it, such as out-housing). There are many such banes as these two. Yet, are we teaching the next generation? Oh, like Zuck, and Sandberg, they may not need to know. The problem? As we go along with greater technological prowess, the ties that bind are becoming more problematic.


09/19/2013 -- To some, evidently, grabbing oodles of money, without due consideration of ramifications to others or to the common weal, is the smartest thing; but, we do know that virtue is smart, to boot. Even the secularists are trying hard to show how their worldview can lead to right living (as in, they do not need God to have a conscience). And, what virtue might be prime important to this discussion? Prudence (see Remarks, this day).

09/18/2013 -- About the second bane, engineering cannot cut corners without facing problems. Either there will be recognition of a fault early or there will be a larger failure later. Finance doesn't have this discipline, even in those areas where they claim "engineering" to be a fact for them. See the "misuse" link in the next Remarks which goes back to a Bloomberg Businessweek article about Masters. From the outside, this looks to be classic "laziness" in operation. You see, some types talk as if they work. What they do is work at maximizing their stake while ignoring the issues of Near Zero (I'll admit that I've not described this better - but, intuitively, it's obvious). When finance (and other computation) pays the proper price to do it right (yeah, Zuck, you could learn a thing or two), then we'll have fewer of the stupidity-originated problems.

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).

04/21/2013 -- The view from Saturday.

Modified: 09/19/2013

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Zeno, in the modern context

It's common knowledge that the modern world knows things through computers. This is true from the most recent phenomena, of noses to smart phones parading as intelligent behavior, to the wide expanses of cosmology's modeling of the heavens and exploration of multi-universes as an explanation, of sorts. In between, we have IRS's use plus business computing, such as design, planning, and a number of other things.

So, where does one go to look at issues related to such knowledge? The ACM is a good start. Say, their Communications of the ACM. Then, we have a whole lot of other folks, such as IEEE, IJCAI, and such.


The following is motivated by a viewpoint, expressed by Phillip G. Armour, in the ACM. His article is titled: The Business of Software: How We build Things (in paper, slightly different on-line). There are two things to mention here, though the article ought to be read.

He uses Zeno in talking about what I had called Earned Value. I only used Zeno once (Fedaerated) in several posts on three blogs. Why? I had talked about this with my colleagues on many occasions. It seemed that referencing the guy was more useful in person as then one could get off on the peripatetic issues.

Zeno, Veritas et Falsitas
Why Zeno? He's the guy of the arrow. Or, as the joke goes, the mathematician who doesn't get the girl. So, Phillip asks: why do people guess that they're 95% (or some such number) complete on a task as if they're monotonically approaching, with no end in sight?

Phillip laughs it off. I don't as it was a regular occurrence as we tried to assess completion of a project with lots of people and oodles of modules. Nowadays, it's not an issue (say, with Zuck's stuff) as they can just push out system changes (with a recovery method, hopefully, to use if things go bad) without regard to testing status. This is not true for other parts of the business world, say like the 787 (even a most-specified test plan will still leave room for judgment calls -- we'll get to that).


Phillip's use gets me thinking, that I need to bring the topic forward, again.

First, though, a useful exercise would be to gather all of the posts, for each of the blogs, that dealt with the subject of earned value. For each of the blogs, I have a list of posts that include the term. Then, I provide a list of a few of the important posts and the count of posts with the term.

 Fedaerated (18)     7'oops7 (41)     Truth Engineering (20)

Now, for this blog, all but a couple of the posts were in 2009 and before. That sort of indicates the shift to looking at finance. Engineering worries about things like this. Finance seems to have this short-term view of the content of the current day's pocket. That is idiotic, pure and simple.

So, we'll bring this subject up to date and relate it, as it ought to be, to fair value.

A sampling of posts follows:
  • Earned value II (Jan 26, 2009) -- Looked at some of the factors that relate to the hardness of the problem. 
  • Earned value (Jan 23, 2009) -- Two years in, decided to tackle the definition'l issue that had been ignored from the start in 2007.  
  • Here we go again (Jun 24, 2009) -- Tied earned value with its compatriots in the context of planning and managing a project. 
  • Middle and out (Jan 29, 2008) -- Management, like Jamie, like top-down in their illusion of being in control (Hey, can they even control themselves? That's more of an open issue than you might believe (or want to accept).) 
  • Carts need horses (Nov 2, 2007) -- It looked for a long time as if the tail was wagging the dog. We'll not go into details, at this time, but the whole thing relates to the above bullets (know where you're going, how far you are, etc.), especially the middle out. 
There are a lot more posts to look. We'll get back to that.


Phillip used some mathematics to show the problems related to knowing where you were with a project (the managers, like kids, say: are we there, yet?). Nice article.


01/24/2013 -- Article from New York -- The Digital Skeptic: Dreamliner Brings iPhone 'Reliability' to the Skies. With something as complex as the 787, how many operational issues can be expected to crop up (at 35K feet -- rhetorical answer? A bunch.)? A student paper at Uniz of Az looks at 787 outsourcing (see Mahmoodi). Boeing Tech Fellow's cautionary note, on outsourcing (2001 - there was quite a bit of discussion at the 2004 conference in LA, to boot, about matters of technical design -- also, whistle blower?). Related, 787 blog.

01/21/2013 -- WSJ has a nice recap from the beginning. Look at how management kept promising that they would hit a milestone when most figured that they would not. Then, the guy would switch gears. In July 2007, most knew that the shell was empty, yet the claim was for delivery in May 2008 (a mere 11 months later). Then, in October 2007, the message was that they would fly in March 2008. It didn't fly until December 2009. Finally, things quieted. It was obvious that engineers were taking the lead. 

Modified: 01/24/2013

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Airlines need to protect their customers and their crew, thereby their reputations. Engineers need to be able to work things, as necessary. Marketing? Management? Other players? Such as?

The arm-chair critic, for one. Well, amuse yourself with this blog.


------- later in the day -------

CNN report. Earlier, a Japanese airline, or two, had decided to ground its aircraft. Now, FAA has made a similar decision. We will watch this closely. The hope is to be flying soon.

from CNN report
Aside: We got started here in 2007 because there was an announcement that a major section was ready to ship from a supplier. And, I knew that it could not be true from what I seen two years before. Well, the piece did ship. Boeing put pieces together. Then, it had the audacity (ah, engineers, don't you love those marketeers) to roll out an empty shell under great fanfare (some termed this a potemkin affair). You know, everyone had the expectation that the thing could fly soon. You know how long it took to get to the flying state? Several parts of a year. Now, of course, as problems surfaced, engineering found ways to get things to work. Eventually, the marketing view was told to let engineering take the lead. That thing of idiots driving the world is one big problem with the world, but everyone knows that do we not. We'll visit the issue, again, as we're getting to where complicated states will require, continually, our collective intelligence, with minimal gaming. It was about that time that the financial idiocy was coming out. You see, the engineers finally got the 787 out, albeit there may be still things that need to be worked out. Finance? Ben has done his best to float the idiots. It was just a little while ago that Jamie was arguing that they knew what they were doing and ought to self-regulate. Then, the whale plopped in his lap, poor guy. Fortunately, there are people looking into these matters, such as Rick Bookstaber (his post points to related research).


Now, we all ought to consider that complexity is something that ought to keep us from hubris (see Business, as stupid - written before I knew about Rick's post). We have two factors that are at large here. Mathematics and its descent into common use is a prime one. That applies in this case (we noted that earlier) and in business. It's really the same failing for both engineering and business (where these two do not overlap, okay?). In case of business program management, we have ideas that "risk" has been conquered; just think back to idiotic claims in the 2007/2008 time frame. I know, Ben with his largess has open a spigot to imaginary bucks that has aerated the gaming (so what that the DOW is up? tell me, please, in detail, what is behind that? now, please, follow it up with something of value that is real? can you find some balance in your analysis? oh, you're considering that we've hocked the future for our progeny?). Now, engineering has similar problems. Their success with modeling, especially dynamic systems, has caused many to run off as if a model equals reality (again, we can go into depth here and intend to).

What is the second factor? Human nature. In the case of business, it's all of the greed and other positions that push toward things like dark pools and other idiocies. Too, you get people, like the ad-men, using analysis to look for soft parts of yourself (as in, trying to determine how to lure your little arse into a compromising position, essentially). In engineering? It's the complexity, and a bunch of guys, usually, pushing mathematics, perhaps, way beyond its limits. My mathematician friend/mentor always complained that engineers just read the book. They don't prove theorems or work derivations (as in, guys, from a foundation'l sense, tell me why your methods work and what might be their limits). Oh, it computes (acknowledging, of course, that all of these issues go back to that artificial creation of ours) is sufficient? From whence do you make that to be your verification? Oh, because the computer model agrees with what you see in the real world?

Now, as said before, with engineering, you can test in reality (finance cannot do this the same way). With a plane, you can fly the thing, put it through some paces that are significant, and measure performance in the testing situation. Earlier, I left the engineering side alone since the financial idiots were still running amok. Will this latest event push me back to some balanced view? After all, we do have engineering failures. Many times, though, they seem to point back to human failure. I'm not so sure that such is always the case, albeit it is nice when we can do that (to be human is to err - nice little excuse, too many times). 


07/15/2013 -- A fire late last week bring an opportunity to see what goes into determining whether to do composite repair or to undergo a section replacement.

03/12/2013 -- Boeing has fixes that it wants to test.

02/28/2013 -- Boeing has proposed a solution; FAA is reviewing.

01/24/2013 -- Article from New York -- The Digital Skeptic: Dreamliner Brings iPhone 'Reliability' to the Skies. With something as complex as the 787, how many operational issues can be expected to crop up (at 35K feet -- rhetorical answer? A bunch.)? A student paper at Uniz of Az looks at 787 outsourcing (see Mahmoodi). Boeing Tech Fellow's cautionary note, on outsourcing (2001 - there was quite a bit of discussion at the 2004 conference in LA, to boot, about matters of technical design -- also, whistle blower?). Related, 787 blog.

01/23/2013 -- A look at the battery and related comments. Worth a read.

01/21/2013 -- WSJ has a nice recap from the beginning.

01/20/2013 -- WSJ story from the flightblogger.

01/18/2013 -- Problems, such as those alluded to in this blog, wouldn't have happened under Mullaly? Alan was an engineer; so, he knew his stuff and airplanes. Too bad that we can't go back and see how he would have handled all of those issues over the past few years. I would suggest this: no potemkin event.

01/17/2013 -- One criticism, that might stand up (we'll see), is that engineering took the back seat many (perhaps, too many) times.

Modified: 07/15/2013