Dec 19

Don’t let journalists

What the fuck is this?

“There is $1.2 quadrillion invested in derivatives alone,” claims the article.

No, no, there absolutely is not. That is so wrong that I can’t even conceive of how anyone could ever get this idea. All these Ivy League-educated journalists who don’t know a damn thing. Shit.

Perhaps Sue Chang is smarter than that and this is the article her editors wanted. I don’t know. But that doesn’t make any of it correct, or improve the veracity of the whole enterprise.

Derivatives to simplify it greatly are investment instruments where certain outcomes lead to “in the money” results, but most do not. So if you count the present value of all derivatives as “in the money” (which is idiotic), you might be able to get to $1.2 quadrillion. But that is just not how derivatives work or what they are for.

Most derivatives produce very little either way. Many lose money as they are hedges — kind of like insurance, but market-based in a direct sense.

Many lose large amounts of money as Long Term Capital Management discovered.

Many derivatives — in fact most of them — you often don’t pay for at all other than some minor transaction fee until you are either in our out of the money on them and then you make good the contract.

Saying there is $1.2 quadrillion invested in derivatives is completely meaningless and that article is wrong and bad and stupid.

Dec 18


Make no mistake, this is one of the many tools the establishment uses and will use to prevent Bernie Sanders from ever being president. If you think it is because someone looked at data they weren’t supposed to, you are terribly, incredibly naive.

As I’ve said before about Bernie Sanders being president it’ll never, ever happen. Sanders simply will not be president. It will not be allowed. I’d bet my entire life savings on that.

Although Trump has a better chance, he is not as much of a threat as Sanders and he doesn’t need the money as much so he’s harder to slap down. But that’ll probably be done with a floor fight at the Republican Convention if he doesn’t flame out before then.

Dec 17


I just realized that many disabled people absolutely could not work in my current office. There are three flights of stairs — two of them long — to get to the work area, and no elevator.

Bet there are tons more places like this, that I don’t even notice because I never have to think about it.

Dec 17

Fantastically clueless

I’m not that surprised when people are ignorant of issues and happenings far away in time and space.

But I’m constantly shocked by how many people are completely clueless and utterly uninformed about events happening in their own lives, literally right under their feet.

He, too, told us he didn’t know where the water was coming from.

“I heard on the news it’s because the moon turned red,” he said. “I don’t have that much detail about it.” During the past month, he added, “it’s happened very often.”

Is there room for human improvement? Are we as most liberals and conservatives believe, some empyrean race, untouched by evolution and the vagaries of outrageous adaptation?

The truth is we’re barely civilized, and probably won’t be for much longer.

Both liberal and conservative fantasies contribute to this inevitability.

Dec 16

So tell me

So tell me why this is not ok (and I agree — it’s terrible and misogynistic and appalling), and why I should be ok with the implied and actual real subjugation of niqabs, hijabs, burqas, etc.?

I don’t really see the difference.

Much like many things that are supposed to be so very different, the primary distinction lies in who is supposed to be favored and disfavored (with a huge heap of white guilt), and I refuse to buy it.

I believe in equality for everyone.

Dec 16


Autotune is a tool, just like any other. It’s neither good nor bad.

I like it when it’s used deliberately and thoughtfully — like in Charli XCX’s songs (yeah, that is the official video). I dislike it when it’s used to conceal an atrocious singer. I can hear autotune use when I’ve been told it’s not possible that I could do so, despite it being quite easy for anyone who has any sort of musical training.

This article I also linked to on my other blog is good, but this bit is a complete exaggeration.

When we asked him to provide a simple explanation of what happens, computationally, when a voice signal enters his software, he opened his desk and pulled out thick stacks of folders, each stuffed with hundreds of pages of mathematical equations.

“In my mind it’s not very complex,” he says, sheepishly, “but I haven’t yet found anyone I can explain it to who understands it. I usually just say, ‘It’s magic.’”

The math is actually not that hard. I understand most of it conceptually and I’m completely terrible at anything in the mathematical realm. Combination of journalistic non-understanding and reputation-burnishing, I suspect.

It’s pretty standard signal processing. The innovation was applying it to voice, and especially doing it in a computationally cheap way.

And, just as importantly, the product having a good GUI interface. If a Linux person had designed this (or a Mozilla developer), no one would’ve ever used it.

Dec 15

Upset that apple cart

 Let’s get rid of private housing.

I joked about something similar in a previous post, but home ownership appears to turn people into pretty vile caricatures of humanity.

I’m not convinced that de-privatizing housing would be beset by any fewer problems than the current system, but being that what we have now is irreparably broken it’s probably a worthwhile policy experiment, even on a mass scale.

Remember: there is no such thing as a natural market. All markets are government-created, very nearly, and certainly this is the case in our modern society. Don’t allow free market mythologizing to contaminate your beliefs about the inevitability of certain relatively-new societal developments.

Also don’t buy into the myth that the market determines what’s the best housing for people. The market only determines on what and where the few at the top can make the most profit.

For instance, there are nearly no houses out there for people like us: childless couples who want a large shared office room separate from the living room — in fact, we’d be fine with no living room at all.

Ever find a house like that? We haven’t, and we’ve looked at everything from $500 a month rent to $5,000 a month in about a half dozen cities over a ten-year period.

And people like us are an increasing share of the market — 20 to 30 percent depending on which stats you examine.

Tell me how well the market is working?

Dec 15

Fauxfox and control

I keep an old copy of Firefox around in a VM.

Fire it up sometimes to see what’s been lost, to see how much functionality used to exist and is now excised. And of course I use a lot of older OSes at work — the same story there.

I was talking to my girlfriend today and discussing that we have it particularly tough because we’re from a generation that remembers when computers worked for us rather than actively fought us and harmed us.

Computers and OSes (and I’m including in this tablets and smartphones) now exist to abuse you — to track you, market to you, steal your private data and sell it on, and are only secondarily in the business of performing your requested computing tasks. This is a largely-unrecognized sea change in the human relation to everyday computing.

Most younger people don’t mourn this because all they know is being the product.

I remember when I was not the product but rather the one in control and I liked that much better.

Dec 14


During my week-long hiatus from human-generated cacophony, I realized how much human noise bothers me, makes my life worse, makes me less cognitively-capable and less focused.

My IQ seriously drops. I bet if you gave me an IQ test after a week in a city, I’d probably score 10-15 points lower than after a week sans human aural clutter.

I’m not some Ted Kaczynski wannabe, desirous of living in a one-room shack with no electricity and no running water. No, my ideal is living 20 miles out of the city on a compound — with a fiber optic connection and an assload of 5K monitors.

No technophobia here. Just the desire to not have a bunch of chatter, clatter and the daily brutish batter of sonic assaults from every side.

Dec 14

What will actually happen

This past week my partner and I toured many coastal areas that are almost certainly going to be inundated by the rising sea within the next twenty years.

We were discussing the inevitable in two senses: that the sea would rise (one can see evidence of this already, in person) and that since many coastal inhabitants are wealthy, it’d be — just as in the Great Recession — poorer people who would be bearing the costs of the wealthy for mitigation, insurance and relief claims, and finally migration.

Speculation on taxing or abandonment and all of that are good, but what will end up happening in the US at least is that the poor coastal residents will be left mostly to their own devices, and those with the $2 million houses near St. Augustine will receive full recompense for even the mildest inconvenience related to global climate change.

My future is more likely than any I’ve seen so far on this topic.