Sunday, April 21, 2013

Saturday WSJ

Moral: Wherein we stop to smell the roses, as does the WSJ each week.

We have to love the philosophical tone of the Saturday Wall Street Journal. That is, after the five days of paying attention to the races and watching the numbers, we can step back and ask questions. Of course, some of the questions are only to be pondered; others of the questions just might lead to insights and actions.

Now, given the focus of the WSJ's readership, that action may or may not be driven by higher ideals. Yet, it's nice to think that the whole thing could be looked at systematically and with an aura of justice, even if to a minute extent. And, then, we would have some type of improvement in an environment of non-contention.


This week, per usual, there are several re-looks, both of the past week and further, that make a lot of sense. Seeing these, one has to wonder why all of the clamor. As in, bring in that Saturday (or Sunday) hat to work and be a nice world citizen every work day.

Here are a couple of examples.
  • Spreadsheet slips - Bialik, a regular, notes the discussions about a spreadsheet error. From the verbiage, it looks to be a simple thing. Could the thing have been caught? Well, someone would have had to take time and energy to do it. From my experience, we are getting away from that (to our detriment). Checking seems to against the modern way (after all, Lean - we'll go on about that ad infinitum - says to do it right the first time). The whole notion of the "7oops7" blog deals with us getting ahead of ourselves (one of the comments stressed that some of the data was estimated -- ah, I'll show you higher-order systems feeding data from one sub-system to another as if these were obtained from sensor rather than being derived from some type of model estimate -- and similar examples). In fact, a recent post dealt with two banes: optimization and lazy evaluation. We can step up from a simple spreadsheet problem to one encased (encapsulated) in a modern development paradigm. These are hairy, folks, and can lead to contemplation of singularity (ala Kurzweil - no problem there due to undecidability). Then, we can get beyond the software and modeling and look at the basis for discussion. Economics has been known as dismal for a long while. Lots of mathematical apparatus has been overlaid on flaky foundations. Yet, we run off, during the five days of business, willy-nilly. We talk about these numbers as if they really mean something. They could, folks. But, it would require lots of effort (next bullet).  
  • Dark side - Schmidt of Google visits North Korea. He's from the open side, to an extent. There are some who would push it further out. Schmidt notes the mechanical (rote) use of the system during a demonstration by the troops. What we have in the west are cadres of peers all resident in a morph'd space to which they have to focus their zombie'd eyes. North Korea believes in top down. The guy is charge's worldview rests upon himself (and, perhaps, his ancestors). We see that in the west in babyhood. Most rise above that (except for ego-centric CEO-types - too many to name). Schmidt notes that the natural urge is to get access to internet-based material, in one's own way (perhaps, for the peer-pressured younger cohort - but, not in general), and that the consequence is expression of thought (ah so, all those intellectual tweets). His thoughts about the cost to control the "natural" flow is right on. Very costly. But, Schmidt needs to realize that what he sees applies here to finance, too. As in: since the financial industry seems to run on greed, to put in the proper controls - as in, lift the view to the sophomoric level, at least -- we need to have daily quiescence and review. The cost for this would be much more than the North Korea guy would have to face. Now, to what end would be the oversight system? The type of transparency that we would need in order to have a stable financial system whose risks are handled properly. All of this is to be discussed further. Yes, banks run by monks who are not driven by profit for themselves would be nice.  
As a final note, notice that we expect our military to be self-less. You don't agree? Go join up and see it up close and personal. Still don't agree? Were you of the O-class (then, try enlisted)? Now, those who make the sacrifice daily, hourly (by the minute), are expected to support a system where fat cats, egoists, and opportunists scalp the system for their own gain. Why do you think that there is the disparity that people complain about? This unbalanced situation is age old, but it has increased the past few decades (partly due to the computer issues that we'll continue to address). Ah, I'll continue to describe this situation. 

Give me a few of those smart military types, and we'll put in the utilitarian banking system that the U.S. needs in order to lead the free world to the future. What would be lost? Silliness where culpability is never assigned, losses are socialized, and much more.


Briefly: the cost to maintain a supervisory system for finance would be as much as the Great Leader would need to keep North Korean's in control. Obviously, to pay for such, pockets, such as Warren's, would be a lot smaller. 


04/21/2013 --

Modified: 04/21/2013

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