Notes - March 22 to December 2020 - Covid Plague Year

2020 - The Year When Everything Changed

[ Dec. 30-31, 2020 ] - Never Complain, Never Explain

I fear I do far too much of both.   :)

[ Dec. 28, 2020 ] - A Long December - Notes about viral mutation risk:

SARS-CoV-2 Virus Mutation Rate - January 12, 2020 to May 11, 2020.

The new Covid-19 lockdown requirements were expected, as is a market reaction.  We suspect that things will get serious and a bit difficult within a few weeks.

Back in September, some research on the rate of SARS-CoV-2 virus mutation rates was carried out, and the evidence - and a neural-network model of expected future rates of mutation - suggested that this RNA virus could and would mutate at a roughly semi-annual rate of between 2% to 4%.  This was the observed rate of mutation for 4 months, we generalize it to 6, and so we can suggest that an annual mutation rate could be as high as 4% to 8%.

The evidence shows SARS-CoV-2 virus, and the Covid-19 illness to be a vigorous & fast-evolving process.  Such a process - not dissimilar to what we see in modern financial markets - can have fractal characteristics, where the time-series can show evidence of rapid, dynamic and sometimes extreme transition events.

These kind of times-series show evidence of increasing levels of rate-of-change variance as the length of the observed series is increased.  What this means is that the more data you get, the greater chance of seeing an observation where a fractal phase-jump occurs.  This kind of data has rates-of-change that typically either blow-up or crash-to-zero, the process.  We are in the non-linear land of extreme-events.

So we are not surprised at the news of a more contagious virus variant discovered in the UK, or the more lethal variant that appears to have evolved in South Africa.   Regardless of whether this virus was the result of an accidental release of a weapons-research product, or simply an example of active evolution, the fact remains that it is uniquely able to very effectively target and serious infect humans.

An interesting study on the rate of the Covid-19 mutation process, in which Keras with Python was used to develop a neural-network mutation-rate forecasting model, is here:

Given that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is actively evolving - there is the obvious question of vaccine efficacy degradation.   Given that the various vaccines developed are presumed to be invariant medical products, that fact that the Covid-19 disease process is actively evolving suggests that the effectiveness of the vaccine will degrade over time.

It may be necessary to produce *annual* versions of the Covid-19 vaccine, and distribute and administer it much as we already do with annual "flu shots".

Here is an article on how mRNA vaccines work, with some information of efficacy degradation, in a .PDF from (Basel, Switzerland).  It is an interesting article, as it was published in January 2020, pre-Covid-19. 

The MDPI group is interesting.  All their journal articles are free to read.  The authors pay APC's (Article Processing Charges) to publish their material.   Scientist-authors retain copyright, but grant MDPI a license to open-access publish the work.   This is the correct model for scholarly publication.  Folks funded and paid to operate at Universities are on the academic gravy-train, and enjoy - typically - a taxpayer-funded income.  And, the academic folks are judged by the quality and frequency of their publication list.

Historically, folks like ourselves, in the self-financing sector, outside the Ivory-Tower money-flow, had little or no access to the scholarly material of current science.   This is quite wrong and unfair.  And it is also very bad policy, since most major leaps in science knowledge and process come from researchers outside of the mainstream - the mavericks.  The MDPI model lets the self-financing, not-funded folks on the edge of world of science, at least get inside the library.  

This is a good thing.   We need to generate some serious scientific advancements in several fields rather soon now on this tiny planet, or we all risk choking on our own exhalations and drowning in our own poo, very soon.    We cannot sustain hundreds of billions of people on this small Earth, yet that is the course global population growth is tracking towards.

Open-source Big Science is a good idea.  And it may just save the human species from viral plagues, mass die-back & eventual extinction.  We need to keep the mavericks in the loop.

[ Dec. 27, 2020 ] - Cold Work - Serious snow - weather cold, wide-area Covid lockdowns, folks hunkering down.   But all the technology is working (including the water-supply system!), so we are clean, warm, comfortable and happy to be where we are, and doing what we are doing.  And - a special shout-out to the folks in Japan, who make Kubota tractors.  Our big 4-wheel drive diesel Kubota with the bucket-loader and the big turf tires has again been a life-saver.  

We got over one foot of heavy, dense snow on Christmas day.  With the big Kubota we cleared the roadway to the highway and parking areas in less than two hours.  

When we colonize Mars, we better figure out how to get Kubotas up there, and make them run on martian methane + extracted O2, or on fusion generators or something as reliable as the low-sulfur diesel we are using here.

 [ Dec. 25-26, 2020 ] - Skank for Christmas - Works for us here!  Ontario hit with big snow-storm and another hard-core lockdown - Covid-20 (the new more lethal variant) looks like what 2021 might bring.   The UK is shut, and I think they've even closed Yoshiwara's... 

And if Reel Big Fish is not enough, then check out the great Ska band from Germany, "The Skameleons!"  Love this cover version.  Ab/fab est:  (And the lead singer looks like all my neighbours!  It's quite uncanny...) 

and then when we mine the archives, and find the Mighty*2 Boss Tones - The Impression That We Get is good.  And finally, an over-the-top Ska cover of "Take on Me" by the Fish, long time back in 2009.

[ Dec. 24, 2020 ] - Mining With the Horta - Really need this GNU-APL to do graphics - on MacBook and Linux boxes - problems with the stuff - attaching data-points to the plotted series would wipe out the visual of the series line - like the image was shot with a shotgun along the data-line.  Very strange.  After learning how it worked, I managed to fix it!  Second image from the Top image shows a bunch of test series plotted correctly with data points both solid and hollow.  Now it works!    

[ Dec. 23, 2020 ] - Printer's Devil & Fingers on Strike... - From the "Hellbox" to the bit-bucket, not much has really changed.  The technology is somewhat more helpful, but the lethal stuff has also improved, as has the knowledge base available to those who manage the machinery of control.

I'm hacking the routines in GNU-APL to fix a glitch which is preventing the plot-points from displaying on either Linux platforms or MacBook.   I want graphics - that works correctly - driven directly by APL functions, without having to write text-files for GNUPlot.  If I can get it to work, I will have achieved what STSC/Manugistics APL provided back in the 1980's, on the MS-DOS P/C's.  This is hilarious.   I have this code which I run in DOSbox - works ok - but it would be so nice if it could run in native mode on a modern platform like Linux.

It is curious how ridiculously awful and absurdly complex most of our technical systems now are.  They really are horrible-awful-terrible.  It is quite amusing, really.  It's not a bad thing - it is really a fine thing for ensuring employment opportunities for clever folks.

The entire Apple ecosystem is an astonishing and awful nightmare of binary vomit-spew - all designed to make people open their wallets and throw cash at Apple.  It is possibly the worst technological development in all of human history - as it completely reduces all *innovation* to games and finger-twiddles on a tiny, crappy little telephone-handset screen.

I don't hate Apple.  The company has done well, as they have done a fine job of making complex stuff simple and available to average not-very-smart people.   This was a genius strategy.

But the restrictive, pure-monopolist strategies they now employ are grotesque, and yet the "anti-trust" actions in the USA are directed at the likes of Google and Microsoft - neither of which have any sort of monopoly-power at all.   Apple *does* have monopoly power, and shows also an extreme willingness to abuse their market dominance as much as they can.

All quite curious and amusing.  Could it be because of the *tracking-and-monitoring* code that Apple has installed in every iPhone?  You don't need a "Stingray" to track an Apple iPhone - as it beams it's location out to everyone!   The Government loves the Apple people-tracking system.

This future here is so amusing.  USA and China have induced all their citizens into wearing "tracking-devices", and even into taking pictures of their own faces and uploading all their personal data into "cloud" databases.   Not only do government entities now have these complete detailed files on everyone, but the silly citizens are even paying the costs of the whole system!

It's all quite astonishing, really.    I use a Huawei Android phone.  It takes nice pictures, and I don't care if China spy on what I am doing.  I publish logs of what we do!

My AI stuff said to stay long, and I cashed out some big-fully-recovered-and-in-profit portfolio positions.   And today, I feel sick as I watch the market continue to rise like a rocket-ship.   Such a neophyte mistake.   A couple of bad trades can really fuck you up.    😀

I asked the AI  "Ok, so should I go long, here at the top?"  and the AI says, (duh): "Yes."  but it seems that I can't get my fingers to key in the buy orders.    I cannot get them to do it...  Each one looks at me and says "Are you fucking insane?  You want to buy at these prices???  You are fucking crazy?  We are not doing it!"  And they refuse to do what I know must be done.

Curious problem, yes?  🤨

[ Dec. 22, 2020 ] - If You Build it, They Will Come - The Spirits of the Season, perhaps?   Or the Daemons of Big Data?... Decided I had to get the GNU-APL working with the latest SVN version.   First got it working right on the Linux boxes, and then on the MacBook.  The Linux boxes were easier, as the trick was to run the ./configure with a "--without-gtk3" option, which disabled the buggy Gtk-3 graphics stuff, and tells GNU-APL to use the "xcb" / X11 library routines for charting purposes.   Linux was easly, Apple Macbook was more difficult  (big surprise - not)...  

But after some extensive hacking around, I finally got the GNU-APL 1.8a to build - WITH THE ⎕PLOT Graphics CAPABILITY - on the MacBook.  This is a big deal, as this allows quality graphics to be generated in real-time, under program control, and with actionable data.

The technical details for the Macbook involve:

  -  having the XQuartz (X11) utilities installed

  -  you need all the command-line build utilities and Xcode 7 or better gcc compatible c++ compiler and tools

  -  you will need to get the "xcb" library routines, which GNU-APL uses to talk to X11, and build these from source  (get xcb 1.12, run tar -xvf,  and then just run ./configure, make, make install to build and install the xcb libraries for X11.

  -  when building the GNU-APL, you need to use:  " ./configure  --without-gtk3"    (since the Gtk routines are not part of MacOSX), and then "make" and "make install" to install the GNU-APL with xcb graphics support for the ⎕PLOT system function.

  -  and for the GNU-APL ./configure, you also need to set the LDFLAGS to where-ever your X11 libraries are, in my case it was:

       export LDFLAGS="-L/usr/X11/lib"

  -   also have to make sure you xcb routines and xcb-proto.pc(the /usr/X11/lib/pkgconfig file) are the  same version as the X11 library routines  and xproto headers).  I had to download xcb_1.12 version as a tar.gz file, and [ ./configure, make, make install ] to build the xcb routines.

The xcb code is old, and works well.  If you have XQuartz installed (for MacOSx X11 support), the whole thing works pretty good.  The xcb stuff is how ⎕PLOT talks to X11 and gets it to fling up graphics windows containing the plots.  Note that the GNU-APL surface plots are configured using a 3-d matrix (a "cube" or "block" of data-values).   It is the rho=3 that tells ⎕PLOT it is a surface plot, and not a table full of lines, to chart.

[ Dec. 17, 2020 ] - Workin' in Coal Mine- How long can this go on?  Vaccines are rolling out for some - but folks in Cali are looking at some difficult times for the "Holidays",   The markets are bubbling along on money-printing, while sensible investments like old-fashioned Government bonds are being trashed with super-low, zero or even negative interest rates.  Curious how the folks in charge of things seem to pretty much have no clue at all.   Much like the rest of us!   ðŸ˜Å½    Even Federal Reserve chairman Powell in USA has admitted that low or zero interest rates do not appear to stimulate the wider economy.   (In the old days, we called this: "Pushing on a String". )

Data-hacking with the GNU-APL.  Fine product, and so I used SVN to download the current source-tree, and after a bit of fiddling with some related tools-code, got it to build on the Linux box.   (The program: "" needed to have "#include " included, otherwise the compile could not find "getenv" - specific compiler error was: "error: 'getenv' was not declared in this scope". )

WIth the #include directive pulling in , everything built OK.  I'm running CentOS-7, with an elrepo kernel, where "uname -a" reports:

Linux  4.4.185-1.el7.elrepo.x86_64 #1 SMP Wed Jul 10 08:46:17 EDT 2019 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux

and gcc version:

gcc (GCC) 4.8.5 20150623 (Red Hat 4.8.5-28)

and reasonably current bunch of build tools... (Note: using libtool version:  2.4.2)

Had some issues with the APL workspaces from tarball GNU-APL 1.8 version (circa 2019) not loading in this latest GNU-APL (which reports as APL 1.8 / SVN 1379 ), but I confirmed the solution is to take the APL 1.8 workspaces, and SAVE them using ")DUMP".  Then, in APL 1.8/SVN-1379, you use ")COPY" and you will get the Function and Variables - but you may get some splatter from immediate-mode script-stuff that the )COPY tries to run.  But I got the contents of my hacked "gnuplot_LINUX.apl" stuff into SVN-1379 version, and have been doing some tests.

One thing I noticed, is that ⎕PLOT works not quite right on the latest SVN 1379 version.  The very first picture (up top) shows the difference.  You should be able to control the graphic image background, with a parameter "canvas_color:  #nnnnnn" (where #nnnnnn is just RGB hex colour values - ie. "#2c2c2c" for a dark-grey)  as part of the table of arguments passed to ⎕PLOT as the left argument.   But instead of changing the whole graphic colour, it just changes the background color of the tiny box that holds the graphic "Legend".

Since it works right on the 2019 GNU-APL 1.8, I suspect this little bug will be an easy fix.

All in all, the GNU-APL is quite good.  Like Python, it can hook into other utilities (eg. the Fast Fourier Transform library, for example), and it can also just call applications like GNUPLOT directly, using the ")HOST " trick.

[ Dec. 16, 2020 ] - Model says down, TRASER Simulator has gone short.  I have no idea, market looks crazy, but as time goes by, I am learning to respect (if not quite trust), the models.  They have no emotional committment.  🤔

[Dec. 15, 2020 - PM]  A Picture is Worth a Thousand Lines of Code - Oh my!  I just discovered the ⎕PLOT function in GNU-APL.  It does not work on the MacBook, but it DOES work on the Linux boxes.  (Plus, it looks like I can render APL chars in this webpage editor!)...  Here is a simple graphic, 2000 random numbers, 1 to 1000:


[0]   RAN_PLOT
[1]  ⍝ --- Plot 2000 Random Numbers.  Note, this fn uses global var: Attr
[2]  ⍝ --- Attr is nested array of "attrib: value" (eg: "line_width-1: 1 pixel") passes parms to ⎕PLOT as left arg.
[3]  ⍝ --- This function simply displays a PLOT of 2000 random numbers, in the range of 1 to 1000.
[4]   Attr ⎕PLOT ,(1000?1000),,(1000?1000)

The left argument to ⎕PLOT is a nested array of "parameter: value" strings, - basically just an encapsulated table. You can display it with the "disclose" operator, on the "Attr" variable: (viz.)

legend_name-1:  Random Numbers        
caption: A Plot of Many Random Numbers
line_width-1: 1 pixel                 
pa_border_L: 60 pixel                 
point_size-1: 3 pixel                 
canvas_color: #2C2C2C                 
pa_width: 1100                        
pa_height: 700                        

What this does, is pretty self-explanatory, isn't it?   See the top image, for the example Screen-shot of the PLOT.

This JUST WORKS on the Linux box (the CentOS-7 64-bit box), as CentOS-7 (and newer, doubtless), comes with all the GTK stuff.  And it JUST WORKS.  I am really impressed.  This is good.

[ Dec. 15, 2020 ] Secret Histories - I once sat in a bookstore (Indigo in Toronto's Eaton Centre) and read all of Procopius' "Secret History", and then I read another - from Victorian England times, and then I read "My Secret History" by Paul Theroux.  These were interesting because unlike most material, they tried to tell the truth.  The Victorian one was really amusing and a bit scary - it detailed the "romantic" exploits of the protagonist...

Key fact here is that we are immersed and embedding in deception and disinfo, mostly.  Often times, truth is obscured or buried for obvious, and clear reasons.

This is particularly true whenever money is involved.

And the investment process - and the market for paper (or now "digital") securities - is of course, profoundly insecure.  It has to be, if you think for a little bit about what is really happening.

Investments mostly *must* erase wealth - especially since we now understand compound growth - and it's diabolical twin, "compound interest".   

If you want to understand something - try the Edward de Bono trick (the famous author of "Creative Thinking") of inverting meaning and semantical constructions, to seek new insight.  View the markets not as a wealth-making thing, but as a wealth-destroying thing.  View the financial press - with all it's numbers - not as a truth-diseminating device, but as a deception-diseminating device.   And suddenly, things become rather clear, perhaps?

The markets are doing their job, if they carefully operate ***counter*** to the process of basic wealth-generation via compound interest.  If one can capture a yield of say, 5%, then basic math shows that $10,000 invested for 50 years becomes 11.467 x 10000 = $114,674, which is not bad.  But invest for 150 years, and your $10,000 becomes 1.05 to the exponent 150 => 1507.977 x 10000 = $15,079,775.    And if you can run this process for 300 years, then your $10,000 investment can be grown to 2,273,996 x $10,000 = 2.273996 x 10 to the exponent 10, which is: $22,739,960,000.   That number is over 22 billion dollars.  (Here, we take 1 billion to mean 1000 million.)

If investments worked over long-term time spans, then every family could be multi-billionaires.

But investments do *not* work over long-term, trans-generational time-spans, and people know this. And what this means in practice, is that investment markets *must* crash on a ***regular*** basis, if they are to do their job.    But they also - and this is very critical to the process - they must, using all neural/motivational methods - create the ***illusion*** that great gain is actually possible.   This is the absolute and critical component in the investment process - this fabrication of the ***illusion*** of gain, is required to get cautious, careful people to throw away their caution, and "buy the story", and pay real money for the paper "assets".

Many investments of course are quite reasonable and viable.  And significant technological change really, honestly can (and does) produce great gains in real wealth and prosperity - for both individuals and for nations and for the planetary human community at large.  Three examples - the A/C power grid, the germ-theory of disease (and the behavioural changes to induce personal and urban cleaning), and the "green revolution" (the massive crop-yield improvements that have occurred since the 1950's) - each of these has produced a massive and significant payoff.  You can see this payoff in the global growth of human population.

So, in some sense, the growth process is working.  Science+Industry is creating real gains, and the results of these gains are compounding.  Each of us - with access to modern pharamceuticals, high-quality food, refrigeration and nuclear-generated A/C power in our homes - each of us is actually wealthier than any King or Prince was before 1850.  So, in one sense, we actually are all "billionaires".

But not in the financial sense.  Very few are super-rich, and even fewer are super-rich because of multi-generational successful family investment strategies.  The Aga Khan comes to mind, and yes, there is evidence that his family business has been multi-generationally successful.  But successfully investing across generations - even across mere decades - is profoundly difficult, as the risks are myriad.

And this is how it has to be.

One could argue that the primary purpose of the "financial markets" is to ensure that periodic reset-events are generated - sufficient to ensure that trans-generational wealth created using compound-growth, is specifically *not* available to most people.   The old aphorism I recall my father using was: "Overalls to overalls in three generations."   [A poor farmer and a working-man, wears overalls, as his work is manual and typically dirty and difficult.  A rich man - gentleman farmer or businesss owner - wears a suit or other expensive mufti.]

The general familial experience described is as follows:  The first generation is poor but ambitious and has good health (as the weak ones all died in childhood).  The first generation in North America were typically immigrants, risking all to seek a better life here.  They worked hard, studied hard, and took careful risks to make gains.   Many were successful, and those who became wealthy passed the wealth to their children.   The second generation typically would build upon the legacy, and expand and enhance the business, and become - in many cases - quite wealthy.   But the third-generation, born into significant wealth and knowing no other picture-of-the-world, behaves badly.  Typically, they make bad, high-risk investments, and/or are not careful or prudent.   They squander the wealth, and the family is reduced again to poverty.  And their children wear overalls to work.  So this story goes.

But life-risks being what they are, many families do not even make it to the "second generation" wealth-advancing stage.  Their business efforts fail, or their abilities and skills are weak, and they squander any surplus they managed to obtain.   This is common, and explains the world of "salary-men" (and now, "salary women", as the nuclear family seems to have been nuked also..)

But in a larger context, we can see that the entire world - living well and living large off the scientific and technological gains of the last 150 years - is acting like the spoiled rich kids of the "Third Generation", and is perhaps "pissing-away" the legacy they have been handed at no cost to them.

Every old guy probably feels this to be true:  "Goddamn kids are no good now!  They're just being lazy, stupid and spoiled and want to get everything for free!"    (I think some ancient Greek fellow in 3rd century BC Athens is quoted as saying something like this...)

But what is pretty clear - is that the markets have to run these "reset events" at least once per generation - say every 25 years or so - just to ensure that not *everyone* in every family ends up as a billionaire.  The financial markets give the illusion of working well, to a create compounding investment opportunities.  They work well - until then don't.  And then, they reset (ie. crash).

So remember this if and when your time comes to purchase "financial assets".   Chances are that the fellow who is selling these "assets" to you, knows more about their true value, than you do, and that he is happy to have your cash-money instead of the paper (or "digital"!) assets in question.  

If you wish to invest successfully, then you need to understand scarcity, human nature, the power that is made available by technological methods and be expert at rational analytic process.  You need to get good, clean data, and accurate descriptive and contextual information, and know something that the mass of investors do not yet recognize.  And you must embrace and manage risk, and make it your friend.   You must buy when most others want to sell, and sell, when most others want to buy.   This describes something that is very, very difficult to do.

But you need to try to do it.  The alternative is that you cannot pay your bills, and you do not eat!   You will be reduced to again selling your labour-effort to someone else.   Successful investment confers freedom upon the investor, if he can generate a reasonable income stream from the investments.  Just be careful to ensure that your *income stream* is not just a return of your investment capital, but labelled as something else!

On balance, I suspect that over the long-term, stock markets probably destroy more wealth than they create.  It is so very difficult to see the "graveyards" of failed investments, in history.  At any point in time, when we look backwards - all we see are the successful outcomes.  This is called "survivorship bias", and explains the "long-term investment gains" that academic economists identify in equity market investments.  These folks argue that market gains are between 4 to 7 percent, over the "long term".   To that, I can only say: "Nonsense."   Or maybe, in the word of an old Physics professor I knew long ago:  "Bunk."    :)

[ Dec, 14, 2020 ]   Celtic Fringe - Spent the weekend cutting wood, splitting it, and getting the latest GNU-APL (Version 1.8) to build on my MacBook-Pro laptop.  It Finally Just Works - but it took some effort.  Managed to built it with useful libraries (eg. FFTW3), and I also had GNUplot and Xterm already installed.  Got the Keyboard stuff working using the OS-X keyboard files (both Font and Keyboard Layout file), as per the GNUAPL_on_MacOS .PDF file documentation.   (Also, thanx a ton to Dyalog APL in the UK, for your APL keyboard Font.  Much appreciated.)    Note that GNUplot37 was one of my Android Apps that used to be available on Google's Android "PlayStore", so I am pretty familiar with GNUplot, since I built it from source and use it regularly.

My Macbook is an older platform, circa 2015, running 10.10.5 Yosemite, but I've configured it with all the Apple Xcode and GNU build utilities, and I've used it to built TensorFlow, TCL/Tk (several versions), and a command-line version of Xerion, and a bunch of other stuff.  I have XQuartz installed, so the Xterm stuff works.  (The GNUPlot graphics display renders in an X-term window via XQuartz - that stuff is good technology).   I've also built the zasm tools to create the applications for the Z-80 NorthStar board -  Z-80Monitor and the BASIC interpreter - and the tools to burn Eproms for the Z80, and a CP/M emulator, for a future project (a CP/M-based Z80 SBC, which can run an old APL11 Z80 binary I found.)

It is wonderful to get the GNU-APL working on the MacBook, as now I have native-Unix/Linux APL - same codebase - on all the Linux-boxes (32-bit and 64-bit) and the MacBook.   And the GNUplot.apl APL-script example provided a clear illustration on how to read and write text files (GNUPlot command file and numeric datafile), so this provides a complete environment to do real work.  The GNU-APL author, Dr. Jurgen Saurmann, is a scholar and gentleman for making GNU-APL available.  Judging by the quality of this product, he is a helluva good programmer, too.

It is possible, for example, to have gigabyte-size workspaces.  As a test, you can create a 100 million element vector, add it up, or do some calculations upon it, and then statistically summarize it, and plot the results in a GNUplot Xterm window - all programmatically, and with maybe 10 or 15 lines of code, tops.

And you don't have to putz around with Python and Numpy and Tcl/Tk and C-code or even Fortran - not that there's anything wrong with doing any of that.  All those tools and languages are fine and useful and excellent.  Really, they are.  They make the magic possible.

It's just that I write my pseudo-code in APL -  so now, I can jump right to the investigation of an idea, without the hack-whacking and coding whoo-haa that usually stands in the way of results.

So far, my various tests show that the GNU-APL seems to work quite well, and it's results for simple tests like matrix-inversion & multiple linear-equation solving match what other APL's give me on other machines.  (Manugistics, IPSharpAPL, TryAPL, APL-2000, WatcomAPL etc.).

It should be a good tool for AI research and experimentation.    Only really problem:  Ars Longa, Vita Brevis.  :)

[ Dec. 11, 2020 ]  Ya Hey - Finally, the regulatory blockers are unblocking access to the various Covid-19 vaccines.  About time.   Curious how slow governments move - the old concept of "Never be in the same room as a decision" seems to be in play, I suspect.  The FDA actually has a bunch of people *vote* on whether or not to approve a drug.  That way, no one person is actually responsible for anything.  This is an appallingly bad way to do things - but very typical of the constipated process of  modern government.  It illustrates why government agency players can never really accomplish anything other than increasing taxes and hiring more government "workers".  

Just a tiny query in the history of vaccine development yielded this interesting data:  An interesting & detailed account of the non-doctor (a clinical "zoologist") from Odessa, named Waldemar Haffkine, who developed what looks to be one of the first vaccines against the bacterial disease, cholera, and then deployed it in India, which at the time - 1894 - was a British Colony, where cholera routinely killed thousands of people on a regular basis.

My own small research into the nature and process of significant scientific and technological process invention and development suggests that it is very often the *outsider* who makes the big breakthru discoveries & developments in Science.  Albert Einstein, the Swiss Patent Office Clerk, is the canonical example everyone knows about.   Michael Faraday - possibly the greatest scientists who ever lived - was another.  Mostly self-taught, he had to quit school early, and work.  He worked in a book-store, and read every book.  To get a job at the Royal Society, he worked as a lab assistant, cleaning equipment.  He carefully discovered and documented most of what we know about electricity, and how it could be applied to make electrical devices.  He built the first working electric motor, documented and explained electromagnatism and chemical electrolysis, and took electrical phenomenon - which had been known about since the time of the ancient Athenian Greeks - from a magicians curiosity to scientifically understood process.

This fellow Haffkine, whom I had never even heard of - is interesting, because he looks to have been part of that great scientific uplift that occurred at the beginning of the 20th century.   Haffkine was working on his cholera vaccine, at the same time Einstein was working on his paper on the photo-electric effect, and De Forest in the USA was inventing the vacuum-tube "valve"  by putting a charged grid between the anode and cathode of an Edison diode.

The late 19th and early 20th century time period - a fifteen year span from 1895 to 1910 - is one of the most interesting in all of human history.  We went from horse-wagons and oil-lamps and digging with hand-shovels - to automobiles, aircraft, telephones, radio, diesel-powered heavy machinery, and the AC power grid.  The jump in prosperity and human life-quality that was enabled by scientific development and technological improvement was like nothing ever seen before.  The human urban world went from mud, dirt and wood, to cement, steel and glass.   Infant mortality probabilities began their march down from the 10 to 15% levels, to the 0.1% levels.

The world made a jump from poverty to prosperity, especially in the Northern, commercial economies, and this jump was almost entirely enabled by scientific advancement and technological development.  Politics was irrelevant - and if anything, it is often the "office politics" of the world, that holds back human advancement.

And what is particularly curious, is the degree to which the *outsider* and the maverick personality - often self-educated, or not educationally-damaged by scholastic orthodoxy - seems to figure so significantly in the critical scientific leaps that make the technology work.

It seems to be no accident that so much advancement takes place in the USA, since really only in the USA, is the maverick personality actually recognized at being someone or something of positive value.  The typical orthodoxy of much of the science establishment is extreme and intense, it seems.   So many people involved in science efforts quietly document this in their private notes and letters.   And the extremely successful, who make great progress, often do so by removing themselves from academia at their earliest opportunity.  School seems to crush the creative spirit, snuff out the creative spark, and dim the power and ability of the true scientist.

And yet the scientist needs the lab - and I suppose even the lab rats.  Without funding - without some sort of ability to remain solvent and able to pay for food, shelter and equipment - it is just not possible to really do anything at all.    The fire of the desire to know, just dies.  And the building is not built, if the builder is absent.   Progress and advancement stops, and decay and retrograde motion begin.  And the world becomes dominated by those who are good at national "office politics".

In the lab, you have the "freedom to fail", but not so in politics.  Politics requires the constant production of the "illusions of success" and perhaps that is why anyone with integrity and real honesty finds the entire political process so profoundly revolting.  Liars and fraudsters seem to be particularly attracted to politics - and also even worse - abusive, murdering thieves and gangsters.

That harsh Victorian world of the late 19th century was not a world unkind to the process and advancement of science and even the human arts.  The Victorians understood progress, and both wanted and expected it to happen.    Perhaps that explains the curious attraction of the "Steam-Punk" fashion.  London of the 1890's was a dangerous and difficult place - but it was like America of the 20th century - New York City of the 1920's - a curious place where the future could be created in a laboratory - and then brought quickly to market.

[ Dec. 10, 2020 ]  Under Pressure - But not quite enough pressure, as it turns out.  The Raptor engines in the SpaceX Starship vehicle uses LOX and methane, and full pre-burn cycle, so you need something like 200 bars of pressure inside the tank+engine to keep the Raptor firing with full thrust.  This is difficult technology, and it is why testing has to be done.  ("< Boom > "...  "Ah, right.  Hmmm.  Ok, bring out another rocket, guys..." ).   Using methane for rocket-fuel is difficult.  

The SpaceX landing attempt was unsuccessful due to insufficient fuel pressure, according to  reports.  (Same thing happened on my old F-150, when the little electronic control module below the fuel tank failed. No fuel pressure. You turn the key, and get - nothing.)

The big Starship rocket did fly it's ascent run OK, and it did the landing flip, under what looks like an aerodynamic flap system - which is pretty amazingly impressive.   That is some fine flying, guys.  The landing was hard, but was also spot on target, with minimal damage, even after the explosion.  Not a bad test at all, really.   It looked like space-alien technology, truth be told.  (Good decision to use stainless-steel for rocketship construction.  Stainless-steel alloys are good materials to make things with.)

I remember a friend of mine bought a turbocharged Porsche 911.  It had a "Bar-meter" for the turbo pressure, and when it moved up, we really moved out.

Running under high pressure is tough for both machines and people.   But you can get places quick, if you can do it successfully.

And here is the key message:  This SpaceX Starship-8 rocket flight is just about a perfect visual description of what is likely to happen to our stock markets.    The S&P earnings multiple is now estimated at 37 times.  Last year, it was 22 times.

[ Dec. 8, 2020 ] APL & SQL - So Happy Together!... - Ok, this is a bit extreme, but I wrote this last nite. I will put it in a section: "GNUAPL Notes" also.
Available function numbers for GNU-APL to Access SQL-Lite Database:

type  ⎕SQL[1] file      - open a database file, return reference ID for it
      ⎕SQL[2] ref       - close database
query ⎕SQL[3,db] params - send SQL query
query ⎕SQL[4,db] params - send SQL update
      ⎕SQL[5] ref       - begin a transaction
      ⎕SQL[6] ref       - commit current transaction
      ⎕SQL[7] ref       - rollback current transaction
      ⎕SQL[8] ref       - list tables
ref   ⎕SQL[9] table     - list columns for table

  Example of Using SQL-Lite (Version 3) "sqlite3" with GNU-APL

The weirdly curious lack of "How-To's" and "Examples" on modern documentation
is rather unfortunate.  Everyone who writes, assumes that everyone is already
a domain-level expert.   This is a profoundly incorrect assumption, guys.

Here is a simple example of creating an SQLITE database and putting some
records in it, and then reading these records from within a GNU-APL workspace.

Hope this is useful for non-experts who are curious and want/need to do some
real work using their Linux-boxes!

- Mark Langdon,
  Owner & Developer,
  December 8th, 2020

======== Example Of Creating SQLite3 Database and Reading it in GNU-APL =====

             Create a Tiny Example SQLite3 Database

Here, we are at command-level, in an X-Term window in the user directory.
We will create a tiny two-column database table, and put two records in it.

First, we just start "sqlite3" and confirm we can successfully exit it.
This confirms it is installed by default on our CentOS-7 Linux box, which
runs the default GNOME Windowing environment, which is similar to Windows-10.

( ---- Let's start SQLite3 at Linux Command-Line Level... )

[mcl@l2-centos74 ~]$ sqlite3

SQLite version 3.7.17 2013-05-20 00:56:22
Enter ".help" for instructions
Enter SQL statements terminated with a ";"
sqlite> .quit

( ---- Now, we will create a tiny database in a file called:  mclnote.db )

[mcl@l2-centos74 ~]$ sqlite3 mclnote.db
SQLite version 3.7.17 2013-05-20 00:56:22
Enter ".help" for instructions
Enter SQL statements terminated with a ";"

( ---- The database has been created, and we can now use CREATE and INSERT verbs )
( ---- in SQL to create a datatable, which will be called "notes" and will have  )
( ---- a line of text, and an integer number, which we will call "date".         )

sqlite> create table notes(text,date INTEGER);

( ---- We put two rows in the table, using INSERT verb.  This is just standard SQL. )
( ---- Note that SQL commands are terminated with semi-colons...                    )

sqlite> insert into  notes values('This is the first test note.', 20201205);
sqlite> insert into notes values('This is the second test note.', 20201205);

( ---- Now, lets see if the data is actually in the table.  We use the SELECT    )
( ---- verb to query the table and display it's contents.                        )

sqlite> select * from notes;
This is the first test note.|20201205
This is the second test note.|20201205

( ---- Ok, lets quit SQLite3... )

sqlite> .quit;
Error: unknown command or invalid arguments:  "quit;". Enter ".help" for help

( ---- Didn't work, did it...   )

sqlite> .quit

( ---- Ok, that worked.  We have a file in the user directory called "mclnote.db". )
( ---- We can confirm it exists, using the Linux "ls" command that lists files...  )

[mcl@l2-centos74 ~]$ ls *.db -l
-rw-r--r--. 1 mcl mcl 2048 Dec  5 18:04 mclnote.db

( ---- This is our sample tiny database example, which we will read in GNU-APL. )

      Read an SQL database table created with SQLite3 from within GNU-APL

( ---- Start GNU-APL...  )

[mcl@l2-centos74 ~]$ apl -noColor
unknown option '-noColor'
usage: apl [options]
    -h, --help           print this help
    -d                   run in the background (i.e. as daemon)
    -f file              read APL input from file
    --id proc            use processor ID proc (default: first unused > 1000)
    --cfg                show ./configure options used and exit
    --noCIN              do not echo input (for scripting)
    --echoCIN            echo (final) input to COUT
    --rawCIN             do not emit escape sequences
    --[no]Color          start with ]XTERM ON [OFF])
    --noCONT             do not )LOAD CONTINUE or SETUP workspace on startup
    --emacs              run in (classical) emacs mode
    --emacs_arg arg      run in emacs mode with argument arg
    --gpl                show license (GPL) and exit
    -L wsname            )LOAD wsname (and not SETUP or CONTINUE) on startup
    --LX expr            execute APL expression expr first
    -p N                 use profile N in preferences files
    --par proc           use processor parent ID proc (default: no parent)
    --PW value           initial value of ⎕PW
    -q, --silent         do not print the welcome banner
    -s, --script         same as --silent --noCIN --noCONT --noColor
    --safe               safe mode (no shared vars, no native functions)
    --show_bin_dir       show binary directory and exit
    --show_doc_dir       show documentation directory and exit
    --show_etc_dir       show system configuration directory and exit
    --show_lib_dir       show library directory and exit
    --show_src_dir       show source directory and exit
    --show_all_dirs      show all directories above and exit
    --[no]SV             [do not] start APnnn (a shared variable server)
    -T testcases ...     run testcases
    --TM mode            test mode (for -T files):
                         0:   (default) exit after last testcase
                         1:   exit after last testcase if no error
                         2:   continue (don't exit) after last testcase
                         3:   stop testcases after first error (don't exit)
                         4:   exit after first error
    --TR                 randomize order of testfiles
    --TS                 append to (rather than override) summary.log
    -v, --version        show version information and exit
    -w milli             wait milli milliseconds at startup
    --                   end of options for apl

( ---- Ok, the attempt to start APL with the "--noColor" option didn't work, because  )
( ---- I entered "-noColor" with a single dash, not the required "--" (double dash).  )
( ---- If you try to start GNU-APL without "--noColor", on my CentOS-7 Linux box, I   )
( ---- get some scrambled video which requires an ")off" and then a "reset" to be     )
( ---- entered, to restore operation of the X-Term window. (This is some problem with )
( ---- the emacs editor front-end for APL, which does not work on my system.)         )
( ---- If I start APL with "--noColor", everything works fine.                        )

[mcl@l2-centos74 ~]$ apl --noColor
                    ______ _   __ __  __    ___     ____   __
                   / ____// | / // / / /   /   |   / __ \ / /
                  / / __ /  |/ // / / /   / /| |  / /_/ // /  
                 / /_/ // /|  // /_/ /   / ___ | / ____// /___
                 \____//_/ |_/ \____/   /_/  |_|/_/    /_____/
            Welcome to GNU APL version 1.7 / Unversioned directory
                Copyright (C) 2008-2016  Dr. Jürgen Sauermann
                       Banner by FIGlet:
                This program comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY;
                          for details run: apl --gpl.
     This program is free software, and you are welcome to redistribute it
         according to the GNU Public License (GPL) version 3 or later.

( ---- Enter ")help" causes all GNU-APL commands to be shown... )

APL Commands:
      )COPY [lib] wsname [object ...]
      )DROP [[lib] wsname]
      )ERASE symbol ...
      )DUMP-HTML [[lib] wsname]
      )DUMPV [[lib] wsname]
      )DUMP [[lib] wsname]
      )FNS [from-to]
      )HIST [CLEAR]
      )HOST command
      )IN filename [object ...]
      )LIBS [[lib] path]
      )LIB [lib|path]
      )LOAD [lib] wsname
      )NMS [from-to]
      )OPS [from-to]
      )OUT filename [object ...]
      )PCOPY [lib] wsname [object ...]
      )PIN filename [object ...]
      )QLOAD [lib] wsname
      )SAVE [[lib] wsname]
      )SYMBOLS [count]
      )VARS [from-to]
      )WSID [wsname]
      ]BOXING [OFF|2|3|4|7|8|9]
      ]COLOR [ON|OFF]
      ]EXPECT error_count
      ]LIB [lib|path]
      ]LOG [facility [ON|OFF]]
      ]SYMBOL symbol
      ]USERCMD [ ]ucmd APL_fun [mode]
               | ]ucmd { ... }
               | REMOVE ]ucmd
               | REMOVE-ALL
      ]XTERM [ON|OFF]

System variables:
      ⎕AI     Account Information
      ⎕ARG    command line ARGuments of the interpreter
      ⎕AV     Atomic Vector
      ⎕CT     Comparison Tolerance
      ⎕EM     Event Message
      ⎕ET     Event Type
      ⎕FC     Format Control
      ⎕IO     Index Origin
      ⎕L      Left Argument
      ⎕LC     Line Counters
      ⎕LX     Latent Expression
      ⎕PP     Printing Precision
      ⎕PR     Prompt Replacement
      ⎕PS     Print Style
      ⎕PW     Print Width
      ⎕R      Right Argment
      ⎕RL     Random Link
      ⎕SVE    Shared Variable Event
      ⎕SYL    SYstem Limits
      ⎕TC     Terminal Control characters
      ⎕TS     Time Stamp
      ⎕TZ     Time Zone
      ⎕UL     User Load
      ⎕X      aXis Argument
      ⎕WA     Workspace Available
      λ       { ... } result
      ⍺       { ... } left value argument
      ⍵       { ... } right value argument
      χ       { ... } axis argument
      ⍶       { ... } left function argument
      ⍹       { ... } right function argument

System functions:
      ⎕AF     Atomic Function
      ⎕AT     Attributes
      ⎕CR     Character Representation
      ⎕DL     Delay
      ⎕DLX    D. Knuth's - Dancing Links
      ⎕EA     Execute Alternate
      ⎕EB     Execute Both
      ⎕EC     Execute Controlled
      ⎕ENV    ENvironment Variables
      ⎕ES     Event Simulate
      ⎕EX     EXpunge
      ⎕FIO    File I/O
      ⎕FX     FiX
      ⎕INP    INPut from script
      ⎕NA     Name Association
      ⎕NC     Name Class
      ⎕NL     Name List
      ⎕SI     State Indicator
      ⎕SQL    SQL functions
      ⎕SVC    Shared Variable Control
      ⎕SVO    Shared Variable Offer
      ⎕SVQ    Shared Variable Query
      ⎕SVR    Shared Variable Retraction
      ⎕SVS    Shared Variable State
      ⎕STOP   STOP vector
      ⎕TF     Transfer Form
      ⎕TRACE  TRACE vector
      ⎕UCS    Universal Character Set (aka. Unicode)

      Bad UTF8 sequence start at
Bad UTF8 sequence start at

( ---- If you enter an incorrect ALT-key sequence, you might get the  )
( ---- above error message.  Don't worry about it, just carry on...   )

      ⎕SQL 'sfsfs'

( --- Above, if you enter a bogus command to Quad-SQL, you get the SQL help...)

Available function numbers:
type  ⎕SQL[1] file      - open a database file, return reference ID for it
      ⎕SQL[2] ref       - close database
query ⎕SQL[3,db] params - send SQL query
query ⎕SQL[4,db] params - send SQL update
      ⎕SQL[5] ref       - begin a transaction
      ⎕SQL[6] ref       - commit current transaction
      ⎕SQL[7] ref       - rollback current transaction
      ⎕SQL[8] ref       - list tables
ref   ⎕SQL[9] table     - list columns for table

( ---- Ok, so now, I try to open the SQLite3 database I just created... )
( ---- All this below is wrong... :)  -------------------------------   )

      ⎕SQL[1] mclnotes.db
      ⎕SQL[1] 'mclnotes.db'
      ^     ^
       1 ⎕SQL[1] 'mclnotes.db'
      1 ⎕SQL[1]'mclnotes.db'
        ⎕SQL[1] './mclnotes.db'
      ^     ^
      ⎕SQL[1] 'mclnote.db'
      ^     ^
      ⎕SQL[1] './mclnote.db'
      ^     ^
      'sqlite3' ⎕SQL[1] './mclnote.db'
      'sqlite3' ⎕SQL[1]'./mclnote.db'

( ---- end of my wrong stuff that did not work!  Don't be discouraged...          )
( ---- you have to tell Quad-SQL command the type of database you want to open... )
( ---- once you open the database correctly, it will return a "reference number"  )
( ---- which the documentation carefully indicates as "ref" :) ...                )  

      'sqlite' ⎕SQL[1] './mclnote.db'

( ---- Ok, Success!  The database in local user directory has been opened ...)
( ---- Your reference handle to the database is "0" or the number zero ...   )
( ---- This command below Quad-SQL[8] displays the tables in the database ...)
( ---- You use the "reference number" to tell the Quad-SQL command which     )
( ---- database to refer to ...                                              )

      ⎕SQL[8] 0

( ---- Now, we can select all the contents of the "notes" table ... )

      'select * from notes' ⎕SQL[3,0]
      'select * from notes' ⎕SQL[3,0]
      ^                         ^
( ---- What went wrong?  We forgot to include some paramter number.     )
( ---- When we include a parameter number, the SELECT statement works.  )

      'select * from notes' ⎕SQL[3,0] 0
 This is the first test note.  20201205
 This is the second test note. 20201205
( ---- Experimentation, confirms that this parameter number can be anything...)

      'select * from notes' ⎕SQL[3] 0
      'select * from notes' ⎕SQL[3]0
      ^                           ^
      'select * from notes' ⎕SQL[3,1] 0
      'select * from notes' ⎕SQL[3,1]0
      ^                             ^

( ---- The database reference number is the second element of the Quad-SQL[3] )
( ---- system command vector, which is very curious, but such is life..       )

      'select * from notes' ⎕SQL[3,0] 1
 This is the first test note.  20201205
 This is the second test note. 20201205

( ---- The parameter to the Quad-SQL[3,dbrefnum] command can be anything ...  )
( ---- Below, we make it '234', and the command works.                        )

      'select * from notes' ⎕SQL[3,0] 234
 This is the first test note.  20201205
 This is the second test note. 20201205

( ---- But, if we fail to include this parameter number, then the command fails... )

      'select * from notes' ⎕SQL[3,0]    
      'select * from notes' ⎕SQL[3,0]
      ^                         ^

( ---- Here, we make it '4564435', and the SELECT statement works correctly...  )

      'select * from notes' ⎕SQL[3,0] 4564435
 This is the first test note.  20201205
 This is the second test note. 20201205

( ---- We can make the parameter here iota-zero, which is NULL.  Still works... )

      'select * from notes' ⎕SQL[3,0] ⍳0     
 This is the first test note.  20201205
 This is the second test note. 20201205

( ---- Ok, so now we close the SQL database, using Quad-SQL[2], dbrefnum=0 ...  )

      ⎕SQL[2] 0

( ---- Since we closed the SQL database, any attempt to SELECT from it fails... )

      'select * from notes' ⎕SQL[3,0] ⍳0
      'select * from notes' ⎕SQL[3,0]⍳0
      ^                              ^

( ---- Ok, so lets re-open the database....    )

      'sqlite' ⎕SQL[1] './mclnote.db'

( ---- The Quad-SQL[1] command opens the database "mclnote.db" in local directory...)
( ---- And below, we run the SELECT against "notes" again, to get all the data ...  )

      'select * from notes' ⎕SQL[3,0] ⍳0
 This is the first test note.  20201205
 This is the second test note. 20201205

( ---- Now, lets put the data from the SQL database, into an APL variable, so we   )
( ---- can chop it up and/or scan out data elements from within the raw data  ...  )

      data ← 'select * from notes' ⎕SQL[3,0] ⍳0

( ---- We created an APL workspace variable called "data", and we can check the    )
( ---- dimensions of that variable, using the APL "rho" operator ...               )

2 2

( ---- APL says the variable "data" is a 2 by 2 matrix ...   )
( ---- This APL uses nested arrays, which works as follows: The first row and the    )
( ---- element of the "data" variable is the first data-element of the "notes" table.)

 This is the first test note.

( ---- So, data[1;1], is just the first text string   ...                        )
( ---- We can use the "rho" operator to query the dimensions of this element ... )


( ---- Oops, no we can't.  This "nested-array" stuff requires that we "disclose" first.)
( ---- checking the rho (dimensions) of first row, first column of "data" returns as a )
( ---- scalar, which has no dimensions.  Checking the dimensions of a single number,   )
( ---- just returns a NULL result.  )


( ---- To actually get at the string of text, you have to "disclose" the stuff that  )
( ---- is "nested" inside row 1, column 1 of APL variable "data" ...                 )
( ---- The disclose operator, "⊃" is a symbol from "set theory", and you can make it )
( ---- on the APL keyboard with ALT(right)-x.                                        )

      ⍴ ⊃data[1;1]

( ---- Now, the "rho" operator (which is ALT(right)-r), gives the dimensions of the  )
( ---- text string in the first row of the "notes" table.                            )
( ---  And now we can chop up and/or search this text string.

      ⍴ ⊃data[1;1]
       7↑ (⊃data[1;1])
This is

( ---- In the above example, we extracted the first seven characters from the
( ---- first row in the SQL datatable "notes", which is a variable called "data"
( ---- in our APL workspace.  Note the workspace is not named yet.  We can name
( ---- the workspace and save it... )

( ---- We use ")vars" to query workspace variables, and ")fns" to list names of )
( ---- workspace functions (programs), but there are none here (yet...)         )

 This is the first test note.  20201205
 This is the second test note. 20201205
      )wsid SQLEXAMPLE

( ---- Trying to SAVE the APL workspace failed, probably some default permission )
( ---- on the "workspace" subdirectory is wrong. So, just save it explicitly to  )
( ---- the user-directory on the Linux-box...                                    )

Unable to )SAVE workspace 'SQLEXAMPLE'. Permission denied
      )wsid /home/mcl/SQLEXAMPLE
2020-12-08  05:57:05 (GMT-5) /home/mcl/SQLEXAMPLE

( ---- now, the ")save" command worked.  )
( ---- Let's close the SQL database...   )

( ---- We check status of the SQL database, with ⎕SQL[8] and db-reference number.   )
( ---- This ⎕SQL command will display the data tables in the database ...           )

       ⎕SQL[8] 0

( ---- The Quad-SQL[9] command lists the column names in the "notes" table ... )       

      0 ⎕SQL[9] 'notes'
( ---- And the ⎕SQL[2] command, with the database reference number as parameter, )
( ---- will close the SQLite database   ...                                      )

      ⎕SQL[2] 0

( ---- Exit the GNU-APL with ")off" APL command ... )



( ---- Return to Linux command-line, and confirm the APL workspace file was created...)

[mcl@l2-centos74 ~]$ ls SQL* -v

( ---- We can also confirm the database file is present and accounted for...  :)     )

[mcl@l2-centos74 ~]$ ls mclnote* -l
-rw-r--r--. 1 mcl mcl 2048 Dec  5 18:04 mclnote.db
[mcl@l2-centos74 ~]$
[mcl@l2-centos74 ~]$

--------- End of Example GNU-APL Session Showing Example Query of SQL database -------

(end of Courier-new monospaced font...)  

Song for today:

This song is Tom Cochrane's take on the story of poet Arthur Rimbaud, who gave up poetry for gun-running in Africa.  There are many sites on Rimbaud.  Here is one in French.  (Make sure to click the top left corner little music-player, to hear some good poetry music...

Seriously, make sure to check out the above site on Arthur Rimbaud, and click the top-left music player - I don't know the composer, but the audio and composition is very good.  One should also read about the Rimbaud poem "Rage des Cesars"...  The above site is the work of a French math professor.  

"Danger and misfortune - Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained..."

I knew nothing about Rimbaud - but I always envisioned him as some old, dusty, historical figure.  Nothing could be more wrong.  One must learn to avoid making assumptions.  I found this French site (now no longer updated), but also with an English section, and a summary biography of Rimbaud..  It's very interesting.  Rimbaud reminds be a bit of Tom Thomson, the great Canadian artist, who was (we think), murdered by a jealous rival, while out in his canoe in Algonquin Park.

Ars longa, Vita Brevis.   Veritas est.

Ok, I found it:  

I knew there was something here.  Last week, on a complete whim - I bought two antique Russian World-War II rifles - Mosin Nagants.  They were silly expensive (they used to be dirt cheap but now they are not).  They spoke quietly to me, as if they were dead poets, whispering:  "We did good work.  We were made strong.  And we made our people strong."

Rimbaud really was an arms-dealer.  He was based in Harar, Ethiopia, and managed to sell Menelik's forces a boatload of old European rifles.  Menelik was a warlord who became King of Ethiopia.  As the above New York Times article correctly points out, the guns that Menelik acquired from Rimbaud in 1887, probably helped Menelik's army defeat the invading Italian Army in 1897.  The Italians tried to march inland and invade Ethiopia, but their army was shot to pieces in Adwa, and the Italians signed a treaty recognizing the Kingdom of Ethiopia in order to protect their enclave in Eritria.  Thus, the new Ethiopian State became the first and really only country in Africa that was never invaded and conquered by a European army.

This history resonates right down to today.  Addis Ababa is where the African Union is headquartered.   A recent nasty war in Tigray province was just put down last week, as the Ethiopians smashed  into Mekele, the Tigray capital, and routed the TPLF communists and military traitors.   Rimbaud was probably directly responsible for Ethiopia becoming a modern State under Menelik.  We think - erroneously - that mid-1800's firearms are ancient - but in a dry climate, not the case.

Rifles -firearms of any kind - are always useful, and ownership of them means the difference between being a slave, and being a free person.

The Mosin-Nagant - designed and first made in 1890 - is a simple bolt-action rifle.  But is is reliable, and it allowed the Russians hold back the Germans in two World Wars.  It is still in active use in the Middle East, as it is solid, simple and sufficiently powerful to be effective.

We note right now - the curious existence of "armed protesters" in USA.   The primary difference between USA and places like Belarus or China, for example, is that it is not possible or practical for armed police to mow down protesters in nations like USA, where the protesters are legally allowed to be armed.

The USA will *have* to deal with it's problems of unemployed, and impoverished people, because it simply does not have the alternative of sending in the troops to mow them down, like the Chinese did in Tiananmen Square, back in 1989, for example.    In China in 1989, the thousands of student protesters were cut down like wheat, and crushed into red mush by tanks, and the mush was washed down the drains in the square.  There actually are images of this.   If they tried this in the USA, there would be open civil war (like there was back in the 1860's).    So, in the USA - and other nations were civilian firearms ownership is common, like Canada, for example  - these kind of nations *must* use democracy and rule-of-law to resolve disputes, and craft legislation.  Firearms are the antidote to the old poison of tyranny.

So Rimbaud and his poetry is only part of the story.  The real story of Rimbaud is his adventures in Africa.  He gave up poetry by age 21, and went on to live the life of a man of the world, and change the historical course of events.  This was a good and fine choice.

Good for him.   And when you hold an antique firearm in your hands, that has been used to defend a nation from enemy forces - recognize that it is also a good, fine and powerful thing - something almost as good and powerful as poetry and the written word.   :)

[ Dec. 7, 2020 ] Go Big or Go Home?  Will Your Fears End in Tears? - Well, most of us are at home these days, aren't we?  Funny times - earlier in the year, a couple of our key portfolios were down by six figures.   It was not very nice.  (And yes, we made back the losses.)  But I fear the reactive response to this current blistering run more than the Shape of the World as of last March.  From sickness, you either recover or you die - so the problem resolves itself.   But from a runaway monetary train inside a financial bubble, one can bring about rather complete social destruction.

Generals always fight the last war - and get so surprised at the changes the World has wrought.  (We fight wars now in very different ways also - but I am speaking in metaphor.)  The 1930's taught all our governments (as did Dr. Keynes) that we need to open the monetary taps and dial up the fiscal & financial firehoses during hard times when everyone has lost their bundles.

But we are maybe overdoing it a bit here.  Canada is being even worse than USA.  Our firehoses of money might turn in to flamethrowers, I fear.

I am pretty sure we won't get a gentle upswing in inflation.   I have these [RR-Chaos-Baby!] curious models that suggest we could actually jump right to a hyperinflation in a rather short timeframe.

The idea is that global supply-chain crash/burn combined with another series of scarcity-triggers causes a phase-jump in prices to socially punishing levels.  This might be goosed by maybe a little war or a secondary epidemic, combined with the further implementation of bent political models in several areas.

I am not sure if I should even mention the disaster-dreams I keep having - like I am seeing backward temporal echos from some major near-future event or something... makes me sound like a crazyman, but when I read about Jessie Livermore's UP trade (he was on short vacation at the beach, and ran into a beachfront brokerage office, and started short-selling Union Pacific railroad stock), I realize these feelings both can exist, and could maybe offer something of value.

It was one of his greatest trades, and he could never explain why he did it.  He just wanted to short that high-flying railroad stock so badly, that he had to take action. At first, the trade lost money, as the stock continued to advance.  But then, a few days later, the Great San Francisco Earthquate and Fire happened.  The stock did not react - until even later, when it became clear how bad the damage was, how much railroad infrastructure had been destroyed, and that the fire insurance everyone thought they had, might not pay off fully (the damage was so great, it ruined many insurance companies).

The 1906 California Earthquake was partly responsible for the Great Panic of 1907, which happened on the New York markets the next year.  Livermore's shorting of Union Pacific made him a small fortune, and cemented his reputation as one of the great speculators of his day.   But he could never explain why he did it.

So the song for today is this one, no question...

Tears for Fears indeed.  Or maybe Fears into Tears?  Either way, remember that the outcome of an action-strategy is not always clear.   You might be thinking in terms of a pearl necklace, and yet end up with a Pearl Harbour.

[ Dec. 4, 2020 ] GNU-APL - The Damn Thing Works! - For production-grade data-bashing, we use an old Manugisitcs APL - but an associate mentioned he was using GNU-APL, and it has the advantage of crazy-large workspaces (ie. measured in gigabytes) and also uses SQL-Lite as the back-end database.   This fellow is capturing all daily trading from a particular exchange, and this results in roughly 1 gigabyte of data each day - and so running an SQL query might generate a 100,000 row table, with a fair bit of data for each row.

So, I was intrigued by this, and found and downloaded the GNU-APL last night, and compiled it and got it running on one of the CentOS-7 boxes.  

Damn thing seems to work pretty good.  I had to hack around with the keyboard stuff for a while, as the first configuration I tried - using Linux "xmodmap" to configure the ALT-whatever key to create the APL characters, caused the loss of all the ALT-function features needed to control the XTERM Linux sessions - and even switch contexts between X-Windows in GNOME (and this managed to blow up the Firefox session, and wipe out a bunch of webpage sessions, of course).

To use "Xmodmap", you can just run:

         xmodmap ./support-files/old-Keyboard/apl.xmodmap

But don't use this.  The loss of "Alt-TAB" (to switch between Xterm window sessions in Gnome) is lethal to Firefox, and will also prevent ALT-F1, ALT-F2 ... etc. from switching between sessions outside of GNOME.  So this approach (which works fine for generating APL characters in Xterm) is no good.

But what does work, is this trick:

        xkbcomp ./support-files/old-Keyboard/apl.xkb :0 -w 0

and this works great. (The ":0" is your X-session, "-w 0"  means suppress warnings.)  On my Fedora/CentOS-7 Linux box, it sets up ONLY the right-side ALT key on the keyboard, to be the ALT key for generating APL characters.  The left-side ALT key still works as it is supposed to, so that ALT-TAB can switch between running Windows in GNOME.  

  But using the right-side ALT key, allows APL chars to be generated and displayed correctly.  For example,  ALT(right)-R creates the "rho" character, ALT(right)-i creates the "iota", and ALT(right)-[ will create the left-arrow for APL assignment operator, ALT(right)-] is the right-arrow, for APL branching, etc.  This is the same as the ALT-xx operation of the various GEMESYS APL apps on Android (using the Android "Hacker's Keyboard"), and yet it still allow the ALT(left-side) key to operate as is required by Xterm and GNOME and Linux.  (eg: ALT-CTRL-F7 lets you jump right out of GNOME/X-windows into regular command-line Linux sessions, and ALT-(Fsession#) lets you jump back into Xwindows/GNOME session.  ALT(leftside)-TAB is needed to just switch between Windows - and restore minimized Xwindows/GNOME sessions.)

But the GNU-APL has several other methods of creating the APL keyboard, which I have not tried yet.  But the method described here is quite satisfactory, and lets all the APL characters be displayed correctly..

Also, to start APL, in a normal, standard APL interactive workspace session, you run "apl" with the option "--noColor", which makes the interactive APL session behave in a sane way, like any standard interactive APL.

Eg:  - To start GNU-APL after it has been installed:

                 [Your-System-Prompt-in-Xterm-Window]$ apl --noColor

and you will get a working APL with a big workspace (up to gigabytes, it looks like, if you need this much...).  On my CentOS-7 box, if you start without "--noColor" option, you get an awful video mess, and cannot even see the APL interpreter results.   Just enter ")off" to exit APL, an then enter "reset" and (enter) to fix your borked X-term session (it might be blank, no video chars visible!), and the virtual terminal will reset correctly.  But if you enter "--noColor", it works fine.  Note there are "two" dashes for this critical parameter, not one.

How to Install GNU-APL:

    [ I am running an old gcc (GCC) 4.8.5 20150623 (Red-Hat 4.8.5-28) with all the associated  development utilities need to build anything now on Linux... ]  So, to build GNU-APL:

      - download the APL-1.7 gunzipped tarball from the GNU-APL ftp site.  Note that this can be seriously slow  sometimes:

         Download apl-1.7.tar.gz from site:

         Create directory in /home     (ie.  become root, cd /home, mkdir gnuapl, cd gnuapl)

         cp /home/(youruserid)/Downloads/apl-1.7.tar.gz .     (copy file to build directory)

         gunzip apl-1.7.tar.gz    (create .tar file, ie. removes the .gz compression)

         tar -xvf      (untar the package)

         cd apl-1.7    (connect to build directory where you will compile source)

         ./configure   (if running a modern Linux, this should just work, and setup build defaults)

         make           ( run the Makefile to do the compile of the c++ source)

           (Check the apl executable...    cd src,  ./apl  --noColor   (to run the GNU APL)

                (Try something like 234+3, press return, and confirm you see: 237 as the response)

                (If the executable runs ok, you may as well just install it and experiment with it...)

         make install    ( if the compile ran without errors, you can just install the apl executable)

For now, I am running the APL-1.7.   I will try the 1.8 version tonite on a different machine and see if it works.  My associate who has been working on this says that the 1.7 (circa 2017) is very stable, but he could not get APL 1.8 to run without getting segfaults.

Initial experiments with the GNU APL 1.7 look quite promising.  Very promising, actually.

Coda:  How to check the GNU APL signature file (or any GNU project Signature)

   1) ensure you have gpg on your machine.  If a modern Linux (ie. since 2008!) it should be there.

   2) Assume you put the files APL source and .sig files in /home(yourid)/Downloads

       cd /home/(yourid)/Downloads

       Go to your broweser, and download the keyring signature file for GNU projects.  Just cllck this link:...


      This gets the file gnu-keyring.gpg file into Downloads directory.  Run a gpg with --verify to check that the .sig file matches what was signed on the .tar.gz file:

        gpg --verify --keyring ./gnu-keyring.gpg  apl-1.7.tar.gz.sig  apl-1.7.tar.gz

     This command says "Look in gnu-keyring.gpg to confirm the .sig is a real sig file, and verify that the apl-1.7.tar.gz file was signed with this signature.  You should get a "Good Signature from..." response, in this case: "Jurgen Sauermann (Programmer) (".  Note that you also get a WARNING saying there is no certainty that this key is actually a trusted key (you have to fiddle with GPG stuff more to get a "web-of-trust" thing setup, and that is another thing..)

   Also, you can run the MD5 hash against the apl-1.7.tar.gz file, and I get this value, when I run it against mine:

      gpg --print-md md5 apl-1.7.tar.gz

      (should respond with:)

       A0 64 56 F4 AA 9E 34 97   00 DA 51 C8 EF D1 41 50

   (BLah blah blah - MD5 is not the most secure message digest - blah blah blah blah.)

    and for MD5 hash check (message digest check) for "apl-1.8.tar,gz",

      gpg  --print-md md5 apl-1.8.tar.gz

      B1 8E 71 FF 2D 30 7C F2    26 80 67 DE ED 50 26 EC

   I like MD5 becuase it is simple and fast and is better than no security at all, guys.

And this GNU-APL seems to work good.  

Update: To get the APL Libraries in wslib3, wslib4 and wslib5 to be visible to the interpreter, I had to create a local "preferences" file in ~/.gnu-apl directory, and remove the references that are in the default build-preferences file (see build-directory "gnu-apl.d" for the standard default preferences file, and just copy it to your local .gnu-apl directory).  Replace the @GNU_APL_LIBS@ strings in each of the LIBREF-n statemetns with "." to point to your local directory, and then create local directory copies of each of the subdirs wslib3, wslib4, wslib5 that are in the GNU-AP build directory.

Just cd to build directory (in my case, I used:  /home/gnuapl), and then copy the directories for each of the APL libraries to your local user directory:

      cd  /home/gnuapl      (connect to your build directory...)

      cp ./wslib3  /home/(youruserdirectory)/  -v  -R       (make local copies of each of the APL Library directories, 3, 4 and 5. )

Then, when you start GNU-APL, and enter ")libs" you should see that your three APL Libraries show up a "present" instead of "missing",

[ Dec. 3, 2020 ] Shall We Be Three? - "Everyone said they'd stand behind me when the going got rough - but when I turned around, there was not even anyone there I could bluff.  I'm gonna leave New York City, I do believe I've had enough."  Or something like that...  Words by Robert Zimmerman, arrangement by Dimitri Medvedev.  If you're on the internet, your gonna be lost in Warez, no doubt about it.

Drove to a nearby city, just to buy some 7.62x54 Russian.  It's made in Serbia, as it turns out.

Our view is that equity markets are fully priced.  Also: One of the things we've learned is that markets and market action typically *overshoots* rational price points.  This is almost certainly one of those times.

The massive run-up in circulating money is driving this now.  We have to do everything on the internet now - and this is simply a sh/t-poor way to live.  But it is better to live this way, than die from simple human contact.   We can all continue to do business virtually for a while longer, but the world economy will not grow under these circumstances, and local business will mostly starve, eventually.

This violent second viral wave, will almost certainly cause a substantial downshift in commercial activity in every business in early 2021, regardless of political decisions taken.

We seriously could be looking at a 20% or greater drop or more, across the board.  Note that our models do not say this.  The recent uptick has them all pointing up - but this looks way too much like early 1930 for me - a big bounce from the 30% downturn which was too quick.  Given we are in this high-frequency world, with hyper-short links between all process-drivers, I simply cannot shake the sense that we are almost certain to see another reactive spike down

The vaccine is a *long* way out.   All our pharmacies have even run out of the standard flu-shot vaccine that was being advertised on the radio.   Our governments are run by timeservers and paltroons who couldn't find their backsides with both hands even if their lives depended upon it.   And it looks like maybe it does.   The lockdown in LA is probably necessary, but it will probably be unenforceable.   As in most social & economic scenarios, it seems to be happening in California first.  Interesting.

We have dialed back plans for all expenditures in 2021.   We had plans to build on a piece of property we've put together up north - but it looks like that is off, as the costs have seriously spiked across the board.  We just got the MPAC (Assessment valuation report) for the property yesterday in the mail, and the assessed valuation - on what is basically an undeveloped piece of waterfront - has been jacked up by roughly 80% - which means the tax-costs just to hold the property will be jacked by almost double, doubtless.  If we build on it, that will upshift the assessed valuation to a level that is just silly.  So it looks like that whole project is now on the shelf.

I suspect a lot of folks are making the same year-end calculations, and revising downward their personal "5 Year Plans", given the new reality of much higher taxes expected.

There is no way that governments can continue this orgy of "stimulus", without at some point, it is followed by a big upshift in tax-collection action.   And that will smash us hard.

Those *much* higher taxes are coming folks - regardless of whatever you do, and whomever you vote for.

I fear we could be looking at a "lost decade" - not just a "lost year".   We are looking like we are programming a full-on 1930's Depression scenario, except for a few very rich folks - which was actually what it looked like in the 1930's Depression also.   Marconi had a nice yacht, as his radio patents were mostly honoured, in most places.

Facebook-folks, Googlers and Amazonians are doing well - but for most other folks, there is no money at all to be made on the internet, or in the "new economy".   None.   Not a dime.    The internet is like the railroads and the oil companies and the auto industry - lots and lots of players at first - but over time, and with extreme consolidation and government control - everything ends up in the hands of a few players.   And it is only these few big players - and the crazy creative folks who are way outside the process - who get to have anything at all.   Everyone else just runs at the margin with borrowed money, and then eventually fails.  That seems to be where we are going.  The road ahead is lined with the dying & the dead.

I know of so many local and USA-based tech companies.  None of them made any real money.  They puff up with fin-tricks and slippery-accounting, and then sell out to fat-boys, and take the cash.  It's a stupid business model, and leaves the economy hollow and empty - and that looks like the future for most now.

Yes, it's a bit grim.   I don't see any alternative paths at this point.   Nothing in this country makes money except banks, telecom companies, resource-extraction and the Government.  And those folks only make money because of special regulations and tax-policy support.  We are an export-led economy, like Japan.   But the closed border and travel restrictions means that travel to the USA and elsewhere is difficult, impossible or dangerous.

It does not take a giant AI to see that this leaves us pretty much toast, as far as economic growth is concerned.  We won't starve, but it is madness to expect anything to move up much from our current economic platforms.  We will all have to work hard and run fast, just to stay where we are.

The future looks like it has been cancelled - rather like Christmas has also.   :)

Update: Trolling thru junknews on the crapstream, and I found this piece.  Paul Tudor Jones is a smart guy, and he has made some good trades.  He thinks it is boomtime a-coming...

But I think he is wrong.  I see 2021 as a dial-down.  Sure, lots of folks want to run around and do stuff - but nobody except a very few - will have any money to do it with.   Most businesses will just be dead by then - except for Amazon, Facebook and Google.   Everyone else will be offline.  The money is all locked up in the hands of a few.  And the government stim-schemes are bound to create tax-action hell-streams down the road - or else folks will see a series of unfolding disasters of an even more unique kind - hyper-inflation or a loss-of-confidence in money, Zimbabwe-style.

None of these outcomes are good.  See, at first, everyone is homebound because of the virus.  But next year, folks will be homebound (remember "cocooning"?) by either financial pressure, or by personal choice.   Most employment in most industries is just "junk-jobs" which don't even need to happen - folks who are "working from home" are just calling it in, and getting six figures for moving words on paper around.  All this is great for them - but this massive false economy, where nothing is made except money, and nothing is done except busy-work and government regulation (which just stops things from happening) - all this fake-economics will have to find a limit at some point.    And I think that the virus might be taking us all to that limiting-case scenario.

Our economy does not make anything useful of helpful.  There are no real health care services, there are no actual doctors, and the access to pharma is prevented by regulators.  It's a grim view, but it seems to play out this way in practice.  There is no opportunity.

In order for investment to actually occur, you have to believe in the possibility of some sort of future payoff.  But there is no payoff expected now.  

Electric cars are kind of stupid, really, as they are crazy expensive and impractical.  Only government laws and/or free money (green kickbacks) will induce people to buy them.

Almost everything we build is like this now.  It has a worm-of-failure or deception encapsulated within it.   It is all turning, quietly and carefully, to shit - which is after all, what ecology says has to happen.    This is just evolution in action.    Economic growth is basically over.    :)

Tudor-Jones is just talking his position, I suspect.    As a shrewd trader, he can't not see this.

[ Dec. 2, 2020 ] Standing on Zanzibar - Sailing swiftly towards the rocks, it looks like.   Here is some technical info on labour market in USA, which is looking downright bad:

What with Big Boss Grusome Newsom of the People's Republic of Californication shutting down the economy again, and the Wicked Witch of the West "Pillow-Sea" now in charge in the East, the Left-Coast folks are in ascendance.  Mad King Trump is in full-flail mode, as his subjects plot to send him off to exile in Florida, that southern reach, where all the crazy old coots go to die.   China is breaking it's promises and is now rounding up pesky democracy activists in Hong King Kong and putting them in jail.   Joshua may just bring down the Great Wall of Evil.  But for now, Freedom and Prosperity are catching the last plane out.   

We live in very strange times.   I hear that Christmas has been cancelled this year.   Death, on the on the other hand, seems hard at work.  No holiday nonsense for him. 

[ Dec. 1, 2020 ] A Market Run by Robots Will Eventually Become Negatively Damped - Really, does no one have any sense anymore?  Is "common sense" now the most uncommon thing?   If you make the feedback loops too short, your machine will oscillate to destruction.  The engineers in the 1960's knew this...

The over-stimulated "high-frequency" market environment - run by robot (algo) trading - will wipe out the investment process, I fear.  Perhaps I am just old and have seen too much.  This will all end really badly, rather soon  - I can't see it not doing so.  This market has the flight characteristics of a "flying wing" - when it stalls, it will stall quite badly, I suspect.  And it will.

[ Nov. 30, 2020 ] Illusions & Reality - Which is it?  Which has more power, the dream-blueprint, or the actual, physical reality?  Can we even be sure, which is which?   The more one investigates, the less certain that one has to be.

The "Story" becomes more effective and has more power than the truth, at times.  We want to - in our moments of hard rational analysis - believe that the truth has the ultimate power - but in a virtual world - a "digital" world - there is no objective truth at all.    Every "story" has the same possibility of currency and adoption.  Deception becomes just another engineering toolset.

One of the most powerful illusions is the steady, climbing market price for "securities".  As we transit from a low-price, value-oriented pricing regime, into a "growth-priced" regime - we see what appears to be a steady, systemic, orderly march upwards - and this creates a powerful illusion of stable system operational characteristics.   But of course, the reality is that we are actually seeing a march from stability into fragility.  The higher the price moves, the greater is the likelyhood of a fast re-pricing.

The financial press literature from the 1920's and early 1930's is really interesting.  It is difficult to obtain now - back in the 1970's, you could go into University libraries and just take out the magazines from the time-period and read them.  Now, I doubt this would be possible.  The copies of Time and other publications were just low-value old magazines back in 1975 - only 40 to 50 year old paper material, easy to obtain (typically found in the archives and bookshelves of old packrats who liked to squirrel away raw data.

I read thru every Time magazine from 1928 to 1932, to get a flavour for what actually happened in the "current time", not in the "look-back time" that the academics with political axes to grind will review an event  (eg. Galbraith's worthless drivel, so deeply coloured by that arrogant arse's political viewpoint).    Truly, most academic work in economics is written and developed by folks who want to induce you into accepting their particular set of political illusions.  Much of the academic material is quite worthless, if your task is to truly understand the operational unfolding of political-economic events.

But reading the magazines was useful.  What was interesting is that business and government people knew they had to get more money in circulation, and do some serious spending to counteract the "Crash", but the academic Economists argued fiercely to stop them from acting.

The academic Economists were wrong and these Economists caused great damage.  J. M. Keynes had done his degree in Statistics  (He was not really an "Economist").  He knew what was happening, and argued for temporary *big* spending programs - but he was the only one.  

Most people had no idea why so much economic activity was just stopping.  Folks saw economic activity just wind down lower, and lower.  The stock market fell and fell, and then fell more.  The Dow Jones average - in the 300's in the 1920's, fell to 43 in 1932.   Companies were sold for pennies on the dollar.   Jessie Livermore - the famous trader and "Stock Operator"-  who had made over $100 million by shorting stocks before the October 1929 Crash, had lost all of it by 1934, and had to declare bankruptcy (again).

Most of the Economists of the day, had no clue what was happening or why it was happening.

I can say with some certainty, that until the development of what now seems to be called "Behavioural Economics", a lot of traditional economic thinking seemed to be crafted to take one *away* from understanding things, and push the poor student into a rarified world of imagination, where all the critical factors that drive a process, were "assumed" away, so that a fraudulent illusion with elegant mathematics could be offered as some sort of artificial wisdom.

If the so-called "Science of Economics" cannot be used to make someone wealthy and prosperous, then it is beyond being just worthless - it becomes something that is deeply toxic and ugly and dangerous, as it risks "teaching" a squirming bugs-nest of lies and political half-truths that can cause terrible social damage.  The perfect example of this is this hideously stupid nonsense called "Marxism" that an entire generation of human minds were poisoned with.

What Marxism enabled was simple theft and banditry - but on a scale that only co-ordinated, well-funded, military-focused government action could carry out.    And the horror and murder and human abuse that "Marxism" created - all this tragic stupidity was enabled by it's use of false reasoning of the most obvious type.   Only by the strange suspension of disbelief that self-interested academics can engage in, was it possible for the drivel that is Marxism to be taken seriously.

But far too much of even modern "Economics" still remains academic illusion.

If you sit down with some PhD "Economists" and drink some fine alcohol with them, they will often readily admit that their profession is worthless - or perhaps even worse than worthless, as their imaginary pictures-of-the-world can so quickly be pulled into astonishingly destructive government "analysis" that results in "policy prescriptions" for government-driven disasters.  Like every good fraudster, they know their profession is not at all scientific, and they know that it is not really possible to make forecasts that have any sort of viable accuracy - but they quietly explain that this does not matter in the least.  What matters is getting nice, high-paying faculty appointments, and powerful, high-paying government (ie. taxpayer-funded) "evergreen" jobs in the powerful Ministry departments, and/or the Agencies, Boards and Commissions (the "ABC's").

What you don't really find anywhere, is anyone who is curious about how to fix things that are deeply nasty and appear to be broken bad, or are interested in the old scientific idea of the searching for actual, honest truth about what is really happening.  You have go far outside the mainstream of Economics - into perhaps "Development Studies" - where you find some folks for example, who actually get their hands dirty, and try to help fix the self-butchered economic nightmares of the African Klepto-States, or the Marxist-Failure-States of South America.  But these folks have such a "wall of fraud" to scale (from the lie-sets of disinformation that have been built around the Government Agency schemes to protect them), that their task is so Herculean as to be pretty much impossible.   Nothing really changes.   Lies endure.  Fraud remains the objective of the Government monkey-men who continue to quietly fill their pockets with hard-currency.

Most "Economic Science" discussed and used by "Governments" is just collections of wordsets designed to enable taxation increases and State expropriation of private wealth.

The only useful thing "Economics" can offer, is that which might be used to make private individuals wealthy - or at least slightly wealthier than they are.   Beyond that, the so-called "Science of Economics" is really just another false toolset that State fraudsters use to cheat folks and steal their property from them.   Once "Economics" gets used by Government people, it becomes about nothing except taxation strategy.  There honestly is nothing else there.

So where does that leave the private person, who is trying to survive in the maelstrom of fraud and theft and lies that is this modern world of illusion?

The problem of investment remains.  Governments exist to tax people.   They are not able to do much else, other than mount military action, and kill in large numbers.  But as a person living in the world, you have to invest somehow.   Without investment -setting aside and using current wealth to generate future wealth - you will starve and suffer in your old age, and your children will be denied critical opportunity.

You must try to invest - and you have to do that wisely, which is much more difficult than most believe.   And in a world of liars and cheaters and Government tax-monkey daemons, the investment process is fraught with astonishing risks at every turn.

But this is the one area, where "Economics" as a discipline can be of some real use and value.  If you understand the economic characteristics of your investments, you can make better choices, and your better choices will lead to better investment results.   This is really possible.  It is not easy - but it can be done.

The economic realities that underly the investments you make, will drive their outcomes, mostly.  It is "not" a random process at all.  But it can certainly appear to be random - or worse than random, actually.   Most investments degrade over time, and many fail completely.  Professional venture capitalist investors know this.   But they still invest, because when the process works, it can work very well, and change the world - for the better.  And it can make you rich.

Successful investment can do what Governments cannot.  It can change, enhance, and repair a broken, dishonest world.   It really can.

You can make the world a better place by investing well and becoming wealthy, and making your own life better.   This is the process - as each person does it -  by which the world is made better.   It is good if the political fraudsters who enable the government tax-monkeys could grasp this truth, and stand-down from their destructive behaviours.

We study Economics to understand how to make the process of investment work better.   That is the key to it.

[ Nov. 29, 2020 ] Word on a Wing - Needed to check this with a search.  Seemed to remember this - and it fits...

And to my astonishment, I found this track, from a 1976 rehearsal in Vancouver...

The version on the "Station-to-Station" album is ok, but as Mr. Sussex says (quite correctly) this version has a desperate urgency that makes it quite excellent - a really impressive piece of art.  (This is a *rehearsal* - not even in front of a audience!)

Said so well - in this "Age of Grand Illusion" - which is even more completely full of illusion now than it was back in 1976.    I am quite surprised at how the music from the late 1970's seems so curiously "au courant" now, here, in late 2020.  

We are just ghosts - chatting with other ghosts.   It all fades into history.   Tonite, the weather is curiously perfect, for November.  Two AM, and the insomnia wakes me, and I take Hana out for a walk in the asonishingly bright moonlight.  No traffic, very quiet city on the horizon, and the Great WInter Hexagon of stars high and sharp in the sky above.  

I bought two antique Russian rifles - one from 1943 and the other from 1944 - both made at the Izhevsk Arsenal - and so marked with the little "hammer & sickle" glyph surrounded by laurel leaves.

The Izhevsk Arsenal glyph is truly the most bizzare and astonishing melange of images - the laurel leaf glyph going back to Roman times (a victorious Roman general could wear a headdress of laurel leaves during his "triumph" or victory march thru Rome.  Caesar particularly like to win victories, since he was supposedly very sensitive about his balding head, and wearing the laurel he felt especially suited him as he felt it improved his appearance. )   The current use of the laurel-leaf glyph is in the symbol for the United Nations.

But it was also used to surround the "Hammer and Sickle" and also the "Swastika" - in Russia and Germany in the 1940's, during World War Two.

The Laurel wreath is everywhere as a powerful glyphic symbol of victory.  It is curiously deep in Western Culture.   We all like and respect a good, solid victory, regardless of whose side we are on, it seems.  We still live in the Age of Grand Illusions.

[ Nov. 27, 2020 ] Night Meeting - The best story in Ray Bradbury's "Martian Chronicles" is "Night Meeting", where Tomas Gomez, driving lonely in the mountains of Mars, meets a Martian on his way to a party - except they are each from different times, and their meeting is the unexplained result of a temporal intersection.

Gomez is driving an ancient highway, built by long-dead Martians.  But he meets a Martian named Muhe Ca, who is on his way to a beautiful Martian city, with it's canals sparkling in the city lights.   Tomas Gomez, in his pickup truck, only sees a cold desert below the mountain highway, and the dusty remains of the very old ruined city.  

Neither one can see the world of the other - they are each from thousands of years apart.  It's a clever literary trick - the meeting with the ghosts of the ancestors.

And yet every antique collector knows the feeling.

There is the awsome certainty of time.  Time will kill you.  But life lets you see so much that is quite surprising and elegant and lovely - for a little while.

If these temporal "rifts" existed, it would be interesting.  And doubtless, more than a little disruptive.   But we do have windows on the past.   I stood at the top of the Grand Pyramid in Tikal, and looked over the remains of that large Mayan city, and I could see dimly the outlines of much of it - it took a moment, but I could see the large raised platform where the ruling Priest-class lived.  I could imagine what the city looked like - in it's prime.

I was also reading recently about Nimrud in Iraq, an ancient city, roughly 5000 years old.  The excavations were recently destroyed by ISIS murder-monkey criminals, but the interesting truth of the history of the place remains.   Before the evil and horror of modern religious nonsense, there were fourishing, vibrant ancient civilizations in the MIddle East, along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.   

The history of humanity is cyclic, as is it's economics and it's art and science and literature and culture.  The beautiful rises from the ashes of destruction (cf. modern Japan), and the fine and the beautiful can be brought down to collapse and ruin (cf. the rise of fascism and communisim in the 1930's and 1940's in Europe and Russia).  

But the people existed.  They built things, and made new people.   And the cycle would continue, despite it's fractal violence.

[ Nov. 26, 2020 ]  Ancient Martian City - Did we really discover the remains of an ancient Martian city?  Perhaps an alien outpost, complete with a big communications "dish" antenna for long-distance communication?  (See top image.   All we did was magnify & contrast-enhance an image from one of the Mars orbiters, on file at NASA Image Depository and Univ. of Arizona.)

Did all those right-angles and 90-degree ridge-lines all form by accident and chance?  😮

[ Nov. 25, 2020 ]  Wooly-Bully / Random-Shmandom - Randomness is rising in the background - or not maybe.

The bloody markets really *are* fractal.  They're total wooly and very bully.   And they are *not* random.  They are chaotic - and difficult to predict (sort of - if you are human), and difficult to trade (so don't trade them - just harvest the results), but the most interesting thing is that they are truly fractal - and all the really old guys from very long ago had a very good idea about how they worked.  If you ever suggested to any of the 19th century big line swingers that markets were random, they would probably have laughed quite hard - or just assumed you were crazy.

The fucking equity markets have all gone synchronous.  The Nasdaq and the Russel indexes and the FB and GOOG charts look like the Canadian bank stock charts which look like GE and GM.  It is nutty.   This is risk on HARD.  (A Risk Hard-On!), and I am missing it because I know that the very moment that I buy into it - will be the moment that this fucking market turns and turns hard - since it is the pekerheds like me that are the source of funds for this process.  God's Bodkin! (an old Templar curse - it means "God's Penis!" - a "bodkin" was a pointy piece of wood using by weavers to put a hole in fabric..)

So for me, the next step here is to take the human out of the circuit.  Not sure - as a very little guy - how best I should try to do this - but I have this old APL workspace, that is maybe around 30 years old - it's been thru a few different versions of APL - it is called TRASER - and I can run it against different series with different parameters.  And I have this one parm-set for a particular security - and I just ran it again last nite (Nov. 24, 2020), from insep to current day, and it has made over four hundred and fifty thousand dollars - using no leverage, and starting with no capital.   It just goes in and out - risk-on/risk-off and so on.  It is hilarious.  It kicks my ass completely.  It is just silly.  You would think the thing it seems to have found would extinguish over time (like all that economic theory sh/t suggests is should) - but it has not done so.   It is pretty complicated - and it has long runs where it gets drawdowns (might go 5 or 6 trades in a row where it's results really suck) - but then it finds it's footing, and launches ahead and recovers all its losses, and generates profits more than sufficient to offset the losses.  

My trading sort-of mirrors TRASER, but not good enough.  I need to have a bit of capital, and I don't like the long runs of drawdowns.  But I miss stuff (like now), and that really fucks up my performance over the long haul.   I find I can pay the bills, and maintain my capital - but only just.   I need to kind of invert my human behaviour in order to get as good as TRASER - and I am just not there yet.

But damn, to suggest markets are *random* is the hieght of absolute folly.   Markets are like Japanese language - it looks like horrible chicken-scratches and random scribbles by a lunatic, until you can learn a few of the various alphabets and glyphic-constructs that the lauguage uses.

I was looking at some Nihonian charts - and I recognized the kanji for USA (it is two glyphs - one for "rice" and the other for "map of a country" - literally, I think they call USA "Rice Country" ("BaiKoku") - and like learning ancient Mayan - you need to realize that "rice" means "wealth" (in Mayan, the glyph for "cocoa" (chocolate beans), meant "wealth") - like Euro languages often use "gold" to mean "money".  The ancient Mayan king who built Tikal, was called "Lord Cocoa" = which I translate as "Lord Money".  So Japanese for USA in glyphs is "Money (ie. Rich) Country" which makes sense, 'cause it's true...)

If I can ever fix the "human problem" - I am pretty sure I can make a lot of "rice" and "chocolate" in these silly stock and bond markets.  I mean, I am doing ok, but not not "Elon Musk" or "Bill Gates" ok.   (I seriously - as a little child - wanted to build a nuclear rocket when I got older, so I could visit Ganymede and Io and the other moons of Jupiter, since I could see them orbit around in my little telescope - a whole planetary system, and you could watch it change each nite (if there were no clouds).  If figured a few hundred kilograms of enriched uranium, and a little device to make wee, tiny micro-explosions inside a big parabola-shaped thing (right at the focus-point), and woosh, off you go.  Just like the physics boys at General Atomics were actually planning to do, as it turns out, with top secret Project Orion.  They were going to use little coke-bottle sized nukes to push them along.)

But now, even the Shuttles are in museums.   <big, long sigh...>

No bucks, no Buck Rogers, as they say.  If you want nuclear rockets - you have to build them yourself, I guess.      

Or maybe I could buy one of Elon's, and take it for a spin around Luna, at least.   We would have to launch off-shore, so that the USA obstructionist-regulators could not stop the launch with a bunch of fucking American sh/t rules.   Perhaps better to just book a flight on a Soyuz.   Space tourism is a bloody good idea.  You can die in a commuter flight in a crappy Boeing 737 Max-8 with bad software written by Indian programmers who don't know shit about flying, or you can get blown up in a BFR rocket at launch.   But whatever your travel plans - they first need to be funded, don't they?   :)

Just for the hell of it - I'll document the secret of TRASER:  I programmed it with a whole bunch of parameters - but the key one was a simple binary - a 0 or a 1 which means 0 = counter-trend trade (ie. make a mean-reversion bet, if the stock is offside the exponential moving average) or 1 = go-with trade (ie. make a directional bet, based on the stock moving further off the XMA).  Guess which does better?  I had expected the counter-trend ( zero) parm would be better.  But it's not.  It's the goddamn 1 parm ( which => go-with the movement off the XMA) that makes the money.  It surprised me.  But it won't surprise old traders with experience (and it does not surprise me now, of course).   

That's why any idiot can make money in a running market.  But it generally gets swept back from him, in a downturn.  I gave up trading, and would just hold positions and then add to them, during periods of weakness (that actually is a pretty good strategy - it's the old 1960's "buy and hold"), but I could make money consistantly doing a quick in-out thing.  Worst mistakes - have been closing out profitable positions - and then watching the fucking market run away - like now.  Done this several times - and it seems to be a human weakness that I have difficulty fixing.

But when all the world is a world of trend-following robots - then we are programming our own destruction - and this solid, certain truth is keeping me up a nites - and is why I finally pulled the plug two weeks ago.

For the risk you take on, stocks are seriously overpriced - but I can't *prove* this - and what is happening is that the world is going stupid now - Biden will flood the USA with more printed cash, and Janet Yellen will provide the enabling machinery.  Truth be told, this scares me.  Why?

Well, consider how you might destroy a national economy.  Think like an "economic warfare" strategist:   Flood that nation with bogus money.  But the nation can actually tolerate the bogus funds - and might actually jump to a new level of production and output and consumption, and the shitty quality money might not matter, if they get the plan right.  (Which is actually what China has done since 1980 and Tiennamen - they had to modernize, or the leaders knew they faced the lamppost-execution outcome).   And for China it worked.  Compare to Zimbabwe - a nation with worthless currency, run by racist criminals and bandits.

So, maybe the USA (and Canada as well, of course, as the dog's tail), can tolerate garbage currency for a decade or two, if we have the productive capacity to make stuff.  Seems to be the case - maybe.  Looks like it is the current picture of the future, for now.

[ Nov. 24, 2020 ] Bad Moon Rising - I am stupid, and should have known better...  And I need to learn to buy into advances, which I find very difficult to do.   The AI model from the C_Machine has been *real* clear.   But we are *out* - and this has turned out to be a *very* bad decision.   Stocks are running like the 2000 Dot-Com Bubble - we are seeing a market that is absolutely on fire, with the DJIA breaking thru the 30,000 level.  

With Covid-19 ramping up everywhere, and many places (like here, for example) back into almost a full lockdown (we are "Condition Red" which means no non-essential travel or excursions or meet-ups), it seemed to me that we are facing a worse scenario than was evident back in March of this year.  But even the C_Machine model was explicitly clear - up, up and away.  And today, we watched as the exact numbers forecast were hit.  We are way the hell off the blue line (the moving average), and this stock usually gets pulled back hard to that line.  But, the green forecast function has been pointing almost straight up - and the only flaw was that I just didn't believe it.  It seemed a numerical artifact, and not a viable true future picture.

Well, I was WRONG.   And I have to say, I can accept losing money, but I have given up a *lot* of wealth just by exiting a position that was doing well, and had been doing well since April of this year.   This really hurts more, truth be told.

I shall have to trust the model - even more than I have been.   We seem to have a major re-pricing of risk going on here.   This morning I read that even Cote D'Ivoire managed to price a 1 billion Euro bond issue at 5.25%, which is just amazing impressive.  Ivory Coast is borrowing hard currency at a lower interest rate than Toronto Airport did, when it was expanded and re-built a couple of decades ago.  The Ivory Coast bonds are *SIX* levels below investment grade, according to Moodys.   But they met with good demand.  Oh my.

The Canadian Banks (which are good investments), are trading like technology stocks - ramping up several dollars per share in the last two days.

It's a bit crazy.  A lot of businesses here are hurting.   Many in the entertainment world, and restaurants and air-travel are just never going to return to 2019 business conditions for many years.  And many will just close forever.

This does not seem to be a market-positive environment.  But for now, it surely is.  Is this the "Biden Bubble"?   JPM is up to $122.50 per share, a gain - just today - of almost $5.00 per share.  This looks insane - but it maybe makes sense, if rates will be jammed at zero until 2024.  

We are maybe setting up for the Mother of All Meltdowns - but looks like that can has been well kicked.  Maybe it does not happen for 4 or 5 years?   Crazy.    I feel we are in looney-tune territory - but my AI was painfully, explicitly clear, with the green curve pointing almost straight vertical.  And the software was right, and me, Mr. Cautious Guy, is left standing at the side of the road with my f*cking hands in my pockets, while everyone else is zooming along at warp-speed in their new red racers.   :(

But I have to say - my AI thingy right and truly works  - and it works a helluvalot better than I do, if you want the honest truth.

[ Nov. 23, 2020 ] Baby & Rain & 2021  - Some videos today.  Sound and vision and all that, but from The Vibrators - 1978.  Best song from that year... ðŸ˜Å½

Snow everywhere here and now, deep and wet and cold.  Let's go back to even before 1978.    This is a good tune...

and so is this...

We seem to be locked-down by Covid-19, and also snowed in.

Since we were revisiting 1978, how about The Diodes...

And then this fav of course...  we did kinda study nuclear science... and I thought it was 1978, but  actually, it was 1987, so I guess its my dyslexia or something...

And then this - the EasyBeats - 1967  (and just two years later, we flew a spaceship to the moon and Neil got out and walked around...  really happened.  We couldn't do that now for any amount of money. )

and the Bowie cover from Pinups...

And of course - 1978 - the best song from the Ramones.  I still sing this to myself any time I have to fly on a filthy commercial airliner    (| :. o )

And of course - the theme song of my school years.  We listened to this on the radio from that great station: WPOD... ( My favourite part of this song, is the very end, with the Japanese voice-over...)

Really, it was how we got thru the '70s, and ready for the 1980s, when we all had to go out and get jobs doing stuff that was silly.  I remember Jer saying at end of a lunch:  "Ok, well, I have to go back to work and write some more lies for my employers..."  (Which of course, was a Government Ministry.)

Maybe I will hibernate until March 2021.

One more little visit to 1977, some new guy called Tom Waites came on this faux "Talk Show" that was called "Fernwood Tonite"....

And I suppose we have to close this video memory trip with this piece of genius musical work...  for all you folks with Covid-19 "held up in the intensive care ward, lying on the floor..."  May you all get the hell out with your health recovered!

"Sleeping don't come very easy..."    Good nite Mr. Fry.

And just to prove that music has not completely turned to sh/t, here is something excellent...

See?  It's all still good.   And one last one, can't resist...  It still is a wonderful world.    :)

[ Nov. 22, 2020 ] Rah Rah Rasputin - So I am reading Benoit Mandelbrot's 'Misbehaviour of Markets", and I am quite embarrassed.  These things that I thought I had discovered - they are *chapters* in his book!  It is hilarious.  I mean, I determined that price series had long memory - and that this can be used in a real and actionable manner - and yes, I had heard of Louis Bachelier and the Brownian-motion model of price changes - and I built all these various simulators to demonstrate the accuracy of his picture-of-the-world.   These simulators are useful, and can let one characterize different stocks and other investment alternatives for which price series can be obtained.

But Mandelbrot really nailed it *all* down, and like most really good science, it was based on early 20th century work, and fully nailed down in the 1960's, the Great Decade of Science Advancement.    So curious.  Anything that you think you have discovered - if you troll thru history, you can just about *alway* find a previous example of someone who has discovered *exactly* the same thing.   [Eg. Physics example:  There is a 1939 (!) American patent for a "neutron generating device" that used high-voltage cathode-ray type electron-beam, directed at a paladium wire grid, all contained in a long glass tube holding deuterium gas at very low pressure.  Some German guy named Schultz or something like that, basically took out a patent in USA, in 1939, on a working *Fusion Reactor* device.   The neutrons get "generated" when the paladium infused with deuterium is blasted with ionized deuterium accelerated in the beam.  The neutron flux is the result of deuterium-deuterium fusion.  It's a fusion device.  In 1939. ]

It's the same thing with Mandelbrot's book.  I had not actually read it yet - just discovered in because of the Google-Doodle which featured Mandelbrot's Birthday Greetings.  I am reading the butchered "Google-Books" version, with pages and chapters missing from the "Preview" - its like software archeology - but I am getting some useful information from the exercise.

It is just so comical that stuff that I thought I had figured out myself, has been known for years, and is part of the lexicon and taxonomy of what I guess is now called "Fractal Finance" or something like that.

I mean, Mandelbrot's stuff is really true.  The Efficient Market's Hypothesis - both strong and even the weak form - is just not the correct picture-of-the-world.  It leads to really great math, and Fama was a clever fellow for building this whole approach - and Markowitz was a genius for building his whole diversification-based portfolio model.  But one only needs a few counter-examples to trash any scientific theory - and I could provide a large boatload of examples of "Super Astonishing Really NON-Efficient Tradeable Actionable Hilarious Empirical Market Observations - SARNETAHEMOs" that provide overwhelming evidence of markets being comically, hilariously NON-Efficient.  And my experience - over a reasonable multi-year time period and across several types of markets in various countries - has shown that these SARNETAHEMOs are really, really *COMMON* and occur a lot of the time, again and again.

I built code that would generate ROR distributions, and the longer the price data-series, the goofier the distributions of daily price changes would get.  They would sort-of look Gaussian for short length series - and then get pointyer and pointyer, with consistant outlier observations way (WAY!) out in the tails.  And they all would do this - not just stock prices, but other data series also.  Market price-change distributions operate according to Mandelbrot's picture-of-the-world.  The more data you get, the bigger the variance seems to get, and the weirdly pointyer the distribution becomes.  I guess these are Cauchy style.  (I am reading the book - which I should have read back in 2004.  Oh well - better late than never.  I am laughing at how this was ever in any doubt.   The truth of everything Mandelbrot said is sitting there in the data as big and as fat as anything ever is in science.  Curious.)

This is standard reality.  Efficient Markets is a weird fiction, with neat math.  Reality of markets is the reality of wild randomness.  Covid-19 just demonstrated this again.  One of our portfolios was down by 1/3rd in March-April.  That a delta of 33%!   And we made it *all* back.   Crazy.   And since 1984, this is - what, the sixth time we have been thru a wild market meltdown?  (Yes, it is six times:  1987 DJIA down 29%, 1998 Russian Default, 2000-dot-com-crash, 2001-9-11 terror attack, 2008 world financial meltdown because of USA housing fraud, 2020 Covid-19 lockdown with GDP+Market crash of > 30% down).  This shit is only supposed to happen every 100 years, even at worst of worst case.  But I have lived thru SIX of these stupid events in just 33 years, and have managed to remain solvent.  Because I didn't believe any of the BS.  It's a bad science that tries to teach people something so curiously wrong and at variance with reality as all can see.

Efficient Markets is an idiot's fiction.   Wild random extreme changes are the "normal".    It is the nature of nature, it seems.  But humans really *WANT TO BELIEVE*, and will consistantly suspend disbelief if such suspension is in their self-interest - or even if they can be induced to believe that such suspension of disbelief is something that they should take on for various emotional reasons.

It's not just stupid people being stupid.  We are all very capable of being very, very stupid when the toxic cocktail of greed and fear is mixed with the modern neuro-science elixir of motivational manipulation.  That is a brand of Kool-Aid that not even the strongest and wisest of the best uber-mensch can prevent himself from drinking.

As humans, we are embedded in a matrix of lies, deceptions and desires. The fact that any of us at all, ever, can make even somewhat rational decisions and achieve good and profitable outcomes, is quite amazing and wonderful.

Most human lives are nasty, brutish and painfully short - and this is not even an original observation or assertion.  We all know this.  

How can anyone assume that human fraility and weakness and foolish greedy nastyness, will somehow be set aside, when these weak and cruel humans come to transact big amounts of their wealth on the investment markets?    Or worse - transact with SOMEONE ELSES wealth on the markets?    The "Efficient Markets Hypothesis" needs to seen for what it is - probably a form of academic madness - a thing created by very clever fellows, much like we create toxic cities and ugly Bauhaus architecture - a desired goal of false perfection and symmetry and structured purity that is completely different from the messy, fractal, jagged, rough-edged natural world.

And it is this very natural world - the world of the forest and the field and the raging sea, that better describes our human efforts to compete and cooperate and fight and copulate with each other.

Life is really messy.  It is supposed to be messy.   And it actually is likely true, that it really *needs* to be messy and rough and fractal-violent if it is to continue to be.

And the markets reflect life.   The old traders would say that the market was like a woman.  You would come to her a hundred times, and each time, she would abuse you and send you away with sad results.   But then one day - to your great surprise and astonishment - she lifts her skirt and drops her pants and literally begs you to take all you want from her.   If you are wise, and understand life - and the markets - you do not hesitate.  And when others examine your results, they think you are either lucky or smart.   You yourself know you are not very smart - and since they did not see the hundred times when you were unsuccessful, only you know that you are not that lucky.    What you were, was careful and consistant and disciplined.  And you also had learned how nature actually works.  

The trick, you see - is to be there when Ms. Market wants to give it all to you.  And to act and to be able to act, when she offers everything.   And being there that 100 times when there was nothing to be had - and to keep your patience and remain wise and restrained - this is difficult, and takes the self-discipline of a monk.   It really does.

And recognize that extreme good results can also be balanced by extreme bad results.  So it also takes real understanding - and the linkage of the understanding process to the take-action process - which is rare in humans.   You have to be a little bit insane to profit as a trader.  Really, you actually do.  It is a silly business.   Much better to be a dentist.  Really.

Or maybe a Mystic Healer?

Ok, just in case any real people are reading this:

     [A Little Coda...]

A coda is a seperate piece of music, distinct from the main piece.  It literally means "tail" in Italian, the international language of music-instructions...  In this case, our little coda is written in the key of "rant".

Here is a link to a .PDF of the whole book "The Misbehaviour of Markets - by Mandelbrot & Hudson".  Since Benoit is dead, I don't feel we need to make a bunch of New York publishers any more rich than they already are.  Copyright should *die* with the holder, when he/she dies, and USA DMCA and Google be damned.  I had to use "Duckduckgo" to find this link, as it is curiously not offered by the Google search engine.

This URL looks like it lets you download the entire .PDF for the book.   We believe that copyright should end after 15 years, much like patent protection does.   We feel the DMCA is an assault on science - and literature, art, history and human learning in general.   We want the Library to be unlocked, and not sealed behind paywalls.   We assert that it is wrong for important human knowledge to be held in for-profit archive-fortresses.  

Once you pay your $100 per month for wiMax internet access, that $1200 annual fee should be sufficient to allow a student to take a book from the virtual shelf and read it - without incurring an additional fee per book.  The marginal cost for downloading a .PDF is effectively zero - and all science books - and academic journal articles that result from publically funded research efforts - should be available without fees being levied.    And all books should be available after the expiration of a 15-year copyright window.  The DMCA represents an assault on human learning, and as such, we consider it to be an evil thing that degrades science and impairs scientific inquiry.  It is a wrong and bad thing, and it should be, as the dog's tail), can tolerate garbage currency for a decade or two, if we have the productive capacity to make stuff.  Seems to be the case - maybe.  Looks like it is the current picture of the future, for now.

[ Nov. 21, 2020 ] By the Rivers of Babylon - "You know how to *take* the reservation - but you don't seem to know how to *hold* the reservation!" - so said Dr. Seinfeld, that wise fellow with the PhD in the Comedic Arts.   I remember how many clever people I knew - who seemed to be wise and offer advice and suggestions on how those around them should behave and live their lives.  Just about all these speakers-of-advice are dead now.  I suppose they are giving advice to the worms on how to eat, or perhaps to the Devil on how to stoke the fires of Hell.

I have mostly just tried to avoid being foolish and stupid, and have met with some small success - at certain times and places.  But it is the errors and omissions we recall best, is it not?

If you are French - maybe you want to go to school in Lyon.  There is something strangely interesting about that city.  It keeps coming up in so many of my readings - I know nothing about the place, except that it seems to be viewed by French and Europeans as an obscure, provincial capital - and yet so many interesting confluences seem to intersect there.  Today, in reading about Mandelbrot (everytime I study anything he did or said or worked on - I am overwhelmed by the genius of his work and his curious creativity) I learned that he "hid out" during the war, in 1944, in a school there, in a mathematics course.   He found he could solve complex agebraic problems using geometry - as he could visualize and do transformational constructions in his head, in 3-D.   This shocked me, as I thought this was my own little secret.. It is the way I examine and try to understand (and maybe, solve) complex problems.   I have trouble with the symbology of the math (or I did,until I forced a limited degree of understanding upon my own feeble brain by sheer effort of will), but I can see and transform n-dim tensors in my head as conformable objects.  I can just visualize them.

The visual arts are wonderful - and yet can also be the stuff of nightmares.  Or perhaps all art is just an expression of our desires, our fears and our longings?   Born into a fractal natural world, we seek geometric perfection by constructing cities and systems and taxonomy.

The virtual world of the internet is toxic and deeply unhealthy for us - and yet like drug addicts, we are drawn into this world by our own human nature.  What we should have and must have for happiness and peace-of-mind, we cannot obtain.  So, we seek degraded simulations and false "virtual" experiences in the online world - or at least some of us do, it appears.  I have been reading details of some obscure research by a French sociologist  into  the emotional surrogates that are popular in Japan in online/virtual worlds - synthetic "boyfriends" and virtual "girlfriends" and so on.  Quite bizarre and curious.   I am not sure if perhaps it is all a joke?  And yet there appears to be real research into this expanding social phenomenon.   Japan is - after all - the curious nation where the concept of "hikikomori" was first documented.  [ Hikikomori (Japanese: ひきこもり or 引きこもり, lit. "pulling inward, being confined"), also known as "acute social withdrawal" ]

Why do I/We write this "weblog"?  For the simple reason that it forces me to organize my thinking, and introduce sufficient discipline into that thinking so that it can be useful and actionable.   One must follow the process of: thinking, planning, take-action, evaluate-results, revise-thinking.  This is how "learning" occurs, if such learning is to be at all useful and effective.

The region where we live has jumped to "Condition: Red" level of public-health restrictions as of Monday.  This means no non-essential travel, closure of most entertainment establishments, and is just one level down from full "prison-style" social-lockdown.   The Covid-19 cases are ramping up at a rapid rate, and both deaths and ICU admissions are climbing.   Hospital capacity is limited here, and there are few doctors and an already rather poor medical-services delivery capability in this area.  If we get a "Wuhan" level of case-growth, then we will have real trouble.

We are already required to wear surgical masks or face-coverings inside *every* commercial establishment.   I bought a full N-95, dual air-filter, silicon-rubber face-mask that provides good filtration of toxins.   Since I already had some respiratory issues recently (flu and/or allergies), I suspect that if I contract Covid-19, I might be done for.   Or perhaps we had it last year, and may already have some immunity.   

What is curious is the rising stock market.   There is no question that Canada will face a very difficult winter.   Many Canadians already get a bronchitis or sore-thoat/influenza type of illness in the winter here.  This phenomenon has been documented for hundreds of years here, and I have found numerous references to this in historical research and Canadian biographical and autobiographical accounts.   If we overlay Covid-19 on this already sickness-inducing climate, then I can't see this being a positive scenario for Canadian business expansion and/or economic growth.

Probably we are looking at further economic contraction, and within a few more months, a beginning of loan-non-payment problems, as most Canadian folks are pretty highly leveraged - especially on their houses.

I had expected the bank stocks to pull back *sharply* as the Covid-19 cases ramped up.  But perhaps it will be a couple of more months before this happens.

[ Nov. 20, 2020 ]  Bang a Gong - Covid-19 is getting worse, while financial assets are being bid up, and business conditions are starting to deteriorate again.

As we indicated above:   We are particularly concerned about the rapid increase in the value of financial "paper" or "digital" assets, as this is occuring in environments where business-conditions appear to rapidly be deteriorating.

This is almost a perfect textbook description of a runaway "asset value bubble" that will cause serious financial and economic disruption, when it reaches it's climax, and "bursts".   The rapid repricing downwards of financial assets, at the same time as a rapid rise in Covid-19 deaths, could create a scenario of extreme social disruption in modern economies with complex, interconnected, lengthy supply-chains.

It is interesting that the IMF folks seem to be offering pretty much the same kind of warning.

It is unusual and rare when we find ourselves in agreement with the IMF people.  We typically are not fans or supporters of the IMF or it's actions, as we believe that agency has morphed into an abusive re-distribution scheme to assist and support corrupt and dishonest national governments,   Corrupt and dishonest governments who don't pay, should not be assisted by honest people who do pay their bills.

But the IMF economists seem to see the same looming disaster that we are seeing.

The Covid-19 pandemic looks to be at what might be termed a "liftoff" point, where the death-rates might start to become significant.  If this happens, we will have to see economic activity shutdown again, as it was in March-April-May, earlier this year.

The vaccine looks like it might not have any meaningful effect on outcomes, until the middle or even later, of next year.   We seriously may be looking at three to 6 months of hard-core lockdowns or movement-restrictions, just to ensure social survival.

[ Nov. 19, 2020 ] Titanic - Curious...  I note that not much other than *internet-shopping* is working anymore.  Really - it is all just not working right - by design.  You want it to work right - then you have to become a paid subscriber - otherwise, you get trash & excrement.  The internet seems to be over now.  The experiment is complete, the results are known.  It's done.

The model says market will move up - but too much is just wrong.  The internal signals are flashing red/red/red.   We are out - just about *all* in cash, and we don't like cash.  I am dreaming about burned buildings and shattered storefronts.  It's just weird - really curious.   I am having vivid dreams of buildings with the fronts torn off, so you can see inside each apartment.   I have no experience of this - there is no internal memory I am drawing on.  It feels like echos from forward events, reflected backwards along the timeline.  

After the TItanic was torn open below the waterline, across all her watertight compartments, she steamed along fine for quite some time.   When it's all torn and broken and failing - most people don't even have any sense of it - until it is way, way too late.   On the surface, everything looks great - we had some good results, and I even bought a new pickup truck.  But I did it because I had the strange feeling I needed to do this *now*, since soon, it would not be possible.  Such a curious sense of disaster and foreboding I am sensing - and I do *not* like to act on emotion or personal feelings - but this is just strangely intense.  

Be careful, folks.   This is more than just the broken USA election...   This is something that has been unwinding since 2015, which is when we started to notice that everything was no longer working properly.    The economics just isn't working right.  Investment is not working right.  The near-zero interest rate on your fixed-income/low-risk investments, is not reflected in the 20% interest-rates that people are paying on their VISA cards.    The system works for a few rich government employees and poor folks on welfare - but for those in the self-financing world, or the "gig-economy" and so on - there is just a flat, vacant wasteland that lies ahead.   We have done very well this year, yet I can't shake the feeling that we are looking at a major series of disasters looming ahead.

It is possible that we are just at the very *beginning* of the real Covid-19 pandemic, and that what we have seen so far, is just a minor prelude to the real event.    Or maybe I am just tired..

[ Nov. 18, 2020 ] Sam McGee from Tennessee - The time of the cold is beginning.   But it is interesting just how hot the market action is.    We have serious concern here, and it looks like we are tee-ing up a serious break in the near future.  

Had a nice afternoon chat with some folks who are house-bound.   A fellow I spoke with is down to a reduced schedule of a few days a week, as his work is connected with the airline industry.   The entire industry in Canada is running about 80% below capacity, it appears.  Where there were 5 flights per day by a major carrier running from North America to a European city - there is now one flight.  Where there were 20 commuter flights per day between two major domestic cities - there are now 3 - and they are far from full.   The entire industry is not expecting any improvement until mid next year at the very earliest.   By then, most industry players will be either functionally bankrupt - or effectively offline and mothballed - hanging on in survival mode.

Some businesses are experiencing growth - but many are also just shutting down forever.  Travel and hotels and entertainment will take *years* to recover - and will not likely reach pre-pandemic levels of activity for at least 5 or more years.

The vaccine is welcome news - and shows evidence of wise policy choices, as the *lockdowns* are idiotically foolish and ineffective - the world cannot be turned into a prison - and only prisons can actually be "locked-down".   The virus propagates in many ways.  It cannot and will not be stopped from doing this.  All efforts need to be on treatment and vaccine development.

But people are people and politics is what it is.  This mix creates a process where deception and denial works well, and can get results for a certain class of folks who know the game and can run the programs.  So it goes, as Mr Vonnegut used to say.

The market run at the moment is a dangerous thing - and will end badly, we fear.   It has already created a spike in the data that looks ominous.  We've seen these before.  The modern robot-algos will run down the backside of the spike, as fast as they ran up the front side of it.  And if they don't, then the people who are people will probably do close to the same thing.

Trading a spike is like spiders mating - you feel compelled to do it, but for the boy-spider, it always ends badly.

Sam McGee became, of course, "Telegram Sam" in his next life, and Marc Bolan wrote a song about him:

[ Nov. 17, 2020 ] Runaway - A stock which was trading in the 70's in March-April, is now trading well north of 105.  The Great Rotation that seems to be underway is impressive.    The recognition has dawned that rates will stay low for a long while, as the fragility of the various 21st century northern-hemisphere economies are expected to remain under Covid-pressure for quite some time.

And there is just very little to buy, that is not already too expensive.  Curious problem, and apparently even understood by the Central Bankers of the world.

[ Nov. 16, 2020 ] Eve of Deduction - World looks in rough shape from rising Covid-19 cases, markets looking great.  Curious.

But the Moderna vaccine looks promising  -  and it is only government obstructionists that is preventing is widespread distribution.   USA and Russia focused on fixing the problem - the Leftist world focused on preventing people from going out and making money.  Trump and his "Operation Warp Speed" approach looks to have done it (along with the Sputnik vaccine in Russia).

As is our experience with successful projects, it appears those responsible for the success will be punished, and those who focused on the wrong choices, will be rewarded.

In big IT projects, we used to see this just about every time.   The final phase was always the promotion of the useless and uninvolved people.   Major change projects are always difficult.

The trick now of course, is to get the filthy FDA and the other Washington Obstructionist Agency players out of the way, so we could actually get the vaccine out to hospitals and doctors and clinics.  The mRNA is the variant you probably want, since no live virus is used.   I would be reluctant to use the adenovirus carrier version.

But since no vaccine is even available (as the Covid-19 cases ramp up), the whole discussion is moot.   The private sector is really the only thing that is able to do anything now.   This psychological reliance on "government" that seems to have infected the thinking of so many children and young adults, is curiously pathological - and represents a profound threat to future prosperity of our small world.  

Government is the *cause* of the problems we face.  It is never the solution.  Solutions always come from creative people who are external to the process and machinery of the bureacracy.

[ Friday Nov. 13, 2020 ] Peter Pumpkinhead Goes Down - Looks like those Big Bags of Beneficial Ballots that mysteriously appeared after November 3rd, have allowed the Biden Banditos to bag the Big Chair.   Wow.  (The Democrat-operatives would simply say: "Hey! Nothing "mysterious" here.  Those are just "advanced" ballots we bought fair and square!")  

Either way, all we can say is: Congratulations on a helluva fine piece of engineering!   It sure looked to us that American voters wanted Trump and not Biden, but Mr. Trump simply pissed-off far too many rich, powerful people.  And those rich, powerful Leftists (who regularly rake in the monster sacks-o-cash from USA federal spends) wanted to make sure the process could be maintained.

Trump was changing the program - and the Big Boys don't want the program changed.   Just for amusement and future analysis, we are trying to get a handle on how much the Democrats actually spent to buy this result - as about all we know for sure, is that it was the largest amount of funds ever deployed to bend an election.  Boomburger himself spent over $100 million in Florida alone - that's how much that wealthy old ju hates Trump.   That really has to be some serious hate.  The whole election was pretty comically awful, and can't really be called much of a "democratic exercise".

Imagine being an American - you go to the polls - and you see a list of options, none of  which you want at all.  (An awful lot like Canada, truth be told).   Right there, you know in your heart of hearts (or your heart of darkness?) that there is nothing you can do to change anything at all, and that the whole exercise is a complete fraud.   So, you smile and vote for the least-awful option, knowing that you are wasting time and mindshare on a bogus process that will change nothing.

For those of us in the self-financing sector - who make money by our own actions, and are not plugged into the corrupt gravy-trains of modern politics, Big Corporate, or Academia, watching another never-run-anything political whore (like Obama), take the Top Boss job on this planet, is painful.

We predicted Biden a *long* time ago, but one can always hope.  Trump's strength was his abusive willingness to disrupt the established (corrupt) order.   That was - on balance - a positive outcome.   As the USA now backs away from that, turns inward, and plans to focus on "progressive" (oh, fuck, what a dishonest weasel-word for *theft*) policy plans, we can look forward to More Shit, being Piled Higher and Deeper.

Trump just made too many enemies.  If the Big Jews of Hollywood and New York want to see you go down, then you are in trouble.  And if the Big Tech Boys also join that party, and they can afford to run the Big Con on the poor-folk (it pretty much always can run, if enough funds are available), then you really don't have a chance.    I was amazed that Trump almost looked to have pulled it out of the fire - but of course, the changes to voting process that allowed those big bag of Biden ballots to be engineered, cemented the outcome even before the November 3rd election took place.

Nothing will change for us in Canada (we are already being hammered by our own bad government here), but it is interesting how really sad and worried many of the folks in what might be called the Japanese intelligentsia, seem to be.   The smart folks in Japan really liked President Trump, and his hard line on China - and it's government's crimes, bad behaviour, abusive dishonesty, and military threats -  was welcomed as something new, good and necessary.   All that will end now, and the folks who pay attention to the ill-winds of political change, know that Japan is pretty much screwed.

The moronic idiocy of the "United Nations" - probably the most useless, worthless and dishonest collection of fraudsters and government-toadies ever assembled in one place - has voted to abolish nuclear weapons.  That leaves non-nuclear armed Japan sitting alone beside China and Russia who have real weapons.  Even North Korea claims to have nuclear weapons - and regularly launches missles over Japan to make it's point.

Without a very strong US leader, Japan is just a rich guy walking down a back alley in a really bady part of a dangerous city.  And for Taiwan, it's even worse.   Trump - wisely - made it clear that Taiwan would have access to US weapons (if it bought them) and could also expect US military assistance if it was attacked.   

Without Trump - and a bunch of "progressive" fartwits in charge of USA - these free and democratic and non-nuclear-armed Asian outposts don't have much of a chance.

Hong Kong has already been taken down, as China explicitly reversed it's committments on HK operation, has constructively removed all democratic legislators,  imposed a "security" law, and is arresting anyone who speaks out.  Hong Kong is pretty much finished.  

That leaves South Korea - already threatened by a lunatic regime of nuclear-armed neofascist Stalinists to the north -  and Taiwan and Japan.  China has explicitly stated it intends to use military force to invade and capture Taiwan, and Japan has no real weapons capability without tactical nuclear devices.  China could overrun Japan in a matter of weeks - the only "divine wind" that could save Japan then, would be the use of American-deployed tactical nuclear devices.  And there is now zero chance that a Biden "progressive" (goddamn how I hate that false weasel-word) administration would do such a thing.

So the Japanese - who are not all stupid - know they are now in trouble.  Trump made his views on things very clear, and he was widely respected as a real leader who would not be manipulated by Chinese Communist bluster and theat.    The clever and politically aware Japanese see Biden as a joke, and his VP as a whooping, arrogant idiot.    They might not be wrong in this assessment.

Our analysis suggests we are drifting towards two possible outcomes:  1) An eventual war with China, which may involve limited use of real weapons, at least in a tactical theatre of operations.  Or 2) The eventual loss of all three of the remaining open-civil-society, true-democratic nations of Far East Asia - Taiwan, South Korea and Japan -  to Chinese hegemonic control.

The lesson of history here, is that nothing stays static.  America - with a lame-duck President, to be followed by a weak leader who wants to turn America inwards - is now a nation with a very deep political divide.  This creates the real possibility of an extremely ugly "future-picture" for much of democratic Far East Asia.

[ Nov. 12, 2020 ] Bad Moon Rising - LODAFU is the New FUBAR - The Biden Bandito's want to lock down America for 4 weeks to stop the coronavirus.  Oh, that will help (he said with sarcasm - or is it SARScasm?).   Given that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is aerosol spread, and is creched in *most mammals* - I don't think this "lockdown" even comes close to being a good idea.  And the science seems to prove that.

The objective is to GET THE DAMN VACCINE OUT RIGHT ABOUT NOW  boys and girls, and stop the regulatory foolishness that is obstructing every good thing everywhere now.

Some are saying the Demorats *stole* the US election.  Of course that is not true.  They did what every corrupt group of power-monkeys do - they just bought it.  The Demorat spending was the highest ever in any election by any party ever in USA history.  And crooked Democrats like that particularly clever little young A-American woman with the funny name, managed to vector *millions* of dollars of political donations INTO HER OWN FAMILY POCKET by hiring her husband's political propaganda company, and spending *millions" on videos and political action advice.  It is a level of political corruption and financial scamming that is breathtaking.  It should just disqualify her from being an elected representative.   But it won't.  Not now.

But the Demohacks will vector everyone's attention away from the corruption with the coronavirus, and the threat of a LODAFU.

We are all going to have to live with the virus until the vaccine can be make available.  Pfizer or Sputnik version looks to be OK, and worth the risk.  The Lefty Government types need to get out of the way, and hand the whole public health model over to private industry so things can be made to happen.

This whole virus thing could be at least mitigated in one or two months.  We need to do this, so we can get ready for the next one, because it looks like this kind of rolling viral pandemic threat will remain with us all for quite a while, given the rate and nature of the coronavirus mutation.

[ Nov. 11, 2020 ] White Light, White Heat & Dark Matter - Just felt I had to post this latest.  Our intermediate model forecast has turned over, see the Nov. 11 projection at top, first screen image, green line.  The second image is from Nov. 6th fcst.

Mkt still shows great strength.  But our medium-long wave projector is pointing down.

[ Nov. 10, 2020 ] The Dark Moon of the BrightSide - Suddenly, we are getting curious signals.  FD: (Full Disclosure) We closed out one portfolio yesterday, and the second, bigger one, today.  We are now almost all in cash.  Maybe we miss part of the big rally, but we feel something is - as Mr. Shakespear might have said - Rotten in Denmark.  

The vaccine is not that good, many folks will not take it, and the USA is not going to resolve it's leadership issue anytime soon, no matter what sort of hype and info-sets are promulgated by the Big Media organs.   I cannot shake the feeling that we are on very shaky ground.

The C_Machine forecast - from Nov. 6th -  had a projected run from the 97 level up to 105 on the testbed security that we have been trading.   We had to take the numbers, as the delta in the account was too fine and good.  We note the extreme nature of the markets now, and sense that the 105 level is possibly a "pivotal point" for a significant reversal.  (See the cheesy screen-photo of our traded security price projection, complete with a little generated image of the Mandelbrot set, I have been playing with.)   

A positive run of close to 10% in a few days in the class of stocks that our testbed security falls into, often tends to be a signal for a reversal.  Truly, no one and no machine can know what the future holds.    But we have real concern that this "Biden Bubble" has become quite stretched.

And we note the US Federal Reserve also has similar concerns to ours.   The economic damage from the Covid-19 pandemic is possibly only beginning to be felt.   Many businesses and private individuals have been making use of savings and sales of high-quality assets (ie. their houses and real-estate holdings), in order to maintain economic viability.      These cash-raising options will be ending soon for many - as the money runs out for a large number of folks in North America.

The US Federal Reserve notes in it's recent information releases that it believes there is a significant chance of a meaningful fall in asset prices across the board, once the general public's liquidity starvation becomes more directly actualized in the marketplace.   We are concerned that commerical property values could be impacted soon - perhaps early in the new year.   This will come as a surprise to many, but it should not.  Mortgages could be next, of course.  We've seen this movie before.  Many folks are *seriously* leveraged, and without high-paying jobs, debt-service becomes first difficult, and then later, impossible.  Next year might see the start of the "later" phase.

There are just too many people engaged in economic activity that is not going to remain viable over the next 6 to 12 month time frame.   This will likely show up as credit quality deterioation, and this may well be enough to degrade the asset base of many financial institutions.  

Everyone thinks we are out of the woods now.   But we suspect that this is not the case, and that the real economic pain from the changes that we have seen this year, still lies ahead of us.  The equity asset values from the famous stock market crash of 1929 were mostly recovered by early 1930, and the market did not bottom out until 1932, over two years later, when the bank-runs began.

[ Nov. 9, 2020 ] In a Godda Da Vida  - The Riders on the Storm, or the New Riders of the Purple Wage? ... The 1960's were an astonishing time in history - also the first time computers were used to hack stock market activity, and facilitate trading runs.   The canonical book about this crazy time, was "The Money Game", by the pseudonym-designated author "Adam Smith".  (Go google it...).   Many of the great technological leaps can be traced to either the 1920's or the 1960's.  It seems we need money to make the magic happen.   (Is this a surprise to anyone?)

Maybe the theme really is from the Doors - Jim Morrison, "This is the end, my only friend, the End..."   used so well in the famous Vietnam War film, "Apocolypse Now".

The decade of the 1960's was before my time, and is ancient history now.   And yet it was a decade when we could build working, interplanetary spaceships, and deploy them successfully and effectively.  I was actually a Grumman Aircraft shareholder for a while.  (Grumman built the LMs - the Lunar Modules for NASA Apollo program, a spaceship that landed on a planet, and then launched itself back into orbit - without any maintenance crews working on it.  Amazing technology.   Never made any money from Grumman shares - I just liked their aircraft and spacecraft work.  It was a silly trade, based on emotion.)

One should probably avoid any emotional linkages to positions.   But in the 1960's, the old guys would always say how much the market was an emotional thing - much like a woman.  I always thought this was silly, like sailors thinking of their boat's as female.  But the wisdom of this mental image or psychological metaphor has borne the test of time.   Many have already said it: A mass of men acting together, often behave with raw emotion and pure feeling, much like a woman.  And this is an algorithm for disaster, is it not?

The politics of the 1960's was a complete sh/tshow - a popular president murdered, bad leaders, stupid decisions, idiotic war, etc.  But the technological leap - and the leap upwards in the markets - was extreme.

[ Nov. 8, 2020 ] Long, Strange Trip It's Been - Lately it occurs to me - that the AI's will change things.  Our simple little market AI suggested an improving situation, market-wise, so we repositioned the portfolio that had had the major redemption to a fully invested, all-in status on Friday (and even caught pretty much the low of the day for the shares we picked up) , and the futures numbers here at 4:40 am look to have confirmed the wisdom of this strategy.

It's not that our AI thing is particularly genius - it is more that *any* model-driven formal approach can have benefits.  Markets are difficult things to take money from.  Last night I was reading the little book that the real Jesse Livermore wrote  - not "Confessions...", but "How to Trade in Stocks".   He wrote it in 1940, shortly before he committed suicide.   And understand - Livermore had *millions* of dollars stashed in his apartment when he died.  He did not kill himself over money-related issues.   But he had made some *very bad trades* emotionally.  

Livermore kept a special, secret apartment in NYC, where he had relations with women.  I don't blame him for doing this.  We are all human, and should accept our nature.  But this blew up his marriage, and the second woman he married had had 4 previous husbands who had killed themselves.  Even the most basic, average-level statistical analyst, quant or simpleton, should have understood - from that single fact - that this second female was to be avoided at all costs.

But he married her, and I suspect she used explicit psychological techniques to destroy him.   (When you get an algo that works - you run it again and again, if it keeps paying off. )  She made him call her every 15 minutes during the day - since she was *concerned* for his safety.   My point here, is that he remained a sensitive, successful trader right up to the end.  His suicide was as much about his tragic personal circumstances, as it was about his many reversals.  

There is real danger that is present in speculative investing - but Livermore makes a very strong and correct (I believe) case for the aggressive-speculator approach to *investing*.  He argued that short-term speculation was much safer, and illustrates the failure of the long-haul "investment* approach to stock trading by reference to the price-history of major railroad stocks from 1905 to 1940.  These were the best "blue chip" stocks in 1905 - selling for hundreds of dollars per share - that by 1940, (only 35 years later!) were almost worthless, selling for pennies per share.

Long-term *investors* in these great, successful, companies (which threw off big dividends, and which were considered as the top, best, long-term investments in their day) were essentially wiped-out, as General Motors investors were several years back, in our modern times.

The AI's succeed because they are mindless.  And this mindlessness makes them very sensitive to the local, immediate conditions that they observe.  They are able to operate like enlightened "Zen" Buddhists, as they live perfectly "in the moment".   They truly and honestly do not care.

The computerized formal model has *no* emotional investment in what it is doing, and this gives it great strength and ability, when it comes to making market-driven decisions.

If I watch price-action for several days, maybe a few weeks, with close, careful, focus, then I can pretty much tell what will happen at certain "pivotal points".   And like Livermore, I find that lists of numbers are actually much more revealing than charts.  I don't know why.   I really cannot determine exactly what I see that lets me see this.  But I do know, it is exhausting work, and leaves me tired and drained - so probably there is a lot of neural activity.   

The problem is that even if I know what to do, the random and natural reflexive nature of the markets (these are both different - but operate simultaneously), make it difficult for me to pull the trigger.  I solve this problem by trading big.  SInce it is painful and hard to pull the trigger on a trade, I don't do too many - but I trade in quantity when I do - often the entire 6-figure portfolio.   This seems insane, but it seems to work.

It also helps to follow the AI model.  THis is also difficult, since it makes directional indications that seem idiotic.  But it does not care.  That makes it good, even if it looks bad.  (Like what Hamlet spoke about, when he had his head resting in Ophilia's lap [Shakespear was a genius] and Hamlet references  "country matters" (which my copy with Elizabethian English notes translated as "rustic doings") - there are a class of things that look pretty bad, but actually can feel pretty good...)

But trading can both look bad, and feel worse.  (You pull the trigger on a trade you know you have to do, and then it starts to zoom-off against you, and you feel quite sick in the stomach... but the position had a time-window range that has to be followed, so you try not to vomit, and stand pat (like in "St. James Infirmary Blues", standing pat, I worry...)

Trading is emotionally difficult - especially if you do it because you rather need the money.  At various points in Livermore's life, when he managed to lose many millions of dollars, he would declare bankruptcy - but he would always make good his debts, once he recovered.  He would go thru bankruptcy, because the emotional pain of owing and not being able to pay, would poison his thinking and his trading ability.  And he knew this and was honest about it.  By freeing himself from obligations, he could trade clearly, without the ugly emotional drag of debt.

This is why the AI "robot traders" are so successful.  They have zero emotional connection to their own actions.   "Like a psycho on a shooting spree..." whisper's one of my inner daemons, with a Mephisto smile.

[ Nov. 7, 2020 ] Keep on Truckin' - We bought a new Ford F-150 pickup truck.  It is nice.  And it is faster than was the Corvette I had as a youngster.  :)

[ Nov. 6, 2020 ] Sound and Vision - Fine weather for November - sunny and warm and more like July than November.   Really very nice.  We look at Tropical Storm "Eta" on its way to Florida.  Looks like it could morph back into a hurricane again.   Perhaps it will destroy Miami?   We hope not.  But this has already been a very strange year - and promises to get even stranger as we struggle toward it's conclusion.  Sound and vision - and electric blue.

The Real Buckaroo Banzai...

If you only watch one TED talk, watch this short one.   This is George Dyson, Freeman Dyson's son, now a noted author, providing direct, family info, on the original Project Orion, a nuclear-bomb powered spaceship (the size of a Marriot Hotel building), that would fly to Saturn and Jupiter and return to Earth.   This was a real project, with real timelines, and a real budget.

These physics boys were *really* going to go.

It would have been a hell of a launch.  They worked out the calculations, and even built some small test model vehicles, which proved the concept was quite workable in practice.   The vehicle woiuld essentially surf upwards on the violent shock-wave produced by each exploding fuel unit.  In the test vehicles that were built, C4 explosive was used.  In the full-scale ship, the fuel units would be coke-bottle sized nuclear bombs, so the launch would have been visible for thousands of miles away - a massive pillar of rising nuclear blasts, each accompanied with a wide-spectrum white flash.

The whole project was classified.  Then it was de-classified, and George Dyson was able to spend years collecting material.   But recently, it was all re-classified - doubtless because of the information on how quite small nuclear bombs can be configured.

So of course the thought occurs to me:  If one can build a small nuclear-bomb that has a detonation profile that allows for a focused blast - you want to focus the detonation on the "pusher-plate" of the spaceship - why not further shrink the uranium fission device (the nuclear bomb) down to a very small size, and use a parabolic-shaped pusher-plate (almost like a  traditional chemical-rocket thrust cone) and power the ship forward more efficently.

The "nuclear bomb" fuel-unit would be size and shape of an LED (light-emitting diode), and it's detonation would occur at the focal-point of a parabolic-shaped reaction thrust transfer plate.   This way, you catch and vector most of the resulting shock-wave from the (relatively small) nuclear explosion, and thus propell the vehicle forward.    This is basically the same way a bright, white-hot tungsten filament radiating in a vacuum, (in a car-headlight light-bulb), creates a beam of directed light.

The idea for a nuclear-powered spaceship is not anymore outlandish or extreme than any other technical device, designed along scientific principles.

What would really make this work, is if the "exploding" (ie. fissioable) uranium devices could be shrunk down to a very small degree,   Even better, of course, is if the entire nuclear-explosion could be initiated continously, using partical beams of reaction components - essentially vectored beams of reaction-grade atomic particles made to interact at velocities sufficient to create matter-to-energy conversion.  This seems a bit obvious - but in practice is difficult.  Instead of building tiny nuclear bombs which explode the uranium, one simply fires a narrow beam of the fissionable particles into a high neutron flux, sufficient to create the cascade "chain-reaction" that allows a nuclear fission device to operate.  Perhaps even a hybrid rocket-device could be created, where some kind of "mass injection" could be applied to ensure a constant rate of micro-level nuclear detonations - similar to how oxidizer interacts with conventional rocket fuel, to create the thrust reaction in a conventional chemical rocket.

A full-on atomic rocket-engine of this sort, could really only be operated in the vacuum of space, as the output would be fithly radioactive, no doubt.   But it could have a lot of power, perhaps.

There is actually a video made from a declassified 1950's film taken of an operational test-device:

Then of course, the whole question of fusion-reaction devices comes up.  Surely there must be some way the reactive energy-release that powers that thing we see everyday hanging in our sky (the Sun!) can be harnessed for ship operation.  The US Navy has funded some limited fusion-reactor research, and wasteful big-government/big-science no-energy-generated experiments are being massively funded in USA, England and Europe.   But the political scale and nature of those efforts are almost certain to produce no actionable commercial devices or even net-energy production.  The idiotic ITER reactor in France is even structured as essentially a 40-year lifetime physics-experiment!  That project - costing billions of dollars - has no timeline to any useful, actionable power-generation of any kind!  It is little more than a life-time sinecure for an entire generation of European physicists.

Fusion reaction to product usable energy output is crazy-difficult.  It has to be, or else there would not be any universe.  In order to reach fusion-reactive particle velocities, using electric power (ie. electron density), one needs a very high vacuum - roughly 10 to the minus 5 torr, and that means a mean-free path that a deuterium ion travels is around 1 cm.  You can get deuterium ions to circulate in a reaction chamber at these fusion-reactive velocities - but the net energy output is measured in nano-watts.   If you increase any parameter to get more fusion-reaction, (ie. more voltage, more deuterium, more containment-grid surface, etc), the reaction is poisoned, and no fusion occurs.   Fusion in stars (ie.the Sun), solves this problem by creating extreme gravitational density of the hydrogen material. And if you think about it - fusion *has* to be difficult, else everything would collapse into a big ball of boiling energy and nothing else.   Even conventional fission reactors basically operate on a knife-edge of operational stability.  Raise the neutron flux, and the uranium rods get white hot and everything melts (and burns and explodes chemically - as in Chernobyl and Fukushima), and too low a neutron-flux and the uranium rods do not get hot enough to produce useful energy output.  And the neutron-flux density is non-linearly gated by the physical position of the damping agents.  It's tricky to get even a fission reactor to work in a smoothly controlled manner.

In Ontario, roughly half our electric power comes from our big nuclear power plants.  Niagara Falls is not enough anymore.   The electricity that I am using to run the computers that let me type these words - has been generated by uranium atoms exploding and boiling water to make steam to spin the turbines that dump power to the grid.   (Thank-you again, Mr Tesla.)

But fusion is hard.  We made our IEC (Inertial Electrostatic Confinement) fusion reactor work, but the neutron output (the signature condition that proves nuclear fusion is occuring), was very small - roughly 10 to the 6 or 7 neutrons per second - ie. a million to 10 million neutrons per second - and this rate is so small, as to barely be detectable.  We used sensitive chemical dosimeters, the kind that nuclear workers at the power plants carry in their pockets to see if they have had accidental radiation exposure.    The x-ray output from a 1960's color TV was probably greater radiation output that our fusion reactor produces when it is running at optimal configuration.

So, fusion is difficult.  And it will stay difficult, until we (humans) have a better understanding of what causes gravity and how a gravity field scatters.  We clearly can get a nice, hot fusion reaction.  Just look up at the Sun.  It burns away there, 93 million miles away, but with sufficient energy output to cause me a nasty ultraviolet radiation burn on my skin, if I sit on the dock in the summer for more than an hour, on a sunny day at the cottage.  I have to wear radiation-protection gear (a tee-shirt and a wide-brimmed hat), else I get painful solar radiation burns and risk skin cancer.  We need not fear radiation - we just need to screen for it, and be careful not to get too much exposure.

But we need to build rockets and spacecraft that are more efficient and more powerful than the primitive and expensive vehicles we are using now.   And we need to be able to produce significant energy-output devices for our economic use, (heat houses, light up cities, power automobiles, etc.) without setting fire to stuff here on Earth, and burning up our own air with chemical fires.    Seems a bit obvious, does it not?

[ Nov. 5th, 2020 PM ] Our Hack of Buckaroo Banzai's Ford F-150, circa 2005, is For Sale - I have put my hacked F-150,  up for sale.   Figured I would put a picture on this site, and more details.  It's got 187,000 Km, and a few small holes (sanded and painted) in the side fenders (from winter salt, of course), and the 4.6 litre V8.  Great vehicle, but we are selling it "As Is" (no certification) for the bargain price of $3,000 Cdn.    This beast has *always* got me home.  You will have to fix the rust-holes in the fender's and rocker panels to get it certified, so it can be licensed.

No silly scams please - no PayPal nonsense or "please ship it too me" or any of that foolishness.  Available to citizen's and residents and dealers in Canada, located near Waterloo, in Southern Ontario.   

Go to the "Contact Us" option in the top Main Menu, and send me an email, if interested.  Thanx.

Really, this truck is an amazing piece of history.  It runs and runs and runs.  ðŸ˜Å½.   We've got a new one coming, so the old one is up for sale.  The new truck is nice - but it will not make the jump to the 8th dimension.  (At least not for now...)

Ever seen the "home movies" from the original "Project Orion"?  The Orion spacecraft was spec'ed out in the 1950's, and was to be powered by small atomic bombs, ejected from the bottom, and detonated.   The idea for this propulsion method was made evident when one of the physicists on the Manhattan Project went out into the desert where the Trinity test took place,and was able to find pieces of the tower where the device had sat as it exploded.  The explosion of an atomic bomb is actually pretty slow, and tests confirmed you really could use ejected - and then detonated - atomic bombs to power a spacecraft.  The explosion does not vapourize everything right away.  It was determined that you could actually surf on the generated shock wave, and get moving nice and quickly and even in a controlled fashion.

Project Orion was cancelled before a "first-flight" took place, sadly.  But we need to remember what an amazing time, the mid 1950's were.   In 1955, Albert Einstein died.   But births also happened.   Physics has little value, if it does not result in the creation of new and better devices to allow us to explore and exploit the Universe.  We create fiction, so as to have ourselves blueprints of and roadmaps to, the unknown unknowns.

[ Nov. 5, 2020 AM] Poor Boys and Pilgrims- Well, how about that?  It looks like Biden and the "Big Bag of Ballots" have managed to engineer what looks like a win for the Democrats.   When faced with these clever tricks - like taking the mail-in ballots, and sending them back to folks for "correction", or calling them in and " helping people correct them" - which we know for certain happened in at least one area in Philadelphia - how the heck can this really be called an honest election?   The Democrats didn't just pull the vote,  it looks like with the "Big Bag of Post-Election Ballots", they rather engineered it.

The wealthy and stealthy Democrats with their big mainstream media support machines in New York and California, and a few other key locations, have succeeded in engineering what looks like an election victory for their dull old man and their whooping woman.  I have to say, it certainly looks to have been an impressive piece of engineering.    Hunter Biden must be laughing and laughing and laughing.  

You don't need to stuff ballot boxes when you can have "mail-in" ballots that can be "corrected" by Democrats at the "send-to" address, do you?  Trump is not stupid - he knew - and explicitly expressed concern - that this pretty much would be what would happen with mass-mail-in voting action.

It looks like Democracy came to the USA - looked around a little, got mugged and kicked to the curb, and then decided to leave.   Too bad, really.   Nothing beautiful lasts.

I'm sure the market will love this outcome - and the planning for the Biden Budget Binge Bloat will begin.  I hope someone stands up with a copy of Biden's "State of the Union" speech (if he manages to actually give one), and rips it in half as he is speaking.

Maybe God will express His disgust, and offer some action that tilts the outcome.   We actually expected Biden in a bit of a landslide, but were not happy about that outcome.    A strong and focused and prosperous USA is what the world needs.   For all his many faults - Mr. Trump was actually delivering on that outcome.   The pocket-fillers and time-servers in the Donkey Party will just create more safety-culture social fisting in the name of "progressive" political public planning programs.   And all it will do is further anger and restrict the honest and self-financing folks who are the source of American prosperity.  

We see nothing positive coming from a Biden victory.  But the numbers suggest that that outcome has been successfully engineered.    Oh my.

[ Nov. 4, 2020 ] Indiana Wants Me (And So Does Pennsylvania!  And Michigan, and North Carolina and Texas and Florida ... ) - Looks like Donald Trump has done it.  There are some questions about how the Demorat ballot-box stuffing operation in Philly will report their late results  (I mean, I love those "cheese-steak" sandwiches, but not everything else in Philly is quite as good...).   Just kidding, about that ballot-box stuffing.  I think they do it all quite differently now.  The trick, of course, is to exclude the scrutineers - what they call "certified poll-watchers" in USA-land.    Clearly, it looks like Pennsylvania voted for Trump, but something curious seems to be delaying some of the results.  Last I looked, it was just over 50% of the polls reporting.    (Box stuffing is hard work?  - just kidding folks!   (I hope...))

The Democrat machine outspent the GOP folks by a very large margin in this election.   But as history shows, you can't always buy an election.   And after Mr. Biden's curious comment about shutting down and ending all oil & gas drilling in USA and so on - you have to wonder how the heck anyone could have voted for the fellow.  But these are strange times.

I've been watching a Canadian news channel - the over-the-air video feed from CTV.  I have to keep the sound muted because the chatter is so annoying - but the reported numbers are pretty clear.  Biden get's confirmed early as the winner in all the very wealthy, leftist States - NY, Calif, Mass, Conn, Colorado, etc. - but it has been interesting to see Trump win just about everywhere else - including what looks to be decisive wins in Texas and Florida, which were must-win States.

It's after 1:00am now, and the TV networks and pundits are still not declaring a winner.  Sure looks like it must be Trump, but what with all the "mail-in" madness, it may be a while before Trump's win is confirmed.   I am surprised - but not too surprised.  Our AI model has been forecasting a rising market, and yesterday we got a solid move up again.  We've gone to mostly cash in one portfolio, and I have remained "all-in" fully invested, in my personal account.  Really, it was a "Knight's Fork" - either man would be market positive, but Trump is probably a medium-to-long term better choice, market-wise.  (Full DIsclosure:  I hate Chess.  I think it's a silly game.  )

What happens to the stock market tomorrow (later today, I mean...) ?   History suggests a strong up-trending market - but there is always the "... sell the News" phenomenon.   We expect to see "Up!", but are actually well-positioned to act if we see a sharp down-move.

[Later:]  It's now almost 3:00 am EST, and I watch the press conference where an angry President Trump expressed disgust at not being declared the election winner, when clearly, that is what has happened.   The Democrats really look like they are scrambling around to "find" some more ballots.   Our count shows Trump with 280 Electoral College votes - sufficient for him to clearly be declared the winner.   But it is playing out exactly as Mr. Trump said it would - the Democrats - who have taken New York and California - and thus think they can control the USA - are now planning an "Al Gore"-style court-fight (as they look for some more ballots they can stuff into the process...).   

Trump is angry and calls this great tub of "mail-in" ballots bogus, and a "fraud on the American people" and he is quite right.   Interesting that he predicted exactly this outcome.

This looks really curious and a bit fishy & funny - as if the entire election vote-counting was suddenly **stopped**, so the Demorats could figure out how to *count* some additional ballots to put their guy into power.   It must really be making the backroom boys (and "girls") in the Demorat machine angry to loose so much of the South to Mr. Trump.  

[ Nov. 3, 2020 ] Rock the Casbah- Birth and Pain, Profit and Gain.  Let's have some Fun, and as we're Pushed into the Train.  We come to the Camp by the Light of the Lamp, and we Smell and we Feel the Decay and the Damp.    We're Living by Numbers in the Government Spout, and we Watch with Dismay, as the Money Runs Out.  Like Leon, we Ask, "How Long Have I Got?" and the Last Thing we See, is the Red Laser Dot.

[ Nov. 2, 2020 ] - Bottle of Smoke - Things are not only strange and nasty - they are wrong!   We were supposed to get a major redemption of some securities in a couple of our accounts today.  One bank gave us the wrong amount (and they shorted us by *thousands*), and another bank we deal with - they just didn't give us any money at all!  Maybe it's T+3 again?   We can't even get thru on the telephone lines.    Curious.

Tomorrow is election day in the USA.  Lucky them.   Things just don't seem to be working very well here now.  Nothing - except FedEx and UPS - seems to be working correctly.   Comical, really.   At least we are not dying of SARS-Cov-2.  At least, not today!   🤪

And I think it is just simple demographics.  We have reached one of those pivotal points, where the folks who designed and built the world, and knew how to make it all work well - they have all retired.  The current crop of folks taking over - they maybe have almost no clue - they perhaps are just going thru the motions, and must be expecting the computer will do all the heavy lifting and coordination.  Could this explain some of the serial, ongoing, constant failure-weirdness I keep seeing in so many places lately?

Really, we are insanely lucky.  Snow last nite - but it all melted today.  Went car (well, turns out - truck..) shopping today.  Found a pretty piece.  Research tonite shows tech-data is ok - the unit we looked at has "Much Better Than Average" engine and drivetrain reliability record.  Still have to check recalls, and what the forums say.    I like that the ride we looked at has an extra set of tires and rims.   Can't have too many spare parts.  

I have a feeling living thru the next couple of years is going to be a tad challenging.  One might want to have a lot of spare equipment.  There are these stories in Canada, about folks who had these cars stashed in barns, up on blocks in the 1930's.  They had paid cash for them in the 1920's, but by 1932, could not even afford to buy gasoline for them - so the cars went into the barn, any gas was only for the tractor, and a horse and buckboard wagon was the transport into town.  This was the story for many farm people.

But then suddenly, everything changed.  Young guys who didn't have cars, and could also not pay for gas, were, by 1940, charging thru the sky in twin-engine bombers and fast fighters,   using truckloads of petrol each day.   They were mostly 20+ year-old kids learning new skills - like how to execute precision bombing runs over Algonquin Park.   And of course, a lot of those kids who learned how to carefully and accurately bomb European cities, never came home.   

For Nov. 11th, imagine being shot at with fragmenting artillery shells, while flying at night.  Sorta might take a bit of the raw fun out of flying, I would expect.  And you really would not want to be the "Ball Turret Gunner".  Remember? ... the guy who gets washed out of the shattered plexiglass sphere with a steam-hose?  Somehow, I got  a book of poetry, when I was a kid, and that poem was in it.  It's five-line short format stuck with me, it seems...    

War might be exciting, and everyone can get a good job and a fine income and have an adventure and all, but it is still best avoided - if it can be.   Unless your nation's freedom is threatened, of course.  Then everyone goes.   But it's curious - you sign up to a project where you surrender almost all of your personal freedom - but in the name of a cause where your objective is to fight to protect your nation's freedom.  Strange trade - but so obviously necessary at certain historical pivotal-points.

[ Oct. 31, 2020 - Nov. 1, 2020] This is Halloween - I always liked that crazy "Nightmare Before Christmas" film quite a lot.   The "Donald Duck" knock-off character in the wheel-chair was particularly amusing.  We highly recommend that little cinematic gem.  Here is the intro to the Russian version, which really takes it up a notch:

(all they need now is the Novichok... Somehow, this version seems a lot more sinister...)  Well done, Mr. Burton.

My Covid-19 test was negative, so that is good... I think.  So, looks like I just have seasonal flu, which historically, pretty much everyone here gets in the Fall.  What is a concern is that the infection rates are ramping up pretty much everywhere now, in North America and Europe.  We are in "hunker-down" mode here now, and it looks like France and Germany are going to return to lockdown-status tomorrow or Monday.   (The unspoken subtext here, is of course: "fat lot of good it will do them..." - but we don't say that, do we?)

We continue to grow uneasy with the degree to which disinformation has become the norm in the electronic world.  As most folks are trying to be prudent and avoid super-spreader events, and hence remain at home and socialize only thru electronic means, it seems to us that this cannot help but become increasingly problematic, if misdirection, obfuscation, data-hiding and outright scamming continue to become an increasing percentage of the data-com traffic.  Do we reach point where trust is just lost?  Or will we witness old-fashioned madness, but linked to social-electronic constructs?   

We run these "thought-experiment" strategic scenarios - such as: "What if there was Television, in the time of the 1300's, when the "Black Death" Plague began raging across Europe?" Even without electronic social linkages, some very curious ideas gained currency and were taken seriously during the time of the Black-Death bubonic plague.

I recently read a book written in the late 1800's, about the "Dancing Sickness" that was traced to the times of the Plague.  An uncontrollable urge to dance violently, was actually documented - and recognized by medical professionals - as a real affliction, and many case examples of this "illness" are documented.  (This "dance-disease" idea survives to this day, as the "Tarantela" - rapid music for a vigourous dance that was thought to be the only cure for having been bitten by a Tarantula spider.)

Tonight is the night the Spirits of the Dead are supposed to have a chance to return to be with the living for a little while - at least in European/Western culture.  For the Mexican Catholics, the "Day of the Dead" is tomorrow, November 1st, I believe.     Of course, as a child - we all associated Halloween with free candy and chocolate bars.

But with Covid-19 cases on the rise again, I doubt there is any "trick-or-treat" action now.  There is a spectacular full-moon tonight.  And it is very cold, with a clear sky to allow it to be seen.  If any Spirits were to visit, they would find lovely conditions, with excellent visibility.  

It would be a beautiful night for some night-flying - the cold air is thick and very still, and would offer excellent engine and aerodynamic flight performance and wonderful views of electrically-lit cityscapes.

We should enjoy such viewscapes, and also these times of peace and prosperity.  Nothing beautiful lasts...

It's true.

[ Oct. 29, 2020 ] 1984 to 2020 - The 36 Years of the Dance of Decay?   Unclear.  It is perhaps difficult to make effective use of artificial intelligence in a world where so little of the human kind is being applied to the political world.

We seem to be seeing an increasing drift towards the very awful.   Another horrible Islamo-Fascist attack in France - some Islam-person ran into a Church in Nice, and grabbed a woman and beheaded her - literally cut her head off - screaming the usual "Allah Akbar".  Then he murdered the Church warden and another women by stabbing them.   The woman was in her sixties, and was in Church.   Think how awful if must have been for her - and the others.  Of course, if this happened in Canada, Trudeau and his Liberal collective in Ottawa would doubtless blame the knife the attacker used.  We live in very curious times, which are growing stranger by the day.  

The USA election is obscuring useful information streams.  The idiocy of the modern approach to fighting terrorism - ie. installing tracking software into our cell-phones, and weakening computer security and encryption technology - is being quietly highlighted as unwise by a single Senator in the USA.  Their NSA - the curiously named "National Security Agency" - has been mandating that all data-communications technology (routers and internet gateway equipment), as well as even servers and cell-phones (some believe), are to be compromised with "back-door" access methods, to allow monitoring by these USA spy agencies.  

This is a "fake secret"  among those who work with internet communications software, and really anyone who looks carefully.  We all know this is being done.  The Snowden data-releases explained pretty much exactly what was happening.  It's cost the fellow his life, pretty much.  He lives as a refugee in Russia, and the Americans want his head, of course.

Here are the reported details of the current political debate:

The problem with installing "back door access" to allow the spy agencies to access the network data communications flow, is that it weakens and degrades the entire internet infrastructure.  And using weak or compromised encryption is much worse. It puts the entire economy at risk.

Active tracking software - which can exfiltrate all the data on a private Apple iPhone, is already in active use, and has been used to monitor communication and to track a person's location for many years now.   In some cases - such as the Khashoggi murder in Turkey - it has also been used to kill the person.

And there are now over 1 billion Apple iPhone users in the world.

But this this whole "Collect It All and Exploit It All" spy agency approach, has not made the world safer, or more secure.  In fact, it has done exactly the opposite, and created a dangerously fragile economic infrastructure, than can be degraded and manipulated by Agency operatives and private criminals with much greater ease than many people are aware.

This runs the risk of creating a mass loss-of-confidence in the entire financial infrastructure of the world.

This has not happened yet - but it is almost certain to, at some point in the not-distant future.

The operational process of a social-financial confidence-loss would look like a cascading "run on a bank".  It's unclear exactly how it would play out.   But the combination of bad economic policy, and the spy-state social model that the NSA and it's supporters are actively engineering, risks the operational integrity of the entire global financial infrastructure.

These spy-guys and the political dimwits who champion the "backdoor-access" and weak-encryption, just do not understand that they are actively degrading the *money integrity* of the world.   When this madness is combined with the modern strategy of "economic sanctions" and the expanding scope of "anti-money laundering" laws, a toxic cocktail of systemic risk can be seen to be in active development.

The political people and their spy-folks do not seem to realize that when money is damaged and made untrustworthy as a *thing* - folks don't necessarily switch to different money.  But they do reduce spending, saving and earning.  We see the success and the rise of things like Bitcoin and the other digital currencies.

But the problem is not folks switching to different money - the main problem is that economic activity is actively degraded and prevented.  A lot of business that would have otherwise happened - just does *not* happen.   This was the case in the European Eastern-Bloc nations under Communism.   The only business-development activity was done by the corrupt and inefficient State.   So the Eastern nations were poor, stayed poor, and got poorer as time went by.

Wrecking the value of and trust in - money - is what poor encryption and mass-monitoring implies.  If all your private communication is monitored by State Spy Agency operatives, and your data-communication is required to be transmitted over insecure, "back-door" built corrupt data-communications hardware, then many sane and sensible people who might otherwise engage in profitable business enterprises may simply say: "Why bother?  Why should  I enter into a crooked game, where some secret guys see all the cards everyone is holding?"

This is a subtle and yet very real risk, that comes from the creation of a "spy culture" enabled by the use of weak encryption technology, and mass-monitoring of all citizens.  

Think about it.  If you know that some guy is watching all the cards in the game - and now and then, makes an arbitrary decision about who can play, do you really even want to participate?

The Spy Agency operatives can mostly do nothing to actually stop acts of terrorism.

But they - and the unwise political people who arrange their massive funding - can be *very* effective at degrading the integrity of the entire economic process of a free and open society.

It's not something that most people realize.   The politicians - with the exception of a very few - are unwise, and unaware.

Islam is an ugly religion which has a literal concept of "holy war" at the very centre of it's profoundly grotesque belief system.  It operates in the modern world as a god-sanctioned murder cult.   No amount of communications systems monitoring activity is going to offer any protection from those who adhere to the philosophy of a murder-cult, and are motivated by the abusive nonsense that is promoted by Islamic "scholars".

Rather than corrupting and degrading the operation of our data and financial system communication infrastructure, we should simply declare a base-line set of values that define what a free society is, and then actively *exclude* all those who do not wish to adhere to these values.  Of course, this is not at all possible in the current political climate.

Modern political thinking appears to exclude the possibility of any action that is sensible or rational.

As we have said more than once - these are curious times.

[ Oct. 28, 2020 ] Dancing in the Dark - Managed to get my Covid-19 PCR test today.   Feeling a bit better, also.  Still have no fever.  (Data says many folks do not  - some even asymptomatic...)

Market was not feeling so good today.  DJInd Index down over 900 points.  Financials unwound, and Cdn dollar took a dive, as oil and gold prices tanked.  Gnarly day.

The C_Machine forecast says we can expect a drift upwards from here.  We shall see if it is on the money or not.  My trader's sense is that we get one more down day, so I was surprised to the see the C_Machine tilt the forecast curve upwards.  (See Oct. 28, 2020 top panel..).   FD.  We remain long, all in.

[ Oct. 27, 2020 ] We Are Living in a Strange World Run by The Unwise - There are times one does not know whether to laugh, cry or just curse.  I've spent most of the day trying to set up a Covid-19 test.  Turns out if you have any symptoms at all, you can't get a test easily.  It is difficult now,  and is - in all cases now - BY APPOINTMENT ONLY.  

So, the only Covid-19 tests are at high-infection areas at Hospital clinics.

This is unwise.  We should be encouraging testing, but the procedure that is now in place, basically is back to the standard "denial-of-service" model that our government health-care system is famous for using.

As there is strong and clear evidence of a second-wave of virus infections spreading quickly around the world - we should be ramping *UP* quick-testing, not closing it down.   Our Health Minister has dropped the ball here.    We actually had procedures in place - and these have now been removed and cancelled - just at the point where these procedures were most necessary for public health and safety.   This makes me a bit angry, truth be told.  It is unwise.

I suppose I have no choice, but to get involved in the politics here.   Not what I want at all.  


Two useful Covid-19 action-items here, both from the NEJM (New England Journal of Medicine).

First, cats can carry the SAR-CoV-2 virus, and easily infect other cats.  The cats can be asymptomatic.  The ones in this study were.   Cats were infected. They were shown to be effective carriers of the virus, and airborne transmission of the virus to other cats housed with the infected cats took place, so that all cats became infected.  It is possible that feline to human transmission could occur, thought this is not proven yet.  No virus material was detected in the cat feces.

Second, despite the disinformation promulgated by the World Health Organ, there is clear and solid evidence that Remdesivir offers real benefit - detailed study in NEJM shows it reduces recovery time and also reduces the chances of lung infection.  Total patients in study was over 1048, half got remdesivir, half got placebo.   Outcomes: for the not real sick - recovery time with remdesivir was a median of 10 days, versus median of 15 days for placebo, and for sicker folks, it was 11 days (median) for recovery with remdesivir, 18 days (median) recovery time for the sicker folks (in the severe disease stratum).  Total in the severe-stratum was 957 patients.   Read the article.  It's short and clear:

I trust the NEJM.  This Remdesivir trial is solid science, and the WHO is being dishonest and unhelpful, when it suggests that the remdesivir is not effective.  As usual, it seems.   God Bless America.  I am serious here.  If we left medical research to the UN bureaucrats and European civil-servants, we would still be using leeches and believing that malaria was caused by bad air.  Trump is right about the WHO.  It is a too-political organ that needs to be repaired or defunded.

The asset-base of a technology enterprise and/or a financial services operation is it's people.  If the people sicken and die, then that is not good.  Not very good at all.  

We are not doing a very good job at delivering health-care services in Canada.   It's pretty sad, actually.

[ Oct. 26, 2020 ]  Dante's Prayer - We seem to be between Fire and Ice.  The ocean is threatening a tsunami, and the volcano is smoking and belching fire and lava.  It reminds me of a cartoon I saw many years ago - a villager runs down from the mountain into the village, shouting "The volcano is erupting! Run to the beach!".   Another runs up from the beach, screaming "A tsunami is coming!  Run to the mountain!".  They stop, all the villagers look at both of them - and finally, someone says "Ah!  To the Bar!" and off they ran for a last drink.

In the end, I suppose all we can ask is to be remembered.    >--..--<

[ Oct. 24, 2020 ]   11:59 - Went and bought some off-the-shelf pharmacuticals yesterday - comical, the pricing of such stuff.   Inquired about SARS-CoV-2 testing - and it is just not on, it turns out.  There are only two testing places in a city of 300,000+ where I live, that I have been able to locate by various inquires.  And both require that one make an appointment online using some stupid website.  JFC!

No wonder Ontario is showing so few Covid-19 cases!   Nobody can easily: A) access a doctor, since there are no doctors that take new patients around here, and B) the Covid-19 testing locations require that one have high-speed internet access and be online - and be willing to drop all one's medical information onto some stupid website.   I talked to a Pharmacist who was disgusted by this idiocy - and we both agreed that "this really sucks."    Of course, Covid-19 testing should be *encouraged* and should be available in a real-time, drive-thru rapid-response style service delivery model.   But nothing of the kind exists here.   There was a testing centre at the Catalyst offices, but apparently it is now *web-appointment-only*.  FFS & WTF.   What more can be said?

Medical services availability and quality in Canada does not even come close to what is available in Asia or Europe.  Even the USA is better - in some places.  Apparently, the socialist model works great in Ottawa, and in parts of Toronto, if you know someone.  But outside of the cities, there is pretty much nothing.  There are no longer *any* doctors who make house-calls.  

When I was a tiny child - my parents could call the doctor, and he would come in the middle of the night, if necessary.   Now, no such service exists anywhere.  You drive to an "Emergency" department at some hospital, and they harvest your OHIP number, and tell you to wait.  And you wait and wait and wait, and either die, or leave.   It's pretty comical, really.   And it's a great business model, since you only need one doctor in each hospital.  (Sometimes, you don't even get that.  I once went to a "regional" hospital with a slashed-foot from a dog-bite.  The number-harvester who took down my OHIP information, said "Oh, you're lucky!  *The doctor* is here today!"   Seriously.   They only had one single working doctor in the whole big hospital!)

The local hospital "Emergency" place is just a big office-area for harvesting OHIP numbers so that billings can be made.  The business model of the place is to get one to give the personal data at a little window, and then, once they have your "Ontario Hospital Insurance Plan" number, they tell you wait in a chair, in a room full of sick people coughing, and you stay there until you get so frustrated and disgusted, you leave.  This works well for the hospital, for they can still invoice the Provincial medical insurance scheme for a patient treatment, and the patient has no way to control or even monitor the payment process.  And the medical insurance scheme - OHIP - has no way to verify or confirm that any treatment has been provided.   It's absurd.

Of course, all it would take would be a simple change to the process, whereby the patient has to provide confirmation that treatment was received, before the insurance plan could be invoiced.  But no-one wants to go there.  No one wants a system that offers any authority to the patient.  It is pretty amusing, really.   The hospital "Emergency" units are worse than useless, sadly.  But this does keep people healthy.   If one keeps well clear of modern medicine, it is probably for the best, especially in Canada.   Our "Socialist" medical service delivery model is based on a standard "denial of service" strategy, and it works pretty well - for the medical people.

But they sure as heck are not *heros*.  Let's be clear about that.

But, death comes to us all, eventually, and so it is not worth really getting too upset about this.  For me, it is just amusing that I can remember when it was *not* like this, and when there were some really good and dedicated and professional high-quality folks involved in the practice of Medicine.   But those days are over.   

Anyway, I am still having trouble breathing.  I've got some off-the-shelf stuff that helps a bit, but my own knowledge of Occam's sharp Razor, tells me quietly that I should probably at least try to get a test for the Covid-19 thing.   See, I am up and down - feeling Ok, then feeling bad, then OK, and then bad.  And I am dizzy.  These are not good signs, and are typical of an immune-response in operation.   I am normally and typically very healthy.   But all men are mortal.  And Socrates was a man...

[ Oct. 22, 2020 ] (Should Not Have Got On) This Flight Tonight - I always thought this was the Nazareth song - all the Joni Mitchell / Woodstock thing happened before my time - but Joni Mitchell wrote this song.  Of course, her version is terse and genius...

(If you leave autoplay option on, the Nazareth version come on after Joni's.  That's the version I knew.  The Austrian "Spotlight" performance by Nazareth is pretty good...)

Joni's version:

I think I might have the Covid thing.  Head spinning, difficulty breathing...   thought I was getting better - but even with a high-grade and well-working immune system, I seem to be getting worse, not better.   There aren't really any medical services where I live - except the crowded and toxic hospital "Emergency Rooms".  We don't actually have any "doctors" anymore in Canada, except in Toronto and Ottawa (where the Government offices are).  It's pretty comical - but it also keeps us healthy.

Nazareth version:

Should not have got on this flight tonite...  :)

I've taken a bunch of anti-histamines, and am feeling like I can actually breath and metabolize air again.   I had no idea Joni Mitchell was so good.  Her later albums were different than her amazing early stuff.  (I had no idea there even was a "Mama Cass Show"!  Where was this stuff when I was a youngster??? )

This is an amazing piece of TV...

Look at the quality of this TV production.  It is just plain good.  There is *nothing* on TV at all like this anymore,  TV now is like that New Yorker Cartoon: "Childcrap".   Joni was young, but she wrote music for adults.   So good...

I feel like Leon in Blade Runner.   "What's my insep-date?   How long do I have?"  ðŸ˜

I see my life come shining...

And this performance below is just wildly good.   Before my time - but just genius work.  Like Mozart + Carl Sandberg, mixed, distilled, and the essence poured into a slender young genius girl, who could operate a piano and make it become a poet's pen.  Astonishingly excellent - spare, sparse, clear focused and perfect.  Est Est Est.

"I feel like a cog in something turning...   ... life is for learning... "

We get back to the garden alright.  We *become* the garden.  Just as my two former best  friends now have in their small graves - a pair of Jack Russel terriers.  Still miss them...

--- 30 ---

[ Oct. 21, 2020 ] Comfortably Numb - The interesting insight from recent action: The stock market did not realize that Google was a monopoly.  The Alphabet (symb: GOOG) share price is up another 40 bucks today, to $1595/shr level.  The Wall Street yarbs and yobs thought it was just another big, fat, techo-company, with a fat advert revenue stream flowing into it's moat.   I realize now, they did not recognize it as a monopoly-process, and are now rushing to acquire the shares because of this new knowledge.  THis is what comes of being inside the forest - you really cannot see the forest, if you are inside it - it just looks like natural stuff growing around you.    You cannot see the forest for the trees, as the old expression goes.

But if you are outside the forest - on the "null-arbor" plain (there really is a massive grassland-desert in Australia by this name), then you scan a different picture-of-the-world.  And it is these internal pictures-of-the-world that determine market prices, as folks fight it out in the market scrum.  

If you interact in any way with a major like Google, or Apple or IBM - you realize almost immediately that you are dealing with monopolists or wanna-be monopolists.  They control every aspect of everything they possibly can - and this makes sense, since if they know this is the only way to survive.   You have to extend and ensure complete control of that which is around you, or just random events (never mind toxic and malevolent actions of thieves and criminals) will engineer your destruction.  

Control is critical (and yet utlimately impossible), because it is all that stands between survival and death.    A monopolistic entity is just trying to avoid an early death.  Just the way all ologopoly models (business combinations) fail (because the participants almost certainly have different cost-structures), all monopoly-efforts are likely to fail in the future.  

A great example is the early Brazilian monopoly on natural rubber - and the amazing story of how the wild rubber trees of Brazil, became the root-stock for the massive rubber plantations in Malaysia.

The development of synthetic rubber - made from crude oil - in the second world war, has been critical to the mass deployment of the automobile.   The breaking of the intial Brazilian monopoly on natural rubber (by virtue of the British explorer Henry Wickham smuggling out seeds to be planted at Kew Gardens in London in 1876) allowed rubber seedlings to be sent first to Ceylon and then to the Botanical research gardens in Singapore.   The first scientific director of the Singapore gardens - Henry Nicholas Ridley - devised a method whereby the rubber trees could be tapped without damaging them.  He worked hard to teach the method to Malaysians and develop a rubber industry on a plantation basis.  Goodyear's invention of "vulcanization" - which made the natural rubber stable over a wide temperature range - allowed rubber products to be developed - shoes, coats, gloves, car-tires, etc. - which helped to create the modern world.

All monopoly efforts typically fail - but sometimes, they are *forced* to fail.  If the economic stakes are high enough, then something will give way, and the monopoly economic model (=> restricted supply or low output, to support high demand at high prices) will give way to a model where high-output, easy availability of supply will support high demand at low prices.

Even so-called "natural" monopoly-providers - such as the American Telephone Company - found that they could not sustain their monopoly.  Cellular (wireless) telephone service - once married to digitial high-bandwidth radio communication, was able to offer a better alternative communication model, just as early radio had overtaken telegraph and electric-cable communication, about 80 years earlier.

Of course, the monopolists fight tooth and nail to keep their "catbird seats".   Once you have engineered an economic machine that vomits money and all forms of wealth at you and your associates, you are not happy to see it threatened with change of any kind.

But the change will *always* come.   The clever folks who built the monopoly will age and die, and spoiled and abusive children will take it over, with the assumption that the free-ride will continue, and the money-river will continue to flow into their pockets, wallets and vaults.  At the same time, those who suffer the high-prices and low-output levels the monopolist has to maintain to keep the monopoly operating - will grit their teeth, suffer frustration, and spend every waking moment thinking  how they can end what they see as the unfair and abusive regime that the monopolist has engineered.

And this becomes the powerful motivation for change and development of alternatives.  Economists have these dry technical expressions and models which chart this process - terms such as "marginal rate of substitution" are used, and describe how much of one product users will use of a different product, when the price-cost of the first product rises outside of their demand-comfort zone of affordability.

But really, it is an emotional reaction typically.  You see prices jacked up, and supply being withheld in order to support higher prices - or some idiot Government regulator tries to artificially set lower prices - and thus removes virtually *all* supply because the market cannot now clear - and frustration and anger spawn the search for alternatives.  First, of course, the Government price-regulators machines must be dragged into the street and beaten and smashed and broken to pieces.  Market prices must prevail.   That is the best way to crush monopoly efforst.   And then, if the Government wants to do something useful, they can simply remove the legal protections that the monopolists enjoy.  That is usually enough.

The key, is that that it is the actions of other *marketplace* participants who will engineer the death of abusive monopoly structures.    All Governments need to do, is just stop the legal nonsense that protects the monopolists from preventing supply from coming forward into the marketplace.  That means removing restrictive tarrifs on outside or external products of a similar nature, and removing the legal protections that allow monopolists to stomp the small folks who offer effective competition - using the courts.

For example:  IBM had legal language that prevented customers from *tampering* with their own computers.  Typically, IBM would sell degraded equipment at lower prices, and then if the customer wanted more *power*, an IBM "engineer" would come in and flip a switch internally, which would increase computer-power and speed substantially.  This was a common industry trick.  Customers needed only to be allowed to *maintain* their own equipment, in order for the early IBM mainframe monopoly to be broken - as simple legal fix.

This same idiocy is happening again, with the Apple and Android *unrepairable" phones.  Apple can create software "upgrades" that in fact, degrade iPhone operation, and cause the battery to wear out quickly.   And Apple also designes the iPhone so the battery cannot be replaced - the device cannot even be easily opened up!   Users are forced to *upgrade* their degraded and software-damaged iPhones every few years.

Huawei, by contrast - sells and Android-phone almost the same size and with virtually the same functionality as the iPhone - but it can be easily opened, and a new battery can be inserted.  I have used my Huawei phone for several *years* now - it can be accessed easily by open-source software running on my CentOS-Linux boxes, and I an migrate files and images and computer-programs  to and from my Huawei Android smartphone.  None of this is possible (easily) on an iPhone.  The iPhone is locked, and it is not even possible to run code on the thing that allows locally-built non-Apple code to be run on it - unless you go through a complicated process of "jailbreaking" the iPhone or iPad tablet.   This is monopolistic action on Apple's part, to prevent competition, and to also prevent people from keeping their iPhones working over long periods of time.  Apple needs to degrade your iPhone with *upgrades*, so you are forced into buying a new one.  And the devices are not cheap.  My partner paid over $800 for her iPhone 8, which is massively beyond what it costs to manufacture the device - perhaps a 10 times markup.

Apple is an abusive and amazing monopoly.  They also explicitly - just like IBM used to do - try to prevent anyone from even *repairing* or trying to maintain an older, degraded iPhone.   The solution to the Apple monopoly is simple legal relief from the abusive practices that Apple mandates.

If the Department of Justice were to go after any of these BigTech monster monopolists - Apple should be the first in their cross-hairs.  Curious that this is not the case.

But we think we know exactly what is happening.  And it is ugly and sad.   Apple is in close cahoots with the USA spy agencies, and the Apple iPhones are used to track and monitor the actions of everyone who uses the things.  This is not a surprise to any analyst who just looks.

And this information is in fact detailed carefully on the Snowden Slides.   I believe that Snowden was a true patriot.   He tried to warn people what was happening.  Julian Assange helped him escape from the USA, and now both men are being destroyed, and even their families attacked.

The world is an ugly place, run by cruel and very bad people.   And Apple has made a pact with the Devil, and quietly (not so quietly, really), helps them.  This includes both China and USA governments.  So, despite the idiotic theatre that we see every so often in the *news*, Apple operates like a "made guy" in the Mafia-world of modern State-craft.     They literally get away with economic-murder, because they build the "tracking devices" that everyone now voluntarily carry around with themselves.   It is actually pretty comical.  Winston Smith and Julia carry the monitor-screen in their pockets and purses.

The above sounds like goofy "conspiracy theory" stuff, but it is not.  There is no "conspiracy".  This is just a fact of modern life.   Apple and Cisco deliver all all metadata to the NSA, and probably the Huawei folks do the same thing for Chinese intelligence services.  The British try to record every single thing, and Canada's CRE (Communications Research Establishment) in Ottawa does a lot of the heavy lifting to make all this work.  This is not a secret at all.  Everyone knows this, and Leonard Cohen even wrote a song about 40-odd years ago.

I hate the iPhone with passion, but everyone who has one loves it.  I like my Huawei, I can change the battery if I need to, and I can migrate files and programs between my Linux boxes and the Android Huawei phone - but I don't dare upgrade it, as I am pretty sure the FTP transfer code (written by a German fellow), will probably stop working.  And my iPad (which is wonderful, once I  did the RedSn0w jailbreak of it, using Russian software), is wonderful.  Because once jailbroken, and with GEMESYS DOSBox installed, I can run a full APL environment with a 5 megabyte workspace, and full graphics on it.  It is a wonderful and magical tool, once root-access and SCP (encrypted FTP) was enabled via Cydia.  But we cannot sell anything we build using this, because of Apple's restrictive, anti-compatitive practices.  The Apple iStore controls it all, and the Cydia community is too small to even be seen.

And this really should change.  Really.  It should just be changed.  All that has to happen, is that the law needs to mandate that computing-device owners should be legally given the right to acquire full *root* access to their own devices, and install whatever software they see fit.  And of course, that means full encryption software.  And software makers should be allowed to develop methods to allow their software to be installed on any computing device.   We already have a terrible security problem with malicious hacking.  This won't make it worse - it may well make it better - as anti-virus and device-control software - firewalls, gateways, packet-level obfuscation programs, etc - can be used to enhance user security and project device uses from malicious and evil actions.

All that is stopping this sensible approach from being taken, is that it is now the "Governments" of the world, which are benefiting the most from the restrictive, anti-competitive procedures that the companies like Apple and Google are using.   And also by the news-manipulation tricks that the likes of Facebook and Twitter are employing.   It's all so ugly and awful that is comical, really.

Right now - the Government of Thailand - really just a group of military criminals, and a deeply corrupt "King" -  are trying to force the internet providers of Thailand to pevent the application "Telegram" from operating, as it allows encrypted communication, and is being used by kids to assemble "flash-mobs" of young people protestings the idiotic and astonishing thefts of Thailand property by it's corrupt King and ruling military Junta.   The King of Thailand has an appointment with a lampost and a rope at some point in the near future, we suspect.

As to the folks who own "Sandvine" now, we can only hope they can see what their *censorship* technology is being used for.  A leading democracy activist from Thailand, living in exile in Cambodia, was recently kidnapped off the street, and is persumed to have been murdered.  He was - we expect - location-tracked by deep-packet inspection technology.  The ugly and abusive crackdown against election-fraud protestors in Belarus, and routine jail-killings by the "police" of Belarus - is a similar tragedy being facilitated by citizen mass-tracking.  This is not about censorship - this is about mass-tracking being used to kill people the corrupt regimes want to silence.  It's getting very nasty now.

Companies like the "Sandvine" owners - Francisco Partners - who actively facilitate kidnapping and political murder - may well find themselves subject to similar "street action".   We do not encourage or support illegal actions of any kind - but we also cannot be too surprised when Newtons's Third Law is applied to politics.  ðŸ˜Å½

The curious result - which any good analyst should be able to see - is that by allowing abusive monopoly-entities like Apple and Google to restrict and control the technology people buy and use, the world is made less safe, and democracy itself is slowlying being undermined.

Technology which started out as a liberating force - is now being transformed quietly into an ugly tool for social monitoring, control and even assault and murder.  We have to fix this.

Smaller companies like Sandvine - which sell explicit /block-censor-track/ deep-packet inspection technology to corrupt "Third-World" State agencies, and the larger companies that maintain restrictive monopoly-control of the tracking-devices - all this creates a technological constellation that is now being used to kill innocent people fighting for democratic freedom.  Was this really what we wanted to happen?   Rhetorical question, sure - but this is how it is now playing out.

[ Oct. 20, 2020 ] Breaking up is (Not) Hard to Do - Well, I guess if we can't kill Twitter, then we can at least break up Google.   The US DOJ (Dept. of Justice) finally filed their anti-trust lawsuit against them today (Oct. 20, 2020).  About time.    I used to be a great fan of Google, but then I watched in complete astonishment and surprise, as they manipulated and process-phacked us so badly, that we had to give up on having any apps in their tricky company "PlayStore".   

It was really ugly.  All our "Apps" were completely free, and had no advertising or tricky in-app required purchases.    First, Google said they said there was a security risk in a module we were using - an SDL (Simple Direct-Media Layer) component that we were using to render the APL's and the math-Graphics package (GNUplot37) and gDOSbox on the Android screen.   We completely fixed this problem, and resolved the issue by link-loading in a newer SDL module - that was proven not to have the security vulnerability.  But when we *repeatedly* tried to upload this patched-and-repaired version of the GNUplot37 and all three of the APL Applications, and gDOSbox (which had over 10,000 users), their upload tool explicitly prevented this from happening.   

We would get a message saying that we had to support the newest Android API (Application Program Interface.)    We were completely blocked, despite having fixed the SDL security issue.  To support the latest Android API, we would have to *COMPLETELY REBUILD* all the applications (re-design, re-build, re-compile) *all* the applications, up to the current level of their latest Android version.   We investigated doing this, and it meant a substantial investment of time and effort.  We would have to download and configure and install on a new platform, a completely different and *substantially* changed development environment - just to basically keep what we had working and available in their nasty little "Company Store".

The whole idea of Android, was that earlier versions of code written for earlier versions, were supposed to stay supported and working in later Android versions.

We realized that Google was now doing exactly what "Blackberry" had done to us earlier - tossed us under the bus, with a process that was basically saying: "F*** Off and Go Away.  We aren't making any money from the likes of you."

This made us sad, and quite annoyed.  But when you are dealing with a group of MONOPOLISTS WHO HAVE COMPLETE AND ABSOLUTE MONOPOLY POWER - there is really little that you can do.  So, you just go away and do something else.   We always have a long to-do list.

It's not like we could go to the "Other Android", since the whole idea was to be able to distribute applications using the Android Google Store, so that users could easily be encouraged to try out the software, and learn about about it.  The idea is to try to create a small ecosystem - even if it was really tiny - where you might be able to gain some traction and a small user-base which is interested in your products.  

One of the key tools we offered - was an open-source product called gDOSbox.   You could run old code that was written for the IBM P/C, on an Android tablet or phone.   It was just a math-fixed version of the Open Source DOSbox - but tailored and extended (with SDL) so it could run on Android tablets and phones.   It was built from the thing we had built to run on the RIM Blackberry device.     It has specific math-issues fixed, so the APL interpreters (which do vector calculations easily) and the GNUplot37 graphics package, would give the right answers and draw graphs of numeric functions correctly.   It was a crazy amount of effort to get it working, but once it worked, we could install three (3!) different APL interpreters, which would allow us later to publish a little book on using APL on Android devices, which was how we hoped to make a tiny bit of money from the whole exercise.

Alas, this was not to be.  First, the Blackberry project blew up as RIM/Blackberry decided to kill their fine product (the "Playbook"), and then Google went a long way out of it's way, to churn and change the Android platform, so developers who wanted to build things that did not necessarily enrich Google-Corporate, would be squeezed out.

The behaviour of Google was PURE MONOPOLIST.   They set out to purge any developers who were not building advert-supported, toy-game applications that Google could take a fat cut from.   This was nasty - because this is exactly what they (Google) promised - with Android - that they would NOT DO.  Android was supposed to be an open-source thing - built partly by kids who worked during the "Summer of Code" and all that.   Early Android was really a very cool thing - quite revolutionary and wonderful.

Apple is ten times worse.  They just simply say: "No interpreters, no programming languages and no system-level (ie. DOSbox) type of interpreters on the iPad or in the iStore.  Anyone who managed to sneak thru a programming langauge or a DOSbox-type interpreter (to play old IBM P/C games even), would quickly find it removed from the iStore.  Apple is really bad.

These strategic models mean that only solid revenue-generating or advertisement-oriented and funded material of a certain kind, gets on the Android or Apple platforms.   You just cannot get anything that allows real programming - and math-learning by a different method of programming - to get onto the iPad or Android devices.  And this despite the devices having sufficient computing power to do real work.    Everything is Googleware or Appleware - because then these monopolists can take 30% of any revenue that your software generates.  And they can dictate or change any terms - any time they want.  It is really ugly and awful.  But mostly - is is designed to prevent and stifle any real competitive pressure from ever being brought to bear.

This is an old-fashioned and bogus, abusive anti-competitive monopolist's trick, and the SOBs who built this nasty business model should full well expect to see it broken up.   Any developer who does not agree to this and be willing to play by these abusive rules, just goes to the wasteland and disappears and has to do something else.  This is wrong.

Apple and Google should just be required to open up the iPad, the iPhone and the Android platform to external applications which allow real work - and real, actual computer programming - to be done on the devices.  This will be similar to what was done to fix the monopoly that the big ATT Telephone company had.  One needs to enable competition & break apart the monopoly structure.  This is just like what was done to the price-fixing Airlines and like what was done to the Standard Oil Trust 110 years ago.

Of the two, Apple is the most abusive.  But what is shocking and deeply disappointing, is that Google is now almost as bad, since no doubt, they saw Apple getting away with economic-murder, and thought "Well, heck, if they can do it, I guess we can too!"

I would like to be able to upload my security-repaired Android applications to the Google PlayStore, and have them made available again so that folks could try them.  One is even called "TryAPL", and was built by IBM.    But they are at API-level 24 or something like that, and Google simply blocked everything lower than API (Application Program Interface) level 25 or 26, from being uploadable into the Playstore.

This was just an abusive trick, to force developers support newer Android features that were explicitly not wanted by developers like us.  We DO NOT have embedded adverts and "in-app purchases" and nasty, trickly stuff like that.   We don't have it and we don't want to have it - because it is nasty & tricky and no one learning something new, or trying to invert a matrix or run a quick linear-regression and graph the results - wants to have a bunch of adverts flashing into their face while they are trying to do some quick work.   This is what APL and GNUplot37 and gDOSbox would let one do.

But Google went out of their way to kill and remove - completely - all our work and effort.

So we are unhappy about this.  I've been making gentle suggestions that "something needs to be done"  to various folks, for a while.  I am sure there are *many* others saying things similar.

Android was supposed to be an "open-source" smart-phone platform, built on top of Linux/Unix O/S design.  For a while it was.   And then Google started the same API-churn trickery that Apple has always done - and the wheels basically fell off - for the small developers, who were not keen on handing Google 30% of their expected revenue streams.   

But if you designed a model which offered interesting, useful - and completely free - software, then Google was *really* interested in making sure that you would become excluded from their now-becoming-closed Android ecosystem.

So, breaking up Google is probably the correct and necessary economic action to take.   Google has worked hard to prevent small-scale development shops - who are disgusted by and opposed to the 30% Google-revenue-grab - from gaining any traction in the Android ecosystem.

So, break 'em up.   They brought it on themselves.

And truth be told - we are not too concerned anymore.  We have ourselves as a client now, and this seems to be working out pretty good, actually.   I want to get a Jaguar.  I had one years ago, and I want to get another one.  Yes, I might be insane - but when they work, they are lovely.  I like cats, you see.  Dogs too.  ðŸ˜Å½

[ Oct. 19, 2020 ]  As They Pulled You From the Oxygen Tent, You Asked for the Latest Party - What remains to be said?  History does not repeat itself, but from history, one can learn all one needs to know.   Scanning the data-dumps from historical events is like so easy, it is a bit like cheating.  

For example, what kind of an idiot would purchase Argentina debt?  Or even voluntarily fund idiot-useless organizations, like the IMF?   The "Greatest Thefts of the World", are not pulled off by daring private criminals or even pirates.  Like the "Greatest Murder Crimes of the World" (eg. the mass murder of Armenians by the Turks, or the mass murder of Jews by Europe's Nazi operatives), it is *Governments* that carry out these really big crimes.

The scale that is possible, when Governments begin to act, is truly impressive.   The money that can be stolen, and/or the number of people that can be killed, is amazing and often quite beyond belief.   Stalin carefully engineered property theft and mass murder of over 1 million Ukrainian citizens in the 1930's.   It was a systematic and carefully planned criminal exercise of almost god-like scale.   And this is not some assertion by us.  This is the result that comes to light when any sort of scholarly research is directed at this dark and evil time in Earth history.   A recent, well documented study was carried out and written up in a book, by a scholar at Standford, in the USA:

It is horrific and usually beyond typical human belief the scale of crime that can be engineered by Governments.    In the last 120 years - these have almost always been "Socialist" Governments:  Russian "Soviet Socialists", Chinese "Communists",  German "National Socialists" and even Argentine "Socialists" and other "leftist" State entities, who engineered their rise to power by means of deception, promises of easy wealth for everyone, and the simple economics-of-theft.

The scale of the theft-and-murder carried out by these "socialists" - and the horrific atrocities and economic disasters that these State-criminals create, is often difficult for the ordinary person living now to grasp.   The actions taken by the "National Socialists" of Germany in the 1930's was not unique or particularly different from what many other national Governments did around the world.   Those who were considered "threats" to the great Socialist utopias-of-fraud that were marketed to the ignorant and easily misled poor and stupid people, were simply rounded up and killed, or transported to work camps, where they typically died as slave-labourers.

This happened in *many* countries in the 20th century, all around the world.  It was most awful in Russia and the Ukraine.  In those sad nations, millions had their property stolen from them, and were either killed or transported to northern gulags - work-camps - where they almost all died.  

The crimes of Stalin were particularly extreme.  He was a mass-murderer who even turned against his own scientific and medical establishment in his own nation - and engineered the mass-murder of several hundred thousand scientists and doctors - in what is termed in Russian history: "The Doctor's Plot".  (The Russian Communist government faked up "Counter-Revolutionary Plot" by "Doctors", and this absurd and nonsense fiction, was used to justify the mass-murder of Russian scientists and medical personel.   It was a tragedy on of a scale that is hard to believe now - and was only possible because the murdering criminal scum that carried out this astonishing atrocity - were Government operatives.

And even in Canada, and ugly round-up of *all* persons of Japanese racial background, was engineered by the Liberal Government of the day, at the beginning of the Second World War.  Japanese Canadians had their assets stolen from them by the Government, and were rounded up and transported by trains, to "Concentration Camps".   They only difference between the Canadian actions against the Japanese, and the European "National Socialist" actions against European Jews, was that the Japanese Canadians were eventually allowed to leave the camps after the war, or go and work in northern Canada work-arrangements (where they got paid), and were not systematically killed off by poison gas - as they were in Europe.

It was not until the 1980's that Japanese Canadian families - who had their houses and automobiles and other assets siezed by the Canadian Liberal Government of the day, were awarded any compensation for what had happened to them.  It was a Conservative Government of Brian Mulroney that finally offered Japanese Canadians compensation for their illegal, racist wartime internment - amounting to more than one hundred thousand dollars typically, for some families.  This was significant money back in the 1980's - equivalent to the price of a modern house in Toronto, for example.   I know about this, as I had Japanese friends whose parents had been awarded compensation.   The Canadian Liberal Party often allies itself with the "New Democratic Party" - an officially "socialist" political organization, that actually at one point formed the Government in Ontario.    I saw these NDP and Liberal "socialists" operate their political machines - from the inside, as basically a "red-shirt", working well down below-deck, on the financial machinery needed to keep a modern Government funded and functioning.

Of all the various parties - the NDP "Socialists" were the absolute worst.  They were manifestly dishonest, abusive and profoundly ignorant, nasty people.  Nothing whatsoever positive came from any of their actions - only a typical hierarchy of bad-leading-to-worse results.

Leftist political parties are the worse plague that can befall a nation.  "Socialism" is a toxic political cancer, that almost immediately will metasticize into a wider economic cancer, once the socialist-leftist political operatives take power.  They immediately begin the process of jacking up taxes, giving free-funding to the poor, so that they are certain to remain in povertry.  Then, they fund the ignorant and the cruel, and the various pathelogically abusive political operatives that are attracted to the dishonest politics of "socialism".  The funding is derived by accelerating taxation of self-funding economic agents, thereby engineering the collapse of that group, back into poverty.  In this way, the constituent base of economically-degraded poor folk is increased, so that further "socialist" actions can be undertaken.  This strengthens the power of the "Socialist Community Collective" model, and allows the Socialist political operatives to retain and expand their political power.   "Socialists" *need* people to be poor and economically degraded.  That is how they grab and hold power.  

Analysts and political people need to understand exactly how the Great Socialist Lie actually operates over time.  It is a damned effective and impressive fraud.   And only by understanding what a vicious, abusive and toxic fraud it really is, do we have any hope of actually defeating it.  And it must be defeated.  It must be crushed and smashed and destroyed - lest we have another hundred years of mass-murder, horrific globlal poverty, and wildly destructive warfare.

Of course, this note here is just a minor voice, far deep in the wilderness.  No one will see or care what I have written here for now.   But history might see it someday.   As we dig deep into the bowels and minutia of historical documents - useful things can be found.  Perhaps this info here will assist in the education of some young and curious mind, far in the future.

Socialism is toxic filth - and it is being fed to children and foolish, lazy students in the schools again, and it is more than just lies.  It is a corrupting fraud that will damage and degrade the future, and remove human initiative from the economic process, whenever and whereever it is implemented.  It is a perfect recipe for the advancement of evil.

Socialist thinking - like a strong virus - binds to the power and scale of Government machinery, and thus becomes both the justification, and the mechanism by which atrocity-at-scale can be carried out.  History shows this - again and again.   The great Lie of Socialism: ("Everyone Should be Equal!"), is a perfect match for the great Lie of Government: "Hi! We're from the Government.  We're here to help you!"

If you meet the Buddha on the road, speak kindly to him, and offer him some of your own food, if he looks hungry.  If you meet a Socialist - well, you know what you must do, don't you?


[ Oct. 17, 2020 ]  Let's Kill Twitter.  Deus Vult.

But before we all get together and march into the Children's Crusade For The Future - perhaps we can first at least deal with the likes of Twitter and it's band of censoring Twattors?   Just declare the bastards as *fraudulent election manipulators*, sieze their websites, and shut the filthy buggers down.  Let's just bloody do it.   Don't screw around - just hammer these bastards hard with a Bigger Hammer.   They think they have the Biggest Hammer in the Room.  Let's show these arrogant techboys that this is not the case.   Let's kill Twitter.

The regulators get it so wrong lately.  The Justice Department in USA, several years back under, went after Microsoft as a monopoly!  What utter and complete nonsense that was.  Microsoft was just trying to compete with IBM - and make some money.   But these modern Twitter and Facebook truth-benders are trying to hack the US election so Old Man Biden and his son can make a big score, and put some black woman into power as the USA President.   Everyone knows that Biden is going to win, and then resign and put Ms. Harris in as the USA Boss.  The US election we are facing is the most dangerous in US history since the American Civil War, and it is subject to the most aggressive news filtering and media fabrication this side of Belarus.   But the fraudsters still can't leave it alone.  They are still working to shape, distort and manipulate the news.

The fraudsters and pocket-fillers are running it all now, just about everywhere.    In Africa they are often called the  "15% Boys" - the estimates of the *aid* money that gets lifted by senior government officials and ends up in European private bank accounts.   The DRC ("Democratic" Republic of Congo) ran a completely rigged election last year, complete with USA assistance.  This is just nuts.

You still cannot easily rig an election in a modern State which has a long tradition of democracy.  In Canada, for instance, we have "scrutineers" - this is a real job.  After the polls close, a representative from each party watches all the ballots being counted, and each scrutineer confirms the count.  (I've been a scrutineer.  It's a serious responsibility).   In Canada, a ballot can only be "spoiled" if it is unclear who the voter voted for.  If it is clear that they made a specific choice - then that ballot and choice must be counted.  (No stupid "hanging chad" nonsense here.)

But in weak, corrupt countries, it is possible to *really* rig the elections, so that is what the fat 15% Boys typically do - that way, they keep the gravy flowing into their pockets and their friends pockets.  It is an ugly and sad thing, and it is also a recipe for serious violence.

The DRC would shut down the internet, when opposition candidates tried to speak or spread information.  It was pretty sad.    In Kyrgyzstan, a recent rigged election resulted in a complete shitshow of protest, violence, counter-protest, and the resignation of the President, shortly after he had claimed election "victory".

It's even worse in Belarus.  Lukashenko just declared himself winner after a bent election.  In Russia,  Putin looks to have given his spies instructions to poison Navalny, a man he has even legally barred from running as a candidate.  China, which does not hold elections, just cracked down hard on Hong Kong, which *does* hold elections - and also threatened democratic Taiwan with military invasion.   Elections and electoral process is under attack and being degraded, just about everywhere now.

Really, it is clear that democracy itself is under attack.  It is important that dirty-tricks, vote-rigging, ballot-box stuffing, and outright fraud (such as blocking opposition news stories on the internet, arresting or poisoning opposition candidates, and worse), not be allowed to occur.  This is difficult to prevent in practice - but if we just shut down Twitter for "election fraud", it would send a clear message to the rest of the BigTech Mafia that they block and censor news stories at their own peril.

Given that the Democrat operatives in the USA control Congress, the position of President is a difficult and tenuous one.  Trump is almost like an opposition candidate - especially given the significant power of the California Republic.

(See the California State flag.  California actually was an independent Republic for roughly one month, in 1846, when it broke away from Mexico in a revolt.  After 1 month, a US Navy ship arrived, and claimed California for the United States, and the citizens of the Republic of California became citizens of the United States of America.)

California - on it's own, if it were a separate nation - would, by several estimates, be the 8th richest nation on Earth.   Whoever controls California, can exert control over Washington - hence the problems with Nancy Pelosi.  She views herself as above the President - and even went so far as to tear up a recent State of The Union Speech at the end of the President's presentation.  And she has blocked any stimulus aid from reaching Americans because she shrewdly has calculated that this will hurt Republican imcumbents in the upcoming election.

The forces directed at the Republicans, at the President, and at the American people by the Democrat operatives - and their California BigTech Fellow Travellers - are significant and very powerful.  And they are almost certain to sway a sufficient number to ensure a comfortable Biden victory.

But this victory will have been achieved by means of censorship, and aggressive news-flow manipulation and political obfuscation.   And this is just wrong.   It damages USA and it damages the World.

Something must be done, to turn the ship around.  We are all heading for rocks and reefs.

Simply shutting down Twitter would be good, and perhaps effective, place to start.

It would send a clear message to everyone that Freedom of Speech is still taken seriously in the USA, and that true democracy is something worth fighting for.  Let's begin the process of repairing the democratic system, where it still manages to operate.  Let's protect democracy.

Let's kill Twitter.

[ Oct. 16, 2020 ]  Anti-Grav Jetpacks & Market Cats - The "Jetpack Guy" at LAX has been spotted again.  This guy is flying very high - 3000 to 6000 feet.  If you fly a typical chemical jetpack at that altitude, you will run out of fuel, and drop like a stone.

This guy maybe has a working anti-grav unit strapped to his back?  These things are supposed to be top-secret, and strictly "Skunkworks"-style seriously "dark" research projects.   But technical development is funny.  Sometimes there are different teams or individuals, working on the same stuff, at the same time - with the first guys to publish and patent getting all the glory (and money) and fame.

Perhaps someone is about to make their research public?

Market Cats

I was wondering how to create/find an image of the "Cat-of-Fear", and then to my astonishment, it was hanging on the wall of the farmhouse, less than 10 feet away from the two "Money Cats".   (The Cats-of-Gain).   Seems that I had seen and found the "Cat-of-Fear" image many years ago, in New York museum visit - so much so, that I bought a small copy of the painting and put it up on the wall of my office to remind me of the basic truth of the world.   Henri Rousseau called his painting "The Repast of the Lion".    Trading and life teaches you that the world is not always a nice place.  If fact, it is a very dangerous place, that will - with sufficent time - certainly kill you.    Another gift from my time at Lehman Brothers, I believe.

[ Oct. 15, 2020 ] Cat in the Hat in the Matrix - Yes, the internet really is made of cats.   Surprising, this is?

Summary of canonical article on unsupervised learning (New York Times):

The .PDF of the article (Google Research project on unsupervised learning:

And the image...  which is a cat...  (see at right).  Ken approves.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology - neural networks specifically - work well on image data, because there really is a there, there.  If a person recognizes the contents of an image, then the AI can almost certainly be trained to do so also.  This is a key - there is truly something there in the image - our own brain can see it clearly.

But with financial data - too often what occurs, is that our own cognition apparatus *sees* things that are not necessarily there - and the future plays out differently than that of the *image* we have *seen* in the data.  This, of course, is because there is reactive randomness in the operation of market process.  Markets are highly reactive - such that action will be taken by market participants to disadvantage other market participants (the zero-sum game market model), as well, markets will collectively respond to exogenous information that can move them (major political or technological change is announced, which causes widespread re-pricing activity).   This action, by definition cannot be clearly *seen*, so using AI technology to forecast market direction, requires more information than just historical price-action data.

And it may be that markets are essentially un-forecastable.  Rather than forecasting, what we try to do, is to wait patiently for obvious pictures to present themselves, which have high likelyhoods of presenting positive outcomes.  That seems to be the essence of successful trading.

What you end up with is a machine that - when you ask it "How is the Market?", it responds with something like "Arrrgh... just a lot of mush and bluff-fart fuzz.  No clear picture."  and so you sit still and remain risk-off.   But every so often, you ask this question, and the machine responds with: "Ah! Today, the market looks like a CAT!" - and you have determined that when the market-image resolves itself into something that your machine and you can recognize, then certain market-strategies can be implemented, which have a high likelyhood of success.

This seems to be the only approach that can really work consistantly.  Forecasts are always pretty much not-useful, as when they are wrong, they are really wrong, and when they are right, this still does not give you actionable information.  A collection of trend-following momentum models are probably more useful than forecast-the-future models.    What one really wants to forecast is a "trend change" event, and I recall a significant project I worked on for a Treasury Ministry, where we looked at all possible trend-change identification strategies, to see if any of these techniques could be used to recognize a trend-change in financial market action (in this case, the trend of market-set interest-rates), and *all* the approaches were proveably less accurate than the null-forecast => "It will be tomorrow, (or next period), what it is today."

That was a surprising result - but it was true, and subsequent research continues to pretty much confirm this.  To forecast future weather - look outside, and see what is happening, and make that your forecast.  But we still can track storms and typhoons and such.  We can notice when the barometer starts to fall rapidly.    You can *see* indications of market-storms ahead, given a careful reading of current events.

And there are many significant and effective heuristics ("Rules of Thumb") that can be followed effectively.  These can provide guidence on how one should respond to market-moving changes that are becoming more likely as time drives forward.   Prices typically fall much faster than they rise.  Humans respond to FOL (Fear Of Loss) more rapidly than EOG (Expectation of Gain).  You run away fast when the hungry tiger growls and threatens to chase you, but you only walk slowly forward, when the King promises a bright and wealth-laden future.

Since fear moves people faster than desire, one can craft successful market strategies that reflect this phenomenon.   And an AI-based Recognition Device can aid in the construction of profitable market strategies.  When the Market-Cat is the Cat-of-Fear, you must move fast.  If you can see the Cat-of-Fear first, you have a real advantage.

And if your machines instead, see the Cat-of-Gain in the Market-Image, then he who sees this picture first - and with greatest accuracy - can act with some advantage by trading with those who do not see the same thing yet, and have posted offer-prices that now seem attractive.

We have just not found market forecasts to be very useful.

What turns out to be *much* more useful - is the market-picture that we try to see.  And mostly that picture is a lot like an old  analog TV-set, tuned to a not-broadcasting channel - just a lot of white-noise fuzz.

But every so often, we see one of the Cats.    And then we can try to do something, if we think we are seeing the picture a bit before the other market participants.   But the other guys are also looking hard to see if the Cats-of-Fear and the Cats-of-Gain are emerging from the noise and becoming visible.  And it is Cat Number One, that is the more important one - that guy is "The Cat that Must Be Seen", as it were.  The FOL (Tiger) Cat matters most.

It's not only the internet that is made out of cats.   The markets are also made out of cats.

[ Oct. 14, 2020 ] Speaker for the Dead - I do believe we're on the Eve of Destruction - so why are we long?   TINA of course.   The course of American politics - and the World's - is ugly.   We watch that strangely grotesque political operative - Nancy Pelosi - engage a no-compromise exercise in political abuse and hostage-taking that is simply breath-taking in its awfulness.

The Democrats are pretending to *hold-out* for more money for their Democrat-run State political people - but it fact are working carefully to damage and degrade the lives of as many Americans as they possibly can, prior to the election.   This is an abusive - and shamelessly effective - political strategy which will probably result in Joe Biden being elected American president, and the Democrat operatives taking control of the Senate.   

By refusing to accept the outrageous generous 1.8 trillion US dollar stimulus package that the Republicans have proposed - and demanding an even larger oversized bag of pork-bucks for Democrat State Agency people - the Democrats ensure with certainty that no sane or sensible elected Federal official who was voted in on the basis of being fiscally responsible, could agree to it.  Their plan is sound, and is certain to damage the chances of incumbent Republicans.

So, there will be no second stimulus packge, folks who have watched their businesses and jobs disappear will get no further aid, and real hardship will be felt by an increasing number.  This is *exactly* what the Democrats want to have happen,    Their political calculus is chillingly accurate and will almost certainly be effective.   Those who have been hammered by Covid-19 shutdowns, will tend to blame Trump and the Republicans, as this is what the drumbeat of MSM disinformation is blasting them with day in and day out.  Only one interviewer has even challenged Pelosi on this, and she just threw vitrol in response:

The Democrat "Speaker" - Nancy Pelosi - is an 80-year old angry woman who is willing to hold Americans hostage to her abusive brand of destructive politics.  She explicitly brags "I don't talk to the President", when asked why she would not discuss the 1.8 trillion dollar stimulus plan the Republicans are trying to get passed.  If there were any honest parliamentarians or decent people with political power in the Democrat Party in the USA, they would remove this person from her position, and replace her with someone who understood what the job of an elected official has to be.   

It is wrong to scorch the American earth with the vitrol from this creature.  But it is interesting to watch.  

We suspect that we might actually be witnessing the beginning of the end of the "American Experiment".    This 80-year old woman - who when asked - "Why not take this deal, and get money in the hands of American people who need it now?" replies "You don't know what you are talking about!" to the interviewer.     This is interesting.     This looks a lot more like the old aristocrat-politics of Europe, that America was explicitly designed to avoid.    

European politics was characterized in much of it's history by abusive, hostile and tragic conflicts over power and control - family-fights by small groups of cruel, selfish human monsters - from Popes to Kings to despotic Emperors who built their success upon the massive piles of bodies of the Eurofolk.  War was common.  Young men rushed to join the military, since the alternative meant to stay in one's local mud-village and starve to death, or die of disease or malnutrition by age of 35 to 40.  Life for most in Europe, thru most of it's history - was "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short", as Hobbe's so eloquently and accurately indicated.

America was designed & built to be different.   It was explicitly crafted to avoid all that Euro-hatred and abusive, awful gang-warfare that is the essence of European history.

Military action and collective political efforts were to be directed at making men and women free and prosperous - and the Americans held to this view, even it if meant a brutal civil war to end the stain of race-based slavery.    (Slave-owners had to argue that male Negros were not men - and this sophistry could not survive away from the plantation.)

But we are now in a world were old-style political scams which America was built to avoid, are now being executed by opportunists at the very top of the process, in that strange Washington Federal enclave.  

To watch the Democrats - a party that pretends to champion the rights of the poorer and less well-off - engage in the Pelosi-politics of "maximum pain for the poor" so they can score a political objective in the defeat of President Trump - is as fascinating as it is manifestly awful.

The Democrat Party in the USA is - well, lets be clear: evil.  It is just being evil.   The whole collective seems determined to defeat Trump at all costs - even if it means holding the poorest unemployed folks down and keeping them there, and watching them squirm.

This is awful and tragic, yes.  But it is also interesting.    It shows that the original American experiment is pretty much over.   Watch the "Evil Queen Nancy" hurl abuse and vitrol at all around her, while the poor-folk scramble around for food.   It is so awful, it is comical.   When one sees something this explicitly dishonest and abusive, it is - well, really  -  educational.

It does not matter now whether Trump or Biden is elected.   No one will *win* this upcoming American election.  There will only be degrees of loss, to be experienced by various groups.  

The people in the self-financing sectors will find themselves saddled with higher taxes.  The "governmentalists" in the various civil-servant positions will eventually recognize that their postions are untenable.  The Covid-19 virus will eventually peter-out, along with the traditions of American freedom.   Defeated Republicans will retire, Democrats will find they are now in charge of a nation of angry people who will over time see that they have been misled and manipulated by opportinists.    And America will come to resemble the dysfunctional enervation of European politics - a sad place where gamesmanship and taxation-advancement is about the only process that is ascendent.

This is the way it has always been - and looks like it always will be.  

America has become Europe, at roughly the same time as that great European experiment in the European Union - an attempt to craft an American model on top of the ancient hatreds of Europe - is now beginning to unravel under the crushing tax-load it imposes on the Northern nations.

Both the American and European political experiments are ending.

Our models - and even a cursory examination of history - suggest that when this sort of terminal breakdown begins, it typically leads to escalating conflict and then major war.  

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will take the election and begin the process of locking-down America and raising taxes on the American economy.  Americans who don't support this socialist model may eventually take to the streets, as the economic prospects for many degrade and disappear.   The "Alphabet People" will move in with force to crush the protests, and claim the rioters are "White Supremicists" or "Child Pornographers" or "Terrorist Militias" or whatever fiction the Washington Federalists choose to invent.   It will likely get ugly - much more than it is even now.

And American poliltics will have transitioned to the European political model, where the real disputes are fought in the streets, instead of legislatures.  

[ Oct. 13, 2020 ] You Can't Melt It Down in the Rain- Don't go home with your position on - I guess that is the new mantra.   World is getting even more crazy than the recent bout of crazy.   I would say that the AI's pretty much dominate all trading now.   This may not end well.  But for now, maybe "Slow to half impulse..." ?

[ Oct, 12, 2020 ]  Pretty Kitty - A little kitten has come to visit - literally just showed up at the door with a very big meow.  So cute, that even our dog accepted the new arrival - I am quite surprised.   Turns out that cats and dogs can co-exist, as long as they respect each other's space, it appears.

Sorta like humans...  :)

[ Oct. 9, 2020 ] The Astonishing Cost of the Covid Lockdowns - As economists, we see ourselves as social scientists - and that means we research more than just financial figures.  Some in the USA have been critical of the extreme social restrictions other nations have used to attempt to limit the spread of Covid-19.  Maybe the Yanks are right.

The case of Japan is interesting.  Japan has recorded roughly 2000 deaths from Covid-19.  Some view this as a success.  But Japan is one of the few nations that publishes current, accurate data on suicides.  In August alone, there were 1854 suicide deaths in Japan - and this value is up over 15% from August of last year.  The total number of suicides in Japan, since the beginning of the year, is over 13,000.  Suicide has killed more than six times the number of Japanese this year, than has the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

Life in Japan can be difficult, expensive and stressful.  Also, the nation is highly regulated, and has a long tradition of top-down planning and social cotrol.  This makes control by the state easy and effective.  But it also makes people lonely and feel filled up to the limit with despair.  And the Covid lockdowns made this worse.

Other countries also report similar mental health issues among their populations.

These and other costs - in terms of lost output and lost opportunity - add to create the long shadow of the pandemic's true costs, going forward from here.

The full costs of the economic lockdown earlier this year, may never be known.  What we now know for sure, is that it was a deeply unwise and ineffective strategy.   And that is the key takeaway truth from the Covid-19 "pandemic".

[Later: ... Mkt open, Websites broken, Internet was down for 1/2 hour at open... ]

It just keeps getting nastier.   We run CentOS-7.x Linux boxes, and recently (mid-Sept.) upgraded to Firefox 68.11.0-ESR - Firefox Quantum.  This was necessary, as a key banking/trading site stopped working properly.  It worked (and still works) on the old Safari on the 2015 Macbook (which has many upgrades - but runs older OSx version).  But the specific failure triggered by IBM service changes (the bank dumped all its trading website services onto IBM a few years back for them to run, and service reliability has degraded badly since then - sadly.)    The Firefox 68 + CentOS-7.x combo seemed to be stable, but this morning, all hell broke loose, and nothing is working right again.

Looks like it is a Firefox + AdBlockPlus issue.  If I disable ABP on the Linux boxes, sites will load, but the financial sites are then advert-vomitting of course, and are toxic/horrible/unusable.

Curiously, Firefox 47 and Firefox 52 - with ABP - works fine on the older WInXP/SP3 boxes, that are kept alive specifically for these reasons - old Windows is insecure, but it and the old Firefox usually works.

SELinux threw an error this morning, on an Adobe Flash/video issue, but it did not seem to be security related.  The Flash video is no longer needed, mostly, but clearly, the internet is becoming an awful sh/thole of nastiness.  Nothing can be trusted, and all work done online must be checked carefully.  

It looks like we have to update/upgrade/fix ABP and/or the toxic hot-mess that is Firefox 68 "Quantum" ESR.  Mozilla's idea of "Extended Support Release (ESR), is maybe two or three months?   Hilarious!

At some point, some seriously new technology is going to be required.  And a whole project will have to be opened up, where we review all the outside entities we deal with, and see if careful evaluation can make evident some better alternatives.   Any time a business deals with outside agencies, these agencies will always scheme to gain benefit at your own expense.  Perhaps that is all that is happening here.   We note that IBM is selling its I/T management division, to concentrate on it's "Cloud" offerings.  Well, since it's "Cloud" offerings here perform badly, and are sh/t and are not reliable - maybe this is a viable strategy.  But maybe not.  Most technology now is crap, is annoying to use, and is getting worse, less reliable, and more risky to use as each day goes by.   

As time goes by, we are actively seeking to be *less* reliant on outside agency actors, and more self-supporting, self-directed & self-contained.  This approach seems to be working quite well.  We seem to be dodging a lot of "bullets" lately... metaphorically speaking.

[Warning:  RANT ahead... 😮  ]

I am certain we are in for a major sh/t-storm in the near future.  The advert garbage and dancing video crap that is down-dumped by many sites now, are just plain awful infection vectors for APT actions and other monitoring/virus programs.  The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus can kill you dead, but the man-made computer virus assaults and cyberthreats can put you out of business, and ruin your life also, so that is pretty comical.   Death by virus - bio or techno.

The whole "Cloud computing" model is just a re-invention of the corporate data-centre.   Funny how the kids don't see this.  AWS is cheap - fine for backups, but perhaps not the thing to build your company upon.

We seem to have something interesting happening today:   Gold is being bid up, while stocks are being offered down.  This is a bit of a return to a normal picture-of-the-world.  Gold is not the same asset class as financial paper.  It just isn't.  It is different and should trade differently and price-track differently.  

The Canadian dollar is also moving up.  Things are hammering along here.  Everyone wears masks when out and about, and the virus is boring now. Time to move on, whatever.

Folks die.  Folks always die here.  Life up north is dangerous and difficult - and if you don't make some money, you can't pay for your electricity and your heat and maybe your rent or property taxes, and you will die - or worse - become a social parasite.    That path is ok for some low-quality humans, but it is just not on for most Canadians - especially the new immigrants, who are just amazing.  They work, and they focus fiercely.

We often forget what hard-working immigrants look like.  They look like our grandparents and great-grandparents, and many forget that.  Maybe they wear funny clothes and have weird habits, but so did our folks, years back.   Canada is damn lucky to be attracting quality immigrants - they enrich our society, and make us stronger and smarter - and wealthier.

Folks who complain about immigrants taking jobs, should shut the f/ck up and just go get a job themselves - like the newly-arrived always seem to do - rather than complain.   Any job where you do good work, and get paid in real money - ie. hard currency - is a very good job.   The lazy-arsed Lefties lounging in their "social-arts-don't-wanna-work-too-hard" chit-chat-and-dance classes, where every loser gets a B+ or better just for showing up, should grasp this concept, if they can.

Once enough folks have been corona-infected, we get herd-immunity, and the damn virus is over, and we can all get back to work.     [ End-Rant: ]

The joke about Toronto used to be: "It's the only damn city in North American, were the people say: 'Thank God It's Monday!' ".

And it's true.  The place is  work-camp, but truth-be-told, a lot of us *like* to work!  We find that idleness is actually a perfect picture of Hell.    Around here, we feel bad, if we havn't accomplished some useful things each day and each week.   Curious, but true.

The damn Canadian dollar *should* be higher, even though we have the worst government this side of Belarus, up in Ottawa!   :?

But that won't be the case forever.

[ Oct. 8, 2020 ] Falling Leaves- Markets remain torn between greed and fear, and the weather remains truly lovely.  Really a lovely autumn.  We have two models now for the C_ and A_ machines - one points down, one points up - the smoother curve points up, and matches the long-term (25 year) trend, while the one that points down, is built to capture higher-frequency motion - and it points down.

FD: We remain, all-in, fully-invested.  Also, we have a significant position that will redeem at month end.  If we crash or re-trace into the year-end activity, this will help us, but if there is a Biden Bubble Begins process underway (as many expect), then we will just sit on the cash, most likely.  Unclear.  The market often makes surprises happen - especially now.  Trump's win was a big uptick, and his defeat may in fact mean a big downtick.   Biden and Ms. K Harris will almost certainly mean a bunch of tax increases, a bunch of green-nazi-programs, and a free-ride for the parasites everywhere.  This is not a policy package that leads to positive economic results.

Here is an interesting idea:  Trump has actually managed the whole Covid-19 thing in an economics-positive way.  The whole approach has stressed internal competition among various reactive agents - different states and cities taking different approaches.

Trump's recovery shows that there are *very* effective treatments available that can knock out the virus quickly.   These treatments are being blocked by the various authorities who make their living by blocking things that benefit people.  Why block benefits?  Because the entire process of crafting a "constituent base" to make yourself powerful, relies on people being ill, or poor, or somehow weak and degraded.

Once people are healthy and strong, they do not need "government agents" assisting them.  Those in position of offering "government help", find their power and authority evaporate quickly away, and they must find real jobs in the self-financing sector.

This is a radical model, but it works over and over and over again.   It explains the rise of the "social welfare" state, which has as it's limiting characteristic, the North Korea or Soviet Russia political organization.

The opposite approach - with limited or lesser government direct involvement in the process of "helping people", requires that people become self-reliant, and develop processes and procedures to "help themselves".   This alternate model shows evidence as:  1) a high savings rate,  2) careful and effective life-planning strategies  3) democratic, versus authoritarian government  4)  low and falling overall tax rates  5) intense focus on educational activity for children and young adults - and so on.

Trump reflects this very traditional model of America - a nation founded by a bunch of people who wanted to get the fuck out of Europe, and the repressive, low-opportunity, run-by-kings-and-government-aristocrats world, and brave the dangerous and costly sea-voyage to a land of freedom and high-risk.

America is about risk.

Government is about safety.

By all historical factors, USA *should* have the SARS-CoV-2 response that it has had, one characterized by high rates of death, but rapid response and effective reaction to the problem.

Here is the key:   The American response to Covid-19 has perhaps been the *VERY BEST POSSIBLE* response.  They have both numerous very effective treatments developed in USA, for the illness, and also, the USA will likely be the first nation to offer an effective and working vaccine.

Except for the FDA blocking actions, vaccines could already be in widespread use.  The various agency "Safety Nazi's" have a deep and vested interest in blocking solutions so they can maintain their power and constituent base of the weak and fearful.  This is just basic political economics in action.

Instead of Covid-19 killing 50 million people, like the 1918 "Spanish Flu" did, the overall death rates are really quite low.   America has the highest death rate, at 200,000+ because it took the most risks, and suffered the least economic damage.   This was not unwise.   The economic *shutdowns* in European nations may cast poverty-shadows that stretch forward for decades into the future.

It may turn out, we particularly fear, that the global economic damage will be *vastly* greater than a few million dead old people.

If the Covid-19 event leads to a global war, the wisdom of the American response - ie. don't take the SARS-CoV-2 virus too seriously - may stand as a historical example of exactly what should be done, in the face of a lethal pandemic.

[ Oct. 7, 2020 ] We're Gonna Have to Economics the Sh/t Out of This - Ok, maybe that is too colloquial for even us.  But this message needs to be heard.   I hear they are planning to close New York - again.  Well, that will help (not).   Damn, but we are lucky we don't live in a city.  Cities are now lethal infection zones.

I was watching a real-time feed from Asakusa (浅草) in Tokyo - lovely summer-like weather, but almost no tourists at all - no Western folks of any kind, probably since Japan is closed to foreign tourist travellers still - and many of the small shops have just closed.   So many folks are just out of business now.   Things are hammering along fine here in Ontario - everyone wears a mask, since bylaws have been passed, making this the law.   But one goes into stores, and inventory levels are low.   Ordinary stuff is hard to get.  People are back to "stockpile"-style shopping.    We find it hard to acquire spare-parts for equipment.

Poor Mr. Trump has been having a difficult time.  No one likes being sick, and the Democrats are being obstructionist and abusive, of course - because they can, and because it might work.   The optics are very bad.   The media is at war with Trump and his team, despite the obvious fact that a leader must actually try to lead - he cannot long be weak or sick.  We must get to herd-immunity as soon as possible.   The "vaccine" efforts are already too little, too late.  Most people probably won't even take the vaccine, at this point.  It's just too late.

But I truly fear Trump has absolutely handed the election to Biden.   He should keep *trying* to get stimulus done - but make it clear that it has to be focused and targeted to self-financing people and small-business owners - and not become another big slush-pile for corrupt Democrat operatives who are encouraging violence in the streets of their own cities.  The Demos want to fund their own State-level buddies - and the Republicans want to try to get money to the actual people themselves.  This is the current problem.   And Trump is completely correct in asking for a mandate from the people to get this specific approach implemented.

But of course, his message is being censored and obfuscated by the mainstream media and the left-leaning major technology entities and operatives from California.    They can now determine what sort of messages can be allowed in "social media", and if you can control the message, you can control the process.

So , Trump will almost certainly lose.   He has no chance, and this means big changes will come to USA soon.    Money will be spread around for Democrat "causes" (which means Democrat political agents and operatives), in much the same manner that the "Liberals" in Canada direct billions of taxpayer dollars at their friends and operatives.    We finally got things in Ontario cleaned up at the Provincial level (it was an awful, unholy stinking hell-hole of a rotting mess, truth be told), but the Federal Government in Ottawa fell back under the control of the Liberal Machine - which was a great tragedy.

You have to do whatever you can with whatever the feck you have.   Remember the famous quote from teacher and author Jeff Cooper...

These are the most curious of times.

At this point, any sane or rational economist, who has studied the 1930's, knows that it is more than just a little critical that the USA get some bucks into the hands of it's people - right *now*.  

Another quick run of cash-printing - funded by the Central Bank, if need be - would let things get over this next hump - the fully-expected secondary run-up of the pandemic infection.  There is no serious inflation, interest-rates are running close to zero, so some hard-core direct funding is possible by a number of methods.  But it needs to be *direct* - like those cheques for emergency cash.  The funds should *NOT* go to government "agents" of any kind - and it needs to be clearly recognized as a health-emergency special funding exercise.  Some grant-level assitance could also be targeted to small-business entities that need some loss-of-business help.  But the key is to do it *NOW* and not later.   A good approach would be just another $1000 cheque for everyone who as ever filed a tax return.   Keep it simple, quick, and fund it by printing money, if necessary.

Normally, any sane economist would not advocate such extreme measures.   But we are just not seeing any serious uptick in inflation levels - if anything, we are looking at the risk of a further cascade-collapse of business-sectors.   And there are all sorts of jobs that are just not going to happen anymore.  Especially in health-care.   Health-care is "high-touch" business - and it is a lethal thing now - you go into a clinic or a doctor's office, and you may as well just go out and lick the sidewalk.  The clinics and hospitals are full of sick people spreading clouds of viral particles.

We will *absolutely* have to return to the *house-call* model of "doctoring", since the current model of clustering everyone up into big rooms to sit and wait is just idiotically stupid, and will cause people to die needlessly.    The health-care delivery system, has to be completely re-designed and probably turned over to private-sector operation.   The current model is just a denial-of-service system, which is also now shown to be a seriously lethal threat.  It must change.

Things are weirdly priced now - the only people who are making big money, are the government employees who have their "iron rice-bowl" wages and those with fat pensions like retired teachers and civil servants.  Folks in the self-financing sectors are under quite an impressive assault - everywhere.  There are whole sectors that are just looking like they might just disappear.

We are going to have to live in a world of airborne virus agents now.  The rapid rate of mutation of the SARS-Cov-2 virus suggests that this lethal bio-vector may become a permanent fixture of the 21st century.  It's just a Malthusian manifestation of our "crowded-planet" problem.   The solution and a return-to-normal, will require a significant reduction in human planetary population.    The irony is, of course, that the angry social justice warriors who want to save the planet, can perhaps do this best if they just go die before they breed.   :D

[ Oct. 6, 2020] The Big Four? - It is getting even more silly now.  We know that Covid-19 can be treated quite effectively, as is shown by Mr. Trump's rapid return to the Maison Blanche.  But most of us do not have any sort of medical team assisting us, do we?   We are left to our own devices - and have to rely on our personal immune systems to do the job.   Such are the times.

Interesting meeting held in Japan - not too much mention of in the media drivel and anti-Trump screeching that is being generated by the MSM.  Really quite curious.   We had - quite literally - a meeting of a "Big Four" group in Japan - only they call it the Quad now, since the "Big Four" was already used.  It's really interesting that folks from South Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines were not invited.   They could have then called it the meeting of the "Magnificant Seven", which would have made more sense - or maybe even include Taiwan also, and get China to really blow some wind.   The "Quad" is a really stupid term, and makes this important meeting and significant cultural alliance, sound like a small outdoor park at a school.

The main failure of our times, seems to be the collapse of imagination.   People are dull and stupid pretty much everywhere now, and this is rather quite curious.  Is the internet making everyone a bit thick?  I am not sure why this seems to be happening.

The meeting was actually a huge big deal - as these folks met in person, not online with video-links.   This new alliance will be partners in the "Great Asian War of 2022", perhaps?   Unclear.

We need only examine the 1930's, to see how effective the "peace efforts" of the "Big Four" was at preventing World War Two - ie. not too effective at all.

I am trying to determine how to model this sh/t.    So far, it just looks like a big "Turing Circle" in a "Zona Chaotica" - but perhaps I am wrong.   /:(

FD: (Full-Disclosure): Curiously, the C_Machine (or A_Machine) model is still pointing downwards, and we have over-ruled it to remain long - primarily because of the profound lack of any alternative investment that appears equally or more attractive than what we are already holding.  We also have a significant position that will be profitably redeemed soon, so we are already faced with the problem of asset-selection to replace it.  We will receive a nice premium on the redemption, so we are happy, but in researching alternatives, we are finding very little that even passes the "sniff-test", much less looks attractive.

I remember my father, buying bonds that were yielding better than 8%, and purchasing annuities that promised 11% on his funds until his demise.  Those were fine investments.  He did very well on those annuities.  What in heck was that insurance company thinking?   I actually know, as I did a project for their head office, and did the programs to re-price some of there "universal life" products.  To do the programming, you had to *completely* understand the policies - and I have to say, "life insurance" is comical - it is pure Monte Carlo gambling, driven by p's and q's and mortality tables and astonishing levels of human greed and fear.  And interest-rate assumptions (or more accurately, forward rate-of-return estimates on the investment of premiums).  Their ROR estimates were wildly wrong, of course.  Everyone's were.

Personally, I would advise anyone to invest their funds directly - using no *agents* of any kind, where-ever possible - and just pay your taxes and book your own profits for your own use.   Life-insurance only survives as a business, because of it's tax-attractiveness for estate-planning.

Really, any time you use any sort of "Agency", you will have to pay them - and pay them big, fat, hard and heavy.  All the things that are offered - leasing of automobiles or any expensive equipment, financial arrangements of any kind with any commercial enterprise, safety products - oh, like credit cards and travellers cheques and deposit/withdrawl arrangements or currency conversion or money transfer or transaction assistance or factoring or money-borrowing - literally *ANY* agency or agent-run transaction, will *COST* you serious money and often, seriously restrict and limit your ability to make corrective changes, if you find your circumstances have changed in any way.   And your circumstances will *ALWAYS* change - it's that flowing river problem - you face a completely different river, every time you put your foot in it  (Nixon was the only guy who was smart enough to suggest that you could use a frozen river - which is why Canada and Russia (and maybe Sweden, Norway and Finland?) are the luckiest folks and best investors.   Folks living in northern lands, understand how much things can change, even within a year. )

One uses expensive, freedom-limiting, oppresive and restrictive *agents* when was does, usually because the agents have obtained exclusive, monopoly control of the thing you need to do or access. (eg. currency exchange in Canada is a good example.  All the banks charge a 2% vigorish, as do the storefront retail operations.  They are all clipping the coin of their customers with happy certainty.  If you want any global reserve currency, you have to make you own private arrangements here... it's pretty funny.   You pay the vig at the bank, because it is the only way to get the USA dollars you need to do your little deal - or you can use your VISA card, and pay an even bigger vig, last I recall.

But if there is any way you can, don't use "agents" and "Agencies".  You will have to work harder, but that is also it's own reward.  Hard "work" by itself is annoying, but working at what you want, will expose opportunities that you will otherwise not have seen.  And it is the successful exploitation of those - with out any pesky front-running corrupt agents - that will give you - sometimes - the very big prize.

Here is the truth:  Most investments are sh/t, and most will expire or degrade, or go to low values or even zero, once enough time passes and enough natural change occurs.   This is the truth of the world.  Hence the attractiveness of gold and real-estate holdings in nations that have Roman-style land-tenure & private-property structures.  Rome captured the world because of it's economic models, as much as because of it's disciplined, educated (in fighting) military.   

Remember the Punic wars.  You want to be Scipio Africanus, and not Hannibal.  And remember - if you need to kill a snake, you do not start chopping and hitting at it's tail, right?  You go directly to it's head, else you will likely be bitten and die.   Life is tough and brutal.  Your best weapon is your own collection of small grey-cells that are linked to define your neck-top neural network.  You already have the best AI.  Use it.

We are in a very weird and curious time.  Good stock in companies that can survive the coming *changes* - and are located in nations that will still be around after the "Great Restructurings" that I think will soon be upon us all - may well represent better paper, than the national currency itself.   Nations and governments are often fragile, mostly foolish, and typically run by deeply dishonest, double-dipping pocket-fillers.   This is certainly Canada's history, truth be told.

So, one must be aware that there are times when risk must be taken, to avoid even more outsized risk that is rushing down the track.  The great Economist, J. M. Keynes understood this quite well, and was a good investor, despite making a few mistakes.  

Political risk can be a killer.  I'm reading Donald Creighton's "John A. MacDonald - The Young Politician", and it's good.  Recently, the current government that has seized power here - and is run by a fellow who actually looks like Castro of Cuba as well as acts like him - has removed J. A. MacDonald's image from the $10 bill, and replaced it with a picture of some Tart-of-colour.  I think this is a terrible mistake, and will further damage the (already weak and fading) knowledge-base of how our Dominion was created, and what it stood for historically.

So even when there were good people who did the right thing to create something good and worthwhile - there will always be self-serving, corrupt opportunists who will seek to degrade and damage the memory of those who behaved well, and did great, difficult and heroic things which lead to fine and noble results.  The mediocre and second-rate people hate these "tall poppies."

This "assault-on-history" will always happen - much like it is happening now in the USA.  What needs to be understood is what a profound crime this is.  It is an act of cultural vandalism, and will also have economic consequences.   People will feel emboldened to cheat, lie and steal, because they see their current political leaders engaged in such actions, and will note how these cheaters can prosper.   So the average folks "break bad" also, and dishonesty and criminality become commonplace.

And once this happens, your investments can easily go down the drain, as capital flees the nation that is run by the corrupt and the dishonest.  It's like being in a hockey game, and you see that the referee's are actually playing for the other side.   You can do nothing, but leave the game.

Most investments go bad - but when the national money goes bad - everything can go bad.   And as we begin that transition (one need only look at Argentina to see what this looks like - a *socialist* economy that simply will not pay it's bills, and cannot be trusted at all), we must take care - and take action.

Stock is maybe a better investment than just holding cash - it might actually be safer and better for several reasons.

But most important - is the requirement to become politically active, and make every effort to defeat the forces of darkness and criminality that seem to always be leaking into the corridors of power.  In the USA, Trump can be a bit offside, but the Democrats are hundreds of times worse - they will literally engineer situations where the bodies can be stacked high.  Look at history - the idiotic tragedy of Vietnam War (created by that toad Kennedy, and then ramped up by Johnson - only to be eventually ended by Nixon, the best man of the three.)  And then the profound military and economic failures of Jimmy Carter - who did nothing about Iran terrorism, and created price-controls (and miles-long line ups for gasoline).  And then the ouvert, in-your-face lies of the corrupt Bill and Hillary Clinton regime.  

Watching the playbook of the USA is tragic - Ron Reagan was the best President the USA had, in the 20th century - and George Bush Sr. was a good man.  His son was a bit of an idiot, and Obama - a fine fellow - but a fellow with no experience whatsever at running anything at all - all this paved the way for the astonishing mess that USA finds itself in now.   Trump will almost certainly lose, and Biden - a man who will probably do a "737-Max8" to the USA's economy, along with his extreme-leftist dark-skinned female VP - will be our future.  This will be a dark future, I fear.  This darkness is not related to skin-colour, but to the expected economic despair.

The market will run for a while, and then some action will almost certainly cause confidence to be lost in the USA.  The place might actually fracture into a full-on civil conflict, where people take sides, and duke it out (or shoot it out) in the streets, as they will have no faith in the democratic process to offer them any sort of fair or sensible choice.  Or future.

The USA Democrats - and the anti-police, race-hatred open warfare that they have sanctioned in the streets of their major cities - have managed to seriously degrade American democracy - and that is a pretty impressive accomplishment.

The Democrats are running procedures that will damage democracy in USA.   They are blocking rational follow-on assistance to those who have lost their jobs - and are insisting on economy and money-destroying levels of unfunded financial flow, that will almost certainly wreck the US dollar as the world's reserve currency.   This is not hard.  England did pretty much the same thing to their own British Pound.  The near-future damage that will be done to global confidence in the USA is perhaps quite extreme.   I can't see this not happening.

Share ownership in viable commercial entities, will probably serve one well, better than just holding zero-coupon government bonds or cash-deposits in a bank account.  Inflation "protected" investments - by the USA government - can have their inflation protection removed by the stroke of a pen.  Do you trust them not to do it?

These are crazy times - and difficult, but not impossible to model.  We have a model that blows up real good, once in-period changes (ie. in-year changes) exceed 30%.  This has now happened, this year.

So, we face a future of wild, run-away inflation, or continued economic stagnation and collapse.  Or both.  Unless we have a great, huge World War.

I spec'ed out my chaotic "grow, crash, boom, explode, collapse" model (GCBEC) in the late 1990's  Interesting now, that here we are in 2020, and *all* the pre-conditions to make it happen, have now been met.

Curious times indeed.   Stand By?  or is it Stand Back?

We are still "all-in", but I don't sleep very well anymore.   :/

[ Oct. 4, 2020 ] Azerbaijan Risks Obliteration, We Suspect- We find the current Azerbiajan invasion and brutal assault into Nagorno-Karabakh a bit curious - but not that curious, as it turns out.  The "fighters" supporting Azerbaijan are reportedly a bunch of ISIS types and other bandit runaways from Libya and Syria - spoiling for another easy target, like the criminal rape-gangs that they truly are.  It appears that these ISIS-runaway types might have made another error here.

NATO is *very* unlikely to assist or even support Turkey's actions - because of it's military support of Azerbaijan, and the folks from that sad Muslim nation will find that the Armenians will not likely back down from the opportunity to feed the Turks a little payback for the murderous genocide that the Turks have insisted never even occured.  

Truth be told, NATO is pretty much finished.   It is a historical organ, a result of an old anti-German war, that has been over for 75 years.  It is really just a deep-history artifact, and Turkey has made it clear they are not onside with any sort of modern reality.  NATO is just noise now, we suspect.   Western nations should *partner* with Russia, and a joint effort to end forever the threat and problems poised by Azerbaijan would make a great deal of sense, to a great many people, for a great many reasons.

The Armenians are probably not foolish enough to try to fight a two-front war, so they will most likely wait until they have obliterated the Azerbaijani cities, until they turn their attentions on their hated enemies - the brutal rump-nation of that historical machine of evil, the "Ottoman Empire" Turks.   History sometimes seems to come back and bite hard, when it is not expected.   Ergodan is being unwise to support a war in this location, and at this time.  He as few friends left anywhere now - even in his own military.

We have a truly unique situation here - even though Armenia is supported by Russia, if it asked for help from the West - to shutdown a bunch of murderous post-ISIS Islamic "terrorists" - I think it might find that such help might be surprisingly forthcoming.

Westerners do not hate Muslims.  But so very many in the civilized Christian world, are *really* tired of violent Islamic terrorists, and their noxious, abusive and dishonest behaviour all over this sad planet.   A nice little campaign to crush Azerbaijan completely, might well be welcomed by Russia, USA, and Europe, despite the windy noise that the political people are making by their lip-flapping.   The politician mouth-noise always has to be there - as it gives cover to the operations on the ground.

A really simple and obvious solution to this annoying problem, would be the complete and absolute destruction of Azerbaijan.  Just remove the place as a political entity, and hand the entire region over to Armenia - which is a civilized, Christian country, not a bunch of wild worshiping psycho-killers screaming their "Allah Akbar" profanity as they murder men, women and children for sexual pleasure.  These Islamic terrorists need to be seen clearly, for exactly what they really are.

Is there really anyone except the devil-worshiping ragbags, who would care at all, if all the Azerbiajan cities were firebombed and shelled into ashes and rubble?  Probably not.  The weak and foolish political people in the do-nothing nations would say soundbites of concern.  But no one would really care enough to take any action, we suspect.

The entire removal of the Azerbaijan political entity would be an interesting exercise in "realpolitik" that might ultimately promote peaceful behaviour in a volatile region, dominated by religious intolerance and ethnic hatred.   The whole place could become "Greater Armenia", and the conflicts over Nagorno-Karabakh could be ended, once and for all.  Muslims who did not want to live in the new Greater Armenia could move to Syria or Iraq.  Maybe half old Azerbaijan could be given to Russia, to cover their costs, and for their help in fixing the problem.

Victory is how military problems are solved.  This modern approach - of never-ending pointless  "peace-talks" -  never solves anything or reaches a workable solution.  And it always seems to leave everyone most unhappy.   The solution to conflict is created when victory is achieved.

This is the clear lesson of history.

[ Oct. 2nd, 2020 ] Ok, So the AI Wins Again.  - This is getting quite hilarious.  I suppose I have to decide what I want to do - make money, or beat the machine.  The Machine always wins, it seems.  We elected to hold a major position that the C_Machine said quite clearly, was about to turn over and go pear-shaped.  

Well, I lose.  I did not expected President Trump to be diagnosed with Covid-19.  And my AI had no way at all of knowing that.  But the Ghost Economist in me, whispers something like: "It's all in the market prices, you idiot.  And you know that."

And I suppose, this is true.  We have done quite well, holding cash-flinging positions in the face of market volatility - but every so often, in order to accumlate some funds to pay taxes or acquire more property, I get busy and fiddle and fumble around with a bunch of AI-driven trades - and last year, they all made money.  It was actually a bit disconcerting.   The model is better than me.  It is not just a little bit better - it is a *lot* better, and this is curious.

Anyone remember that TV series called "The Prisoner", from the 1960's?  It was repeated on a local NPR-style public network thing we have here, back in the 1980's.   They only did 12 or 17 episodes or something like that.  Brits are clever with TV, but not clever enough to build a big franchise, and syndicate it out, like the Yanks did with "Star Trek".  I was at EMI Elstree once, during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, and later learned that the studio was offered a piece of the action, or, a fee-for-service deal by Lucas and Kurtz.  EMI elected to just get paid for their work directly - took no part of the action, thought the film was a bad joke, and would be a flop.

EMI Elstree studio complex is now a car park and a supermarket, and no longer exists.  Star Wars went on to be the most successful movie franchise of all time.  (Who are the "wankers" now, eh Brit-guys?  You were idiots all, sadly.)

Anyway, that series: "The Prisoner" was genius.  "Number 6" did not even know who ran the "Village" or fancy prison where he was held - was not sure if it was "our side", or the "other side".  That ambiguity made it a clever series.   And of course, it is a perfect metaphor for the whole problem of decision making under uncertainty.  We are all lied-to, and constructively misled all the time now - by every "agency" we deal with.  The nature of the "Agency Problem" has changed and grown.   I personally think "Agency" action is almost certain to be toxic and not in the best interests of the "client".   They will just stone you when they can, as Mr. Dylan so eloquently observed.

We've been reading the sad history of the NYSE.  I didn't realize they butchered the "one-share/one-vote" rule in 1986, then brought it back, and then killed it dead, when the NYSE merged with the Euronext in 2007, as the "Financial Crisis" unfolded.  The SEC had a rule that supported one-share/one-vote, but that is ancient history also.   There is a good piece of legal scholarship written about the whole issue, by a fellow from Univ. of Pennsylvania.  I'll post the link here later - it's on the iPad at the moment.

So many curious problems, and so little time.

I have read a lot about traders who have built profitable trading platforms and procedures, and then do not follow their own machines or models.  This seems to be a human thing - and that Israeli psychologist - the genius fellow Dr. Daniel Kahneman, who wrote "Thinking Fast and Slow" offers insight.  He identifies and postulates two data processing systems humans use - fast intuition and slow, linear, careful reasoning.   It's like the follow-on to Malcom Gladwell's treatise "Blink".

I know there is a third system - the one that comes into play to fix the problem with the Donkey that cannot decide between hunger and thrist - eat or drink.   The Famous Donkey cannot decide, as each desire balances the other perfectly.   And so it stands there and dies.  (Good old google:  => It's "Buridan's Ass" - a famous problem in philosophy).  But a specific system comes into play, in humans:  It is the FTS ("f*ck this sh/t") system we call it in Canada - you make a random, angry, outside-the-box choice - outside of the problem - you either choose randomly or you break out of the constraint, and do a third option.  We actually have this code for this in our neural-nets - seriously.   I think it accounts for some folk's descents into madness. )

There is actually literature and research on this "System Three".  It is evident when "Number 6" resigns from MI-n (where n= the number for the super secret spy agency), and insists "I am a person - with a name!  I am not a number!" and of course, he becomes *only* a number.

We humans do not like to be constrained by a bad set of options - each of which we know will damage and degrade us.  So, we have a third "thinking" system, which forces a jump outside of the constraints - in the old 19th century days, this was called "kicking over the traces", a folksy term that described a difficult horse, that would leap it's back legs over the "traces" - the harness-poles that were used to connect the horse's harness to the buckboard wagon.   Parents would use it to describe rebellious and/or difficult children, that would not accept necessary discipline, and would do anti-social things, like run away to the circus or the city.

And it seems to come into use in trading activity.  I have simply been rewarded too many times, for ignoring the advice offered by others - and even my own models and machines.   There is a curious freedom in saying: "F*ck it.  I don't care about this.  I shall stubbornly hold to my long-wave picture of the world, as it plays out correctly in the end."   And this is so often true.

But my research shows - as do my actual, Sorosian real-time market experiments also show - that just following the goddamn model actually makes more money.  And my back-testing (and side-ways testing) also confirms this.   It is crazy.   Why do I invoke System Three?  

I am not completely sure, truth be told.   But I know it is  a curious weakness.   "Number 6" escaped from his confinement - but no one would believe him, and he found himself back in the "Village".

I suppose Earth is our "Village" now, and there is little we can do about this, either.  But we strive for understanding, even it costs us.  There is research on this now:

and there is some truth here.   We have to make these deep, journey-to-the-centre-of-things trips every now and then.  It is the price we pay, for real understanding.

I once attended a public lecture given by R. D. Laing.  He was an interesting character, and a major figure in British Psychology research.  There are a lot of very clever English folks who become what is known as "barking mad".  Sadly, it is more common than many realize.  Dr. Laing  had some interesting insights on how to treat these crazy people, and why they undertook the "voyages" into madness that they did.  I recall how packed the lecture was, and how he spoke with focused clarity.

We are to remain in the "Village" here, until our lives end.  But our Village is large, and offers many delightful experiences and opportunities, even as the corpses pile up around us.

I suspect that by sabotaging my own (clearly profitable) trading recommendations, I am gaining something perhaps, that I need - a level of uncertainty and risk-pleasure that keeps me focused and working hard.  I am outside the constraints of the model, and the freedom here, is something that I quite enjoy.  Each day is a treat - and to be out of the process for periods when the markets decline, somehow make me just a spectator at the game.

I suppose that when the model indicates a *turn-over*, I should just buy a few "puts" and leave it at that.  On balance, I would likely make money, and also not suffer FOMO anxiety.  The curious nature of this business, is such that the worse you feel, the better you often do, it seems.

So do we become Kurtz?  And end up making our speeches to that circle of heads - pointed inwards to the homestead - instead of outwards as they were supposed to be?   I think I can hear Joseph Conrad's ghost laughing at me.  :)

And really, I have just one question for now:  Should I just go with the Shadow 2 SP-01, or go "whole-hog" as it were, and choose Hobdel's amazing CZC heavy custom A01-LD masterpiece - at three times the price?

[ Oct. 1st, 2020 ] The More One Learns, The Less One Knows - I watched a clip of Kate Bush doing "Babooshka" in Venice, in 1980.   Venice is an amazing historical place - a city I will almost certainly never see - it being such a hyper-tourist destination now, and what with the collapse in travel because of the Virus.  Was reading the history of the Kingdom of Jerusalem - and Venice figured in that chronicle too.   The current problems in Beruit and the French President's attempts to help them form a Government, get some financial aid, and rebuild after the port explosion - it all has such curious historical echos - like watching a bad remake of a classical tragedy, but done as a Made-for-TV downmarket production.   That old French expression comes to mind:  "The more it changes, the more it stays the same."    We all seemed condemned to relive and replay our history, like "GroundHog Day".

I seem to be fighting with the AI, and am holding positions that the best model I have says I should abandon.  It is recommending that I unload.   This is curiously difficult, as I know we are entering a unique time, where stock ownership may be vastly better than holding any cash.  But of course, my economic analysis could be wrong, and the simple AI recommendation, much better strategic advice.   I feel like President Merkin, trying to fix the unfixable.

[Aside: Know what a "merkin" is?  It is actually a vaginal hairpiece.   And when you learn that, you think immediately:  "Why in god's name, would anyone want to wear such a thing?"  Well, it turns out that English prostitutes in the 1600's would wear these items, especially if they had lost their pubic hair to age and/or disease.  In low light-levels, they could appear young and healthy (even if they were not!), and thus command higher fees for their services.  And of course - President Merkin (in the famous "Dr. Stranglove" film), is bald-headed - which just adds to the comedic genius of the whole enterprise.]

I probably need to bring this experiment to a close soon.  It has been helpful, documenting everything.  One of our positions - a significant holding - has just been flagged for complete redemption, at a nice premium.  I am both surprised and concerned - surprised because the company had just committed to another 5 years at a slightly lower yield on the securities in question, and this would have worked well for our needs.  And concerned, because of course, now, we face a major investment decision - and see very few attractive opportunities anywhere at all.  

I understand why people buy bonds with zero or negative interest rates.   The idiotic volatility of the equity markets makes any investment there, an uncomfortable and dangerous ride.  The loss of the professional "Specialist" system means that wild, stop-hitting swings are the standard operating process of the markets now - or also the even worse model of violent price-runups to attract momentum-player and ordinary idiots - followed of course, by the long, slow, depressing distributions that the stock-sellers have to make, as they harvest funds by the sale of their paper.

That distribution-decline process can go on for *years* and is of course, the worst outcome for any rational investor - as you find yourself in a curious auction process, where the bid prices go *down* as time goes on, rather than *up*.   

There is nothing more comically artificial than a *managed* auction.  At the end of any managed *auction*, if it is executed correctly by the promoters, the poor bastard who actually *won* the auction, will of course be filled with "buyer's remorse" - especially once he learns the extent of the "buyer's premium!"     As I wander around the world, learning stuff, I find I can do little but shake my head in wonderment and astonishment at the fantastic levels of idiocy and madness that seems to drive human behaviour.   Perhaps it all results from most people being either unhappy or simply unconnected?    Desperate for love - and of course unable to achieve what they see everyday in the media and the virtual world - they seek alternatives and neural excitements that compensate for the hollow emptiness of their own lives.

There is a curious phenomenon in Japan now (so much seems to be happening now first in Japan - possibly due to the curious demographics of the place - the inverted population pyramid, and so on...).  Young, successful, attractive, popular celebrity figures are committing suicide with a curious frequency.   This is difficult to explain at one level - these are successful people who appear on the surface to have everything - and even have it at a young age, where they can enjoy what they have achieved.  Yet perhaps that is the very problem for them - having reached the top of the mountain that they chose to climb, they look around and all directions now lead down - into middle-age, into mediocre performance, family problems, economic decline, failing health and then death.   They live in a tightly-bounded, controlled society, and suddenly see no available path that leads to anything they want to have. or anywhere they want to go.

That perhaps is it.   Perhaps that is the thing that kills them.   One needs to have goals and objectives and plans - even if they are absurd or unwise.  It seems to be a requirement of the human condition.  

And life in a programmed and restricted, bounded world, where the limited options available have now all been achieved - life in this kind of end-game environment may be seen as pointless and not worth the effort of existence.  

We can all understand "death-by-failure".  But this new Japanese observation, where you can have "death-by-success" is perhaps not something that should surprise us.  It occurs frequently in Western culture - the difference being it is blamed on drugs or alcohol or bad driving, and so on.  But if a rich and successful movie icon dies of a heroin overdose - perhaps it really is not a dosage accident.

And it is curious how much of human activity is oriented to "future planning" - and not to the simple enjoyment of the moment.  Asian kids don't often seem to be playing music for personal pleasure (the way a lot of English, European and North-American folks do).  They are very good technically, but the mechanical perfection of their music makes it sound like machine-made music sometimes.  I listened to Lang Lang play the Goldberg Variations last nite - it was very good, and yet it sounded different & I wondered where the humming was - and then I realized it was *not* Glen Gould!     Gould was a bit crazy - but the madness of desire seemed to be in his music - joyful release seemed to occur for him, as he played.  He really put his true soul into his piano playing, and somehow, listeners can hear and feel that truth.  His music transmits joy.  Lang Lang also loves his music - there is tenderness in his fingering that is fine and true.  You hear him play, and you stop and listen.

Successful artists somehow put it all out there - and this is recognized by their fans.  They tell a truth that we all experience, if we are lucky and take the risks.

I remember when the "Eurythmics" first came out.  I bought them on both vinyl and CD.

If you are an artist - or in any endeavor - you want to try to enjoy what you do.  That way, you will stay with it, and become good at it.    And being good at a thing you enjoy doing, is a treasure and a treat, and the pleasure that you feel in your work, becomes visible to others, and so can be shared.

This seems to be the algorithm for a successful and fulfilling life.  I wonder if one could actually communicate this awareness, in such a way that it could be understood by others?  Perhaps that is what the "Tea Ceremony" tries to do, and the Zen teachings, where the students are admonished to empty their minds, and live in such as way as to experience accurately the sharp edge of awareness-in-the-moment, that so many of us are unable to really do.  If that awareness-in-the-moment is linked to an action-response, then effective ability can become acquired, like a skill.  And that can be a very good thing, I suspect.

[ Sept 30, 2020 ] I Think You're a Contra - Reading the details of the PLTR Direct-Listing (not your father's IPO, I guess?).   Wow, if there ever was a bunch of funny-business being run, Mssrs. Thiel and Karp seem to be pushing all the boundries and all the levers full forward.   But maybe I am just missing how wonderful this brave new world run by spies and data-mining robots will really be.   FFS.   I understand now why Buffet's Berkshire bought AAPL at the high-price it did.   You hold an iPhone in your hand.  It is real.  And it can actually be used to make telephone calls, which is really pretty cool.  It's a consumer product, like a toaster or a teapot.  It's not just a picture of toaster or a dancing teapot.  The artists warned us about this, didn't they?  "This is not a pipe."

Looking at PLTR, I am gripped by a strange sense of discomfort.  But maybe I am missing something...  (and hey, I love - just love - AI software.  It is cool, and it really works.)..  But the whole "dark-world" of spooks and covert-killers makes me just a tad uncomfortable - like a hail of bullets thru the back windshield kind of uncomfortable.

But, hey.  It's the Future.   No Space Colonies on the Moon or Mars - just Novichok and Covid-19 and those other interesting bio-active agents we are not supposed to talk about.

What I really don't understand - the big "red flag" - is this is a NYSE listing, right?   What happened to the old "One Share = One Vote" rule for listing on the NYSE?   I am really confused here - did the NYSE just pitch this very good idea out the window?

The "Founders" share structure for PLTR looks like a perfect picture of the sort of nonsense that the NYSE did not allow.  That's why FB and GOOG are Nasdaq stocks - with multiple voting shares for the insider "Equity Lords".    But the info sets on PLTR indicate it is an NYSE direct listing, with something like 460 million shares available - and a potential share count of over 2 billion, once the full dilution calculations are made.  That's a ***k of a lot of paper being exchanged for gold coins.

Look, GPS jamming and finding bad-guys by watching the datastreams of traffic is cool, but should the NYSE also be trashing it's old and wise rules that have helped it to grow into global domination?   Why not just keep the "One Share = One Vote" rule?

It was a good idea in the past, and it is still a good idea.   The multiple-voting share structures that keep founders (and founders *families*) in control of major corporations, is really not a good thing.  The TSE in Canada and the sad and sorry performance of companies in Canada that have these "Founders-keep-control" share structures (different classes of shares for founders and the public, for example),  has certainly offered hard evidence of the wisdom of the old NYSE rules.   The "multiple voting share structures" are really just vehicles that allow founders to suck both the money and life out of companies, that might otherwise have been able to re-invent themselves, as the world around them changes.

The NYSE looks like it is a bit broken.  

[ Sept 29, 2020 ] Strange Times in New York- I can't believe what is happening in the USA sometimes.  Even if you truly hate Donald Trump, you might want to consider voting for him, if for no other reason, than I would say there might be a good chance that Mr. Trump now understands why confidential communication and secure data management is critical for any individual who does any transaction with a government agency.

Government has unlimited power - especially over individuals.  The old expression from England - "No one's life, liberty or property is safe, when the legislature is in session" has never been more true, than it is in these times.  

The judges, lawyers and media-people of Democrat-controlled cities, are obviously more dangerous than Huawei.   Once you have written a cheque with a 6-figure dollar amount to Government tax authorities, your picture of what government really is - and the astonishing threat it can represent - will change forever.   Government - and it's armed agents - can represent a violent, dangerous and economically destructive entity.   

One realizes governments must be kept on a very short leash, and the actions of their agents must be constantly monitored.   A bad person can do terrible things - perhaps even kill scores of people.  But the co-ordinated actions of a government - as Hitler and Stalin (and so many others in history) showed - can kill *millions* of innocent citizens.

Rules have to be put in place - and agencies created to enforce this monitoring - to prevent abusive government action.   The media and the courts are supposed to be part of the agency elements that do this watching and checking.   But they themselves can become part of the problem, when they break the rules of law and fair dealing.

One of the basic foundations of both tax law, and democracy itself, has always been that income-tax returns are confidential communications of economic knowledge between the taxpayer citizen, and the citizen's government taxation agency.

In Canada, this confidentiallity is a big deal.  It is taken very seriously.   Historically, one needed to have advanced "security clearance" just to see income tax data.  Being lax about the security of tax-records or tax data, was the kind of offence that could get a "civil servant" fired immediately.  If you left tax-data out on your desk at night - ie. it was not locked up and secure at the end of the day - that could be enough.  Tax data - really any information on private citizens that was of any sort of senstive nature - was supposed to be treated as confidential, and was to be held secure.  This is basic law.

So something has gone terribly wrong in USA now.  Donald Trump's tax returns should not be a matter of open discussion before an election - any more than anyone else's should be.  Anyone who knows anything about business - and tax-loss carry-forwards, for example - will not be surprised that there can be several years when you do not pay income tax on earnings.  Massive losses that are incurred can be carried forward for as long as they are applicable.

The "New York Times" and the Democrat operatives in New York - show direct evidence of a corrupt and badly broken legal system.

The unholy collection of corrupt judges, bent lawyers and abusive "yellow journalists" operating in New York's Democrat Machine have done two interesting things here.

1) They have proven that a serious flaw now exists in the operation of the US legal system, and the US tax system.  Tax returns have to be confidential.   That they can be used as they are now being used, as a political attack tool against a sitting President - shows *EXACTLY* why this information has to be held confidential.

2) They might just have engineered the successful re-election of Donald Trump.

If I were an American who would normally vote Democrat, I would be so angry and upset that this outrageous and abusive data-driven assault has occurred - where confidential tax data is used as a political weapon - that I would switch my vote, and support the Republicans in the November election.

A vote for the Democratic Party is a vote in favour of judicial abuse and a vote in favour of corrupt "New York Style" government operation.

As we say in Canada:  "F*ck that sh/t."

Income tax returns are supposed to be confidential.

I honestly think the Democrats might find this "yellow journalism" strategy - relying as it does on deeply corrupt  people and a profoundly corrupted legal process - might just backfire badly.

I fully expected Biden to win - but this very bad behaviour by the NY Democrat Machine might just torpedo the old boy's chances.

How could anyone vote to support the ugly, corrupted bucket of offal that is the current New York Democrat Political Machine?

All the Republicans need to do now, is send out this message in every communication:

"Hey Democrats!  Send a message to the corrupt legal establishment of New York!  Switch your vote to Trump, and tell New York lawyers and the New York Times, what you think of them!  If we are re-elected, we will *ensure* 100%, that your tax-return data cannot and will not be leaked to attack you.  We will fix this ugly problem."

Gotta say, that would sure work for me.  Vote for Trump, and get an ugly problem fixed.  Vote for Old Biden, and you will enshrine this nasty tax-attack strategy in every election from now on.

Strange Times.  Strange New York Times.

[ Sept 28, 2020 ] Walk the Dog  - In the last week, it's been my great good fortune to get to try out a Glock and a modern CZ-75 Shadow-2.  Both are very nice - but in different ways.  The Glock is *really* different from what I am used to - with the safety in the trigger itself - which makes for this curiously busy finger-feel just before the fun happens.  

The CZ-75 Shadow-2 is just a delight to hold and use.  It feels like something custom-made for the fat-fingers of north European white kids.  I mean, it would be nice to have those long, slender figures of the genius guitarists like Hendrix, but if you have fat, stubby fingers, the modern CZ-75 still makes you feel like you're Jascha Heifetz holding a Stradivarius.

I could write probably five pages of my impressions of the differences between the two platforms - but the thing that really comes to mind, is how excellent the political craftsmenship of the United States of America really was.  The Founders of that nation, were the smartest nation-designers in all of human history.    The USA is *really* diverse - and the virtue of "diversity" is not at all about hiring low-skilled, dark-skinned people - as the modern lefty types will often spout.  The value of diversity comes from having to craft some methodology whereby really different people can make important collective decisions without fighting and killing each other.  And yet still all remain alive and operational in freedom and security.

Most all collective action results from coercion.  Some fat topman gets control of the police, spys and/or military, and enforces his will on the people.  The democratic model - invented in Greece 2500 years ago - is different - but it is hard to actually operate - like a complex aircraft.   

Democracy requires armed, educated people who can make honest choices that reflect baseline human wisdom (a rare thing indeed.

The Americans - despite their conflicts and troubles - in the USA, designed a method whereby this is actually done - and done without reducing people to leader-following sheep.   The valuable diversity in the USA, is the interesting diversity of opinion, and how that plays out in their politics.

Some of the most helpful people I have ever met, have been at the various ranges I have been able to practice at - in both Canada and the USA.  One encounters the most interesting people - with gentle natures and strong opinions.  It's quite the opposite of the disinformation that circulates in the Media & the Press, dominated as it is, by yellow journalism and "fake" news.  

It's not so much that the news is "fake" - it is that it is fabricated, in the same way a poison is - to target  - with painful results - specific ideas, individuals and  viewpoints.   The older I grow, the more I see all "news" as data that ranges between the worthless and the toxic.

Do your research, put on your positions, and then go walk the dog.   The news is noise, at best.

[ Sept 27, 2020 ] "Just call Omsk Information ..."

Posted the Sept. 27 C_Machine forecast, graphic, above top.   On the leftside iPad, you can see the comic genius of Peter Sellers and Terry Southern (the writer), from way back in 1963...

"We'll meet again --- don't know where, don't know when...".   

Too bad we couldn't just nuke the coronavirus.   I find it tragic-hilarious the way the "Safety Nazi'" types are running all these vaccine "trials", while the Covid infection rates are spiking and the pandemic goes exponential.   Maybe we would use the FDA employees and the do-nothing Demorat pols as the test subjects for the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine safety trials.  Losing a few of those folks to anaphylactic vaccine-triggered toxic shock would not make anyone too sad.

Just for amusment - take a look at the witches brew of vaccine-agents which are already approved and being routinely injected into kids.  I am not an "anti-vaccine" type - you probably should get the vaccine if it can be shown to be safe and effective.  But you still will almost certainly get some kind of reaction.   I get reactions - ie. a mild flu or fever or nausea for every vaccine injection I have ever had.  Some people typically get mildly to seriously ill, one to two days later.   But that is the price you pay for the immunity.

Covid-19 may be different, so human trials are needed.   But the vaccine will still make some people really sick.  The CDC and Health Canada folks say the numbers are 1 to 10 per 1 million will get reactions - but that is only in the doctor's office, ie. anaphylaxis (a rapid allergic reaction), but the idiots who quote these numbers don't realize they are wrong, because these very low incident numbers ignore all the post-vaccine reactions that occur 24 to 48 hours later.

The Covid-19 vaccine probably won't kill you. WIll it give your kid autism, or brain-damage, or weakness in his/her lungs - maybe 10 or 20 years later?  Maybe.   But SAR-Cov-2 will try real hard to kill you *right-now*, so probably, you roll the big dice, and take the vaccine anyway.

The current "human trials" are probably a bit silly - given the known lethality of this virus.  Just take a look at the long list of vaccines that *are* already approved:

If all that stuff on that list can be injected into people and not kill them dead immediately, then I suspect, that if the Covid-19 vaccine does not immediately give the patients a massive anaphylactic shock, and the patients all show antibodies to the virus after a few days in the 100 to 200 person trials - then probably you want to just start enrolling folks in large public trials by geographic area.    The key is to do detailed follow-up checks on *every* person for the first couple of months, and see if any edge-conditions exist (like death, for instance...)  

At least Novichok is not on that "FDA Approved Vaccines" list.  Not yet, at least...  :D

[ Sept. 25, 2020 ] Q4, Then Shut the Door? - Weather forecasts indicate the amazing lovely weather we have enjoyed for September, is likely to change.  In two days, the rains look to come, and the summer will truly end.

It has been a strange year.  

fd: Still long, full invested.

SARS-CoV-2 note:  Finally, doctors and medical research folks are recognizing the progression and etiological movement-thru-time in the treatment and managment of Covid-19 infection.   The disease - with it's intense and rapid cytokine storm - is, in some folks who have contracted the infection -  a very serious and *immediate* life threatening danger.   Specific treatments - in this case, the agent interferon, may be helpful.   But the keys are two:  1) Genetic makeup can *radically* alter the way the disease progresses, and 2) different treatment regimes *must* be applied at different stages of the infection.

I know about this personnally, having suffered an extreme cytokine-storm reaction from what was probably the original SARS, a few years ago.  Our research into the original 1918 Influenza Global Pandemic (somewhere between 10 million and 50 million or more dead over a two year period), indicates that this cytokine-storm phenomenon was very common.  One documented case of the 1918 Flu exists were 4 older folks sat down to play cards.  Someone felt a bit ill, but thought it was nothing serious.  By morning, all 4 were dead, their lungs full of fluid from a pneumonic reaction.  Reports (which cannot be confirmed) indicate there were villages in Canada in 1918 and 1919, where almost everyone died.   In the same way that the 1929 Stock Market crash led to the creation of the Securities Exchange Commission, the 1918 "Spanish Flu" Pandemic led to the creation of Public-Health Departments and more detailed health statistics collection.  We honestly do not appear to know exactly how many people died from the 1918-19 Influenza Pandemic.

In the case of the 1918 Flu, an interesting phenomenon was observed - strong, healthy young people got rapid pneumonia and died much more quickly than did older, less healthy people.

Some understanding seems to finally be developing around the nature of the human immune-system response to viral attack.  The SARS-CoV-2 virus seems to be able to degrade the immune response for a day or two, which gives the virus an opportunity to massively replicate.

  The human antibody response to address this seems to be a very rapid response to the early-stage infection, that is associated with natural interferon.  A lack of this interferon response, seems to be where the turning-point lies, between a mild infection and a serious life-threatening one from Covid-19.

The paper above is only 20 pages.   If you have a modern browser, you can just click the link, and the .PDF file should display.  The research is interesting - dates from early April.

From the paper:

Here we compare the transcriptional response of SARS-CoV-2 with other respiratory viruses to identify transcriptional signatures that may underlie COVID-19 biology. These data demonstrate that the overall transcriptional induction to SARS-CoV-2 is aberrant. Despite virus replication, the host responseto SARS-CoV-2 fails to launch a robust IFN-I and -III (Interferon) response while simultaneously inducing high levels of chemokines needed to recruit effector cells. Because a waning immune response would enable sustained viral replication, these findings may explain why serious cases of COVID-19 are more frequently observed in individuals with comorbidities.

It's an interesting paper, which was published in Science.  It's old research now, but it shows that medical personnel are gaining understanding of improved treatment protocols.  Patients could be tested for interferon response, and perhaps given interferon early on, if their natural response is degraded or non-existent.

I got real sick last weekend - and for two days, I had difficulty breathing, and was drinking 6 or more 1/2 litre bottles of spring water each night.  Today, Friday, I am feeling ok.  The intense, rapid onset of the lung infection was dramatic - yet I had no fever.  I took several hot showers, and could honestly *feel* a defense reaction occuring in my lungs.   Seriously - I was weak, unable to sleep and I could *feel* the antibody or defense response running hard.   I coughed up great chunks of yellow strands of material from my lungs.  After two days - 48 to 50 hours - I was no longer coughing coloured mucous, only clear.  I could taste and smell all the time, and had no fever - but the rapid onset was unusual.  I had travelled around Ontario, and visited stores which had had a lot of traffic.  I had worn a cloth mask - not an N-95.  Cloth masks do not protect the wearer - only others.   I also drove with the sunroof open.  Maybe it was not Covid-19 - but it felt like a scaled-down episode of what I had a few years back.   I am normally healthy, and live an outdoor lifestyle, with lots of activity.  What's unusual about this (and the other) infection, is how rapidly they come on - and how the lungs are affected.  The amount of fluid and material that accumulates - and has to be expelled - is curiously signficant.  I've had all the childhood diseases, and also several serious flu's.  But they were nothing like this rapid-onset/lungs-fill-up/serious-oxygen-hunger thing that happened.   I suspect I picked up the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and - because I had had something similar - generated enough of an antibody response to mount an effective defense.  

I generally don't seek any medical treatment, as modern medical service in Canada is highly socialized and is "stand-in-line" treatment.  It is very bad where I live, because we have no local medical school, and we just do not seem to have many doctors in our region - and none that are "accepting new patients".   It is a rather comical & curious situation, but it seems to be keeping people healthy, truth be told.  (Study the famous 1965 Doctor's Strike in Israel.  The death-rates fell substantially, during the duration of the strike.  It is a fascinating piece of statisitcal-medical data.  Doctors can't help but do harm, it seems - mostly because they are arrogant *experts* - and experts have a nasty habit of being wildly wrong far too often.  This observation is consistantly confirmed by every study of "experts".)

But science does work - even if it sometimes works rather badly.  Read the papers, if you can get hold of them.  Do the best you can, with whatever you have.   :)

[ Sept. 24, 2020 ] Don't Bury Me, I'm Not Dead Yet (Mystery Dance) - Just getting a nice wheezless lungfull of clean fresh air - damn but it feels really very good.  I must write a note to Alexei Navalny and tell him I truly understand the wisdom of his comments.  We all take our lives much too seriously, and also far too much for granted.   I had the wildest dreams last nite - since I had not slept properly for about 48 hours. Met my old dogs (who are now dead), my dog from childhood, and an old girlfriend at a bar, when the lights came on.  Crazy sequences - would have been a great movie script, I if I could remember it all...

Bought a used rifle on the weekend, took it to the range yesterday, and it did not cycle.  It fired, but the action had to be operated manually, to eject each cartridge case.  WTF?  It's supposed to be a semi-auto, except there was no auto-action.  Like a lot of modern technology.  The stuff is bloody marvelous if it works right -but often it just does not.   At least it did not explode in my face. :)

Took it home, disassembled it all, and found the gas tube looked like the Black Hole of Calcutta.

Does anyone now even understand my old Victorian references?  I once knew an Anglo Indian woman, and it was so hilarious - she and I had had almost the same cultural upbringing - all the children's songs we played on the piano were the same, and our lexicon - the cultural memes we make reference phenomenon and to communicate ideas, were virtually isometric.  It was hilarious.  We had both grown up in what were essentially British post-colonial nations, but which still favoured the old (and very expressive) Victorian terms and expressions for things.

And also the Victorian values of hard-work, self-responsibility, and self-reliance.   Modern folks should understand how really *non-racist* the British colonial value-systems actually were.  In Ontario - Upper Canada - slavery was outlawed in the 1700's, I think before the USA colonial rebellion against England.  The Brits were harsh and firm, expected much - and were often cruel to anyone who screwed up - white or black.   And the Middle Classes trained their children carefully, and with explicit focus and attention-to-detail, and high expectations.   That model worked.  USA, Canada, Australia and India - all prosperous democracies in a world that was dominated by pirates, savages, thugs and bandit-kings, is proof of the high-quality and benefits of English colonization and Victorian cultural hegenomy.

What Athens did in ancient times in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, the British did to the whole planet.  And our world is a better place, because of  this.

Anyway, I cleaned the gas-tube and tried to clean and polish the gas piston push-rod, which was also filthy and corroded.   Not sure if this will fix it.  Tried to new find parts online, and even though lots of parts are documented on many websites as available - each and every site indicates: "Out of Stock".  Every. Single. One.   

The damage that has been done - and may well further be done - to our global supply chains is significant.   We are all going to need CNC machines, metal lathes, and laser-micrometers in our basements, in this Brave New World we are building, just to keep our stuff working.  And maybe heat-treating bathes and electroplating equipment also, as well as a mining operation and a smelting facility and a blast furnace in the back yard.  Is this really a viable approach?

Damaging our supply chains, and erecting tarrif-barriers - this is stupid and dangerous, and it is going to make the whole planet a poorer and less safe place.  Poor people can be collected easily into an army (they get food and money, if they accept the discipline and the harsh training  - a good trade for a poor man), and the army can then project power and provide gain for it's organizers.  This old model is very effective.  But free-trade and commerce allow greater prosperity for greater numbers.   It's a good model also.

Pax Romana.  Pax Britannia,  Pax Americana.   Whatever.    Global commerce and freedom of action is important, and needs to be preserved.  We need to learn this obvious truth.  It seems to be the Mystery Dance of civilization.

Stay alive.  And stay global.     :)

[ Sept. 23, 2020 ] Heard It All Before - Doing our part to facilitate herd-immunity, I suppose.  We feel bad.  Breathing was hard work last nite, drinking water constantly, headache, dizzy - really quite a constellation of nasty symptoms.   Not sure if this is Covid.  Sure seems to match the symptom profile.  Wear your damn masks, folks.

Market is flat to down, but our stuff is up - we approach ex-div dates, and much of our portfolios are dividend-heavy.  Why?  For the money, of course.

Really crazy time - off the meter in some ways.  Having the farm is a good thing.  New winter-crop is beginning to grow.  Looks very beautiful - small green shoots, about 2-inches high yesterday, and today, they are 3 to 4 inches high.  Stuff grows here like bamboo, it's quite interesting - the land is very fertile, and the climate is warm and lovely this year.  Of course, at any time now, we could get cold, rain and/or snow.

Real-estate is absolutely flying.   Places are getting listed and are getting sold in "bids come in on single day" trick, so that folks putting in offers are bidding above asking prices - small houses in nearby towns, small rural properties, and just plain ordinary houses in suburbs - are selling over asking prices.   Eg: A small Victorian brick house, in a nearby town, nice, but not exceptional, is/was listed for $750,000.   Ordinary, not very special type houses along highways, which were always hard to sell, are getting listed and sold in a matter of days.

There is a simple, old-fashioned "we are full" situation happening.   On weekend, I took a run from our small city area, to Toronto, and up the highway 400 to north of Orillia.  It was Sunday morning, and I expected light traffic.  It was crazy busy.   At Toronto, 10 lanes - both directions - solid traffic moving quickly.    Sunday is just another day now - the old Victorian/Edwardian model of Sunday-as-a-day-off is pretty much completely gone.   Partly the boomlet is seasonal - folks have to get their summer-plans in now, and the weather has been unseasonably lovely.

But I watch real-estate action,and it is crazy.   Everything has sold signs on it, and Toronto is just plain full.   If you want to be outside of the viral-creche regions that are the hyper-crowded urban environments - you will have to pay for it.  There are satellite-suburb communities in lakeland areas north of Orrilla - 1 & 1/2 to 2 hours north of the City.   Used to be "cottage country", but now is being developed as satellite communities of suburbs.  Highway 400 is six-lanes, both directions all the way to Barries now- and is full/busy *all* the time.  North of Barrie, two roads - 400 (4 lanes) and Highway 11 (4 lanes) branch north.  Used to be sparse, long-haul travel roads for vacationers and trans-Canada truckers.  Now, full busy, with commuter traffic.

And the prices of everything everywhere - in terms of residential - reflect the population push and growth.

Bottom line here, is that the price-push in homes - where you can live and now work and make money from, if you have high-speed internet - reflects this new reality.   Your cottage on the lake is now a production site from which money can be made.  The digital-action work at a rural or farm property can outstrip the income from the fields.   And regards the fields - two or three men, with modern agricultural equipment - can cut, harvest, and then plow and then sow a crop - in a couple of days.  The productivity levels - because of aggressive deployment of serious capital equipment - in farming now, is amazing.

The price jumps for good real-estate around here is not fluff and foam of a bubble.   It is a simple economic re-pricing of the value of good land and a nice house, from which one can make a viable income.   A house in the country is not just a Roxy Music luxury item for rich people - it is actually a safe-zone *AND* a viable factor-of-production in a digital economy.  That makes it damn valuable.   Toronto - like all cities now - is just full - and if viral infections are to be our new future (and I cannot see any way they are not going to be), then having your own land and house will be a Very Good Thing.    Current house-price valuations are simply reflecting this reality.

And this means the mortgages backed by this real-estate are not likely to be defaulted upon.  Loan-to-value ratios here are typically 75 percent or better.  You can buy with 10% down, but then you need to mortgage-insure that 15% you don't have, using CMHC.   The Ottawa folks are concerned that prices are too high.  But they are government workers, and often do not really see the real economy, which is always discounting the future.

I look at all this - and the nutty low valuations of the Banks in Canada, and I honestly think that the prices for Canadian Bank stocks are way too low.   But *only* Canadian Banks - not USA or European Banks maybe - I am not sure about the asset-quality that backstops their loans.   The value of bank-stock is based on the quality of the bank-held assets.  In Canada, it is mostly mortgages - the Banks hold a lot of mortgages.

We have one portfolio that is built out of mostly bank preferreds - for the income.  And it has done well - fat yields, and a risk-price on it that was just goofy wrong.   The contigent-capital prefs that look ugly risky - ie. they convert into bank common, if the bank gets into financial difficulty - the so-called "bail-in" model - are probably safer than Government bonds, IMHO, since Government bonds are - well, "Government Paper".   A vote in the Legislature could alter or erase it, is a truth that is ignored by many.   One need only examine Argentina - an interesting example of profound, extreme economic failure - created by Very Bad Government.

Governments come and go.  They are like clothing - they start out clean, then get dirty as they are used, and eventually need to be changed.  And that is how it should be.

Banks, if they are run right - should operate for at least hundreds of years, as long as they don't go into stupid trades - like Long Term Capital Management (those PhD boys who lost *all* their client's money) or the Barings Bank, which was taken down because of Nick Leeson and the typical English arrogance+ignorance problem, or pull a "Lehman Brothers"  ( run a hollow shell with > 27 times leveraged risky investments, false financial statements, and management that asset-stripped the profits).   The great Banks of Venice - some of which lasted for hundreds of years - were forced down to bankruptcy because they loaned money to dishonest Kings - and the Kings were just Government people.   Kings and Governments and other bad, unreliable entities have one common characteristic: They routinely do not repay their loans.  The Victorian British used to deal effectively with Bandit Governments who would default or try to confiscate British property.  The Brits would just steam a bunch of gunboats into a harbour of the Deadbeat Bandit Government's nation, and shell the place.  

Everyone wants a revenue-stream.   And the mortgage-payment revenue-stream that a good banking model has, is just about as good as one can get.   As long as the mortgages are backed by quality assets - houses and land that is valuable - then the bank is golden.  And with a digital economy, a good bank is a hell of a lot better investment model, than any sort of car company.  We'd like to buy a Tesla - and maybe even invest in the business - but it is *way* too expensive.  The Electric Cars are toys for rich people, as most high-end cars usually are - and maybe always will be.

I suspect Canadian bank stocks are actually underpriced, assuming that the rest of their loan books have asset quality at least as good as their mortgage portfolios.  Canadian Banks throw off money - car companies burn money.   The respective market valuations are curious.

Another curious observation:  Diversification, if not dead, is rare and very hard to find now.  You cannot diversify, really.  You might *think* you are diversified, but you won't be.  Run the correlation matricies between your different assets values over time - or just look at the way gold, silver, oil, tech-stocks, financials and consumer-product stocks all move together now.  It's the "risk-on/risk-off" model now that drives investment.  And it's a badly broken process, just like government bond investing is.  This is a rather serious problem.  The only solution we have found, is to do a bit of the risk-on/risk-off thing, and put most of one's assets into one's best ideas.  The old "Markowitz" diversification strategy does not work anymore - just like pretty much every process that promises a "free lunch".  It works for a while... until it doesn't.  And then it explodes in your face.  [ I actually had a device explode in my face once.  The metaphor is apt, as the process is unique, in that it plays out so quickly, you cannot take any protective action.  All you get is a single mental image of the event.  But that, combined with the sound and the subsequent ringing in the ears, makes the event quite memorable. :) ]

Full Disclosure:  Yes, we own Canadian bank stocks in the portfolios we both own and manage, and our AI-test bed runs on bank-stock.   We like the idea of a Tesla CyberTruck, but that looks to be science fiction.  A newish Ford F-150 is more likely to be in our future.  The small Honda CRV 4-wheel drives are made here in Ontario, so we got one of those.  I am amazed at how nice it is to drive.  The transverse 2.5 litre 4 cyl engine and steering are like a race-car's, but it has a crazy amount of cargo space.  And it uses about 1/4 of the fuej of the old F-150 (which now has a failed power-steering hydraulic unit, rendering it undrivable).   We are leaning towards a Honda Ridgeline, given the fine quality of the little CRV.   Or, we may be like our neighbours, and buy a horse and a wagon, if the World Economy collapses.    :)

[ Sept. 22, 2020 ] Drive-In Saturday - Mkt seems to be recovering, world is looking a bit crazy - and, I think I have the damn coronavirus.   Since I had SARS (or something very similar) three years ago (and the worst cytokine storm I ever experienced in my life), I am pretty sure I have a reasonable compliment of antibodies.  I am actively fighting this thing - hard-core extreme cytokine reaction, difficulty breathing, coughing up yellow bits and strands of mucous.  (Yes, I know - too much information.  But I am more than anything, a scientist..)   Drank about 6 1/2 litre bottles of mineral water - kidneys are working overtime, clearing the viral load - each bottle caused equivalent discharge of urine about 10 minutes after drinking it.  Interesting.   Was really sick last nite - but recovering today.  

I can actually feel the antibody reaction running - it is curious.   Not 100% sure it is coronavirus, but it came on fast, bad and intense.  Probably the result of a bunch of places I visited to look at and buy some difficult-to-acquire hardware.  I used sanitizer and wore a face-mask (law requires it now in almost all commerical and/or business establishments in our Province), but I took the mask off in one store, and that was probably my error - the virus absolutely is known to exist for *days* in aerosol form inside any enclosed spaces that are not actively ventilated by having open windows.

But feeling better this AM.  WIsh me luck.   I have antibodies to this thing, I am pretty sure, because of previous encounter with a bizarre flu-like virus infection that almost killed me several years ago.  But you *really* do not want to catch Covid-19 - or any coronavirus-style infection or even a bad influenza.  The feeling of not being able to breathe - ie. metabolize oxygen - is really awful.  It's like a hand over your mouth and nose - you pull in air, but the lung membrane cells that let you absorb O2, are covered with a layer of yellow mucous, so they don't work well.  You breathe, but you feel this tremendous desire for oxygen - it is literally called: oxygen hunger.

Do everything that you can to avoid catching any coronavirus or pneumonic influenza.  Wear the damn masks and sanitize your hands on both entering AND leaving any place of business where you might touch something.  

Follow the protocols.  Wear a mask, and use the sanitizer when both entering and leaving.  Don't touch your face, until you can wash your hands, and remember when handwashing, to scrub under the fingernails, as that is where virual bits can accumulate, if you touch anything at all.   Simple protocols like this can make the difference between being fine, and not being fine.  :/

Update: By afternoon, feeling a lot better.  :)

[ Sept. 21, 2020 ] Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades - Let their be light, at least.  But a bit twisted.  Hope it's not "Go towards the Light!"...  

Curve turned over on model last week, figured it was wrong.  I think maybe it is better to just follow the model.  The news this morning is ugly and awful - despite the lovely weather here.  The Bank meltdown is happening on absurd warmed-over old news, and China is being insane - a War against Taiwan is a Fool's Project of the first magnitude - really a bad idea.  But it is looking - a lot - like it might happen.   Will the sun set on Sun Yat-sen again?

As if Covid was not enough?  

And I caught something yesterday - either a cold, or the damn c-virus.   Was all over the province, buying hard-to-source stuff.  Bad decision, maybe.

China should not needlessly get into a conflict with the Americans.   They live for conflict, and are actually defined by it, like the Romans were.   An attack on Taiwan - a democratic independent entity, with honest courts and a working Republican legislature - would be seen by the Americans exactly the same way the Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait was seen - as an obscene act of murderous brutality and criminality.    It would also give the USA focus that they currently now lack.  And it will be absolutely hilarious from a historical perspective - to see the Americans fighting alongside *with* the Japanese and the Vietnamese, instead of against them.

At the moment, America appears weak and divided.  But a good war would really let them all get on the same page, and also try out their new hardware - which of course the generals and the tech-heads are probably justing itching to try out.  It won't be like "Ghost Fleet" - at least our research suggests this is the case.   If the Americans are smart, they can use the whole event to clean up a whole bunch of problems.   Viz: They (the Americans) could set off a small nuclear charge near South Korea - or even in South Korea.  This could then be blamed on the North Koreans, and a small, but effective nuclear response could be taken against *all* of the North Korean military sites, and all of its power-stations, water-supplies, and nuclear-weapons facilities.   The whole exercise could be over in 20 minutes - and the entire thing blamed on the North's first use of it's nuclear weapons.  That's one problem solved, AND a demonstration of resolve that will make an incursion into Taiwan a major confrontation that might result in the destruction of much of China's modern infrastructure.

Yes, this is an extreme scenario, but if we are taking armed-conflict, then we have already opened the book of extreme action.   And once that book is opened, it will not likely be closed until there is a clear and complete victory.

These "little wars", without clear winners and losers, are foolish, pointless, and profoundly stupid exercises.  Enough has been learned, to realize that war - one begun - needs to be taken to it's conclusion.

In attacking Taiwan, China may find that it destroys itself.    This is an occurance that happens so often in human history, that it really must be understood.  War is a deeply attractive event for people who are poor, bored, and living unfocused, limited lives.   China - which has enjoyed such wonderful, runaway success in the last 30 years, would risking losing much of their gains, in a war with America.

America, full of internal division and frustration, and beset by intergenerational jealously, would be able to craft a whole series of beneficial solutions for itself, just by blasting the living crap out of everything on the Chinese mainland.  If they were at all smart, they could do a deal *with* Russia, and offer most of Northern China to the Russians, just like they gave them Venus, back in the 1960's.   Putin would love this, because it would give his country - also beset by internal conflict - a clear focus.   India could be given Tibet and maybe a few thousand miles of new land inside China, Taiwan would end up running the "Republic of Greater China".

The war could work out wildly well for America.  They could tighten up control of their cities which are run by idiot-mayors & leftist fools and are making political use out of bomb-throwing protesters and angry, out of control black people.  Most Americans would welcome any form of Federal martial-law, and the arrest of the AntiFa "protest squads".  In wartime, the public accepts military command & control, because it is necessary for victory.  Various "War Emergency" powers could be granted, and as long as the draft is not used, then almost everyone would be pleased.

China would be much more wise to do *nothing* about Taiwan - other than to perhaps study carefully it's democratic structure and institutions, and emulate them on the mainland.

War mostly kills people, damages cities, and burns up money.   It is to be avoided, if possible.

[ Sept. 18, 2020 ] Civitas - Curious, as I had not read Cicero - yet the honest study of economics and finance leads one along a path-of-thinking that is exactly defined by this concept, this idea: Civitas.    Type the term into a Google-search, and one gets this definition:

"In the history of Rome, the Latin term civitas, according to Cicero in the time of the late Roman Republic, was the social body of the cives, or citizens, united by law. It is the law that binds them together, giving them responsibilities on the one hand and rights of citizenship on the other."

It is when the basic concept of justice and fair-law is abused and degraded, that an educated man feels such revulsion and disgust.   He knows the essense of "civilization" has been assaulted.

So many examples now:

    corrupt, and dishonest Leftist governments of Argentina, which refuse - regularly - to pay their bills and even the interest on their loans, and then blame their failures on those who loaned them funds!
    dark-evil Russian state operatives using toxic poisons to murder adversaries and silence political opponents to a corrupt State.  And then State officials spout lies like a fountain in a city square spouts water, when the crimes are proven
    A Chinese communist gangster-government - which holds power by the use of force, brutality, terror & fear - threatens with ugly belligerence, a nearby Island enclave where an elected democratic government operates and a peaceful people, living in freedom, reside

These actions assault the very essense of what civilization is.  We come to this conclusion from the perspective of investors and students of economic science - only to discover that Roman and Greek writers over 2000 years ago identified, documented and expressed deep concern over the exact same kind of problems.

Curious.   Our enemies are not the Chinese or the Russian people.  Our enemies - and the enemies of all civilized people of the planet, regardless of their nationality or their racial origin - are those who engineer and execute these criminal attacks on human freedoms and the basic legal & contractual process that defines the very essence of civitas.

The non-democratic communist mainland Chinese government must leave free & democratic Taiwan alone.  The Russian State-backed gangster-spies must stop attempting murder and vicious assault-actions against Putin political opponents who are operating peacefully.  And the corrupt, serial-bankrupt governments of Argentina must repay what they owe to investors, and not be given any more funds by wealth-waster agencies like the IMF, until all repayments have been made.

The democratic, free nations of the world must demand and enforce the requirements of civitas on all these bad actors, or even the most cursory analysis indicates clearly that attacks on civilization and civil & legal structure that keeps it working, will continue to grow.

Some kind of war will come - with certainty, eventually - unless these offensive and abusive assaults on civilization itself can be properly punished & prevented and thus effectively discouraged from routinely occuring.

It's a very easy prediction to make.  One need only consult 2500 years of historical record to observe the evidence.  What will make it different this time - the war will not likely be between nation-states - just with the small group of bad folks making the wrong decisions, and causing all the pain, problems and suffering.

[ Sept 17, 2020 ] Nuts. - Famous and iconic cartoonist Gahan Wilson died last year.  I used to love his stuff in National Lampoon and other educational publications of the highest calibre ("Playboy", for example ...)  

Where we live, the kids are all going back to school.   I remembered the top cartoon - and found it on the 'net.  Covid-20 maybe?  Or Covid-21?  Or will it be Novichok?     

See, in Russia, the source of the Novichok poisoning of Alexei Navalny has been identified - a bottle of mineral water in his hotel room:

(Update: 2021: Actually - it turned out he was poisoned by some FSB agent putting Novochok into his underwear.  Seriously.   Mr. Putin... shame on you.)

I wonder if Vladimir Putin will ever travel outside Russia again?   The problem with poisoning your opponents, is that - as my old Irish Grandmother used to say: "What's sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander."    It is an evil thing, to use poison against political opponents.  I can't believe Putin would have ordered such a disgusting and evil thing to be done.  But perhaps he might like to determine just who did such a thing - if even just for his own safety, and to make it possible for Russia to continue to do business with the rest of the World.

The official Russian "Honesty Default"  is starting to affect global capital markets, according to one of our models.   This is becoming serious.   With the Russians using Novichok on a routine basis, no-one anywhere is safe.   It some ways, Novichok - and it's use by Russian Government agents - is more dangerous than Covid-19, in terms of the utlimate damage it might cause.    Know this truth, people.

The Logic of Occam is obvious.  A national government that is regularly using Novichok or any other bio-weapons like this, in the wild to attack it's opponents, will have to be "shaved away", one way or another.  The risks for everyone are too high to be allowed.   Using Novichok is exactly like using nuclear weapons.  It crosses the line.   Mr. Putin might want to get a handle on this before it gets further out of control.  The idiotic lies from "Kremlin Officials" have to stop now, and the "Russian Honesty Default of 2020" has to be corrected with sunlight and open inquiry.

This whole bio-weapon thing is getting seriously out-of-control.  China needs to allow full and open international inquiry into it's Covid-19 related bat-virus research, and the Russian "government" needs to allow full and open international inquiry into how Novichok is getting into regular usage by dark-agent operatives in Russia, the UK and Germany, who are using it to hurt and kill people.

Otherwise, Occam's Razor will morph into the Sword of Damocles, and will have to start lopping off heads.

PS:  The whole investment-experiment has been working rather well for several years now.  Quite curious - even thru the ugly Covid-19 meltdown & recovery.  The key really seems to be our Roman-style, fee-simple. property tenure.  We tightly own our own property here, with all the rights and heavy responsibilities that that entails.  The ability to hypothecate property is critical to the operation of a viable financial system.

The folks in Indonesia have discovered this - and they are jumping to a First-World status in just a generation.  Indonesia has roughly as many people as USA.  How about that?  Once they develop hard-core advanced technology, things could get interesting.   It's one of this planet's most interesting social-economic-technological experiments.  If the people in Indonesia are given American-style freedoms and opportunities - they might be building spacecraft and advanced energy-conversion devices within the next 10 to 20 years - much like the Chinese are doing now.  

We round-eyed northern folks are going to have to get used to Asia and the Asians being a dominant power.   It may be a tough on America.  Their sun may be setting, as the Eastern sun rises.   Our job will be to just defend our borders and our interests.  This may prove to be both costly and difficult, but we leap technologically ever few years. so we know we can do this.  It seems to be something deep in our DNA.  We eat, sleep, dream and work-for, the improvement in all things we see and create...  Quite curious, really.   The new USA Air-Force prototype fighter, will be able to evade radar, and deliver a lethal payload to anywhere on the planet, and not even be something that can be stopped by missles or enemy aircraft.  And it went from design specs to a flying prototype in something like 11 months.   That is how it is supposed to work, isn't it?

 "Oh Brave New World.... please don't mess with us, or we will have to act accordingly.,,"  seems to be the base-line mantra.  We have no other path that we can do down.  We desire peace and freedom, as no other model is even in the realm of our viable reality.  But if either of these are put at risk by criminals, we have no choice but to act with an automatic nature that is not open to any negotiation at all by anyone.  This is a curious essence that defines and directs all that we are.   Rome never actually "fell".   It just moves around a bit, doesn't it?   Civilization is not just roads and bridges and cities - it is an infrastructure that is built in the mind - the idea of "civitas".  SPQR.

[ Sept 16, 2020 ] Superman Never Made Any Money -

Read the life story of William of Occam.  He lived during interesting - and very dangerous - times.

He stands as one of the great historical figures, who tried to correct the profound and self-destructive errors-of-thinking that dominated conventional thought at the time, and that drove the behaviours of the religious authorities who dominated Europe.

We like him because he never completed his studies at Oxford, and yet was recognized as a Great Teacher and a scholar who focused efforts on observation, analysis and truthfulness.  Of course, these are not at all the traits or characteristics one associates with religion or religious practices.  

If you use it right, Occam's Razor can shave away the dirty, ragged beards of obfuscation, and render visible the naked face of truth.  It can also help one get rich.  :)

But getting rich, is not everything.  Many, many things are much more important.  Look at Navalny's picture in his hospital bed.  It's on the BBC, and his Instagram account.  Breathing on your own - that's a super accomplishment.

[ Sept 15, 2020 ] Uguisu Bari (Bari is from verb: Haru) - This is Japanese term for the squeaky floor that was put into castles, so that Ninja's (or any intruder) walking across the floor, would make a distinct noise - a loud squeak.    The hardwood floors were crafted so that as you walked on them, they squeaked like a Japanese Bush Warbler (a small bird).  Uguisu is the name of the warbler, and the verb Haru means to mount (the floor on cross-members).  Haru actually has about 50 meanings - from the word for Springtime, to describing a bloated stomach, or hanging wallpaper.  The literal meaning is "bird-squeak mounted" type of floor.

What's so interesting, is that the need for intruder detection and perimeter defense is as old as humanity.   Our close relationships with dogs is derived from exactly this need.  The dog's nose is more than 10,000 times more sensitive than a human nose, and their ears - hearing ability - vastly exceeds human hearing in both sonic range and sensitivity.  Dogs stayed with humans, because it would be the dogs that would first hear nighttime intruders, and their barking would awaken the tribe members.   Dogs and humans can also hunt much more effectively together.

The requirements of security and careful observation and "keeping a watch" have always been with us, and probably always will be.

The world is full of bad people who will always attempt to advance their positions thru the use of subterfuge, violence and criminality.  The "sneak-attack" is alway a possibilty, and as the use of technology grows ever more sophisticated, the ability to carry out "covert operations" becomes more and more the strategic weapon of choice.

And of course, modern "birds-squeak floors" are able to communicate the awareness of criminal intruders, without the intruder being aware of it.

And also, as the technology grows more and more sophisticated, it becomes almost impossible for any secret criminal action, to be undertaken without it becoming apparent and visible to all, eventually.

One hopes that this would make for a more safe and secure world for all of us.  But humans being what they are, this is not likely to be the case.

Spy-tricks and dark-of-night murder crimes are less likely and more difficult to carry out now in secrecy.   But rather than this damping down the level of bad behaviour, it seems to be simply driving it out - gangster-style - into the open sunlight of daytime.

This presents us all with curiously changed requirements, and the need for new thinking on how threats are addressed and dealt with, does it not?

Are we hearing the squeaky warblers now?  Here is a pretty loud squeak, right here:

A Chinese doctor, an expert virologist, has - with two others - authored a paper, which provides evidence suggesting that the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19, might have been developed specifically in a lab, to explicitly target humans.  It is a very detailed, technical paper, which requires some understanding of the underlying biochemical mechanisms involved, to really grasp.   But in a nutshell, the coronavirus spike protein, that so perfectly binds with human cells - at the 2ACE site - shows some evidence of being a targeted, manufactured entity, and possibly, not the result of random mutation and viral bio-evolution.

The paper is not conclusive - and this is key.  But what is curious, is the profound, explicit censorship that is occuring now, and is showing up in many areas of science.  The virus either evolved naturally, and made a surprising jump from bats (where it is not typically lethal) to humans (where it is uniquely and impressively contagious and lethal), or a bat-virus was engineered to alter the spike-protein so that the cell-binding features made it *specific" to human cellular makeup.   It is either one or the other.  Many papers assert the former view, while the second viewpoint is censored.  This is curious.

And here is the thing: Occam's Razor suggests that the second option - a genetically engineered effort to explicitly target human cells - probably is the explanation that remains when all the other more unlikely explanations are shaved away.

Science *demands* a skeptical outlook.  Scientists who are *not* skeptical, are not really true scientists. They are more often just political hackers and exam-passers.   They are not really scientists in the traditional sense of the term.  This is a problem, and the problem is growing.   The trend is serious, and we are seeing it everywhere now.

A simple example is the obvious infection-by-aerosol transmission vector of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.  The early comments by the WHO (World Health Organization), attempted to discourage and downplay this obvious transmission vector, when researchers and front-line people were seeing massive evidence of this.  The focus on prevention was on "hand-washing" for crying out loud!   Anyone with an IQ over 60 realized pretty quickly that airborne transmission was the primary infection vector, yet strange political action seemed to be applied to deny or downplay this obvious characteristic of the infection.

But of course, it would be aerosol droplets that would make this virus a perfect weaponized agent.

We are hearing at least four loud squeaks coming from our Castle floor here:

1) Technical evidence exists that the SARS-CoV-2 virus was engineered using two bat viruses, and some RFLP tweaking of their DNA.  The effort was to make a virus that had *very* specific binding properties to human cells.  This was done by altering the viral DNA so the spike proteins had slightly different nature, which improved the ability of the coronavirus to bind to the human cell, and use it for replication.  And unlike the SARS virus, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is particularly adept at transmitting infection from very small areosol droplets, which can remain alive and infectious for several days.  This makes it interesting, and further suggests weaponization.

2) The Chinese have resisted having a full and completely open inquiry as to exactly what happened, and have instead responded with attempts to censor any discussion or research on virus engineering and possible weaponization efforts that have been undertaken at military-backed research labs.  

We should stress that we understand that everyone is working on this - the idea being that you have to build and understand the nature of the dangerous weapon, if you want to prepare and engineer a defense against it.   The Israeli's, for example, have been working on chemical and biological weapons aggressively since the 1970's.  Their reasons are obvious - they wish to have some ability to recognize and defend against this sort of attack - which is getting cheaper and easier to do, every day now. It's no good hearing the floor squeak, recognizing the murderous intruder, and not being able to do anything about it.

You build the virus weapon, so you can engineer the vaccine against it, of course.  You study the poison, so you can understand the antidote.   This process is always ongoing.

We suspect that if the virus was manufactured by genetic engineering techniques, it's release was probably an accident.   Lab accidents happen.  It is a fact of life.   But if SARS-CoV-2 was made (partly) in a lab, then the information would help in dealing with the nasty thing - which is now in the wild.   China would be wise to offer all assistance it can.  The fact that they are resisting doing this, makes a very loud squeak.

3) The recent - successful - efforts by the mainland CCP (Chinese Communist Party) and the XI administration, to extend tightened military & political control over Hong Kong are interesting.   Democracy activists from Hong Kong, attempting to flee by boat to Taiwan, were seized at sea, and transported to Shanghai.  Their families are unable to even retain legal council for them.  Squeak.

4) China mainland military recently ran several "burning sky" missions into Taiwan airspace, to probe the location of Taiwan's radar defense locations, and assess the radar-coverage of the Island.   This is not just a squeak.   This is a sword dropped on the floor.

I could go on here.  But perhaps you are awake now.   The final and most interesting noise, is the sound of the ancients.  You have to listen closely to hear it.   Sun Tzu in his "Art of War", in the chapter on "Empty and Fullness" said with clarity: "When you are concentrated into one while your opponent is divided into ten, you are attacking at a concentration of ten to one, so you outnumber the opponent."  The implication is obvious.  Victory is assured.

Our forces at our Castle are deeply divided.  Factions and their leaders struggle and argue among themselves, and the people are weary with sickness, and fearful for the loss of their prosperity.   Could there ever be a better time for adversaries to act against us?   This is not  a squeaking warbler.  More like a beating drum...

So, here's the thing:  We rate the chance of a "war" (of some sort) breaking out soon, rather higher than normal.  Perhaps a lot higher than typically is the case.

[side note:] Occam's Razor - is the brilliant conceptual trick created by the famous "William of Occam" => shave away the complex explanations for an event, and what remains - the event explanation with the simplest and least number of auxillary explanatory pre-conditions - is probably the most likely explanation for the event.   But this assumes that misdirection is not occuring, of course.   When trying to model phenomenon, even with machine-learning methods, one can make use of Brother William's genius, as documented in the note below.  Using a neural network model with fewer nodes is more likely to reduce the problems of "overfitting", in which the model is trained down to give a perfect fit for the existing sample data, but thus completely fails when one tries to use the model for predictions.  

A curious example is the "back of the envelope" analysis.  If your analysis requires (and makes use of) few factors - one finds it often works better - sometimes a *lot* better - as a forecasting methodology, than does a complex, multi-factor model.  It is just Brother Occam's idea working again, but in a different context.

Best example:  To make money in the stock market, buy the stocks which are going up.  You do not need to know why they are going up.  If they start going down, then sell them, and re-position with others that are being bid up.    This is so painfully simple, and yet so consistantly effective a strategy, that is is comical.    This of course, requires some way to figure out what up and down really is, since there is always a pull back to where one started.   This pull back to where we started is called "mean reversion".  The dance between trend and mean-reversion is the driving force in the markets.    Tiny shifts in each, explains the crazy volatility that can occur in markets, when human fear and greed are re-calibrating what is "up" and what is "down" or what is "cheap" and what is "dear".

What is curious, is how well few-factor, simple models can work.   Back-of-the-envelope heuristics can beat complex, multi-factor models, just about every time.  I've just seen it too many times, not to accept the truth of that assertion, even though I doubted it at first.

With the USA in disarray, and an election ahead that will not please at least 40 to 50% of the people, divisions are deep and serious in the political core of the American Empire.   We are concerned.

[ Sept 11, 2020 ] Taiwan Chess - China flys into Taiwan's ADIZ bigtime, and Taiwanese are unhappy.    This could start a war.
A disputed election in USA, with the command-control questions that brings up, would be an opportune time for China to move against Taiwan.
Personally, I think Xi and the CCP would be insane to do such a thing, but I am seeing a lot of craziness lately.  
I can't find my copy of Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" but I am sure Tzu must have said something about command-control confusion in the enemy ranks - along the lines of "when your enemy shows confusion and uncertainty, that is the time to respond with strength of purpose, and firmness of resolve."  If he didn't say that, he should have.
The current PLA incursions into Taiwan's ADIZ are probably meant to demonstrate the CCP's firmness of resolve.  Taiwan might want to respond with a reserve-callup, and the staging of some live-fire drills on their coastal areas.    The F-16's are cool and impressive, but the RAND Corp. Red Team/Blue Team exercises - a military simulation exercise held each year, in which the Red Team (representing CCP/PLA) always wins - suggests they would not likely even get off the ground, once the shooting starts.   The mainlanders just have more "stuff", and if Taiwan has sufficient military muscle to sink 1000 ships, the mainlanders will just plan to send 2000, 3000, 5000 or more.  
The solution is to station a bunch of defensive, tactical. nuclear-armed cannons in various (secret) locations around Taiwan, and once that is accomplished, message Beijing that any military incursion on Taiwanese soil would be met with an intense, unlimited respose, which might include the use of the artillery-deliverable small, tactical nuclear devices.    Taiwan's only chance to repel an invasion from the mainland, is to pepper the strait with explosives sufficient to make it impossible to operate any ships there.  The technology exists to do this, and it is cheap and easy to deploy.  But it is nuclear-based, and using it would be messy.
Then, Xi, the CCP, and the PLA will be risking starting a nuclear war, if they invade Taiwan.   Would the gains really be worth it?
This is not a far-fetched or absurd idea.  It is pretty much exactly what the Israeli's do now to maintain their territorial control and sovreignity over the region formerly known as Palestine.  The Israeli military is estimated to have roughly 100 tactical nuclear bombs, which can be "assembled" into deployable condition, in a matter of minutes.  
Having warehouses full of small working nukes is a tad dangerous, but so is being overrun by armed invaders.   Small devices, in tactical configuration, delivered by cannon-fire, are clearly defensive in nature, so Taiwan could honestly assert - as Israel does also - that it has no claims on it's neighbours lands - it just wants to ensure - completely - that it can maintain it's territorial integrity.    China could decide to use it's nuclear weapons against Taiwan - but what does that gain China?   A destroyed, radioactive rubble-field, filled with an angry population who would remember this crime - and demand vengence for the next 1000 or so years.   Bad trade for a small piece of territory.   The CCP/PLA and XI might gain Taiwan, but ultimately lose control of the mainland, once a big war is begun.
The problem-set before us all now, is that the RAND research and simulations *always* show the Red Team winning.  Taking Taiwan by force, if Taiwan is not nuclear-armed, is doable for China-mainland, probably.  The only real solution that will prevent this happening, is to ensure that the defenders of Taiwan have sufficient resources to repel and/or destroy a massive incursion from the mainland - say in the neighbourhood of 10,000 ships.
For Taiwan to maintain it's democratic freedoms, it will have to act like Israel, so that the mainlanders will see a very high cost - far beyond any gain - that will have to be paid if anyone starts a military adventure to harm the island of Taiwan, and the free people who live there.
Si vis pacem, para bellum.

[ Sept 10, 2020] Holding Pattern - Posted a better screen image, of testbed forecast, for data up to Sept. 9, 2020.   Ticking along.

[ Sept 9, 2020 ] Ex Libros - Reading some material from old traders / speculators, who lived in different times.  (The poets studied "Rules of Verse"...).

A common thread seems to be the insistance on the importance of "market characterization" - You must seek to determine with some accuracy, what kind of market you are in - a trading market, or a trending market - and if a trending market, of course whether it be "Bull" or "Bear".  

This seems such simplistic information, of little value, but that is not the case.  It is almost (but not quite) everything that one really needs to know, to make money in an open marketplace - be it a modern stock or commodity market accessed by electronic methods, an African bazzar in Cairo or Carthage, an ancient Roman Empire trading house/merchant bank in Lyon, or a Dutch Bourse in the mid-1600's.

In a trading-range market, you can scalp - buying below the bid when possible, and then selling above the offer, when you can.  If you specialize in one thing or class of things, you can determine the times this can be done, and make a small living doing it.

In a trending market, you position trade, taking care to establish attractive positions that show immediate gain, so that market motion and movement does not force you dangerously offside.

A careful and intense focus on risk-control is required at all times.  Historically, and today, this often means the use of spread-trades (offsetting positions in different traded items), and the use of arbitrage, if you have access to multiple market settings (you buy and sell at close to the same time, the same things, in different markets, reaping a profit which is typically small, but low risk).

But the real key is the determination of the bullish or bearish market nature - and the tranistion from one market type to another, is something that needs to be critically observed.

Are we in the ending phase of a long Bull market?   Or not...?

This is really the key question now.

Our view is that that the long Bull Market in equities, and other assets classes as well (gold, silver, real-estate, etc.) remains intact, primarily due to the monetary conditions that remain probably as accommodative as they have ever been in our recorded history.   And given that there is little evidence of any serious inflation, we expect this bull-run to continue for quite some time.  

What is also interesting, is that our value-oriented portfolios have tracked thru the traumas of this year more or less completely intact, and in one case, up nicely.   Given the "March Madness" that we saw earlier - when we wondered if the SARS-2-Cov virus pandemic would lead to 10's or hundreds of millions of deaths - this is a good outcome.  Total deaths from the Covid-19 illness are less than 1 million, infections are around 27 million.  These numbers are a tiny fraction of the number of people killed by malaria each year.

Covid-19 is a horrible nasty thing - but it's real awfulness is due to its highly infectious nature.  Properly treated, by medical personel who have access to the various drugs so that immediate treatment can be applied, the disease can be effectively managed and a sick patient can become well.  There are also numerous vaccines in development.

We would like to see the vaccine treatment offered at market prices, so that those willing to pay large numbers to be first in line, could subsidize the costs of production and distribution to everyone who wants to take the vaccine.  This could make the vaccine development and distribution self-funding, which would be a good thing.   Done as a market-based exercise, the rich could pay to be first (and take higher risk), and the poor could get it for free (and at lower overall risk, perhaps).    

All told - Covid-19 is ugly and annoying and lethal to some - like pneumonia, malaria, cancer and influenza can be - but it is not going to bring about the "End Times".   :)

We are (like always!) at much greater risk from bad government and poor economic policy choices, than we all are from this nasty illness.

[ Sept 8, 2020 ] Space Truckin' for Argentina & *Reset* Risk - When it works, it works well.  Spacex nails a fine mission, with the Aug 30/Sept 1 launch of an Argentina satellite - in a polar orbit no less - and recovery of the Falcon booster rocket right on the Florida cape.  It would appear that sufficient confidence has been created in the Falcon-9 rocket system, that it is now allowed to attempt it's landings back at - well, *land*.   This mission did not get much news - it was documented on the Teslarati website, and exists as a straightforward Youtube video.  But it actually is quite profoundly impressive - primarily because of its *routine* nature.   It was a major deployment to orbit of a significant radar-scanning satellite.

Everything worked - including the amazing videos of the landing.  Here is the URL:

It is the routine quality of the process here, that is so impressive.   The whole launch system appears to have really come together.  Really *very* impressive.

Argentina has just emerged from it's NINETH default, and has recently *restructured* $65 billion of debt that it could not pay.   This is also becoming routine.   It tells us about *money* now.  

Money is & has become something different now.   A new ethic has developed in the world - massive amounts of money are borrowed - and then the borrower cannot repay the loan.   The response is not a corrective action - with assets being siezed by creditors, and then auctioned off.  That just almost never happens - loans are simply *restructured* - and more money is printed and given to the debtor.    This is a strange thing - for this process to happen repeatedly - in the case of Argentina  - NINE times in the last 60 years!

Same for major American commerical entities - General Motors was able to flush all it's shareholders down the drain, borrow the better part of a hundred billion US dollars from the Treasury's of USA and Canada, and magically reassemble it's bankrupt self as if nothing had happened.   

The process is curious and ongoing, it seems.   China and Russia run on *printed* cash, and many southern-hemisphere nations in South America and Africa have parallel economies that use US dollars for critical transactions.    Their local  junk-money is used to fund the operation of the local subsistance economies for the poor folk.   

I have this concern that the overuse of debt and debt-financing is one day, going to reach a terminal limit, in which the mechanism no longer works effectively.  MMT - Modern Monetary Theory - which essentially states that "deficit spending and deficit levels do not matter" - seems to be something that is an artifact of the rapid expansion and improvements in technology and technical methods.   We are now able to do things that could not be done before.   The technology is getting good traction in some areas (much is coming from one man - Elon Musk in the USA - which is rather bizarre, actually...)   

In an economy without rapid technology improvement, the nature and levels of debt that exist and are deployed, would be cause for some concern, since debt is typically something that has to be paid back.   But since this does not seem to need to occur anymore, we are into a new reality, where massive debt-financing can be routinely taken, and yet *inflation* does not occur.

This is curious.  I fear it cannot continue too much longer.

I suspect we are setting the stage for an extreme, non-linear corrective response, that will have to occur within some near-future time frame.   The expected response is *inflation*.   This is not happening.    But perhaps the economic response will look more like the *RESET* response in a video game.  

This is what Japan went thru at the end of the Second World War - when it was required to completely surrender.  Emperor Hirohito explained on the radio:  "We must now endure the unendurable."

Could this be the response?   A complete, catastrophic economic collapse - followed by a complete *reset*, alongs the lines of what Japan had to do, after two of it's cities were nuked, and it's military utterly crushed?    For the Japanese, this whole transition worked out rather well.   They transitioned to a rich, modern, industrial, democratic commercial State, from a militaristic, neo-feudal, proto-industrial agrarian economy in an amazingly short timeframe.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Yen and the US dollar were close to parity.  Both nations were agrarian-backed currencies, with industry only getting started in many cities.  By the end of the war, as Japan re-built it's economy, the new Yen was set at 360 Yen to the US dollar - the number chosen arbitrarily, as it equalled the number of degrees in a circle - and Japan had to come "full circle" to survive.  (So the story goes...)

This *reset* narrative also parallels the great German *reset* that was done to end the German hyper-inflation of the early 1920's, where the *old* Mark was replaced by the "Renten" Mark, which was supposedly backed by the "Land" of Germany.  It was just a monetary fiction - but the story held, and people accepted it, as they had seen firsthand how the old Mark was now worthless.   The transition to the "Land-backed" Mark - and the simple control of the printing-press - allowed the economy to stabilize and operate.

Do we all have a major catastrophic event and subsequent economic *RESET* in our future?   If we do, then being able to have access to physical items of value - land, gold, silver, weapons, etc. - could perhaps help mitigate the "reset risk".

What is interesting, is that shares in companies that are *not* crushed by the debt-loads, but in fact are able to benefit by the *reset* - might also offer protection.  This is not a widely held view, and yet if one looks at the shareholdings of folks during the German and Austrian hyper-inflations of the early 1920's, the shares of major companies actually performed quite well, and did offer shareholding folks some ability to mitigate the pain of the "reset" events that they had to endure.  German and Austrian share prices also tracked upward, with the hyper-inflation.  Data is very difficult to obtain - most price data series start *after* the hyper-inflation.  But the evidence we have collected suggests that stocks offered a viable hedge against the inflationary run up.

We have a model that suggests that the rate of technical transformation in an economy can influence the inflation rate.  The idea is the rate of change of the technical transformation co-efficients in a Leontif matrix (an input/output table for an economy, showing how many inputs are transformed into product outputs) can offer substantial economic savings that offset the upward price movements that are normally associated with monetary expansion.

The obvious example is the electric car, now coming into general use.   I see Tesla cars in the grocery store parking lots, and at the Beer Store.  Owners *like* them.  And for every vehicle running on nuclear fission-generated or hydro-electric power (stored in the battery), less of that expensive commodity, oil, needs to be consumed.   The advanced technology generates economic *savings*, and also new opportunities.  These transformational changes reduce factor costs in various areas, and this cost-saving shows up in the overall price level.

Enable and experience mass technological improvement, and you can force down price inflation.   This is a good thing.

But the bad thing might be, if the Central Banks overshoot on stimulus, and keep their foot down hard on the monetary-expansion process.  If rates of technological change just stabilize, and monetary expansion continues aggressively, you risk seeing a rapid and extremely self-stimulating feedback response by agents in the economy.  If prices start going up quickly, then everyone quickly raises their prices.  Inflation is *dangerously* self-re-enforcing.  It is also does great damage to economy-wide operations, for many reasons.  It should be avoided.

Deflation is also a possible outcome.  This has been seen in Japan, where even negative interest rates have been unable to drive up price level.  It is possible that rapid technological improvement - in driving down costs - can also destroy demand, in that everyones cost is someone else's income. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that perhaps the modern "Office" is an anachronism.  Technology allows virtual meetings to be held, and significant work to be done from *home* offices.  The employee provides his own "Office", just like the laser printer has allowed firms to require customers print their own forms and documents. if they want paper-trail backups of economic activity.    The savings from technological improvements may actually be so extreme, that major demand-destruction occurs in some columns of the overall economy production matrix, that price levels fall rapidly.

And here it can get a bit dangerous.   Demand collapse (for commercial office space, for example), can induce a falling price level, as cities depopulate, and all the restaurants and services that supported the office complex, go out of business.

In a deflationary environment, falling prices, combined with massive levels of debt held by everyone, can risk causing an "economic blackout" - with whole sections of various economic segments that were previously viable, simply going out of business, overburdened with debts which simply cannot be paid, or even funded.

As the technological change improvements drive lower costs for everyone everywhere, the falling prices - savings to some, but also loss-of-business and falling incomes to others - can magnify the burden of debt that debt-holders experience.  

Monetary expansion cannot fix this problem.   A failing business needs customers, not more debt.   The monetary expansion and low administered interest rates, may simply delay and then magnify the painful costs of business transitions in an environment where demand has gone away because of the changes wrought.

It is possible that monetary expansion  - which is stimulating asset prices, and fueling a significant run-up in debt everywhere - both private sector and public sector - might be setting us all up for an extremely unstable economic environment.

When I try to model this - the models typically blow up, with either runaway inflation, or a "Noah's Ark" kind of crash  ( ie. the population crashes down to just one or two breeding pairs left alive).

Less aggressive monetary expansion might be indicated => stability as a goal, rather than always stimulation.


[ Sept 7, 2020 ] Gold, Novichok, and the New Future - We have jumped to a different path perhaps?  Our view is that organizations like NATO were obsolete relics of the past and the world-mentallity of the "Cold War".    We were very supportive of Putin and the New Russia.

But the New Russia looks a lot like the Old Russia now.

The gangsters appear to be in control, and their democracy is a sham, if their Opposition leaders can be poisoned, and their "government" does nothing.

This is a very dangerous development.  We had no problem with the re-federation of Crimea to the Russian Federation - the people voted for it, so it is a done deal.   But the attempted murder of political opponents, using Novichok, completely changes our views on NATO, for example.

Now, NATO can be seen as a necessary bulwark against the dangerous actions that Russia has taken, and terrible threats that Russia now represents.  War - at some point in the future - is becoming rather quite likely.  The attacks that the Russian operatives are engaged in begin to look like the murder of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, by that Bosnian killer, Gavrilo Princip, who was supposedly an operative for the "Black Hand" terrorist group allied with the Serbian military.  This event was supposedly the catalyst for the First World War.

So where does that take us now?   Probably to a new re-pricing of physical commodities?  A run-up in equity prices - followed by a retreat?   Unclear, of course.    But the markets are always ahead of politics.  They often successfully discount future events that seem absurd or highly unlikely - the change shows up in the market prices before the pundits and the political fraudsters begin their mouth-noise and their reactive responses, almost always.

This puts the price deltas we saw last week in perspective.  Almost no one at all thinks the Novichok attack on Navalny is affecting market pricing for US stocks.   But our view is that it really cannot fail to do so.

The German-Russian pipeline being built to export Russian natural gas, to Europe, may be a casualty of this episode of ugliness.   The Lukashenko Election Fraud in Belarus may now play out differently that we had thought.  (We expected it to fail, and the people of Belarus to remain under the boot-heel of that Thug-in-Chief.  The protesters have no weapons, and will just be beaten, arrested and abused by Lukashenko's squadrons of thugs.  They have no chance, sadly.  Of course, we hoped to be wrong.  But Belarus has no hero like Yeltsin.  And there are no tank commanders supporting the protesters. )  But now, maybe a different path may appear.

We find ourselves back in a world where gangsters with nuclear weapons are able to threaten and destabilize everything.   All the work and efforts done to support different economic and political models, can be successfully undone by the criminal "Strongmen".  This is simply a fact, which must be accepted and incorporated into a revised analysis.

The USA is engaged in a vicious internal fight - it does this well, and often comes out the otherside of these intense contests as a stronger and better place.  Curious - but this is their history.  Their conflicts should not be mistaken for weakness.   Their conflicts are a sign of true political strength - just like they were (and are) in England and Canada.   And in Taiwan.  When there are fistfights in the Parliament - you know that the political folks are debating real issues, and that they will have to reach a negotiated solution which will *not* likely put troops on the streets.

The stupid people of the world who do not understand the rhetorical+intellectual "bare-knuckle brawling" that a real Legislature represents, are unable to see this.  Especially the Mainland Chinese.  But the Taiwanese have figured this out - and run a real Parliament, and a real democracy.    They will have to become the Government of China, at some point in the future.  Probably not for a hundred years - but someday.  Or else thermonuclear war will likely take place - but again, not likely for 50 or 60 or 100 years from now.  

Nothing will change much now.  Except the market prices, for commodities and stock prices.  They may change quite a bit.

And the surprise is that stock prices will probably be bid up - along with commodity prices.  The simple reason is that investors will more likely be better off owning share units of commercial entities, rather than just holding the cash that is issued by a nation-state.  Nation-State fiat funds are perhaps more likely to suffer rapid and unpredictable non-linear price re-adjustments, than are shares in trans-national commercial entities.   The shares can be re-priced easily, but when confidence is lost in a nation's currency - then it is lost, and the re-pricing - Argentina-style - is often dramatic and very painful for cash-holders.

And of course, the run-ups in both Gold and Silver  - hard money - have been interesting, and probably reflect an accurate picture of the future value of fiat soft money.

We are entering a world that will be dominated by a range of un-attractive outcomes.  In Game Theory, it reminds us of the BATNA - the "Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement".   You realize your counterparty is a criminal, and you leave the table, and hope to make the airport, before you are killed.

In the realpolitik world of gangster-governments, this often means violence and warfare.  But it also creates opportunity.

[ Sept 6, 2020 ] Stinking Chunks of Dark-Brown Dung, Rotting in the Sunshine - The fields at the farmstead have been harvested again.   Good crop was obtained, and the weather cooperated.  And of course, this is the season for spreading the manure.  Oh my! - what a rank, intense, smell!  Hot sunshine today, and it is *really* stinky.

Reminds me of the official Government line the Russians have been trying to retail, about Navalny.  The lies that the Russian Government "spokesmen" are dumping from their mouths is fascinating and grotesque, in a truly surpising and horrific way.   Reading what they are saying is really quite curious - like watching a person expel a large turd out of their face, and drop it onto a plate.  One's eyes grow large with astonishment, before the revulsion and disgust sets in.  

A civilized nation would be *interested* in knowing who committed such a terrible crime, and would actively seek the assistance of everyone it could.    Instead, the Russian Putin-supporters are just pinching out these huge, astonishing brown, stinking lies.

The Brits are also livid, and also profoundly disgusted.  Viz:

From their Foreign Minister:

From their Prime Minister, and the USA National Security Council:

Germany - with or without Merkel's agreement - may cancel or suspend this major gas pipeline project, if the Russian State refuses to act on the Navalny poisoning:

The civilized nations of the World have said that Navalny's poisoning with Novichok is an act of criminal gangsterism that requires a response by Russia.  The old approach - first lie, say the lie again, and then lie-some-more strategy -  may not work this time.

If Trump's administration does not take action here, then it will be necessary for even the most die-hard Trump supporters to hold their noses, and vote for Biden - if Biden makes explicit promises to end economic relations with Russia, and put the USA on a war-footing with the dishonest gangsters who control the place.  Sadly, I doubt either Biden or Trump will take any meaningful action.   The USA will trash talk, the Brits will shake their jowls, and nothing will be done, as usual.

Curious world now.  Our political people are rather weak, dangerously unwise, and rather useless - and we wonder: how did it come to this?  Everyone expects China and Russia will make a Devil's Pact, to dominate the world with military gangsterism and other murder-methods.    The criminals who carried out the poisoning of Navalny - and maybe the other Russian gangster murder-crimes - are gambling that they can get away with this.   Perhaps they will - for now.   But many, many people who in the past strongly supported Russia, and it's market reforms, have now changed their minds about the current Russian "authorities".

This ugly problem of criminal gangsters in charge, will have to be dealt with by the Russian people themselves.  We can - and must - stop doing any business with them, and begin to use the same methods against them, that they themselves are using now - but our governments are dominated by kleptocrats and fraudsters like everywhere else.  This is unfortunate.   And we are having to pay attention to this ugly turn of events, because it will likely begin to affect post-pandemic recovery confidence, and directly degrade investors expectations of future prosperity.  

A war is never a good thing for anyone.   But there are times when plowshares must be beaten in to swords.  If we are all to move in this direction, there will be great costs and painful times for many of us.  Market prices will sadly reflect this, of course.

Really, what good is a world run by thugs, fools, fraudsters and gangsters?   We had all moved away from that model.  It took so much blood and wealth and years of effort - decades of effort.  And yet now, we seem to be tracking - quickly, it appears - back towards a dark-world that risks being dominated by Asian gangster politics.  And at a curiously rapid rate!   This is unfortunate - but really, the old ugly historical model of the "Authoritarian Strongman" always remains a terrible risk for every nation.  This is why we must have strong laws and strong constitutions and honest courts with fair and honest judges.  Russia almost made it to that level - but has now been struck down, and hammered back into it's painful History.  It is again at risk of suffering another period of years of authoritarian rule and crushing slavery.   And again, they become just a sad nation of people wearing yokes.   

It was not just Alexei Navalny who was poisoned.  It was the whole of the Russian people who were poisoned.  It was their future that was poisoned.  It was their children and their children's children who were poisoned.

What kind of a "government" would not what to find out who the poisoners were?

[ Sept. 5th, 2020 ] The Carnival is Over? - Unclear.  But there is a game a-foot.  I can't help but having a funny feeling about the political attack on hydroxychloroquine, since the data on Remdesivir show that it's effectiveness is pretty marginal.   If given early enough, it can reduce the severity of the Covid-19 illness progression, and that's about it.   This is just about the same level of efficacy, in just about the same treatment regime, as hydroxychloroquine, which is pretty hilarious, really.   The key is to give the anti-viral agents *early*.  Once the virus is deep in the lungs, it creates it's own defensive environment, and requires an aggressive immune system response to purge the filthy thing, and restore basic homeostatic bio-operation - like being able to breathe and metabolize O2!

The politics of media deception perhaps explains this.   And this may be just an accidental result of the fact that most people who write for and own mainstream media companies are just not very smart or curious.

Maybe really, they are just lazy and stupid like we all can be - only they are just a bit more so, and have the luxury of being paid for their lazy and stupid non-thinking, non-observing behaviour - so they have no motivation to be any different.  

If given early on, hydroxychloroquine can offer some real benefit.   There is solid and peer-reviewed research that shows it works very effectively against the virus - in vitro.  And it works in the early stage of a SARS-2-Cov virus infection.   But wait too long, and the effectiveness falls to about the same level of Remdesivir - ie. it offers only a slightly faster path to recovery.   The trick is that if you can keep the patient breathing on their own (without intubation), then recovery rates are better, recovery times are quicker, and scar-tissue formation in the lungs is reduced.  Don't take my word for it.  Most of the bio-technical notes are public - not locked behind paywalls, so a lot of research can be obtained and integrated, if one is curious.

We can treat this disease, and we have developed vaccination procedures that are effective.   If political organs that task-block - like the WHO and the FDA - could be removed or bypassed, then faster paths-to-the-people could be developed.  But this social model does not exist anywhere.   The task-blocking regulators have full control virtually everywhere.

We seem condemned to live in this foolish "world of welfare", and be constantly restricted by the agency control mechanisms and production+distribution that that social model both exhibits and mandates.  The FDA and WHO exist to stop things from happening.  They are self-serving agency actors, with "task-block" mandates enforced by law.

The FDA prevents drugs coming to market.  The WHO - World "Health" Organization - requires a large community of "sick people" to justify it's funding mechanisms.   Both organs are self-serving, multi-billion dollar bureaucratic organs with significant political power.  Their operational power comes from their ability to task-block, and effectively assault any individual or company that expresses a viewpoint that threatens their power and control.   Both organs are - our opinion - unhelpful, and ultimately dangerous, as this virus outbreak has so clearly demonstrated.

We would hope, that at some point, the existence of these powerful "task-block" agencies could be re-thought, and a social model of "limited-government-involvement" could be activated.  This would allow these "task-block" organs to be eliminated.

People die in either model - but our research suggests that having fewer of these political organs that task-block, would lead to better overall social outcomes.   Less Government => More Social Health (for most).  

The task-blocking by the WHO is justified by a desire to prevent an economically rational distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine.  They have explicitly said that it should be distributed equally to everyone, without those with means having the opportunity to obtain the vaccine first.  There is no rational basis for this view.  This view is based on emotion and nothing else.  It makes both economic - and moral - sense for the vaccine to be first distributed to people who are taxpaying members of the economically successful segment of a society.  The easiest way to do this, is to make them pay for it.   The parasitic folks who do not contribute, should be last in line.  The argument is that they might be more likely to die, and that somehow, this is "unfair".

This argument is absurd, foolish, and will be costly - both in needless deaths of economic contributors, and in the continued social disruption that the virus will cause, as the vaccine is delayed by the blocking agency.

And in fact, if this virus, and other bad personal behaviours (ie. drug abuse, smoking. gay-sex, etc.) can reduce the number of cruel, stupid, irresponsible, ignorant, abusive parasite-people in a society, perhaps this can actually be viewed as a positive outcome, regardless of how "heartless" this view appears to the uneducated.  Perhaps it might be viewed as an extremely positive outcome.

This radical "no-government-restrictions-on-access-to-health-care-products" social model - in which people bear the *full* responsibility for the maintenance of their own health and are free to deploy their economic choices accordingly - might prevent the continued geometric increase in the planetary population.  This continued geometric increase in Earth's population, will be *certain* to create a horrific and catastrophic, non-linear population crash, at some point in the near future.  Historically, the solution to this problem has been very common - mass warfare, which can violently destroy whole nations and populations.

By just removing the restrictive "task-blocking" behaviour of the large trans-government, deep-deception political organs, private choices made by private individuals would substantially determine social outcomes.    The foolish, stupid and irresponsible human parasites would find their existence untenable, and would either alter their behaviours, or perish.  Either outcome, would benefit the educated, enlightened, higher-quality social-segment of every operating national civil structure, and no action by government agents or agency operatives would be either expected or allowed.   The system - like it always does in nature - would self-correct.

This would let us jump quickly to medical solutions to viral outbreaks, it would address the ongoing and expanding problems of social irresponsibilty and the growth of bad behaviour seen everywhere now, and would also - in reducing the population growth rate - make a much better future possible for everyone.  

This extreme-limited-government model - especially in the areas of health-care and it's related economics - would make the world a better place.    And it would give us all a path into the future that has a much lower probability of being dominated by warfare and other mass-death outcomes from similar warlike conflict-events.  

We cannot put 500,000,000 people in the hospitals of the world, and we should not be trying to.

And if people have the economic means to self-fund their Covid-19 prevention efforts, then they should be actively encouraged to do so, and not have foreign "task-block" organs, political agencies, and "ANTIFA" neo-terrorist "Socialists" constructing powerful in-State regulatory entities that prevent them from doing this.   The FDA should be abolished, and the WHO should be de-funded, if justice, fairness and good-health are national and social goals.

[ Sept. 3rd, 2020 ] Country Matters - As Hamlet said, when he had his head in Ophilia's lap...  And "History Matters".  History actually matters quite a lot.  

History can be a prison, from which escape is difficult.   We need only inspect the tragic situation of Russia today - despite two attempts at engineering effective "revolution", each time, the poor nation has fallen back into the same ancient model of being run by autocratic "strongmen" who hold power using the lowest forms of human life - evil spies, back-stabbers and poisoners. This is a tragedy.

I saw the clip of Angela Merkel's explicit speech, in which she indicated that multiple laboratory tests in Germany and elsewhere, have confirmed that Navalny was poisoned with "Novichok" (the advanced Soviet-era neural-toxin, which has the nickname: "Newcomer").   Merkel is seriously pissed (angry) now.    But in the long sweep of Russian and German history, this outcome is not a surprise, is it?   It is very difficult to escape from History.  It can imprison an entire nation, like it does in Korea, for example.  Perhaps when the Third Russian Revolution happens, the Russians will be "third-time lucky".   They build very good spaceships, so I suspect Russia, as a nation and as a people, are critical to the future of our species.   I do hope they can fix their problems, and clean the rotting filth of murderous evil from their lovely house.  It would be a terrible shame to see the whole place obliterated.

The use of long-wave data helps one's analysis and can really illuminate the dark corners of things.   We find, in the design and construction of successful investment (and life) strategies, that looking back - way back - can often provide understanding that is missed, if one only looks at the immediate past.  The bumps and farts that characterize price-action in a market, are highly interesting, in that the short-term movements can be predicted with some accuracy.  It is also possible to predict the long-wave movements.  But in the middle - anywhere from next-week to next five-years - it is pretty close to impossible to predict with any real accuracy what will happen.

Folks were worrying and writing books and articles about "The Coming Plagues" back in the 1990's - but Ebola, Zika Virus, West Nile Virus and even SARS and MERS, did not really get much traction.  Effective measures were able to mitigate the outbreaks.   We had to wait 25 years to get something that spread "Army of the 12 Monkeys"-style, and hit the world economy like a freight-train into a Volkswagon.

But what we noticed, is that those "long-wave" pictures of things do give us information that is valuable.  We cannot predict what the "disaster-de-jour" will be this week, month or year - but we can see who has been able to survive similar storms & violence in the past.  This can give us a path into the future, which does not lead to ruin and destruction.  And what is interesting, is that those paths to ruin, are many.  The pathes of all human lives end at the graveyard - or worse.  If you are investing, then your primary concern is to have cash-generating investments which both grow in value (to mitigate inflation risk), and also throw off sufficient money to pay expenses and buy food (to maintain life).   

What is curious, is that this simple requirement has and is becoming, just a bit difficult.

But in history, we can see it has *always* been difficult.   Most people lived short, hard, painful lives, up until very recently.   Prosperity has come to many now, and much of it is the result of procdures and processes that allow and encourage rational, effective economic investments to be made, and operated.  The first canonical examples are the Ancient Egyptian civilization that grew to strength along the Nile River in Africa, and the Babylonian civilization that flourished along the Euphrates, in what is now Iraq.  The key magic of *investment*, is that it can and should throw off an income stream in the future, for effort made and risk taken on, today.  Agriculture and investment are early twins - born together with civilization, as farming allows for the production of surplus food, and investment allows the surplus to be set-aside and re-deployed at a later date.  If this is done right, and you are lucky, then the Kingdom grows strong, the people healthy and the population increases.

The curious northern country we live in, has a short history of doing pretty much what the ancient folks did in Babylon and Egypt.  And the economics of our successful commerical enterprises tend to show this basic progression.   The Sept 2nd forecast, from the C_Machine looks a bit extreme in the context of an in-year estimate (the forecast share-price curve is pointing almost straight up!), but I inserted the long-wave price chart on the Sept. 2nd  image, to put the short-term forecast into longer context.  When the longer picture is viewed, the forecast does not at all look extreme.  On the contrary, it looks like pretty much what history has always shown happens after the storm passes.  The building work begins and the mess is cleaned up, and money is both spent and earned.

The wheel goes round.  The prices go up.  People complain.  Old people die.  Young people get together and make babies.   And the babies begin the process of growing up - mewling and puking and shitting and learning, just like they are supposed to do.

I am surprised by the strange comments I read by so-called "experts".   If one inspects many of the long-wave pictures - or if you just look at history - you can see that nothing much new is happening.  The markets can probably move up another 10 or 20% from here.  We are still getting a recovery.   This is not "It's different this time".  This is pretty much what one should expect.  It will be more difficult in some areas than others - and there are problems all over the place that could blow up.  But this is *always* happening.    FD:  We remain, despite some recent trading, all-in, fully invested in equity positions.  We have no "bonds" because with zero interest rates, the investment process is not really working in that market at the moment.

[PM update:  Gunning for Stops -  Folks are beginning to understand the "downspike game".  This is where pros track the lead traders, and when the mid-level guys sense (using AI or traditional methods) that the top movers are going to engineer a "gun-run", they all just step back their bids, and let the price collapse.  This was a common (and great-fun/profitable) game in the old commodity trading "pits" (which were actually raised platforms...), and worked by simply letting prices run down enough (by enough big traders withholding or dropping bids), so that the pit traders could hit the stops that the big commodity house traders had established on their long positions.  It was primarily a game played only in the commodity pits - not so common in the stock market.   But things change.  The trick is to hit the stop-loss orders, get a bunch of cheap fills (and maybe cheap thrills too...), and then have some inventory for when the market moved back to even.   This game can now be played in stocks, and detailed monitoring methods help it to work - even in large, complex markets.  It was called "Gunning for Stops", and it was a way for floor-traders to put some cash in pocket, to cover ongoing expenses.  And now, it is common in stock markets too.

The big fast price downspikes - like we saw in the DJIA this morning - followed by a quick recovery, is a hallmark of a successful "stop-loss gun-run" .   The flip side of this, is how the "dip buyers" make money.   :)  ]

[ Update #2:  Well, looks more than just a stops gun-run.  Down almost 1000 points now on the DJIA as I key this.   I suspect the issue is the Novichok assault on Navalny.   It really alters the future picture, in many subtle ways.   We thought we had seen the Russian Empire make a transition to a working democracy.  But with military agents running "dark kill" assaults on political opponents of Putin, and the absurd story of "low blood sugar" retailed by the terrified doctors at the Omsk hospital, the world suddenly looks different.  Putin has engineered Russian constitutional changes that give him the Presidency of Russia for the rest of his life, effectively, and so we are back into a dark and dangerous world of realpolitik, which perhaps changes everyone's estimate of the available set of future opportunities.   In some ways, this looks like it could be worse than the Cold War world.  It is a retrograde step that looks particularly awful, and may well be the catalyst for many negative and unexpected shifts.   Such little wisdom...]

[ Aug. 31, 2020 ] Winter of Discord & A Planet of Possibilities - The Great Winter Hexagon was visible this AM.  Orion rose, and then SIrius, and Venus and Mars hang bright and high in the sky.  Watching Mars, a local satellite tracked past it - maybe it was the ISS?    Bright and very cold this AM.   

Warren Buffet's Berkshire bought into Japan trading houses - which looks like a smart move.  They are trading mostly below book, are down in price on the year, have good free cash flow, little debt, and offer diversification from the increasingly dysfunctional USA.   And as cash risks being devalued by inflation, Buffet's business is sitting on roughly $145 billion US of the stuff.  That's a sack-o-bucks that really should be invested - if something that is not overpriced and a bad deal with poor prospects - can be found.   

This is a real problem.  The bond market is either junk or ZIRPed.   The cost of equity in good businesses is very high now, and the stock markets are surfing on foam.    And the Central Banks have said they *want* to see more inflation.     (USA Federal Reserve has created something like over 2 TRILLION US dollars in the last 7 months.  Not very "reserved", is that?  Maybe they should call it the "Federal Excite"?)

There seems to be a lack of imagination holding everything down now.     The internet is boring and annoying - and technology is not offering much benefit now - just enabling more monitoring - people watching other people do stuff.  So what?   Nothing much is getting done anywhere, and little of real use or value that is affordable, exists at disruptive price levels anymore.   The future is getting poor, tired and stale.

Humanity needs to stretch a bit, we suspect.

Warren Buffet should invest in Elon Musk's SpaceX work - several billions at least - to build a working trans-planetary Mars-Transport fleet.    Mars is low hanging fruit.   The first folks there, will get to win a whole planet full of resources - and no lifeforms that need to be protected.  We can exploit Mars to the fullest, and not bother or disturb anyone.  The planet is dead, and we could bring it to life.  What is really interestnig, is that the first colonists there, can claim ownership of the place, regardless of what idiotic laws are passed on this planet.   Mars is *not* "international waters", as some local agreements here suggest or assert.  Mars will belong to whomever lives there,  makes it theirs, and ensures they have the means to defend their claims.   This is how history works.

Mars hangs there in the morning sky, bright and red and fresh, like a cherry waiting to be picked by which ever group of clever folks can build the technology to get there and live there.   :)

Back here on Earth, we are seeing amazing rainbows.  Quite spectacular - the Double-Rainbow - only lasted for about a minute, right after the rain stopped, and the setting sun broke thru the clouds on the other side of the forest.

[ Aug 30, 2020 ] When TV Was Young and Fresh - So good, it was scary.  Best TV ever created.   I was tiny fellow, and the black and white cathode-ray tube-unit with it's knobs, yielded this...:

Our technology has gotten somewhat better.  But the future looks pretty lame, really.  A world of high-taxes, extreme regulation, and shrinking opportunity,  There seems to be also, a strange collapse in the quality of creativity.  Too much is derivative, and really just sampling of other's work now.   There is very little that is original or interesting.   Curious.

[ Aug. 29, 2020 ] A Regulatory Artifact? - Every so often, you read something that is well researched, and well written.   This is the case with the following "Motley Fool" article below, which explains how Tesla earns income by the sale of "regulatory credits".   The magic of "regulatory credits" is that they are 100% pure profit - they are an artifact of Government Regulation, meant to force the auto industry into adopting electric vehicles.  

The key facts of this article are that 1): Regulatory Credit sales are a big factor in Tesla's profitability, and this not only helps it show a profit as a company, but that this profit it has shown (for the last 4 quarters), now qualifies it to be added to the S&P Index.   Being added to the index is a very big deal, since that means the stock funds that *track* the index have to load up on the newly added company's stock, thus bidding up the stock price by their purchases - maybe bidding the price up a *lot* if necessary to buy some.   

And 2): The timing of the recognition of the Regulatory Credit sales as revenue may have been used to smooth revenue recognition, so that Tesla was profitable in *all* of the last previous 4 quarters, not just  3 out of 4.  Normally, this isn't a big deal, but here, it is, because it allows (but does not ensure) that Tesla can be added to the S&P 500 index AND it also offers a stock-option compensation event to Elon Musk, worth over 2 billion US dollars.  

It all comes down to a sentance that disappeared and then reappeared, in the Tesla quarterly financial reports.    Don't misunderstand - I like Tesla, and we have no positions in Tesla shares.  I would like to buy a Cybertruck, but that product is a very long way from being on the market.

Here is the article URL:

The analysis is good, and suggests the degree to which Tesla is a regulatory artifact.   And it also explains the crazy run-up in the Tesla share price, and why the Tesla stock is being split.

I seriously worry about the degree of artificial *constructs* that seem to be dominating so much of everything these days.  It is like we are all living inside of a virtual-world simulation, being played by external agents.

There are so many clever political strategies, and dubious economic and political artifacts being created and marketed to an entertainment-numbed and slightly unwell. over-crowded population of citizens who are running out of money.  This feeling grows each day, and worries me.  Maybe it's just me.

I thought Tesla at  $500 a share was a tad stretched in valuation - but it closed on Friday at $2,213.40 for one share.   There are always reasons for these sorts of runs, we must remember.   And these reasons are not always the obvious ones that appear on the surface of things.

I remember when Nortel was trading at over $120 per share, and a close inspection of their financial statements, showed that they were not profitable and were not likely to become so.  But their valuation accounted for a significant proportion of the Toronto Stock Exchange's total value of all listed shares.  It looked crazy.   I had lunch downtown, with an Industrial Products analyst at the time, and he and I both figured $20/share was probably the maximum that the money-losing Nortel was probably worth.  We both agreed the share price was crazy.    And of course, it was.

Nortel blew up and failed, and the executives were prosecuted (unsuccessfully) for fraud.   Nortel was a regulatory artifact, created from internal research groups at Bell, and supported by unwise government policy.  And it was run by an executive team that routinely fiddled the numbers.

Tesla is not Nortel, of course.   But should Tesla really be worth more than Toyota or Honda?

[ Aug. 28, 2020 ] Virginia Plane - "Take me for an airplane ride...   "

When the gov't money stops flowing to everyone, this country may roll up the sidewalks like in the 1930's.   Having any debt at all, was quite dangerous in the '30's, because of the significant positive rate of return that just holding cash provided.  We do not want to become Argentina, but historically (and sadly!), that is the path the "Liberals" who currently hold power, have typically tried to put Canadians onto.  At some point, the Central Bankers are going to have to normalize interest rates, or the market will do it for them, in a chaotic and almost certainly very abrupt, manner.

Always loved Roxy Music - at the MusicLaden in West Deutschland (the Free Zone part...), in 1973.   Could be last week.  Or maybe next year?  

Imagine living in the hinterland, and discovering Roxy Music. "Street Life", or  "Song for Europe" (where Bryan Ferry sings a pop-song in *Latin* and French, as well as English?)   Eno on the electronics, with his ReVox recorders doing audio-hacking in the background?  Phil's Flying V, and Andy's awesome sax?   Suddenly, all that whining folk-music-stuff sounded so very, very silly...  Bob Dylan was already sounding like an old man by the middle 1970's.  Curious time - a bit like now.

Suddenly, everything changed, as the economy went down the drain, and inflation ran up - quickly - to 20% annual, by the late-1970;s.  (LIke it is in Argentina now - actually, latest "Southern Cone" number for the Defaulters of Argent-TINA is 43% annual inflation.  Hilarious.)  The stock market went south, maybe to find that "Southern Cone"?  The IMF is the "Soft Machine", is it not?

Eventually, stock markets do not like inflation.   Maybe we do all this again now, but at "internet speed"?

We have this radical theory that suggests the Central Banks should *raise* rates up to 4 or 5 percent.  Maybe more.  The idea is to jump-start the financial system again.   Price money correctly, and restore financial system operation.    Bond investors could make some return, money would be priced as an investment product, and all sorts of stuff that is basically broken now, could re-engage and start to operate again.   Stocks would shift to reflecting fundamentals (at least a little bit, maybe), and the monster-meltdown that we are not just tee-ing up for, but now actually progamming for, can be avoided.

I have learned in most organizations, that most folks do not even have a clue.  Really.  They are really good at talking, and doing politics.   But most organizations are dysfunctional.  That is why Tesla is so valuable.  One guy still calls the shots.  Same with Apple.   The "ghost of Steve Jobs" still haunts the place - just like the ghost of Lysenko haunts Russia.     Personalities are what matters.   All organizational "science" is just so much backside-wind, really.   Much of reality is silly illusion and in fact, just pure NLP-style fraud and manipulation.   All information is suspect.  That is why science sometimes works.   This is why the KGB (or FSB) and the CIA and NSA are the most dangerous organs in the world, as they know and understand this machine of deception, even if only a little.   

It's the artists who warn us about this basic truth.   Do a little jam, and with glam you can show the sham.  Viz:

[ Aug. 27, 2020 ] Another Crazy Forecast by the C_Machine - I am sure there is a bug or flaw in the C_Machine forecaster program.  It is nuts and is giving a crazy, off-side nutty forecast that does not make market-sense.   But it spooked us, and as we had a respectable profit in a large position, we took it (and have watched, of course, the price be bid higher.   That is painful, truth be told)

The AI stuff offers some advantage - but it does not make the actual act of trading any less uncomfortable.   And yet, one finds that the more uncomfortable you are, the better the results often look at the end of the year.

[ Aug. 26, 2020 ] AlphaDogfight Trials - The DARPA AlphaDogfight Trials were run last week and were impressive.  You could watch the best AI programs "flying" F-16 fighter jets in simulations, compete against each other.   Here is a link to the Youtube video of the trials:

If you are on a mobile device, you can use:

The simulation aircraft are interesting, in that they model F-16 "Vipers" which are special, lighter and more maneuverable, almost VFR-grade stripped down, designed for very high-gee turns, like 7 or 8 gees.    This is almost the limit of what a human pilot in a pressure suit can withstand.  (1 g or gee = Earth gravity.  2 gees = 2 times Earth gravity, and so on.  The max g-force humans can withstand is around 9 gees.  At higher g-force levels, human cells will collapse into mush, and organs will be damaged and/or destroyed.)

The AI-controlled aircraft, at the end the competition where the competition is run between a human pilot, and the Heron AI, results in the AI algorithm winning every time, 5 to zero.

This is why so much money is being spent on AI development.

It can work.  And it can work better than the best human, which raises up a number of possible benefits and problems.   Simple strategies, such as proper policy selection by the meta-agent, can just about always beat the human actors, and give the AI an advantage.  This is both exciting and disturbing.

And the final match-up between "Banger" (the nickname of a skilled, real F-16 fighter pilot), and the winning AI - from Heron Systems - was interesting.  The Heron-AI won, but in the final 5th round, the human pilot put up a good fight, and managed to out-maneuver the AI for a respectable amount of time.  Realize:  The AI *should* win.  It has perfect situational awareness, and in the simulation, it has no sensor failures.   This of course, does not occur in real-world scenarios.  A simulation, by definition, is a ludic construct - a game - where all rules are clear, and boundry conditions are evident.  In reality, there are always additional degrees-of-freedom, and possible unforseen variables and parameters.  Therein lies the opportunity for effective action and successful outcome.

For example, the enemy might expect you are not missle-equiped, and engages with the view to using his (or her) advanced flight skills.  As the engagement begins, a door opens on the side of your aircraft, and a hidden missle is released, tracks fast toward the enemy, turns thru > 9 gees, and dispatches the enemy aircraft.   You cheated.  And you won, because you brought a AI+radar enabled Sidewinder to the gunfight.

[ Aug. 25, 2020 ] Cholinesterase Inhibitors - I happen to know a small amount about cholinesterase inhibitors, as the neural science of the brain is studied intensely by most AI research and development folks.  Also, my mother died of complications from Alzheimer's and that makes my interest in this area more than just academic.

The cholinesterase inhibitors block the enzyme acetylcholinesterase, and when you block that enzyme, you can prevent the brain from sending messages to the muscles.  This causes the muscles to go into spasm.  They cannot operate correctly - it is literally like a "short circuit" in an electrical device.   The heart muscles can effectively operate themselves, but the muscles for breathing become affected, and breathing can become difficult or impossible.  Many pesticides use this chemistry.  In the case of both bugs and people, you can stop the breathing machinery, using this method and these chemicals.

Read about more details in this BBC article:

Navalny's anti-corruption agency has been declared a "foreign agent".  This is also most likely nonsense and a lie.   Do the Russians themselves not care about corruption and fraud and dishonesty?

Regardless of your political views, this sort of personal assault on someone who appears to be an honest and legitimate politcal figure, is not acceptable.  

Whoever poisoned Mr. Navalny's tea, should be prosecuted and imprisoned as a criminal, as should the persons who ordered this attack.

This event has the power to destabilize the world, and at the very least, affect the world markets.  It also makes me and others I talk with, feel sad, disgusted and angry.   Navalny and his people had no real chance in the upcoming elections, and his removal will make little difference in terms of immediate Russian political outcomes.  Putin and his team will dominate.   But it disturbs many people, as this "Murder Inc." approach seems to have become a common strategy now, used by many powerful political agents in several non-democratic regimes.  Saudi Arabia and "MBS" have provided a particularly ugly recent example.

This bad behaviour by Governments has to stop, or the "powerful people" who are ordering these murders, will end up being hung from lamposts, as the great Wheel of Revolutionary Fortune takes another big turn.  This is the big "Lesson from History", is it not?   Why do these "powerful people" not pay attention to what History can tell them?  

If the world falls back into conflict and mass warfare, it will impair prosperity, damage opportunity, and degrade the future for all of us.  We all have a stake in fixing this problem.  Corrupt criminal States that use murder of political opponents as a political strategy, need to be utterly removed from the World, and play no role in the Future.  Corrupt States *must* be reformed.  The people of this planet, and the Future itself, demands this.

[ --- Update: Just for FD (full disclosure), we remain, *fully invested* , all-in in stocks basically, with no bonds at all. (We truly believe that 60/40 percent stock/bond thing is profoundly wrong and foolish, during these times of zero and near-zero interest rates.  As mentioned previously, the entire bond portfolio, was rolled into a significant real-estate purchase.  See the "Fee Simple" section for pictures of the view from the northern waterfront property.)   The stock portfolio (the all-in  trade) has swung thru 6 figures this year, but it has worked out well.   The dividend-stream has paid the bills, and the real-estate holdings appear to be increasing in value to a remarkable degree, except you really don't know until you successfully sell.

Real-estate is very risky - but so are stocks and life in general, right?   Our views as analysts, and the AI-models also, both expect markets to continue rising, as inflation begins to take hold.   We are seeing rising prices everywhere.  We are telling folks to expect inflation to come on in a rather non-linear manner, rather quickly, in a short period of time, but in the future (not yet, for a while).

The inflation tsunami is probably still 8 to 12 months away, or maybe a bit further.   Silver is probably a better hedge than gold, since silver is more likely to jump to $30/oz, than gold is to go to $2500/oz.  We don't have models for silver - just historical data that suggests that hard money beats out soft money, in times of extreme uncertainy, and when nation-states and their financial machinery cannot be trusted.  There is a *lot* of silver around, and a bunch of 1 oz pieces of silver makes a nice and easy-to-negotiate hard-currency wallet, especially during times of State-failure and monetary collapse. --- ]

[ Aug. 24, 2020 ] The Big Lie in Russia Damages Russian Science Badly - How awful does it have to get in Russia, before things can be fixed?  Answer: Pretty astonishingly awful.  The horrific poisoning of Alexei Navalny is just over-the-top awful, and shows the terrible, tragic turn that events are taking in Russia now.   The clock is whizzing backwards, and Russian medical advances and Russian scientific achievements are being damaged by the grotesque "fake news" from that Omsk hospital.

The evidence is emerging that Navalny was poisoned with a sophisticated nerve-agent, as the German hospital where he is being treated have found evidence of  cholinesterase inhibitors.  These compounds are the product of nerve agents (like "nerve gas"), and provides strong evidence that Navalny was poisoned - and that the poisoning was done by professional attackers, who had access to very sophisticated biochemical weapons technology.

No doctor in his right mind could claim this was the result of "low blood sugar" or was simply a self-induced "metabolic imbalance".   Russian medical doctors are made to look like dishonest or poorly educated fools.    This is not the case.   Many Russian doctors are well trained, and are as committed to being good doctors as they are anywhere else.   The only explanation is that orders came from Moscow to create and output this lie.

When doctors and medical science collapses in to being another "lie machine", then national, government-funded science is badly damaged, because no-one will trust what it says.

With this one horrific action, Russia has been badly hurt, and Russian science has been badly compromised.

Is it not possible for the Russians to fix this grotesque and brutal abuse of who and what they are, and everything their science has created?    Should the proud Russian nation always be controlled by hidden spys and murder-men?  Should truth always be viewed as something optional?    Is murder, arrest and assault always going to be the Russian baseline political process?  People thrown from windows?   Political persons in opposition murdered or poisoned?  No real change possible unless it is accompanied by violence?

Isn't it time that this ugly and destructive behaviour was finally stopped and corrected?  Russia as a nation is damaged by this.

We many never know *exactly* what chemical agent was used to poison Navalny, but we - the entire planet of knowledgeable scientists and engineers and researchers - we know *exactly* what happened, and who was ultimately responsible.   Sophisticated nerve-agent technology is supposed to be something we do not work on any more.   But of course, research still continues and anyone who wants to know details, can easily determine who is doing what and where they are doing it.

I had a professor at University, who had come from Prague.  As a young lad, he had been forced to study "Lysenkoism" as if it were real science.  His prof knew it was all lies, and the students knew it was all lies - but they had to write exams on the nonsense that denied genetic research results.  Once DNA was discovered, and cell biology understood, the absurd nonsense of Lysenko's drivel was shown to be the Soviet fraud *everyone* knew it was.  But it did so much damage to so many people.   Here is a  link to a 2017 summary article in "Current Biology" which summarized the tragically dishonest fraud & abuse that was Lysenko's nonsense:

Lysenko became the director of the Genetics Institute of the USSR, in 1940.  But this happened after the "Great Purge" of 1937-1938, in which over 1.5 million Russian doctors, scientists and educated people were arrested by Stalin's henchmen.   This "junk-science" and the use of "big lies" was used to justify and then carry out, an astonishingly large mass-murder.  This is why the big lie is a big problem.  When it enters politics, it can be used to lever terrible tragedy.

From the article in "Current Biology":

"The beginning of an aggressive campaign against classic academic geneticists coincided with the ‘great purge’ (1937–1938), politically motivated repressions and terror in the USSR. Approximately one and a half million Soviet citizens were arrested, including hundreds of scientists of the first league. Around 700 thousand of all arrested were executed. The number of biologists persecuted at the All-Union Institute of Plant Breeding alone exceeds that of all biologists repressed, emigrated, or killed during the Nazi reign in Germany [11]."

This was a dark and evil time for Russian science - and for the Russian people.   Lysenkoism set Russian biological science back into the darkness, and damaged Russia as a nation.

And this same kind of damage is still occuring, apparently.

The fact that Navalny can be taken to a real hospital in a major urban centre in Russia, and the doctors can be told to retail the lie that he had a "metabolic disorder - perhaps from low blood sugar" is tragic.   Navalny was screaming in pain on the aircraft - there is a video of this.  This is not a symptom of "low blood sugar".   

The Russian doctors were either truly incompetent, or they were lying.  No one believes the Russian doctors were this stupid, so they obviously were instructed to say this nonsense by authorities in Moscow.   And thus we are now back in the world of Lysenko and Stalin.

So, it is not just Alexei Navalny who has been badly hurt here.  Russian medical science, and the Russian state has also been badly damaged by this.

The risk now, is that people will not trust the Russian authorities.  Confidence has been lost.   Russians who love their homeland, should try to fix this problem, before it gets any worse.

In the rest of the world, the markets are improving, and everything is re-opening.   But something different seems to be happening in Russia.   The Russians themselves must fix this problem.  The "big lie" degrades and damages them all, and puts the peace and security of the whole world at risk.

[ Aug. 23, 2020 ] If Mr. Trump Really Wants to Blow Up World Trade, Then USA Voters Will Almost Certainly Blow Up Mr. Trump's Presidency - Donald Trump will lose the USA election badly, if he continues this strange & foolish assault on international trade and the world economic linkages that have made America both rich and strong.   The USA is deeply integrated into the World Economy, and having China companies list on American Stock Exchanges is a great and sensible way for USA to control those China companies and make them play fair and operate honestly.

If Trump keeps talking about blowing all this up, and "de-coupling" from China, then he will lose the election, and lose it badly.   We just bought some equipment for the farm - a couple of powerful  deep-well 240-volt water pumps.  They are Chinese made, and were a tiny fraction of the absurd price that Franklin, the American manufacturer, charges for the same thing - we are talking $300 verus $1500.   Having tariff-free access to Chinese products *really* helps Canadian farmers and consumers.  A lot.  And I have an Android Huawei cellphone - which can run all the apps we developed - and which are *not* allowed to run on the monopolist-manufactured Apple iPhone.  

[ Background:  Apple explicitly prevents computer languages, compilers, and interpreters from running on it's iPad and iPhone devices. This means the GEMESYS app gDOSbox and all four of the APL interpreters are excluded from consideration for distribution using the Apple iStore.   Google has also recently removed these same apps from it's "Playstore" because they have not been updated to latest Android O/S version - despite the fact they still work fine.   By even the most casual and loose definitions, the Apple iStore and the Google Playstore business models are examples of the restrictive trade-practices that abusive monopolist operations employ.   Yet the Americans, with their long tradition of "trust-busting" monopoly business-models, do nothing to prevent this abuse, probably because Justice Department officials lack understanding of what is really going on. ]

Everyone needs to understand that there is no chance we are going back to the ugly, expensive, "everyone-dependent-on-overpriced-American-products" world.   It will just not be happening.  If Trump continues his unwise assault on world trade and international business supply-chains, then the man will - almost certainty - lose the November 2020 election.

Everyone - from farmers and manufacturers in the midwest, to car-dealers and working people and finance people and government people on both coasts - all now rely on world trade being operational.   And world trade means business and commerce with Asia - mostly China.

If America wants to fix the economic problems of the World, they could start in California.   China is less of a problem than the Apple monopoly which so effectively stifles innovation, and limits opportunity expansion in the world of technology.

Mr. Trump needs to stop being a boot-lick for the Saudi-Arabians and Israelis, and recognize the real interests of his own people lie in being the businessmen and businesswomen to the World Economy.   USA runs the global reserve currency, and if Trump "de-couples" from Asia, he will also be "de-coupling" from USA economic dominance, and American peace and prosperity.

For crying out loud, someone has to explain this to the poor fellow, before he commits electoral hara-kiri, and hands the USA to Joe Biden and the Democrats - on a golden platter - in the November election.  

Trump and his bad-cop Pompeo, are increasingly viewed around the world as dangerous loose cannons which are sliding towards the edge of the deck.   If the "economic storm" gets worse in the next few months, the World need only wait, many quietly suggest.   And the Democrats could run a brain-dead automaton and a "glass of (coloured) water", and still win the election.  ( Wait - isn't that pretty much what they're doing?   Oh my...)

[ Aug. 22, 2020 ] Main Street Needs Customers, Not Debt - Curious times, and probably will get more curious, as the vaccine for the virus is made available, and we get improved conditions.  We were having a look at the "Main Street Lending Program" and some of the other US Federal Reserve programs.   They also have this "Municipal Bond Support" program - where basically they buy junk bonds issued by US cities.  The program is really called  the "Municipal Liquidity Facilitiy", and according to what I have been able to determine, it has bought two issues - a $1.2 billion State of Illinois 1 year note, and a $450 million 3-year issue from the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority.  Interesting, this.  What this means, is that the Fed is literally creating money, and giving it to the States and Cities, with the promise that they have to maybe give it back at some point...

The "Main Street Lending" thing is even more strange - it is run by the banks, and the idea is that you (if you are a small or medium business), make the application to get the loan, and you pay LIBOR+3 full points to get a loan that is backstopped by the Fed.  They buy 95% of it, and the bank administers it.  This LIBOR+3 pecent is stiff, since a good company with good credit can issue bonds in the 2 % range now, and even junk can be sold at around 6% yield.  The "Main Street Lending" thing is complicated, it is not *advertised* of course, and so pretty much no one is using it.  The Fed has authorization to buy up to  $600 billion of loans, but looks to have bought only around $500 *million* in loans - so the program is a failure, really.   It is expensive, it is complex, it has significant restrictions, and it exposes any company who gets a loan this way, to "government political risk" - the risk that by using some government program, you do something that is politically incorrect, or make a mistake, and suddenly find yourself and your company is now the target of a political witch-hunt.

You can download and read the report, if curious about details.  Here is URL:

By any measure, really, this "Main Street Lending" program is a failure.  And icing on the cake - it is run out of Boston, by Eric Rosengren, who is the President of the Boston Federal Reserve Branch.  I am sure Mr. Rosengren is a fine fellow, but really, "Main Street" does not go to Boston to try to borrow money when things get tight and difficult.  Trying to get help or assistance from anyone in Boston, would probably not be the first thing that a sane and sensible business-man would consider, would it?  

This whole "Main Street Lending" thing looks to have been a political effort that was inserted by Democrats who were unwise, and crafted by Federal Reserve people who were not unwise.  It appears to have been designed to work just like it is working now - ie. not work at all, and not offer anyone anything meaningful.

I've watched and seen government programs like this get created and run - and they are designed to be exactly like this - create the impression that something is being done - while not actually costing any real money, or causing any disruption.  

One is wisest, if one simply avoids getting involved with any "government help".  

Remember the joke about the biggest lies every told?  Viz:  "I'm from the Government.  I'm here to help you!"

[ Aug. 21, 2020 ] World on a High Wire - Just completely sad & silly.  Terrible ugly news about Alexei Navalny being poisoned in Russia, and being held in an Omsk hospital until he dies or the radioactive polonium is removed from his body.  Just awful news. This may end the West's relationship with Putin.   This idea where you just murder anyone who threatens you - this cannot be tolerated.  

We can't have murderous gangsters running corrupt, nuclear-armed states going around killing folks like this.  The North Korean regime will just have to be removed (another corrupt "gangster" State, run by a murder-monkey), and probably, so will all the other "Murder Inc.". States.   Maybe it is time for a big, all-out, world-cleansing project.   We had thought Russia was actually transitioning to a working, modern democratic State.   This is so very sad, and combine this with the fake-election run by that Lukashenko thug that is raping Belarus - it is just so very sad to see this all play out.    The 'Winds of Change' are blowing poison gas, now, it seems.

The World has to transition to democratic States, and compete using commerical interests, not murder and violence.  If we have to move back to warfare to fix this ugly horrorshow that is shaping up, it will damage us all very badly.   But it may be necessary, sadly.

Stock market reflects the money that is available.  There is no shortage, since it is little more than numbers in computers now, obviously.  Gold at $3000/oz is not a big stretch.  If you hold cash, you will watch it get inflated away.   Stocks are not a perfect inflation hedge, but in early stages of inflation, they can do very well.  (Check out stock prices in Austria and Germany in the first half of each nation's big post-World-War-One hyper-inflation.)

(See top chart on Corporate yields)

[ Aug. 20, 2020 ] Going All In - Two things:  1) Federal Reserve Meeting Minutes, for July, released yesterday, and 2) Demographic data for Top Part of North America (TOPONA = Canada & USA).  

The data is pretty clearly focused here.   I found the US Fed's Minutes for July which were released yesterday and read them from one end to the other.  They are well written, and it is *always* better to go to original source if you can.   And then secondly, I did a quick run thru the demographic data for TOPONA, and it is pretty grim.   The summary:

1) USA Federal Reserve will remain *accommodative* and will keep easy-money policy and zero interest rates for some time in to the future - roughly one or two years, probably.   Yield curve "caps" are not planned at this time, and administered short-term Fed. controlled interest rates target 0 to 1/4 percent.  The SOMA Desk (the Fed's System Open Market Account desk in New York  is instructed to roll over maturing Treasury paper and CMBS's.   Fed targets a 2 percent inflation rate, and the various rates they look at (CPI and PCI and various sub-categories) are ranging around 0.6% to 1.2% annual inflation - well below the 2% the Fed wants to see, and believes is needed to maintain a stable & near-full-employment economy.   But the SLOOS report (Survey of Loan Officers at banks) indicates that credit-granting is tightening, and loans are harder to get, as standards are being raised.

Our take on this:  Things are working OK, financial system is sound and stable, but business-conditions for many small and medium businesses are really awful, but are at least improving.   Only roughly 1/3rd of the 22 million jobs lost have been regained, and the Fed's balance sheet has shrunk slightly from $7.2 trillion to $7.0 trillion, so we look to have weathered the worst part of the storm, and will probably all be ok, unless more crazy stuff happens.

The stock-market runup makes perfect sense, since monetary conditions are the easiest they have ever been, interest rates are the lowest they have ever been => at zero (for the very big special ORGS that can tap the SOMA-supplied zero-interest rates overnite stuff), the US economy is efficient, lots of labour is available, and demand is being held up by payments under the CARES Act and other coronavirus-related programs as well as unemployment insurance payments.

The near and medium-term future is clearly expected to be better than the current situation, and the monetary conditions are the easiest they have every been.  Since the stock market is driven by these two main motivators - money being available and the 12 to 18 month collective picture-of-the-future that market participants have in their heads - it would be strange if there was NOT a vibrant, up-moving stock market.  Under these conditions, asset values can be expected to be very well supported, and should drift upwards.

Fed Minutes here:

The real toad in the soup, is the TOPONA demographic profile.  It is even worse than I thought.  Canada has always had a crappy fecundity rate, typically around 1.76  (this is just the average expected number of children a female is expected to have in her fertile lifetime - 15 to 45 years typically).  You need it to be at least 2.0, just to replace your existing population.  Canada's is now around 1.5 or lower (estimates for 2020), and has been falling for decades.  What is interesting, is that the USA, which was always mostly above 2, has also cratered, and is now south of 1.7 and is closing in on 1.5 also.  

The numbers are so awful for Canada, that is is comical.  Consider, in 2017, the Canadian Fertility rate was 1.5.  In Niger, Africa (pronounced "Neeshar"), the rate is roughly 6.5.  

Don't be critical of Africa - it just looks like Canada did, demographically, in the 1800's.  For Canada, In 1851, the rate was 6.56.  In 1871, it was 6.83.    In 1891, it was 4.92.   For most of the 20th century, Canada's rate fell from the high 4's, to 1.49 as of 2018.  In the 1950's, the rate floated around the high 3's - typically 3.6 to 3.9.  In the 1960's, it fell from 3.9 to 2.3, and the crash began in the 1970's, with 1972, the first year it fell below replacement, to 1.98.   By the 21st century, it is now well below 2, and latest numbers are at the 1.49 level.

USA is following this same trend.  In 2008, the USA rate was 2.08, but by 2018 data, it is shown to be 1.73, down from 1.77 in 2017.   The birth-rate - especially among educated white people - is falling dramatically.



This demographic profile means - starkly, without argument - that both nations have to run *expansionist* immigration policies just to maintain existing population levels and economic demand.    We have no choice but  to hoover-up the world's curious-looking, funny-smelling, strange-coloured people from elsewhere, and invite them to come live here, fornicate with vigour, and make a bunch of babies.   We don't have the luxury of being "racist", because white females are not even close to making enough babies just to keep things operational, never mind have any sort of growth, economic or otherwise.

North America - at least TOPONA - is screwed.   This is really serious.  We are in real trouble here, as we are diluting and degrading everything that we are culturally.   And we really have no choice at all, since otherwise, our economies will just stop working, most opportunity will fade out, and we will not be able to maintain a workforce and a viable military.

This isn't a racist argument or something we should information-hide.   This is just statistical fact, and it threatens our collective and individual prosperity.  And it is actually a very strange problem, since it is more than just economics.  

I recently attended an event, last year, before the virus thing, where I met a bunch of folks I had not seen in years, since school-days.   An curious number of the guys present were just bio-failures.  They had not succeeded in attracting females and reproducing and the situatlon was actually quite scary and tragic.   One fellow was unwell and was already living in a retirement-style home, another was living in the basement of an aging sibling, having lost literally all his money, and another looked to have become what the Japanese call "hikikomori" - a kind of home-bound person who has disconnected from society and does not socialize - almost an Asperger's Syndrome type.   And then I thought about two other close friends - and realized they both were also bio-failures.  Both were very successful economically and made lots of money and had girlfriends and such, but had somehow not managed to get any of them pregnant, and had not got married.

Something is wrong here.  Really.  Something is just plain seriously and deeply wrong.

The advanced world we have built here - it's a death-world.   It's designed to go terminal.  We have to seriously consider the idea that our "women-should-be-doing-everything-that-men-are-doing" economic, political and cultural model might actually be a lethally bad, and foolish idea.

We desperately need the AI and the robots and the new advanced fabrication technology, because there will not be enough workers born and raised to operate the factories.

And maybe women *SHOULD* be at home, raising the children, and not be wasting their young, healthy, child-producing years out in the workforce, competeing with men economically.

Either way, this curious and rather toxic demographic problem, will hit the economies of the two TOPONA nations, and this will affect asset prices.   This problem is many years still down the road, but our solution to it that is being applied now - massive immigration - will have some consequences right now, especially in Canada.  We here, have the luxury of accepting *wealthy* and *healthy* immigrants, and we have been doing this and should keep doing it.

We might also want to give special preferrence to attractive, healthy and fertile young woman, who want to come here and look for partners.   This sounds terribly sexist and politically incorrect, but it might also be a bloody good idea.    Kind of like those "mineshafts" in "Dr. Strangelove"... but of course, the risk is that we end up with something that looks like "A Boy and His Dog" instead, which is not a pretty picture-of-the-future at all.  

Either way, we still have a real problem.  Our women don't want to be homemakers and have babies, and our men are not stepping up to the job that they have to do.   The most very basic thing that a bunch of living creatures must do - reproduce - is just not getting done here at a rate sufficient to maintain the population of the living creatures.

This will have market consquences in the future, and it is already driving market behaviour and investment and consumption action right now.   And it will - from a public finance - government debt and tax perspective - be a nasty, almost economically-lethal problem in the future, as we won't have enough taxpayers to fund government AND the payments needed to sustain the debt-levels we have already built up.  Something will have to *give* - the system will find some way to *adjust*, and if this adjustment is not managed, it might happen rapidly and chaotically.

[ Aug. 19, 2020 ] Trump Is The Only Viable Choice - I think Trump's foreign policy is not particularly wise, but when I see the Joe Biden and Kamala Harris ticket, I just feel overcome with nausea and a quiet sadness when I consider that these two lightweights might sieze power in the good old USA.   

Our family history intersects American history in many places, and I came across some notebooks from a family member from Los Angeles, from 1930 and 1937.  Those were tough years in America, but really, things worked OK for most people, as there was a traditional & honest shared-vision for what America stood for, and what it's values were.   Despite the economic problems and the Leftist experiments, the country remained strong and free, and was comfortably able to ramp up production to meet the requirements of the Second World War.   America was directly responsible for defeating Japanese and German military-backed fascism, and the American military did a very good job of NOT being racist.   America and China, UK, Canada and Russia were all allies in this critical effort to save and repair the World.

The belt-tightening and fiscal prudence and balanced budgets of the 1930's allowed America to ramp-up spending, issue financially viable "Victory Bonds", fund the "Lend-lease" of equipment to besieged England, and crank out expensive bomber aircraft like Henry Ford could build cheap cars.  Because America had not blown it's economic brains out in the 1930's, it had reserves of men, material, and money.  The privations of the 1930's meant that the costs of the Second World War could be funded, and post-war, American money replaced English UK money as the world's reserve currency.

The Leftists paint a deeply distorted picture of American history, and it does not jibe with what really took place.    The "Big Tech" enterprises - Google, Facebook, Twitter - and the US mainstream media continue this fraud, and promote and present deliberately false and distorted pictures of what is happening today.   Take a look at what the "BLM" movement really looks like:

The so-called "Democrat" Party of the United States is becoming a tragic, grotesque joke.  It succeeds in its operational efforts by means of distortion, disinformation, and deception.  It's efforts require aggressive "information-hiding" and consistant judicial and legal abuse for it to maintain power.  The real danger, is that it succeeds politically when America is weakened, so it's policy choices are crafted to inflict explicit damage on it's own nation.    These "Democrats" want to see US cities burning and riots taking place as they understand that this gets them elected.  They say otherwise.  This is the power of the Leftist Lie.

But this weakens civil society, and does great damage to the American nation.

The Romans taught us clearly that the only way to have peace and prosperity is to have a well organized civil structure, a fair legal system, be disciplined and ready for war, and be willing to act with intensity when the moment requires it.  And when you look at the fraud and violence that the "Democrat" Leftists unleash, and their committment to dis-arming and degrading all that America has stood for in the past, there is simply no way a rational person could support these manipulative fraudsters.

For America to survive, it appears that Trump will have to be re-elected.   Curious times, indeed.

[Update:  We are not the only ones noticing this mass-media deception process.  Here is a link to an interesting article that details 7 specific stories where the author indicates the mainstream media acted to try to hide information and bury stories that otherwise would have been showcased as major news events, because the information would have been expected to benefit President Trump and support his actions.  ]

[ Aug. 18, 2020 ] Hydroxychloroquine Works Effectively to Help Early-Stage Covid-19 Patients - Minnesota Governor Reverses Unwise Ban on It's Usage-  Very early on, back in March of this this year, I wrote a note about the possible efficacy of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment option for those suffering from virual infections of SARS-CoV-2.  This was the result of reading and research that showed significant and provable in-vitro anti-viral action of the drug.  This drug has been around since 1955, and is very well understood by many doctors, and it is prescribed to many patients, without serious side-effects.   

I wrote my note based on information provided in respected peer-reviewed journals which detailed controlled, experimental results that showed it had clear in-vitro efficacy, and that results in early-stage patients reported by Chinese researchers and medical professionals show that it could be a useful treatment option.   It is not a perfect cure, but it does not cure malaria either.  It is a safe drug, which has been used by millions of people.

The curious, anti-scientific political response that some people had was surprising.

There is a very ugly and profoundly foolish politically inspired dis-information campaign underway, which seems to suggest that this drug has no value at all.   This is absurd, and there is now substantial evidence that the drug can benefit people suffering from early-stage Covid-19 infection.

See this article, which details the reversal of the surprising Minnesota ban on using this drug:

Here is the text of my original note:  First published: March 17, 2020

More detail on Hydroxychloroquine:

The technical information below may be important.  Only a few agents are monitoring this page, but this is data that might be useful.  What happens when you get SARS-1 or SARS-CoV-2, (Covid-19) is that you seem to get a "cytokine storm", which is similar to what killed young, healthy adults during the 1918 Spanish Influenza Epidemic.

A cytokine storm is a very rapid, extreme bio-response, in which one's body reacts quickly to a very toxic viral agent, with a massive immune response.  The problem, is that one of the characteristics is that a substantial fluid build-up in the lungs can occur.  This is pneumonia, and this reaction can prevent a person from breathing.  This inability to get sufficient oxygen, if it continues long enough, can obviously result in the death of the patient.   Doctors and medical specialists should work to avoid this outcome.

This is a very important academic article, which makes a useful suggestion - the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat a SARS-CoV-2 infection ( COVID-19 disease) viral infection.  Note: SARS-CoV-2 is the name given to the Novel Coronavirus.   COVID-19 is the name given to the actual syndrome/disease associated with the virus. (This information from the European CDC website).

I had earlier indicated SARS-CoV-2 was a name the Chinese medical community had decided on.  My apologies for this error.  SARS-CoV-2 It is a sensible name, as there is great similarity between the SARS version-1 virus, and the current Coronavirus that is spreading globally.  The SARS-CoV-2 is slightly different from SARS-1, in that the trimeric spike glycoprotein at the end of the filament has a hinge-like feature, which enhances its ability to bind to ACE2 (angiotensin converting enzyme 2).   This appears to be the reason that SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) is more contagious than SARS-1 - estimates suggest up to 10 to 20 times more contagious.  It's a very nasty thing, and we all need to co-operate to defeat it.

If you are treating COVID-19/Coronavirus patients - please review this article, which was published in Oxford Academic "Clinical Infectious Diseases".  The manuscript is dated: March 9, 2020.  The URL is below:

Physiologically-based pharmacokinetic models (PBPK) results suggest a loading dose of 400 mg twice daily of hydroxychloroquine sulfate given orally, followed by a maintenance dose of 200 mg given twice daily for 4 days is recommended for the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19 coronavirus) infection.   

Specifically, hydroxychoroquine was found to be more potent than chloroquine to inhibit SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) in vitro.    See the article for details.  It can be downloaded as a .PDF file on any tablet, or computer.

Note: On Page 14, the article indicates:

"In addition, an unpublished clinincal trial has demonstrated the therapeutic effect of chloroquine in SARS-CoV-2 infected patients.  On the basis of hydroxychloroquine's superior antiviral and prophylactic activity, as well as its more tolerable safety profile in comparison to chloroquine, we believe that hydroxychloroquine may be a promising drug for the treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infection."

Other References:


Note: We are *not* physicians.   These notes are a volunteer effort.  These are bio-technical notes only, and should not be considered explicit medical advice.  Consult your doctor if you have a fever and think you might have the Coronavirus.  If you do not have a doctor, present yourself at a hospital or a clinic, and request treatment.  

There are effective treatments for Covid-19.  For some people, the "cytokine storm" (a rapid and extreme immune-system response by your own body) can leave you on the floor, gasping for breath, your lungs filled with fluid.  You really want to avoid this outcome by seeking medical assistance.  Just having access to oxygen, can save your life.  Almost everyone can recover.  With recovery, will likely come immunity, though we don't know yet for sure.  Best of luck.

---- end of copy ---

Glad to see some of the American Governors are becoming more wise, and have decided to let the doctors make the treatment decisions.

 I fear that those who flatly reject hydroxychloroquine as a treatment option for Covid-19 in light of the evidence available, are simply ego-driven, arrogant, poor-quality scientists.   These type of people are common in the common-room, sadly.

[ Aug. 17, 2020 ] "There is No Great Genius, Without Some Touch of Madness" - This is a quote from from Lucius Annaeus Seneca's "Moral Essays", the section "On Tranquillity of the Mind", but Seneca himself references Aristotle as the source.   It's also said in Plato's "Phaedrus".   I saw a video clip about some fellow at Todai (Tokyo Daigaku - literally "Tokyo BigSchool", or Tokyo University) who as a young lad in public school began developing his own synthetic language.  He continues this work at Tokyo University.   It's not an easy language, and it's not like Esperanto.  Rather it seems more like Klingon crossed with Thai, and seems to use variants of Sanskrit and Linear-B for glyph-characters.   You watch the clip, and the young fellow seems quite mad, and yet, his efforts and research into language structure and conceptual nomenclature could certainly prove useful in a number of obvious areas - machine translation, AI-based syntax decomposition, machine learning, knowledge-representation schema, and so on.  Perhaps even translation of alien radio signals?   One cannot predict where such a curious skill-set might offer useful insights.

The mapping between meaning and awareness, using language constructs, is an interesting area of investigation.

I dabbled with Mayan, and it's similarity to Ethiopean Amharic and Japanese Hirogana & Katakana  ( all use a matrix of vowelized consonants - termed a "syllabary", by language researchers and scholars).  You look at these vowelization matricies, and wonder if you should calculate an eigenvalue or something.

Most languages are a mess, filled with "special case" constructs hoovered up from lone-words being dropped in from other languages, as well as being stuffed with idiomatic and ambiguous homonyms and homophones.   English is hilarious:  "to, two & too" for verb infinitive prefix, a cardinal number & and a modifier to indicate intensity level.  And of course: "rough, bough & though" => pronounced "ruff, bow (as in: "bow down", not bow, like "bow and arrow")  and thoe".

Human language is really awful - and yet it lets us conceptualize abstraction, and then create mathematics, and thus become reflexively aware of our own awareness-machinery.   I can communicate much important information to my dog, and she to me also, but our dialogue fails when even simple abstraction is required,  She has trouble with the abstraction of temporal intervals  - as in:  "I am leaving, but I will be back in one hour" is often incorrectly interpreted as "I am leaving and I may not ever return."   (I get the same "anxious-concern" face, worried barks, flailing-tail and worried-window-checking response for each suggested event-plan.  All departures are evaluated by her as being equivalently high-risk events.)

We humans are rather fortunate to have language which encapsulates the capacity for complex (and even simple) temporal abstractions - such as past, present, future and associated conditional verb constructs - and nouns and adjectives which designate ideas, images, mental constructs and possibilities.

And so we can even analyze our analysis, and think in depth about our method of thinking.  But of course, too much of this sort of introspection is probably not healthy or productive, and both history and neural research both suggest this is in fact, the case.   :)

[ Aug. 16, 2020 ] "Madness Takes it's Toll ..." "But listen closely, not for very much longer, as I've got to keep control."  - Anyone remember the "Rocky Horror Show" and movie-version, "Rocky Horror Picture Show"?

Great fun.  I saw the original stage production in London, UK, long years ago, when I was a very young lad.   Amusingly educational, it was.

If you want to see the future, just consult the past.   Glad I am not in the UK now, especially as a student.  I hear they are using some bullsh/t algorithm to "forecast" student grades, and the algo uses the *average* grades from the school you went to.  So, it means if you were an outstanding student from a low-quality school full of stupid yobs, then your grade would be dialed-down towards the average of the other dunderheads in the scut-school.

Oh my...  if there ever was a reason to dump the entire *educational establishment* into the Big Commode of History, and push the lever to get rid of it all, this just might be it.    So very, very glad that I do not live - or have family or kids - that live in the UK.   The place is run by the unwise, even worse than the USA.   Why not just let the kids sit exams?  Because the teachers would actually have to do some work, and mark the bloody things, perhaps?    Oh my.  Oh my, oh my.

[ Aug. 15, 2020 ] "Yo Ho Ho - A Pirate's Life for Me!" Shouts The Great Donald...- Damn, but if I were voting in the US election, I think I would have to spoil my baltot, and just write "None of these people should be USA President", and go home and drink a gin and tonic.

Donald Trump has gone full pirate, and ordered the US military to sieze 4 Iranian tankers trying to ship gasoline to fuel-starved Venezuela.  I don't like the idiots who run Venezuela, nor the religious-fascist ragbags that run Iran.   But this sort of high-seas piracy bullsh/t makes America look like a bunch of lawless gangsters.   It's just plain old-fashioned thug-action by a strong-man from a warfare-state.  There is no "rule of law" happening here.  Nations have to be free to execute commercial activities with each other - and pirate-thug entities - whether they be Somalian Islamic State bandits or the 'Murican military - must not interfere.   Using armed ships to attack and sieze unarmed trading ships on the high seas is piracy.  The USA is playing the role of pirate here.

Trump is making America look like a bunch of gangster scumbags.  This is just so amazingly wrong.  That crazy bastard wants to provoke a war with someone so the Big Toad can win an election.  This is wrong.

What has happened to the USA?   When did the Republicans decide to become such abusive, flaming fools?   They used to stand for that which was good and fair and right and proper.  What has happened to them??   What good is this act of piracy going to do anybody anywhere?   This is just fat-bottomed stupid.

There is clearly political desperation at work here, and it is ugly and serious.  Folks need to understand that these ancient "pictures-of-the-world" that most are using now to interpret events, carry with them dangerous flaws and extreme in-built errors and risks.   Politics is now all about deception and message manipulation. The ability to do this, and the tragic consequences of forcing bad policy by political image-trickery, have now risen to very high levels.    Driving your car very fast as you see a false picture out the windshield, quickly becomes the "Highway to Hell" and the result is flaming wreckage.

The "Coronavirus" thing is only the beginning.   Bad politics, driven by unwise, arrogant child-politicians  and toxic "strongmen" in positions of power, are perhaps the most dangerous threat the world now faces.    Nature is pretty good at solving problems that are *natural* in origin.  But wannabe kings bent on murder can be much more lethal.

George Bush Jr. took us to into a foolish and mindlessly destructive war in Iraq that only offered minor benefit to Israel.   That fool's exercise - based on faked up "intelligence" suggesting the existence of "weapons of mass destruction" led directly to the collapse of civil society in Iraq and Syria, the rise of the murderous ISIS entity, and the full militarization of all the Middle East.  The USA plans to cut and run from Afghanistan, and most Taliban criminal prisoners (400 violent men) have recently been freed, in a "peace" deal.   Violence and tragedy will occur because of this action.  

The whole arena in the Middle East is deeply unstable, and its future will be dominated by angry young men who have no jobs - as perhaps will be America's.    Yet there is no top-level effort to address the problems the unwise Bush warfare created - just more abusive Israel-motivated attempts to attack the near-bankrupt Iranians.   The American Trumpers seem determined to avoid taking any knowledge-lessons from history.   The whole Middle East tragedy and violence-fest has been driven by political message-making and image-construction for American political objectives.   This is insane, and will lead almost certainly to more war.  

None of this stupid nonsense needs to happen, but unless either Israel or America suffer a massive military defeat, this tragedy is certain to grind forward for many more decades, and continue to drive American and European politics, as violence-based political-action strategies are deployed by all sides.  

Trump seems determined to drive the Iranians to fully reverse the anti-nuclear deal, and standard rational geopolitics and basic state-survival requirements strongly motivate the Iranians to create some sort of nuclear deterence to protect their nation - especially given the awful George-Bush/Tony-Blair "WMD Lie War" that smashed their neighbour, Iraq.

US political operation needs to be disconnected from the Middle East violence vortex, and Trump - who once looked like he was trying to do this, by making a peace-deal with the Taliban - does not seem able to act rationally here.   America will gain nothing by provoking a war with Iran, or encouraging Iran to attack Saudi Arabia.  Perhaps Trump is beholden to his Saudi controllers or something curious like that...

The world may recover quickly from Covid-19 pandemic once the vaccine is made widely available, but the recovery from the economic "stop" may not occur as expected, if war with Iran or China is initiated by Trump's deeply unwise foreign policy.  And this outcome looks more likely now.    The current American administration seems determined to provoke a military clash with someone, so that Republicans can use fear and loathing to encourge their man to be re-elected.

In many ways, this strategy looks more dangerous, and more likely to result in high rates of death, than anything that the Coronavirus might throw at us.

Here's a way it might play out.  China and Iran could sign a "Mutual Defense and Assistance Treaty", which would state simply that any military attack directed at either of their nations, would allow and perhaps require assistance to be offered by the other.   America then attacks coastal regions in Iran, or commits some other act of murderous piracy and the Iranians ask for help.  China decides it's now time to show off it's abilities, and offers to destroy the American military bases in Saudi Arabia.  The Iranians eagerly agree, and China obliterates the US bases and the belligerent US nuclear aircraft-carrier threat - but only in the Middle East, and only because it's ally insisted that it act under the terms of their treaty obligations.

The whole thing could play out over a weekend.  China would assert it was just assisting an ally in suppressing an illegal aggressive assault on a sovereign nation, the Saudi Democratic Resistance would welcome the removal of what it sees as a foreign military invader, and the Iranians would all dance in the streets.  And the Rest of the World would just accept that old Roman truth - If you live by the sword, you will likely die by the sword - and not cry too much.

But of course, this would only be the beginning.  

[ Aug. 14, 2020 ] Quick Watson, the Needle - There are now over 150 different candidate vaccines for Coronavirus SARS-2-Cov under development, testing, and in operational use and being given to people.  So far, all the ones that are being tested on people are producing antibody repsonse, but long term safety and efficacy is not clear.  We don't know if they will prevent someone from catching the virus, many months after having been given the vaccine, and we don't know if any of the vaccines have any strange long-term risks.   The large Phase III trials try to get a sense of this.  Russia has approved a vaccine which looks to be safe and effective - and results published in JAMA indicate a  Chinese vaccine is working well, and will be tested in the Middle East in a large-scale (> 10,000 people) Phase III trial.

Now, how about malaria?

Here at the farmstead, we are dealing with insect pests - tent caterpillers, gypsy moths and strange golden-coloured japanese beetles that eat just the fleshy parts of leaves, leaving behind a sad looking leaf-skeleton.   The crops - alfalfa and grass - appear to be completely resistant to these various pests, but the cherry and apple trees were stripped of their leaves in July.  They've now grown new leaves, but no fruit of any kind - a bio-economic *stop* rather like what happened back in March-April  of this year because of Covid-19 mass-quarantine attempts.

The "Japanese Beetles" are one of the first invasive-species, and are believed to have arrived in North America as small grubs in the soil of potted Japanese Iris plants, in the New York / New Jersey area.  They were first noticed in 1916, and by 1920, attempts to stop their spread were given up, as they had become too widespread.  The Latin name is: "Popillia Japonica".  Details, if curious, from the Farmer's Almanc:

Crazy year - one for the record-books.   Nature *always* solves her problems.  We just don't always like how She does it.

We've noticed that some of the useful chaotic models that have been helpful in tracking and forecasting financial market activity, derive from ecology and population growth/dieback models.  Insect populations are interesting to study, as their populations experience massive blooms and diebacks, which closely resemble the booms and catastrophic-collapse-events (CCE's) that characterize financial market activity observed through various time scales.

[ Aug. 13, 2020 ] Central Bankers Begin to Wise Up - When you have been doing somthing really stupid and destructive, the smartest and most effective thing you can do is - FIRST, just stop doing it.   What is amusing is just how painful and difficult this is for most people.  A good example is fat people.  If they want to stop being fat slagheaps of artery-clogging lipids, the first task is simply to stop eating so damn much food.   And this proves to be difficult, yes?

Same with central bankers.  Many of them are profoundly arrogant, egos bloated with the sense of their own self-importance - like most senior people in most government organs now.  You don't get to be the boss of anything anywhere, unless your ego is a great, giant thumping thing.  

So this makes turning around from *really bad decisions* that the horribly-out-of-touch policy wonks fabricate, such as the lunatic "negative interest rate" strategy, really difficult.

Most central bankers are of the curious view, that low and negative interest rates are somehow "stimulative" to a national economy.   Our research suggests this is just not the case.  But it is truly amazing the degree to which really bad ideas, that cause very bad results, can gain such currency.   The zero and negative interest rates that prevail now are idiotic, and only really exist in the rarified world of billion-dollar-plus positions that are executed by bond traders and other financial foo-fakers who shuffle government paper.

Most ordinary folks are paying 19.99% annual interest on their bloody VISA card debt, which is a long way from the science-fiction-idiot-crazy zero interest rates that the banking system is typically offered by the twits who run the world's central banks.   The stupid economists and zero-business-knowledge policy people who work at government organs mostly have no idea how painfully disconnected they are from the real economic world that exists in most nations real economies.   It is just comical how profoundly de-coupled most of these boneheads are.   

And so moron-crazy-stupid ideas like "zero and negative interest rates will stimulate the banks to lend more money, and so that will stimuate the economy" get taken seriously, and actually become national goverment policy in places like Germany and Japan - and begin, of course, to influence the rest of the world everywhere else.

This is the dumbest idea, since the days of the Weimar Republic, when the silly doofus bankers believed this model that said they had to keep a certain value-amount of currency circulating, so as the exchange rate fell vis-a-vis the British Pound, they printed more currency to maintain the overall valuation-level of the circulating cash ( The Germans are not normally stupid.  But the hyper-inflation that the early 1920's money-printing caused, was just seen as a necessary by-product of this model-driven need to maintain this curious balance.   But of course, as the cash circulating rose, the exchange rate between the Mark and the Pound got worse and worse.  You had this perfect Sorosian reflexive feed-forward process.  The German hyper-inflation happened because the German central bank had this bad model, that drove these insane actions - but which seemed to be dictated by the needs of their wrong model.)

The central banks have a similar "bad-model" problem now.   Real-economy interest rates and the science-fiction-economy interest rates that prevail between the banks and the central-bank (the absurd zero and negative interest rates), are far apart.   It is this simple:   Setting zero or negative interest rates do *NOT* encourage banks to lend money to consumers.  These insane low interest rates cause exactly the opposite to happen, as the banks need to ensure they maintain their capital, to meet the regulatory requirements imposed by the macro-prudential regulators (In Canada, we split the bank-regulator function away from the central-bank money-supply managers, for obvious reasons.)  The capital regulations are needed, of course, to keep the banks solvent and from blowing themselves up, like Lehman Brothers did in 2008, or like the Knickerbocker Trust did in 1907 - each time, triggering a financial panic that did great damage.

So as rates go zero and negative, the banks have to stash more cash aside to meet regulatory restrictions and maintain capital adequacy.   They make *no* money on their central bank holdings, so bank-business-action just gets dialed down, same as it would in any other business, when you are not making any damn money!   Business has two modes of operation - dialing-up and dialing-down.  Steady-state seems to basically be very, very rare.  The river is either increasing it's flow-rate, or the flow-rate is decreasing  (Hurst's Nile River Flooding research, which led to the Hurst Exponent - his famous "rescaled range analysis".)

Now something interesting and significant has just happened.   Haruhiko Kuroda, who is a clever and creative central banker in Japan (amazing out-of-type guy, really...) has come up with a *bonus* scheme to encourage banks to lend.  He has the central bank *actually pay interest* on collateral that the banks post with the central bank, if and when they make loans to cash-strapped near-bankrupt Japanese businesses that are trying to survive the Coronavirus shutdowns.    This is a clever trick, and it looks like it is working.     The amount of the "bonus" is small (10 basis points), but at least the sign on the goddamn number is positive.   This means that the smaller regional banks that actually advance loans, are not immediately punished for making a loan, but are actually offered a small *reward* for doing so.   And this works.

Here are the details in a Reuters article:

This is a big deal.   Kuroda and the Japanese central bank have just discovered what many behavioural scientists and other researchers have also learned - the carrot works much better than the stick.   Or as my old Irish grandmother would have said - "You get more flies with honey, than you do with vinegar."  

Negative interest rates - at the banking system level - are not the least bit "stimulative".  They are in fact, just the opposite.  Those low rates do not make it down to the consumer and business level - they are just an accounting-fiction, like the "dividend gross-up" scam used by the Canadian Federal tax-collectors.  (In Canada, if you receive dividend-income, you are required to multiply it up by a factor (roughly 38%), to create a higher fictional "income* value, which then counts towards your "taxable income", and then you get a "tax credit" later on, down the tax-form.   This scam ensures that you have to report a higher (fictional) taxable income number on your tax form, which then triggers a bunch of "claw-backs", and increases the amounts that have to be rendered to the government pension schemes.  Only by going thru a tax form manually, can the nasty clever trickery of this scam be observed, and of course this is what the bastards are counting on.  I used to work for people who would go to "Taxman" conferences in Las Vegas, where they would compare notes on how to craft nasty sh/t like this.  Seriously.)

But the key fact here, is that at least one of the major world's central banks (Japan) looks like it has finally discovered that it's policy models are broken.  This is a good and positive thing, and shows how terrible events - like a lethal pandemic - can encourage a shift from bad results to  good results, as folks rethink their basic assumptions.    Japan seems to be leading the way here.

[ Aug. 12, 2020 ] Whoop, There it Is! - Joe Biden has just given Donald Trump the victory, I suspect.  If you look at Trump and Pence, and you look at Biden and Harris - it looks like a bit of a no-contest scenario.   I can't understand the Democrats.  All they had to do, was pick a proper candidate who is not a radical nutjob or a dottering old man - and they could have taken the contest.  But they could not do it.

Obama was a profoundly clever, articulate and rather nice fellow.  His heart was in the right place, and he had a big brain, and he could speak well, even if he had no experience.   He didn't win because he was a dark-skinned guy, he won because he was a top-grade person, and folks knew it.  And he offered a new picture for USA - one that did not include a lightweight like George Bush's kid being in charge.  It worked.

This is not the case now.  Only radical "Defund the Police!" and not-clever poor-people will really want to vote Democrat now.   The rest may not even show up.

If you care about America, and want to see it survive and prosper, then the Trump+Pence team is the way to go, even with Trump's unwise and belligerent foreign policy.  Trump at least tries to get it done.

Whoop-Girl and the Old-Backstroker are no match for Obama, who must be laughing himself silly.  Harris attacked Biden as a *racist*, during the primary contest!   But now she loves him to bits, and they are big partners!?   What a crazy, loony-tune puke-fest.

Remember all the way back to Sept, 2018?   Harris lied and misrepresented events with her "dog whistle" tweet to attack Brett Kavanaugh.   Maybe she dislikes smart white males, or maybe she is just a lying Leftist running on auto-hate?   Or maybe she is just another nasty, dishonest political operative who has lucked her way into a position of power, with her abusive, false narratives?   You be the judge:

What sort of goofed-up fool would want two desperate clowns like Biden and Harris running the World?

US politics are at least amusing, in a strange, end-times kind of way.   Beats watching Pay-for-Fiction on the news channels.   :)

[ Aug. 11, 2020 ] Like Leon says, in Blade Runner:  "Wake Up!  Time to ...." - US Stock market is getting "deep stupid".   The 3:20 pm reversal, was dramatic and fast.   I looked to see if there had been a terrorist attack, or something awful like that.  But no, it was much worse:  It was algorithmic trading, and automated "Sell NOW" programs cutting in, it looks like.  

I think the automated hacking programs are going to go wrong soon.  Maybe very soon.  We will see them loose money - and it will maybe be a lot of money.   

The Russian Covid-19 vaccine looks like it works.   Good for them.  I hope it does.  We need to have a breath of good news that is authentic.

[ Aug 10, 2020 pm] Kodak Drugs?  Or Americans on Drugs? - Most absurd thing I've read this quarter...   DFC (another US Agency charged with handing out money - called: "Development Finance Corporation".), has decided not to give Kodak $700 million to make drugs.  The Kodak stock-price has been crazy.  FD: We own no Kodak and no pharma stocks at this time.

What makes this crazy is this article, complete with a strange "Tweet" by DFC: 

This is nuts.  DFC says no money until "allegations of wrongdoing" are "cleared".  That is their "Tweet".  WTF??

How the f*ck do you "clear" an allegation?   It's like someone yelling "You suck!"   What exactly is the response, that can "clear" that allegation?  Allegations are cannot be "cleared".  That is why it is called an "allegation".

We are talking a serious amount, here.  That $700 million US is real money, and is it not American taxpayer's money?    No, wait... it's just fluffed up printed virtual money, isn't it?   So, really, nothing matters, I guess.

I would not even try to make up sh/t like this.   Nothing here even passes the *sniff* test.   :)

[ Aug. 10, 2020 ] Working from Home, or Just Home from Working?- Interesting that the Americans didn't really do very much with the Space Shuttle, except build the ISS.  And the ISS should really have been built as a re-fueling depot for Mars exploration and colonization.

Instead, all we have is a violent world tired, scared and angry from living on the edge too long - that great line from the Blue Rodeo song, now made manifest.  

The tragedy of Beirut & Lebanon is not just the awful explosion, but the idiotic rioting by the children of the place - instead of grabbing shovels and equipment to begin the cleanup and repair process, the spoiled young people there riot and attack their gov't offices,   It make one think the whole thing might have been a Mossad operation.   Israel seems to be effectively destroying all it's neighbours, and America seems to offer only abusive economic sanctions, warships, xenophobic hatred. and bombing.

Americans are very good at bombing.  They can bomb really well, as can Israel.   I wonder what will happen, when the rest of the world gets as good at bombing, as America now is?  Probably, America and Israel will just bomb more.  I fear our future may be less about commerce and business, and more about cruise missles and high-explosives.  And of course, engineered virus-agents.  

Perhaps bombing is already an obsolete thing - a failed, last-century warfare strategy.   Bombing may be replaced by active virus agents, being spread using aerosol methods, and engineered to be lethal only to the enemy.   Your soldiers have the vaccine, and the enemy has none.  You spray their cities from low-cost drones, designed to look like civilian air-craft - or maybe you just use civilian airliners - and you "RoundUp" your enemy, and watch them die like tent caterpillers do when their web-nests are sprayed with insecticide.   It's not a pretty thought - quite nightmare stuff, really.  But it seems to be the track the world is on.

It might just be Nature herself that does the work.   Nature is always "working from home", and right now, she has this infestation of humans on her pretty blue planet.  A short time ago, it was only a few hundred million - but now, there are almost 10 billion of them.   I can't help wondering if the SARS-2-Cov virus is just the beginning.  There may be many more mutations possible.  Nature - just working herself - from home - has the machinery to try them all.  Randomness allows Nature to try every key in every lock, until she finds the one that unlocks the solution.  It's called "evolution", and we know for certain, it is the truth of how living things are made.  

So we *must* - as a species - move out from this lovely planet.  If we don't focus our efforts outwards, we will all just die in this nest, like the tent caterpillars do, once they have eaten all the tree-leaves, or some external agent exterminates the nest.  

And Nature herself, is the most effective Exterminator.   She is ruthless, effective, and her decisions are final.  There is no appeal that can be made, for she is mindless.  

As humans, we must continue to learn how to *manufacture* the Nature that we want to have.  We must aggresively take control of physics, biology, evolution, and all the machinery of natural process.  In space, on Mars, out in the Great Void, we will have to do this.

If we do not do this, then Nature herself - mindless, automatic Nature - will ensure we reach a limit-level population where we all starve and die on this planet, drowning and choking on our own by-products of life.  Or perhaps we will blow each other to bits, or poison ourselves with engineered toxins, or just beat each other to death with clubs, as we spread high-technology caltrops everywhere.  

If we don't focus our efforts outward, then our collective future as a species is - certainly - one of violence, warfare, sickness and death.  This is what the children of Portland and Beirut are telling us.   And it is what Nature herself shows us constantly, if we care to look.

Nature is always "Working from Home".  

Our job -  as a species - is to grow up, and leave home.

[ Aug. 9, 2020 ] Business or Personal? - Just read another sad gangster story from the US of A.   This time, about gangsta Republican xenophobe govboys from Indiana, Chinese investment genius guys, Nassim the Flanwhore, and an assortment of badgirls.    What a wild and tragic awful clusterfoop.     The USA is going full xenophobe, and Californistan is going full-on political-correct, complete with "make-them-fall-on-their-swords" if they don't respect the witch.   Gawd, it is so awful...

Here is the story:  The CIO (Chief Investment Officer) of monster California govfolk pension scheme, CALPERS, just got toasted because he was not a round-eyed witch-pleaser.   Just read the Bloomberg story...

And then, facepalm?  I don't know.  It's just sad.   This guy Ben makes them a bucket full of billion dollar returns, and they just quad-fack him.   It is so American, it makes me want to weep.  Do some big-good for your BIG ORG, and you just get whacked by the Toadsters and all their big, wet Sprockettes. JHC...

Makes me think of this scene, from 1989 film, "Harlem Nights", staring Eddie Murphy:

CALPERS.   Oh my.   Was it business, or was it personal?   

[ Aug 8, 2020 ] The Devil You Know- might be better than the Devil you don't?   This is a really old concept.  And like many ancient ideas and observations that have stood the test of time, it contains some solid truth.

When you read the stuff that the Democrats and Joe Biden are proposing to do - and the astronomical costs that are implied, and the clear, co-ordinated assault on individual freedoms and traditional American values that the policy plans represent, the choice of voting for Mr. Trump starts to appear the better option.   It's just crazy, but it does.    Trump is the "anti-politician", who knee-jerks his way along, and seems to have become a xenophobic badguy now.   But hard-core xenophobia is a deep-seated American trait.    And the more American isolates itself, and removes it business agents from global commerce, quite possibly the better for the rest of the world.   Trump has at least stopped shooting himself in the feet, and is now directing fire at Chinese and American businesses.

This may get him elected.   Americans historically don't give a sh/t about foreign folks, and a leader that articulates that viewpoint is well respected in USA.    Chinese lives don't matter - any more than the lives of rioters and inner-city gangsters do, regardless of their skin colour.   That is the truth, really.

With Trump, you get a clearly focused, America-first guy, with all his faults.

With Biden, it looks like you will get the "Swamp on Steroids", and some woman who will become another "Lecturer in Chief" like Obama.  Do Americans want to be bitch-slapped for four years, have their federal finances made bankrupt, and their traditional freedoms removed by the Biden "Tracking Police"?   

Trump is at least the Devil you Know.  And he now has 4 years of experience being the Boss of the World.   Biden, and his crew of hard-core leftist women, look like they seriously want to turn America into some sort of socialist gulag.

Ordinary folks in USA may just have to grit their teeth and vote for Trump, in order just to keep America being America.

Biden's alternative looks and sounds too much like those failed experiments in East European socialism.

Trump says: Support the cops, get the kids back to school (not that online video-gamer stuff), and re-open the economy, since 99% of the Covid-19 folks recover from it.   Pretty clear message.   Might be the right one, also...

[ Aug 7, 2020 ] Sing a Song of Six Pence - and watch the dance of Mike Pence?  Oh my, but it is getting weird in USA.  The electronic media is solidly behind Joe Biden, who will be 78 if and when he is sworn in as USA president.    Trump seems determined to piss-off just about every single consituency that exists in the good old USA, so it looks like he is toast - and his latest attacks against Chinese business entities makes his Administration look like a collection of nasty, ill-educated paranoids.  Of course this is not really the case - but the media is playing it up hard, and doing so quite effectively.  And really, the whole "Anti-China" thing looks deeply bogus and dishonest.

Biden, at 77, is dangerously too old.  So everyone assumes he will pick some female to be his running mate as VP, and then one or two years into his first term, he will have the decency to either die, or resign like the old Pope and the Japanese Emperor did.    And USA will get it's Female Boss, which the Lefties there want, it seems.   Call it "The Revenge of the Clintonites"?

But the obvious other scenario is a Trump presidency terminated by either virus, assassin, or perhaps by a sudden desire for Trump to resign so he could "spend more time with his family" or something like that.   The Republicans could then pick Mike Pence (who looks not too bad, and also does actually have some government experience - a major plus in his favour), and the future for that Party could look very different.  Instead of being hammered and overwritten in November, they might just win.

And that would change everything, really.   It is such an obvious positive course of action, that some of us grow concerned that the *Inner Party* of the Republicans, might decide to take some sort of action to encourage this outcome.   They would not have to dispatch Mr. Trump, only just convince him to step down, at a time when his doing so, might reverse the polling numbers with a fresh, experienced candidate who could re-create (or re-invigorate?) the old "big-tent" model that worked so well for the Republicans in the past.   These days, they look like a Party of racist, anti-Asian xenophobic tinfoil hats.  This is sad.

Trump has really managed to direct fire at just about everyone who supported him.  It really is quite astonishing.  Had he done less damage, and been just a tad more careful and sensitive to the various groups that are being bashed now in the USA, he might have just skated on thru to a second term, without any real opposition.

But who the hell wants to live in a country where some arrogant SOB in a big high, white house, can trash any business entity he wants to, and force it so sell itself out to a big USA-based thing like Microsoft?   JHC, what a nasty, rogue-stupid thing to do.  I don't give a flying f*** about TikTok or WeChat or even Facefook - but the whole idea of business is to have a fair and level playing field - but in USA, the Gangster-in-Chief in their Gov't can stop the play, and award the win to the team that has USA written on its back?  That is just obscene and wrong - and this is true, regardless of what you think about China, the Chinese, and the technology industry in general.

It reminds me of the 1936 Olympics, where Hitler was unhappy that an American negro won the foot race.   Forcing Chinese software business out of USA for "security reasons"!?  What a fat load of sh/te-lies of the first level - when you say that reason, then nothing can be checked, and all is covered by the dark cloak of spy-spookery bullsh/t.   Everyone knows it is bullsh/t, and bullsh/t it will always be.

So President Bullsh/t needs to go.   And this is sad, because the Demorats are scammers and fraudsters.   And thus we reach an ugly place in USA history, where you are just wrong regardless of which candidate you vote for.  Normal, rational folks have no one they can support.  There are even fiscal-conservative, police-supporting Democrats in the USA who are deeply troubled by what they see as Biden's surrender to the radical left-wing of his Party.  Do they vote for Trump?  Or do they just stay home?   See the URL below, from "The Federalist"..

One can't help feeling that something needs to be done to fix this awful and rather absurd mess.

[ Aug. 5-6, 2020 ] Everything AND the Kitchen Sink - 2020 will go down in history, as "The Year that Everything Failed"   It is just comical, hilariously awful.  The level of awful is so great, that one can only laugh.  We have been compiling a trivial catalogue of the curious disasters so far this year - both big and small.  They are unique and perhaps indicative of something bigger?  Not sure yet.  But too much is too broken lately.  

Everything, everywhere seems to be failing, falling or exploding - both here in our tiny local world, and outside, in the bigger, badly-broken world beyond our small estate.

We have had two insect plagues - tent catapillers and gypsy moths.  Both are destructive - all the leaves on the apple trees were stripped away completely, and many of the maple and poplar also.  The apple leaves have grown back, but there were *no* apples produced at all.   

Of course, the Covid-19 virus assault has sickened and killed many, but it is the reactive response by governments that has hurt the most, and done the great economic damage.  It shows how failure is endemic to government process.  To "govern" is an illusion.

But it is the small things - the small disasters that provide useful information.   Our water system failed, and required the entire 1970's vintage well-water system be removed, renovated and replaced.   Two hundred feet of rusting steel pipeline was replaced with modern "Munipex" 200-psi polymer pipe, and the Jacuzzi-pump with it's US-made Franklin motor was replaced with a Chinese-made SHYLIYU stainless-steel-and-brass submersible 240-volt pump.  So far, it is working well.  The well is well, which is important, since a farmhouse and farm without water, is a rather grim, unworkable thing.  Why did I buy a Chinese pump?  Because it cost $236 and the plumbers who had originally installed the water-system, quoted me $1400 for a new Franklin pump.   And the Chinese pump looks to be well made, and it works well.   The disruptive pricing is a very good thing for us - as it let us fund the $1100 needed for the 300 feet of blue, Munipex pipe and expensive brass compression fittings, which means I can now raise and lower the pump in the well, without a large machine.

Then the Ford F150 truck failed.  Again.  Came out one morning, and the truck tire is flat.  It is a new tire (last year), and I could detect - on close inspection - no failure of bead, and no puncture.  But it would not hold air.  Turns out, the wheel rim itself had failed.  It had a small flaw where it had rusted through.    I visited the Ford dealer, where we had bought the truck, and they indicated a new rim - ONE SINGLE RIM was going to cost $1200.   Twelve-hundred dollars for a SINGLE RIM for a 2005 Ford F-150!  It is just a plain mild-steel rim, with a piece of chrome over it.   Ford's pricing is abusive, designed to prevent access to vehicle parts.   

Now I understand much better, why American companies are having trouble.  Ford stock price is like GE stock price.   Each is selling for six dollars and change.  Each company is in trouble.  There are reasons why this is the case.   These commerical entities obviously view their customers as idiots or fools or morons to be exploited, hosed, and manipulated.   The customers eventually figure out what is going on, and they simply seek alternatives.  I certainly did.  I went to a "wrecker", and bought a used 2005 Ford F-150 rim for $40, and spent another $20 to have a local tire garage install my new (last-year) tire on the used rim, which I sanded and painted first.  Ford is pricing their vehicle parts to prevent people from economically maintaining their trucks.   This is a curious approach.  

And it shows a technical problem.   A truck rim - which rolls along in dirt, and dust and rain, snow, salty-winter-slush, and gravel - should be made of stainless-steel, so it does not rust.  Using "mild steel" is stupid.   These trucks are just badly designed.  The whole auto-industry is stupid.  If the rims are made of steel that rusts away, then each truck should be sold with an extra set of wheels or something.  The whole business model is just silly.  Trucks are crazy-expensive now.  They should not rot away after a few years of regular usage.

And the horrible Beirut explosion that just happened is tragic.  A warehouse full of ammonium nitrate - stored since 2014 - which may have been set burning by some fireworks that caught fire because of some guys doing welding work - appears to have first caught fire, and then exploded.   It was a large blast, and killed many innocent people.  I was at a meeting yesterday, and the fellow I was talking with has family in Cyprus, 160 km away from Beirut, and they *felt* the explosion - it rattled windows.  The Beirut harbour looks like it was hit by a tactical nuclear weapon.  It reminds me of the Halifax harbour exposion of 1917, which resulted from a French cargo ship, SS Mont Blanc, loaded with explosives, which collided with a ship from Norway.  That explosion killed almost 2000 people, and blew the city of Halifax all to hell.  

The fertilizer ammonium nitrate is a well-know material that can become unstable, and if mixed with fuel oil or diesel fuel, it is termed ANFO, and was the explosive material that American terrorist Timothy McVeigh used in 1995 to blow up the Murrah Building in Oklahoma CIty.

With war-torn Syria to the east, and a hostile, military enemy of Israel to the south, Lebanon - which has roughly 6 million people - is now in deep trouble, as the Beirut port - now badly damaged - is its primary port-of-entry for most of the nation's food supply.

This year has been a curious and rather disturbing time.

We have had a series of curious technical failures - our land-line telephone, one of our Linux boxes, and so on.  But we are of course very fortunate to be outside of the major urban regions, and able also to maintain most of our own equipment ourselves.  And when we called Bell Canada to fix the phone, they had a technician here - who diagnosed and solved the problem - the very next day.  So we are lucky, which in these strange times, in this very strange year, is a good thing.

[ Aug. 4, 2020, evening..] - Elon's Rocket Science - This is a big thing.  In some ways, it might be the biggest thing.  Space travel is looking like it might become possible again - which has not happened since 1972.   SpaceX did a successful short test flight, of their "Starship" prototype, SN5.  Several others have exploded, but this one did not.  It launched, flew a short distance, and then landed successfully - without exploding into a ball of flame.  This was a good result.  Much was learned.  The Raptor engine worked, as did the stability control systems.  Bravo, guys.  Bloody well done.  You are making history.

The URL (short 2 minute video) of the flight:  (The NASA video is 2 hours FFS!)

The big test-bed rocketship, rose into the air, hovered, and then landed in a cloud of dust.  When the dust cleared, it was standing successfully.   So, it worked.  This is impressive.  Elon Musk has bloody well done it.  This is the real acid-test.   This thing might actually get us to Mars - and back...   : )

[ Aug. 4th, 2020 ] - Is USA President Trump is Becoming Unglued?  Is "Rule-of-Law" Now Only an Historical Artifact?- I am not even going to comment further here.   The folks at "TechCrunch" have published a transcript of Mr. Trump's answer to a question about what he and the CEO of Microsoft talked about, re. the TikTok forced-sale.  Just read it.  It's short, and it is quite frankly, disturbing.   I think President Trump is at risk of becoming Captain Queeg.  He is demanding vigorish if a Microsoft-ByteDance deal for TikTok happens.    This is nuts.  And it is almost certainly not a lawful act.

Turns out I am not the first one to have this concern.  Google "The Caine Mutiny", and there is an article from 2018 discussing this exact concern - what to do about an insane President - with explicit reference to the famous film.

Just when we thought it could not get more weird in the Excited States.  USA used to be a place where "rule-of-law" was taken quite seriously.   But something has gone wrong now - not just with Mr. Trump, but with the entire political machinery.   We have the same problem here, also, with new "laws" and prohibitions being drafted in secret, back-rooms, and given to police agents to enforce.  In Canada, Parliament is being bypassed, and in USA, Congress is being ignored.   Lawful process is under threat in both nations, it appears.   This is curious.  It's a bad thing, but it also makes the world a more predictable place.  People are no different now than they were during ancient times.  They just use different language now.

[ Aug. 3rd, 2020 ] - A Little Right - There are some useful bits of accurate information and helpful suggestions out in our electronic Lala-Land.  Here is one I ran into:

The old "60% stocks/40% bonds" portfolio mix thing, is pretty much dead.  It fails, because like most of the herd-instinct, knee-jerk nonsense that characterizes much of the investment "advice" that floats around, it manages to combine now, the worst features of each investment class - you get the risks and wild volatility associated with stocks, and the absolute lack of any appreciation potential, from the fixed-income bonds.  And this is now combined with the complete lack of almost any yield, most bonds of low-risk nature, typically exhibit.

So, as an investor, one is pretty much screwed.   A typical oldster, trying to invest a life-time of savings in the government bond-market, is better off holding half his/her wealth in cash, putting the other half into dividend-paying stocks, and then getting a minimum-wage job at a store or some business that is still operating.  A tiny bit of any kind of employment income will be much more significant than the little dribble-stream of yield the gov-bonds throw off.

What is interesting, is that even the investment pros have figured this out - and many are wisely suggesting that the bond-market be avoided entirely, since to get any yield at all, one has to take on serious, significant risk, and buy junky stuff.

As an older person, seeking investment income, one is required to focus pretty seriously on preservation of capital - ie. the return OF your money, rather than just the return ON your money.  Many (far, far too many) investment schemes are crafted just to allow some investment "professional" to climb onto your income-stream, and hijack a little bit of it.   In a world where you can only be expected to make 4 or 5% on your assets, that "investment professional" who takes a "management expense" of 2% is scooping up almost half of your income stream!  That's just a bad idea to let that happen.

This is why we recommend that anyone with any IQ at all, should learn enough about the markets to make their own investments, run their own portfolios, and manage their own money.

The gains that you can capture from this little bit of effort, amount to just about half of what your investments are likely to return, over the short, medium and long term.  Really.  Seriously.

A lot of procedures that use to work well for investors, don't work very well now, as there is so much ability to "game the system" everywhere now.   Economists and engineers call this the "Law of Diminishing Marginal Returns".   Any attractive process (which makes money), will be exploited by more and more economic agents so that over time, it will yield less and less, until it is just barely profitable.   This is a very big factor in explaining why the world is always changing.  

Fortune's Wheel is always turning.  Prosperity gives way to poverty, and peace is abandoned in favour of war.  Poverty and war lead to destruction.  But destruction will be followed by construction.   At bottom, there is nowhere to go but up.  And at the very top, any change at all, will move you downward.  And change is certain to come.

This is also why non-traditional strategies, like holding cash instead of bonds, and buying physical gold, are now even being recommended by the pros.   Mostly, one holds gold to *preserve* wealth, not to try to make it grow.  And cash, by definition, does not yield anything, except in times of falling prices, when it actually can show a very positive rate of return, like it did in the 1930's.

New, disruptive, science-driven technological change, has been giving us here on Earth, large and increasing benefits, since the early 1800's.   The invention and deployment of the steam-engine, and the research & development around electricity and invention of electrical apparatus has vastly improved human transportation and communication.   We are still riding that train of growth and development, and it is still paying off bigtime.  The massive economic gains associated with improvements in biotechnology - improved crop yields and enhanced medical understanding and medical-services - have been underway for over 100 years, and are still continuing.    Effective investment strategies have surfed upon these waves of scientific and technical change, and have being doing so for several hundred years now.

But I do worry that the whole science-driven "growth" machine might be slowing down.  It has not stopped, and is not likely to stop any time soon - but it is running slower, and it's gains are being much more widely dispersed.  Diminishing marginal returns suggests we will all be seeing less runaway economic success, than our parents saw, and their parents saw.

I notice too many retrograde movements now.  We can't make nuclear fusion work in controlled reactors (only in hydrogen bombs, sadly).  USA has given up on "spaceship" technology, and is now only just  able to launch to orbit using splashdown capsules, like they did in the 1960's.  The international air-travel industry has likely peaked, and a return to tightly-packed aircraft and overcrowded airports, is unlikely, given the sickness this high-density travel option will always spread.  

The SARS-2-cov coronavirus is only one of many factors that will be slowing down our growth.  The fragility of globe-spanning supply chains was already apparent even before the virus-induced lockdowns hammered them.

And there are the retrograde political developments of tribalism and tariffs.  As the tariffs rise, the substantial benefits of free-trade will fall silently away, and show up slowly as higher prices for everything.  This is almost certain to happen, and shows the failure of a populist-driven political-economic model.

At the same time as this ugly anti-free-trade transition is underway, we are also seeing the limits to the benefits of "Big Science", now almost exclusively government-funded, yet with it's results blocked-off behind high paywalls.   This is particularly retrograde, and harkens back to the old "locked-library" and "restricted scriptorium" knowledge-model of old, medieval Europe.  History shows us that it is mavericks and those outside the mainstream, who contribute the most significant scientific advances and drive much human technical progress.  By restricting science behind paywalls, to keep the outsiders out, we limit and restrict scientific advancement and truly reduce the probability of "leaps" in scientific knowledge.  Our current "science model" now limits scientific and technological improvement.

So, we may face a rising-prices / falling-incomes future.  I can't see it playing out any other way.

We just are not getting the same level of gains from the technology-change, that we used to.  The internet has become a giant side-show of fraud, a shopping-channel, an angry-no-rules debating society, a second-rate school, an arcade-game pachinko parlour, and a state-run propaganda machine.   And that is about it.  It really sort of sucks now, truth be told.

Space travel is on hold, aircraft production vastly exceeds demand and will fall hard, cruises and tourist-trap visits & restaurant meals carry lethal risk now, retail-shops are failing, and school is being done badly on video-game screens.  None of this is good.   We don't have the mass=energy conversion technology many thought we would have by now.   It just has not been created.  No "hoverboards", no flying cars, no understanding or control or "Faraday Cage" of gravity.  Entangled photons and the promise of quantum computing is an interesting science experiement, but it is not likely to yield a real product.  And despite medical advances and the sequencing of DNA, we still have cancer and heart disease and ALS and Alzheimers and malaria and AIDS and so on, which painfully kill millions.  And now we have the newly mutating corona-viruses, which are really quite amazingly nasty, *evolved* technology.

So I particularly fear that much of the next ten years of market-driven investment gains, will mostly come from money-supply expansion, and not from any major technology improvements.  And this means rising prices and falling real incomes.  We will see the return of scarcity.

We need to be invested, but we also need to be crazy careful and aware.  It will likely just get a bit nastier each year, from now on, all across the board.  No Stutz-Bearcats.   No CyberTrucks.  These will be different times - again.   You need to be invested - but you also will need to be "on the bounce" - hyper-aware and reactive, as the military folks try to encourage their young recruits to be.

[ Aug. 2nd, 2020 ] - A newly operating well Well, well done.  - The new water well is complete, with the new pump, and is now in service, and operational.  Water turbidity is reducing each day, and we are almost back to crystal clear, fine water.  Without water, things get a little difficult.  :)

[ Aug. 1st, 2020 ] - So Much Popular Thinking is Just So Curiously Wrong - It's getting quite amusing and curious.   We have the tremendous luxury of being at some distance from the World, and this gives us perspective and great comfort.    We are aware now of just how truly wise this approach has been.   I've been "working from home" for most of this century now, and this strategy and operational economic methodology has great value and offers real benefits.    Being self-reliant is a very good thing - in many ways, and for many reasons.     Our dividend income has covered the major costs we have been hit with, and our tight-fisted, frugal approach to economic interaction, has allowed us to weather this current storm, without major disruption or hardship - so far, at least.

It's like song from the modern adaptations of the Bertolt Brecht play, "Three-Penny Opera", where MacHeath sings: "Once the cash is not a problem, "Happy Endings" can be found!"

So many of the plays and stories from the 1920's are quite wonderful, entertaining, amusing and  profoundly illustrative of useful knowledge.  "RUR" - Karl Kapek's play about the corporation "Rossum's Universal Robots" (which Philip K. Dick stole to become "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?", and Ridley Scott turned into "Blade Runner"), is another example, as is the fantastic 1927 film, "Metropolis", by Fritz Lang, and the play "Pygmalion" by George Bernard Shaw.  Pygmalion was actually written in 1913, but it won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925.   There is actionable knowledge in the study of history.

What I find particularly interesting, is how this knowledge is obscured and often even just plain missed.   I once found a $50 bill on the sidewalk in Toronto, in the evening.  It was summer, many people were walking, and it had been lying there for a while. It had been stepped on, and looked old and dirty, like part of a discarded packaging box (in Canada, the 50's are red-coloured).   I simply saw it and picked it up - but I found it very surprising that no one else had.  Our historical knowledge is like that - people ignore the information, because they think it is old and has no value - and they are completely wrong, of course.

Here is an interesting example, I noticed yesterday.   Some fellow has looked at the recent, localized inverse correlation between stock-prices and bond-prices, and he makes an assertion that falling bond yields are "flashing a warning" about future stock-prices.  He suggests that falling yields on long-dated US Treasury bonds suggest that stock prices will likely then fall.   He points to Jan 2, yields of 2.34%, falling to 0.94% by March 9,(while the bonds climbed in price 29%)  and then June 8th yield of 1.66% to end of last week, of 1.19% (a long bond price rise of roughly 9%) - and he suggests that this move *UP* in bond prices (and DOWN in yields) provides information that suggests stock prices will be under pressure,and at risk of falling.

Here is the article:

"Bond Yields Sending Scary Signal"

The article is lifted by Yahoo Financial, from Bloomberg's News & Opinion stuff.  

Now this is just plain wrong.

It is just wrong, no other way to phrase it.  This guy is just wrong.  I am not sure how anyone could write this.

If one looks at the linkages between the bond market and its prices, and the stock market and the prices that are reflected there, historically, the bond market action moves *before* the stock market.   If bonds are bid up (and consequently, there yields go DOWN), then this is a positive signal for stocks and stock prices.  Bonds are more conservative investments.  Stocks are more speculative, and show much greater volatility.

The bond market - and bond prices - is a bellweather.  But this fellow is suggesting the linkage has been inverted - with rising bond prices implying that stock prices will fall.

This is just plain wrong.  It is not born out by any historical analysis, and it also makes no sense.  And even with the current data, one could argue that the astonishing runnup in bond prices, from January 2 to March 9th - a 29% price rise, indicated that there was a lot of POSITIVE PRESSURE to be expected in the stock market, and that even if a disaster and an ugly economic storm hit us (ie. the SARS-2-Cov virus), the stock market would see strength.

And this is exactly what happened.

Stock prices took a big hit as the global economy was (very unwisely) shutdown and people were locked-down in their homes, but even before that foolishness ended, stock prices have moved upward in a dramatic and sustained fashion, JUST AS THE BOND MARKET PREDICTED THEY WOULD, and many equity valuations have in fact, reached new highs.

What is weirdly gruesome, is to see people so profoundly mis-characterize the relationship.  Sure, there is some short-term *sloshing* of funds between stocks and bonds, which can move price inversely for a few days, but mostly (and there is a *lot* of historical evidence for this - just go look), the bond market tends to lead the stock market by several months.  Bonds will turn down first, and stock-prices will tend to move several months later.  And if bonds are strong, and well-bid, then strength can be expected to show up in the stock market a bit later on.  This process, is of course driven by monetary conditions.

Falling bond yields - which means *RISING* bond prices, is a POSITIVE signal for stock prices (my typing fingers want to add something else, but I am forcing them not to do so.   :)  )

What a hilarious, curious world, eh?  

Full Disclosure:  We are still long, fully invested in stocks.  It has been a wild ride.  In the 1960's and 1970's, which saw long periods of rising interest rates, bonds were sometimes called "certificates of confiscation", as their prices fell regularly to maintain market yields.  And in this time of stupid/crazy government-economics, it makes vastly more sense to buy raw gold, than buy zero or near-zero yielding government bonds.   If you are buying bonds to preserve capital, then you probably should be buying gold or platinum instead.   This is why even Bank America analysts are suggesting gold prices might move to $3000 US/oz.   I don't even *like* gold as an investment - We are *not* "Gold Bugs".  But the case for gold as an investment class, is now the strongest it has ever been, perhaps since the 1800's.

Curious times, yes.   And oh, has anyone noticed the price of silver?  From the US $17 level to the $24 per oz. range?   That's what, a 41% rise in price?   We have a little silver.

Now, go listen to the two versions of Carl Orff's "O Fortuna!" (from his amazing: "Carmina Burana") at this URL:

[ July 31, 2020 ] - Submersible Pumps - When Being Underwater is Good!- Submersible pump technology was first invented for downwell pumping of oil.  The whole idea is that you can push water (or oil) much further than you can suck it.  Even the most powerful suction pump, can only lift water 25 feet or so.  But putting the pump at the bottom of the well, gives one the ability to *push* the water a very long way up.

And since most of Southern Ontario is sitting on a giant aquifer of sand and limestone - and is surrounded by the Great Lakes - there is lots of groundwater, if one digs down far enough.

We are still getting some red-brown iron tinting the water (from the steel water-well pipe itself slowly rusting), but the water softener filter removes much of it, and we expect the well will settle down, after a few weeks of not being mechanically disturbed by pushing and pulling stuff in and out.  

It was a major effort to install the new pump, with the 240 feet of blue, 200 psi-rated "Munipex" pipe.   The three hundred foot roll of 1-inch Munipex cost more than did the pump.   The trick of course, was to mate the well-top plumbing fittings into the "pitless adapter", which links the well pipeline to the house-water input pipe.   But with two people, ropes and the tractor front-end loader bucket as a "crane", the task got done successfully.   And we have RUNNING WATER again!     So nice...  :D

[ July 30, 2020 ] - Water From Earth - It is almost like alchemy.  A stainless-steel submersible pump, a deep, drilled wall with a steel wall side, electric wires, a condenser in a control box, the electric-grid (connected to a massive nuclear-fission reactor over on the shores of Lake Huron), and the induction-motor in the submersible pump + a long pipeline set vertically, made from a modern, super-strong polymer plastic combined with some brass and stainless-steel plumbing fittings - and you can tap into the groundwater table, hundreds of feet down below the Earth's surface.  The net result is a great flowing fountain of water, emerging from the Earth itself.

It's like absolute magic, really.   It makes the prosperous rural life we have here in Ontario, Canada, biologically & economically possible.

When you finally throw the switch on the breaker-panel, and a great gushing stream of water (at first, muddy and not nice, but soon it clears..) blasts from the end of the blue plastic pipe, you feel like Prospero.  "Fiat Aqua!" - or maybe "Fiat Lacus!"

If I can get the water-well to clear up ("develop" is the technical term the well-builders use), then I will connect the blue "Munipex" pipeline to the "pitless adapter" and we should again have water in the farm-house and the lab.   

[ July 29, 2020 ] - Pumped Up! - New Chinese deep-well submersible pump finally arrived.   Spent the day installing it - both electrical and plumbing.   Lots of work - and in first test, the well-water comes out brown!  (Brown??)   (This is actually typical when submersible pumps are installed/replaced, according to Google-searches...)

Replacing the submersible water-well pump has been a big project.   And it's still not finished, as the plumbing to connect the well-water to the house and lab has not yet been done.   We are hoping the water clears up with a bit of pumping.

Update:  Pumped for many minutes, several times today.  Water is still brown and nasty looking.  Damn.   As I told a friend, we are just itching to have a hot shower...

[ July 28, 2020 ] - Never been to Shibuya, but I've been to Berlin and Warsaw, Paris and Helsinki and Osaka... - Such a curious world.   Never been to Moscow either.  But I've been to New York.   When the world is running down, you make the best of what's still around, according to Sting.  Basically, this is true.   Always thought I would return to J-land, but maybe not now.   I am pretty certain that biotechnics will be weaponized, regardless of UN conventions.   It won't be nation-states, it will be others.   So it goes, eh Kurt?  We can at least listen to some music...

Leaking epidemic, indeed...

[ July 27, 2020 ] - Light Fantastic / Robot Fabs - A few more N2 TEA Laser experiments...  Posted a reprint of a schematic diagram showing how simple the Nitrogen TEA laser really is.   We ablated the inside of a natural piece of quartz crystal, and removed opaque discolouration with the TEA Laser.  

Also, we are doing a bit of a deep-dive into robot manufacturing.  The World is still at the beginning of this new industrial production model - but the change is moving more quickly now.  The pieces are coming together.  Problem is that it looks like it's breaking "Say's Law" - if the production is highly automated, and employees are not needed, then supply will *not* create it's own demand.   You risk having a large underclass of people who cannot afford to acquire the low-cost / high-quality products that are robot-fabricated.  This is an economic problem that folks have been talking about since the 1920's.

Common link between the two pictures at top (Canadian car making & Tesla car making USA) is the KUKA robots.  Here is some info on KUKA:

The "business end" of a KUKA robot can be a hand, a laser, a dremel-tool, a drill and/or a cutting tool.  

The future of manufacturing involves very few employees.   What makes the robotic "work cells" so interesting, is their ability to switch programs, and avoid the "assembly line" approach.

But we need to have demand for the fabricated product.  Our world and our economic models are all hard-wired to produce "growth", without which, we collapse into economic downturn, and risk social destabilization.  We cannot reap the benefits of rising industrial productivity, if we have mass unemployment, and a viral collapse in real incomes.

(Secret History:  I'm a fan of Willam Gibson and c-punk.   I read RUR a a tiny child and I would build flip-flops from transistors, and play with capacitance fields.   We need artwork and music to help us dream, as the dream-model  is the blue-print for the future.  It just is..  like/dislike..  like/dislike...  j-girls are so conflicted.  That's what makes them interesting... like the whole place, really.  Not sure if I will ever see Nihonia again.   But here is some artwork involving KUKA robotniks... )

Automation of industrial process is a wonderful and magical thing - but if private incomes collapse, and governments become functionally bankrupt, as citizens cannot generate sufficient tax revenue to allow the governments to service their massive debts - we risk a failure of the economic growth model, and a commerical collapse due to insufficient funded demand for the products that the new technology can fabricate so efficiently.

The Tesla Model X is pretty cool, but in Canada, it costs over $100,000 to buy one.   That is simply an insane price, and ensures that it remains a toy only for the very rich.

We need to somehow create an economic and industrial model that uplifts the unskilled into higher income occupations and professions.  And we need to reduce the taxation punishment that accompanies this uplift, if it can actually generate better income-generation opportunities for people.   That way, we can system-generate the demand for the new class of products that the automation technology can now produce so efficiently.

We need to figure out how to do this, now that Say's Law has been struck down by KUKA.

[ July 26, 2020 ] - Garage54 CyberTruck Replica- And here is the Russian CyberTruck version - by Garage-54.  The basis for this vehicle is a UAZ truck engine and frame, with a steel body custom-built by the folks at Garage-54.  Pretty cool, actually.

Not a bad replica.  And it runs in the snow,  

[ July 25, 2020 ] - Heat Wave / Robot Harvest - Hot weather, robot harvest.    Tractors with robot-arms to lift the hay bails, brought in the harvest today.   Three guys with their robot-armed tractors can bring in the full hay harvest in one day.   Pretty impressive.

[ July 24, 2020 ] - Build Your Own Cybertruck - I had thought this was just a bit of a "thought experiment' - but no, it seems it is real.  Several shops have already built their own "CyberTrucks".  The idea here is that you make the body out of "facets" or smooth, flat pieces of stainless steel, welded together.   No curves.  This is key, since it means no stupid, expensive complex dies have to be created - just flat sheet cut and welded to form the body.   This is a genius trick in aviation - example being the US Steath Fighter - the "Wobbly Goblin" as it was known.  And less well known - the "Facet Plane" (I even made a model of this thing, and confirmed it would and could fly).  

Here is a series of pictures from "Factory Owner Wang" who built his own "Cybertruck" and took it to show folks in Shanghai:

This is cool.

This is what I was thinking about.  The real Tesla CyberTruck won't be available for several years (they still have to build the factory!), so if you want one, you are on your own - and the price in Canada will be well north of $50,000, even for the lowest-cost, two-wheel-drive model.

A custom-made stainless body, dropped onto a stripped down, body-off-frame big Suburban, seems a very interesting idea.    Here is Wang's original video (looks like it was shot with a cellphone..)

The key is to construct the body out of 3 mm stainless steel, not the usual junk "mild steel" crap that gives one the typical "rotting truck" problem that is so common here.  A ladder-box frame made out of stainless would also be a good idea.  And of course, an open-source Linux-based in-vehicle computer - which would allow one to toggle on and off the internet, depending on one's project plan.    Maybe you want to go somewhere, or do something where you don't want your location tracked...

The more I think about it, the more I like my design better than the real one.   :)

[ July 23, 2020 ] - Amazon Is Not Shipping on Time in Canada - Be careful if you are ordering something on Amazon.  We ordered a mission-critical part for the farm - a deep-well submersible pump - and it was supposed to be delivered today.   The thing was indicated as being "fulfilled by Amazon" and was also documented as being "in inventory" - which means inside the country, and not subject to the usual customs delays that are standand common practice now.

But all this made no difference.  After waiting a *week* just to get indication that it has been "shipped", we are now informed it is late, delivery is delayed, and it will not arrive until maybe next week.  No information as to why all this is botched so badly by Amazon is provided.  But we do note that shipping was "free"  (which means free of any honest information, also, apparently).

Here's what we have learned:  If you do not pay for shipping by a private courier, you may as well not buy anything on the internet.  Your shipment *will* be late, delayed, and sometimes delayed by weeks or even months.   Trade is broken now, here in Canada.  It is just plain broken - and it is *very* broken at the Canada Post Office, sadly.    The place is what it is.

If you *need* product, delivered on honest, predictable timelines, you *must* either arrange for your own courier people to do the shipment, OR, you have to pay a shipping premium, that prevents any "post office" or union-shop operation, from getting a-hold of your product, as it will just sit in a warehouse for a few weeks, while all the  union folks blame the "coronavirus" for slowing everything to a crawl.   And we all know that is complete nonsense.

Really, you want to avoid Amazon, as it is becoming like the traditional 1970's  "phone company" - a slow-moving, fat-arsed monopoly that can say any thing it wants to, as it avoids actually delivering your stuff.

We have no running water.   "God-F**king-Dammit!" as Cartman on South Park likes to say.

[ July 22, 2020 ] - Summer Harvest - Field harvested yesterday, which involved also removing a large tree which had been knocked down in  a storm the day before that.   Did the tree removal myself, with a hand-saw and just my own effort, didn't even take the tractor.   Got it done.  :)

Strange life - running a few portfolios, a farm, constantly doing basic physic research & economic analysis, and also sniffing about for ideas, opportunities and global trends - as well as running the AI stuff to assist in making market decisions.   Not much trading now, as holding for a multi-year timeframe looks to be the best strategy.   With Tesla over $1500 US/share, it is unlikely that will hold any opportunity, despite the unique attractiveness of the vehicles it makes.  Tesla at $400 per share was not as silly as it looked.  I met a guy at the bank (a teller!) who had bought in at that price.  I admired his courage.

Here is an interesting fact:  According to Reuters, Daimler, the German parent company of Mercedes-Benz, is worth 41.5 billion euros, as of today (that's roughly $47.7 billion US), while Tesla has a market capitalization of  roughly $304.6 billion US, which is more that six times Daimler's.  (Market capitalization is share-price times the number of shares outstanding, and changes as the shares outstanding are increased, and as the market price of the shares changes on the stock exhanges.)

And in the first half of 2020, (most recent data), Mercedes-Benz sold 935,089 vehicles, while Tesla sold 179,050.   Tesla's sales are impressive, and their growth rate in delivery is very good, but we are also seeing an astonishing example of "less is more", are we not?

I used to argue that the $400 per share price of Tesla, was justified, given the level and rate of change of the Tesla technology.    But even if one loves the cars and the technological cleverness of the approach, the share price now seems just a little stretched. I am also concerned that they won't be able to get the "Cybertruck" to market, at the scale to make it profitable.

I also had a quick tour of a small local manufacturing operation in the local area.  I was talking with the owners about lasers - and the research I was doing.  They said:  "Oh yeah, we have a laser.." and when they showed it to me - I was astonished - it was bigger than a small hotel room - and was a very powerful fiber-optic device which could slice thru quarter-inch thick stainless steel.  You feed in a *big* sheet of stainless, and you get out a great big (roughly 5 feet by 8 feet) sheet, with all your parts nicely cut out.  And each part is cleanly & smoothly cut - you don't even have to de-burr the parts - they can go straight into next stage of production.

I was looking at this amazing device, at the same time as a massive stamper/cutter/former machine was slowly injesting a big coil of steel, and making some part.  One of the owners joked "This guy is my best employee... never takes breaks, never complains, just works all the time.  Most reliable guy ever!"  That machine was also huge, and as it hammered and ka-chunked along, it sounded like a jazz symphony called "Productivity and Prosperity".

I have a feeling this might be the future.   The big laser, combined with the fully-automated stamper/basher/cutter/former (I don't even know what it is called), looks like it could build all the body and frame parts for a car or an airplane in an afternoon.  The hard part would be welding things together.  I've toured a couple of GM and Suzuki factories during production, and it is clear that volume production is really a complex and challenging process.

But does everything have to be done Henry Ford-style?   Would it not be possible to almost "open-source" production technology, if folks could have local access to robotic equipment that could process your KiCad or AutoCad drawings, and make your parts?   I can send KiCad files to a Chinese circuit-board fabricator, and he sends back beautiful quality Z-80 boards, which I can take a bag-o-parts from Mouser, and in one long evening of soldering, end up with a working computer.

Could one build a "Cybertruck" by one's self?  This is not so outlandish an idea.  When I was flying out of Oshawa Flying Club, back in the 1980's and 1990's, I met a guy who had built his own aircraft.  And it was not some skanky kit-built fibreglass thing - it was a *big* high-wing, aluminum 4-seater, that was modeled after a Cessna 182, except it had a "stick" instead of two control-wheels.  A guy and his son had scratch-built this thing, and it looked very nice, and it apparently flew well.

Right now, if you have the funds, you can build your own truck.  Typically, you would start with an existing vehicle, and use enough body panels so that you preserve the homologation and retain it's road-license ability.  Jay Leno and SEMA Garage did this with a 1968 Bronco.  I used to drive one of these - it had been damaged in an accident, but was repaired enough to run on a private road up in Northern Ontario.  I got it running, and drove it during a summer road-work project on a private, 4-mile gravel bush road.  Running it was a ton-o-fun - the short wheelbase made it more than a little unstable at speed... It's hard to image one with a 700+ horsepower engine...

The industrial cutting laser I looked at was called a "Fibermak", and it was so big, it had a door that you could open to go inside it.  I GoogDuck-searched the internet, until I found the info on the maker of the device.   It is *big* and it is magical.   Here is the URL:

And: Here is a video made by some guy in the USA, who has one of these big lasers in his machine shop, and he forms a front-bumper of a jeep, and some other parts, for a customer.  It's a two-minute video, showing what can be done with this technology:

I need to investigate this stuff further.  I think small machine shops with this kind of equipment are maybe the future of all manufacturing.   The assembly-line "Henry Ford" approach is just way, way too expensive, and locks down design so that it cannot be changed or improved.  We need to build stuff more like we write code, and less like we build stone castles.

[Note:  I once visited the site on the island where the stone blocks were cut to build Osaka Castle foundation, in Japan.  Similar approach, except manual stone-cutting was used.  Japanese have a long tradition of manufacturing excellence.  But this big laser really is amazing.   It lets you make steel pieces like you would get in a plastic model, the kind you would make when you were a child..  :) ]

We still have no water at the farm.  We ordered (and paid for) the submersible pump from Amazon, and it seems they are having some difficulty in actually shipping it.  It is looking like the Amazon business model might have hit its limiting case.   They've charged my credit card - but there is no-one to contact, and their tracking information shows nothing shipped, despite tomorrow being the expected delivery date.   Fingers remain crossed...  :)

[ July 21, 2020 ] - Euroland Summit:  "Diese Pumpe ist kaputt" - It just keeps getting more comical - or comic-tragic.  The "leaders" of the nation-states of Europe have agreed that Euroland will use it's AAA credit rating to borrow 750 billion Euros on the global capital markets, and throw the money at the imploded economies of Italy, Spain and Greece and other economic disasters in the Southern Reach of Europe, and see if they can stimulate something.  

I watched video interviews with these Socialist bozos, as they all spoke about how hard they have worked, and how they have so much more hard work to do - as if sitting around and agreeing to spend other people's money is somehow actually "work"!   What an astonishing collection of political daemons and fraudsters.   If I put this sh/t in a movie, back in 1974, about the "Future of the World - 2020", people would have walked out of the theatre without their arses, because they would have laughed them right off.

The real punch-line to the whole Euroland Summit comedy-tragedy is that most Economists agree that no money will actually reach the real economy of any Euro-nation, until the middle of next year.   So this whole exercise will almost certainly be just a funding scheme for a bunch of bloated, low-quality, State-enterprises with overpaid, tired, Unionized workforces, which produce skanky overpriced stuff that no one in the self-financing sector will want to buy.    (The European auto-industry being a prime example - eg: Renault).    But somewhere - somehow - the borrowed funds will have to be repaid - and of course, this being Europe, it will probably be done by the ECB buying the "debt" - so it may not really be debt at all.  It may just be money-printing, and I am astonished that the Germans and Austrians agreed to this nonsense.    But they have forgotten their history, of course.   Nothing disappears faster than last year's newspaper - or "news cycle" as they call it now.  The destructive inflations are forgotten.

Any normal business, in a self-financing environment, will be past the point of government "stimulus" making any difference, by the middle of next year.   Any normal business will either be just gone, or will have re-structured to ensure survival, by then.

The whole tragic exercise will just be another round of freemoney for big Lefties, which will either 1) destroy the value of the Euro, if taxes are not used to fund some sort of real payback of the loan - or 2) generate another painful series of tax-hikes to hit European businesses just as they are beginning to recover from the Covid-19 economic-shutdown debacle.

Seriously - the *VERY* best thing the Socialist "leaders" of Euroland could have done, at this point, is just to stay home, and stop doing harm.  I am dead serious here.   If the global death levels are in the many 10's of millions from this stupid virus in two years from now, and the European economies have contracted another 20 or 30 percent - two years from now - that might be the time to do something like this.  But loading this sort of cost onto your fragile economies now, is just stupid.  They could have declared a 1 year income tax holiday, or something helpful like that - but this massive sh/tstorm of borrowing, will either just hammer the Euro's value, and damage the Northern (productive) economies, or it will just further tax-punish every commerical enterprise in Europe.  It might do both.   

Either way, it is *certain* that it will do harm - just at the very point when a post-Covid-19 recovery might have been in the cards, and might have been able to get rolling.

God save us from Socialist political "leaders".  They are more dangerous than any lethal virus.

[ July 20, 2020 ] - Diese Pumpe ist Kaputt  -  Really, "Diese Pumpe ist kaputt" is the theme for today.  Thought it might just be siezed or perhaps I could lubricate it - but the smell of burned electrical wiring is strong, and although it would turn a tiny bit - it would then simply sieze and grow very warm - obviously a short circuit or something, inside the sealed stainless case.  It appears to have been in situ for 47 years, so it looks to have done it's job.  The rotating pump vains and the check-valve were all still functioning, but the whole unit was covered in a layer of black gunk combined with red ferric rust.  

When I look at the technology that we rely on to live, I am always amazed that it works at all.  This whole system appears to have been running on MMT - Modern Maintenance Theory - which suggests that you do no maintenance whatsoever, and just run the system until it experiences a catastrophic failure.   I find this approach rather curious and more than just a little bit sub-optimal.  These deep-well submersible pumps should really be taken out an cleaned at least every 5 years.  But the system here had been installed with 9 22-foot pieces of 1-inch inside diameter steel pipe - meaning that it was almost (but not *completely*)  impossible to remove without a massive crane-truck  (each pipe is *heavy* - and 9 of them screwed together into a long vertical pipeline probably weighs close to 1000 lbs - given that the pump itself weighs close to 70 lbs by itself!).  

A new pump will be installed using expensive "Munipex" 200-psi-rated 1-inch flexible tubing.

We are very fortunate - damned lucky, really - that the system failed during the summer, and not during the winter.

I think this is why Tesla is doing so well.   Their vehicle has *vastly* fewer parts than gas-engine cars and trucks - something on the order of 4,000 versus 20,000.  The "maintenance-free" option for a Tesla is not an idle boast - but appears to be a real design objective.

But the price point is still insane, sadly.  :)

I am *really* sick of stuff that is crappy, and is designed to break and wear out and needs to be replaced every few years - when it is not at all necessary to do so - like Apple iPhones, for example.

We've been without running water for over a week now - and it really sucks.  ( and the pump does not!)..  For a Tesla, just being able to avoid having a *cooling* system that uses liquid glycol is a major advantage (like an old Volkswagon, for example).   Sloshing liquid around inside of very hot metal, is certain to cause corrosion and leaks and clogs.  The whole concept is awful. (Early big IBM mainframe computers had to be liquid cooled.  Guess what happened when the pipes broke or leaked?)

We have a big Ford F-150 for the farm - and we have maintained it - but it is slowly rotting away, like an old wooden boat.  They build the frame and the body panels with "mild-steel" - which is like using butter and toast to make something.  "Mild steel" in a northern climate, where salt is put on the roads to de-ice them, is simply insane.  The steel is *certain* to convert into a red ferric powder, in only a few years.  Using it as a building material, is like building mud-huts in a monsoon - it is just such a stupid and toxic idea for the product-purchaser, that it is comical.  I hear they have switched to aluminum - but it is too late now, probably for Ford.

Cars (and trucks) should be made of 1810 stainless, and with body panels sufficiently thick to stop small-arms fire.  I like the idea of the Tesla Cybertruck because it looks like it is designed wisely.  I envision a time in the near-future, when you will fabricate your own vehicles, based on modules and small machine-shops.   We almost need to think in terms of  "open sourcing" the automobile industry.   Big, expensive trucks made using "mild steel" - the worst building material one could deploy, in a salt-corrosive environment - are just silly.  My rotting Ford F-150 is perfect proof of this idiocy.  And the 47-year usage (with no maintenance) of our submerisble Jacuzzi pump, with its reliable Franklin electric motor, shows that electrics can function in a harsh environment - underwater, if necessary - if stainless steel is used to house the mission-critical components (like the induction coils).  

[ July 19, 2020 ] - Maxium Money Trickery -  MMT - aka: Modern Monetery Theory...  This stuff is just goofball crazy nutbar silly insane.  Really.   Recognize that the stakes are high, and the game is afoot.   You are being played, and the players are risking all.  It's like a Townes Van Zandt song... Mr Mudd and Mr Gold.  Just crazy stuff.   I read this drivel in Barrons, and some old dude interviewed Professor Stephanie something from Stoned River University or some crazy thing/place.   There is this belief that deficits don't matter, and the USA can print money like Germany did in the early 1920's, and it will not be a problem.  This is nuts.  This is looney-tune economics.

And here is the thing: this is in the program - this is how it happens.  Every generation does this sh/t, everytime.  Every King tries it.  Every sh/tbag failed klepto-state tries it - always.  And it always end the same way.  It is in the program.   The guys on the top blow themselves up, and they crash and burn and take down their world.  Every. Single. Time.  This is how History of Humans works.   We program and fabricate catastrophic senarios, and then execute them.  There is so little wisdom in the world, it is comical.

Modern Monetary Theory  - this idea that deficit spending can be ramped up as long as there is no inflation - is hilariously wrong and misguided.   It is exactly like Modern Maintenance Theory which suggests that you do not have to do any maintenance on anything.  

See, MMT - either kind - does not operate in a linear way.   MMT can be practiced successfully, right up until the day that it does not work any longer, right?   Example:  You build a huge bridge, and you let everyone use it.  You do no maintenance at all  (MMT).   The bridge works GREAT, every day, until it rusts and suddenly collapses, killing everyone on it, and blocking the river with debris.  This is MMT.

MMT is just fine - until the day come that it is *not* fine.  Then everything collapses, and everyone is surprised - if they are fucking stupid, that is.  And this is the new, current world we are in - a world of curiously stupid people, running things and spouting nonsense.  It is just absolutely hilarious.   All you can do, is laugh.

One day, the US dollar will be the world's reserve currency.  And the next day, it just won't.  I am not sure what exactly will happen - maybe another 9/11 style attack, or a huge accident that takes out a US city, or maybe a massive California earthquake, where the whole state falls into the Pacific Ocean, or a small nuclear war - we cannot know the trigger.  But MMT will ensure that the USA is horribly bankrupt, and it's currency will *suddenly* - overnight - make a non-linear transition from being a trusted and accepted medium of exchange - to being something that no one wants to hold.   This is MMT => Modern Maintenance Theory - you let the bridge rust, until at some point, it just collapses, because you have done no maintenance whatsoever.

This is how non-linear failures occur.   The whole system does not slowly and gracefully fail - it fails suddenly, and completely.

So don't be surprised.   The failure may be 20 years away - maybe 40 or 50 years away - but MMT will ensure that the failure will be dramatic, and it will happen very, very quickly.

We will survive this virus thing, I suspect.  Even 40 or 50 million dead (globally) will not be a problem, really.  But I fear that MMT will maybe be the thing that does us all in.  It is such a stupid, and astonishingly wrong idea - but so politically attractive - that I fear it much more than any biosecurity risk.

One thing is very clear.  England (the UK) was very, very wise, to decouple itself from the European Union monetary structure.   Europe is absolutely going to self-destruct it's currency - just exactly the way it *ALWAYS* has throughout it's long, sad, violent history.  Humans do not learn the long-timescale lessons of history - we just cannot do it, given the shortness of our lives, and the profound benefits that scam-economics provides to the political master-classes.  They live high and happy, until their worlds come crashing down as the great Wheel of Fortune turns.  As a species, we are provably incapable of learning the key lessons, and applying the solutions, and history shows this over and over and over.  

Only private individuals can act to protect themselves.   Governments will *always* blow themselves up, in an orgy of stupidity and cruelty.  Why?  Because they can - and because they are always dominated by arrogant, puffed-up fraudsters and buffoons, who have either lucked or street-fought their way into power, and this gives the leaders the strong courage of fools.

Bloody hell, MMT is without doubt the most perfect example of extreme stupidity I have seen in a very long time.  The "bridge" is rusting - and as the corrosion advances - and the bridge does not fall - this does not mean that it is *not* rusting - the long period of non-collapse does NOT provide evidence that the rust is not important.  The rust *will* certainly destroy the bridge, if the bridge is not maintained.

And if inflation is not happening - even if this goes on for a long time - it does *not* mean that deficit spending is not actively corroding the confidence and economic value of a national currency.  Think about it.   If a rapid attack against a series of US nuclear arsenals was successfull, and the USA nuclear-weapons were disabled or degraded to the point of not being effective or operational -  what would happen to the USA dollar, as a "world reserve currency"?

Would people still trust it?  Would it still have value?   Or, would it jump to being almost worthless, overnight?

[ July 17, 2020 ] - Clear Signal, Fast Machine. - Crazy - prices are getting weird everywhere - a combo of collapse and expansion at same time.  Oil is being bid up, as are stocks, rates are falling, imploding incomes for investors and retired folks.  Retirement is like television - something that is not really operational anymore.  For today, "Everclear" - from the 1990's:  "We can live beside the Ocean, leave the Fire behind, swim out past the breakers, watch the world die."

I gave up on local retailers, and ordered a Shyliyu pump from Amazon.  I looked at a Gould pump, and it was going to be $1500 or something like that.  Stupid pricing for stupid times, I guess.  The dis-intermediation that the internet allows, has changed everything.   So many business models have historically been based on deception, manipulation, and information-hiding.  (Oh, like most of the Fixed Income market activity in so many places... "Your bonds are f***ing *JUNK*!"  says the analyst.  "Yes, but they pay their coupons, and the suckers keep buying them!" says the big fraudster with the diamond rings on his fat fingers. )  

Funny, funny times - like in funny-haha and funny-strange at the same time.   The key thing in the bond market, is to make sure that you are not being paid your coupons out of the money you have loaned out.  I remember seeing all these half-built, abandoned modern hotels in Aruba, built by Italian gangsters, funded by junk bonds - half a hotel would get built, and then the Euroboys would run away with the rest of the money, leaving the half-built hotel on the beach.

Folks always underestimate the genius of fraudsters.    When big money is involved - big creative effort can be deployed, it would seem.   Like the Bitcoin hack against Twitter (both fall into the class of things we are not interested in...)  :)

Not having water is annoying.  But I am thankful the system failed in July, and not January.   I think a lot of the world is dealing with this sort of problem - stuff has just not been maintained since the early 2000's, and it is now starting to fail, after 15 to 20 years use.   Like our roads and our medical-services delivery - the roads have holes, and all the doctors who did actual doctoring, have all grown old and retired.  There are no GPs, and all medical services seem to fall into that category of things that create the illusion of service-delivery, but in fact, are offering nothing of value.   For anything real, you have to visit a hospital, and if you can't make it there, then you can just FO and die.  And god help you, if you DO go to a hospital - because that is where everything from C-difficile to Covid-19 lives, floating about in the crowded hallways and waiting rooms.   Go to a hospital now, and if you were not sick BEFORE you went, then you soon will be!   

There were good reasons for doctors to make "house calls".   Really good reasons.

Basically, many things are failing now - and systemic re-design efforts are going to be necessary, across a very wide range of processes and activities.  Right now, the Covid-19 numbers are trivial, really.  With only 500K deaths, we are seeing nothing yet, really.   Even the most basic ecology and population models, suggest that numbers 10 to 100 times larger are much more likely, if this really is a "pandemic".   A vaccine will help, but it might also turn out to be a new infection vector, if the process is rushed.  There is also the chance - which no one talks about - that a vaccine might induce a faster mutation rate by the virus, and make it *more* lethal.

I see this phenomenon in the incredible strength of the weeds bordering the productive fields,  The long use of chemical poisons to kill the weeds, has caused the "community of weeds" to become very strong and very healthy, and show evidence of a high rate of mutation response.  

I seriously worry about the "green revolution" running retrograde, as weeds develop resistance to "Roundup" and other biocides, and the high-yield crops (as a monoculture), end up with something like the Irish Potato fungus, that wipes out *everything* in a short time.  Lots of examples of this in the historical record.  Wine lovers probably know about phyloxia fungus that killed *all* the European vineyards in the 1800's.  The European grape varieties were only saved by the importation of American root-stock, and careful grafting actions by growers.

And we have had an insect plague - tent catapillars have eaten most of the leaves off of most of the trees.   The apple trees were completely stripped of leaves by the worms, and are now sprouting new leaves (nature has many in-built recovery systems).   I did not spray for the worms, and they mostly died, once the leaves were eaten.   The birds will not eat the catapillars, but they will eat the pupas and the moths.

Despite all the weirdness, the portfolios are ticking along not too badly, and the models seem to be working.  But we are getting fixed-income stuff that was yielding close to 5%, being reset to south of 3.5%, so this means less income thrown off.

The "yield-starvation" of the bond-markets, forces investors into much risker investments, (the TINA phenomenon)  and this explains the bubbly equity markets.  Many stocks could double from where they are now, if the companies can figure out new ways to make enough money to pay good dividends.  We will have to see some inflation soon, or we will probably be seeing some hard-core deflation, as economic process and activity cycles down due to virus restrictions.   The central banks are making the bond-traders very wealthy, and the lawyers are doing OK too - but none of the central-bank stimulus is reaching ordinary people who run businesses.  This is a problem, since it is these self-financing sectors,  where the nation's wealth is created.

[ July 16, 2020 ] - Pump Out. - After working like a daemon for 3 days, and pulling and cutting 183 feet of steel pipe from well, we reached the dead pump - a Jacuzzi (later: Franklin, as they had bought them).   Removing (disconnecting) the "pitless adapter" took a huge 6x6 beam rigged as a second-class lever, and a 20-tonne house-jack.  (Yes, it can jack up a house.  I had to lift a corner of a cottage, and it worked.)  The "pitless adapter" is just dopey technology => a brass plate dropped against another brass holder, which sends the water from vertical to horizontal into the house.   It took several thousand pounds of pulling force to free it, since the plates leach iron corrosion and become tightly stuck.  This is badly designed technology - as is the whole system, really.  It is amazing it has worked for as long as it has.  We have used it for 17 years, and it looks vintage 1974 - like a Mott the Hoople tune, so I guess it passes the "good enough" test.

New pump will be installed with plastic pipe, and will not weigh several tonnes, I am hoping.  The trick is to find the pipe I need, since all the local stores seem to be sold out of just about everything useful.  They have lots of stuff you don't want on offer, but all the needed construction and maintenance supply materiel (like bolts, threaded rods, pipe, plumbing system parts, etc.) seem to be in short supply.  THe local TSC store has Red Lion pumps, and has just raised the price on them two days after I first checked them out.   Border closures between USA and Canada are really f***ing up our supply chains and even retail product availability, and this is being reflected in price hikes for critical components - like water pumps needed by farmsteads.

Don't you just *love* modern Government?   The fellows are so helpful.  [ Hint: Satire.  :) ]

[ July 14, 2020 ] - World of [*NO!*] Water!  - Very, very strange times.   Sunny weather as the world ends?   My partner in crime says this is the Year from Hell.  Not because of the viral death rates, or the Mongolian Rat Plague, nor because of the Insane Leaders Running AMOK everywhere - no, not because of that - but because here at the Latifundia Lorcalon - the technology for our aquaduct has *FAILED*!..  

I love Prefab Sprout - and I found some wonderful fellow had posted on of my favourite "New Musik" tracks (the boys doing a Dutch TV gig, back in 1980) from the "From A to B" album.  Great band...  bought it on vinyl when it came out....  "World of Water.."

So good... you "swim for the other side - but your swimming against the tide..."   (Story of our lives these days...")

Corresponded with the respected Professor in Athens who wrote the 1990 TEA laser paper - Dr. Serafetinides.

Truly Dr. Serafetinides is a Scholar and a Gentleman of the very first level.  I requested a copy of his 1990 paper in IEEE Quantum, and he sent me the .JPG images of the paper.  The paper is very good, and has the math for the two sets of  oscillations that seem to be happening to drive the N2 TEA laser at atmospheric pressure.   I am weak on intregal calculus, and need to consult a math specialist to enhance my understanding - but their research and theory seems to confirm and describe the feedback process I am sensing.  Two sets of oscillations are happening  - and to get laser action from the N2 TEA laser, you need to configure a "sweet-spot" between to the two - like tuning a regenerative radio receiver.  So interesting.

I am pretty sure that D2 fusion in an IEC device, will require something similiar - a multi-factor tuning process, which when successful, will yield a small - but positive - rate of power production and associated neutron flux.  If this process could made to occur in a matrix of very small IEC type devices, a planar surface of heat-producing devices could be fabricated - and maybe run off of a lithium-ion battery.  The tricky part is making tiny paladium grids in a vacuum - like a sheet of bubble-wrap.

But we have no water.  I am working to remove the submersible pump from the farm house bore-hole well. and this is a huge job.   But we need water.  This is a World of Water, and it is waiting at the well-bottom.   I just need to rebuild and re-install all the technology to feed it to the house!

[ July 9, 2020 ] - Hot Coffee, Cool Running, Scary Times & Good Results- Very curious times.  In a world which seems hard-wired to generate serial "worst-case" scenarios and a constant stream of shitstorms, disasters and nightmare-class events, it is important to keep in mind, that positive outcomes are still possible.

It is satisfying and often useful to direct efforts to clearly defined projects which have linear development characteristics where increments of progress can be made each day  - but the real paybacks are those class of projects which are very open-ended, and which have high-degrees of randomness which influence outcome-attractiveness.  These kinds of open-ended, wide-ranging project/problems are completely differnent, and require the same intense focus of effort, but often the payoff is gated mosty  by chance.   Luck really matters.

Examples include marketing (ie. sales), trading (market speculation), gambling (games-of-chance), and scientific research (lots of lab work, but success often results from one lucky or unique observation or experimental result).

Our neural circuits are not wired to make projects which have a high degree of randomness related to success, easy to do.  We mis-calculate probabilities all the time, and it is difficult to remain focused on open-ended, non-linear tasks that offer random, intense, negative re-inforcement routinely, and only rarely exhibit large, postive payoffs.  And yet, it is this class of tasks, that typically have the very high, and significant outcomes, and can offer wildly beneficial results, if and when all the drifting elements come together in just the right way.  

Sometimes, it's as easy as just being there, seeing the "stars line up", and pressing the button.

But one also has to realize, that it might take a lifetime of work and effort, to have acquired the knowledge so that one can truly see what is happening, and be located in the position where the button is connected to an operational systemic process, and is available to be pressed!

You also need to avoid the "empty holster" problem, where you reach down for your six-gun at your side, to deal with a serious threat that you have just been confronted with - and you find your holster holds only empty air.   You learn the "lesson of the lanyard" when that happens, and also often learn another lesson about how much you can rely on the forbearance of poisonous reptiles, angry grizzly bears, and murderous bandits.   Which is not much, of course.

Still, if you can survive, and deal with the constant threats, and the negative, nasty outcomes, and also avoid being foolish and making dumb-guy mistakes, one must keep in mind that sometimes, it can all come together in a best-case scenario.   Mostly it does not - but if you can keep the costs of the failures and the stupid mistakes small and survivable, then you will increase your chances of "being there", when it actually *can* and does come together, as your plan with the optimistic-scenario had suggested was possible.

[ July 8, 2020 ] - Feed It Back, Jack. - I built a regenerative shortware radio, back 10 years ago, and I had made "improvements" to it that had basically stopped it working properly.  (Added an audio amplifier stage - but it broke the feedback circuit).  So, I put it back to a working regenerative configuration, and confirmed it would still work.  Turn up the feedback too high, and you get "motorboating" or squeals and howls - but that is part of tuning it.

I will create a new tab, called "Regen. Radio", with picture of the set, and a schematic sketch (sorry for the poor penmanship... a lifetime of keyboard work has left me a bad draftsman)... :)

The regenerative circuit is very interesting - if you look at the schematic, you can see that the 6SN7 is basically two triode tubes in one bottle, and that the radio signal that is detected by the first triode, and fed to the grid of the second triode to be amplified, is then also sent back to first triode, thru the 47K potentiometer.   The pot. acts like a volume control, except when you turn it up too high, you drive too much feedback thru the signal detector, and you get a "motorboat" sound, or a howl or a squeal.  Back off the gain a bit, and typically, a nice, boosted signal of the distant station can be heard well.  

This careful tuning with sensitive feedback process is very much like what happens when the laser-rail of the TEA Laser are adjusted, which is why I suspect there is a feedback process happening in the lasing of the N2 molecules.

The whole conceptual idea of a feedback process is very interesting - it is also very much the basis for both computer-based neural-networks, which use calculus methods to back-propagate small changes to neural node weights - and also probably how the real neuron state potential is adjusted in bio-systems (like in our own brains).

You can "suss-out" the degree of reflective (reflexive?) feedback in market activity, and you can gain some true, actionable insight into how prices are being set in a competitive marketplace situation.

I find that actually constructing the physical devices which make actionable use of these process methodologies, allows one to gain unique insights that otherwise often do not become apparent.

[ July 7, 2020 ] - Resonant Frequency, or the Frequency of Resonance?- The reason this TEA Laser is so interesting, is that there is something curious happening when it operates.  The penny dropped, and I realize it is a tuned, resonance device.

The device is surprisingly sensitive.  And it can be made to work  with transverse rails that are only 1 foot long, but it works better with the two foot rails - on exactly same capacitor.   Also, the coil inductance is very low - the laser seems to work best, with this small, poorly made coil, which is bent badly - but it works the best of several coils made.  Curious.

Also, it seems to work best if capacitor plates are asymetric - the first plate slightly smaller than the second plate.  And from my (limited) understanding of Blumlein circuits, I don't actually see one here - what we have here seems to be a very sensitive capacitor-inductor (LC) circuit, running at high-voltage and oscillating like an early radio transmitter.  The physical shape of the beam-rails, and their length and physical position to each other, seems to be the most important design parameter-set, that distinguishes an operational device that lases well, from a non-working device that just generates a lot of sparks and noise.

So that leads me to think there is some sort of very specific kind of resonance happening here.  If it was just a question of nano-second rise-times, and voltage levels sufficient to create scattered electron field density levels that would create N2 molecule population inversion, then the thing would not be so crazy sensitive to positional operation of the transverse beam-rails.  But it is.   The most *tiny* movement of the 61 cm (24 inch) transverse rails, will *wildly* effect the beam-spot intensity, switching it off completely, in most cases.

This is a very *non-linear* device.    I think that is one of the things that makes it captivate my attention so.

I just read a book on Lasers and Holography, and several websites on how to make glass dry-plates with photographic emulsion.   The chemistry is vastly more complex than I expected.  The whole development of light-sensitive photo emulsion is another area of almost witchcraft-level magic.  It's very much like the optogenetics phenomenon - a complex, multi-step process that yields a curious, (and crazy-useful and powerful) light-driven methodology.   IF I want to make a hologram, I first need a photographic plate, that is sensitive to light.   Easier said than done - since glass plates with photo-emulsion on them do not now exist - even chemical photography is non-existant almost.  And the manner in which full 3-D information can be encoded onto what is (almost) a 2-D planar surface, using interference patterns of direct and reflected light, is astonishingly interesting - and is also perhaps another reason why NVIDIA stock is being valued the way it is.  

If we can have screen-image resolutions that are several billion by several billion - actually, lets be accurate -  since it's right there on page 90 of Koch's book, section: "Information Content", where he estimates that to record a hologram interference pattern with sufficient details, (dots of light) for an 8-inch by 8-inch hologram, one needs emulsion resolution (either optically using photography, or electrically, using a TV-screen image), one would need 1500 fringe-lines per millimeter, and thus 200 mm (8 inches) x 1500 = 300,000 dots horizontal, and the same amount of vertical resolution, or 90,000,000,000 dots (90 billion, or 9 x 10 exponent 10) dots.  He points out that a US television screen has 500 dots vertical and 500 dots horizontal resolution, so max 250,000 dots (what we now call "pixels"), and so 3-D TV is right out - using 1968 TV electronics.

(Winston Koch, the author, was a researcher at Bell Labs - and eventually a Director of a NASA research centre - so doubtless he was familiar with Shannon's information theorems and related work.  The optical information density of holograms is one of their characteristics that make them so interesting.)

But with matrix-processors, and modern, fast,  multiprocessors, a 90-billion pixel image construction is not out of the question now, so it might soon be possible to have 3-D viiual video "tanks", or even projections of 3-D images out into the front of the screen,   The technology of the "holodeck" becomes closer.  But I would like to see a working prototype of an electronic hologram as a still image, first.  

But to return to the TEA laser.   It appears to be some sort of "tuned" device, which is actively making use of a resonance-effect.  Getting it to work at all, is remarkably similar to what one has to do, to get a regenerative radio receiver to operate correctly - you have to tune - then off-tune - then tune again back to resonance, and then off-tune, before the device over-oscillates and collapses into annoying feedback howls.  This iterative-process of tune and off-tune, and then re-tune, lets one use the information-content of the weak signal to isolate and then gently amplify the weak signal into a strong signal that can be heard. (Modern radios are "superhets", in that they hetrodyne the signal up into the super-sonic for tuning, and then drop it back down into the audible range for listening.  This got rid of the loud "howls" of the early, regenerative radios.)  

Regen radios are really interesting feedback devices, and actually, they are extremely sensitive, and can be made to work remarkably well (I have built several from bits of vacuum-tube technology, just to understand this physical manifestation of this curious feedback-process device).

See, there is something weirdly wonderful about feedback-driven processes.  They are clearly part of human (and even animal) intelligence - our brains are constantly running feedback loops to make sense of the world - and AI technology uses this process to excute the back-propagation virtual-neuron setting levels - as part of it's information encoding process.

AI-technology, regenerative radios, the ecology of living-systems (the Robert May equations), and even ion-circulating IEC fusion reactors, all make use of feed-back (and feed-forward) operational process.  Really.

But it surprised the heck out of me - to find this same, crazy-sensitve regen-radio, back-propagation, damped-driven feedback process, working in the bloody TEA laser!

See, our brains are funny things - they pull us along, both seeing and taking in information, and at the same time, processing the heck out of  this data - constantly, all the time, even if we don't know it is happening.   We honestly can seriously, truly *see* stuff, and we can act on that information, long before we even are consciously aware that this is occuring.

The stock and commodity markets are very much feedback/feedforward processes, that are driven by the strengths and weaknesses of human neural activity.   This explains our rising stock market, in the middle of a lethal pandemic.  The truth is - lethal pandemics - which are obviously not so good for the old and the sick - are actually *really* good for the basic investment process.  ONce you think about it, just a little tiny bit, it becomes painfully clear that this is the case.  The entire investment process works *much* better, if you have a method by which you can cull the weak, and the useless and the non-productive.  Just ask any farmer or manager of an orchard.  This is why farmers, way out in farm-country, far away from the market "action", can actually make pretty good investors.   They grasp the picture of what is happening.  The old must constantly be swept away, and turned into fertilizer, so the new can grow.  It's why we have Spring Festivals, and compound interest, and bankruptcy laws.

The N2 TEA-Laser is working like a regenerative-radio receiver.   I am sure of this, because in order to make it lase nicely, I have to fuss with the beam-rail position, exactly the same way that I have to tune-in Tokyo. on my home-made, two vacuum-tube short-wave regenerative radio receiver.   It's the same operational algorithm as the back-propegating Xerion AI, when it converges down to a minima, and finds (maybe) the best-fit for the neuron-activation values, for the current dataset - that damped feedback convergence-by-successive approximation fiddling like one does in a bond-yield derivation... tune, de-tune, tune closer - Ahiee, damn, too much feedback - de-tune (or go-past tune), and try again...  etc.   Like a line-search along a gradient, or an attempt to jump to another (better) minima on the surface... analogous to spinning the tune dial away from the station (ie. decouple from all the feedback links), and try again fresh (like going for a walk, or having a drink and working on something else for a while - when trying to resolve a problem by thinking about it...)  

So, why is the TEA Laser a resonant-tunable device?   What exactly is *ringing*?  Are the little N2 molecules like tiny bells, that "ring" at a certain frequency?  Does this ringing propegate by photon transfer? Are there harmonics?  Research suggests that there are megawatt N2 lasers, that can create sparks when the beam falls on metal. Could one make two intersected TEA lasers, with two sets of beam-rails, orthogonal to each other?  And could I point several N2 lasers into the centre of a working IEC fusion device, and induce the poisor (the ball of hot plasma made up of positive D2 ions trapped by the negatively charged containment-grid) to enhance the rate of neutron production?

And could an N2 laser (or several?)  introduce energy into a semi-stable compound of material, and cause it to "detonate", in a controlled fashion, and in such a manner as to focus the detonation, and create propulsion?   See, if there is a resonant process at work, then it must be possible to augment it, focus it, and drive additional energy-releasing conversions.

[ July  6, 2020 ] - Fiat Lux & Trip the Light Fantastic - Blasted a hole thru the dielectic again, but developed a fix.  There is electrical "overpressure" right at the beam-rails, so a third layer of 0.1 mm acetate sheeting, about 3 inches wide, is inserted under the rails only.  This seem to work.  Ran the laser for several minutes, in bright mode, to do some ablation experiment inside large crystals - seems to work without melting the table-top, or starting a fire.

Weird-science journey:  Lasers - because I toured a laser lab when very young, and saw a real hologram.  Then, with psychology and neural experiments - Skinner box lab rats, from young time to university - lab rats with electrodes, hitting a bar to stimulate their brain's medial hypothalamus (the "pleasure centre") - but computer technology became main focus,  and hard-core math & science programming - because I could and it paid really well.   Economics and computer science became the work & the playground.   But brain research always in background, and then the lectures from Dr. Hinton and Xerion and Linux - and all the Toronto Finance work and the neural net projects to forecast financial values.  But physics and biotech remained.  Our best neural network already sits on our necktop.  A brain holds data like lasers and holography - that curious holographic-model of how the brain encodes information, confirmed by the neural-network simulator matricies....  And the bio-research and learning how PCR worked, and how DNA could be fully sequenced.    

And now the strange discovery/invention of optogenetics - using virus-vectors to drop light-receptive genes into neural-cells, so the neurons become operationally sensitive to optical stimulation. The canonical article in Scientific American explains the amazing linkage between optical technology, genetic engineering, and brain-focused neural research.  I love the line where the author admits: "The experiments worked shockingly well."

And this is now a working technology.  You use the bio-technology to vector gene-sequences that tweak neurons to encode for optical events into brain neurons, and then using the same stereotaxic surgery that was used to implant wires into rat's brains to deliver electrical signals - you now instead deliver pulses of different coloured light.  The neurons react when the light of the right colour stimulates them, because the genetic data that has been virally vectored into the neuron, causes it to generate a protein that makes the cell fire when light is applied.  This works better than electrical stimulation, and can be quite cell-specific.   Thorlabs sells the technical equipment needed to allow thin, fibre-optic cables to be inserted into rodent brains for neural-research.  Different colours of light can cause different neurons to fire.

Thorlabs typically sells commerical lasers, and even a device to make entangled photons.  But now, apparently, given the successful insertion (by viral infection), of the light-sensing genetic modification to brain-cells, one can hook up lasers to mammalian brains.  

Laser connected to brain, carefully, neuron by neuron.    This is impressive science, and will give a whole new meaning to the concept of "enlightenment".

But the real magic comes again from a hybrid approach - you can use the wire implants and other sensitive electrical recording devices to monitor brain activity - and at the same time, if the neurons have been modified to be light-sensing and reactive (firing when the the light is applied via fiber-optic cable), you can now send control signals, and monitor the electrical actions of the neurons responses, at the same time.  The two processes don't interfere.   You can learn what the brain controls where, like running a "debug" utility to monitor, change or correct, a running computer program.   

And this promises not just investigative science, but perhaps (finally) effective clinical treatment of brain-related problems.    

[ July 4th, 2020 ] - Stable Laser on a Table  -  Extensive work on the N2 TEA-Laser.  I want the thing to run in a stable mode, without melting sheets of plexiglass and starting little fires.   

I got the TEA Laser working with the big 1 mm plexiglass sheets, but it was *very* difficult to align, and would occasionally suffer breakdown arcs right thru the plexiglass. This was not good, sounded awful, and smelled even worse.   Also, it was running at close to 25 KVdc, which made it very dangerous.  The high-voltage wire, if it got close to any source of ground, would quietly arc and start tiny fires.  The resistors got hot and smelled bad (as they began to melt), and the whole thing was not very stable.  

So, when the 19 by 24 inch, 0.1mm plastic desktop-sheets arrived from Staples, I tried these.  I also wound several different coils of various inductance, but the ugly 7-turn, 2-cm diameter coil worked best - in both the big laser configuration (1 mm plexiglass), and in the smaller 19x24 inch Deskpad-sheet version.

Details of latest (stable) Deskpad-sheet N2 TEA Laser:

Deskpad-TEA-Laser, a Nitrogen (atmospheric) laser, running at 10.5 KVdc, drawing only 5 ma, and showing beam-spot on back of plain, white envelope  (top image).   The laser is constructed from 19 x 24 inch desktop plastic pad (from Staples), aluminum foil, and the laser rails for the transverse excitement of nitrogen (air) are made from 1-inch "Shur-Trim" aluminum seambinder strips, from Home Depot. (Spark-gap is covered to allow beam-spot to be visible).  Beam-spot on paper covered with yellow hi-lighter will fluoresce much brigher, but this image is better for comparison with other devices.  The laser-rails are 61 cm (24 inches) in length, the plate capacitor is 53 cm by 40 cm for lower plate, with upper two plates in total size being about 20% smaller in total area.  There are *two* 0.1 mm thickness desktop-pads used, so total capacitor dielectric is 0.2 mm.  If a single pad is used, the laser will perform well, but dielectric breakdown will occur.  The laser rails have to be adjusted carefully, to achieve a roughly 1.5 mm front gap width, and a very slightly smaller roughly 1.4 to 1.3 mm gap width at the rear.   Spark-gap width is roughly 3 to 4 mm, and this width should not be exceeded, else the capacitors will over-charge and dielectric breakdown (arcs punched right thru the plastic) can occur.  The capacitor plates are made from aluminum foil.  Power is supplied from a Molectron Hi-Voltage supply, originally designed to power a low-pressure N2 Laser.  A matrix of 5 x 5 1-megaohm resistors is used to limit current-draw from the power supply. Power supply was re-wired, so high-voltage negative is provided, and ground is positive (this was necessary to power the IEC Fusion Reactor).

This version of the laser generates a stable, bright beam-spot, and as it is drawing only 5 ma at 10.5 KVdc, it seems stable, and runs cool.   I will re-design the spark-gap to use two automobile spark-plugs, and enclose the thing to allow the noise and radio-frequency interference to be reduced.

Next Tasks:  I want to construct a low pressure laser-tube, with transverse excitation rails, and quartz glass end covers.   One should be able to pump plain air down to about 50 to 70 torr, and have rail separation about 7 or 8 cm, and get a nice, bright UV beamline at 10 KVdc, and not draw any more that 5 ma.  This lets everything run cool, and without external arcing.   Beam power can be improved by adding helium, in ratio of  7 parts helium to 1 part nitrogen.  Flowing nitrogen (from welder's gas) can also be used.   Eventually, I want to pump some dye-lasers, and try to create a hologram.  I also want to try to modulate the UV beam or a dye-laser beam, using the Z-80, and see if I can then de-modulate it using a second Z-80 at the other end.

[ July 2, 2020 ] - Bigger Is Not Necessarily Better - Bigger TEA Laser fabrication does not work better.   Extenesive tests with 1 mm lexan acetate sheet variant of N2 TEA laser design yields only weak beam-spot.   Lots of sparks, lots of current, voltage levels pushed up to 25KVdc and spark gap increasedto 6 to 7 mm, but either no laser action, or very weak, dim beam.  Tried different inductors bridging the capacitors, different shapes to capacitor plates, different locations of voltage inputs and spark-gap, and even managed to blast a flaming hole thru the acetate sheet from high-voltage dielectric breakdown.

Also tried different rail geometry.  This turns out to be pretty significant, and this parameter change was the only thing that allowed the big laser version (84 cm by 61 cm or 33 x 24 inches) to actually work.  From the local Home Depot, I found the "Shur-Trim" aluminum "seambinder" rails ("Joins floors of equal height"), which Prof. Mark Csele refers to on his website.  These allow one to define a rail geometry of the laser-rails that is V-shaped, which is critical to the initiation of laser action.    I also replaced the inductor-coil with a coil wound on a 4.7 cm (1 7/8ths inch) diameter tube, 16 turns of insulated, thin speaker wire.  The Shur-trim rails are cut to 60 cm in length, weighted with steel rods, insulated in white PVC tubing, and layed on the rails to hold them firm to the aluminum foil capacitors.  Left capacitor is full sized, right capacitor is wedged shaped.   The capacitor sizing and shaping did not make much differnece.  The rail gap width is narrow, same as other rails and as reported in the literature => 1.5 mm gap front, 1.3 to 1.4 mm gap in rear.  The spark-gap is large - 7 to 8 mm.   (This is *loud* - hearing protection is a must.  I seriously need to re-design this, as it is gunshot-level loud.)

This laser configuration just barely works - beam spot is dim.  This was suprising - I had expected this big configuration would blow the doors off, but not at all.  The thinner diaelectric works a *LOT* better, but the problem is the blasting thru it, and melting it - which happens easily.  The dielectric breakdown is controlled by the spark-gap width - too much gap, and the voltage on the capacitors becomes too high, and an arc-hole is blasted thru the dialectric with an awful sound.

I think the inductor connecting the rails is too low impedence.  The TEA lasers design will successfully lase atmospheric nitrogen, only if one can pump enough N2 up to its excited state quickly.  And quickly means 1 to 2 nanoseconds.  A nanosecond is 1 one-billionth of a second, and light (and electricity) will travel roughly 1 foot, in that time delta.  To achieve the N2 population inversion ( more molecules at the excited state, than at ground state), you have to establish a voltage potential difference across the laser rails quick-like-a-bunny.   These TEA lasers will only work if you can do this - try to establish the voltage difference more slowly, and you will not get enough N2 hot quickly enough - the key is the N2 will only stay in the hot state for roughly 2 nanoseconds, at ordinary air pressure. (If you create a laser-tube, and pump down the TEA laser,  you can get up to 40 nanoseconds - much easier).   You need to get a lot of the N2 into its hot state, in order for laser action to occur.   The induction coil that connects the laser rails (and the two capacitors) has to have enough ability to generate back-EMF, so that when the spark gap fires and collapses the voltage on the first capacitor, the second capacitor can stay hot charged and you can get a lot of electric potential difference between the two rails.

In the Hussain and Imran article, they report use an inductor of 5.58 microhenrys - and indicate it is a 9 cm coil, 32 turns of 2.35 cm diameter.  I am using a coil of 4.7 cm diameter, 16 turns.

Here is my estimate of the inductance of my coil, in microhenrys:   From this formula:

[ " The micro henrys of inductance in a coil = (N^2)(D^2)/(18D + 40L) where "N" equals the number of rings in the coil, "D" equals the diameter of the coil and "L" equals the length of the coil."  (Note: You have to measure diameter and length in *inches*) ]

So, uH = (16^2)*(1.925^2)/(18*1.925 + 40*1.07) = 32 * 3.705625/(34.65 + 42.8) =  118.58 * 77.45 = 1.53105 uH.   This is not enough, possibly.

To check this formula, against the Hussain & Imran results, I convert their metric measurements into inches, and try this formula for inductance that uses inches.  (Using 1cm = 0.393701 inch)

L = 9cm, or 3.543309 inches.  D = 2.35cm, or 0.92519735 inches.  So, we get:

  uH (for Hussain&Imran) = (32^2)*(0.92519735^2)/(18*0.92519735 + 40*3.543309) = 1024 * 0.855990 / (16.6535523 + 141.73236)  =   876.53376  /  158.3859123  =  5.5342  uH

This above calculated value of 5.5342 microhenrys is very close to their reported inductance value of 5.58 uH, so I can have some faith in the formula.

And it means my inductor is a way too low value, which means that the laser is not working well, probably because too much energy is flowing back thru the inductor when the spark gap fires, rather than remaining available to supply the potential difference on the rail, and drive the laser action.

We shall see.  :)

[ July 1, 2020 ] - Blow it Up...

Get your vaccine going.  The song for today (by "The Vaccines")  "Blow it up!" :

I blew up the TEA laser.   Tried to push the power level, as the big Molectron will do close to 35KV, and I have rewired it to output negative instead of a positive potential.  This of course makes it dangerous has hell - but useful for powering the IEC Fusion Reactor, which needs to be torn down and cleaned (mice again...)   (I remember at Treasury, when we built a computer room from scratch, full security, hi-capacity A/C (mounted on the roof), all for the DECSystem 20, (best computer design ever), we still would get mice in the computer room.   A mouse can apparently squeeze itself almost flat.)

As I pushed the power level using an already-patched piece of 0.2 mm acetate, the whole thing broke down, and I got arcs that melted several holes in the capacitor dielectric, leaving it a smoking mess.

So, I went on a materials-hunt, and finally found a poster-store that had 84 cm x 60 cm, 1 mm lexan sheets.  Expensive (as the sheets are hard and clear), but it looked like it might work.   Here is a technical article on several TEA laser designs:

The above article is from 1993, and summarizes several designs, and info on dielectric thickness is included.  From this article, we see this dielectric info:

     Bergman design:              0.4 mm, copper foil each side

     Sánta design:                    1.5 mm textolite, copper laminated on each side

     Papadopoulos design:    2.0 mm unspecified material, also copper laminated each side, with spark gap using 3 electrodes to minimize inductance.

From this info, I concluded that a 1 mm lexan (or acetate) sheet should work - but in several tests, I get either no laser action at all, or an extremely weak beam-spot.

But of course, in tests, I managed to melt a hole thru one of the lexan sheets with a hot arc.  So, even the 1.0 mm dielectric can break down.  They were almost $20 each, so I have one more to play with.

If I get the laser to work with the new dielectric, I will post the design here.   A commerical N2 laser, I notice, costs roughly $10,000 US, which makes it almost $14,000 Cdn.   So my laser experiments will require I fabricate my own devices.   But it is curious, the degree to which industrial products "stores" - even websites - seem to have just disappeared.  Very little is available locally, it looks like.  This is *so* different, from the days when the region where I live used to be a manufacturing centre.   When I was a kid, you could literally build almost anything from local materials.  But now, I can't even find basic lab supplies, or plastics or glass.

[ June 29, 2020 ] - Hacking the Ecliptic with Femtopulse Lasers - Star light, star bright - quite a light show, last nite...  Watching the sky (Mars, Saturn and Jupiter formed a perfect line on the ecliptic last nite..)  And did more hacking with the TEA laser, to improve it's performance.  Top picture is the last, latest bright beam-spot on the back of a white envelope.

Tried about 15 or 20 configurations for the N2 TEA laser, and got one that worked.  Back to using an acetate dielectric.  A TEA laser is a bizarre device - reminds me a lot of the IEC fusion device - crazy sensitive to configuration parameters.  But when you get it right, the N2 atmospheric laser operates in what is called "super-radiant" mode, no mirrors are needed, and one gets an intense ultraviolet beamline.  This can be used to pump a little dye laser, and get a visible-light laser in green or red.  

Laser-action is like radioactivity-action - it is occurring all around us, naturally, I suspect.  Evidence exists for natural CO2 laser action happening on Mars, and the high-energy particle and wave-action from the sun, which causes the Earth aurora, is capable of causing laser-like action in the upper atmosphere of not just Earth.  There are interesting UV actions with N2 happening on Titan.  Article below, from 2015 Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, describe using fast laser pulses to study N2 ionization, as it looks like it is happening in the atmosphere of Titan.

The use of fast, femtosecond-pulsed lasers to analyze the chemistry of N2 breakdown is very interesting.   Last nite, viewing conditions were just about perfect, and Mars, Saturn and Jupiter lined up on the ecliptic, and presented an impressive astronomical tease.    We should be able to jump in our little transport vehicles, and zoom up and have a close look at these interesting worlds in our local backyard.  Curious that we can barely just get to orbit.   Maybe it's time to build that Orion cruiser, that poops out little coke-bottle sized shaped nuclear charges, and pushes itself along at a good clip.   The engineering-science was all worked out for Orion, and if we can get to high-orbit, we should be able to use it to tour around our system.

I finally had the TEA laser working bi-directionally.  Minor changes to the capacitor size make major differences in output.  The transmission-line circuit is nutty sensitive.  The thing runs at lightspeed, and the population-inversion decay time for atmospheric N2 is around two nanoseconds or something close to that.  The fact that it works at all, is really interesting.

Here are the dimensions of the current device (an ugly, messing hack, covering two card-table tops:

TEA Laser dimensions:

-  38 cm x 24 cm, capicitor area  => 912 square cm (cm2)

-  dielectric (0,1 mm) acetate sheet (from a plastic desktop cover, originally sold at Staples)

-  area of dielectric:  48 cm x 29 cm  => 1392 cm2

-  spark gap ~=  3 mm

-  laser rail width:  ~=  1.5 mm front, and 1.4 mm back  (but laser now is bi-directional)

-  rail-length:  46 cm  (rails extend off back of dielectric.

-  rail geometry:  -  this is tricky.  Left rails is 1.5 inch x 1.5 inch aluminum angle rail, for left rail, and right rail is two pieces of 1 inch aluminum rail, slightly seperated by plastic inserts, so that the top L-rail is shifted out about 2 or 3 mm.   This geometry appears to seriously facilitate the pre-ionization of the laser channel, and when it is working right, sparking appears *all* along the rail-gap, with no preference to front or back, despite the rear rail-gap width being slightly smaller.   There clearly is some kind of pulsed "transmission-line" effect (cf. Blumlien Transmission Line) charge/discharge going on here.  As noted before, the sparks do *not* create the laser-action - they are actually an annoyance, and are the reason why commerical, sealed N2 lasers use 98% helium and 2% nitrogen, at low atmosphere.  I intend to try to build a sealed, N2 laser tube that uses a vacuum, and 7.7 mm rail width.

-  oh, another change: lower plate a positive potential, upper plate, high-voltage negative, and a large resistor array in a big matrix, used to prevent the power-supply from drawing too much current when they system sparks.  The current-limit resistance to prevent the power-supply from being destroyed, is made with a 5 x 5  matrix of one megaohm 5 watt resistors:

(1 meg Resistors are "Brown Black Green Silver" => 1 zero x 100000 at 10% tolerance)

The 5x5 matrix implies a bigger current load, but the same 1 megaohm resistence.  (The math: To calculate resistence of a bunch of parallel resistors, just remember: "The equivalent parallel resistor is the reciprocal of the sum of reciprocals",  In APL, it's a one-liner:

   R (for 5 1-meg resistors in parallel)  =  ((1 ÷ 1000000)×5) * ¯1

assuming you have 1 megaohm resistors.  Five in parallel is 200000 ohms, so strap 5 parallel units together in series, and if you are starting with 1-watt resistors, your matrix can now handle 25 watts without melting, more or less.  (But they will get hot and blister, if you pull too much current - like when the dielectric breaks down, and you get a tiny arc thru the capacitor plates, which makes that awful "BZZZZ...wheeeeeeehh" sound as you run over to hit the kill-switch on the big Molectron power supply...  :) )

- beam is now quite bright.   This configuration is much smaller than previous configuration, and appears to work much better.   The laser is run with the beam just firing at a controlled rate, so it sounds like a big motorboat engine running, thru the David Clark's (fat, old-fashioned "headphone" style hearing protection, used when at the range - critical for anything that uses "spark gap" switching!  Note: Also wear your UV-filtering safety goggles!  Seriously, as extreme UV can "sunburn" your retina, and make it fall off the back of your eyeball.)

It is still easy to blow thru the dielectric, however.  One really needs two layers of acetate sheet.

Good laser sites for homebuilders:    (good site, N2 build details)

Note, on Prof. Mark Csele's site (above), there is a good initial explanation of laser-action.  Note on this page, a little way's down, in the "energy band" discussion, we see our old friend, the Gaussian "Normal" curve)...  (link below.)

The Gaussian is almost exactly (but not quite!)  the same curve I see, when looking at rate-of-return values in price changes in the stock-market-action.  It also seems to describe the intensity of the horizontal-axis of the N2 TEA laser beam.  Not sure why this is the case.

This site below, is also excellent...  (Sam's Laser FAQ Summary site)      (good site, *lots* of links)

Market action is pretty comical lately.    Shakin' the big tree, they are...    :)

[ June 27, 2020 ] - BZZZT--wheeeeeeeeh - That is the ugly sound the breakdown of the capacitor dielectric makes, when the N2 TEA Laser is turned up too high.  Runs ok arould 13 to 14 KVdc, but dial it up past 15 KV, to get a real bright beam-spot, and: *BZZZZT* - you punch a hole thru the mylar or acetate insulation between the pieces of foil.  

So, I guess I have to build a laser-tube, get some N2 gas, and hack a vacuum-pump to the tube and see if running down around 50 to 100 torr will let me get something that is not quite so fragile.   I have a backing-pump, part of the oil-difusion high-vacuum pump on the fusion reactor, so, I can borrow that.   I just have to figure out how to make a laser-tube.  Where the heck can one get thin microscope slides?   I used to live in the City, literally down the road from "Active Surplus", and it was a great place to source hacker hardware - but those days are history.

Like the "Nightly Business Report".  Last show was Dec. 27, 2019.  Everything good ends and dies, and now seems to get replaced by things that are crappy and nasty.  Really a curious phenomenon.  I used to think it was just part of living - but no, there really is a clear drift towards the dung everywhere now.  Cost factors drive the process in manufacturing, competitive actions drive it in academia and professional work, and data-bases at our finger-tips is making everyone brain-impaired and memory-challenged.  (In Ancient Greece and Rome, you were expect to be able to go back to your latifundia, from the Forum, and recite verbatum, all the speeches and debates that you listened to that day.  Who among us, could do that now?)

I feel sometimes like I am one of the Heinlein's novels - but without any of the cool science.   One learns, that if you want cool technology, you have to build it yourself now.  Strange times.  Thank Linus and RedHat for Linux - without Linux, I would be offline and shutdown, I sometimes think...  

Running WINE on top of CentOS 7.x, and I can run *all* my APLwin stuff - and it has saved my backside more than once.  I get these signals on the market action - and I almost can't believe them - but then *WHAM*  - within a day or two, the violent stock market goes off like a several kilovolt capacitor discharging - and, as Nassim Taleb puts it - "You better have some 'tail-risk" hedges in place" (or be prepared to move like a scared bunny), or you will get destroyed by the algos and the insane political action of the world now.   Taleb actually recommends not being in the market now.   That is a tall order, as it means no income, for Smallville types like us...   The volatility is the price we pay for income.   If we could just get rid of the bloody politicians, life would be so much better, I quietly suspect.

Anyway, my quest today is for dialectric material.  I am looking for large mylar sheets, and they are not even available on Amazon.   It's pretty curious.  There seems to be a couple of sources in the USA, (Grafix and Hyatt) and that looks like it.  Modern retail really is nasty - everyone is selling the same crap -  and all the unique and useful specialty stores have *all* disappeared.  I realize now, as tiny children, the folks in my demographic cohort, grew up in a truly wonderful, golden-age of economic plenty.

We really *need* 3-D printers that can "print" both metalilc & plastic parts - since more and more, we are likely to be left to our own resources to fabricate the things we need.   It's quite interesting, one *must* have thin mylar sheets for the capacitor dialectric, since if you use thicker plexiglas (say 1/8th inch or something like that), there is too much self-inductance in the capacitor, and the N2 air-laser just won't work.  I know, because I really tried.  No way can thicker plexiglass be used.  The population-inversion in the N2 molecule requires action that occurs in a couple of nano-seconds - the actual shape of the foil plates makes a difference, as does where you put the high-voltage input wire on the plate.  But being able to lase air, is really interesting.

I had always thought that the high level of nitrogen in our planetary atmosphere was a weird anomaly, really only needed to prevent the world from catching fire, which would happen if there was too much oxygen - but there are some unique and useful properties of nitrogen.  I wonder if there are circumstances where the natural ability of nitrogen to lase, in the ultraviolet, is used by nature to achieve some particular effect or result?  I believe nature is mindless, but it often appears to evolve towards achieving some objective.  It is a useful mental-model, even if it's not actually accurate.  The fact that complex systems and environments exists, shows nature's willingness and ability to "solve" complex problems.   Looking at nature that way, gives scientists an advantage, much like understanding human psychology can give a researcher some advantage in trading the stock market, or a detective, in solving a crime.  

But it really comes back to randomness.  We are here, because it is here, all the needed factors came together for us.   It looks lucky or planned - but it really is just the place where the key fit the lock.   The high-concentration of nitrogen in our air, obviously confers benefit to us.   Perhaps the ability of nitrogen to absorb powerful bursts of electron radiation, and convert this intense energy burst into ultraviolet light, provides protection to living systems - bacteria, mammals, birds, dinosaurs, etc - down below on the planet surface.  Maybe nitrogen's properties give us a useful radiation-shield, without which, we would get microwaved by energy-bursts from the sun.

Maybe that is what we see, when we see the aurora borealis?  Perhaps the combination of the metalic Earth, with its powerful magnetic field, combined with the nitrogen atmosphere, is an absolute pre-condition for living-systems to evolve?   Is the aurora maybe a giant nitrogen TEA laser lightshow - which keeps life on Earth from being zapped by solar-energy electromagnetic tsunamis?   Actually, there is a lot of evidence, that this is pretty much what is happening.  Back in 1957, there was the "International Geophysical Year" (before my time), which resulted in a lot of useful study of Earth's atmosphere.  And rocket research into the aurora phenomenon is still done at University of Alaska, Fairbanks.   See the urls below if curious.

Some very cool aurora simulations... (see .gif movies at end of article)

The actual south-pole aurora data from IMAGE satellite, and from "Cluster" NASA and ESA mission.  (From 2014 article in "Science", lead author, Robert Fear, Univ. of Southampton, UK).  Movie shows formation of "theta" aurora (so named, because aurora looks like the greek-letter theta => the aurora crosses over the pole).  The time-lapse movie in the article shows the actual data from the IMAGE satellite, which shows the theta aurora form and then dissipate.  An ounce of good data is worth many pounds of theory.  To see what *actually* occurs, is to be enlightened.

[ June 26, 2020 ] - Has Science Stopped Working? - Spent all nite reading scientific articles.  And I was suddenly struck by an awful thought.  It sort of looks like science doesn't really "work" any more.  The whole thing is now about getting money from the gov't, or getting tenure at academic institutions, and then publishing papers. That's it.  That is the *whole* thing - there are no actionable results produced, nothing is actually being done anywhere, that actually leads to new products.  Except perhaps in Japan, where the blue-light LED was invented, which allowed flat-screen LED TV's to be developed.   But that is sort of it.  Nothing really new, or of real value, has been made in North America in the last 20 years.  Maybe even the last 30 years - except perhaps the iPhone, which looks like maybe it is just making people stupid.

We don't have any of the stuff that folks thought might be possible.  No "anti-gravity" devices, other than air-moving stuff, first designed by Leonardo Da Vinci, 500 years ago.  None of the fusion technology stuff has worked.  None of it.   My experimental IEC (Intertial Electrostatic Confinement) fusion device (built using Philo Farnsworth's off-patent designs from the 1960's) generate more neutrons than just about every experimental fusion effort being done in the world today.    Once the physics guys get involved, they bash away and set up lifetime annuities for themselves - like that CERN project in Switzerland - lots and lots of handwaving and moneyspend and lots and lots of conferences and whole forests destroyed to produce more papers - but not one single working device and nowhere, not one watt of usable electricity produced.

Science looks like its failing now.  All the results are published behind expensive paywalled journals, and the whole thing is credentialed and institutionalized to the point where nobody with any creative ability is able to make it thru the long filter.

This is an ugly thought, and I hope I am wrong.

I once made a study of how science advancements actually happen (so did a fellow named Thomas Kuhn, it turns out.  He published "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" in 1962, and it is the canonical work on the topic.)   But one still needs to go to the data to see what is true.  From Michael Faraday to Kary Mullis, from Newton to Einstein, the guys who make the jumps are often far outside of the mainstream.   Luck plays a big role.  Newton had to leave Oxford, during civil war in England.   Einstein was able to work on knowledge research, in his role as a Swiss patent examiner.   It is often by being able to execute on a the impulse of a curious idea, that they could create something.  Telsa envisioned the whole A/C system - especially the A/C motor - while walking in a park.  At school he was ridiculed for the idea, and with Edison, he was actively discouraged and forced out.  Faraday discovered how to understand and use electricity (he invented the first electric motor), and Volta got the idea for the first electric battery by studying fish that produce electric shocks to stun their prey.

Madam Curie did a deal with her sister so they could self-fund their educations - she worked as as a maid and a tutor so her older sister, Bronya, could go to school.  Then, Bronya help fund Marie's education in Paris.    So many great scientists who did critical work that led to significant discoveries almost didn't make it, or made their big break almost (or sometimes *complelely*) because of randomness.  One of the earliest books I read, was: "Science and Serendipity", and now, everyone talks about how "In observation, chance favours the prepared mind", as Louis Pasteur said.   Now, if you google "Science and Serendipity", you get 7,730,000 hits.  Lots of lists...

But there is more happening.  Randomness seems to be a critical component in the process of making scientific discovery.

Except now, if all the information that use to be in the library is locked behind paywalls, there is no place to go - no information discovery is possible, if the information is locked-down.

And there is no randomness in computer simulations.   You only get what you programmed for.  And if you are using search-engines which filter and tailor results, you will be further restricted and blocked - and will not even realize it.

These changes in how everyone studies, learns and reads - it is perhaps preventing science advancement in a very subtle ways.  It is the random factor that lets us make the creative leap - yet that is the factor being quietly removed by our modern technological approach to recording and manipulating information.  

The internet isn't just making everyone a little bit more stupid, it might also be - very quietly - killing real scientific advancement.

[ June 25, 2020 ] - 32-20 Laser Blues  -  "Where'd you stay last nite?  You got your hair all tangled, and you ain't talking right...  you didn't come home, till the sun was shinin' bright."

Life's a tough haul for a many folks, no question.   But we folk were always taught to take responsibility for our own results.  That turns out to be powerful algo, and lets one operate with surprising effectiveness.    Other folks can (and will) try to block, degrade and mislead you.  That's just the way of the world.  It's a big world, with lots of serious competition, and quite a bit of very bad behaviour by many people - some of whom are very well kitted-out.   One learns quickly, that nothing good or worth having, comes easy.  One can learn much, just by careful observation of the Fox and the Raven.   The Raven is wise enough to fly above most things, and the Fox - even as a preditor who must kill others to eat and feed his kits - the Fox learns when to lift his tail and fly like a Raven when he must.    I can't bring myself to kill for pleasure - but I respect hunters and study the craft constantly, as there may come a time, when there is no meat on offer in the supermarket - or maybe there might not even be any supermarkets.  We study and practice accuracy here, as we are constantly engaged in research and analysis in numerous fields, both scientific/theoretic, and practical/operational.

Tried to run some experiments with the TEA Laser last nite, and the power-supply was acting weird.   Seemed to be internal arcing and power was not controllable.   I decided to strip the thing down, and see what was wrong.  Turns out mice had made a nest in it!  And then peed on some of the contacts!    Cleaned it all out (after a long tear-down process), and then painted some rusty cabinet floor locations, and reassembled it - and now it runs perfect.

Our experimental N2 TEA Laser (TEA is acronym for "Transverse Excitation in Atmosphere") is similar to the unit described in this article: 

Also, a professor at Niagara Collage has a good site, which describes Nitrogen TEA Laser construction.   You can build one of these in your basement, or on a table-top, with minimal materials.  The design uses the nitrogen in air as the gas to lase, and construction is not complex.  The key component is the high-voltage DC powersupply - you will need 10 to 20 KVdc.

And as I cleaned out, and re-assembled our 40 KVdc powersupply, I had to listen to Robert Johnson, the man who some say, invented (or at least first *recorded*), "the Blues".  It was the "461 Ocean Blvd" album, by Eric Clapton, that first turned me on to Robert Johnson.  Clapton did "Steady Rollin' Man", (4th cut, second side) and credited "Robert Johnson", who I had never heard of.  I ended up buying a 2 CD set of everything Johnson had recorded.  There is a legend that Johnson got so good, so quickly, on the guitar, that he had sold his soul to the Devil, to acquire the skill.

I went to the Crossoads - I think we all do at some point.   But I just stood there and had a good look around.   Then I got back in my V8 Ford, and drove to the City.   Worked out pretty good, despite all those nites without sleep... ;)

Mr. Johnson recorded two versions of  "Crossroads Blues" (the canonical "Blues" song, from the man who defined the Blues...) - I like the second version better - has the reference to "WIlly Brown" ... "Standin' at the Crossroads, I believe I'm sinkin' down..."    The next track, "Walking Blues", could be called: "Traders' Blues"  -- "I woke up this morning, and all I had was gone..."  :D

But not today.   Some of our stuff goes ex-dividend tomorrow.  Always interesting to see how stuff trades on first ex-div. day.   You would expect it to fall, but curiously, it more often rises.   I suspect the big pension funds and ETF managers actually don't want the dividends, and would rather have the discount in the purchase price - so they line up to buy on ex-div. day - or a day or two thereafter.   Just a theory - really don't know why the phenomenon happens.

Funny world.  And getting funnier, just a bit, each day...

And yes, once the mouse-nest was cleand out, and the big power-supply was re-assembled, I got the TEA Laser lasing again.  Note:  TEA Lasers which lase N2, are *really* sensitive.  When you first build it and try to lase N2, it won't likely work.  They need *very* careful adjustment of the lasing rails.  Literally, a 1/2 mm difference will be the difference between it working, and it not working at all.   You have to use a well insulated stick-thing (I use a long screwdriver, with a big plastic handle) to very gently move the laser-rails.  Typically, the front gap is 1.5 mm, and the back part has a *slightly* more narrow distance gap, of 1.4 mm.  And yes, that 0.1 mm tolerance matters.

But if you build it, and fuss with it - you will get the two Blumlein travelling waves superpositioning at the right point, and the electric potential across the laser rails, will be enough to pump the N2 into a higher state, which will allow the N2 to emit photons as it drops back down to lower state.  This is what make a laser lase.  The flashing sparks are *not* what is causing the lasing to occur.  The whole process of the charge cap, spark, discharge - basically you have an L-C circuit here - is what pumps the nitrogen (or N2) - and the whole process runs at *nano-second* rates.   

There is some debate as to whether the N2 TEA Laser design circuit is or is not a "Blumlein Generator" circuit, but it is referred to as such in most of the literature.   You can read more about pulsed transmission circuits at link below, and also review the amazing life history of Alan Blumlein himself, a true genius who held 128 patents, and died in a World War 2 crash in the UK, testing a new type of high-powered cavity-magnetron for on-board aircraft radar (magnetrons are the almost-magic vacuum-tube devices that power microwave ovens).

[ June 24, 2020 ] - This Flight Tonight... is Cancelled.

I was rather hoping to get one of those flights on a rocket-shuttle to Mars someday, but since we don't even have the fuel production factories running yet on the Red Planet, then even my best-case scenarios suggest we are at least 20 years away from that service being up and running.  Probably more like 30 or 40 years...  (big sigh...)

You can't get there from here, it seems.   But when I was a tiny fellow, I had seriously expected that by 2020, some real advancements might have occurred, and we would all be doing more by now than just replaying the stupid race-hatred conflicts from the 1960's.

World history seems to be running retrograde.  It's more than just a little sad & silly.    I mean, in November, when nutty Joe Biden is elected USA President, and begins raising taxes on middle-class America and giving poor people everything for free, as his Demo's "defund" the USA police, just what exactly do they think is going to happen?   It's not hard to predict that there will likely be a reactive-response from property-owning Americans, and there seems a good chance, it will not be pretty.

I actually worry that we might lose space-travel as a societal objective, altogether.  It makes no real difference how the election in USA goes now, since events seems to be spiraling into insanity now.  Trump will leave the stage, and things will just continue to get worse, and more nasty and extreme.  And just for extra measure, we will likely have a stock-market crash in October, since that is when they typically happen.  Right around the time of the next big California earthquake (we just had a big one in Mexico, so we know the fault-lines are under stress..)

This is not the fault of Donald Trump.   Nor is it the fault of the previous Black-Guy-President, Barack Obama.   They are just the products of their times.   This current madness is just what happens when the school-system and all the social norms fail, and the spoiled kids take over and want to trash things.   The outcome is not difficult to forecast.

You have to shoot looters.  Otherwise, you will get riots every night, once folks learn that mass-theft can be done successfully.  The police leave, the riots intensify, and social order fails.  That is the new algorithm that the Left is suggesting we all buy into.  

If this approach is continued, then there will be painful consequences for many, and the city itself as a political and economic entity, risks failure.  This could become a self-generating social meltdown, which could hurt the poor and marginal folks in so many awful ways.

The American Left seems to be made up of people who seek American social self-destruction.  

When these folks win the election in November, what do they think will happen?  No one is thinking now, it seems.

Perhaps Mr. Trump is right to withdraw troops from Germany and NATO, since it looks like those soldiers might be needed to keep the peace in the failing American cities.   It will be amusing and rather ironic to see a confused President Biden call in the troops.  And he will have to, once the body-count climbs to the point where it begins to become socially and politically embarrassing.   Perhaps we will get to see Biden go on TV and try telling the looters and protesters:  "You Won, You don't need to protest!  You Won!   What do you want?"  like that Italian Leftist Governor of New York State, Andrew Cuomo did a few days ago.   What a sad, tragic farce.

One does not know whether to roll on the floor & laugh, or just weep silently for the failure of the grand American experiment.

[ June 23, 2020 ] - Part Le Deux..  - Wirecard, why so hard?  Wirefraud! ...OMG!  

Can it get any more silly out there in Dirt World?  Billions of currency-units (euros or dollars, whatever..), on the sheet-of-balance, only to see it vapourize as fluff-and-puff, and disappear like the morning dew in sunlight?    Silly me, but I thought the banks actually had auditors who would look at the big transactions, and confirm they were real, before the little bean-counter boys and girls put their names to the financial statements.  

One reads about Wirecard, and you feel you want to raise your arms to heaven, and cry:  "By the Great-Testicles-of-God, can anything actually be trusted anywhere, anymore?"  

Wirecard was (is?) a DAX-30 stock.  Commerzbank had been dumped from the Frankfurt Index so that Markus Braun and his monkeytoads could be added.  And then they pull a shitsack like this over everybody?   Two billion dollars of fluff-and-puff?

Jaysoos H. C., the USA is still winning the "Least Ugly Girl" contest in the big Dirt-World financial system game.   Wirecard (which was 103 euros per share last week), was trading at 17 euros per share today, up from 16 euros yesterday.    It has (had?) almost 6000 employees.  Within a few weeks, it will have none at all, I suspect.  This is sad and bad.

One of these days, someone is gonna make a payments-system that actually works, and can be trusted, and not get pwned by nation-state taxmen, crooked dictators, or scumfart criminals.  Whoever does this, and can keep the system honest and trusted, will get very, very rich.  But I suspect they will need a small nuclear arsenal to prevent the existing badboys from whacking them.     When the British Pound was the world's reserve currency, if you tried to fack-over a British Company, the London Boys would send a squadon of Victorian gunboats into your harbour, and shell the sh/t out of your little sh/thole country port city - as rightly they should.

I once listened to Gordan Liddy (Nixon's Watergate guy) explain the true nature of trans-national political reality.  He explained that: "the world is a back alley, in the dangerous part of a city of pirates", and that action was often necessary to ensure that contracts could be enforced, and agreements maintained.  The Japanese had their samurai, and their ninjas, and the British had their Navy and their gunboats.   Gunboat diplomacy actually worked pretty well.   Without the threat of force to backstop agreements, legal contracts are just so much papered fartwind.

What matters, is not what some chattering monkeyboy says in his loud screech, but what action is actually taken, and which dominos are thus knocked down.   And to bring down a house-of-cards, you often don't need to push too hard.  Best then, to build one's houses out of bricks, stone, cement and steel.  And best also, to seek to invest in assets which have similar characteristics of solidity, honest structure, and a deep and long (and historically visible) tradition of honest, fair dealing, and dividend generation.  Such investments are rare.

When one looks at the history of investment "things", the very biggest thing that is visible - is the massive and astonishing size of the graveyard.   The investment graveyard is chock full of crap and lies and garbage and dead fraudsters' schemes.  The graveyard is where most investments end up.  Almost all, truth be told.

Look at the two top schemes today - Google and Facebook.  Each has been an amazing success story,  yet they are just advertising companies.   Google runs heavily-censored searches of internet material.  It was useful at first, but now, it's results are just tailored filter bubbles.  It hides more information than it makes visible.    This is ugly and dishonest, but meets the needs many powerful agents.   Their "open-source" Android O/S is actually a closed model, to support Google services, which obfuscate as much as they illustrate.

And Facebook makes clever scientific use of human weakness and vanity, to induce people to compile dossiers on themselves, and then drop these into a big database that Facebook and it's partners can exploit to drive mass-behaviour.  This lets them be the most effective advertisers ever, and also manipulate public opinion and influence election results.  

Both companies are not what they seem, and both are disruptive and dangerous.   

But advertizing has always been a crazy and powerful business, with lots of profits.   What is clear, is that both entities are "data schemes" which can be replicated.   My sense is that they cannot last much longer.   I have stopped using Facebook entirely since they represent a threat to human freedom, and Google simply does not work well anymore.  It heavily censors all right-leaning comment, and sanitizes search results now.   You can use "" and "" and even "" (the Microsoft search engine), and get much more comprehensive results on any controversial issues.  

Key fact;  You can run "noscript" (to control script-execution on your web-browser), and also run "Ad Blocker" software on the browser, and also black-list video-junk advert sites.   Given this technology, it seems that Facebook and Google are eventually destined to become self-limiting schemes.  I've given up on Android, and run a hacked-kernel version of my own Linux (based on RedHat), and a hacked iPad, which has SCP and SSL access to my local servers.   In other words, I touch the net - but only lightly, since it has become so toxic and dangerous and nasty.  I suspect this kind of approach is the future of the internet - exactly the opposite of what the "Internet of Things" idiots assert.  

I almost bought a Tesla - but then I discovered it is *always* on the internet.  The problem with that, is pretty clear.   I want to run dark - not be lit up like a beacon for anyone and everyone to target!   (The best thing to do with radar, is to turn it off!)

But Gerald Loeb explained how to invest in the popular junk-stocks of the day.  You run what he called "The Ever-Liquid Account", and just hold them for a while, capture your big gains, then more on.  Your default position is to *always* be in cash - and only take positions for a while, in stocks that are moving up briskly.   He even has the algorithm - just like Jessie Livermore explained in his book - and was detailed in "Reminiscenses..." by LeFevre.

If you must have default, long-term holdings, then they need to be in solid, secure companies with long histories, and good products, which have a nice big moat around the enterprise, to make it difficult for competitors.  There are very few such companies around, and they tend to be expensive.   Look for those with good dividend payout ratios.   That is a key metric, IMHO.

But the big money is made in disruptive crap that runs.   Here is the best algo for the market.  There will be a small set of very successful companies that you just hate.  You use their products, with gritted teeth, and consume their services, because you have to - typically for economic reasons.  But you still hate the nasty things.  Well, buy their stock.   It's the most silly  (and most successful) algo I have ever run across.  Folks usually buy stock in companies they like.  *Bzzzraaap!*  Wrong!  Buy stock in companies that you truly detest - but that are on a tear:   FB. AAPL, GOOG, NVDA... you have good reasons why you hate them - but your objective is to make money.   Feelings are quite unhelpful, and have no place in the investment process.   This strange algo makes the most money.  It makes so much money, that it is quite silly, really.  

I rather suspect that we are skating towards a complete breakdown of just about everything - but the Apocolypse is still probably 20 to 40 years away.  And regardless, it will be easier to bear, if you have some funds in reserve, and some really good technology at your disposal.  

Good luck.

[ June 23, 2020 ] - Roach Is Wrong - Why the Roach is Wrong:

I am horrified and disgusted by modern current events, in so many ways.  But his is a curious picture I don't buy into:

The idea here is that Mr. Roach suggests a 35% fall in the dollar, can be expected due to the seriously deteriorating fundamentals of the US nation state.   He sees this hurting the value of the US dollar  - especially it's status as a global reserve currency.  I am sympathetic to this view, and have looked at it closely.   But I don't see this happening.

For the US dollar to fall 35% - it has to fall against a *basket* of other currencies.   And the simple problem is that ALL THE OTHER CURRENCY OPTIONS OUT THERE kind of suck even worse than does the US dollar.  It is just another TINA problem.  There really  is no alternative to the US dollar.  The USA still has a formidable nuclear arsenal, and also has both the *ability* and perhaps even the *willingness* to deploy it.

And they make good weapons also.  Historically, that has *always* been enough to make your money the best-money of the the global trading marketplace.  It's just that simple.  The USA still runs a relatively open economy (sort of), and you can still (sort of) do business with the strange fellows (more or less).

If not the USA dollar, then what?  Bitcoin? (just kidding), or maybe British Pounds (ha ha ha ha... and so on, for many more "ha"'s), or maybe Euros?   Yeah, the paper that Greeks and Italians use... sure, lets have some of that...  (you can't be serious...).  Ah, but the Germans use it!, eh?  The clever Germans.  The folks who brought us "Wirecard" => ie. the bank with *sham* money on deposit...   You trust those bozo's?   If you think Germany can be trusted, then read about the period exactly 100 years ago, from 1920 to 1924.  Sorry, Germany.  And France?  The CFA Franc?  The Franc that became the Euro and then turned into the drachma and the lira?   Bah.  Nonsense.  They might just walk away from the whole Euro experiment.  It could happen overnight.  The Euro team cannot be trusted.  They can be trusted to kill each other with gay abandon, but not with money.   Read about John Law, and the Kings of France.   The governments of France historically, are a group of folks who don't like to pay their debts.  Really.  Seriously, I am dead serious.  Do not trust the Euro.  I am pretty sure it just won't last.  And the Swiss Franc is already far too overpriced.

And so that leaves the Rouble, the Yuan and the Yen.    The Chinese Yuan and the Russian Rouble are not even fully convertable.  The Yen is really your only choice.  One problem:  The Japanese do not have a military than can project force.  They only have a "defensive" military, and so that means they cannot enforce contract law on nations that swindle them.

South America and Africa nations have "toilet-paper" money, which loses all value every so often.  None of the "warm country" currency units can be trusted.

So, USA is it.  (Canada and Australia and NZ have junk currency, heavily discounted, but really pegged to the USA dollar.  Each nation is too small, and none have any real military power, since they do not use or deploy real weapons (ie. nukes)).

It's either US dollars or gold.   The USA is in a mess, and going thru an identity-crisis.  But they remain the only real alternative for a global, reserve currency.  The only challenge would be if some group or nation could create a nuclear-armed gold-depository, and defend it with space-based fusion weapons.   Folks could take digital "chits" on the gold-units, and trade those as solid, hard-currency money, if the "depository" could defend itself effectively from bandits and nation-state thieves.

So, I would like to dispute Mr. Roach's claim re. the US dollar.   We might see the Cdn and Australian dollar move back towards par, and maybe even at a small premium to the greenback, but that's all that is likely.  The US dollar will remain the world's reserve currency, until some free, honest and trustworthy alternative appears, that cannot be hacked by criminals, or devalued by national governments (same things, actually).

There just is no real alternative.  I had thought the Euro might be a real alternative to the US dollar, but not after the "Greek Bailout".   The Euro was supposed to be the D-mark for everyone, but instead, it's become the Lira for everyone.  This can work for a while, but not forever.

Everyone is trying to devalue against everyone else, to boost trade.  But of course, this strategy is self-limiting.  It's the US-dollar, or gold bars, I suspect, and it will remain so, for a while yet.

[ June 22, 2020 ] - Six - Two Two by Two-Oh Two-Oh - Time waits for no one.   So true....

The dreams of the night-time - will vanish by dawn.   Maybe the nightmares also?   ;)

We're designing houses, for site-location along "Desolation Road".

[ June 21, 2020 ] - Getting in Touch with my Inner Viking - Getting ready for when we establish the local Autonomous Zone here, and Lorcalonia can be declared an independent Self-Governing Entity (iSGE).   Monkey Wash, then Donkey Rinse...

We have to be clever now, in this Brave New World... We are all looking for a genius.

[ June 20, 2020 ] - The Sound of Parry - A week at the "summer place" but spent it working like a daemon, repairing a broken dock.  The "Before" picture is up top.   Sometimes, no matter how careful we are, we need to make some repairs.  One can end up with radiation burns, cut fingers, scratches, bruises and a sore body, but honest work can bring good results (just be careful if working in June sunshine - the UV feels as strong as gamma rays.)

[ June 16, 2020 ] - Yggdrasil - Fenrir was looking like he was about to break free - but not today, it seems.  Yggdrasil is looking strong and stable.  The Nine Worlds are at peace, and the one hundred and fifty forms of Ford are all in agreement.   Looks like we shall all be just fine.

[ June 15, 2020 ] - Gnarly Times - There is a very fine Pinot Noir that we get sometimes, comes from old vines in California, and it is called "Gnarly Head" as it describes the appearance of the old, wrinkled vines.    

And it looks like we are in for a bit of a gnarly market process for a while.  The Dow futures are off 888 points as I write this at 3:30 AM, and the Europe markets are looking ugly.   The BOE (Bank of England) is running interest rates at 0.1 %, and Europe has had negative rates from the ECB for roughly 6 years now - currently minus 1/2 %, which is a *lot*.   Problem is, that none of this really flows down to consumers.  Our Bank of Canada rate is 0.25%, but a small loan we took out at a local bank, still came in at 4.45%, which is a helluva lot different rate.  Borrowing any money at all, in a time of deflation, is an idiotic thing to do.  It will be paid off by July or August at the latest.

We expect inflation - but we have to be realistic, and admit, we are *seeing* deflation.  Even the immediate post-lockdown high food prices do not seem to be holding.   As beef got stupid expensive, we noticed the steaks sitting on the supermarket shelves, growing old.   Folks bought ground-meat, and Walmart had sales.   Petrol got expensive again (close to $1.00/litre), and demand fell off, it appeared.  Starbucks have re-opened, but only for take-out.   Everything is still running lean and light, except road-repair, it seems.  (Canada has narrow window for major highway and road maintenance - has to be done in the summer, too dangerous and difficult in the winter - so much work is always packed into the May-September months.)

There are serious limits on what central banks can actually do now.  Once interest rates go negative, and banks and savers are punished for retaining cash, the financial system has impacted an "edge-condition" and does not really work right.   At the level of "Main Street", these crazy low rates simply are not offered, and are not available.   They just don't exist for the average person.  The average Joe and Jane runs a balance on their credit cards, and that comes at a 19.99% interest rate, which is insane, but since the procedural mechanics of the loan are simple, many folks opt for this kind of temporary funding.

It's true that mortgage rates are low - one can get a mortgage in the 3 to 4% range, which has had the effect of driving up real-estate prices, and thus making housing very expensive - and this is certainly not stimulative.

But the real problem with central-bank zero or negative interest rates, is that it destroys the income-generation mechanism of the bond-market.  Bonds just don't work for investors who need some income - even a small amount.   The entire fixed-income market just falls off the radar screen, for ordinary investors.   And so, investment options that generate income are limited to dividend-paying stocks.  And that is about it - unless one constructs and manages rental-based investment schemes - multi-unit rental housing, farmland, etc, or takes positions in illiquid funds that buy risky rental loans or sub-prime mortgages - with high management costs and high risks of default.   Those funds are really crappy, high-risk investments, which typically have nasty, illiquid characteristics.

At the level of "Main Street" - there is almost no benefit to the Central Bank zero interest rates - no real "stimulation" occurs - but there are *immediate* and serious costs to savers and investors, from this policy choice.   Investors are forced into high-volatility equity investments, and old-fashioned cash-hoarding.   And although this is obviously stimulative for asset prices in stock markets - the rapid swings up and down in prices, discourages purchase activity in the real economy, as one never feels any sense of economic security.  Quite the opposite, actually.

Contrast this present world, to the more normal world of the 1960's to the 1990's, where one could obtain government-bond investments - or prime, A-rated commercial or provincial bonds that paid yields in the ranges of 5% to 8%.   That world actually worked pretty well.  One could run a portfolio of stocks and bonds, in a traditional 60-40% mix, and do reasonablly well.  A typical "Main-Street" guy could build some investments,  and could actually still sleep at night.   This is just not possible now.

The current world - with crazy zero interest rates - really messes up life for the average person.  To survive this world, one needs to be a hard-core trader, and actively "gain-ride" one's portfolio of investments, with a degree of aggressive focus that is exhausting.  There is nothing else that really works right now.  ("Gain riding" is a recording-studio trick where the technician actively adjusts the gain or recording-volume, to actively and effectively compress the dynamic range of the music being recorded.  It is analogous to sale-and-repurchase market strategies, or the modern risk-on/risk-off trade algorithm.)

Now, this is an old problem in all market investing activity.   Folks in the 1920's, would buy Greek government bonds, which had nice, fat 8% yields - and think they had found a stable & secure income stream, only to lose *all* their capital when the bloody Greeks defaulted - just like they did recently!  "Don't invest in bonds from governments & countries located in warm climates!" is actually a pretty good heuristic (rule of thumb) for bond investing.  The bastards default way too often - Argentina being a prime example of an ugly investor sinkhole, despite it being a seriously wealthy nation, in terms of its local factor-endowments (like Greece, also).   The problem is, the hotheads in these warm-country places, elect *Socialist* governments, who don't like to pay their bills, or honour their promises.  The investors get stiffed, far too often.

Gerald Loeb wrote "The Battle for Investment Survival" and when I first got his book - given to me by a wonderful fellow who is no longer with us - I thought "Battle for Survival? - that's a bit extreme, isn't it?  It's just investing..."   But now, with years of experience and hindsight - I understand exactly.   Loeb was quite right.   He wrote his first version of the book in 1935, with the USA deep in an ugly economic depression.   Loeb was a founding partner of E.F. Hutton, and a serious student of the markets - and a serious player as well.  The book is excellent, important and helpful.  It is also honest, clear and is an example of well-crafted writing.

This site has a picture of him, at his desk.  Worth checking out, just for that...

The point is - successful investing / market speculation (they are not different, really) - is profoundly difficult, and just about any mechanical strategy will be undone by market players.  Everyone is trying to grab prosperity and profit - but the real key, is to just survive, and make sure that you retain your stake in the game thru thick and thin, and also make some profit.  

You think you know the game, and the players, and you are doing well - and suddenly, an exogenous variable or two or three, comes bursting thru the door, guns drawn, and they steal the pot!   And you are thinking to  yourself - "I thought I had modelled all the possibilities - but I had not factored in a f*cking robbery by armed bandits!"    But this is the kind of thing that happens in the markets *ALL THE TIME* - as laws and taxes are changed, currency values shift, new politicians take power, liars are exposed and cheaters are caught - most all of whom are exogenous to the actual markets.

It really is a battle.  It is a not "like" a war - it actually "is" a war.  Your soldiers are your dollars (or pounds, or euros or yen or yuan), and you send them forth to bring back some prosperity, only to find that the poor lads have been either captured or simply destroyed.   Mostly destroyed.   Most investments actually fail.   Most stocks go to zero, eventually.  Bonds get paid off, typically, but often with currency that is worth only a tiny fraction of what it was when the IOU was first offered.

And what about a global-spanning, lethal virus pandemic plague?   Sure, we had all considered this kind of worst-case scenario - but who really expected the idiotic economic insanity of the attempt to "lockdown" the entire planet, like a giant bloody prison?   Sure, quarantine a city - that might be needed - but this crazy-stupid  insanity of asking everyone to sit in their homes or apartments for 3 months is beyond-belief-silly, to a level of extreme foolishness, that few really modelled, I suspect.    We can handle mass-death, but complete economic collapse - BY DESIGN?   Only in the sicko "safety Nazi" world of the 21st century, would any such insane, stupid, foolish madness as this actually be even suggested, let alone attempted.   Really - honestly - had anyone actually modelled this in their economic scenarios?    I have equations that actually have "dieback" parameters in them - they come from ecology models - but did anyone anywhere actually think we would have "safety-Nazi" types trying to legally enforce this  lock-down and "social distancing" horsesh/t?

It's rather outside of the model.  And it is interesting, in that it represents a "worst-case" scenario that many folks, I suspect, had just not considered.  And like most disasters - it is the Government *response* to the disaster that hurts us most - so much more than the disaster itself.   

Investment activity really *is* a battle for survival.  It is not a "quest for profit" - it is a vicious, complex, ongoing difficult struggle - just to survive.  And of course, it mirrors life itself.   For many, it really *is* life.  You have to invest.  There comes a time, when you cannot do everything yourself, and you need to have some set-aside wealth, that can be deployed to achieve the various objectives of life - funding your household operation, food purchases, tax payments to local bandits or local governments (essentially the same thing), and acquistion of necessary technical apparatus to ensure security, provide transport and access medical equipment and/or pharamceuticals.

Loeb has some excellent advice in his book.  I am re-reading it, part of a research project into the 1920 to 1939 period.   Loeb suggests to "aim for real profit', and I confess I am guilty of not doing this enough.   I have opted for conservative strategies in large, domestic companies.  My only real profits have been from actively trading the stocks - backing out when the price is up, in a risk-off move, and then re-acquiring at lower levels, in a risk-on move.  This is about all one can do, given the local list.   But this has been perhaps unwise, I fear, as we might be looking now into a real abyss.   

The governments cannot seem to make inflation happen.  They just don't seem to have a mechanism to engineer it.   It looks like we are maybe destined for a curiously dangerous time - not so much because of the virus, but because of the restrictive approaches that are being taken.  These strategies will ensure it will take *many years" before herd-immunity develops.

This is the wrong approach, and is certain to prevent any meaningful economic rebound from occuring this year.

And this is what the market has figured out, I suspect.   It is not just the new cases of Covid-19 in China and USA - it is the dawning awareness that we are not going to be able to resume full economic activity soon, as we had all expected.  But there is talk of ending the special $600 per week unemployment benefits in the USA by end of July.  Right now, everyone is coasting.   But by August, unless some real policy changes are made, we could hit a wall, where spending collapses everywhere.

I think the market has figured this out, and is this morning, pricing in this picture-of-the-future-world.   The market discounting mechanism, is not always wrong.   You can trade against it in the short term, and make money - but it isn't always wrong.

I worry it's gonna get more than just a little gnarly.

[ June 13, 2020 ] - More Moonmadness - More, yes more...

Really was hoping to take a little tour around Luna.  Seriously.  Like these guys:

Why Deflation is Such a Killer:

De-flation (falling prices, falling wage/salary/profit levels) is a serious economic killer.  The reason is dead simple:  Folks will stop spending, workers will dial-down their efforts, and business folks will back *way* off on taking risks.   This happens, because they believe (they learn quickly thru observation), that prices will be *lower* tomorrow than today.  So, they defer purchases, efforts, and risk-taking.    People will bury money or metal in the ground (or in vaults), and not spend it - because they *know* it will buy more in the future.

Deflation will quickly teach participants in an economy, to pull-back, dial-down, and shut-down.   Money earned is *saved* and not spent.  Savings are good - but falling prices discourage both expenditure and investment.    The whole economy can get into a *deflationary spiral* just like it can get into an *inflationary spiral*.    This is why the Central Bank boys and girls target a 2% inflation level - not because they think inflation is good (it isn't), but because they know what an ugly, dangerous economic sh/t-pit a rich nation can fall into, if prices and wages and profits collapse, and the falling prices become part of consumer, worker and business-person expectations.

If lower prices, wages and profits are expected in the future, then just about everyone, will hit the brakes on whatever economic stuff they are doing. This can become self-re-enforcing, and make economic activity implode.   And once economics stops working, people will get hungry and angry, and  will go out into the streets, and begin fighting with each other, stealing stuff, and generally just being bad.   History, science and economics teaches us this pretty clearly, if one bothers to look at the historical record, and do some reading.

And this is where we are now - right on the knife-edge of a really serious possible "tipping point", to use Malcolm Gladwell's clever term.   (Mr. Gladwell is a local lad from a town down the road from the Farm.  His book "Blink" is of particular interest to neural-network researchers, and illustrates how and why some AI (artificial intelligence) algorithms work. )

If we "tip over" into de-flation, then the Covid-19 virus will be the least of our worries.   We are pretty sure that most of the econ-wonkers at various levels know and understand this, but  we are not sure that the political people do.   Many honestly seem to really believe that the US riots are actually about "racism" and "police brutality" and so on.

In my time, I worked near senior government people.   They gain power by study and focus on the machinery and mechanism of gaining power - and have typically little knowledge of anything else.   This is also where we are now - especially in my own homeland.   Things are - shall we say - in flux.   Some very bad decisions are being taken, by some very unwise people.

Our central bank seems to understand the problem, but it looks like the knowledge-pool dries up outside of that protected institution.  Our democratic Parliament is not even operating.  

In the USA, which is really the only place that matters, the "Barbarian Invasions" have not just begun, they are being ramped up with a vengence.  The entire sweep of American culture is under direct, explicit assault - in most cases by it's own people.   This is more than just a little curious.

Some really aggressive, pro-inflation policies are likely to flow out into the marketplace rather soon now, I suspect.  This is not a difficult forecast to make, since if this does not occur, then we will almost certainly track toward a social situation that is quite extreme and almost certainly, violent.  And as the police are "defunded" and are restricted from using force to contain & arrest rioters, the nature of the violence may become self-re-enforcing also.   

Falling prices, high unemployment and reduced profits do not make for a positive economic recovery scenario.

FD:  We remain all-in, long.   We are betting that some real pro-inflation policies will have to become evident in the near term.   The current "support" programs are illusions, designed to create the appearance of action, but not really accessible by those who are outside the political sphere of insiders.   This is typical for Canada.   At some point soon, we suspect some effective pro-inflationary action will have to be taken, both in Canada and perhaps again in the USA, as well.   If we are wrong, we also suspect it won't really matter.  It's the only position one can take, given the times.

[ June 12, 2020 ] - Moon-Madness - The spirit of the times, and also an album by Camel... great English band from the '70's.   Really good.  [Updated: 2:15 PM, with laterally transposed picture of moon (flipped horizontally).  My little refector telescope has a 45-degree prismatic viewpiece, (makes images appear right side up), but the visible images are still flipped "mirror-images", so I used some software to flip the image horizontally so all the Moon features are shown correctly as they appear to the naked eye - and as they are documented on the Moon maps. ]

Loved the "MoonMadness" album.   I woke up very early in AM (like 3:00am) to do a little astronomy... fantastic viewing conditions.  Think I was finally able to see one of Saturn's moons (probaby Titan).   Our own half-moon was so bright, so I put the 'scope on it.    Managed to get a magnificant image of the half-moon, by just holding my Huawei phone's tiny lens on top of the eyepiece of the telescope (first top image).   Half-moon pictures are good, as you can see the lunar topography from the shadows cast by the hills and craters.

If I were more serious about astronomy, I would get some real equipment, and make some serious images.   But just viewing the night-sky is a treat, if you know where to look.   For those who have given up on television, the night sky provides viewing entertainment - like it did for those in the ancient world.   Just beware of the "Astronomer's Disease"  (cf. Samuel Johnson's "Rasselas - Prince of Abyssinia" story.)

We got badly whacked by the stock price deltas yesterday.   Grim times, I fear, if 7% petards lurk in the marketspace now.    No where is safe, and all are at risk from expanding risk.  Suddenly, given the intensity of the retrace, we are really quite worried.    Wisdom seems to have gone from much of the world now, like it has already from the Leftists, and most of the political people.

It's over 50 years ago that the first manned space-craft landed on the moon and returned.  By this time, here in 2020, I had expected there would be commercial flights to lunar orbit.  But nothing happened.   The ISS (International Space Station) was built as an end in itself - not as a jumping-off platform for planetary exploration.   Something went serious wrong in the world, starting in the 1970's.   Everything became about maximum safety, and minimum risk.  The "Welfare State" - the "Nanny State" - became the only social model what was accepted.   This damaged the future for all of us.   The "Government" device, everywhere, has become this bloated, grotesque, high-cost machine that limits, restricts, and prevents human freedom and human initiative - all on the basis of ensuring"safety".   And yet, the world has never been a more risky place, for so many.

It's quite comical, really.  So many weak and foolish people demand the "Government" solve their problems, and pay their bills - yet it is often Government action, that causes the problems and creates costs in the first place.  We have created this monster "hyperState", and it is devouring our freedom of action, and our future opportunities.    Something will have to be done at some point.    Some sort of corrective action will have to occur - either by plan, or perhaps just by evolutionary change.

[ June 11, 2020 ] - Life in the Autonomous Zones - Reading about life inside the Seattle "Autonomous Zone".    Things are getting interesting now.   Our portfolios are crashing, and we are concerned that this idea will spread - kind of like a virus.  USA  Dow Jones Industrial Average is now down over 1,100 points by 11:55 AM EDT, and TSE/SPX index down almost 500 points.   [by end of day, DJIA was down over 1800 points, or almost 7% for the day.] The protests are obviously the direct results of the idiotic and unwise "lockdown" insanity that was mandated by the curiously foolish people who seem to dominate the political processes in our current times.   We seem to be at risk of being destroyed by Federal lightweights.    We are not unsupportive of "Autonomous Zones", so long as the armed folks protecting these regions are well-behaved and non-violent.

Humans have impressive capabilities to self-organize,

And in Europe - it is even more hilarious - Greece just scored almost a trillion dollars - the numbers seem so extreme, perhaps there is an error in the report.  The number is 748 million Euros - being "transferred" to Greece.    This is just comical.   If you listen carefully, and are in Europe, you can maybe here the laughing, from Athens.  It will probably sound like: "Bwa Ha Ha ha ha Ha Ha HAH! HAH!...." and so on. 

I could not make this sh/t up.  And in USAland, the DJIA - the old Dow Jones Industrial Averge - has fallen over 1800 points today.   That's almost 7%, and means that we are now in the poo.

I think maybe we are pooched.  We lost 5 figures today, so I am not sure exactly what action we should take.   We have almost no debt., and some liquid reserves, but I suspect that the USA is perhaps at risk of falling into the abyss.  Given that our Federal Gov't here is run by idiots, and the border is closed, perhaps we are ok here in the GWN, for a while yet.

We at the farm will be OK, because we have planned for this - but I simply cannot understand just how things got so f***ing stupid in the USA.   The Demos seem determined to trash USA.  It is curious and rather unexpected.   For "police" to just abandon their precincts is insane and beyond belief - but it seems to be the plan.    The game is pretty clearly a-foot, now.

That strange old man, Joe Biden, is talking about using the military to take the White House, if Mr. Trump disputes the planned November election.   What is really amusing, is that the election is supposed to happen now, with "mail-in" ballots.  And of course, that means that any result that you want can be engineered - IF you control the Post Office.    The union of Postal Workers will determine who wins the November election..   ("Hello, Newman....").   The whole thing is like a bad sci-fi story - except we don't yet know who the evil aliens are.  Or maybe, he aliens are *not* evil?  Perhaps it is all just an off-world science experiment??   :)

[ June 10, 2020 ] - Another, Please - The US CPI numbers are damn dangerous datapoints.   Three down months in a row.  This is first time we've seen this, since the US CPI series began, in 1957, based on what Reuters says.

Some rather serious efforts will be required.   We are looking deep into the abyss here, and it is probably time for another bunch of cheques to go to everyone.  These could be just funds drawn on the USA Federal Reserve, at this point.  Rate of inflation is at basically zero now, and looks set to drift negative.  Chart URL below:

The Federal Reserve needs to get jumping and humping and get some positive ticks in the CPI.   The current readings are a bit serious now.   

We are big advocates of "sound money" - but the dangers of deflation are also very real.  Combined with mass unemployment, you have an algorithm for a breakdown in social order - which  we have already seen.   Mr. Floyd is a pretext, truth be told.   We can handle 30 million dead from virus action, but we *cannot* handle a USA that is dysfunctional.

The whole safety-Nazi thing really has to be shutdown, and shutdown hard now.  People are born, and then they live, and then they die.  That is how it works.   They must be given the freedom to make some money during their lives, or they will sign-up for other activities.

If folks are denied opportunity, then they will manufacture some in their basement - or out on the street.    There are great opportunities possible, but we need to make sure the commercial system stays operational.  And the police services also.     Anyone who has ever seen what a "police strike" looks like (all the stores get smashed in, and looted), cannot possibly support a "defund the police" strategy as anything "progressive".    It is childish (or somebody's *planned*) madness.   There are times when madness becomes fashionable and useful for some groups.  People should wake up and see what is happening.  It's not just about racism.

The best way to limit the current madness, is to ensure people have some cash-in-pocket, and the possibility of getting a job or doing some business.

This virus "lockdown" was the most foolish thing we have ever seen governments try to do.  We need to do everything we can to reverse the damage from this profoundly unwise action, and the serious economic (=> human) costs that it imposed on everyone.

Some serious pro-inflationary policy choices need to be made - especially in the good, old, USA.   

Probably, a good start, would be a Fed-funded round of simulus cheques - directly drawn on the USA Federal Reserve - not part of the USA Government finance mechanism - just pure, printed funds.   It is a rare time, when such an action could solve a whole range of problems, and do so at very little real cost.   

[ June 9, 2020 ] - Lawyers, Guns & Money - "I'm hiding in Honduras, I'm a desperate man.  Send lawyers, guns & money, the sh/t has hit the fan..."

The Belltrox Boys got busted, it seems.  I get these goofball emails - not Belltrox - but lots of APT shyte every day now.  I think everyone is targeting everyone else, now.  I solve the problem by being fully disclosive.  The internet is a dangerous place now, sadly - the more it is censored, the less truth there is.   Kids have grown up on it, and they think it is a real thing.  It is just a bunch of digital illusion.  It's a side-show carnival, except the blood is real.  Crazy times, and getting crazier.

And Germany is sad that Mr. Trump wants to remove US troops from Germany.   Not unwise.  The Germans can pay for their own defense.  Maybe they can make a deal with Russia.  Wouldn't be the first time that happened...

Most of the news on the net is clickbait gunk, but this little quanta of information is significant, as it suggests that real change is happening.   The US needs those active-duty troops at home - especially if the "de-fund the police" movement gathers more steam.    America looks like it is in an unusual location now.   It used to be policeman to the world.  Now, the Democrats are pushing to "de-fund the police".  One has to wonder just exactly how much of this is being planned and coordinated in some office somewhere.  The children now are like little toy robots.  You push their little buttons, and they go out and do things.   

The media is playing along nicely, and the whole enterprise is generating a lot of clicks, when the digital disinformation world for the children, is more real than the air and the clouds and the dirt and the sun.   We are at a curious point in history now.

One does not need an AI here.  Just a tiny bit of ordinary intelligence is enough.  But it seems that even that is too much for most.

Here is another interesting data quanta:  During the 1920 to 1923 meltdown in German currency, when it took - eventually by 1923 - a trillion marks to buy a loaf of bread and a jug of beer - I found a report that German General Electric *bonds* (not stocks - BONDS), actually allowed investors to retain roughly 15% of their capital, during the hyperinflation.   Getting hard data on 1919 to 1923 is really difficult for Austria and Germany - but it can be found.  We have been using printed books.    The directors of major German industrial concerns did *not* all use the destruction of the German money, to cheat and destroy their investors and bond holders.   As inflation ran forward at an increasing rate, they repriced their debt securities valuations.    It is this curious *accommodation* to inflation, that allows it to run so far for so long.  It was mandated by German law, and directors of major industrial concerns were sensitive to not just following the law, but also were interested in maintain fairness, so they could be seen as good German citizens.   And they actually were.   It was the Government that blew up the nations's currency.

What makes inflation so magical, is that it promotes full-employment.  And full-employment maintains social peace and prosperity.   This is why I am certain we will be seeing some tangible and significant inflation begin soon.   We have just had a preview of what the  alternative scenario will look like.   Cities on flame ...  with rock and roll?

Just a great track.  3000 guitars will seem to cry...   The Looga of the Boo, perhaps?   Memo to Mr. Powel:  Time to be just a bit inflationary.

But if we are doing BOC, we have to include the best track they ever laid down:  Astronomy.

Memories of you, Suzy dear... and the Four-Winds.

[ June 8, 2020 ] - Truckin' - Livin' on reds, vitamin C, and Rogaine...

First road trip since virus.  At the Telsa charging station, in Parry Sound, using Starbuck's wifi.  Works good, lovely day.   Bungled a planned trade this AM, because I am too cautious.  But the weather is nice.

Survey the net, and the disinfo by the MSM is off-the-scale.  The real story is the massive amount of looting in the USA, and the lack of police response.

Here's a thought.  We all are against racism - but cops lives matter, too.    The police do a difficult job.   If I were a cop, I would be 'dirty Harry', and probably not last a year.  

I don't understand how anyone thinks it is acceptable to protest racism by trashing stores, breaking windows, and stealing everything.

The riots in the USA are as more about the unwise virus lockdowns.  All these marginally successfully people suddenly lost all their income.  Of course, they are really angry.  We need to discourage racist views - but we also need to respect the police for the ugly, dangerous, and profoundly difficult job they do.

Cop's lives matter, too - white or black.  And looters *should* be shot on sight.  You have to have that rule, else everything breaks down.  You go out, and "READ THE RIOT ACT" in a big loud voice from speakers, and make it clear, that civil-war in the streets is not going to be tolerated.

"When the looting starts, the shooting starts." is actually proper procedure, if the rioters have been loudly, officially warned.

But at the same time, violence must *NOT* be used on peaceful people.  That is why peaceful protests are so effective.    So many seem to have forgotten this.   Too many forget the lessons of history.

[ June 7, 2020 ] - Ride Into The Sun  - by The Velvet Underground - also on Lou Reed's first solo album, side two.

Just a great tune.  Simple, perfect and fine - a little diamond of a thing.  But even better, is the version on Lou Reed's first album, 2nd side, track 4.   Nice guitar work.    "... It's hard to live in the City..."  Lou was right, of course.   That's why we have the farm.   :)

After the Velvets and Mr. Reed, one can try a little Eno & the Warm Jets.  I've always liked "On Some Faraway Beach", with it's amusing dribbling-piano ending...

Some Faraway Beach.  Down south, suitcase full of cash, loungechair in the sun, a glass of  Bombay Sapphire & Fever Tree, with my AR-15 & MacBook, and a few Nihonian friends.    Sounds good to me... like a Haruki Murakami novel, or something...  🙂😉😀😋.    What do *you* want from life?

"...  a meaningless love affair, with a girl that you met tonite? ..."   -   I mean, it was 1974, for crying out loud.  Saw these boys at Massy Hall.  Still have a black-and-white of the "Dr. Strangelove" set.   There are real, actual *analog* synthesizers in the above clip.    

1974 was the year it all changed - the economy blew up because of the "oil shock", Nixon had ditched the final bits of the "gold standard" two years earlier, (no way to pay for Vietnam War using real money) and money now became just numbers.   America cut and ran from Vietnam less than a year later, leaving those great pictures of the final evacuation from the US Embassy in Saigon in the helicopters, to live in our memories forever.

The North Vietnamese broke the Paris Peace Agreement  by 1974, and started a serious push south.  America did nothing to stop them, so we all knew it was just a matter of time.  A few months later, in April, 1975, the famous final airlift happened.

Nixon had been replaced by Ford, and Trudeau (ver. 1.0) had gained re-election by ridculing the idea of a "wage and price control" program, which he promised *not* to implement.   One year later, Trudeau creates the "Anti-Inflation Board" - a massive, comprehensive scheme to control wages and prices in Canada, and the Canadian economy stagnates badly.  

China had begun it's process of opening up, and in USA,  work began on the Space Shuttle, music started getting interesting, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was in the dumpster - the average closing price for the year, was 759, and the high, was 891.66  

Stocks were stupid cheap, and I had absolutely no money at all.  

In the late 1960's, and early 1970's, companies and government agencies would have all these recruiting booths at University graduations, trying to attract new hires.   By the time I graduated in 1978, there are no jobs on offer anywhere, and unemployment and inflation are both running over 10% (the true numbers were of course much higher).   Inflation would spike, and in Canada and USA, by 1980, interest rates would be jacked up to over 20%, to shut-down the inflation.   It was a crazy time, not unlike what we are seeing now - an edge-condition situation engineered to address a crisis.

And the shock-therapy of high interest rates works.   Ron Reagan gets elected President in the USA, and America gets is moxie back.   Reagan begins a funding effort for science-based defense technology that his enemies ridicule as "Star Wars" - but it forces the Communists to fund new tech they cannot afford, and by 1989, Communism fails, and freedom rings.    Eastern Europe - and then even Russia herself - become free  For a while in Canada, we go backward..   Trudeau creates the "National Energy Program", showing further lack of understanding of basic economics, and almost destroys Canada's Oil and Gas industry.  By 1984, he is forced out, retires from politics, and Canada is able to open up it's closed, socialist economy.   Slowly, the awful sh/tstorm of bad decision-making and stupidity that the mid 1970's brought us all, were addressed and corrected.  Canada opens up, elects a Progressive Conservative Government,  and does a Free Trade deal with USA.  Both countries experience sold economic growth and fine boom-times, as inflation falls, business improves significantly, and employment grows, proving all the Leftist economists wrong, wrong and wrong.

We had to take the bad with the good.  But we were all young, so every day was a big adventure, and life was actually pretty good, even in the doom-and-gloom late 70's and rate-shock early 1980's.    We had all signed up for graduate degrees, since there were no jobs in 1978, and by the mid-1980's, when sanity had been restored, we were finally allowed to make some money.

What most folks forget, is how badly broken the world economy was back in the mid-1970's to the early 1980's.  USA had been defeated in war, and had lost its confidence.   The 1980's 20% interest-rates had destroyed a lot of businesses that had too much debt.    Canada was functionally bankrupt, and was trying to run a foolish "cheap domestic price" program  for oil-and-gas, at the expense of our main trading partners, and poor England was just on it's arse, with currency-controls still in place, and income tax rates that could reach 80 to 90% of income.    The Beatles even wrote a tax-protest song, called (obviously), "The Tax Man"...

Good song.   "There's one for you, nineteen for me".   "If you get too cold - I'll tax the heat!  ... 'cause I'm the Taxman.  You're working for no-one but me."    😮  It took famous Margaret Thatcher to fix the awful, constipated mess than Socialist England was, and restore some sanity there.   Her election in May of 1979, was at a time when British interest rates were between 17 and 30%, and much of the nation was unemployed or on strike.   In 1980, UK inflation was still running at over 20% annual rate.   But by the late-1970's changes were being put in place, that would correct the failures of the 1970's. When Ms. Thatcher took office, UK inflation was running at 20%, and by the mid 1980's. it was down to 5%, and by the early 1990's, it was between 2 and 3%.

Bad decisions and unwise policy choices, make for crazy times.   What is important and key, is that government stay out of business and have a light touch with "rule making", since just about anything they touch, gets degraded, destroyed or messed up to the point of not working.   It's always been this way, and if we don't learn lessons from history, then nothing will every really improve, will it?  Fascist politics - the politics of State Control - is not only nasty and sometimes cruel, it is also very costly and destructive.    Best we avoid this.    🙂

[ June 6, 2020 ] - Great King Rat - I am a serious fan of Queen's very first album.   I remember when it was released - we would goto this bar where some big biker was the DJ, and he would be playing the thing at ziggy stardust volume levels as everyone was drinking and doing various kinds of business.   God, how I loved that place - it was sort of like that bar in the first Star Wars.  I swear that some of the clientel had small spacecraft in the parking lot - or at least they drank and drove like they thought they had.   Past days, but they live in our imaginations and memories.  

And now, we finally may craft a vector towards a future that is not to be controlled by the State.   I like private rockets.   This is a good thing for our small world.   I watched last nite, as a crazy event slipped past silently in low orbit - some serious spacecraft was broken into bits, and a long line of glowing pieces tracked across the sky from north to south - at least seven or eight - maybe 10 separate pieces tracked along in a perfect line.  Some piece of space-hacktech, entering the high-atmosphere, and beginning to burn up, I guess.   Quite a show.

Got a bunch of critical stuff working right again.  Built modern OpenSSL from scratch on the Macbook, so I could compile Lynx from source, and hack the whole thing together so data-getting worked again.  Then, got the APL's running under WINE on both Macbook and the Linux-box collection.   This brings TRASER back online - a datawhacker, market-hack thing that works so well, it makes me seriously uncomfortable..  It's a profitable Trading simulator.   I have great difficulty following a "black box" device - I need to understand what is happening, and see if it passes the sniff-test, before I can put big, real. money on the thing.  These trading apps are funny - it's like trying to build the instrument panel of a high-performance aircraft - while flying the bloody thing..  :)

But the weather is nice, the dogs are happy, we still have a little money in the bank, and enough a mm o to survive the boo gal oo-, if it all comes down to that.   :)   (I read the silly stuff on the MSM, and the clickbait foolishness is ramping up off scale now.    It's just silly.    I'm glad I bought that Stratocaster-copy.    Once upon a time, I owned a real one, but I had to sell it, long years ago, when I moved cross-country, to a new life, in a new town.   Left it at Richardson's on Church Street, and it bought me first-and-last months rent.  Turned out to be a good trade, but I still miss it.  You always miss your first, yes?  :D

[ June 5, 2020 ] - Blue Skys - "Nothing but Blue Skys Do I See..."  "Never seen things, going so right, never seen the future, looking so bright..."  Wonderful song, written by genius American songwriter, Irving Berlin in 1926.  (Irving Berlin was actually born in Russia, came to USA when he was five.)    Also, the rules developed in the 1930's, that required Prospectus documents to be provided to folks investing in new share floatations, were described as being necessary, "to prevent sharp operators from selling 'blue sky' to gullible investors".    These rules are commonly called "Blue Sky Laws". 

But blue sky is pretty.  The story is always more interesting than the facts.

I am finding it getting even more difficult to access anything much online that is useful anymore.  It is curious how everything is the "illusion" of what it is supposed to be.   The biophysics of modern neuro-science is interesting.  There are fat textbooks on the topic:

One can find all the academic references - but only the very wealthy can afford to purchase the actual books.   The folks doing the research in the academic world get all the research grants to do this science - but the results are now stashed and locked behind expensive paywalls.  The internet was supposed to free-up scientific information, but just the opposite is now happening.

This seems to be part of a generalized phenomenon.  We keep seeing it.

What is so interesting now, is how all the true, good and useful information is just going dark.  The internet has become this astonishing toxic sideshow of deception, fraud and scam-behaviour.   So much of value has just been vapourized.   Between deeply dishonest State agents, and clever hack-strategies by scammers, there is nothing much of value left online.  It really is an astonishing "Shift to Sh/t".    What used to be fresh meat for the mind, has turned into rotting poop that people throw at each other.    The final nail in the coffin seems to be the mass censorship, and the social responses, as folks try to end-run the "zuckerborgs".

There is all sorts of click-bait entertainment - viz: "Porn Star Investigated for Murder, in Toad-Licking Cult in Spain".   And yes, they were using Mexican Bufo toads, which secrete toxic agents that induce halucination.   Some say you get to "see god".  Sure.

You can learn about the coming "boogaloo", by studying what Facebook is censoring - but it has become difficult to get any hard science data anywhere now.   Just the opposite of what should be happening, sadly.

I spent a serious amount of time rebuilding some data-getting tools with more recent versions of openssl and gnutls.  We use curl, wget and lynx.   We just rebuilt these on some Linux boxes with newer gnutls and openssl.  Here is a url for building curl from source:

And now,  it looks like I will have to update (again) to another version of Firefox, as data-fields in a financial site we use, are suddenly not accessable.  (This is really difficult, on Linux.  We use a stable Firefox ESR (Extended Support Release), which worked fine, up until last week.)

Research Log This Week:

"WTF???  The dear gov't prohibits my guns, my data-getting software all crashes and dies, and now the mission-critical trading website is not allowing money transfers?   And all this in the middle of a lethal viral plague, when I am supposed to be running everything from the farmhouse office?  Oh my..."    

Hilariously awful.  The modern server-side software is simply not working correctly with the tracking tools the financial trading site is using, in combination with the current Linux version of Firefox we are using.  

We suddenly discovered we are unable to transfer funds from one of our investment accounts, because of errors generated by the tracking software the bank is using.  They use a company called "Ensighten" that has broken our browsers and our banking/investment website access.

"Ensighten" claim to be "cybersecurity experts", but all they are doing is engaging more tracking & monitoring actvity - interposing their site's web-services between what my browser is trying to do (fill in a data field), and the banking/investment site.   And their shytecode has broken my access to my trading platform!

The net result, is that I simply cannot type anything into the datafield because of the errors that are caused by "Ensighten".  Their technology is not "protecting the website".  These monkeys are just breaking it.   The error message generated is:

ERROR Error: Uncaught (in promise): Object: {"script":"//","loaded":false,"status":{"isTrusted":true}}
Stack trace:

--- (a long javascript stack-trace follows....)

So, we now have the data-getting tools working again - by rebuilding everything from source code -  and now the web-access to our investment site is broken, thanks to this "Ensighten" hackware crap.   Oh my, it never rains, but it f***ing pours.   This "Ensighten" stuff is just tracking/blocking software.  It "protects" a website by just putting access to their tracking software into your webserver code, and breaks the operation of the website for your customers.  The whole thing is some revenue-generation operation run out of Menlo Park, California by four guys.  Their promo bullshyte (more "illusion")  is at URL below, if curious:  (page down to bottom of webpage..)

The modern versions of web-browsers are absolutely toxic, much like the "smartphone" cellphone technology.  Everything is completely geared to monitoring and tracking user behaviour and any and all online action.   The intrusive eyes of the State agents are on every online action now.  And if not State agents, then private company "protectors" - like these fellows at "Ensighten" - are injecting their code or html links to their tracking site - into your session activity .   Advanced versions of TLS and upgraded SSL will not help you avoid being tracked and hacked and broken, as a web user now.  Your service provider will do it by design, server-side!

If you use a website - *you* are the product.  Don't forget this.

If you use a cellphone of any kind now, you are simply carrying an online monitoring and tracking device in your pocket.   All the "privacy legislation" is actually kind of a fraud, promoted to create the illusion that privacy is being protected, at the same time as the tracking, monitoring, and restrictions are enhanced by everyone, everywhere.  It's just getting nutty.  Everyone is telling stories that are not true, it seems.  The product being sold is: "illusion".

Examples of this "illusion generation" activity abound in every sphere now.  A recent example is an abusive action to prohibit access to firearms in Canada.   This action - taken supposedly to enhance "public safety" - is certain to create a much more violent, unsafe and dangerous society,  

Disarmed, ignorant people are easy targets.   Crime will grow, because it will be much easier and more profitable, in the world Mr. Trudeau is trying to create.   In the name of "safety" - our current political people are actively attempting to engineer the creation of a really angry society in our near future.  There is no other way it can play out.   They create the "illusion" of "Government action", but all they are doing is changing legal rules to attack and disadvantage a large group of folks who support a different political party.   It is so obnoxious and dishonest as to be almost beyond belief.   And the actions are certain to create real conflict, where none needed to be created at all.  It is very bad behaviour.

Our Market Moment:

But you need to be fully invested.   Regardless of the government we elect, there will need to be some massive pro-inflation actions undertaken.    The monetary stimulus will show up as rising asset prices, as well as enhanced employment opportunities.   The stock market will be bid up,  real-estate will get more expensive, and folks will find that work will be available.   Unless of course the current crop of folks in Ottawa mess this up also.    Try to enjoy the ride, 'cause we are pretty sure, it's gonna get weird.      :)

[ Note: I wrote the above at 7:00 am, *before* the US employment numbers came out. ]

[ June 4, 2020 ] - Doing the Time Warp - I remember, when the blackness would hit me, and a voice would be calling - "Let's do the Time Warp again..."  It is getting so crazy now, I am feeling like a stunned lab-rat in a Skinner Box.   Not sure what the bell and the shock even mean.

Is the Ringworld unstable?  Not sure - but I know all about "Louis Wu", and his wirehead experiments.    You could take a poor little lab rat, and use high-precision stereo-tactic surgery, to drop some fine-filament electrodes into the medial hypothalumus, and control the poor little guy's behaviour.  He would push the little switch-bar, until he dropped from exhaustion, since you nailed into his "pleasure centre".   

I could not run these experiments - but many others did.  To me, they seemed just a tad too cruel  - like the political fascists that are in power now in the Leftist Nations that are programming their people for servitude..    exactly like George Orwell forecast in his novel, "1984" - a piece of ancient history now.  Not USA.  USA is fine.  Trump is trying to do the right thing, but he will be destroyed, since the good always go down to defeat.  The fascists are running Canada now.  It is so curious and hilarious.   Nothing can be done, until the writ is dropped.

Winston and Julia.   I used to have these curious nightmares about Winston, and his cage of bees.   He was destroyed, when he pleaded to O'brien: "Do it to her, not to me!"

In the end, they always are able to destroy you.  Is this not the truth?  It turns out not to be very difficult at all.  If you read "Waiting for Godot", it is all in there.  The artists and the literature-writers and playwrites all figure out the same problem - and try to address it.  They always fail.  LIke "Lucky's speech" in "Godot"...   There is never enough time.    The old wise folks try to tell the young ones - but the young ones are chasing what young ones chase, and they don't learn, until it is too late.   It is a great, comical cycle, that never ends.

 [ June 3, 2020 ] - Funny Times - And getting funnier...

 Lou Reed had a great song, which had the lyrics:  "There are problems in these times....   but none of them are mine."   :)

Words to live by.

[ June 2, 2020 ] - There are Problems in These Times - But the market is doing fine...  Curious how folks in USA seem to be protesting bad police behaviour by trashing Target stores, looting Walmarts, and setting cars on fire.   The "Democrat" Governors who are encouraging this foolish criminality are not just "weak" (as Trump calls them), they are dangerously stupid.  People are angry and are smashing stuff more likely because they are frustrated by the Covid-19 "lockdowns" more than anything else.   The attempt at "mass quarantine" was profoundly idiotic and a grotestquely foolish political response that has done little to contain the virus.  But it has shown how unwise and ineffective most government people and government actions, typically  are.

Of course, the police agents who murdered George Floyd should be charged with murder, and made to defend their actions in court.  And Elon Musk is right - all three cops involved in the takedown and murder of Mr. Floyd need to be charged - not just one.    But the crowds who are looting stores, are not "protesters" - they are just criminals, and should face criminal aggressive prosecution.

What is really interesting here, is that this bad behaviour by violent American protesters, shows that the a firm hand is really the only way to deal with rioters.  The old concept of "Reading the Riot Act" - where a big public announcement is made, prior to a massive deployment of force to clear the rioters - is probably the only rational strategy.  Once a riot becomes violent, there is no other alternative.  If the authorities do not act, then private citizens will self-organize, and you will have war in the streets, and this is simply insane. and needs to be avoided.

The whole secret to successful mass protest, is to engineer it to be non-violent.  Then, the authorities have no excuse to deploy violence to clear the protesters, and real change can be made to happen.    The violence associated with the American riots severely degrades their effectiveness as a political effort.

But the net result probably is that Mr. Trump gets re-elected.  Anyone who owns property, and sees shops and stores and city infrastructure destroyed by rioters, will vote accordingly.  "Mr. Biden of the Basement", appears set to become a classical caracature of the weak, ineffective and tragic political figure, whom time has passed by.    Murderous, violent rioters are met with equal co-ordinated, effective violence in every civilized society,  Looters - who take advantage of disasters to trash property and steal things - are typically shot by authorities, and this is a good and necessary thing.  No other approach is either acceptable or effective.

Mr. Trump's successful re-election, will allow America to benefit from the stability it needs, to move forward after the damage that was done to it's economy by the viral outbreak.   The market is not unwise to price in this possible positive outcome.   Combine this future-picture, with the 3 trillion dollars in stimulus that has been carried out, and the improving market action makes sense, and is not inappropriate.

[ June 1, 2020 ] - Rock Island Line - "It's a mighty fine line...".  The only LeadBelly we have here, is on the CD-player.   After a day like today, what can we say?  Something like: "Bwah Ha ha ha ha HA!"   We note that even Goldman Sachs is backing off on their forecast of: "OMG, the SKY and the Market is GONNA FALL!".   In the last 3 months, 3 *trillion* new US dollars have been created.   Something other than food prices are likely to be bid up, just a tiny little bit, at some point in this strange, charmed down and up future we are hurtling towards.

Nice weather, too.  And CONGRATS! to the SpaceX Team and NASA folks for a very fine ride for Bob and Doug, the StarMen who road the big Falcon!   Damn fine launch and orbital insertion.  Smooth and slick and really cool.  The Dragon "Capsule" is actually a pretty spacious SpaceShip.  I was impressed  that it looked more like the inside of an airliner, than a Gemini capsule.   Bravo to Mr. Elon Musk for turning big plans in to big results.  Anyone who has ever done anything, anywhere, knows how truly difficult it can be to take a big plan to a successful, operational reality.   Here's hoping Bob and Doug get to fly home safely, when their time comes to do so.  Good results, so far into the mission.

[ May 30, 2020 ] - Neural-Network Based Time-Travel - In doing some research on the San Francisco of 1906, before the Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of April 18, 1906, we found this amazing example of "video upscaling".

What the creator has done here, is to use several image-processing algorithms to post-process the original grainy, black-and-white, low-resolution film-images, frame-by-frame, into high-resolution, colourized image-frames.  He's even added a synthetic sound-track.  The result is what appears to be a high-resolution, colour film (video) taken from the front of a trolley, as it drove slowly down the length of Market Street in San Francisco, four days before the earthquake and fire destroyed the city.  

One must bear in mind, the film was a "staged shoot".

At first view,  I was astonished, and my first sensation was: "I had not realized how prosperous and substantial the CIty of San Francisco was in 1906!  There were *lots* of new "automobiles", and they had new, shiny California licence-plates!"

Well, it turns out the autos orbited the trolley on which the camera was located - one car apparently shows up at least ten times.  The original filmakers wanted to showcase San Francisco as prosperous and vibrant, and the film works effectively to do this.

The astonishing free-for-all traffic of the street is pretty amazing.   It looks like "no-rules" driving, but everyone and everything is moving slowly at little more than fast walking-speed, so the traffic - horse-wagons, automobiles, tolleys and the many pedestrians - all do a fine job of self-organizing themselves as they make their way about town.  

And when I went back and read the details, I realized that the film was "staged".  In particular, the automobile and wagon traffic was amplified and carefully staged to create exactly the impression that it does - a *very* busy and seriously prosperous city.   Watch carefully, and at the end of the run, a wagon with "Eureka, California" written on the side, crossed directly in front of the trolley on which the camera has been mounted.

Here, at the very beginning of filmmaking, we see that although filmmaking was very new, the art of deception was understood and applied then, just as effectively as it is now.

But despite it's "staged" nature,  the film still provides an amazing "time travel" experience.  The orginal black-and-white 18 fps film was "upscaled" by advanced AI-based image processing, which makes use of GPU (graphics programming unit cards) and neural-network pipeline processing.

And it is true, that San Francisco of April, 1906, was a very prosperous, vibrant, major American city.  It's destruction, by earthquake and fire, on April 18, 1906, four days after the orginal film was made, is thought to be the root-cause of the Panic of 1907, a significant financial crash that hit the New York Stock Market in October of that year.

After the earthquake, and once the fires had been put out, and the city began to clear the damage, this film was created:

It shows a very different city.  But it also shows the special resilience of California, and America in general.  Everyone is getting back to work, cleaning up the damage, and getting on with things, looking towards the future.

[ May 29, 2020 ] - Tears for Fears & Rules for Fools - During the 1907 "Great Panic", the bankers of New York came to see J. P. Morgan (the old man himself, not the company), and asked him what they should do, as there was no-one at the Exchange's  "Money Post" willing to loan funds to the brokers.  If the brokers did not get some overnight liquidity, it was feared that many would be forced into bankruptcy.   If the brokers went down, then so would their clients, and the US Financial system would risk a cascade failure.

Money started getting seriously tight in the first week in October, 1907.   By October 24, 1907, it became clear there was no money available.  It seemed everyone was margined - even the brokers themselves - and there was not enough money on offer to meet the demand.   The story is that R. H. Thomas, President of the New York Stock Exchange, and James Stillman, President of National City Bank, went to see J. P. Morgan, and told him that the brokers needed overnight money to surivive, and there wasn't any.  Morgan apparently told Thomas to go back to the Exchange, and tell the brokers at the "Money Post", that funds would be forthcoming - from the Banks.  Thomas rushed to the Exchange, and told the crowd that money was on it's way.

Supposedly, at around 2:30pm, Morgan sent John T. Atterbury of Van Emburgh & Atterbury to see the brokers, and Atterbury went into the crowd, with a notebook, and explained there would be money enough for everybody - he just took down their names and the amounts needed, and said "You will be told later where your money is."   The story is that Morgan simply sent word to the various bankers of New York, that the Exchange members needed money, or there would be hell to pay.   The bankers all protested they had loaned up to their legal limits, and could offer no more funds.   Morgan apparently demanded:  "You have reserves.   This is why you have reserves, and they are now needed.  You must extend the loans."   And the bankers did so, such was their faith in Morgan, who was known to be honest, truthful, and a man of the highest integrity.

In this way, the crisis was averted, according to first-hand accounts that have come down to us.

But one bank was not included - the Knickerbocker Trust, which had these magnificant offices at northwest corner of Fifth Avenue and Thirty-fourth Street.   Within two and a half hours, on Tuesday, October 22, 1907, the Knickerbocker Trust had returned more than $8 million to it's frightened depositors - from it's branch offices on Fifth Avenue, Broadway and it's two smaller branches in Harlem and the Bronx.  Four million was paid in cash, and a second $4 million was paid through the clearing house.  The Knickerbocker Trust Company had been able to meet the demands of it's smaller depositors, but the story is that Hanover National Bank appeared at the teller's window with a cheque for cash for $1.5 million, followed by another bank messenger, with a cheque for $1 million.  The teller paid out this money, and the Trust Company's officers, realized it was over, and with a long lineup still present, had the teller close down, and the Company suspended operations.    A board member of Knickerbocker, G. L. Boissevain, reportedly told the Wall Street Journal:  "If we get help overnight we shall reopen in the morning.   If we don't, we won't.  That's all there is to it at present."

Next day, NYCH (the New York Clearing House) announced all member banks were strong, and that they would be protected.  But the news of the run on Knickerbocker had spread like wildfire, of course.  Rates for overnight money that Tuesday, started the day at 10%, and were 70% before the market closed.

Morgan had all the bankers report their postions, and the Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, George B. Cortelyou  took a fast train from Washington to New York, to meet with everyone Morgan has assembled.  The plan was to stop the crisis, and ensure that other Banks and Trust companies did not get caught up in the run.  Stock prices had crashed, and were still falling, as Banks and other investors tried to raise cash.     Knickerbocker was "over the dam", and Morgan refused to meet with Charles T. Barney, the President of Knickerbocker Trust.  Barney is reported to have said the day before "These are troublous times."   The failure of the Knickerbocker Trust Company, and Morgan's refusal to meet with him, hurt him badly, and on November 14, at 10:00am in the morning, he shot himself with his bedside revolver.

The financial meltdown in New York in 1907, had been driven by real events.  The year 1906 had seen the Great San Francisco Earthquate and Fire, and this hurt many insurance companies.  The earthquake did not do much damage.  But it broke the water mains, and started fires, and without water, these proved impossible to put out, so the entire city basically burned to the ground.  Folks who had fire insurnace assumed they were covered - but many insurance companies tried to deny claims because they had earthquake exclusion riders in their policies.  When the courts said they all had to pay, most could not fully meet claims.   The story is that Lloyd's of London was the only one that paid every claim in full, but I have not confirmed this in detail.

Edison "newsreel" films exist, which document the extent of the fire damage.

I also discovered this amazing film that was made by using neural-network based image enhancement of original footage of "A Trip Down Market Street", which was filmed originally on  April 14, 1906 - four days before the Earthquake and fire.   The original grainy black-and-white film was "upscaled" to give a high-resolution experience, complete with digital colourization.   It shows how busy and economically vibrant was the City of San Francisco, in 1906, in a striking and impressive way:

With the destruction of a major city American city, insurance companies had to sell stock to raise funds, and the railroads needed to rebuild their terminals.  Stocks were sold off in 1907 to raise the needed money.   The 1906 harvest had been a bumper one, but 1907 was not so good.

What Morgan had to do, on October 24th, 1907, was raise a big pool of money quickly.  He called all the NYC bank presidents in, and by 2:16pm, he had secured a pool of $23.6 million dollars.  This is 1907.  A million dollars was a *lot* of money in those days.

Morgan had demanded the bankers all commit to saving the Exchange brokers.  He had explained, apparently, that if the bankers did not commit the funds to the pool, then about 50 Stock Exchange brokerage firms would fail.   Morgan's brokers who got to the Exchange's "Money Post" at 2:30pm, loaned out roughly $19 million in less than 30 minutes.  This saved the situation for the day, but Friday still loomed.  And it got a bit weird on Friday, as it sometimes does even now.

Secretary Cortelyou had assured Morgan, that the U.S. Government would provide liquidity.  On Friday, October 25th, 1907, Ransom Thomas (President of the Exchange) went to see Morgan again, and said more money was needed.  Morgan himself went with Thomas to the New York Clearing House offices, and had another meeting with 14 major bank presidents.  Morgan asked for another pool of  a further $15 million, but the bankers were only able (or willing) to cough up $9.7 million.   This would have to do.  When the second pool of funds hit the Exchange, it was reported the cheering could be heard outside in Broad Street.

The second money pool was loaned out at rates between 25% and 50%, and it was apparently enough to meet the short-term funding needs of the Brokerage firms.  By the 3:00pm close, $6 million had been loaned.   Trading volume for the day was 637,000 shares, versus over 1 million, the day before.   That evening, Morgan and the bankers formed a committee which would be responsible for providing accurate information, and would act to damp down the dangerous rumors that had been circulating.  They even apparently formed a second committee which contacted clergy, and requested church congregations be given sermons on Sunday, asking them to act calmly, and not withdraw money from the banks, since this locks up the process of business.  The story is that a member of this committee then went to see every clergyman, priest and rabbi in New York, and asked that this message be offered, for the good of all.  Reports suggest they all did so, as this seemed as wise and good thing to do.

Things didn't stabilize right away.  Further pools were necessary, to support the Trust companies, and both the U.S. Treasury and the New York Banks did this, because they knew that if another major Trust company failed, they could be next.   Information we can find suggests that by mid-November, the U.S. Treasury was almost out of cash holdings.

But the Treasury boys did a very, very  clever thing.  On November 19th, Treasury issued $40 million in "Gold Bonds" to major USA national banks.   These were not just Government Bonds - these were "Gold-Backed" Government Bonds.  And President Roosevelt and made it clear that no "special session" of Congress would be needed to address the crisis, as things were improving, and existing regulations were sufficient.  Further, he made it clear that $12.4 million in *gold* had just arrived from Liverpool, aboard the big liner, the "Lusitania" - and this was promoted as "the richest cargo that ever came across the Atlantic on a single steamship" - and the fact was made known that total gold shipments to the USA from Europe were now over $21 million.   

The "Gold Bonds" were supposedly issued to fund the construction of the Panama Canal.  This made for a very good story, and suggested to everyone looking at the recent financial crisis in New York, that the crisis had passed, and some solid investment opportunities were available in USA, which remember, in 1907 was still an "Emerging Nation", back at that time.

These "Gold Bonds" could be used by the Banks as collateral for loans, and so this Treasury issue essentially recapitalized the banks.  The gold was coming into New York, the Panama Canal was an obviously excellent infrastructure idea, and it was clear that the crafty, careful (rich) Europeans were happy to give up some gold to get in on American investment opportunities.

What I find so interesting, is the role of J. P. Morgan himself.    What this shows, is the power that honesty and truthfulness offers.  

And it shows the impressive resilience of the USA, and crazy New York City.   WIthin the next 20 years, New York would experience a major World War (which shut the Exchange for several months), the awful 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic (50 million dead, worldwide), the post-war high unemployment and recession, and the wild-time of technology-driven growth of the 1920's - which was completely justified, given the amazing advances in automobiles, aircraft, electricity distribution, communications (radio and cinema), and electronics technologies.

In our modern world - we have a lot of rules now.  For example, the Banks have to post expected, worst-case losses now on their books as "provisions", and deduct these from income.  This makes all the banks look much poorer than they are, but it is misleading.   In the old days, when they could sell at between four and six times book value, they could look wildly richer than they really were.  But now, we flip it around, and make them look poorer than they really are.

I am not sure these worst-case scenario "provisions for losses" are reasonable.  Is everyone really as impaired as the ImpairmentStudio numbers suggest?

And if we really want to stimulate some real inflation, then maybe policy options that encourage the banks to be just a little more aggressive, might work well?

This certainly worked well to dig New York and the USA out of the problems it had fallen into in the Panic of 1907.   If you've got reserves - there are times when they should be used, eh?

[ May 28, 2020 ] - A Time of No Libraries? - I used to work with a guy, who told me an old market aphorism:  "Libraries will get you through times of no money, better than money will get you through times of no libraries."    So much that is good goes away - and the dreck remains - always.  

Our favourite bookstore and coffee shop had already closed before the virus came.  I detest reading from a screen, but that seems the only way now.  I miss reading Barron's and the WSJ.  Back when I lived in the City, I watched as my favourite bookstores closed, one after the other - Edwards, Lichtmans, Bakka...  One by one, they went dark.  We had a big Chapters and Starbucks here - was a wonderful place - big "Finance" and "Technology" section - and good coffee.  It closed last year.

And *poof* - it exists now only as a fading memory.    With a  Google-search, I found some excerpts from a book that looked interesting, on a topic I was researching.   No electronic copy - just one used, physical copy.  And the price was $275!   For a single book!  Google has digitized the book - and you can see some pages, but if you want to see the whole thing, you need $300 and will have to wait for several days.  This is ugly.

This quite amazing fellow,  Andrew Carnegie, the famous American philanthropist and industrialist, is the man responsible for the construction of  many of the small libraries in the province where we live.  These Libraries are great.   What he did was just amazing genius excellent.   He gave money for the construction of all these small, local libraries.   I have been to several of them (they have internet access now), and they were good places to get some reading and work done.

For Details:

I think he built Carnegie Hall in NYC also.  Same guy.  When he was starting in the railroad business, a man he worked for - who had a large library - let Carnegie borrow and read the books.   Carnegie repaid the favour once he got old and rich, by funding library construction in Canada and USA.

But here in this "Digital Age" - we are building something quite different.   The internet seems to be morphing quietly into the "anti-library" - a place where the quality books are locked behind paywalls, and only the cheap-crap, junk-trash sideshow video-dreck is available.   This seems to be accelerating the "race to the bottom" that some social theorists write about.   This is a real problem.  We think the multi-gigabit firehose of data we can get on a fibre-optic connection is wonderful - but mostly now, it is being used to watch junk-TV..   Most of the data-stream is images, videos, and deception mixed with obfuscation.

I actually think maybe we need to get rid of the idea of "copyright".   Even as a "content creator" and maker of proprietary software, I am starting to believe "copyright" is just a bad idea.  It might be that the DMCA and all the copyright restrictions, are quietly destroying the foundation of democracy.   This is done by encouraging the creation of seriously unaware, badly-educated, not-very-literate people, who then go out and vote based on appearance and their desire-for-gain, and the effectiveness of the latest NLP-based political adverts they saw last.

People do this because they truly, mostly, just do not know any better.   And this is also a problem.  We end up with abusive leaders who are either unskilled arrogant old men, or smiling pretty-boys who have learned to look into the camera and tell the most outrageous lies to hold on to power.   Most folks don't even have a clue about how profoundly misled they are.

The digital-electronic world is destroying the economics of the world-of-print, and it is also destroying the idea of the library.   The quality research and useful science information is only available for the rich folks, or the funded academic people, who can afford the expensive journals where the real science gets published.   The journals where real science is published cost thousands of dollars per year.   You would need a seven-figure income just to scratch the surface of the current, quality science.   The poor sods playing around on their computers only get access to worthless down-market drivel, and mainstream-media manipulative junk-stream data flow.

The world is going dark.   In the middle of this white-hot explosion of data, the lights are quietly going out.   Trying to find accurate information on any topic now, is like trying to read with flash-cameras constantly going off in your face.   It's a curious experience.   We are drowning in junk data, and a media-manipulation crap-storm.   Even Wikipedia is awful and useless now - anything interesting, controversial or useful gets removed.  Facebook is a cash-machine for fraudsters, and Google is heavily censored.  

The internet is like politics now - it creates the "illusion" of information, but without actually offering much of value or substance.   To get quality,  you need to pay real money to acquire it.  

The internet is slowly, with some real stealth,  becoming the "anti-library."

We should fix this.  Somehow, we have to have real libraries again.

Markets:    Oil is up.   Interesting price path it has been on.  From negative-value pricing, to $33.79/bbl today, up $0.98 already today (2.99%) as I key this.    Pretty good delta -> from minus 37 to plus 33.   That's a bit crazy.  But these are the "Crazy Years", I guess.

Major screwup today,.  I used to mess around with musical keyboards and synthesizers - and they had these audio wave-generators.  You could play with:  ADSR forms...   Wave had 4 components:  "Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release, "   Looks similar to the action for the Dow Jones Industrial Average daily trading pattern.    What makes (made?) pianos so musically attractive, is this ADSR wave-form.   Note the "Release" - the end-of-day, end-of-tone, as the tone suddenly fades out.   The DJIA daily pattern today looks quite like the old ADSR wave.    It looks like the algos have located something in our pattern-choice... they see the wave "decay" happening, and *whooosh", the "release" is created as the algo's sell into the dying waveform.  And that gives us the "release".   Trump and China-chat is the after-the-event selected explainer.

Full Disclosure:  This comes from some strange music-seeking part of my thinking brain, not from the AI's.   These End-of-Day price fades are becoming a common thing now.   My little inner voice was kind of screaming at me earlier to act on this technical pattern, but I decided to hold, probably out of lazy foolishness or something like that.   DId not update the data last nite.   Lazy, I am..   Looks like it cost me a car for not doing it.   God f###ing damnit, as EM would say, as the glass breaks...   😀

[ May 26-27, 2020 ] - Oblivion, Not. -  Lorcalon praxis.  Even Hana smiles.   Bit of a run in the financials.   A process I expected would play out over the next few months, seems to be happening at "internet" speed.    These phase-jumps in prices seem to happen more rapidly now.  Perhaps the algos had a lot of automatic-funds on the wrong side of the market?  Unclear.  What is evident, is this is not so much a rally based on the idiocy of "hope"  - as it is a recognition that risks of stimulus are probably inflationary, since better to have inflation than deflation, and we are now seeing the inflation in the prices of standard stuff.  

So first, we get re-priced down, and then a whipsaw happens, and we look like we will get re-priced up pretty seriously, in the banks, since they are more likely to sell for twice book value rather than half book value, given the world we are tracking into.   Asset values are moving up.  Stuff and real-estate remain dear, and are getting more dear.   Banks will be fine.  Maybe more than just fine.  Both Royal and BMO dialed up loan-loss provisions.  This impacted profit, but did not remove profit.   Credit lines are being drawn down, as this is what credit lines are for.

We did a run to our local CostCo yesterday.   Dropped many dollars to buy a shopping-cart full.  Everything was working, social-distance working, masks offered at door, if you didn't have one, parking lot full, cash-machines were singing their happy song.  We bought steaks - normally the packages of 4 or 5 cuts of top sirlloin used to cost 27 to $32.   The smallest package we could find, with 4 nice little sirloin steaks, was $47.92!   That is an insane price.  Beef is dear, it seems.   But we did a couple on the BBQ and they were just wonderful.

We will have inflation.  Governments will just money-print and roll the dice.  I can predict the inflation, since I am already seeing it.   Not too hard a call.   :)

Oh, and real-estate still looks to be moving.   The "For Sale" signs that one sees, all now have "SOLD" stickers on them.  Folks want to "house up" before the apocolypse?   Life might be tough for those in big cities - you risk death from disease - but that has always been the case.   Babylon carries both benefits and risks.   Don't get hung in a hanging-garden.

Weather is fine, and the NYSE is open again.  We just need to make sure we can restart and run international trade.  The USA should stop being unwise about China, and China should let Hong Kong folks address the demonstrations in Hong Kong.   People have to recognize that these viral outbreaks are just the planet washing it's own hands, to try to wash off the "germs".  In a crowded world, where everyone has everything, we may have to re-think how we measure, plan-for, and generate, economic growth.  

We will have to point the economic-growth efforts "outwards".  This is critical for human survival.  There really are major opportunities in exploration - but there is also very high risk.  That is the way it works.  Risk tracks expectation of gain.

"There's a New Life Waiting for You, Off-World!"   ...  :D  (a big smile).  I like ascii-glyphs better.  What the flip-side of that clever tag-line from the original "Blade Runner" implied, needs to be understood:  "... And Certain Death, If You Just Stay Here."

The original deal, back in the 1960's, was that Russia would get Venus, and USA would get Mars.   Seems to be turning out differently.  Looks like China will get the Moon, and USA and Russia will hold the high-ground.    What we should really do, is re-purpose the ISS (International Space Station) as a manufacturing facility for transplantetary ships, and create a next-generation "Space Shuttle" - with the development shared between Russia and the USA.

But maybe Elon Musk's Falcon rockets will work.   If they can be made reliable enough to do heavy transport to orbit, then maybe we could get some transplanetary tech built up above.   The whole problem is the fuel.  Transporting rocket-fuel to orbit will be tricky.    We are just gonna have to build the Orion (the original nuclear-bomb powered space-ship, big pusher-plate, powered by spitting coke-bottle sized fission devices out the back, and detonating them.)   We transport folks to orbit on little rockets - and then the big Mars-Earth-Shuttle runs using fission-bursts.  A bit radio-dirty, but such is space.  We're all just going to have to learn to love the "radiance".  

The payoff is:  humanity gets to survive.    Otherwise, we will eventually just all be choking and fighting here on this small, wet ball of dirty iron, until we all get whacked, like happened to the dinosaurs.   If we don't leave Earth, our species will certainly die here.   The probability of human extinction tracks towards unity, the longer we wait.    We can all wait to be killed by some virus - or - we can *become* the virus!    We can choose death, or we can choose life.   

"Per Ardua, Ad Astra."   (Old RCAF motto:  "Through Adversity, To The Stars" )  

Let's understand exactly what the alternative is.   It's:  "Or Just Stay Here and Die."  

The choice seems pretty clear, does it  not?   Space travel has to be seen as more than just a national cost.  Better it be reframed as a national - and global - objective.  We need to maintain a clear focus on the future possibilities, and understand that these off-world possibilities are essentially the only place where unlimited gain can be found.

[ May 25, 2020 ] - Living by Numbers -  Banks.  And Bank shares.  Are they OK?

Topic today:  Banks.   Barron's had this article, saying banks will likely be OK, much better shape than in 2008-2009.   But the article is a bit light:

Banks are interesting, and if run right, should always make money.

In the 1920's, the big banks sold at between 4 and six times their book value.  That was pretty rich.  In the 1930 to 1933 period, somewhere between 6000 and 9000 crappy little "town banks" completely failed.  They failed, because the big "Bank of the United States" went bust, and all the depositors lost all their money.  This is why deposit insurance was created.

When big "Bank of United States" failed, just about everyone went to their crappy little (poorly capitalized) small, local bank, and withdrew their funds.   As prices fell, and folks defaulted on mortgages, the siezed houses could not be sold.   The US financial system - which from the very beginning had been based on "bad banking", pretty much stopped working at the local level for little people.   And as the little people rushed to protect their small pools of funds, and took their money from the small banks, this really accelerated the implosion of the USA money supply.

This is what really caused the Great Depression - not the Stock Market Crash of 1929.  That was a trigger, but it was the loss-of-confidence in the financial system, that really hurt.   When deposits are pulled from banks, the banks have to call in loans, and also have  less money to loan out.   The money supply shrinks - and it some agricultural areas, it shrank really fast.  This caused prices to fall, which encouraged folks to avoid any spending (since they knew stuff would be cheaper in the future.)  It also wrecked business operations - no money available from banks and customers all hoarding cash.

But we are not on this path now - banks have adequate funding sources, and so do most folks in general.  Lots of money is around, deposit insurance exists, and the unemployed are all getting money - for a while.  

The Barron's article is right - the banks will probably be just fine.  And they mostly were OK in Canada, because of the Canadian tradition of "branch" banking, which originated in Scotland.  We didn't have thousands of badly capitalized little mini-banks.

I had a look at CIBC (CM is ticker symbol), since we have a tiny bit in one of the portfolios:

It is interesting.  Here are how the numbers shake out:

Book value (for common shares) is $79.87/shr   (you have to subtract the prefs value from their equity).  You get book value by taking the shareholders equity, $38,394 million, and subtracting $2,825 (the equity for preferred shares ), to get $35,569 million.  This is from Consolidated Balance sheet, pg. 103 of the 2019 Annual Report.   Then, flip to Note 15, on page 159, and find the actual number of common shares outstanding as at end of fiscal year 2019, and this is: 445,325,744 shares.   So, book value is $35,569 million / 445325744 = $79.78 /shr.

And we note Tier 1 capital ratio is 12.9%, and latest Basel III number (CET1) capital is 11.6%  (I won't get in to a long talk about risk weighted assets, and such.  The capital ratios are well within spec., and risk management gets done pretty effectively at CIBC, near as I can tell.  See page 30 in the 2019 Annual Report.)

A number I like to look at is the loan-to-value LTV ratio on the mortgages by region by year.  For mortgages this year, the numbers are from 63 to 72%.  And the average LTV for the whole residential mortgage portfolio is 55% (because house prices have moved up over time.  Most loans are done in the 75-25 model (mortgage is max. 75% of house cost, buyer has to put up 25% to swing the deal.  The "Bank of Dad" is often used by younger buyers to pull together the down payment, or if the mortgage is high-ratio, the extra that the buyer has to add to the mortgage, is insured by the Federal mortgage insurance plan, for which the buyer pays a big premium).  The bank typically would not advance a mortgage beyond 75% of purchase price, unless the extra amount is insured by the Feds.    Near as I can tell, their mortgage portfolio looks ok, and the risk at the margin has been layed off on the guys that can print money.

And so, we check EPS - earnings per share - which is - for diluted shares (includes the options outstanding, which pumps up the shares outstanding number) => $2.58 for most recent quarter (which ended Oct. 31, 2019).   Use that as our estimate for annual, and we get: 4 x 2.58 => $10.32/shr.   This is stats - the best unbiased estimate is most recent data point.  Analysts may have different numbers.

With Book value and EPS, we can calculate the "Graham Number" to get fair-value estimate for share price:  

   Graham Number:       GN =  SQRoot [ 22.5 * BVPS * EPS ]

Graham suggested a bank should not trade at more than 15 times earnings, nor more than 1.5 times Book Value Per Share.   I agree, this is sensible.

So, we get:         Fair Value for CIBC shares = SQRoot [ 22.5 * 79.87 * 10.32 ]  =  $136.18 /shr

We can also use a simpler EPS multiple estimate:

Assume that you want to be conservative, and you think 11 times earnings is enough.  That value implies an earnings yield of 9%, which is very good, given that long dated bonds are yielding less than 1%.   If you use 15 times, you get 6.66% earnings yield.  Earnings yield is just inverse of EPS.   Using an 11 times multiple, which is conservative, we get a fair-value-estimate of CIBC share price of:

                         FVE (CIBC) =  10.32 * 11

                                               =  $113.52 / shr

And these two values are interesting, since the CIBC shares are trading around Book Value, at $82/shr and a bit.  The price is bouncing around, but seems to be a bargain, assuming CIBC can survive the crisis, without taking too much of a capital hit, based on asset-value shrinkage.

See, I suspect we will get some inflation out of this whole Covid-19 thing, and that may further goose the share price, so that instead of seeing asset values fall, we might see something quite different - perhaps an inflationary scenario where fixed, tangible assets increase in price.   The asset values don't even have to increase - they just have to not fall by 30%.   In the short and medium run, a transition from deflation to inflation is quite positive for equity values, typically.  Shares of well-capitalized banks offer some protection against both inflation and deflation.

The reason the market discounts bank share prices now, is because bank's as business entities are worth basically what their collateral is worth.  If suddenly, all the real-estate and businesses that have borrowed money from the banks are worth 30% less now, because of some viral economic storm, then the banks can expect their share prices to be re-priced down a similar level, since the assets of the bank are the loans it has outstanding, and what backstops the value of these loans, are the valuations on the underlying assets.  

The loans are just contractual obligations to pay.   It's the value of the underlying physical assets that make these loans possible.  This concept - pledging your physical wealth to get a loan - is called hypothecation - and it's what makes finance actually work.   A borrower makes a legal promise of the title to his house or ship or some big asset, but he does not deliver that title - he just promises he will, if the loan is not repaid.   A loan is actually a derivative contract, just like a swap or an option or a swap-option or whatever.   The underlying is the title to the property.   If you have a mortgage on your house, the bank owns your house, if you don't pay your mortgage payments.  It's that simple.  

The asset value of the bank, is the sum of the true value of the collateral that supports the loans that are outstanding.  What the market is saying now, is that this has *really* fallen.  But I am pretty sure, the market has overshot.  Why?  Because it almost always does.  And as long as folks - consumers and business people - can pay their mortgages, then they banks are probably OK.  The banks have reserves for losses.  They may increase their reserves - but probably not enough to hurt them too much, or impact profits too much.   Real-estate is still moving around here.  Not massively, but the housing market has not locked up - even during a "lockdown".

CIBC is interesting, because they paid their dividends during the 1930's Great Depression (at least the Bank of Commerce and the Canadian Imperial Bank did.  CIBC was formed by a merger of these two banks, in 1961. )

What we like most about CIBC, is their dividend policy is explicitly to pay out between 40% and 50% of earnings to their common shareholders, each and every year.  Of course, nothing is for sure about dividends.  The directors could pass on dividends, and many companys do this.  But the Bank of Commerce and the Imperial Bank of Canada paid their dividends even during the 1930's, and this established and demonstrated a solid baseline of commitment to the owners of the business, which seems to have been preserved.  This is a good thing.

The banks in Canada are kept on a short leash here.  And the key fact here, is that given the depressed share price of CIBC, ($82.50/shr as of 10:21am, Monday May 25th, 2020 as I key this)  the current dividend of $1.46/qtr ($5.84/shr/yr) is over 7.00%.   And that is just a crazy good number.  You will take on risk owning any bank shares - but you will take on serious risk owning anything, anywhere now.  "To Live's To Fly", as Townes Van Zandt made clear.

We think the dividend is reasonably secure.  Canadian banks typically do not cut dividends.  And Governments, regulators and most investor-citizens understand that this bank profit cash flow supports their pension plans, the life insurance schemes, and the retirement incomes of many ordinary folks.  Banks shares are widely held here, and by law, no one entity can own more than 10% of a chartered bank.  This single fact goes a long way to prevent the self-dealing and asset-stripping trickery that unethical inside agents typically use to hollow-out the cash from a good business.   Here, it is understood that if you want to get your hands on some of the fine profits the banks are making, the best way is to buy some bank stock.

We expect that Canadian bank share prices will normalize, once we get thru this crisis.  There is probably $30 to $40 potential in the CM (CIBC's ticker symbol) share price.  It may take two or three years for these valuation enhancements to be visible to the market.   We need either herd immunity, or a widespread vaccine that creates coronavirus antibodies in people, and we may need at least a year for this to become available.

There are several very promising fast-track developments on SARS-Cov-2 (Covid-19) virus vaccines being developed, and we reviewed an article in Lancet this weekend.  This particular vaccine binds to the coronavirus glycoprotein, and the delivery vector is the same virus agent that gives one a common cold.  It's neat technology, and the first human trial of 195 participants in China, went smoothly -  no-one got sick, no-one died, no-one caught SARS, and antibodies were detected in the test subjects.   See latest  medical journal "Lancet" URL below for details.

It's a dangerous, big world.   Sometimes, the bear eats you.  But as Joan Armatrading pointed out, sometimes, you get to eat the bear.   We will survive this Covid-19 thing.  I am sure, now.  :)

Full Disclosure:  We own CIBC shares.     I will write some more about bank risk and how the OSFI keeps the banks on a short leash, here in Canada.  Banks have to report capital calculations *EACH MONTH*, and this is a good and wise thing.  I doubt we could have a fiasco like Lehman Brothers here in Canada.    (More disclosure:  I did some contract work for LEH, very early on, back in the mid-1990's.   They were small then, and it was a short project.  Years later, as I watched the horror-show of 2008 play out, I did *not* expect them to fail.  But people are funny.   And some are really funny.   The key Lehman people regularly sucked hundreds of millions of dollars OUT of the company, and left it a ridiculously overleveraged, hollow shell, which could not possibly withstand any sort of a storm.   (The debate was: are they 33 times over-leveraged, or just 28 times over-leveraged? Oh my...)  And the Lehman financial statements were not just "window dressing".  They were outright fabrications, crafted to hide and obscure their true cash positions, and explicitly mislead their shareholders.   All the senior officers should have gone to jail.   But it was the People's Republic of New York, after all. )    😲😀

"Bad Banking" may have been good for USA in the Wild West times, but "Good Banking" is good for your wallet, here in the Crazy Times.

Q: What will you do with all the money?

A: Buy one of these things....

Stainless steel, and bulletproof, it is.   Yes, electric or not, I think you had us at those two design parameters.  And if I can get the fusion reactor running with the new palladium grid, and have the D2 lase properly, then maybe I can get more than a nano-watt of extra power from the thing, and we might be able to create some cheap kilowatts.    Why bother with jewels, when you can have joules?   🙂

[ May 22, 2020 ] - Poor Little Fool  - Stupid software.  This is the theme for today.

Our internet failed, and I had written a *lot* of interesting material - quite a long and interesting technical note - , and the *%$^)((*(@$&(%  internet from Xplornet has crashed twice this morning, and this useless editor lost everything I had written, despite me being careful.  Perhaps it was a failure by Firefox - which is awful and problematic.  (big long sigh...)

I had written some stuff about RapidAPI's latest round of financing, which is interesting.  And the RapidAPI business model is very interest - could be a genius idea.

Here is a news-story URL:

Techcrunch and Hacker News are sometimes useful.    The world of software is due for some serious improvement.  Too much of a big stack of bad stuff is used to make critical stuff work now.  We are all dependent on software that is neither good nor secure.  This is a problem that will bite us bad in the future, I fear.  (It bit me pretty badly today, for example!)   

[ May 20, 2020 ] - VW's New Game: "Flik Der Ngeerl !" - It just keeps getting more and more crazy & funny.  This is link to the new 10-second Instagram advert for VW - part of a campaign which involved a fictional back-story about an couple.  When "The New Golf" is spelled out in German, it says, a time-index 07 seconds:  "NGEERL" if you read top to bottom - if your eye scans left to right, it almost says something even more amusing.  The white-girl's hand appears to flick the dark-boy into a bar called "Petit Colon".   (I know what "colon" means in English.  Wonder what it means in young-folks-Euro-talk?  Reminds me of that street-language in Blade Runner:  "You think I would be working here, If I could afford a real snake?")

Folks are saying the advert is racist.  It really is just plain hilarious comedy.  Comedy is important, and is valuable.    VW is embarrassed.   And everyone is tuned to the "lets-be-super-stupid-sensitive" frequency on their mental FM-radios now.    The whole ad campaign involved a mixed-race couple, apparently, and this 10-second clip advert is probably part of a larger context, boy-girl interaction story.  But taken out of context, it looks pretty funny.      I can't imagine VW's advertisers set out to be racist.

Comedy is effective, and it works by saying in public the shocking things people are thinking privately.  Remember, there was that great National Lampoon advert about Mary-Jo Kopechne, who was killed by US Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy.  ( Old Ted is dead, so maybe Mary-Jo gets to "waterboard" him every morning for her amusement and as part of Ted's time in Purgatory?   :D )

The ad was a fake, but it looked real.  It said, basically, "Hey, Teddy Kennedy would have been President, if he had driven a VW, since our car is built so good and tight, that it floats for a minute or two.  Not long, but long enough to get your drunk girlfriend out, and not have her die, after you zoom your car off the bridge in a drunk-driving accident.!"  The whole point of humor, is to be shockingly offside, and say what folks are thinking, but are afraid to say.  (Eg: "The Emperor has No Clothes!  And his dick is really small, too!"  - The girls all *know* that is true.  The "Petite Colon" indeed...  )

Poor VW - I've driven by their big plant in Wolfsburg.   Ja, they build a lot of "People's Cars" - but no more Beetles, I believe.  And then, there is that whole "fake the gas milage numbers" thing.  Oh my.  Laughing seems to be required here.

So VW is having a difficult decade.  But sure better than Renault.  ( And better than Nissan too, which is not too far away from bankruptcy, some are suggesting.  European & Japanese cars are crazy expensive now, and Nissan and the Japanese Gov't tried to whack Carlos Ghosn using faked up nasty legal tricks - worse than the stuff China does.  Heck, I thought Japan was sort-of honest.   Such a surprise.    Crazy world now. )

Even more amusing, and better for learning useful stuff, is the "Fat-Tail Fight."  (We know a tiny bit about "fat tails" and all (see the purple rate-of-return histogram at the right).  Yes, Virginia, the tails really are fat - even Phat!, sometimes!))  But there is a real pissing contest - complete with name-calling - between Nassim Taleb and Cliff Asness of AQR Capital, on Twitter.  (I don't "tweet", but here is the browser-enabled link...)

Taleb can be a bit of mean old fart (He prefers the term: "Flaneur"), but he is almost certainly right.  A lot of people who look really clever and are making big money, actually have no f***ing idea what they are doing, and often are architects of these awful disasters.  (My fav. example is John Meriwether's LTCM genius-team who blew up real good...basically burnt down a $4 billion bond portfolio, back when a billion dollars US was real money.)   

I don't follow Asness or AQR, but all you need to do is look at their management expense ratio, and you can see that is where all the money is made.   JHC, I can't understand why people put their money into "funds" run by "professionals".  It's like - well, this really filthy gay-rude metaphor pops into my mind, but the times being what they are, I better just suggest that my opinion of most professionally managed funds is that they are probably not going to be very good investments - and you won't learn anything and your life will not be improved.   But thats just my opinion.   Your fund may have made you rich, and if that is the case, then I am honestly happy for you.   I didn't buy Microsoft stock back in the 1980's, when I knew for sure they would take over the world.  This is obviously because I am stupid, I admit it.

So, if you are really smart, and doing really well, then good.  Someone should prosper bigtime, since my little models suggest it can sometimes be possible.  :)

Markets can be really quiet and smooth for years and years and years - but then these events will occur that just nuke and whack everything, and all the structural characteristics completely change, and you are in a different world.  We've just seen this happen with this supid SARS-Cov-2 virus.   It's been a slow-motion train-wreck, and it's pretty crazy.

When these "world has changed" events happen, all your past datasets may (I say *may*) be completely useless descriptions of events, in terms of helping you navigate the newly changed world.  All the previous-world datasets will have very little to say about the changed-world model - Warsaw, Hiroshima, Berlin - all these cities had big financial districts.  When WW2 happened - poof - it all gets completely blown away.  

It was even more extreme in the First World War - Europe was stable and had all these social, political and economic constructs based on this idea of "aristocrats" who had hereditary privilage.   To modern folks, all that stuff sounds like weird off-world science fiction - but to people of that time, who grew up in the late 1800's, it was very real.   There were Kings and Lords and Queens and Barrons and Earls and Marquises, Kaisers and Tsars and all the most astonishing "blueblood" nonsense - which had existed and dominated the politics and economics of Euro-land for literally thousands of years.    And in just a few short years - whoosh - the entire complex of blue-blood-bullsh/t was brushed aside by the big hand of history.

Ugly new horror-shows that justified abuse and cruelty were created - like "Marxism" (which even Karl Marx himself repudiated, as it turns out.)

These big re-basing events happen actually quite a lot.  Taleb calls it living in "Extremeistan"   We think we are living in the "Republic of Reason & Stability" - and that our houses are made of wood and brick and steel beams, and we think we have the protection of the law, and the benefits of science at our disposal.    But in truth, we live in a violent whirlpool of constant change, our houses are made of meat, cake, sugar and ice (to the insects and rust), the law is as likely to harm you or kill you, as it is to help you, and nature is actually trying every single day to kill you, regardless of your science and knowledge.  And She will succeed - that is the only certainty.

We hold onto the illusion of stability, as it is difficult to get much done in the middle of a whirling storm.   It is always "the best of times" until one day, it just isn't.   The tails of the distribution are not just "fat", they are actually wildly undefined.   You cannot know what will happen, and when it does, the best you can do is to survive.    If you have been able to prosper and have pleasure, then you have probably been clever,  hard-working and lucky.  (Note:  You will need all three parameters to have been dialed to the "HIGH" position.   One or two probably won't be enough...unless #3 can be set to really high-values!)     :)

(Note:  Domino's pic moved to the "Good Dogs!" page..)

[ May 19, 2020 ] - Deutschland - I suppose having told my story of my trip to Ireland as a youngster, I should tell my stories of my astonishing visit to Germany that I took - again as a very young fellow, many years back..   Maybe next week...

I just discovered "Rammstein's" video "Deutschland", which is a curious combo of the very good, and the very awful.  "Germania", (the female-image of the "German People") is of course, a black woman who looks like a Berlin hooker.  (Well, I guess that is pretty much exactly what she is, right? - we gonna hook you to buy our music and come to our shows, eh?  Hilarious).  

But the video tries to be more than just music.  It is a damn good effort.  But is too much "plastic violence" and retails all the standard bad-bad-not-good things about recent German history - concentration camps, hung jews, awful violence, cabaret-stuff that has been done to death.   

That scene in "Battle of the Bulge" where the young lads sing the "Tank Commander's Song" is about 100 times more effective at explaining Germany and it's complex and painful history.

So, Today: "Deutschland" - the awful video by Rammstein - but great production values!  (Seems to be: "banned on Youtube"...  so watch in on Vimeo...)  Note: Two versions here - I notice that sometime Vimeo video's lock - they get about halfway thru, and then stop - seems to be by design, perhaps.  First, is the official video, supposedly:

Having a grandfather who was pure German, and a grandmother who was pure Irish, does make one a bit conflicted.  You have to learn to deal with having the soul of a sensitive drunken poet who sees magic everywhere, but combined with a Germanic brain which is not just comfortable with machine science, but truly and completely genetically hardwired to have an automatic appreciation of all things to do with technology and physics.  

As time passes, I think much of what we are, is somehow captured (encoded?) in our DNA and RNA, and the fabricated proteins that direct and synchronize our biology.

I think of "trolling" the way fishermen do.  We do not "surf" the world of ideas, we troll through it with our motor's running slowly, and seek to hook the interesting ideas and developments.

The Rammstein video is impressive, and some real work obviously went into it by "Specter Berlin".  But it's use of modern-classic negro imagery and brutal violence rather causes it to defeat itself, which is unfortunate.   What makes the Nazi's so interesting, is how many of them were actually quite honorable and good people who really were trying to do their duty for their country.  This is better captured in a film like "Das Boot" (in English: "The Boat"), about a U-boat and it's commanders and crew.

In Germany, patriotism is viewed like racism now, and many Germans seem to have amazing self-loathing.  This is sad and bad, and this video really reflects this tragedy.   Too many art-folks in and of Germany rather look like they hate themselves.  Really, this is too bad.  But then I would trade the entire horror of the Second World War, just for Werner Von Braun and his rocket-men, so we could get the Apollo program done and built.   (I have this deep fear that as things begin to run retrograde here on Earth (Dirt..), that we may never - or possibly not for hundreds of years - ever recapture the ability to construct and deploy trans-planetary space craft.   With our computer technology, and desire for non-thinking foolish fantasy, it appears we are collectively losing both the will and ability to be space explorers.  This concerns me.)

But the video is pretty slick art, even if it is too much of a long string of violent clichés.  Once "Rammstein" the band shuts up, and the musicians can play, there is a very lovely piano piece at the end, when they roll the credits.  If the boys had dailed-it-all-back just a bit, I think it would have been more effective - more chilling.   They could have kept the music and lyrics - but just pulled back a bit.   Be a bit more like Wim Wender's "Der Himmel über Berlin" and a bit less like every modern violent psycho-splatter flick.  As it is - it has this "everything and the kitchen sink" quality, that I think makes it a lot less effective as music & filmic art, than it really could have been.    If you try to do everything, then you often end up with just a big bucket of ugly.  And that does not say very much at all.

Consider this:  The same/similar Roman history scene - but Germania opposes, (make her white, don't be silly) - fiercely - with violence (it's "metal-ger-sell-shaft" music after all), and she and her forces triumph - but in the forest in the distance, a panzer tank is rolling - nasty fellow at the helm, curiously helpless dude up top with glasses - they are hunting her - music builds - gets more intense  - a few inter-cuts to German history  - jews being hung, etc, etc... - back to Germania victorious over the Romans - inter-cuts to history, flying worthless money in prison scene is good  - back to the tank rolling  - it's blasting trees - violence thru the Black Forest - more intercuts to history situations - monks hanging and killing people - but then back to the tank - Germania now tries to oppose the tank - she drops her armour and she is a young, attractive white-girl - she takes the pose of that kid in China who tried to stand in front of  the Chinese Tiananmen murder-tank - and Germania is blown to bits by the main gun (yes, you will need some quality CG here) - music builds - "DeutschLAND!" (over all - yatta yatta heavy metal), and the tank rolls over Germania as the music crescendo's.   As the tank drives on thru the forest, we see "Germania" - now just a very wounded young girl - crawl to pick up an anti-tank weapon - and fire it and dispatch the tank in a large explosion (like there was in the film - like in Ironman, when the bad guy falls into the arc-reactor).    Germania should look like a German girl - and she destroys the violent, crushing evil of the German history machine.   Yes, it's metal-music, still with enough violence and intercutting to hold attention - but a bit more honest.  Turning Germania into a black whore just makes it all look like silly manga.

I suppose for music in Germany, that is perhaps still the only way.  It can't really be any sort of actual story you care about with any sort of emotional investment...

Problem is, a good video might become an anthem for German kids.   I mean, the current video has the not-dead jews suddenly shoot the Nazi henchmen in their heads.  Pretty violent attempt to re-program history... kosher porn they call it. But most of the video is just over-the-top silly - its all too much cartoonish bullshit.

Why not at least have a young, fragile white German girl - as Germania - rise up, and smite the nasty violent history of Deutschland?  Sure, that is too "Hollywood", I guess.

Maybe it would be better for her *not* to kill the tank.  She just stands up, bloodied and covered in mud - one of her angel wings broken - blood on her face and body - but she just stands up, as the tank turns and comes back towards her.  The tank stops.   We see the scared kid on the top of the tank, has just shot the tank commander, who lies over the firing controls inside with a huge hole in his head.   Wounded "Germania" and the kid in the turret look at each other (big loud metal music "Deutschland"...blah blah)  - each with a curious expression

Then, we see the hits from those godlike laser bursts from space (also in the current video) now range around both of them.  They guy is hit, pitched off the tank onto the ground.  Germania - broken wing, broken spear - runs over and grabs him, pulls and half carries him into the forest.   Lasers blast and burn around them.   They both stand up, in the forest - there is a powerful white light in the distance - (lots of good loud metal bashing music)  and they grimly walk towards it.  

Lasers destroy the tank - (second music crescendo)  - a violent "Deutschland uber all" heavy-metal musical crescendo - and a freeze-frame of the kid in his fllthy, torn uniform, and wounded "Germania" walking, using her broken sprear as a crutch, helping him along.

Yeah, that would be a cliché also I suppose.  And it might also be considerered a little too patriotic to past muster in Germany.    (big sigh)

But I feel like G.B. Shaw did when he was writing theatre reviews in London.  He thought "This stuff I am seeing is just crap.  I could do a *lot* better."  And then he did.   :)

And check this video.  Old German military song from First World War, put to fastmusic-mit-fun anime beat.  Way more fun than modern metal blood-stained junk for children:

A little sunshine warms the heart, and makes young spirits rise.   This video is so much better than the Rammstein sh/t that it is hilarious.   Maybe just dump all the metal sh/t, and embrace life, and learn to use fine technology effectively?  When you can use the correct technology for the specific situation in which it must be deployed, and you get a good results, then that cold whistling wind really does warm your heart!  

Remember: Everything you think you "know", is wrong!    🙂 🤒

[ May 18, 2020 ] - Stormbringer  - Arthur's Edge, perhaps?   Weather is violent with stormy rain.  Banshees are shrieking their caoines, and the world-wind whirls.

If you go thru history, and review the art and literature of Western Civilization, there is one primary theme:

[ "I been to church, & I declare, there ain't nothing for learnin' there..." ]

I wonder if the "Celtic Fringe" will be able to save civilization one more time?  Or shall we just let it go this time?

I recall my first trip to Ireland, when I was a young child.  We landed at Shannon, my parents rented a car, and off we went, whacked out with jet-lag, in an amazing beautiful, sunny spring day.

Everything was green and fine with sunshine.  We stayed that first night at a little rental called "Cherry Cottage", and it was like being a storybook.  It was such a strange trip - I had a very good first impression, and it got even more strange - and curiously attractive -  as we toured around.  You would see a farm field, and in the middle, would be a ruined castle maybe 1000 years old.  (In Ontario, there were no man-made structures over 200 years old anywhere, except maybe for a pub in Niagara-On-The-Lake).  

Ireland was strange, because although it was so curiously different and foreign, I guess maybe my little DNA strands were signalling  "Home!  Homeland!  This is home.  You are home.  Home home home."   The place felt crazy-foreign, yet curiously familiar, and lovely comfortable.   The psychologists call this experience-sensation: cognative dissonance.   This sensation is co-associated with learning and in Eastern culture (in this case, Japanese Buddhist), it is linked to the idea of enlightenment -  "satori" or "kensho" - sometimes described as "seeing into one's true nature".   

Japanese Zen Buddhist teaching originated in China.  There is real knowledge in Zen.  Eg:


     “Zhàozhōu  asked the teacher Nánquán, ‘What is the true way?’
     Nánquán answered, ‘Every day’s way is the true way.’
     Zhàozhōu  said, ‘Can I study it?’
     Nánquán answered, ‘The more you study it, the further you will be from the way.’
     Zhàozhōu  asked, ‘If I don’t study it, how can I know it?’
     Nánquán answered, ‘The way does not belong to the things we can see nor the things we can’t see. It does not belong to the things we know nor the things we don’t know. Don’t look for it, don’t study it, don’t mention it. To reach it, open yourself as wide as the sky.”


This is actually true.  It seems silly at first, but there is honest wisdom here.

In the markets, you will find that the market will try hard to shake you out of a good position.  Often it will succeed - but if your position really is good, you will be shaken out at the worst time.

See, for most small players - you yourself are the supplier of the capital, that the clever boys are fighting over.  They say that in a poker game, if you cannot tell in the first 5 minutes who the "patsy" is - the inexperienced player with cash who will be supplying his money to the game - then YOU ARE THE PATSY.   This clever and amusing aphorism is pretty close to the truth.

Oft times, one will enter into some situation, and if observant, you will learn very quickly that the whole thing is "bad, bad, not good"  (this is also actually a jazz tune title...).  This phenomenon is very common in nature.  If I put sunflower seeds in the little bird-feeder, the little birds will come and happily eat it.   But the high-flying hawk will also notice the cluster of songbirds, in the same way the songbirds notice the birdseed.  Sometimes, one goes to put seeds in the feeder, and there are pieces of little sparrow or finch on the ground.  A little bird came to get some lunch, and suddenly found itself becoming lunch for a bigger predator.

This experience is common in the world.  It is the experience most people have of the internet now.  You think you're gaining something - and you maybe you are.   But with most services and product now on the internet - a good example being Facebook - you are not really the customer - you are mostly the product and most folks don't see this very clearly.  

This is particularly the case in many investment schemes.   Even traditional investments are sometimes designed to harvest cash from the public, and then create the illusion of the possibility of big gains, so as to keep the *customer* hooked to the process, until the cash is drained away.  This is the basis for most "confidence scams" and telephone fraud.  

You think you are entering into a process that will generate wealth, and in fact, you often find that you have plugged into a process that consumes wealth, and drains it away.   You are not eating, you are being eaten!

Scams and frauds have become the biggest growth business in the world now, it sometimes seems.  The stock market has always had t[ May 18, 2020 ] - Stormbringero try to protect it's market integrity by creating rules and procedures to restrict bogus investment schemes - but the very nature of the process of investment lends itself to a suspension of disbelief.   You risk becoming your own "mark".

It is critically important to step outside of your own thought-process, and recognize the illusions and fraud that are wrapped around so much of what we see.  This is very difficult to really do.

And it is even worse in politics.  In politics, the objective is to create the illusion of "solving a problem" and typically communicating these "solutions" to the public.  What really actually happens, will be mostly determined by external forces, the march of events (which are often quite outside the politico's control), and pure randomness.   But the political operative will cleverly jump on events which lend themselves to simplistic solutions, and then execute their public efforts so as to create the illusion that they had "taken action to address the problem".

The only thing politicians can really do, is pass laws and then have policing agents implement those laws using the threat of violence.  They set themselves up in positions of power and authority, by either violence or consent, and then expropriate resources to implement collectivist "solutions" which involve creating restrictions and rule-sets to govern social behaviour.  That is it.  And for that, the level of resource expropriation (taxation), typically rises over time, until it becomes unsustainable, and a revolutionary social change is triggered.    It is only during times of war, when political people can really do very much that is either useful or effective.  But in our over-governed world, very few people can see the true nature of the "political scam" clearly.   So many people think that "government" can actually solve problems - but experience shows clearly that typically, more problems are *created* by government agents than are ever solved by them.    

Since we live in a world of illusion and fraud, there is real gain to be had, if one can somehow step outside of the carnival-show of deception, and see things clearly for what they really are, and thus also learn how things really happen.  Science takes us partway there - but you need to do more, if you want to see clearly.  We are often lied to - but we also lie to ourselves.

It has been difficult to stay long and fully invested during these weirdly gruesome times.  But there are process-models that sort-of work, and these often have historical patterns that can be inspected.  The past does not predict the future, but it sometimes gives evidence to how the events may play out.   If one learns to look at things and see them clearly - then this can have real benefits.

But you have to invest the effort and work daily at trying to see clearly.   Then, every so often, your attempts to achieve investment-enlightenment, will be rewarded.    As I write this, crude oil is up almost 10% in price again today, the DJIA is up over 900 points, and our positions have gapped upward in value rather dramatically.   We are recovering some losses in the portfolios, and there is now some real evidence that one our scenarios is tracking along as expected.

What we observed was a scenario where in-out trading was becoming very dangerous, and that we ran the risk of losing an attractive market position - as the market was doing it's best to shake us out of the tree.  Why?   Well, for the money, of course.   :)

Perhaps the new book should be called: "Zen and the Art of Standing Pat".

[ May 17, 2020 ] - Taxes, Trilliums & the Air-Gap Symphony - Technicians always face a bit of hardship when the technical profile of things changes rapidly.   "Who Cheesed my Move?" we sometimes instinctively ask.  But then the game begins again, and only exhaustion and distortion are all one can feel and see.   Too much reading tonite...    :)

[ May 16, 2020 ] - The Decameron, Quadrivium & the Heroin of Growth - Throughout history, people have remained people.  This is why "social-science" sort-of works.  Yes, the Federal Reserve has done an adequate job, but we are seeing the limits of monetary policy.  And we are seeing the limits on the effectiveness of government action.

Institutional economists cannot see the future very well.  They use the pictures-of-the-world and the knowledge-models that they have been taught, to interpret events.   The US economists typically still think in terms of "growth" - it is the drug that everyone is still hooked on.   Because of this, they miss the turning points, and they miss them badly.  Even the good ones miss it.

We all use our stories and the stuff we were taught at school, to interpret events.   When these big shifts happen, many miss the change.    My research has indicated that raptd, extreme, violent changes in the "state of things" is in fact, the normal, standard way that events unfold through time.

I have developed this "picture of the world" from both mathematical and algorithmic research, and also just by observing nature and human events.   It is the rolling-in of the phase-jumping "storm",  visible in the math of any chaotic process model, that mostly characterizes the kind of change that we need to know about and prepare for.   In a few short moments, we jump from one orbital regime, to an entirely different locus.   This idea=picture is not captured well in economic science, (despite the long historical record of market crashes),  but this picture-of-the-world is common and well described in the literature and artworks of many cultures.

Examples abound. The events of Sept, 2001, ("9/11"), where terrorists knocked down the two towers of the World Trade Centre in New York City is an example.  The combined German and Russian "LIghtening War" that took down Poland in a matter of weeks back in 1939 (and signalled the end of the Great Depression, and the beginning of the Second World War), is another.   Another more recent example is the March 2011 East-Japan Earthquate & Tohoku Tsunami, that killed over 30,000 people in a few minutes, and caused the Fukushima nuclear fission reactors to lose all cooling water, and thus overheat and explode, spreading toxic radioactive materal over a wide area, at levels of radiation as great or greater than did the Hiroshima atomic blast of 1945.   

These chaotic jumps occur in nature frequently, and are often the cause of significant change.  In biological evolution, we see this process.  Evolution does not proceed smoothly.  Random mutations are always occuring - but sometimes, a mutation occurs which confers radical and extreme advantage, and a new species is thus engineered by Mother Nature, as the offspring with the new mutation are able to expand into and dominate a new ecological niche.

Thess extreme, chaotic phase-jumps cannot easily be predicted.  But one can "prepare" for them, by recognizing that they are likely, and will tend to drive the key changes that really matter.

Economists and governments and business folks are all "hooked on growth".   And I have always found this curious, since a planet is such a completely bounded, limited, and small physical system, floating a the dark, lifeless void of the space-vacuum.   I was very influenced as a child, by the Apollo 11 images,  We saw Earth (our planet is called "Dirt", which is amusing...) from space quite clearly, and one therefore also sees clearly that Earth is a little blue test-tube or tiny petri-dish.   What one man farts or sneezes, the next man has to inhale.  If you piss in the lake, someone will eventually drink it - just like the water-reclaimation life-support system on the International Space Station.   Our world is small, blue, fragile, and absolutely limited and bounded in scope.

If human civilization is to just maintain the economic model of "growth", we will have to develop some sort of trans-planetary economy.    Venus is an awful place - a high-pressure acid-bath, with 500 km/hr winds and horrible high temperatures.   Mars is small and dead and almost airless.   The moon is a tiny, sterile orb, covered with a nasty, machinery-clogging fine dust.   Our opportunities for further  "growth" are very limited.  But they are not absolutely closed off.   Growth is possible - but it will be very difficult and risky.

As an investor, we have to deal with the limiting-case of the investment - and economic - process.  If all investment activity is bounded and restricted to Earth, then we will - with certainty - at some point reach a terminal condition, where no further "growth" of any kind, is really possible.  Natural observation suggests that growth then runs backwards - instead of growth, one observes "dieback" - and this is a really common occurance in ecological models and can be seen in many population studies of both animals and humans.

Every economist in economics-school studies Malthus - the "Dismal Scientist" who articulated the economic problem of "growth" in Victorian times.  We've been able to avoid a "Malthusian Crash" because we have been able to continuously improve our technology, so as to support greater and greater numbers of people - especially in the modern economies our northern nation-states.    Ricardo taught us about the "margin of cultivation", and showed how improvements in the technical translation co-efficients of a Leontif-matrix can push development further and further out into marginally productive lands.  And the Austrian economists explained how most economic decision-making is done not with raw averages, but by reference to the degree of change in gain or loss that occurs at the edge-conditions - marginal improvements can be made, if they create marginal gains.  And it all came together in the Chicago School, were a proper understanding of things was pulled together.   Money matters - and monetary conditions will typically determine if an economy can function, and political conditions and the legal basis for ownership will determine if economic prosperity can be possible.

We know more now.   The Central Banks work better now.   The Federal Reserve is right to try to ramp up M1 ( or M2 or M3 - the money supply, however it is counted).  They are wise to extend credit to credit-granting agencies,  through various schemes, during a time when crisis occurs, and businesses are under economic attack.  But this can only do so much.

So perhaps we are not as wise as we all think we are.    As a trader, one makes a lot of mistakes.  (At least I do...)   One always has to think about the alternate (or worst) case, and try to assign probabilities to it.  Any subjective probability is almost certain to be wrong.  And we must remember aways that lack of evidence is not evidence of lack, and that correlation does not imply causation.  This is very, very difficult for human beings to do.   Science is a lot like religion sometimes, in that it requires that one try to avoid falling into sinful error - because it is so easy to do.  And politics can corrupt and damage Science just like it can corrupt and damage religion.

The seductive attraction of economic science is the concept of "growth".   If an economy works right, it should be able to "grow" - pretty much forever, as we just have to dial up the monetary values to make that happen.   Prosperity runs along nicely, and more desired stuff is made available to more people, at lower costs, and frequently.

But as the economic system grows, it becomes more complex, and uses ever greater specialization, and ever longer supply-chains.  As a system, it has to become more fragile - especially as political parameters are introduced that can subvert economic linkages.  Minimum wage laws destroy employment opportunities for low-skilled folks trying to enter the work-force.  Businesses are unwilling to invest in worker-training, as the benefit acrues to the worker, who takes the training with him when he leaves.  It is the worker's task to invest in his training, since the benefit will belong to him.  And it is the school's job to ensure the worker can get useful training so as to gain marketable, cash-generating skills.

As the economic system becomes more complex, and more government-mandated political distortions and restrictions are introduced, an already fragile system becomes more fragile, and more distorted.   The limiting case for political distortion and damage to economics came in the "Communist" model - which was on display in much of Eastern Europe for 45 years, and in Russia, for 70 years.  It resulted in mass impoverishment, deprivation, extreme reductions in human social freedoms, and ultimately collapsed and failed completely.

What we risk now here, in 2020, is creating a similar collapse to a fragile system, by the introduction of mandates and restrictions that mirror the errors made in the "Communist" model.

Much of the extreme gain in prosperity and general economic wealth in the last 40 years, has come from the enhanced trading and commerical opportunities that tariff reductions, the establishment of common markets, and the opening up of Asian markets to Roman-style private-property economic models (which allow hypothecation - ie. mortgages, taxes, etc.).

Folks in China and Indonesia, for example,  whose parents grew up in villages living in wooden huts with mud floors, now own modern houses, have mortgages, and worry about what kind of car they should buy.  They are plugged into a modern economic model, and this process has worked very, very well for everyone involved - both developed and developing countries.

What we risk now, is running this globalization model in reverse.  We see borders closing, common markets failing due to poor design and high-costs of membership, tariffs being re-introduced and raised, and restrictions being made to trade and knowledge-transfer.

The coronavirus was a wild-card that made everything worse really quickly, but the dialing-back of the economic benefits of the globalization model, had already begun.  The virus "lockdowns" are just making it much worse, much faster.   

The danger here, is that it all starts to unwind, for political and "safety" reasons.  "Safety" requirements can be especially effective, since it is difficult to argue against having more "Safety" - despite the fascist nature of what the "safety" restrictions imply.

As investors, we are at a curiously difficult, and rather bizarre and extreme nexus.  The solution to this crisis is a massive ramp-up in monetary levels.  But will this be possible?  Almost 40 million Americans have been thrown out of work, and many small businesses have been destroyed and will not likely be reborn.  Prices will rise due to scarcity, and everyone is facing massive changes in revenue and cost structure for both their business and private lives.   Massive amounts of wealth have been vapourized in the equity markets.

Do we get a V-shaped recovery?   I just don't see it being possible.    Nature demands that we restrict growth in a closed system - somehow.  And our fragile, global, highly-linked economic model, has been smashed.   Most conferences, marketing opportunites, sports events and even the Olympics, have been cancelled or postponed.  Hotels are empty, airlines are facing bankruptcy, retail-sales have collapsed, and US industrial production has fallen off a cliff.

The implosion of demand may be greater than the level of monetary stimulus that is even technically possible.  In Canada, $40,000 loans are available for businesses - but these are tied to retaining employees, and as a result are worthless for private practitioners.  Also, borrowing money when all demand has disappeared seems obviously unwise.   Borrowing money is a "dial-it-up" exercise, which a business does to expand when demand is rising.  When demand collapses, you need to do a "dial-it-down" exercise, where you cut back spending, and drop into survival mode, reducing any variable cost you can - such as staff.   It is obvious the people who designed the Canadian business-relief program, have little knowledge or understanding of how a commerical entity operates.  This is typical of "government people" all over the world.  They are the kind of people who *want* to get secure government jobs, and so they have very little understanding of the world of the risk-taking entrepreneur.

So, I fear we are in real trouble now.   Now that the fragile economic machine has been smashed as badly as it has been, I suspect we will trend down for some time, as the political conditions are certain to worsen everywhere now.    The US-China partnership is being actively damaged by everyone involved, it appears, and the political leaders in most North American and European countries are flailing about and talking and talking but nothing is happening at the local level except restrictions and continued economic assault.   What is astonishing, is the amazing level of dishonesty that is being retailed by the political people.  

And I am just gobsmacked by the institutional economists who are still calling for "growth"!   I want to ask them what they are smoking.   Many  economists and government people have so little awareness of how business actually operates and how prosperity actually results, that it is amazing.    I fear that much of North America will have to drop down in to "survival" mode for some time - probably at least until the end of the year and maybe even the next one, if simple trend development cause conditions deteriorate further.     

Political situations in Israel,  Palestine and Afghanistan have become ugly and are returning again to a level to extreme violence.    The US has given up on any chance of peace anywhere, and is instead doing as Canada did - cutting and running - and will leave the young mothers to be murdered in their hospital beds by the forces of the worst evil that has ever been seen in all of human history.

The legacy of Trudeau (who took Canada out of the Afghan struggle), and Trump (a man who decided he would negotiate with the forces of evil) will be a military failure of the most tragic kind - complete surrender to absolute evil.   This cannot be a good outcome for anyone in North America, and will be remembered long after both men are gone.

So I can't see a positive path here.   The failure of our political people is typical, and rather to be expected.  They are talkers and focus on appearance and illusion.   They are players in a game of popularity and image, without substance.  What they say and do matters little.

But the extreme levels of economic damage caused by the virus, by the response to the virus, and by the fragility of our economic model will not be mended quickly.  The evidence suggests that the modern economic model of globalization and low tarrifs which relies on peace and prosperity improvement, is threatened.  As the world moves away from that model, we may see "growth" go negative, and prices for everything go up - except wages, which will likely trend down.  This process can quickly become self-re-enforcing, and given the conflict situations that exist now, it almost certainly will be.

There is also another event on the horizon.  I am not sure what it is.  There is another major negative event that looks to be ready to occur.   I know this sound like Delphic halucination, but it is keeping me up at night.  This is not anxiety, so much as it is something I am seeing in the data.  I have spent years trying to get the AI software to see this sort of stuff that I feel sometimes.   It's actually described in "Reminiscences of a Stock Operator", where the protagonist - who is on vacation - suddenly is gripped with an unexplainable feeling that he should short Union Pacific, which he then does - several very large trades.  Af first, the position goes against him badly.  But then, the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 occurs, and stock falls and falls in price, with the Panic of 1907 being the culmination.  Livermore could never explain why he did the short - he just said he had a feeling.   I think what happens is that if we have enough price data in our brains, one's own neural network can form opinions on the way the small, non-random signals track - enough information exist to offer a warning-feeling, which trips really ancient circuits that have evolved over millions of years to give us warning for danger.

I think ultimately that is what is happening here.  I am getting warning feelings about the economic damage, especially as it combines with the unwise political action I am seeing.   We seem to be tracking toward another catastrophe.   Maybe a big war?  I honestly don't know.   At the moment, I am trying to see if I can "see" anything in the data.  Perhaps it is another major earthquake in California.  That actually makes the most sense, given the seismic activity on the other side of the Pacific in the last 30 years.

I am pretty sure the world can survive the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.  But I am much more worried about the degree of damage done to the global economy, and the political-economic outcome that results from the response taken to this damage.   I suspect that is where the dragons that could destroy us all, might be lurking.

[ May 15, 2020 ] - Idiot Wind.  -  The algos can be reverse engineered - everyone knows that.  But as the market becomes more completely dominated by algorithmic trading, and the rational investors back away from the process, it is only the hard-core technical traders, pure gamblers, automatic algos and institutional folks left in the game.  This creates a curious phenomenon.

This is making the market appear to be stupid.  It is not really doing "price discovery" so much as it is now doing "price obfuscation & deception".    This is not new.   We are back to the 1890's almost.   I think one of the algos is named "JIMFISK".   The markets are generating what almost appear be fake prices - both in real-time, and over medium-range time periods.   This exacerbates volatility, since things (prices) get more and more stupid, until a violent correction has to occur.  

It has always been like this - but it is now seems to be getting worse at an increased velocity.   And it seems the American SEC folks are actively engaged in facilitating this.    Is this the end of American dominance of the securities markets?   No, of course not.    It's just more of that powerful force - stupidity - coming into play.   We are not the only ones scratching our heads here.

One gets the sense that  the price data generated during the day is funny.  It just looks bogus.  But the bogus obfuscations can be magnified and made to grow - just like all the tricky stuff that was done back in the old days.  It's pretty hilarious.   I have this nagging feeling that we are programming a process that could take us to the terminal-condition of the entire investment process.  These hard-crashes seem to be part of market history.

And full disclosure:  We remain all-in long.   The case for this approach is so simple:  If we get a serious deflation, then we just go to ground, and cut all expense except basic survival.  We are well "prepped" for this, and have almost no debt.  We can survive that outcome.  But if we see a non-linear burst of inflation-action, our thesis is that it will happen rapidly, in real-time, and equity positions will offer better protection against this scenario than cash.  Bonds really are dangerous, as if the inflation happens, then interest rates will have to normalize, and bond prices will have to fall back to earth.

Our most likely scenario is a return to 1970's style "stagflation" => declining economic activity, high unemployment, and rising inflation.   It is so simple.  We will probably see a return to classical scarcity, and economic disruption.  I have always suspected the last 40 years has been crazy atypical - if you look at any long-wave chart of just about anything, this time period - starting in 1980 with the election of Ron Regan as the US President - has been a ramp-up in prosperity and improved global living standards like the world has not seen since the 2nd and 3rd century AD, when Rome ran the Western World.  Any chart of almost any economic variable, for the last 120 years, shows this massive, exponential lift-off in the last 40 years.  This is combined with low unemployment, low rates of infant mortality, improvements in medical care and nutrition and food-availability, literacy, mobility, etc.   Most of these gains were the result of various forms of "globalization", expansion of world trade, and improvements in communication & information technology.

All of these significant improvements can run in reverse.  We will likely see not just a reduction in growth rates, but a shift toward a retrograde economic model.   I don't say this because of any desire to spread "doom and gloom" - I suggest that this is likely, because in the historical cases that one can look at, it just always seems to happen.     Perhaps it is the force-of-stupidity showing it's power.   Victorian England pretty much ruled the world, and the British Pound was the world's reserve currency.  But by 1949, England - though victorious in war - was effectively bankrupt, and lost most of it's profitable colonial assets.  The Second World war left it's economy shattered.  It imposed currency controls, which prevented people from even taking English money out of the country.   European nations were either crushed by Communist gangsters, or had to be bailed-out, by the generous and clever US "Marshal Plan".  It wasn't until 1989 that the occupations and military gangsterism of the Second World War ended in half of Europe.

As the world opened up, and embraced free (or at least freer) trade, and the IMF offered currency-stability options for poorer, less clever nations, things just got better and better.  A lot of really good ideas got implemented, because the cost of atomic war was deemed to be too high to risk.   So peaceful trade occured, instead of violent, stupid and destructive warfare.

But why should this improvement continue forever?  This virus phenomenon has encouraged governments to ramp-up all the old fascist strategies: ban crowds, restrict trade, raise tarrifs, reduce opportunity, ban firearms (in Canada), increase social-monitoring, increase unemployment, restrict movement - all the old tricks and restrictions suddenly have been able to be re-introduced, and people find their lives are not their own.   This is a serious and ugly change, that will require great effort to stand against and may be impossible to correct in the short run.   And in the long run, we are all dead - virus or no virus.

So we are almost certain to see economic "growth" turn retrograde.  We may find that nations will measure economic success by how small their rate-of-collapse is being shown to be.

The world survived the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic because governments did not have the power they do now.   No matter how bad the flu was, no one would have suggested that everything simply be shutdown for 3 or 4 months, and everyone hide at home.  It was understood that people had to work.  Precautions were taken, but there was no attempt to close everything everywhere.   In this way, herd immunity was achieved within 12 to 18 months.

We will not be so lucky this time.   The amount of economic damage is extreme, and is still growing.  And suddenly, that silly term that first appeared in the Automobile magazines back in the 1970's - "Safety Nazi" - is now providing an accurate description of the world we are now embedded within.

Many nations have closed their borders.  Unemployment has spiked, many business entities have seen their revenues disappear, and trade has collapsed.  Governments are now developing technologies to enhance the tracking of the movements of individual citizens, and impose a range of restrictions.  These restrictions - designed to limit the spread of the virus - also prevent any sort of group political activity or public protest or political demonstrations from taking place.   This suggests that forms of political protest will shift from passive demonstrations and rally actions, to more explicit direct action.   We are creating an environment which cannot avoid creating angry and deeply frustrated people.   All of this is bad and raises the probability of costly outcomes.

So, we risk getting a degraded economic process, which runs backwards, as it unwinds the gains of the last 40 years.  People will be forced to burn through their savings to pay their bills, buy their food, pay their property taxes, etc.   As free money is given to people for not working ("Unemployment Insurance"), we will further degrade any incentive to re-enter the workforce, and further reduce participation rates, which are already at historic low levels.

We have a real possibility of an almost perfect nightmare-fascist scenario - abusive government agents enter into every process in the name of "safety", and restrictions multiply as opportunities are reduced or removed.  This further restricts or raises the cost of economic activity, and as the system cycles down, some sort of reactive response may be generated, perhaps violent protests.  Of course, this will allow further justification for more fascist measures to be taken.

That we could phase-jump so quickly to this sort of nightmare economic model, is interesting and disturbing.   It seems very far-fetched and unlikely.   But again, if one looks through history, this is how it seems to play out.   The very clever and very bad political folks, are smart enough to channel that force-of-stupidity in a way that lets them cement their hold on power, and their control of the whole political process.

We not only are truly in the shit, but we can expect it to get nastier and more costly.

[ May 14, 2020 ] - Golden Years? - Warren Buffet just dropped his stake in Bancorp below the 10% threshold, so he does not need to tell the market what he is doing with the stock.  Banks have been kicked to the curb this year, and by this virus thing.  What is holding up well, is gold.

Gold is fascinating.  We unloaded a gold-stock because it had moved up so significantly, and we vectored the funds into some additional bank shares in a Cdn institution with a nice global footprint and attractive dividend.   This has not been a great trade, as gold - and the gold stocks - are holding up well, and the bank stocks are getting just hammered again, probably on fears of negative interest rates (a curiously bad idea).

The Germans describe stupidity as a "force".  This is interesting.  Perhaps negative rates will be forced upon us.   The price of gold, now well over $1700 per oz and rising, is also interesting.  Gold does not change.  It just sits there, and stays as gold.  You can bury it in the ground, and come back 1000 years later, and it will still be there, if someone has not found it and dug it up and moved it to somewhere else.  

Gold seems an absurd, dead asset - but that is also it's virtue.  It does not change, as the world around it spins in constant and violent flux.  The power of gold, comes from it's stubborn, static, natural unchangingness.   It has the magic ability to transport wealth thru time, and to hold a store of wealth as well, during times when violent change can destroy so much of the wealth around it.

It seems a silly investment, as it cannot yield a return, unless it is pledged or pawned or in some manner hypothecated.  But as an investment, it offers this unique ability to allow wealth to time-travel.  It also allows money to be priced against something that is not changing, so that the curious changes in the valuation of money itself can be monitored and observed.

We don't own any gold (I have always thought it a rather silly investment choice), but the performance of the gold stocks has to be recognized.  The current quote I am showing for gold is now $1725.30 US dollars per ounce.  (The abbreviation for ounce - oz - is how the "WIzard of Oz" got his name.  Early monetary discussions in America in the 19th century focused on valuations of gold and silver, and their legal basis for being legal tender - ie. money.).

Because gold just sits there and does not change - the change in the price of gold allows the value of currency units to be observed and tracked - it's like a barium enema for the value of the valuation units needed by an economy.  It lets meta-analysis occur.  We can put a value on the valuation units, and this helps us all avoid "money illusion" (if we want to).  Most people don't want their illusions to shatter and break.   But investors (and economists?) must try to see beyond the disinformation and obfuscation that seems to grow more intense and effective with each passing year.    Gold prices are like both the X-rays and the barium that is opaque to x-rays.

So here is the insight:  We want to see a stable or rising gold price, as it indicates a stable or mild level of inflation, that is typically needed to keep an economy ticking along nicely.   If gold prices diverge from that scenario, then that is an indicator that flashes a problem.

What we really don't want to see now, are falling gold prices.   If we get a big tumble in the price of gold, in the next couple of months, then that would suggest we are in real trouble.   And I seriously wake up in the middle of the night, worrying that this might happen.  Which is funny, since we don't own gold or even gold mining stocks now.

But maybe we should?   Trouble of course, is that lack of yield.   Without some pre-programmed degree of yield, an investment just does not work.  And I fear we are all tracking towards an environment were all investments might simply stop working.   This is the nature of the economic damage that we risk now.  The "Safety-Nazi" approach by the "Lockdowners" risks rendering the investment process moot.  This is not just retrograde growth - the scenario we are looking at is one where the action of investment itself - as a technical process - just no longer works.  This is obviously what zero and negative interest-rates implies.  The process of investment itself becomes broken.  Wealth itself just withers away each day, as one's savings are consumed.

In a deflation, buying some gold and burying it - when the price level is falling - allows the gold to actually show a nice postive return - each coin buys more when dug up and spent.  One can achieve the same result by just burying (or saving) physical cash.  If prices are falling, then each dollar buys more the further forward in time you track.

But unlike cash, gold protects in an inflation also.  As the valuation-unit (money) price of the gold tracks upwards as the inflation progresses, one's wealth is preserved.  If cash is saved, then it's value withers away.  But with gold, each coin brought into circulation and spent, yields a return, because it's money-value has increased in step with the rising price level.

This is what we all skated right up to the edge of in the 1929 to 1933 period, which culminated in all the banks being shut down in USA for 1 week.  It's what Germany and Austria ran into during the 1920's.  Both extreme deflation (the USA 1929-1933 case) and hyper-inflation (Germany & Austria in the mid 1920's) show a scenario where financial investments mostly just stopped working.

But gold just sat there, just being gold.  It yielded survival.   If you had even a small amount of it, you were able to retain a small amount of your wealth, and survive until investment could again become a viable activity.

Fiddling about with the money supply, and setting interest rates at zero, is still not going to help some guy pay the rent, if he has lost his job or business and has no money coming in.  

And even gold is a problem, if there are no banks or dealers open who are able to buy and sell and make a market for precious metal.    Your 1-ounce gold coin may be worth $1725 US.  But can you spend it at Costsco to buy your groceries?   Not likely, unless some guys are making a market in the parking lot, and you can sell it for cash which the store will then accept.

This is why a 25-cent piece was called "two bits" in the old days.  Gold coins were often cut up into pieces, so that fractional amounts could be spent.   By making four careful cuts, you got 8 "bits" from a single coin, and 2 of these pieces would equal 1/4 of the coin.   This is why pirates would speak of "pieces of Eight" - coins would be broken up and would trade at their metal value, not as full coins.

Will we enter a world, where 1-oz gold coins are again chopped up into "Pieces of Eight"?  If one assumes a $75 premium on the 1-oz gold coin =>  $1800 for a coin, then 1/8 of the coin (1 bit) would be 1800/8 = $225.00 US.  That is a typical Costco grocery-run cost, so maybe this could work.  The 1-oz silver pieces, which are worth $15.77 US as I key this, translate into Canadian dollars at $1.4091 Cdn for $1.00 US, which makes 1-oz silver piece worth $22.22 Cdn.   This would let silver 1-oz pieces be used for smaller transactions.  

But then, the whole problem of assay comes up, as gold coins can be fraudulently made, so that the gold content is reduced or is impure.  Using gold and holding wealth as gold, remains costly, and also requires an investment infrastructure to exist where gold-dealers can make a market in gold coins.

Golden years, indeed.

[ May 13, 2020 ] - ThreePenny Opera is Now TwoPointFive Cents - "When the shark bites, those scarlet billows start to spread, but MacHeath wears, fine kid gloves so, there's never, a trace of red."

In the French version, done in Paris in 1930, it was: "L'opéra de Quat'Sous", since of course, the Franc was worth much less than the Pound Sterling.   Which brings us to 10 CC, and the eternal question, (asked by the Eternal Few?), "Is he going to buy, or is he going to pay?"

In the midst of this nasty crisis, I see our broker has changed their system this morning, so instead of a picture of a white guy sitting on a balcony, it is back to being another picture of a young female who looks like a supermodel.   (Do they know their demographic?  I guess...),  But when one logs in, the screens are messed up, weird font, difficult to reload (by design, I am sure), and annoying to use.  All NYSE data seems to have been dropped also.  This is not good, of course.  The idea is obviously to drive serious users to the broker's pay-per-use offering which involves some sort of "dashboard" product which is problematic and unreliable according to most material I have encountered.  (another long sigh...)

It's funny and curious how everything gets just a little bit worse, more annoying, difficult and expensive every day now.   If you want something that is not garbage or sh/t, you have to pay and pay now.   A return to economic life as it has always been throughout history, it appears.

Say, maybe we need a good plague to dial-back global population a wee bit.  How about that for an idea?   :D

People think that voting for that old gerfingerpoker Biden in November is going to change things in the Good Ol'e USA.   Our research suggests nothing much will change, with the possible exception that everyone will be just a little more angry, and that more angry, sad things will be done by the frustrated, unemployed, not-very-clever, low-skilled cash-poor angry people.  

We may or may not have negative interest rates.  The idea is absurd and very dangerous, because it really actually is both a signal and example, of deflation - just the opposite of what we need.  If the price of money falls below zero, it risks breaking a lot of finance process - both in theory and in practice.   But academics have a tenuous grip on business reality at the best of times.  And as this is starting to look like the worst of times,  the Harvard academy doggies may well bark for this.

We are starting to see inflation in the prices of some actual, valuable things - from oil and oil products, to scrap steel, raw silver and food.  Food will probably become a lot more expensive, and wages will likely fall.  Unwise and foolish government pant-piddlers may try to increase the minimum wage, and of course this will further damage small business entities and increase unemployment, which even Goldman Sachs (that fine New York firm of honourable fellows (cough, cough, cough)), has suggested could be at 25% by early fall.  We do not disagree, this time.

It is painfully obvious that those "Berneke Helicopters" need to be launched pretty soon, but it looks like the Americans are having the same problem with their helicopters that we Canadians are having with ours (they crash and sink or burn), so the stim-money is not getting to the people and the price of a lot of un-needed stuff is now falling, as the price of critical stuff (like food and fuel) is rising.  This is called "expenditure switching" in economics.  You use your scarce remaining savings for this stuff you need.  

We are not getting so much *inflation* as we are mostly now just getting screwed by the re-pricing that has to take place, when an economy is badly damaged by unwise policy.  This re-introduces classical scarcity, as the prices of life-critical stuff are bid up in price, (food, fuel, medical equipment, weapons, ammunition, etc.), and the prices of consumer-society luxury-but-not-needed products are discounted down (such as entertainment, restaurants, air-travel (and passenger aircraft), vacations, services-for-busy-people, high-fashion clothing, furniture, dog-grooming, haircutting, greeting cards, conferences, meetings with lazy people, and so on.)

The governments can only create the illusion of useful action,  I suppose maybe cigarettes will have to be smoked or something.   The government skanks can ask: "Well, was it good for you?" as each government-weasel fellow or lass plots further strategies to destroy his/her enemies.    Scarlet billows will no doubt continue to spread.

Very curious times indeed.

[ May 12, 2020 ] - There Will Come Soft Gains - We do not need to wait until August 4, 2026.  This is a crazy year.  Yesterday, we woke up to 4 inches of snow everywhere, the trees frosted with ice.  Today, after a -5 C night, we have a beautiful May day, snow all melted, bright sunshine, everything green again.  

The top picture shows May 11th and May 12th pictures I took with the Huawei Android-phone, and I seriously don't think anyone would really believe the images are less than 30 hours apart.  But they really are.  The weather patterns seem to be on a toggle switch this year.   :)

[ May 11, 2020 ] - GroundHog Day - Be thankful to whatever gods you have, that you do not live in England.  The Brits seem determined to commit some sort of economic seppuku.  Someone should tell them that the virus is in the wild now, and they cannot run an economy by "working from home".   The whole approach to "phoning it in" is nonsense, and will cost - ultimately - more lives and money than just letting Covid-19 run until herd-immunity is achieved.

Grim as it sounds, the USA is taking the right approach.  Cuomo is wrong when he says "every life must be saved" - it is a fool's project, which risks economic self-destruction.  But it does make for an interesting social-science experiment.    I think Mr. Trump has been a genius to let each State do their own thing.  This is very wise, and will allow us to see what works and what does not.

The key thing to recognize, is that everywhere, policy choices are being made that are unwise and wrong, but the good thing is we will have some opportunity to assess the outcomes.

It is very difficult for folks of a certain political viewpoint, to accept the fact that a viral plague which kills the old, the sick and the weak, is actually a rather net-positive event.  We have a dangerously overcrowded world, and some adjustment in the geometric rate of population growth simply *MUST* occur in what is without question, a closed biological system.  In fact, a planet is the most closed of closed systems.  We get energy input from the sun, and from chemical and nuclear reactions, but the physical constraints on the plantetary biosphere are absolute and obvious.

But scientists are expert at missing the obvious, I have learned.

This current viral outbreak has been predicted by so many for so long, that it is curious that people were not more prepared.    We had serious expected that the death-rate could be in the millions or even 10 to 100 million.   It is not likely to be.  But since the death-rate is really so surprisingly small - compared to the 1918 Influenza epidemic, for example - it is probably time to get back to work, stop all this foolish "hide under your bed" approach to biological risk management.   It is unwise and tragic, and is doing more damage than the SARS-CoV-2 virus is.

Market continues to price in the expectation of MMT (Modern Monetary Theory) being used as justification for a big engineered inflation.  The "governments" can offer little else, other than further expansion of the money supply.  And gIven the extreme risks associated with a rapidly falling price level, collapsed employment levels and greatly reduced business activity, they have every reason to inflate as hard and as fast as they can.  It is another TINA ( => There Is No Alternative.)  

We either risk serious inflation, or we accept the certainty of almost complete economic (and social) collapse.  The market agents see this dilemma clearly, which is why stocks are being bid up, as the view is that the serious inflation will be selected as the lesser evil.  People should understand - the price of oil has been upshifted from a negative number, to over $24.00/bbl.   This is effectively an almost infinite positive delta in the price.  We are running into economic boundry conditions that demonstrate the fragility of many of our systemic linkages and operational methods.  At the very least, we probably want to clean the "sand from the gears" of our various economic machines, that the abusive and dishonest Leftists had mandated be tossed into them.

There really is going to need to be some serious and significant cleaning required in many places and areas, once this fabricated crisis has reached its eventual point of exhaustion.  


Experiments with MacBook as a serial-link-based dataserver for the NorthStar Z-80 SBC's are successful.  We can now login to the MacBook on it's USB port from the RS-232 VT-100 device.  (See main-menu tab: "Seral USB LOGIN Mac" for technial details on how to set this up).

This means no need to run a TCP/IP stack on the Z-80, and ethernet stuff - serial RS-232 works fine, and is reliable, easy to debug, local-secure, and should allow development of a simple auxiliary storage device for the NorthStar - either an SD-card based unit, or perhaps even a disk-drive of some sort.  I have to write CSAVE and CLOAD and put it back into the Z-80 BASIC interpreter, so that BASIC programs can be loaded from and saved to, the second serial port on the NorthStar Z-80 board.  I've got CSAVE and CLOAD (the old commands for "Cassette-LOAD and Cassette-SAVE") coded as stubs for the moment - all they do at present is run a LIST of the current program to the main port.

CSAVE will have to write the program to the second serial port and prompt for or accept a filename or sector address, and CLOAD will have to accept a filename or sector address, and re-direct the input stream from the keyboard, to the second serial port, until an EOT character or a Ctrl-Z is received.  The entire Z-80 BASIC interpreter has to fit in 8K, along with the Z80MON program (which now boots the interpreter from ROM), so the added code will basically be some branches with some flags and conditional checking statements and not much else.

But it will be magical to be able to LOAD and SAVE the Z-80 BASIC programs from some sort of online storage device connected to port 2 of the NorthStar - even if it is just a paper-tape reader or a simple magnetic tape device (or maybe even a cassette tape recorder?).   An auxiliary board with an SD card on it, would be ideal.  I've ordered a prototype of this kind of device from a Chinese maker vi Ali-Express, but it was months ago, and I am not sure if I will ever see it.  :)

[ May 10, 2020 ] - Or Maybe Three...  - Just love this version...  It should be taught in schools:

The Alex Harvey Band did a fine version also.   Vintage.

The psychometrics of this current phenomenon are really interesting.  Every little government person in a position of political power is using this "crisis" to target everyone around them that they have ever wanted to take down.  It's really a textbook exercise in the politics of power, and the psychometrics of hard-core political abuse.  

Watching it play out is fascinating and frightening.  From little pant-wetters in "health departments" to the top tier operatives in precarious top-boy positions - all are using the "lockdowns" to prosecute these amusingly abusive agendas - all the while puffing and pooting nudge-memes like "support the front line workers"... (sure:  support them on gurneys as they are wheeled to the morgue...).   My, but it is an astonishing degree of lab-rattery.

We get poof-noises from some little skank county in Californistan, telling billionaires to obey them, and shout "you are not allowed to employ people or make any money!".  The sense of power these little gov-midgets no doubt feel, must be awesome.   In Canada, the fraudsters in Ottawa have taken the opportunity to launch an all-out attack against all the legal, licensed, law-following gun-owners in the country, on the pretext of a terrible murder spree carried out by a policeman (who was a fake, had no gun licence of any kind - and used illegal or stolen police weapons in his murder spree).   To use this terrible event as a political lever in this way is so over-the-top wrong and nasty and dishonest that one can only drop the jaw with surprise.  

The extent of the fraud and back-stabbing fakery coming from the dishonest Liberal jokers is just amazing.   The Ottawa Liberal political gang do little but simply attack the innocent - because it wins them votes from the ignorant and fearful.   The whole exercise is so amazingly dishonest and abusive that I am just astonished.  But such are the times.   The Liberal weasels move when they know they can.

And their timing is brilliant.  It's a perfect political project - take down your enemies when they cannot respond, protest or maybe even pay their bills and their rent!  The illusion of "government action" is generated - but it is just a clever piece of theatre - completely based on lies and manufactured dis-info.   People will be made less safe, and the nation will be put at greater risk.  But no-one cares about what is true anymore.  It's all about what you can get away with, and how it plays.  Astonishing.  The Liberals actions are certain to damage Canada's future in so many interesting and tragic ways.   And for now, those who know this can do nothing.

In Californistan, Mr. Musk is going to be forced to move his entire manufacturing operation out of that curiously dysfunctional-damaged Demo-state.   Cali folks don't care.   They voted Demo, so they don't like to think too hard, I guess.  Sad.   The place used to be kind of magical, in a good way.  It used to be a place focused on the future.   Those were different times, I guess.

But Texas and/or Nevada will benefit - probably big time.   Methinks the "Bi-Coastal Economy" might begin to become the "Die-Coastal Economy", as the "Right Folks in the Middle" reap some real solid, long-deserved gains, at the expense of the Coastal Lefties.   Talk about interesting times.

Hope it works well for Mr. Musk.  I still would like to get that CyberTruck someday.  :)

[ May 9, 2020 ] - Woke Up This Morning ...  - and every old blues song played when I looked out at the snow on the ground.    Lovely - if it were Christmas.  But, it's not.  The super-moon and the polar vortex seems to have frozen all the little spring flowers, and dropped a thin layer of snow on us overnight.  It looks a bit grim.

On the other hand, the air is crisp and clean and when the sun breaks thru the clouds, it is seen to be actually rather nice.  But cold.  Seriously cold.  At least it will make life difficult for the murder hornets.

The cold, clear and crisp air, is lovely, and a joy to breathe in.  An early morning walk with the dogs is actually quite fine.  And the bitter sub-zero (celsius) temps have frozen all the little black flies, so with a sweater and a scarf, it is just about perfect, truth be told.  

I've spent time in warm climates, and it is sometimes really awful - you find yourself in a city with yellow air, and discover that the entire urban region of millions of people - smells like the inside of a giant, sweat-soaked, tennis shoe.  And with little thinking - it becomes clear why - you have a thermal inversion holding the dirty air near the ground, and it's not just the cars (the cars are actually sources of air-filtration and oxydation - they actually blow cleaner air out their tailpipes than they suck in thru their fuel-injector thottle-body intake manifolds) - so it's not the cars - it's the farts and burps and general exhalations of 10 or 12 million people, all wafting up your nose as you walk in the 30-degree C sweat-sticky heat.

And just remembering the hot, sticky, stinky smell of any major city, and suddenly, walking in the Spring snow and the crisp, bug-free, cold-filtered May air at a northern latitude ranch, does not seem so bad at all.  If fact, if I could live anywhere, it would be right here.   And that is exactly what we do.  :)

[ May 8,  2020] - Take This Job and Shove It  - I ain't workin' here no more.  (Says every employed person in North America.)   And in fact, I ain't gonna be working anywhere much anywhere either, except maybe on my tan.  And even that's gonna be difficult, because this morning, it was SNOWING!   Arrrgh - (say it like a pirate...)  May 8th, and snow.   I thought at first it might be volcanic ash or nuclear fallout or something not too serious - but NOOOh.  It had to be Snow.

Snow in mid-May, murder-hornets, viral plagues, mass unemployment, freakish actions on the part of insane government agents, and the capture of our Federal institutions in Canada by modern, smiling neo-Nazi fascists.  What curious times.  Like something from a cheap piece of Pulp Fiction.   Or is it "Kill Bill" volume IV?   I'm feeling a bit like Jimmy Stewart walking around "Pottersville".  

I personally feel the "alternate history" thing has been done to death - but then I look at our nations's capitol, and I see "The Men in the High Castles", and I feel a bit ill.  So much running retrograde, so quickly, in such a short time.  Wow.

I suppose when the tsunami comes, the wise thing to do, is to grab a surfboard, and leave the old stuff and the old ways behind.   Join the "Surf Nazi's", and enjoy the ride!   (Next week, I'll have fun, and post pictures of the famous Tavistok "Swastika" Hockey Team from the 1920's)...

As for the May Market Follies, the equity markets of the world seem to be tracking towards acceptance of DFM as the currency of choice.   Not much alternative history likely to happen there.  The market does a pretty good job of pricing-in all possible "alternative histories", and selecting the most likely "alternative future" from the infinite set of possible monkey+typewriter outcomes.  It has no choice but to be bid up.   What else to do with the shrinking dollarettes?

I used to hack around with Black-Scholes variants and other options models, but found that there was no obvious edge there for little dime-store players like us.    Seriously (well, not *that* seriously, actually), you can get more milage studying the psychology of "Surf Nazi's" than with Black-Scholes.  Or with Merton.   I did a detail review of how and why Long Term Capital Management blew it's brains out in a fit of market-madness.   (Old guy:  "You lost half your capital?"  LTCM Guy: "Yeah, but it's ok, the math is on our side."  Old guy: "No.  You're dead.  You just don't know it yet.  But you're dead, and the market know's it." [I am paraphrasing here. Artistic license] )

Whereas, Surf Nazis:  "You paint a swastika on the side of your car, and it pisses people off.  So, what do you do?  You paint *two* swastikas. "

Now, I ask you, where does the interesting (and actionable?) knowledge set reside?

[ May 7, 2020 ] - Walk on the Mild Side - There are these curious patterns which repeat and fade, and I am unsure what causes them.  But we can say that the current process by which a high rate of terrible news is showing itself to be good for the market, is not happening because people are insane or unwise.

It makes perfect sense - the worse it is now, the more likely is the reactive response by the various authorties and monetary generationists expected to be.  And so, the market trades on it's usual forward expectations of positive and improving monetary condtions, as this is expected to upshift asset prices.   The stock market is not "ignoring bad news" like the idiots who write trash on the 'net and in the "financial press" assert - it is simply pricing in the expected asset-bubble that will have to occur, given the high-costs and demand-meltdown, associated with this rather minor viral plague.  

The risk at this point, is that of being sidelined with melting virtual cash, which even with mild inflation, is slowly losing it's real value.  

Why are folks still buying $50,000 pickup trucks?  (Sales in USA of F-150's to May 3rd were UP from last year, despite the coronavirus.)   Because they are pretty sure these will be $60,000 pickup trucks by next year.   Nothing is likely to go down in price in the next few years.   We have mild inflation now, and it is almost certain to drift slowly towards being less mild.  We suspect this process is simply being priced in.

But of course, there is one major thing that is expected to go down:  salaries.   The labour market is going to be soft and getting softer for a while.  What we are going to see, is a return to old-fashioned scarcity, as the substantial benefits associated with global supply chains and global demand gains (because the poor were becoming middle-class in the Third World), slowly  (or not so slowly) dissipate and fade.  

If the USA decouples the linkages that it is has made with China's economy (and economic expansion), then the world will become mildly more poor, and this poverty will be reflected in lower factor costs for labour, and higher costs for stuff.

So, buying your big F-150 crap-hauler now, that you need for your business or your farm, or your pleasure or your family, (or all of the above) makes good sense, since you may still have a job, and interest rates are really low.  If you wait until next year, or two years from now, that F-150 won't be cheaper, but your salary may be, and interest rates may well be higher (any shift off zero is a positive delta, yes?), and the moment when you could get your financing might have passed for a long time (like maybe forever?).   Also, even if there is mild inflation, then buying a big-ticket item now, makes sense.

So, it's all good.  Sort-of.  Mildly higher inflation, mildly higher prices, mild losses of demand.

The problem of course, is that we are maybe now running retrograde.  But mildly, of course.  What is not mild, are the employment losses.  Our view is that the USA is much better off in an integrated world of global supply chains and expanding levels of international trade.  No one with an IQ over 80 wants to work in a factory, or be a baggage-handler at an airport for $15 an hour.

If the USA can get kids in China to make stuff cheap, then USA gets real benefits.  But this process only works well if the USA can run good schools and have a society that is made up primarily of quality people.   When one reads American news, or reads comments from Americans on the internet, does this look like this is the case?  But maybe we are just seeing the clickbait bad stuff.  There is a lot of excellence and freedom and opportunity in the US.  People who are hardworking and clever can appear boring and their efforts do not make the news.  Things that work well, are often not seen.  America and China both look to have done well, because of their curious partnership.  Their disputes are mild.

The problem in a highly non-linear world, is that mild can become quite extreme, rather quickly.  The little virus has shown us a rather clear example of how this can occur.  Economics is all about scarcity, and Nature is all about life and death.  What is interesting now, is that we can have a mildly rising market in a time when we are mildly tracking away from life and plenty, towards death and scarcity.  This is what Economists call the "money illusion".  Rising prices can mask declining real wealth, and the quiet collapse in opportunities and choice.

Domino would bark when he saw something that distrubed him.   He was a wise old fellow, and his heart was in the right place.    I think we can all make a lot of money in the market, in the next little while - maybe even for the next several years - yet the quiet risk is that this process will occur as we track slowly away from prosperity, peace and plenty.

[ May 6, 2020 ] - Bad Banking is Good for Business - Here's the thing: Bad banking is risky, and the risk taken on can cause problems.  But all life is risk.  The algorithm for "Life" is "Take on risk, do some stuff, and then die."  That's pretty much how it is.  Whether a Stoic, an Epicurian or some superstitious god-believer, the truth of this simple assertion remains.

Risk is *not* to be avoided.  It must be embraced - but *wisely*.  And this is never easy.   All action is a gamble of some sort. "The Future's uncertain, and the Past (or End?) is Always Near."

We are wrong to try to remove all risk from Banking.   MMT (Modern Monetary Theory) is really just "Bad Banking" in disguise.  Bad Banking made the US West Great, by funding the western expansion of the railroads and the cities with really *very* soft money.  Bad Banking built Canada, and funded the major infrastructure projects here - railroads, canals, hydro-electrics, and so on.  In North Am, we built it mostly with borrowed money.  Wages were *always* higher than they were in the class-system-frozen economies of Europe and the UK, and the banking was wild-west risky, pretty much always.   That algo worked.   China has done the same thing, proving it was not just a North-Am trick.

Banking is a lot like prostitution - the seller can sell the same product over and over again, and with a little care and attention to detail, maintain the business for quite a long time.

It all comes down to how the risk is managed and addressed.  (Hint: Avoid loaning money to Kings who don't re-pay their loans - and can also re-write laws so they can claim they don't have to!)

The risk now, is that there might be credit losses that are very big.  But if the governments inflate the economies of the planet, these might be made small, fairly quickly.   And this is key.  The governments would be insane *NOT* to inflate, since there is little visible inflation at the moment, and there is another wave of technical change about to sweep over us - not so much electric cars, as it is the effectiveness of the various AI strategies.  The stuff is working now, in some places, and is able to produce and enhance actionable outcomes.  Where you *would* have died of cancer before, now you do not, because your AI-enabled endoscope "saw" the flat-polyp in your gut, and it was killed with a squirt of liquid nitrogen.  AI works.

If we can dial up inflation a bit more, then the credit losses and the insurance losses can be addressed, and the stock market can be goosed to ensure the insurance industry does not go bankrupt.  

There are some issues with insurance.  The Covid-19 thing is not an insurable event.  It happened to *everyone everywhere*, so no form of "risk spreading" can deal with this.  There are analysts suggesting it might be the largest insurable loss of all time.   Worse than the various earthquakes and floods and hurricanes and tsunamis.    Everyone is going to try to claim, and it will get ugly for a while.    The Olympics and Wimbleton and lots of other big cancelled events had various event-cancellation-insurance policies.  And lots of business entities has "Loss-of-Business" policies.  The insurance industry will try not to pay, and will hire lawyers to mouth-spout for them, but the insurance companies will likely be forced to pay, because the Covid-19 thing is exactly what folks who bought insurance thought they were buying insurance to protect against.

The solution here, is some solid, hard-core pro-inflation policies - there is really no other option available.  

We are all rather lucky that the viral plague hit at a time of really *low* inflation.  The various national governments can "pump you up", and not do too much damage to financial systems operations.

And one of the best ways to ensure some good, old-time, old-fashioned inflation, is to make "Bad Banking" really easy.  Relax the capital requirements, and offer central-bank backstop loans at really low (like zero %, maybe), rates to any and all who want such loans.  And make sure the Banks stay profitable, and offer dividend streams to investors - as many of those investors are pension funds and insurance companies, who are going to *need* those income streams to remain viable.   Keeping the banks solvent, will let the insurance industries of the world pay out "loss-of-business" claims without all going bankrupt.  And this is important.

Much of what people think they know about Economics is just plain wrong.  We should ensure we understand that "Bad Banking" built most of North America.  And that the 1930's really weren't that bad.  They actually were a pretty interesting and effective time.  A lot of progress was made on many fronts.  Money is a fiction, security is an illusion,  "laws" are made to be broken, and the safest way to live one's life is to embrace risk.

Everything you "know", is wrong.   :)

(We're watching oil back down 6% today.  The volatility is pretty amusing.  The Canadian dollar takes a 50-tick hit also.   This alignment of asset prices across various investment alternatives is interesting, somewhat unique, and just a tad problematic, since it make any sort of real diversification more than just a little difficult. You have to be hard-core creative now to diversify.  Look to artwork, and real-estate and antiques and such.  All financial assets, commodities and currencies seem to track together.  And keeping physical cash is dangerous, and gold and other metals, crazy dangerous and difficult - and it is all not liquid in the least.

Several years back, we had a fixed-income bond portfolio all rolled into one low-risk, high-yield thing.  Of course, it was called (redeemed), and we rolled the entire bond portfolio in a real-estate project.  It's done (and is doing) well, but it's ill-liquid as it can get.   We thought technology was finished - but of course, it is not.   Never underestimate the amount of money you can make off of human laziness and ignorance.   It's a breath-taking, staggering amount, since almost all money made in technology now, looks like it is coming from this paradigm.

[Sub/sub text: My Webster's 7th Dictionary defines "paradigm" as "1:) PATTERN, EXAMPLE", but my Pocket Oxford Dictionary says: "The inflexions of a word tabulated as an example".  The Websters was published 1965, the Pocket Oxford (a good dictionary), was first published 1924, reprinted 16 times since then, last reprint: 1964.  Being Canadian, I need two dictionaries plus the internet, just to be able to edit-check English spelling and meaning.  I have great sympathy for non-Anglo folks who have to learn English as a Second Language (ESL).  The language is like our Common-Law legal system - crazy silly, and with lots and lots of case-by-case variations.  I didn't even know that "paradigm" was originally just a grammatical term, driven by the characteristics of Latin.  Hilarious. ] )

I had one model that forecast a big down-spike, and another that forecast the opposite.  So, if there was a big down-move, I was going to maybe gear up a long position.  But it is this perfect trip-wire process now.   The prices fall, but before they hit my target, -- wheee  -- off they go in the opposite direction.   So, I end up just being a spectator.   It's such a silly way to try and make money.   Sometimes, I think I would rather go dig ditches or graves or something/anything that is at least productive.  :)

[ May 5, 2020 ] - Red Mutant Eyes Gazed Down on Hunger City - Family badge of saphire and cracked emerald, the Year of the Diamond Dogs.   "As they pulled you out of the oxygen tent, you asked for the latest party..."  ( You'll catch your death in the Fog...)  The elevator's broke, so he slides down the rope...  just another Future-Song.

Well, here we are.  Oil is going good, and as we live here in the Year of the Scavenger, we look amid the wastelands for the diamonds.   Lots to be found, it seems.   So curious.  But must we all turn outlaw?   So it seems.    They used to say, "It's safe in city...", but now?   The candidate just says it's a sweet thing, yet we still have some doubts.   The hamburgers are made of chicken, and what the chicken is made of, we are not sure.

Having so much fun with the poisonous people.

It's all I ever wanted - the Street with a Deal.

Mr. Jones spelled it all out for us, so long ago, didn't he?   And now, here we are.  Your hair's alright, even if your face is a mess.  


What is really interesting, is the bizzare and curious positive correlation between the price of oil and stock prices.   This indicates or at least implies a key piece of information:  Oil used to move *opposite* to equity prices, the rational being that oil becoming more expensive would impact the real economy, which would raise costs for businesses and consumers, and reduce demand for big cars and vacations and air-travel and so on.  But this relationship has completely inverted, and now, oil is viewed as just another asset-class, that rises and falls in price, as the monetary conditions and market sentiment shifts and shakes.  

Oil is now priced by the marketplace as another almost "financial" asset, like bitcoin or paper share certificates - which of course are now just digital book entries.  How many folks have ever even touched a paper-share-certificate?

This *virtualization* of physical commodities is interesting, and the recent weirdness in the quoted price of oil, shows that perhaps this relationship is ultimately bogus.   Oil *is* a valuable and scarce thing, and when it gaps up in price (it's up 20% so far today, which is pretty extreme - even for a commodity), then that cost has to flow forward into the real economy.

Just when you thought it might be safe to drive your car again, you might not find that you can afford to do so.  If the positive phase-jump continues in oil-prices at the rate that is happening right now, then Canada's currency might move up 10 cents or something non-linear like that.

We are in a very extreme non-linear world now, and what with the rise of algorithmic trading driving most price-discovery activity - I fear we are tee-ing up a really monumental mess.  It all comes down to price-discovery not working, in a wildly, negatively-damped environment, with all sorts of hidden self-re-enforcing feed-forward processes able to unleash brutal non-linear responses.

Not only is it getting weird - the weirdness is being fed hot fuel, so that the rate of weirdness self-expansion is maybe also being enhanced => we are seeing a process which is getting more weird at an increasing rate.   Rioting in the streets, burning buildings and avenues lined with corpses rotting in the sun - if our systems break, we may all look like Syria.

But just before that happens, it will look like "Happy Days are Here Again!", and our glasses full of beer again.   It's really curious, as this seems to be in the math.  All you need to blow up the system are in-period changes that exceed 30%.    I keep seeing that old Roman coin  "Fel Temp Reparatio"  ("The Return of Happy Times" - and these were minted just before everything completely fell apart.)

We don't want the prices of critical commodities that our nation's use as fuel, to get price-hacked by 20%, in just a few hours.  From minus $37.00 per barrel to plus $24.00 per barrel, in less than two weeks?  This is just stupid.   This algorithmic trading is insane, as it does not aid in price discovery.   Domino whispers to me from the grave, that we are being unwise, and are maybe tracking rapidly towards a deluge.

And he was a curiously wise old fellow.

Just to be clear.  We remain fully invested - and have even used a bit of leverage to enhance some of the long positions.  Our sense is that the *deluge* will be a deluge of digital funny-money, which almost certainly will be reflected in equity prices being probably at least double what they are now.  We know this deluge of DFM (Digital Funny Money) will occur, because it is already occurring.  It is easy to forecast what is already happening, yes?

This deluge of pseudo-cash (ie. cash that is not backed by any increase in production - in fact it is cash that is showing evidence of *decreased* production!), cannot avoid creating inflation forever.  Maybe for a while longer, but not much longer.  And once the inflation begins, it may accelerate with a vengence.  (Hint: I am not an accelerationist, despite what some might say..)

But one must be prudent.  That actually is the law, as professionals well know.

See, it could be that the weirdness and up-spike in oil prices, is the muted beginning of this process, that is long overdue, virus or no virus.   We see the bank stocks doubling from here, over the next 18 months.  We see a tsunami of bad policy, followed by worse policy, from the various national governments, and this being coupled with smashed supply chains,  and damaged & degraded consumer demand.

The coronavirus is actually no big deal.  What is curious and serious, is the massive, outsized over-the-top response that a bad flu has been able to create - mostly because we actually have pictures of the tiny, invisible threat.

Interestingly, an internet visual meme, coupled with only 250,000 deaths from a really bad flu, has successfully taken down much of the global economy of this small planet.  That is a significant accomplishment.   What if we got a *real* epidemic, like the 1918 Influenza Outbreak, with 500 million infected, and 10% dead almost immediately?  We aren't even close to anything like that.  But the virus might mutate (is already *is* mutating), and we might see something different in the near future.

Basically, the only thing the governments can do, is to ramp-up fascism, and print money.  With DFM, they can really print big amounts.   So it is likely - almost certain - they will continue to do so.  

Investors need to understand that up-gapping asset-prices are not necessarily a good sign, or a sign that confidence has returned.   It is just the reactive-response of investors who *know* the inflation is coming, and coming hard and maybe even quick.  Or maybe not so quick.

Domino was always good at barking out warnings.  I am also trying to.  

[ May 4th, 2020 ] - We Know Dead Fish Don't Swim Home - The long road from A to B has begun.  Everything old seems to be new again - including all the old struggles against cruel fascism and for private property rights, human freedom and social-system sanity.  

Nation-states that fight wars to preserve their traditional basic freedoms, their political structures, and their operational national integrity have to realize that the war for freedom is a curiously ongoing struggle, that does not end once a murderous enemy has been defeated.

One observes an interesting historical phenomenon that seems so curiously consistant:  The worst abuses that are carried out against people - are often undertaken by a people's own government entities.    And so what this seems to imply, is that the war for freedom does not end when the victory trumpets have been sounded.    The struggle just to maintain freedom is a never-ending one, that goes on and on, constantly through time, with one generation passing the torch forward, like a relay-race that does not end.   This is the only way.

This is the cost of freedom - constant vigilance against what are the surprisingly dark forces of deception, domination and political fraud, that stalk every single nation, always.

There are always some bad people.  But what is key, is that there are even worse people, who make use of the very bad people, to do profoundly wrong things that create maximum benefit for themselves, and do so at the expense of critical human freedoms.

The war against the profoundly dishonest people who degrade freedom is a war that never, ever ends.   It is an ongoing struggle that requires constant, careful atttention and effort.

Freedom expires, if one stops paying attention, and is not willing to pay the cost.   And when it is taken from you, it almost always is not a foreign enemy that takes it - it is often a smiling enemy right inside your own nation that commits this greatest of all thefts.

The struggle for freedom never ends.

As for trading info - probably the real reason folks tune into the GEMESYS Web-Thing (GWT?) here;  We paid-off half of the loan we took out to acquire extra stocks (too soon, as it turns out - we always seem to buy too soon, and sell too early - mostly because it keeps working), using combo of dividends and trading profits.    Things are back to looking ugly - Mr. Trump's plan to deliberatly damage the US-China relationship has the ugly stink of racial xenophobia about it, and looks set to damage 50 years of progress towards peaceful commericalism.

 Such curious times.   Make sure to vote against the New Creeping Fascism.  (Being brought to you by the new creeps) - who smile and spout such outrageous lies - but their messages resonate with the ignorant so effectively.   The New Fascism is everywhere now, and it gets a little worse each day.    Enjoy your sandwiches, but vote carefully, please.

[ May 1st, 2020 ] - Sometimes the Light's all Shinin' on Me...  - Other times, I can barely see.  Lately, it  occurs to me, what a long, strange trip it's been. "   (We are grateful for the Grateful Dead).

So we rolled out the gold stock we bought a while back - the gain was getting just a bit silly, and the hard uptick in a down market smelled of "OMG, I've missed out!" panic buying by the big funds.   Our analysis says these are the only guys we can play against, and have a chance of winning.   They need to have meetings of "investment committees" before they can do anything.   We decided to add to some div-payers, eat some risk, and roll away the (golden) stone.  If the world blows up, well, we will just have to fall back on the Vonnegut Defense.

It's May 1st, and the weather is lovely.  Harsh, bright low-ozone-filter-level, high-UV lovely.  Really nice rads from Sol today.   We're eating these amazing fat Anjou pears from USA, which we paid over a dollar each for at the local grocery market.  But they are *so* good.

The farm across the road was put of for sale a very short time ago, and I notice it has sold.  Anything that comes up for sale anywhere now, sells quick - even in this Time of Virus,   Rather curious and surprisingly positive sign - very, very different from the 1930's scenario that I had expected we risked tracking.   One has to accept what the data is saying.  So, out with the gold stock and in with some risk.  Also, we note the CRB and June oil are moving up.   Maybe it's not the Rapture just yet, eh?  :D

[ Apr. 30, 2020 ] - Tomorrow Belongs to Them, If We are Not Careful. - Elon Musk is right.   Absolutely nails it - we are in a time of "foolish fascism", where foolish and flailing governments have thrown the world economy under the bus, mostly to create the illusion that they are actually doing something positive.   It has become painfully clear they are not.  It's time for a wholesale housecleaning.  Trump has been right, and done the right things by trying to limit the knee-jerk "OMG the sky is falling!" neo-fascist idiocy of "lock-down" advocates, who want to make us prisoners in our own homes.

The cruel truth of Nature, is that total deaths from a bad flu, of a few hundred thousand in two months, on a planet with a global population of 7.3 billion, is very close to what one could call normal bio-evolutionary activity,  

These "shelter-in-place" orders should be illegal.   In Japan, there is no law that can force a business to close.  This is a good and wise strategy.   Fascism is so attractive, because it is easy, simple, and virtually mindless.  We need to *always* be on guard against the power of group-stupid behaviour.  And that applies to the new fascism just as much as it applies to the old fascism.

[ Apr. 29, 2020 ] - Still Crazy, After All These Years -  And: We're still long after all these fears.  Cannot recall a time when patience was so tested.  Tempus curious maximus est.  We have remained long thru-out.  Near the bottom, traded on large margin, did ok.  Kowaii kodomo.  Kowaii market.   People, viruses and language must evolve, yes?   Living in the Time-of-the-Future, and no anti-grav tech, and no Brave New World - more like Save, Flu, Whirled.

The new device said "Go long" last Friday.  Pretty emphatic it was.   If I had not felt like a cat in an earthquake, I might have added positions on margin.  We are still all in.    On a scale of 1 to 10, this has been a "Spinal-Tap 11".   Kinda makes all the difference.   We understand why the algos do well.  Sane humans have these protective circuits that cut in, to prevent insane levels of risk-taking, which are shown by evidence to most likely be lethal.   In sane people, the hand reaching for the keyboard (or the device of destruction), is stayed by a quiet force of awareness.   In the middle of a violent hell-storm, it is difficult to push your luck *hard* and make a risky play.   Of course - that is where real gain can come from.   I did it once a couple of weeks back - down 30%+ on the main portfolio, and made a big, totally margined bet.  One feels quite ill - but in retrospective analysis it was the only play possible.  As mention, it worked OK.   But one has to be sure not to learn bad (foolish, self-destructive) behaviour from the success, and become a "risk junky".   That is surest path to being blown up and carried out.

You can fiddle with the beryllium refector over top of the "daemon core" using a screw-driver to adjust the neutron reflectivity (or like me, stare into the reaction chamber and take a face-full of fast-beta's and X-rays...), but you really don't want to make a habit of it.  (I have this pretty little Fuji Film F410 "FinePix" digital camera, that has a completely fried CCD image-capture matrix - almost certainly from using it to take taking images of the containment grid of my fusion reactor.  But how can one resist?  You create a tiny, synthetic "star" inside the vacuum chamber, and you just have to see it, right?)

But one always must remember that the secret to a long and happy life, is first: Do not die.  And same thing with investing:  First, do not lose all your capital.  Do not let yourself get blown up and carried out.  You can do the research and find out that there is an average "life expectancy" to the typical commodity futures account.   It's typically less than three years, IIRC.   Virtually no one makes the "big score" in the commodity markets.   I messed about in those markets for some time, and I realize now, I did quite well to basically just "hold my own", and not get wiped out.   Most traders get wiped out on the CME or the CBOE.   Now that it is all computerized, I suspect the numbers are even worse.  Even a very skilled chess player, will be *consistantly* defeated by the worlds best "grand-master" - which is what the algorithms armed with massive databases of real-time tick data are able to do.

A Real Study of Trading Behaviour & Results

I have a copy of a paper "An Analysis of the Profiles and Motivations of Habitual Commodity Speculators" - written by W.B. Canoles, S.R. Thompson, S.H. Irwin, and V.G. France.  The four folks were: Merril Lynch PierceFenner & Smith Account exec., Prof: Agricultural & Consumer Economics, Univ. Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Prof: Agricultural Economics, Ohio State Univ.. Prof: Dept. of Finance, Illinois Urbana-Champaign, respectively.  Paper dated: May 1997.   This paper is fascinating - it is real, solid research of actual trading experiences of 114 traders lifetime trading experiences, collected from 25 brokers representing 8 different brokerage firms.  The survey data was taken in the fall of 1989 to spring of 1990.  This was an attractive time in the market, as the 1987 market crash (in which the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 508 points in one October day) was well in the past, and many markets were in a clear uptrend.  The study summarizes several previous research efforts as well.

The surprising result, is that most traders were net losers over their trading "career".  Of the 114 traders, mean age was 52, median age 50.  Youngest was 30, oldest was 84.   Mean net worth was $2.9 million, median was $345,000.  Brokerage firms require net worth to be exclusive of one's primary residence.   This was real money, back in 1997, and it was US dollars.    Fifty-six percent had at least a Bachelors degree, 25% held graduate or professional degrees.  None of the group were teachers or in academic work.  They were all white (113), except for  1 Asian American.  Average annual income was $109,202, median income $74,500.  Range of income was from $25,000 to $600,000.  By 1990's standards, these were wealthy folks, and this is to be expected, since you could not (and still cannot) open a commodity trading account as a retail trader, unless you can prove you can absorb losses.

Here is a number I found interesting:  72% of the folks in this study, were self-employed.  Only 7.9% were retired.   They were doctors, dentists, lawyers, business executives, retail business owners, weathly farmers, agra-business owners, building contractors, accountants and insurance agents.  They all exhibited the absence of "traditional" retirement behaviour.  Eightly-eight percent reported having received "speeding tickets", and 30 of the 114 reported that they had radar-detectors in their cars.   The 25 brokers catagorized their clients as: 58.7% "conservative", 31.6% as 'moderates", and 9.6% as "liberals".   The information was of course anonymous, the brokers provided no private, personal, identifiable client information.  And this was 1989 - 1990, a somewhat kinder, more gentle time.   Interestingly, 16 of the study respondents reported owning a private aircraft.   These were wealthy, or at least well-off, well-educated people.

The mean length of time trading was 13 years, with median 9.5 years.  Average client account age was 8.2 years, median was 8 years.  Range was from 3 to 23 years.

Mean number of days this group held positions for was 20.5 day.  Median was 11 days.  Range was 1 to 211 days.  The top commodity contracts this group traded were: precious metals, grains and livestock-meat group (ie. cattle, pork-bellies, etc.).

How did they do?

As a group, the folks in the study did not do well.  The average speculator in this study had a mean career net trading loss of  $73,010 (median career net trading loss of $24,000).  These are big numbers, and this data is from 1989-1990, remember.  [Assume 3% annual inflation, these number in 2020 dollars would be: $102,146 and $32,480.]

In only 19 out of 113 cases, did the brokers report their clients changed their trading style in response to losses.  The study indicates that 90% of the 114 respondents in the study are net losers.   But the study also shows that of all trades done, 51.2% of all trades were winners.

Virtually all participants showed evidence of "win maximization" behaviour.  They would let their loser-trades run, hoping for them to return to profit, and they would cash out their winning trades quickly, to capture the profit.   The financial results of this strategy virtually ensures overall loss.  The brokers reported that the majority of their clients worried more about missing a move in the market, than about losses.  For the majority of the wealthy retail traders, "being in the game" was more important than avoiding financial loss.

Interestingly, the win/loss ratio is positive.  The average trader in this group would win on 51.3% of his trades.  (The most successfully trader would win on 80% of his trades, the least success on 12.5% of his trades).

Why are the Results so Awful?

There is a clear answer to this question, on page 30 of the paper.  This study involved 8.2 years of trading history, with average of 67 trades of 4 contracts per year.  Here is the key fact: Based on commission costs that prevailed in 1989-1990, the commission costs of 67, 4-contract trades, indicates that  - on average - over 8.2 years, a typical trader will have paid $131,856 in commissions.   That means, if the average trading loss over the same time period was $73,010, then the average trading result before commissions was a profit of $58,846 for the 8.2 years period, or an average of $7,176/year profit.   This is why "floor traders" could survive.

This is also why small guys lose and algorithms win.   An algo can take the same trade after having it blow up in its face 5 times in a row.  When the 6th time comes around - the algo will put the same trade on as before.   A human being cannot do this.  If you walk into a room where you know there is gold, lying on the floor, and a big guy punches you hard, and you run out - you might be willing to try 2 or 3 more times.  But can you try 6 times?   No.  But the algorithm - mindless and stupid - can.   And the sixth time, it will pay off big.

When I first read this study's results, I was horrified.   And emboldend, truth be told.   The study explains why clever, wealthy people keep trying to win in the commodity markets.  Because they know, on balance, that they actually can.   And they do.  More than 51 % of their trades are winners.  But they lose mostly.  Most traders mostly lose - and if you expand the time scale (here it is 8.2 years), then you can show - always - that typically 90% lose money trading.

Like all investment processes - you must inspect the graveyard, before you know how well things are doing.  Most investments fail.  Most stocks go to zero, or get merged into a wasteland of drifting shadows.  But we mostly see the winners.  And at any time we look back in time, we are only inspecting the time-series of the surviving winners.   The graveyard is not visible in the data.  (It is in my datasets.  Over time, my time-series databases are slowly filling up with "junk DNA" - old stuff that is history, as the company no longer exists.  There are *so* many!)

The commission-cost issue, also explains why "floor traders" in the old days, could make a living.  On balance, they would win - but only just a little bit.   Just enough to stay alive, and get money for rent and beer and food.  Just like Say's Iron Law of Wages suggests (ie. wages fall to just above the level for subsistance).

What I Learned from This

I learned that commission costs are *REALLY* important.  And I also learned that it *WAS* possible to get an edge, and make money trading - but that edge will be *really small*, and so it must be used *very carefully*.   Our little enterprise is a tiny, lean little thing, that can survive on the small shoestring that a small edge provides.  And stocks are not the same as commodities.    All I do with the oil market, is use the price data.  I would not try to trade it, unless I had several millions of capital, as the movements are designed to extinguish both speculators, and even real oil-generating market participants (like we are seeing now.)

The rich guys and the wanna-be-rich guys  in the study derived "recreational utility" from trading.  They got a risk-kick from it.   I actually do not like trading.  I do it because I need the money.  In the last four trading days, we are up by an amount greater that our typical annual income, in a couple of the portfolios.   And I have a working model for what is happening.   Few folks seem to understand what is actually occuring.  I see nothing at all about what we believe we know, in the financial press.   But it is the unknown knowns that can blow you up.  We might be wrong.

Trading and investing is difficult and sometimes very painful.   But we have been running this little process, on not much capital, since 2004.  We have been  thru two monumental economic-storms, and are still not outside of the second one, and when I look at the money we have taken out of the process, I realize we are actually doing rather well.

We use the "barbell" approach - a bunch of not-traded investment stuff that holds the capital, combined with an aggressive (but low commission cost) strategy on the other side.  We would like to let profits ride - but this is very, very difficult to do now.  So, we will often do exactly the kind of trades that seem unwise "win maximization" style - but we find we can sometimes pull off several of these in a row, before conditions adjust.   We are *very* concious of the fact that any and all counter-parties have more and better information than we do.  And a lot more capital also.   In classical gambling games - the guy with the most capital, ceteris paribus, usually wins, since this confers a major advanage, when the cards fall your way.

We also are aware of the ugly 10 to 20 day time frame.   Mostly, if your trade is not able to survive being in the market for two months, you will be toast.  Your little retail trade can be "seen".  And it is the meat that the big boys eat for breakfast and lunch.  If looking to capture a medium term trend, you have to expect that the tree will be shaken hard, and your trade will be the fruit that falls to the ground, if you can be blown away by a 20% move.  This is why entry and/or not using margin, is so important.   (I feel like I have to vomit, if I use margin.  But there are times when you need to.  Just get over it somehow.)    And you can avoid the awfulness, if you can get a really, really good entry point.  That is really hard - but during madness times like this, it can sometimes be had.

Also, it is *really* important to look after your physical health, and get enough sleep.  THis is sometimes really hard to do.  But winning is no good, if you die coughing your guts out on the floor, right?   Get access to good drugs, and live a healthy lifestyle.

What is funny, is that tiny 51% margin, is all my AI could find as well.   And that rather explains the importance of dividends.   Mostly, trading is really difficult, and the edge is really small.  It is the dividend stream that ensures the portfolio generates enough to pay the bills, and keep the lights on.  

I am different than most, I suspect.  Certainly different than Democrats, the angry-jealous Lefty's and Mass-holes.   I like to see other people win.   I enjoy seeing success in others, since I've know since I was a child, that we are all on a journey to the graveyard, and only the void exists beyond that.   Epicurus nailed it exactly.   Tout le monde dans la meme bateau, right?  My most successful trades have an exit-strategy that allows my counter-party to make money too.  This seems to be an effective algorithm.   Be good.  Play nice.  Make money!   Stay safe, survive, and good luck!  

[ Apr. 28, 2020 ] - Rachel and the Alien - A script...  This Zevon song would work well.

[ Apr. 27, 2020 ] - The Coronavirus Song - This must be it:

Warren Zevon played the Horseshoe Tavern on Queen West, once many years back when I lived in the City.   I couldn't get into the back part of the venue to actually see him, as it was too crowded - but I heard some of the show, from the bar at the front.   He really was "The Envoy".

I have this new system, and an explanitory model.   It's working scary-well.  In Japanese, 'kowaii is the word for "scary", and kawaii means "cute".  On one of my Japanese trips, I was sitting in a park in Osaka, and a mom and dad were there with their very young daughter, who had these cute ribbons in her hair.  I said "Kowaii kodomo desu!"  (which means: "you have a scary child") - and they looked at me really worried.   Then I said "wait - no - that's wrong.  "KAwaii kodomo desu!", and they smiled and laughed.

Tiny things can make a difference, and substantially alter the outcome.

( . )  ^ ( . )


[ Apr. 26, 2020 ] - The Hollywood Hawaiian Hotel - It actually existed, back in the 1970's.  Apparently now, it's a strip mall. California history intertwines with my own family history.   My mother's aunt moved to California in the 1920's, and my grandmom's parents had a "rabbit ranch" out in Van Nuys.

California is lovely.  Warren Zevon wrote the best song about old LA back in the '70's.  My mom's aunt married a film director, and I looked up his name in a directory of silent-film directors and he really did exist.  None of the family folks who moved to Cali in the 20's and 30's had kids.   My grandmom would go visit her parents for *months* at a time, in the 20's and 30's, and my mom spent time growing up in USA grade schools in LA, when she was a little girl.   In those days, there were no restrictions on moving and living in Canada or USA.   You could just move from one country to the other, if you wanted to.   I have these small black and white pics of LA in the 1920s and 1930s.   The place was lovely - mostly empty space, with roads and a few houses. 

Tonite, we are just listening to the air-conditioner hum.   The thought occurs that If the coronavirus kills half the world's population, maybe that is what Nature requires for the rest of us to continue to survive.    I could stand on Zanzibar - but I think I would rather just sit poolside at the HHH for a while.  Of course, both are fantasy - and the HHH no longer even exists.  

[ Apr. 25, 2020] - Send Lawyers, Guns and Money ... & Meatloaf too, please!- Bankruptcy lawyers are really busy, despite the lack of any real increase in bankruptcy activity.  But this is because lawyers, courts and liquidation specialists are not able to actually meet and do anything other than move digital paper-work around.   This economic-stop is going to destroy significant parts of many nation's economic machinery.

Many small businesses and freelancers, I fear, are gonna be toast.  There is no way around this fact.  Demand has died, and serial cascade collapse in several areas will not be avoided.  Trying to "re-start" the global economy now, will be like trying to "re-start" a car that has smashed into a concrete post.  We suspect significant and major repairs may be required first.

We had big plans for this summer.   These are just dream-fiction now.  You can't get a building permit for an outhouse - much less a real house or cottage.   The stock market is in rally-mode, because the authorities will have to sysgen inflation by whatever means they can.   The gov-money being sent to people is not "stimulus money", it is "survival money".   The government folks will be desperate to create inflation.   But this will just raise costs for small businesses and independent types.

People with "unemployment insurance" will be ok for a while - but anyone in the "self-financing" sector - those folks who actually generate the real wealth to pay the taxes that gov-people live on - those self-financing people are just being financially vapourized.   They will burn up their savings and emergency funds, and then they will just be ended.  I fear the angry ones may decide to have a bit of fun, or engage in pay-back, before they are forceably expired.

We are seeing examples of this now.  I'm not just referring to the awful events in Nova Scotia - I am actually thinking about that curious situation in Seattle, Washington state, where an airport bagger-handler trapped in working-poverty, decided to take a Dash-8 aircraft up for a spin around the sky, before crashing it into the island park where he enjoyed spending time.   The guy had never flown before, and yet he successfully executed the 27 steps needed to start a big twin-turboprop airliner, taxi it out to a runway, and take off, and go flying.   Unlike the Nova Scotia wanna-be cop, this natural-pilot guy was careful not to hurt anyone but himself and the aircraft.  

The point here, is that there are a lot of hard-working, very clever, creative people, who have difficulty with the lifestyle of a boring, Dilbert-style job-job.  These folks have their own businesses or they are freelancers.     And this economic-stop has just destroyed their livelyhoods - and maybe even their lives.    They may not all just fade out and  die quietly.  Many will - but the costs that are imposed on us all, if and when a few "go postal" (or "go rogue"), can be quite high, as events demonstrate.   There is a risk of mental-health-failure associated with destroying all opportunity for creative, clever people.   We can see that the cost of "crazy" can be "crazy-high".  

The world always has a few crazy folks who can cause big trouble.  But this current "lockdown" is a receipe for a "prison riot" - on a global scale.  I fear we may see "crazy" on an industrial scale and scope, since we are mass-producing the extreme-stress environments associated with confinement and enforced idleness.   We are creating a lot of desperate people now.

[ Apr. 24, 2020] - Doing the Time Warp - "Madness, takes it's toll.  But listen closely - not for very much longer...:"    Is it 1987?  1929?  Or maybe, it's 1355?  I've been reading about drug discovery, leeches, and anti-coagulants, while drinking a drink activated with my favourite alkaloid (caffeine => C8_H10_N4_O2).

The SARS-cov-2 virus appears to cause many small blood clots to form in people who have Covid-19.  Folks who get a bad infection from the virus don't just get the lung-filling cytokine storm (they do), but they also get tiny blood clots everywhere, which makes their blood thick.

Please read the "Bio-Technical Note" below.  Mt. Sinai hospital in New York City is now using a protocol for seriously ill Covid-19 patients which involves heparin dosages *above* the prophylactic (preventative) level, as some very clever and observant doctors there noticed that Covid-19 is characterized by surprisingly thick blood.   They have figured out that tiny clots form in the lungs of those enduring the SARS-cov-2 provoked cytokine storm, which contributes to hypoxia (oxygen starvation).

I was going to write here that "typically, thrombosis is the result of other factors."  Well, what other factors?  Being fat, lazy and not moving much.  We know that.  But, in a short research survey - it turns out that thrombi (   yes, multiple thrombosis events are called "thrombi"...) are actually mostly cause by infections - several models exist to explain thrombosis events - and infection seems to be the primary driver.  So it turns out that a viral infection that causes a distributed thrombosis is not really that unique an event.  Infection often causes thrombosis, it seems.

Details on the use of heparin to treat Covid-19 are provided below in a very short  Bio-technical Note.  

This is curious and interesting.  

Heparin was discovered in the livers of dogs, in 1916, by Jay Mclean, a graduate student working at Johns Hopkins Medical School.  His professor was William Howell.  It was first introduced into clinical medicine by Charles Best, at the University of Toronto, in 1937.  (Best, along with Fredrick Banting, were co-discoverers of the diabetes drug "insulin').   Heparin was another one of these significant inventions developed in the 1930's.  It was Connaught Labs (University of Toronto) that developed the first sulfated version of it for use as an anticoagulant, in 1937.  It's chemistry is interesting, and it is a safe and effective drug which thins the blood, and prevents blood clots from forming.  In too-large a dose, it can cause bleeding, and other problems - but these typically disappear, once treatment stops.  It is produced in the livers of all mammals.

Some historical and chemical details re. Heparin:

Anticoagulants have a long medical history, and have been shown to be helpful in the treatment of many diseases.  The leech secretes a cocktail of proteins and anti-coagulants to prevent your body chemistry from shutting off the creature's food supply.  This thins the blood of the person, and for many hundreds of years, leeches were used in medicine, by doctors, to treat sick people.   The view was that bloodletting was beneficial.  It can be - in the same sense that radiation exposure can appear initially beneficial - if you don't die, your body needs to aggressively generate new blood cells, and initiate a "shock-response" to repair cellular damge.   Such activity might possibly make one feel better, and could maybe even improve one's health.

But even if bloodletting is obviously quack-medicine and of questionable value, we now know leeches introduce an anti-coagulant called: hirudin.   ("Hiru" is just the Japanese name for "leech".  Heparin derives from "hepta", which is Greek for liver.  Heparin was discovered in 1916 by Jay McLean & William Howell, at Johns Hopkins Medical School in 1916).    A good article about the history of bloodletting was published in the BC Medical Journal, by Dr. Gerry Greenstone:

On Economics:  I watched a short clip of the President of South Africa, explaining the lifting of most restrictions: "Our people need to eat.  And they need to be able to earn money to buy their food."  I've also read notes suggesting quietly, that there is no supportive science behind the "stay at home + suppress the economy" lockdown strategy, being mandated by most Western nations.   It might be a complete waste of effort, time, human lives and money.  In particular, the confinement of many people into a small space - a hotel, a cruise-ship, an old-folks home, a hospital, etc. - is beginning to look like the worst thing that can be done, as it creates a viral creche - a comfortable combination of reservoir and inccubator for the virus to grow, and spread.

Japan is now explicitly advising it's citizens to avoid confined spaces, and to ventilate the rooms of their houses, as part of its public health messages related to SARS-Cov-2 coronavirus infection avoidance.

Also - Many patients who are "intubated" for Covid-19 - and then put on a ventilator - die.  It seems to be more than half.  ( No solid numeric data yet. )    A ventilator - really, any invasive insertion of a "hospital tube" down a person's throat - is maybe a bad idea, especially if the risk of infection from any sort of bacteria or virus is present.  The act of inserting the tube will force all the flora in the human mouth, down into the lungs or the stomach - what-ever location the tube is pushed to.   This is maybe a bad thing to do.   You probably want to give oxygen, and avoid the "intubation" procedure if at all possible.

Historically, doctors have liked to insert tubes.  It was common medical practice, back in the early part of the 20th century, to perform operations, and then insert a "drainage tube" into the wound made by the scalpel.    This was recommended medical procedure, and it was directly responsible for killing - by resulting infection -  large numbers of patients who would have otherwise survived their procedures.   There is an interesting body of literature on this topic, and a pioneering doctor in Ontario - as a young man - noticed that almost always, these "drainage tubes" offered a perfect vector for serious infection to enter the body - right at the location where the patient was most vulnerable.   This same doctor also recommended repairing the incission much more carefully than was common - and in his rural practice, found that attaching layer-to-layer more carefully, and not using  a "drainage tube" allowed his patients to generally recover from their surgical procedures.

Also, in Europe, roughly half the deaths from the SARS-Cov-2 virus, have occurred in "retirement facilities" - or whatever one calls those resident-warehouses where old people are sent to live before they die.  They are almost perfect "viral creche" environments - often poorly ventilated and constantly smeared with human biological material.


Important Covid-19  Bio-technical note:   Several observant doctors in New York noticed that blood  is *thicker* and more likely to coagulate in patients with Covid-19.    This has been confirmed in many observations, and the use of heparin - a drug used to treat thrombiotic stroke - ie. a stroke caused by a blood-vessel being blocked by a blood clot, usually in the brain - is being used to thin the patient's blood. Heparin is a naturally occuring drug derived originally from the livers of dogs.

Many useful drugs have been discovered in a similar manner.   Insulin was also discovered and derived from animal studies involving dogs.  There is a substantial literature on this which is fascinating.

Below is a Reuters note, on the use of heparin to aid Covid-19 patients.  By keeping the blood more "thin", it perhaps assists the patient in maintaining oxygenation of the blood, as the activity of the lung action, which is already impaired by the viral infection and the resulting cytokine immune response, is further degraded by conjestion within the small blood vessels which supply the oxygen-uptake cells (the alveolar epithelial and endothelial cells) in the lungs.

This is sort of painfully obvious once it is pointed out to you.  But congratulations to the doctors who noticed this.  Many significant and world-changing scientific discoveries are made by just  seeing what others miss.  Like the bread-mold that killed the bacteria in the petri dish.

Why I am writing all this:   I know from personal experience what a super-bad flu + cytokine storm - ie. Covid-19 - feels like.  You can breathe a tiny bit - but even the small amount of air you pull into your fluid-filled lungs, does not seem to be getting through into your blood.   It is an extremely awful feeling.   A few years back, I had a very bad lower-respiratory-infection "flu", which I told everyone afterwards, was probably SARS.  (Most assumed I was joking).  It was the sickest I have ever been in my entire life, and I didn't sleep properly for over a week - I just concentrated every moment on breathing.

It took every trick I had to recover from this, and after I got well, I began a small research project on the 1918 Influenza epidemic, and learned about the "cytokine storm" phenomenon.  (The 1918 Flu was unique, in that it killed young *healthy* people most effectively.  This is now understood to be because the immune-system response in young, strong healthy folks is much more intense, than in old folks.)  I am reasonably healthy, and very active.

As a result of my SARS experience I became deeply interested it the influenza "cytokine storm" phenomenon.  I even went to visit the Provincial "Infectious Disease"  Regional IPAC Team Office at this location:   350 Conestoga Blvd., Unit B4B Cambridge, ON N1R 7L7.   It was truly comical.  There was literally *NO ONE* in this large government office, except one lonely receptionist.    I told her what had happened to me, and asked if anyone might be interested in following up with me, about the nature of the "very bad flu" I had had (which had almost killed me).

She indicated there was no one in the office.    This was during the time of our last (and different) government in this province, so I was not surprised.   The whole place - the entire suite of offices -  was just an empty "Potemkin Village"!   There did not appear to actually be any staff.  All I could do was laugh.

If you got sick in Ontario during the time of the last "Liberal" government - there was little you could do except sit quietly and try to recover, which is what I did.   But when SARS-Version 2.0 arrived,  and started killing people wholesale, I decided I would go public with all these notes, and collate and explain what I could.

So pay attention to this article below.  If you get Covid-19, you may want to explain these details to whatever medical person you attempt to seek treatment from.

Also, some initial science, with a simple - but very useful -  "observational trial" of 27 seriously ill Covid-19 patients in Sao Paulo, Brazil - has been reported, which shows the possible benefits of treating with heparin:  

**********   This article below is important   ***********

Actually this last article is really important and interesting.   Of the 27 patients observed and treated NONE OF THEM DIED. Not from Covid-19 and not from the heparin (which in high dosages, can sometimes cause bleeding).    This is a significant accomplishment, and an impressive result.  These were very sick people.  Eight of the patients were on ventilators.  Of 27 very sick Covid-19 patients, with several on ventilators - one or two deaths would be expected.

Heparin is maybe not a magic-bullet, but it does show surprising effectiveness.  The median age of the 27 patients was 56, it looks like.   Even the 8 on ventilators survived, and 4 were taken off the ventilator, and the remaining 4 were being "weaned" from the ventilators as the article was written.   None of these 27 older patients died.  This result is atypical, and appears to be statistically significant.   This is important.

[ Apr. 23, 2020] - Is it the Evening of the Day?  - Some in the media have been criticized for making "apocalyptic" statements and forecasts.  Well, at least they could spell the word correctly.

The "economic stop" that has been initiated, is both destructive and dangerous - it may save some lives, and may somewhat alter the contagion-progression curve.  But it also may not.  What we know for sure, is that the economic damage being done is very significant, and there is real evidence that the magnitude of this damage is growing exponentially.  

A curious finding was obtained very recently at a Tokyo hospital.  Over 60 patients who were completely Covid-19 asymptomatic, were tested, prior to admission, for the coronavirus.  To the astonishment of the hospital researchers, *four* of these people tested positive.  There are also asymptomatic patients in lockdown quarantine in China, who are still testing positive for the SARS-Cov-2 virus, but show no symptoms.

These two data points, provide the beginnings of what will perhaps be conclusive proof that the virus is already *much* more wide-spread, than is currently believed.   Basically, it casts real doubt on the *death-rate* numbers that are suggested by the Johns-Hopkins website, among other things.    The real rate of lethality here may be more like 0.5 %, rather than 5%.   And that is a big deal.   Still, 200,000 deaths from a bad flu virus is very awful.   We may also be mis-estimating that number.   The real number of Covid-19 deaths may actually be much higher.  Both the numerator and the denominator of the Covid-19 death-rate calculation, may be inaccurate.

What we know for sure, is the degree of wealth-destruction that the economic "lock-downs" are causing, is advancing rapidly.   And we will not quickly recover from this.  If our estimates are correct, then we are looking at an economic downshift that will most likely *exceed* the collapse that occured from 1929 to 1933.  Except this downburst has happened in a shorter time span, and with much greater violence.

And what has really concerned us, is the degree to which people accept this strategy.  But it does suggest that the assumptions in classical (or neoclassical) economics are not inaccurate.  People *are* willing to be lazy, and most probably do enjoy just watching TV and eating.   For most, work is something they must be *compensated* for engaging in.  I always found that view very strange and profoundly wrong - but I may have to reconsider.   For some people - their work is what they are - to deny them the opportunity to work, is to deny them their life.  Self-serving, "clever" political people perhaps do not understand or appreciate this.

But regardless on your philosophical views on the nature of "work", and the essential factors that make us human, we can say for certain that an awful lot of *work* is now not being done.   The world is cycling down, like a hundred-million dynamos being shut down all at the same time.  

Not only is this damaging global prosperity - it is also an effective algorithm to engineer terrible conflict.  And the science to support this assertion is rather well accepted.

Perhaps I should have titled this entry:  "The Sounds of Silence".

But what really keeps my up at night, with eyes open, looking at the ceiling, is the U.S. reserve currency situation.  The USA can get away with money-printing (and not cause inflation) because they are printing the world's reserve currency.   People get USA dollars, and they either just put them somewhere, to store as a wealth-stash, or they buy US T-bills and T-bonds, or they buy US assets or equity shares.  This seems to  be the "secret sauce" of MMT (Modern Monetary Theory), which suggests that deficit spending by Federal USA authorities does not matter, since it does not impact the real economy or cause any inflation.

The problem is, if and when this process ends or runs retrograde, then the shift will be rapid, I suspect - much like the idiocy we are embedded within now.  

The scenario was already crafted as a novel, called "Ghost Fleet", back in 2015.   In that story, the war starts with the effective destruction of the USA aircraft carrier fleet.    The nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed aircraft carriers of the USA, might be it's single greatest asset that supports its reserve-currency status.   If a rapid series of ballistic missle attacks, using small, tactical nuclear weapons carried by 5000 mph ballistic delivery methods, were deployed by a rogue-state, against these targets, and they could be destroyed quickly, then the ability of the USA to project it's power around the world would be curtailed substantially.

This technology exists, and is available to a number of State entities.   If launches of this kind of technology took place, from some off-shore location (such as a submarine), would the USA retaliate with a nuclear strike against the suspect rogue State?    The State's diplomatic people could assert that the attack was an illegal action by a rogue commander - and it would not be possible to determine the truthfulness of this assertion.  One immediately thinks of North Korea.  But both Russia and China might do the math, and conclude they would be better off in a world where a belligerent USA has been somewhat neutralized, and might consider this strategy.

The damage and loss of life would be small (by typical "Third World War" estimates, often counted in "megadeaths"), but the effect would be large, and the results of this exercise perhaps significant.   China might call it simply "clipping the claws of the most dangerous tiger".  Russia might describe it as "an unfortunate and ill-advised strategy to de-militarize the sea lanes, undertaken by a rogue group of officers who have been removed from their positions of authority" - or some clever Putinesque approach.   

The idea would be to quickly destroy *all* the U.S. carriers.  This would mean that any U.S. retaliation would have to be either a major nuclear strike, launched from submarines, or an air-attack launched from USA or one of it's allies.   Would Japan allow an offensive strike against China to be launched from it's soil?   I doubt it.   Cruise missles could be used - but they can be tracked.  They have to launch from somewhere.

Once the U.S. carrier fleet is removed from operation (the ships do not even need to be destroyed - just disabled), the nations who launched the assault could apologize and assert it was an accident or a rogue group that undertook the action.   It is unlikely the USA would attack Russia or China in this scenario.  

We hypothesized the possibility of fake "fake attacks" like this.   It's just one level of indirection beyond an old-fashioned "false-flag" attack, like the exercise that Hitler's forces engineered to justify their invasion of Poland.

The idea in this hypothetical scenario, is that the State actors initiate an attack that has major strategic beneficial objectives - but then self-declares it to be *rogue*.    (The *rogue-trader* concept lies behind this thinking.  He is only a "rogue-trader" if his trade goes horribly wrong, and either costs his institution major money, or destroys it's financial viability.  If the trade goes right, he is just another BSD, and a hero to his peers and his employer.   So the thought occurred, could the "rogue bad actor" strategy be employed?  Of course it could.  There is clear evidence that Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia used exactly this strategy to engineer the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.)

And of course - now - during this virus-induced economic shutdown, would perhaps be an auspicious time to launch such an enterprise.  "Maybe the USA is weak?" an enemy might think.

If it was successful, then the status of the USA as the printer of Earth's reserve currency, would likely be called into question by all major economic participants on the planet.   What alternative currency would they seek to use?   British Pounds?  No way - the economy of the UK has been smashed.  Euros?   Maybe.  Yen?  Perhaps - but it might be Yuan instead.  Japan is a non-nuclear-armed client-State of the USA, much as Canada is.  Like Canada, it is weak, from a military perspective.

But Trump is a wild card.  He is emotional, has a bad temper - and if he felt that the destruction of his aircraft carriers was a deliberate act planned by a clever adversary, he might actually order his military to respond in a very significant way.    The "rogue trader" (or "rogue cop") assertion by the attacking nation, might not be believed, and could just be disregarded, and a full-scale assault launched out of simple, righteous anger.  

But in this way, President Trump's character traits are perhaps keeping America - and the world - safe.  Or at least safer than many expect or realize.  

So, in this - admittedly far-fetched hypothesis - we would expect a clever adversary to wait for a Biden/Democrat victory in November, and then launch the attack in January or February of next year.  But sometimes, a really good trade just gets away from you, if you wait too long.

What is curious, is that the very thing that Trump is criticized most for - his petulant temper and sensitivity - might actually be protecting Americans *much* more than any of them realize.   I was surprised at the vehemance of the order to "destroy any Iranian military craft that stray too close to any of our carriers".  But it probably is exactly the right thing to do.   Both America and Iran are hurting.   This is not a time for either side to initiate conflict.

And folks should also understand that any attack against America or it's allied nations, is likely to be met with a seriously furious, and probably far over-the-top response.    We realize the calculus of conflict is harsh - but caution that everyone should understand that the open nature of American policy debate, and the raw-political hostility that exists in America, is *not* a sign of weakness.   They take their "freedom-of-speech" seriously, and it makes them strong, effective and adaptable.   The open flow of information and debate in that nation, is unique.

So despite the serious downshift in the global (and USA) economy, as long as the Americans have an angry and sensitive leader in charge of the place, any adversary is likely to find their own nation in serious trouble, if they initiate any military action against America.   And as for terrorists - no one at all anywhere has any patience with them.  The one thing everyone in the world now agrees on, is their complete removal by means of whatever techology needs to be deployed.

We should all try to use this time of sickness, collapse and silence, as an opportunity to heal the wounds of the world.  Much of this effort must come from inside each person.

[ Apr. 22, 2020 - PM] - Apple iPad and iPhone Hack Confirmed by Researchers - This is important.  For years, we have advised clients, associates and friends to assume that their mobile devices are not secure, and that any information contained on them was essentially public knowledge.

We determined this by both experimentation, and by observing evidential behaviour.  From the Jeff Bezos hack to steal his "below-the-belt" images, to the effective monitoring by the Chinese government of it's citizen's communication activity, it became clear that the iPhone in particular, has serious security flaws that render it able to be exfiltrated - the data on the device can be accessed by remote query.

Curiously, there seemed to be a community of folks who denied this, and insisted the devices were secure.  They have been proven wrong.  Researchers at a San Francisco company - ZecOps, have confirmed an email-based attack the opens the iPhone right up - by remote access.   Details here:

Company CEO Zuk Avraham claims his researchers discovered the back-door, while investigating a sophisticated cyberattack against a client in late 2019.   This Reuters story seems real, and credible.  Apple has indicated there is a problem with the email app, and it will be issuing an update.  The following quote is included:

"Patrick Wardle, an Apple security expert, and former researcher for the U.S. National Security Agency, said the discovery "confirms what has always been somewhat of a rather badly kept secret: that well-resourced adversaries can remotely and silently infect fully-patched iOS devices."

We have quietly asserted this for years.  It is clear just from what occurs in the physical world, that iPhones and Android devices are not secure.  They offer the *illusion* of securty, while in fact, are really mechanisms to seriously degrade and compromise personal security.  Your location can be tracked, and your communications and data can be intercepted and recorded.

We live in a world of liars, fraudsters, and information-hiders - and we are reaching a time where the most scare commodity may be simple, old-fashioned trust.

Also,  we have learned this from an off-shore news-source:  The G. Wortman character who murdered 22 people in Nova Scotia, apparently first killed his estranged wife, and her new partner.   His business had been effectively destroyed by the coronavirus lockdown, and his wife had left him for another man.   This goes a long way to explaining what made him turn sociopathic-crazy.    The real tragedy is that the RCMP failed to alert people to what was happening, via the province-wide cell-phone alerting system.  Had more information been shared sooner, the public would have known there was a fake policeman with a fake police car, randomly killing people.

This evil-crazy guy was pulling drivers over in his fake police car, and when they stopped, he would kill them. He was setting houses on fire, and when people ran outside, he would kill them.  If the RCMP had used proper communication of this horrific event earlier, some lives might have been saved.   But at least they got him, and did their job well, when it mattered.   We owe them real gratitude for dealing effectively with this lunatic psychopath.  We had real concerns that this event might have been a rehearsal for a terrorist attack - and there is some benefit in knowing what drove this terrible person to his spree of violent madness.

The problem of a lone psychopath ends when he is dispatched by trained professionals.  But if this fellow were part of a terror cell, or was motivated by political objectives, then a problem would remain.  Again, we stress the benefits of full information disclosure.  We respectfully suggest that information-hiding by the RCMP serves no benefical purpose, especially since the psychopath has already been put down.

At the very least - the RCMP need to understand that *most* people do not have Twitter accounts.   We detest that service, and find little value in it.  But most people *do* have cellphones of one sort or another.  Given that the cellphone alerting service was in operation, it is a real tragedy it was not used at any time during the psychopath's 12-hour murder-spree.  It is especially sad that drivers on the highway to Halifax, were not alerted to the fact that a rogue-fake police car was being used by a maniac, to flag down, stop and then murder random drivers.    It is rather shocking that this information was not made widely available using the system that was created to offer exactly this type of warning.  

[ Apr. 22, 2020] - Rose Tint My World   - I am watching these cascade collapses around the world, and it is making me uneasy.   We've made decisions to remain fully invested, in what we had hoped would be portfolios which could withstand severe economic dislocations and extreme market trauma, and we are seeing volatility levels that match our worst-case expectations.   The ride has become more than just bumpy.   It's now dangerous.

Once, very long ago, I was motoring home from the big City to my small city - and I watched this small English sports car cross between lanes in the rear view mirror.  The guy driving was an idiot, or he was drunk or something.  He kept lane weaving - but being a technical guy, I had selected the far left lane, and had made it well past him.  I was many car lengths ahead - in the left lane - and I watched in the rear-view, as he tracked into the median, and his car went end-over-end-over-end so many times.   There was no sound - it was this surreal set of images that just played out in the rear-view mirror.  This was before cell-phones.  I pulled over and stopped and like a "good citizen",  ran to a farm house, and called in the accident, so someone could bring medical help - or maybe just deal with the mess.  Of course, truckers with CB radios had already reported the event.   But I remember thinking - what did this guy think, as he bounced towards his death?   Maybe:  "Oh hell.   That last one, that was a bad decision...."

It's rather like this, watching events unfold now.  I am sure we will all eventually recover, and all will be fine - for many people.   But a signficant number will just be smashed to bits and obliterated financially - and maybe even for real, in some virus-infested hospital.  

The small-holders and self-financing folks will be the Mary Jo Kopechne's.   And the political people who have large, comfortable government salaries, will be the Teddy Kennedy-types, who will swim carefully to the shore.   They will be fine, and will have great stories to tell their grand-kids.

Nature is cruel, and god is a violent monster (of course, "god" is just a metaphor, like the "Murphy" of "Murphy's Law",  No such creature really exsits.)   No way around this grim truth.   We are caught in a whirlwind of randomness, and some will be just fine, while others will simply be ended.  

Most of us can do little but observe the drama and the trauma as events unfold and cascade forward through time.   In a storm, you often want to just hold-hard.   But perhaps we are getting close to a time where more rapid responses have to be made.  Unwise government actions may be inadvertantly engineering major dysfunction to both our economy and our society.

Within 12 months, we could be looking at over 200 million dead globally - not from the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus -  but from wars, conflict and starvation resulting from the "lockdown"-triggered global economic collapse,   Too much economic activity has been halted too quickly.   Many people in poorer countries rely on their daily and weekly economic actions to earn their food-money.  Wealthy politicians can sit comfortably in their houses and issue dictates - but the average folks and the poor need to work, to buy their food and pay their rent or their mortgages.

This idiotic "lockdown" nonsense cannot continue much longer, or it will cause more damage than the virus - and ultimately may prove to be substantially more lethal.   

And this is not just my opinion - this is also the warning provided in a UN Study that has just been released,  The UN document is of course alarmist, as it is written to provoke "donor nations" to provide more funding - but the estimate of those facing extreme food "insecurity" are probably not inaccurate.    Much of the world skates along the very edge of survival.

The numbers are stark.  The coronavirus may kill millions.  But a collapse in global economic prosperity can quite easily kill hundreds of millions.  This economic collapse has already now been engineered for this year - it's now absolutely in the cards.     And it is already evident in the average person's investment portfolio.   

What is interesting, is how small and ineffective the government "stimulus" measures appear to be - in both Canada and the USA.   It appears wealth is being destroyed at a much faster rate, than even government money-printing efforts can run at.    And a perfect storm exists on the demand side - households are seeing their assets destroyed in stock market share-price falls, their incomes destroyed or eliminated for their small businesses, and if employed, their wages ended as their employers shutdown or are forced to close  - and this is happening at the same time as restrictions are being are placed on their movements, so they can't seek new jobs, or new business opportunities.   This is crazy.   

This has caused an astonishing collapse in demand, that has yet to show up in the numbers.   But it will - and this will just hammer the incomes of people in developing countries - and at the same time, increase pressure for relief-programs domestically - so "donor nations" may out of necessity, have to reduce funds to aid agencies.   

This entire "cycling down" process is already at the point of being self re-enforcing.  And this descent into global poverty, will impact billions of people.  Many at the bottom - hundreds of millions - may just fall over the edge.   And of course, this will create further demands on UN and other aid agencies, at a time when their funding is under pressure.  And so, it will just create war and conflict in the hard-hit areas.   Hungry men are easy to recruit.   So we can have disease - or - disease, war and famine.  

We need to re-open all economic activity by May 4th.  All "lockdowns" should end, and people who have the virus, should be treated at home, if possible.  That kind of quarantine situation might work.

[ Apr. 21, 2020] - The High Cost of Social Dysfunction and Medical Service Delivery Failure - Our little world cannot endure much more of the "lockdown" madness.   We are programming a rise in violence and a deep distrust and dis-respect for government authority into the civilian population.   You cannot simply tell everyone in the self-financing, self-supporting sector, that they are not now allowed to earn any income, in order to make life easier for government paid health workers.  And that they cannot get any medical treatment, unless they go into a hospital setting.

And there are also real rising costs associated wtih the enforced social isolation.  This "New Fascism" is creating a stream of future cost that will almost certainly outweigh the costs of a few million dead old folks.   This is harsh economics - but as I always used to quietly point out to both my students and my clients - economics is *always* harsh - it is the science of *scarcity* - and these recent years of plenty, are *not* the norm in human history.

I have no proof of this - but I am pretty sure the murder-spree in Nova Scotia carried out by G. Wortman, was directly related to the destruction of his business by this lockdown.   The man obviously went crazy - and we are lucky he only shot people.   A determined psychopath who wanted to attack society - if he had the determination to fabricate a false-flag police vehicle - might well have engineered a situation where thousands could have been killed.   People forget this simple truth.  Because of what he did, and the way he did it, the police were able to track him down and deal with him effectively, in less than 14 hours.   I don't want to make public the kinds of creative alternatives that might have been used - but these exist in films and literature.

It is wrong, costly and inappropriate for a national or provincial or state government to order all businesses to be closed, just to make life easier for the hospitals.  This absurd attempt at quarantine-in-your-home is doomed to failure, unless you also order people to starve to death.   Folks have to go out to get food.

We made a run to Costco yesterday, and since this whole foolish nonsense began, we were finally able to get into the store.  We staggered entry, so two of us  could go in seperately, each with a cart (the carts are used to count total persons in the store - each person must take a cart).   Two of us ran around and just grabbed what we could - maintaining "social distance"  (this expression is actually short form for "social-situation physical distance" - some folks are confused about this).  We dropped almost $400 at the cash-register - which was behind plexiglass, wiped down each time - and cart was unloaded by workers of Costco.

Costco has done a good job at this.  Much better than the governments of the world.   If we get thru this - it will be due to Costco, as we have had no useful information from our governments, and no testing facilities - either PCR testing for the virus - or for antibody testing to confirm immunity - have been set up in our region - at least none that we know of, or would likely even trust.   Such a curious time.   

The wild gyrations in price in the oil-market, point to a broken supply and distribution chain - much as do the empty store shelves, and the images of farmers dumping hundreds of thousands of litres of milk into their drains, and dumping eggs onto their manure piles.    The product is time-sensitive, and must get to market.   Oil can be stored - but milk goes bad.   

This state-ordered "stay at home" nonsense must end, and it must end very soon, before the tremendous damage that has already been done, is magnified further, and spills over into social unrest, and civil breakdown.   These are real risks.   People in North American - USA in particular - are not the same as rule-following Asians who are typically very obedient, and docile when faced with the brutal restrictions and systemic dishonesty of their governments & legal systems.   It's not just China  - as the world saw with remarkable surprise and clarity during the curious assault on Carlos Ghosn, the former CEO of Nissan Motors.   Even Japan runs a so-called "Justice" system that can be politically-bent, and is obedient to the explicit dictates of government insiders.

The Asian folks typically do what their governments tell them, and are basically quite docile in this regard.   Compared to Americans in USA, we are also similar to the Asians - Canadians are easy to control, and are very easily misled by false information, and abusive authority figures talking on television.   Disinformation works - and as the tragic events in Nova Scotia demonstrate, anyone who becomes violent, and goes on a murder-spree - can be taken down and killed very quickly by efficient squadrons of armed para-military police.

So, the peace is maintained.   But the rising costs of this idiotic *lockdown* strategy are not going to be contained.  These costs are growing exponentially now, and are beginning to look more serious and more dangerous than the death-rates associated with this nasty flu virus.

It sounds unduly harsh - but the correct path forward is to re-open the economy, remove these foolish and ineffective "stay-at-home" orders, and simply accept that the virus is fully "in-the-wild" and help folks just deal with it.   Forget ventilators and tubes.   We should just use whatever drugs are available, and publish all the various protocols tried.  There should be no secrets here.   Medical information is trivially simple to understand and work with.   Doctors are now little more than over-paid car-mechanics for humans - and we should aggressively publish and distribute widely, all the treatment strategies that are being tried.   The data will indicate very quickly what works, and what doesn't.

Sunlight - as it almost always is - is the best treatment for this viral problem.   The most important thing for governments to be doing, is to ensure that the various drugs needed to support the various treatment options - are made available to everyone and anyone who finds themselves down with this ugly virus, and insists upon effective treatment.     In my experience, once some "hospital worker" puts a tube down your throat, you are likely to be dead soon after.   Yes, some survive this procedure.   And that is quite remarkable.  

The only requirement for treatment experimentation - should be informed consent, and the publication of the treatment and its results in a publically accessable database.    This would help us get to an evidence-based solution to this, if one exists.

This current approach - where far too many folks are information-hiding - is not helpful, and will just prolong the problem.   Everywhere I look, I see sites going dark, and real, actionable information being surpressed.   The Johns-Hopkins site offers no useful treatment protocol information - not even a summary.   The "Doctor-community" seems to be mostly concerned with maintaining their monopoly on medical treatment and related information, and the governments are more concerned with maintaining social-control of the civilian population.

People here now are left with two alternatives:  Get sick and maybe die at home without any access to medical treatment.  Or go into a hospital situation where you have no control over the outcome, and are almost certain to be put at much greater risk, just by being there.

As a "Dismal Scientist", I see real costs with both paths, and am trying to suggest a third option.  Full openess of information, better testing ( at least *some* testing!), and aggressive use and documentation of, experimental treatment options.  And we must move away from the "government health care" model.  We have allow a return to a more sensible private-practice model, where an ordinary person can actually call a Doctor - or even a "Medic" and pay him or her, for making a house-call.

We might also want to remove the restrictions on "prescriptions" and perhaps even the entire profession of "Pharmacy".   It is only a gatekeeper function.    The current aggressive restrictions on medicines means that there exists very high-costs for anyone to obtain any sort of treatment for anything.   Really, if people want to accept the risks for self-medicating - why not let them do it?  The only requirement should be full-disclosure of exactly what they are doing, and explicit, documented informed consent.   In this modern information-rich world - neither the Physician nor the Pharmacist is really necessary most of the time.   And if weak-minded, low-quality people want to consume narcotics and this causes them to end their lives, why not recognize the real benefits that this offers society?

We really need to make changes.    The current approach - where many people have no access at all to any sort of safe, effective or useful medical services - needs to change.  This coronavirus problem has demonstrated this clearly.

Our economy and our society is in trouble.  Whirlpools and rocks ahead.  Course change required.

[ Apr. 20, 2020, PM] - Eve of Destruction - I watched Barry's video and at the opening sequence thought immediately:  "Oh my, there is Mary Jo Kopechne’s Volkswagon!" - but no - selective memory, I am afraid.  Ted Kennedy was drunk-driving an Oldsmobile, when he killed Mary Jo.   I was remembering the National Lampoon fake VW advert.  (See at right.).   Barry's video starts with a bashed-up VW in the first image.

I remember the Volkswagon, because of the famous National Lampoon advert that had this perfect  fake VW ad.  It said something like "If Ted Kennedy had been driving a Volkswagon, he'd be President today."     (The implication that the car would have floated, and Mary Jo would not have died.)

The folks at VW were so angry and upset about the fake advertisement, they sued the National Lampoon magazine.   This ensured the image would enter American History as an icon of humor, horror, and solid, good old fashioned cruel political satire.  Like when Jonathan Swift wrote "A Modest Proposal", anonymously, in 1729, suggesting that the Irish hunger problem and associated overpopulation of Irish Catholics, could be solved by having the Irish parents kill their babies and eat them - thus addressing two important  policy objectives by one simple action.  He even included some cooking suggestions.   It was, of course, a deeply critical essay on the economic and social policy that England was following, which ensured - perhaps even promoted - mass starvation in Ireland.

People can be crazy, cruel and horrible - and humour is sometimes the only defense that is available.  But satire has a long an noble tradition, going back to Roman times.   Swift still got found out, and was put in jail for a time, for writing what may English thought was a serious suggestion.   Lord Bathurst saw the humour, and responded accordingly (see the Wikipedia page).

But at least that fellow Kennedy died without becoming the boss of USA.  He - and his entire clan - are not very nice people.  Their family truly seems to be cursed.  

I was able to  find a copy of the fake VW advert.   It really looked authentic, and made us all howl with laughter when we saw it.   Good, solid, dark-humour - the very best kind!  "Poor Teddy" indeed.  

And what is this to do with AI?   Well, in Brunner's novel "Stand on Zanzibar", an entire African country is run by a big AI.   The name of the big computer AI was: "Salmanazer" - the very authority that Swift references in his "Modest Proposal".   The "real" Psalmanazar, was a French fraudster, who claimed to be an authority on many things, and for a while, passed himself off as the "first citizen of Formosa to visit Europe".   He was, in fact, a Frenchman.  (Yes, there was an ancient King in the Bible, called "Shalmaneezar".)

We live in a cruel, crazy and very, very fake world.    Remember this always.  Was the Chinese P4 level virus lab in Wuhan responsibile for the accidental release of the glyco-protein modified SARS virus?  (Which became SARS-Cov-2?)   No, probably not.  But there *was* that incident, where that researcher was exposed to bat-urine, and had to be quarantined for 12 days.   What about that?   Who knows.

I don't know.  But we are still long, and standing pat.   Please play "St. James Infirmary Blues" at my funeral, if you can.  

***  14:50  Update ***   (I suppose I will collect all these notes, and try to publish them in book form someday - Maybe call it "Journal of the Time of the Great Undoing", depending on how this plays out.  We might really be butchered financially here.   Half the world might be.   The market dislocations may well be more net-lethal, than the virus.   Hundreds of millions of people - maybe billions, around the world - are gonna be like Mary Jo Kopechne - in a financial sense.    Like that mouse-in-a-bell-jar demonstration, that is described in LeFevre's book.    The "Ted Kennedy" types will swim away just fine, but all the little guys are gonna just run out of monetary air, I fear.

The US Oil market seems to have failed.  US Oil May Contract closed at *NEGATIVE* $37.63 per barrel.  I am not sure how that will even be reported.  No on wants oil now - since apparently the storage tanks and pipelines are full.  Producers are paying folks to take the oil - but the June contract was still in the $20 dollar/bbl range, last data I could get.   A lot of physical commodity prices are refecting the broken supply chains, not real demand.  Except for oil - the gas tanks and oil tanks are full, and if you can't go anywhere, then demand is just not there.  Oil demand is not just frozen, it is gone.

  [ Apr. 20, 2020] - Worst Case Scenarios Continue - As analysts and researchers, we construct scenarios, and try to assess their likelyhood.   Every analyst always has a list of the really awful ones that are not even published, because you don't want to give bad people ideas.   The tragic and painfully awful shootings in Nova Scotia represent one I've always worried about.  Canadians have a great willingness to defer to authority - it is a serious concern, since it means that a person pretending to be a police officer - especially if he could create a false-flagged police vehicle - would probably be able to gain access to sensitive locations.

I had always feared this to be something initiated by an organized criminal group, by professional thieves - perhaps a robbery of some high-value material, or be a terrorist attack by jihadists.   But the events in Nova Scotia, where a lone-gunman runs amok - but using carefully crafted fake police properties - this just seems over-the-top strange.   The killer was tracked and shot at a roadside gas-station by heavily-armed police tactical agents - hard-core, military-style operatives, armed with effective assault systems.   The whole thing seems quite unreal, and there is no information available indicating the shooter's motivation.  

But there must have been something driving this process other than just madness and anger.   This kind of meticulous planning - the careful fabrication of the vehicle and the uniform - as well as the intensity of the violence - raises many questions.

One obvious question arises.  Was the man's business destroyed by the coronavirus economic lockdown?  It is clear that this curious and unhealthy lockdown of most economic activity, is dangerous and unsustainable.   Individual folks who are self-employed, self-financing private professionals are at risk of being just financially extinguished because of the draconian restrictions being applied.   Was this part of what pushed a 51-year old denturist into an orgy of insane, violent madness?  

I am again reminded of Brunner's "To Stand on Zanzibar", and his technical description of "muckers" - the fictional future-slang, for those people who "run amok".   "Amok" is a Malay word, both noun and adjective: Websters defines it "possessed with a murderous or violently uncontrollable frenzy".   But the folks doing these senseless, awful mass-killings, seem to plan them carefully.  Stephen Paddock in Vegas, or "Tomato" Andy, the gay flight-attendent-turned Germanwings pilot, who very carefully spiked the senior-pilot's coffee with a diuretic, so that pilot would leave the flight-deck to pee - allowing the gay-boy to lock the