Sunday, September 16, 2018

Q&A - 16/9


How did Trump do on unemployment?

Little better than previous admin

Graph is from Shadowstats. There is some decrease in the real unemployment. This # increased and remained steady during and until the end of previous admin. So some improvement.

But gov did nothing on the deficit and actually made it worse. Bubbles abound.


Can Trump win the 2020 election?


Based on the statistical model here, and using a potential 3% GDP growth, -15% current Trump net approval rating (from Gallup), and the fact that he will be the leading the incumbent party in its first term in power, the confidence interval for Rep win is (49.84. 53.543). This is a high probability for a second term. The main factor here is incumbency, it is extremely hard for voters to switch leaders that fast. I tried growth figure of 1%, u still get (49.19  51.87), some chance for Dems but still Rep is favored. Unless there is an econ crisis, or Trump's popularity plunges further, 2nd term is likely. With less growth, and oppo pulls a Dubya... maybe there is a chance for Dems.

Benedict Evans

Its always weird when Americans on the right dismiss 'socialized' healthcare as a terrible idea without also condemning the 'socialized' police



How do we explain the rise of the right in European countries with strong social state?

With that sentence

Maybe ppl were afraid to lose services of that social state bcz of the influx of refugees. I am not saying right or wrong, just saying that might have been the impression.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Q&A - 15/9


[Cryptocurrency] Ethereum works as a solution for issuing tokens, however, it currently doesn't seem to be fast nor scaleable enough to host succesful dApps. EOS does.


I hear good things about EOS and its founder Larimer.

I fully expect social networking to go complete-decentral at some point BTW - maybe EOS powered ONO will be that new solution.


There are only three optimizations: Do less. Do it less often. Do it faster.

The largest gains come from 1, but we spend all our time on 3.



Did quantitative easing programme, executed by many central banks in the world after 2008 crisis, work?


See paper, based on Bank of England (UK central bank) data. 

US QE involved FED buying government securities and mortgage bonds. So FED printed money and bought  securities (but this move is seen as "unorthodox", not part of normal operation, and everyone is freaked out about it one way or another, want it to end). On one hand, government debt is "monetized", on the other, mortgage bond purchases in a way became a continuous bailing out of financial institutions. US debt burden grew higher.  

In cases / countries where QE is used to buy up corporate debt, it is used on large institutional debt, a move that would help cement large companies' position in the marketplace. Inequality.

QE, purchasing long-term bonds, depressed their rates, pushing investors to the stock market, creating a bubble there (see today), as well as in bonds. More inequality. The situation in bonds is even more severe (in terms of bubble) where investors front-loading FED moves made a killing by simple mirroring their actions.

John McCain

[Paraphrasing] politics is about compromise, we need to start compromising, unite Democrats and Republicans. 


We need to seperate Democrats and Republicans. 

Most useful policies are self-contained, atomic, whole-or-nothing positions. Take 15-dollar-minimum-wage for example.. You either do it as-is, or don't do it at all. If you smush it, bend it in this way or that way "well... if an employee, is btw 30-40, is married, working in blah, then before noon it is $12, but if female, working in software, on Mondays it is $15"..  Then the policy becomes useless, it becomes like.. Obamacare (a certifiable over-engineered piece of shit). 

I was watching this video on the Oslo accords the other day,  about "the Clinton solution" for the Israeli-Palestine problem. It goes like this: "Split the West Bank in three sections. Area A (some patchy shit area) gave Palestenians X amt of control, Area B (another patchy shit area inside the previous patchy shit area) Pals govern, Israel security handles security, Area C (everything else that remains), Israel controls everything.". 

I looked at this map, and the patchy "solution" it represented, and I thought to myself this is how a fucking centrist thinks... Always these roundabouts, curvy moves - in a small landscape. 

The main problem is a centrist often makes a bigger decision first, and makes it wrong. Democrat centrists for example (the worst kind), decide first to be Republican-lite, and as such, constrain themselves to one particular area, then they think they can accomplish things with "on the one hand.. on the other hand.." quick body moves, tactical maneuvers, delivering non-solutions but "selling it" with lip-biting, Holywood delivery, the West Wing'uesque Aaron Sorkin politico-techno-babble. 

But they constrained themselves to a small area, and the strategic implication of that choice asserts itself one way or another, and collapses, on their head, burying them under it.


Do you support 15$ minimum wage?


I'd rather give ppl free money, instead of restricting businesses with minimum wage.


Without compromise how can political horse-trading work?

It can

You don't compromise on the atomic issue, but you can still horse-trade on the palette. I give you 15MW, you give me M4A. There is a palette of issues a politician wants to further, may not get them all, but can further some.


Innovation in AI has stopped

Still kickin...

See paper

“Inspired by the structure of the nervous system of the soil-worm, C. elegans, we introduce Neuronal Circuit Policies, a recurrent neural network instance with liquid time-constants, universal approximation capabilities and interpretable dynamics.”


Then AI will kill us!


See speech.


An interesting new thing in art you saw?

A song featuring Bernie



CBS's [CEO] Les Moonves quits amid new allegations of abuse


Word is he effed it all up with Star Trek Disco. Maybe CBS will have better scifi in the future.

Can we have Stargate Atlantis back? Or some kind of Stargate.. that doesn't look like a Lost remake?

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Public Education

Everyone wants to fix public education (PE) while some defend it as a matter of principle. It is good to have this service available, but there is something wrong with PE, and it doesn't have to do with teacher pay, or teacher availability.

Here is a way to both keep PE and have it work better. The new aproach is based on the following tenets.

1) Course content is created by reputable professors, called originators, who are selected by the Department of Education (DOE). The lectures are delivered to students through tablets owned by the school.

2) What was called a "teacher" now becomes a "certifier".

3) There is a stil a thing called school with its building, and classrooms which kids can go to.

4) Classes are graded on pass/fail basis, no more letter grades

PE's most pressing problem is quality. The fastest way to fix that is to stop the so-called "teachers" from teaching. The act of content delivery needs to be taken away from them, instead, turned over to electronic lectures, content created by a reputable researcher / originator in his/her field.

Incentives for the originators to create content: DOE will have the authority to increase an originator's (who is a researcher) grant on any subject by 20% if that researcher aggrees to generate content for a specific subject. The grant increase will be paid by the original grantor (such as NSF, DOD, etc). Written content will be based on jupyter notebook technology which allows math, runable code, and text to reside side-by-side in the same electronic document. The content will be complemented by video lectures the originator recorded by the equipment sent to her by DOE.

Originator can choose to point to someone else's work for content, e.g. for algebra video lectures s/he can choose Khanacademy videos and have them used instead of his own recording.

It is important to have a researcher to generate content (or choose one suitable), because only someone who knows a subject througly can teach it simply.

The collection of courses a student takes depends completely on the student's interest. A guardian can be part of this process, as well as certifiers who can do double-duty as guides who know about more then one subject.

The tablets will be made available to kids in a public area and dropped off when done. Tablets will use a tech called docker technology to reinitialize its content on demand, erasing previous work, preinstalling a system with all of the necessary content on the same machine. Programming on this machine will be possible, kids can snoop around all they want because next kid can reinitialize a machine to its original state. Programming language will be Python. Tablet's OS will be based on Ubuntu Linux. Portable, lightweight keyboards (also available at school) can be attached to tablets for easier typing for programming purposes.

All lecture, video files will be local to the tablet. Its content, part of its docker image will be synced with the school's server on demand. School server, in turn, will occasionally sync its content with DOE. This way DOE can centrally manage all course content from its servers.

Originator can enrich a subject in any way they want. They can (and should) offer lab experiments based on software simulation. Recently I saw a simulation for a famous experiment that allows the measurement of a single electron's charge. Click Begin, it takes you to a setup where a click on the round ball on the left spits out oil drops, click on the virtual "microscope" it shows the oil drop "hanging" in the air due to an "electric field", all simulated. This simulation code takes only a few files, which can easily be included in the docker image for the entire course. The kids today are so lucky (or, can be).

Professors who generated their content can grant certifier status to professionals, who can pass the label to others. Certifiers will be able to assign pass/fail grade to students on the classes they are certified on. Certifiers will go to schools, not teach a class, but remain available according to their schedule shared publicly with students. Most likely they will sit in a loungy, classroom-ish area while students who are studying are there with them, occasionally asking them questions on issues they are stuck on. But students can also ask eachother, but move on in their own pace, the flow of the learning depends completely on the student.

A student, at any time, can ask to be certified, by which time the certifier will set aside a time slot to do just that. If the certifier deems the student learned the subject well enough, s/he will assign them a pass grade.

I can see a lot of professionals becoming certified on subjects that interest them, and going to schools to help kids with questions or final certifications. They can do this even while still working remotely, as certifiers are not teachers, they are not required to deliver an entire lecture. A programmer with an early interest in chemistry can become certified in the subject and spend some time at a local school. Certifiers would be paid by the government based on the time they spend at school.

The number of potential certifiers are enormous. Every society has a lot of white-collar professionals, and all of them have the potential to donate some of their time on a certain subject.

This new scheme does not involve "home schooling" as it is important for kids being able to leave home, to go somewhere else, the home environment or neighborhood might not be ideal for studying. With its four walls and a building a school is still a school, albeit with a somewhat different concept of classroom.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Watergate Babies


It was January 1975, and the Watergate Babies had arrived in Washington looking for blood. The Watergate Babies—as the recently elected Democratic congressmen were known—were young, idealistic liberals who had been swept into office on a promise to clean up government, end the war in Vietnam, and rid the nation’s capital of the kind of corruption and dirty politics the Nixon White House had wrought. Richard Nixon himself had resigned just a few months earlier in August. But the Watergate Babies didn’t just campaign against Nixon; they took on the Democratic establishment, too. Newly elected Representative George Miller of California, then just 29 years old, announced, “We came here to take the Bastille.”

One of their first targets was an old man from Texarkana: a former cotton tenant farmer named Wright Patman who had served in Congress since 1929. He was also the chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Banking and Currency and had been for more than a decade. Antiwar liberal reformers realized that the key to power in Congress was through the committee system; being the chairman of a powerful committee meant having control over the flow of legislation. The problem was: Chairmen were selected based on their length of service. So liberal reformers already in office, buttressed by the Watergate Babies’ votes, demanded that the committee chairmen be picked by a full Democratic-caucus vote instead.

Ironically, as chairman of the Banking Committee, Patman had been the first Democrat to investigate the Watergate scandal. But he was vulnerable to the new crowd he had helped usher in. He was old; they were young. He had supported segregation in the past and the war in Vietnam; they were vehemently against both. Patman had never gone to college and had been a crusading economic populist during the Great Depression; the Watergate Babies were weaned on campus politics, television, and affluence.

What’s more, the new members were antiwar, not necessarily anti-bank. “Our generation did not know the Depression,” then-Representative Paul Tsongas said. “The populism of the 1930s doesn’t really apply to the 1970s,” argued Pete Stark, a California member who launched his political career by affixing a giant peace sign onto the roof of the bank he owned.

In reality, while the Watergate Babies provided the numbers needed to eject him, it was actually Patman’s Banking Committee colleagues who orchestrated his ouster. For more than a decade, Patman had represented a Democratic political tradition stretching back to Thomas Jefferson, an alliance of the agrarian South and the West against Northeastern capital. For decades, Patman had sought to hold financial power in check, investigating corporate monopolies, high interest rates, the Federal Reserve, and big banks. And the banking allies on the committee had had enough of Patman’s hostility to Wall Street.

Over the years, Patman had upset these members by blocking bank mergers and going after financial power. As famed muckraking columnist Drew Pearson put it: Patman “committed one cardinal sin as chairman. ... He wants to investigate the big bankers.” And so, it was the older bank allies who truly ensured that Patman would go down. In 1975, these bank-friendly Democrats spread the rumor that Patman was an autocratic chairman biased against junior congressmen. To new members eager to participate in policymaking, this was a searing indictment.[..]

Not all on the left were swayed. Barbara Jordan, the renowned representative from Texas, spoke eloquently in Patman’s defense. Ralph Nader raged at the betrayal of a warrior against corporate power. And California’s Henry Waxman, one of the few populist Watergate Babies, broke with his class, puzzled by all the liberals who opposed Patman’s chairmanship. Still, Patman was crushed. Of the three chairmen who fell, Patman lost by the biggest margin. A week later, the bank-friendly members of the committee completed their takeover. Leonor Sullivan—a Missouri populist, the only woman on the Banking Committee, and the author of the Fair Credit Reporting Act—was removed from her position as the subcommittee chair in revenge for her support of Patman. “A revolution has occurred,” noted The Washington Post.

Indeed, a revolution had occurred. But the contours of that revolution would not be clear for decades. In 1974, young liberals did not perceive financial power as a threat, having grown up in a world where banks and big business were largely kept under control. It was the government—through Vietnam, Nixon, and executive power—that organized the political spectrum. By 1975, liberalism meant, as Carr put it, “where you were on issues like civil rights and the war in Vietnam.” With the exception of a few new members, like Miller and Waxman, suspicion of finance as a part of liberalism had vanished.

Over the next 40 years, this Democratic generation fundamentally altered American politics. They restructured “campaign finance, party nominations, government transparency, and congressional organization.” They took on domestic violence, homophobia, discrimination against the disabled, and sexual harassment. They jettisoned many racially and culturally authoritarian traditions. They produced Bill Clinton’s presidency directly, and in many ways, they shaped President Barack Obama’s.         

The result today is a paradox. At the same time that the nation has achieved perhaps the most tolerant culture in U.S. history, the destruction of the anti-monopoly and anti-bank tradition in the Democratic Party has also cleared the way for the greatest concentration of economic power in a century. This is not what the Watergate Babies intended when they dethroned Patman as chairman of the Banking Committee. But it helped lead them down that path. The story of Patman’s ousting is part of the larger story of how the Democratic Party helped to create today’s shockingly disillusioned and sullen public, a large chunk of whom is now marching for Donald Trump.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018


Some scientific news:

* Fossil over 4 million years old suggests we did not evolve from chimpanzee. The common ancestor is more human-like.

* "New findings suggest that either String Theory is wrong or we are wrong about our universe". Yeeah... I am going to go out on a limb here and say that it is the former not the latter, but hey, go at it for another 40 years.

Also see this.

* Quantum mechanics needs no conciousness: in the double-slit experiment, the path is "decided" when a concious observer observes it. It turns out even recording the info on a single atom is enough to "decide" the path taken.

* I keep hearing on science talks "an electron has no dimension". It does have dimension.

See here.

* Supercapacitor tech look promising

* Stupid joke:

* I was going to include some stuff from economics, but then, is that science? Wahahahahaha

(I am crying inside)

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Movement for a People's Party

2/3 Americans want a third party. It sounded almost unbelievable, Gallup confirms (6/10, still huge). 

Another crazy number: half the Democrats want a third party.

Why is Bernie not doing this? Why wait..? We have to admit though one reason Bernie could popularize his message was because he was part of the Dem 2016 primary. That was huge visibility, a huge stage from which to spread his message. The question now is when (or if) to bolt. I don't know... But it probably doesn't hurt to start the machinations for an option today, like MPP is apparently doing.

Good point: The Whigs collapsed due to divisions over slavery and gave rise to today's Republicans. Sometimes you can change a place, sometimes .. you can't. It's a pity the party of FDR cannot house progressives of today, but it could just be Democrats have no more change energy left in them. The fucking centrists, third-way Holywood glitz monkeys may have truly wrecked the place.

Yes, the superdelegate vote is a move in the right direction but then, I saw this.


Q&A - 16/9

Question How did Trump do on unemployment? Little better than previous admin Graph is from Shadowstats. There is some decrease in ...