The SN5 SpaceX prototype "Starship" test-bed rocketship, using a single Raptor engine - flying up 150 meters, and then landing. ( Page down to "Notes" section, for URL link to a 2 minute video of the test flight. )

"Indeed, what is there that does not appear marvelous when it comes to our knowledge for the first time? And how many things too, are looked upon as quite impossible until they have been actually effected?" - Pliny the Elder, in 'Natural History'.
[ For the daily notes, page down past the six photographs... ]

Big Sky Number 4.

The new well well. It has been well done and is working well. :)

Summer Harvest - Hay Drying in the Sun - July 23rd, 2020. Blue sky, golden fields, in our short summer.

"A New Life Awaits You!.. Off-World!" This is a view of "Desolation Road". No virus agents here. Mars is waiting for us. You don't even need a passport, brown or otherwise. The first to reach Mars, can claim an entire planet for themselves, quite regardless of what laws and procedures exist on Earth. The trick of course, will be to survive, on a world where you will have to manufacture even the air you breathe. Each of the Martian colonies will be high-risk enterprises.

It's the Dawn of a New Age. Keep smiling, stay strong. And make some money.

Notes of Note

Simple Schematic of Water Well with Submersible Pump. Water is Life & Life Needs Water.

[ 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"..

https://thefederalist.com/2020/08/07/joe-bidens-capitulation-to-the-crazy-left-is-alienating-democrats-like-me/

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!)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sCQcbOqO5A

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.

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/trump-calls-tiktok-hot-brand-185036192.html

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.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2018/09/10/how-the-caine-mutiny-and-the-paranoid-capt-queeg-contributed-to-the-debate-over-the-25th-amendment/

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:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-08-02/investors-rethink-60-40-as-ultra-low-yields-test-portfolios

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"

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/bond-yields-sending-scary-signal-100003918.html

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:

https://www.classicfm.com/discover-music/o-fortuna-carmina-burana-lyrics/

[ 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...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDMfk76hMSQ

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:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6HrPPoLdjNynZCvUrJbmBw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkpzc1XUwtQ

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... )

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExgmZXYUh6M

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8MYynmi80I

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:

https://cntechpost.com/2020/05/04/homemade-tesla-cybertruck-went-viral-in-china/

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..)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-tsnFRcniQ&feature=youtu.be

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...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzQ91ggSqZQ

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:  

http://www.ermaksan.com.tr/USA/Product/Laser-Technology/FIBERMAK-FIBERMAK-Fiber-Laser-Cutting-Machine

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:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WG7fVhSqRgs

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."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MW6E_TNgCsY

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.."   

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbJIu_na4gY

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.

http://www.physics.ntua.gr/~serafetinides/publications.html

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."

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/optogenetics-controlling/

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.

https://www.thorlabs.com/navigation.cfm?guide_id=2187

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!" :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qkYWEHwtSo

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:

 http://opticaapplicata.pwr.edu.pl/files/pdf/1993/no4/optappl_2304p217.pdf

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.

https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/jz5025542#

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:

http://technology.niagarac.on.ca/people/mcsele/lasers/index.html    (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.)

http://technology.niagarac.on.ca/people/mcsele/lasers/Mechanism.htm

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)

http://donklipstein.com/laserfaq.htm#faqtoc     (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.

https://www.northernlightscentre.ca/nothernlights.html

https://earthsky.org/earth/what-causes-the-aurora-borealis-or-northern-lights

Some very cool aurora simulations... (see .gif movies at end of article)

http://cidas.isee.nagoya-u.ac.jp/ogino/simulation/global/jikiken.html

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 phys.org 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.

https://phys.org/news/2014-12-theta-auroralong-standing-space-mysteryrevealed.html

[ 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:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/273390680_Design_and_construction_of_prototype_transversely_excited_atmospheric_TEA_nitrogen_laser_energized_by_a_high_voltage_electrical_discharge 

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.

http://technology.niagarac.on.ca/people/mcsele/lasers/LasersTEA.htm

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).

https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Blumlein_generator&redirect=yes

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Blumlein

[ 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 "ask.com" and "duckduckgo.com" and even "bing.com" (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:

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-decline-of-the-us-dollar-could-happen-at-warp-speed-in-the-era-of-coronavirus-warns-prominent-economist-stephen-roach-2020-06-22?siteid=yhoof2&yptr=yahoo

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....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsH2In5r2sM

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...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gALaxb1ScJ8

We have to be clever now, in this Brave New World... We are all looking for a genius.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adHwtOLoVjE

[ 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.

https://www.bookdepository.com/Battle-for-Investment-Survival-Gerald-M-Loeb/9780470110034

This site has a picture of him, at his desk.  Worth checking out, just for that...

https://www.investors.com/news/management/leaders-and-success/why-gerald-loebs-battle-for-investment-survival-rings-true-in-todays-markets/

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...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNJGkyCqtTU

Really was hoping to take a little tour around Luna.  Seriously.  Like these guys:

https://phys.org/news/2018-09-japanese-billionaire-businessman-revealed-spacex.html

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. ]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34y2KcSQ6TY

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.   

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/euro-zone-agrees-transfer-748-183011001.html 

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.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-economy-inflation/u-s-consumer-prices-post-third-straight-monthly-drop-idUSKBN23H1Y1

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:

https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/inflation-cpi

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.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-cyber-mercenaries-exclusive/exclusive-obscure-indian-cyber-firm-spied-on-politicians-investors-worldwide-idUSKBN23G1GQ

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...

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-germany-military-beyer/us-decision-to-withdraw-troops-from-germany-unacceptable-merkel-ally-idUSKBN23F0MA

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?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OBs6S1lW_Q

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0t_wb0lUW0

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydA0bmL-UEk

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...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58W1SmwG1AM

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?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SyixSHWgR8

"...  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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHLKFSWzImk

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"...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0zaebtU-CA

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%.

https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.DEFL.KD.ZG?locations=GB

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".

https://www.sec.gov/fast-answers/answers-blueskyhtm.html 

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:

https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007%2F978-1-4939-3474-4_46

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.

https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/nacho-vidal-toad-venom-dmt-death-1010196/

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:

https://curl.haxx.se/docs/install.html

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":"//nexus.ensighten.com/tdb/secure/Bootstrap.js","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..)

https://www.ensighten.com/company/about-us/

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VO_1AdYRGW8

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:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnbfDj1bL2w

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnbfDj1bL2w

https://www.loc.gov/item/00694425/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lH4F91oARtE

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:  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VO_1AdYRGW8

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?

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/crisis-hit-wall-street-checks-060000680.html

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:   http://www.mtc.gov.on.ca/en/libraries/carnegie.shtml

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    <- 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:

https://www.barrons.com/articles/banks-are-facing-higher-loan-losses-because-of-the-crisis-why-they-should-be-ok-51590408001

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.

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)31208-3/fulltext

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....

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/elon-musk-tesla-cybertruck-isnt-204719830.html

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:

https://techcrunch.com/2020/05/21/rapidapi-api-marketplace-funding/

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?")

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ES-Hp9vcujo

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...)

https://twitter.com/nntaleb/status/1263265016301727744

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:

https://vimeo.com/327327187

https://vimeo.com/328864585

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:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vx-a5NrcigA

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:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lrNKwcUojc

[ "I been to church, & I declare, there ain't nothing for learnin' there..." ]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsOHvP1XnRg

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 to 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.

https://www.barrons.com/articles/economist-nancy-lazar-is-betting-on-middle-america-51589568493?mod=read_next

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.

https://www.barrons.com/articles/world-to-america-why-are-you-rewiring-your-markets-51589314324

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:

https://ia801402.us.archive.org/3/items/tomorrow-belongs-to-me/Tomorrow_Belongs_To_Me.mp4

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.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-tesla/amid-lockdown-dispute-musk-says-he-will-move-tesla-out-of-california-idUSKBN22L0S5

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)...

https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/politics/sd-me-surf-nazis-20170823-story.html

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. "

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGUu3pxYaME

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPWJORCF1xE

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.

https://in.finance.yahoo.com/news/apple-google-ban-location-tracking-165925501.html

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lv0jav4lNsk

[ 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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODRGLFQ-QcY

[ Apr. 27, 2020 ] - The Coronavirus Song - This must be it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELe4vC3oM5E

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTHuHup3Cfs 

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ga_k44Lqs60

[ 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.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2019.02569/full

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:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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:

https://www.bcmj.org/premise/history-bloodletting

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.

https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.106.685974

https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1160021-overview

http://www.differencebetween.net/science/health/drugs-health/difference-between-heparin-and-warfarin/

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.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa-blood-idUSKCN22421Z

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   *********** 

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.15.20067017v2

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:

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/flaw-iphone-ipads-may-allowed-154752346.html

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.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/21/global-hunger-could-be-next-big-impact-of-coronavirus-pandemic

https://www.wfp.org/publications/2020-global-report-food-crises

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdWGp3HQVjU

https://www.readersdigest.ca/culture/really-happened-chappaquiddick/

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).  

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Modest_Proposal

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".)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Psalmanazar

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 security door, and carefully program the flight computer to fly a plane-load of innocent people into a mountainside.  And then we have the senior Canadian-military pilot Russel Willams, who was Base Commander, and who flew the Royal Family at one point - but at night, would break into houses and commit sex-crimes - and ultimately rape and murder two women.

https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2015/05/16/dna-tests-on-russell-williams-murder-victim-took-10-weeks.html

These carefully-planned multiple-murders are deeply disturbing - and since Brunner was able to accurately forecast these events in our current "future", using psychological studies done in the 1960's, I feel compelled to research this material.    And of course, the more I dig, the uglier it gets.    There is evidence that this kind of violence & killing, is some kind of an automatic "overcrowding response" that gets triggered in mammals.    Or is it just a chosen behavioural response?    In Old Norse (the Viking language), we have the term: "berserk" - the frenzied response of a Viking warrior.   Being "berserker" was viewed as an effective warrior strategy.

And we have John B. Calhoun's rat and mice overcrowding studies.  These are interesting.

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/how-mouse-utopias-1960s-led-grim-predictions-humans-180954423/

Calhoun's research into high-density driven "behavioural sinks", offers some clues to what might be going on. 

Part of our interest in this dark area, is related to the psychological aspects of trading, speculation, and investment.    There are curious traits which get expressed in high-reward, high-risk, high-stress situations.  Lots of very clever people break down emotionally in a trading environment.  Sometimes they literally have to be "carried out" after losing all (and even more) of their money.   Others exhibit extreme violent behaviour, and smash equipment.  Or they engage in over-the-top confrontations or extreme sports with high-levels of physical risk.   Traders are typically male, but phenomenon of the the multiple-murder killing for pleasure is not just a "guy" thing.   Recently, a nurse from London and Tavistock, Ontario, Elizabeth Wettlaufer, murdered 8 senior citizens, carefully, and with some skill, and tried to kill six others.  This curious kill-response is not exclusively a male behavioural trait.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Wettlaufer

We need to study this kind of "controlled" kill-behaviour.  I suspect it explains the attraction that jihad-terrorism holds for young men - and the young women who follow them -  and perhaps also why political situations can spiral out of control so quickly now.     Something is deeply wrong in our modern world, and this strange wrongness, appears to be manifesting itself with increasing frequency.

[ Apr. 19, 2020] - Doing it Wrong, on the Right Side of Town - I had to write this down.   I think most of the equity analysts are missing the point - rather surprisingly.   There is this curious observation that seems in vogue, that the market recovery - such as it is - is due to some sort of optimism or postive outlook on the part of investors - and that the analysts seem to be "tut-tut-tut-ing" this apparent optimism as being inappropriate.

They are *completely* missing the point - as is common for stock-market analysts.  I used to have to work with these folks - and I only met two or three who could actually think with the degree of creative thinking that made their opinions useful.   The "herd-instinct" is strong in the community of analysts.  They watch each other - like women do at a party - to see who has the nicest dress, and so on.   Curious, really.

Anyway, I am pretty sure they are missing the dynamic here.   The analytic thinking has to go just a step further.   Like this:

Ask:  Is this rising market response here, really a reflection of market optimisim??

And I have to think:  "No gosh-darned way."

Stocks are rather crappy hedges against inflation.   But in times of pre-hyper-inflation - ie. that weirdly gruesome transition period between normal inflation, and runaway, killer inflation, they can do ok.   This is like what was being tee-ed up at the end of the 1970's - I remember doing research in Ottawa, and looking at wages of Quebec nurses being gapped upward 20% per year, for example.  You simply cannot defend annual wage gains of 20% - within a few years, you blow up.  If someone is making 50,000/yr and they get 5% annual wage gains, in 10 years they are making 60,000 more or less.  That can work.   But if the annual wage gains are 20%, a 50,000/yr salary becomes 309,000/yr, and government expenditures (and tax receipts required to fund the outlay) just blow up, and butcher your economy.  You can only do this nonsense, if you print your own currency.

And that is what governments do.  They just keep jacking up the money-wage, until the currency becomes trash.

Historically, European and North-American gov'ts have been reluctant to blow themselves up this way.  This is because, they did it in the past.  That is really the only reason.  It's not like we are smarter, or morally better people.  We just had Dad's and Grampa's that could tell us stories about when everything blew the hell to pieces, and stopped working - financially.  I remember an old guy at the Bridge Club my father belonged to - telling me what a bank failure looked like in Hamilton.  He had seen it as a boy  - this huge crowd of hundreds of angry, desperate people, milling around in front of a Bank, hoping it would open, so they could get some of their money out.

This is why Deposit Insurance was created.  This is why we have macro-prudential regulators, and why Banks have strict capital ratios.   We all saw the movie of what it looked like, when it blew up.  It was bad.  So we know.

But where are we now?   We are on the cusp of the greatest money-print in all of human history.  We just are.  The numbers are really, really big.   The money is really, really virtual.  It lives just as computer data, inside data-bases, which are just spinning disks or NAND flash memory (those little SD cards you stick in your video camera, to record half an hour of family fun pictures - or porn or whatever...).

Money is just bits in data-bases now.

The USA is in the happy position in that since it is the worlds reserve currency, it can print money that folks will not spend.  Folks offshore hoard US dollars, since they believe the USA economy can supply stuff - food, technology and weapons - that they can trade these dollars for.

This is where we are now.   The USA is still in the "catbird seat" - able to vomit-print using computers, trillions - literally trillions of units of their currency units - and not have to see much in the way of inflation.

This is just amazing.   It really is.  It is like watching a huge herd of fat pigs, sprout wings, and take to the sky in a lovely formation flight.   They fly along, and you look and scratch your head, and it looks just unbelievable.

I think maybe it is.

I think the USA in the 21st century, is like the UK was in the 19th century.  It is their warships that preserve the value of their national currency.    USA has nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed aircraft carriers all around the world.   England had big battleships and gunboats - everywhere.  Dominate the world, offer some trade goods, and the world wants your money.

But nothing stays stable for ever.    I don't think the USA will crash.   And I think it's carriers will remain operational.   But you cannot pull 4 trillion currency units out of politicians backsides, and start spreading it around, without at some point, you start getting inflation.   Maybe at first, just a little.  But a little can become a lot - really quickly.  That's what we math-whackers and computer-geeks call a "non-linear" reactive response.  

And in the beginning stages of a hyper-inflation - stocks offer some good protection.  Not great protection, but some.    If (when) nurses salaries go to $300,000/yr   (it *will* happen), then the DJIA will be 50,000 to 70,000.  

This will not be a good thing.   This will be an ugly, dangerous and destabilizing inflation, and it will mess up a lot of stuff and wreck a lot of things.

We are moving this way, and we are moving this way *faster* each day.   It makes no differerence if it is Donald Trump or Donald Duck at the top.   Or Joe Biden or some fat chick.   The damage has been done.   No pol will be able to fix it.

So, we are *not* long equities because we are optimistic.   JHC, can none of you people even think properly?   We are still in TINA's world.   It's either stocks, or buried stocks of ammo and food.   A good hedge might be to have both.    So far, that hedge has worked pretty good.

:)

[ Apr. 18, 2020] - Killing Them Softly in Montreal - The Herron Residence

Canada is now world-famous for having the worst Covid-19 neglect-of-old-people horror story - worse than anything seen in Spain or Italy.   We make the top of the chart for awful disgusting failure of medical service delivery for old folks.   The "Herron Home" in Dorval Quebec was discovered with virtually no staff, many of the elderly residents lying in their own excrement, having not been fed for days, and several patient-residents found dead on the floors of their rooms, having been lying there for days.

These "Homes" are supposed to be government-inspected, and have government-authorized and trained nurses available.  But this being socialist, union-dominated Quebec, they appeared not to have anyone at all.   It is really awful.  The virus got in the place, and 31 people died quickly, and the staff all fled.

It's like something from the Third World, or from the Yugoslavian war.

Quebec is already the poster-child for terrible-awful-bad unionized, corrupt government-run health-care.  (Don't take my word for it - do your own historical research, if curious. )    You do *not* want to get sick in Quebec.  Seriously.  If you get sick in Quebec, crawl away on your hands and knees  if you have to.  Do not go to one of their Government-run hospitals.  

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/horrors-revealed-virus-hit-canada-nursing-home-014542528.html 

The Canadian military has had to be called in, to supply military doctors and medics, and personnel to remove the dead, and/or just wash and feed the filth-covered residents who were still alive.

It's one of those shocking horror-stories, you read about in USA or some war-zone place.  But no, it is a suburb of Montreal, Quebec.

Someday, we will get better governments in this country.   We have begun the project of fixing this rot in Ontario - but it is like renovating a house - you start tearing up the floorboards, and ripping apart walls, and you find it is all rotten everywhere - so much worse than was first expected.  And of course, it will take much longer and cost much more than one had first expected.  

What good are "free" doctors - if there aren't any doctors accepting patients?   Our government run medical system is a huge pile of brown, stinking tragedy.   And in Quebec, it is used to kill old people with real effectiveness.   If you want to kill them, why not just give them a big shot of morphine?   But no, they let them lie in their own poop, and then die from dehydration.   It's just sickening - which makes it rather ironic, does it not?   All you can do is laugh the laugh of a condemned man.

[ Apr. 17, 2020] - I Just Want to Go Play in the Field - Really, I do...   but well, there's this stuff and these things...  

This all started becauses of a continued research project on the 1930's.   We all think of the 1930's as the time of the Great Depression, right?  Well, it was.   But it was also a time of astonishing and significant scientific advancement.  Schools were well run, education was focused and effective, the SEC was created to protect investors, Keynes wrote the "General Theory" of economics, and Einstein moved from Europe to the USA, making America the centre of the world for science & physics.  Talking Pictures, electronic television, penicillin, rocketry, computers, FM radio, and the fully-automatic transmission for cars were all invented.   And of course, the single greatest leap forward in aviation product design - the jet aircraft - was invented, developed and a prototype flown - all in the decade of the 1930's.    Many things actually worked very well in that curious decade.  A lot better than they do now, in many areas.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Syj__VRv0-E

I was searching for this 1930's info - and then I found where all the interesting Youtube videos have gone to.   We all know now that Youtube is mostly censored garbage for children now.  It's become crap - or pap, one might say.  But there still are some not-illegal, educational and amusing politically-incorrect videos ex-Youtube - on a site called "altcensored.com".   Here is an amusing one if found - it's called "Down's Syndrome President".    Another picture of the future, perhaps?

https://altcensored.com/watch?v=nW-TGQpjcB0

If it really is the 1930's - or at least an economic collapse of the same magnitude, maybe we can get some of the cool stuff to work right.  Make some big scientific leaps?   Some engineering marvels?    Anything?    Like, if gravity really is a *wave*, then shouldn't we be able to apply some harmonic transformations to it somehow, hmmm?  Decompose it into a series of Fourier components?  Reflect it?  Put a Faraday cage (but one that works on Gravity) around it to ground out the signal?  You have to know where I'm going with this...  :)

Oh, also, in case anyone other than search-engine robots is reading this:  The algo for profitably trading this awful, crazy-crashed virus-hacked stock market is in Edwin Lefevre's most excellent book:  "Reminiscences of a Stock Operator", which was written in 1923.    The only more interesting time in all of human history, other than the 1930's, is the 1920's, probably.  Or maybe the first 10 years of the 20th century - kind of a toss-up. 

Someday, I will offer a course on all this.  I am actually, a really terrible, awful investor / trader / speculator.  And I don't like doing it.  It makes me feel sick to my stomach sometimes.   I should do an animated film - "Really Dumb-Guy Trader".   I could have my really-dumb-guy character be talking to a clever bald-headed Quant, and after the Quant's speech, have Dumb-Guy say something like:  "Wow, you must be really smart.  I don't understand anything you said.   Why don't we just buy the stocks that are going up?"  

The next scene would be the Really-Dumb-Guy Trader, seeing the Quant outside on the street.  Dumb-Guy would be in a new convertible Ferrari, and he would say to the Quant:  "I bought a new red car!  Do you like it?  The motor makes a nice sound.  It is fast!"

[ Apr. 16, 2020] - The Machine in the Ghost  -  (apologies to Arthur Koestler's copyright holders).  It just gets more absurd every day.  Not sure about the Coronavirus, but Godot has arrived, and I met him at the Bank today.  He is not very nice.   Vladimir and Lucky were sitting in a Black Cadillac Escalade in the parking lot, smoking some legal weed.  It was all ok, since they weren't behind the wheel.   I think it looked like Hitler was driving, except he was way too young, and looked like a girl.  She had a cool looking hat, though.

I never intended to turn into Samuel Pepys here.     "The Plague is not too bad, really, but the nonsense at the Banks and the closure of the Coffee Houses truly pisseth me off the greatest deal!  No money coming it, financial estate implodeth, and I do feel certain that wanton idleness, poverty and misery shall stalk our fair lands.  God - this time - shall not preserve bugger all."

It has at least been an opportunity for enlightenment and erudition - not to mention getting caught up on late tax return preparations and HST filings.  In the words of Sir Michael Jagger: "You'll still be in the circus - when I'm laughing ... laughing in my grave!"

All my mechanical stuff predicted a solid up week, but my own internal belief systems said "No Way..!  I see a perfect technical pattern here - a fast bear-market bull-run up to the the first Fibinocci retracement point, and then an ugly grim grind down to re-test the lows."  Since I am a now becoming quite the cautious coward, I did nothing but acquire a little ABX, and that silly trade is working ok.  But one of the bigger (system-critical)  portfolios is being butchered like a steer at the slaughterhouse.   We remain long, because of the composite M2 curve - money is being created in amounts like almost never before in history.  But the rate of increase is still fairly slow and linear - we aren't at Weimer Republic, or Zimbabwe levels just yet.  

But we do have all the central Banks of the world hammering hard on the gas (" Wird Vollgas gegeben, Und ran an den Feind!" - from "Tank Commander's song", written by Oberleutnant Kurt Wiehle in 1933).   The stock portfolio offers some protective ability to generate an income stream that should adjust somewhat for inflation and/or hyper-inflation.  Maybe.  

But if our governments are determined to go "full fascist", and also to trash the world economy, and re-create the 1930's level of economic collapse - let us at least try to have a little understanding of the 1930's.   Here is a censored clip of the great Panzerlied ("Tank Song").  

The global governments are certainly giving "vollgas" to the M2 money-supply values around the world.  At some point, this will have to show up in the price level, if the process continues.

https://altcensored.com/watch?v=yDDiEPwJrHo 

Economic collapse will almost certainly have long-tail costs.  At some point, "Fel. Temp Reparatio".   But not for a while yet.   And then, it will be too late, of course.  The objective now is to avoid being completely burned to the ground financially.  We will probably survive this, but many in the self-financing sector will be completely destroyed.  This is unfortunate, and reflects the possibility of a world dominated by spies, government employees and "Safety Nazi's".   Pretty grim.  Oh, and probably a medium-sized war, also.

The great irony here, is that this is what our parents fought to avoid having happen in our North American lands.   A world completely dominated by government toadys, police agents, spybots, and armed, military enforcers - is one that we had all fought to avoid, back in the mid 20th century.   And yet here we are.   A few folks in nursing homes go down with a bad flu, and instead of some serious crash-programs to treat the illness and develop effective treatment protocols, the whole world goes into "maximum-stupid" mode - probably because we are able to take photo-micrographs fo the damn virus using electron microscopes, and it has become the meme to end all memes.

The Chinese gave us an effective, tested protocol using a known drug, hydroxychloroquine, but the folks in our local medical "communities"  (they used to be called "doctors" - but now they all seem to be women who work for the government, and talk a lot ), seem determined to reject this treatment, as they say it is "not proven".    These fine folks would rather just stuff a tube down your throat, than try to help the really sick get healthy.   I try not to get too angry about the failure of our "socialist" medical system here anymore.   One person can do nothing to fix or correct it.   The system seems to me like a denial-of-service business model.

What is particularlly amusing - hilarious, actually - is how good this is for the typical "patient".  Most doctors are perhaps reluctant to do anything, since they know, probably from experience - that there is very little they can do with any chance of success.  

Each of us has to take full responsibility for the maintainance of our health.  But this keeps us surprisingly healthy.   And given that our irresponsible governments are now engaged in a systematic attempt to wreck our economic output and perhaps even our financial survival - it's a good darn thing we have learned to operate independent of the failed machinery of our ineffective institutions.   This keeps us "strong and free", like it should.

I just hope the State can keep the electricity working.  But our Hydro-electric authority was privatized not too long ago, so it will most likely keep working just fine.    Curious times, certainly.

We have studied the 1930's quite a bit - but we never expected to actually be embedded within them!   Rather ironic, actually..   :D

[ Apr. 15, 2020] - Ditch-Delivered by a Drab - One starts with the financial press, ends up with Shakespeare, or popular music, and you end up with Bach.  The old stuff has stood the test of time, and it provides surprising quality.   

Current news is mostly deception and manipulation (good, solid NLP stuff, quite well done, but toxic as Zyclon-B to listen to), and modern music, so much of it is comically abusive, annoying irritation, like 12-tone nonsense, or the experimental "jazz" of the 1960's.   And then you get these singers that sound like 12-year old girls whinning in nasally voices about how the world does not treat them like their parents did.   The music of the extraordinarly spoiled, I guess.   It is *so* awful.  Or else it is n-chord (let n = any number you want) synthetic grunge, with the "whoa whoa" chorus.   I feel really sorry for the kids now.  Their music is warmed over synthetic drivel, The news is just behaviour manipulation - it isn't even at the level of lies anymore, and the music is designed to make you hum it, buy it, and forget.   It says absolutely nothing.  Listening to it is like eating a bowl of cardboard chips, soaked in sugar and salt.    Curious. 

Just to check:  I dug out an old vinyl LP of the Scorpians, German heavy-metal from the 1970's, and some of it sounds like Bach.  See if "Scorpians: In Trance" is on Youtube somewhere.  See if you can find it.  The title track "In Trance", is pretty good.  "Life's Like a River" is fine, too.

See, the relationship between music - what satisfies a musical hunger, and the movement of prices in free (well, "unfettered") markets - has curious and surprising similarities.  I even wrote a program once that played price-series as musical tones.  (It was awful - sounded random  - but that was the point, obviously).   The clever "technical" stuff is not working well now - because we are being overwhelmed by fundamental events.   Our "governments" are run by doofus-magoos who have only the politics of Full-Fascism to offer.   They are worse than useless now - but the public airwaves are full of junkdata suggesting how wonderful they are.  It makes me feel sort of sick to my stomach, like high-school used to.  (University was *wonderful*, since we had a very good pub which sold cheap beer.  I learned at least as much in that pub, as I learned in lectures.  Maybe more, actually...)

No one anywhere is saying the obvious:  On a planet with 7.5 billion people, breeding like bacteria, there are bound to be some unavoidable Mathusian limits somewhere, lurking.   There simply can't not be. It doesn't matter what the population growth-curve and the economic growth-curve for sustainable population actually look like - all that matters is if, and when they cross.  That critical "scissors" will just lop off heads, regardless of whatever "governments" do.   History shows, that most times - just about everything and / or anything "governments" do - is initially or eventually harmful.  Politicians are poor doctors.   And often, they are very comfortable with deaths of the "others".

A bunch of clever analysts in Japan argue (on television, of course), that a lockdown of Tokyo and other big Japanese cities is needed, else there is a risk of 400,000 deaths.    Now, the math on that one is simple.  Option A) we lockdown (and effectively shutdown) Japan and it's economy, and avoid 400,000 early deaths or - Option B), we do *nothing*, and let the virus (a bad flu - quite lethal - but something that we get every year, regularly), and we get the 400,000 early deaths.  What action is best?   Obviously, you take the minor uptick in early-deaths, and save the goddamn economy.   But the modern *ethical* models prevent this sane and sensible course of action.

This coronavirus epidemic is a remarkable learning opportunity.  We are seeing the costs - it's really showing  the dangerous limiting case - of the growing "compassion sickness" that has characterized the last 50 to 60 years of global human politics.   The analytic exercise - the social "thought experiment" - that follows from this curious problem is scary.  It really is.

One has to think - "Well, f**k - if we are going to go "full fascist" here, let's at least take Poland or something.  What good is the deprivation of a "war economy" if we don't even get the benefits of a victory?"   Why punish and damage the global economy to save a bunch of retards in a "Centre for the Intellectually Challenged"  (seriously, this is a Japanese virus 'hotspot" - it's pretty sad), and/or a bunch of old folks in their 80's and 90's in "nursing" homes (basically the dumping-grounds for old crazy folks who can't be trusted to live on their own without doing themselves or others damage).

Yes, this is awful - but it is also true.  The "Governments" of the world are engineering a complete and massive global economic meltdown, that is already looking to be *worse* than the economic crash in 1929-1933 in the USA, called the "Great Depression".   The exercise is also almost certain to be a failure - the virus is in the wild, and will not be "contained".  It just won't - it is everywhere now, and it is in many wild animals.   It's not Ebola - not yet.

Now my sense of the death rate Japan is looking at is more like 4,000,000, rather than 400,000.  That changes the calculus a bit - but not completely.   But even if the *no-lockdown* option results in 4,000,000 premature deaths - that is still probably the better trade, if the alternative is a forced-fascist shutdown in economic activity.

The reason is clear and simple and obvious.  The virus will *not* be contained.  Our only chance is treatment development, maybe a vaccine, and herd-immunity.   The shape of the goddamn death-rate curve makes not one goddamn bit of difference - even in the medium run. 

It is critical that we avoid a "Malthusian Meltdown" of the global economy.   Too many economic agents are going to be pushed into complete *failure*  - and this will be a major risk factor - even if we lifted all restrictions right now.   Most "governments" are planning to enforce economic lockdowns for another month - all around the world.   This is quite simply: ->  insanely dangerous and foolish.  

What was the real cost of the "Great Depression"?   Has anyone even looked at this?  We have studied this time period, and it basically crashed the world.  Along with the toxic, idiot-stupid post-world-war-one economic assault that was inflicted on Germany - this economic collapse programmed - perfectly, really - the events that led to World War Two.   The true cost of that Economic Depression, was World War Two.

How many died there?   I know Russia lost over 20 million (more than the population of Canada, at the time), and Hitler's armies killed millions in Europe, with enemies of Germany being systematically murdered in large-scale *government-run* death camps. 

Nature wants us to die.  She demands death, from all of us.  No-one lives forever.

We have to learn to live with this virus, and develop a treatment protocol for it.   And this economic lockdown must end, and end very soon.  The alternative - a destruction of the global economy, which is already underway - must be avoided.  Because history shows - really clearly, and with surprising regularity - that horrible wars are often preceded by economic collapse.

This is the authentic uncomfortable truth:  Shutting down the global economy to save a few thousand homeless folks in New York City, may come at the cost of a terrible global conflict that ultimately destroys the whole place - and other major cities as well.   This seems a far-fetched and extreme scenario. But we live in a non-linear world - we all live in "Extemeistan" - and events demonstrate the truth of this assertion, over and over again.

[ Apr. 14, 2020] - Young Americans in Suffragette City - "Gee, my life's a funny thing... he frowns.."   Bizarre times, but progress can still happen. A friend explained that kids will remember these times - a entire generation of kids - are now being home-schooled by day-drinkers...  :)

After coming close to giving up (based on the blizzard of red-text error messages), I managed to beat them down, one *.h and one *.cpp file at a time, until I was able to get "zasm" to compile - and run - successfully on the MacBook.  A MacBook running MacOSX is a tad frustrating to develop code with, but the hardware of the older ones, especially, is very good - the battery lasts forever, and there is aways some workaround that can be executed to bypass the various restrictive features of the Apple environment.  Linux is typically easier to use for development, because you spend less time fighting with the operating system.  Well, that was true until "systemd" took over on 64-bit Linux machines (another rather frustrating and painful thing), but such is life.   The crazy-awful happens pretty often, actually.   One lurches from one crisis to the next, and the surprise is all the significant gain that becomes available.  It just lies there, waiting to be harvested.  One must learn to surf the tsunami, and not shy away from it.

Each Apple MacOSX O/S is more problematic for developers, than the one before - just like what happened to Google's Android.  They start out good, wonderful and helpful, and over time, are crafted to become cash-generators for the agency-sponsors.  Of course, this is to be expected.  So beware the "upgrade", it will almost *never* be to the customer's benefit.

I remain running a MacOSx version 10.10.5 Yosemite, as it matches pretty closely the Linux's I uses - Fedora, CentOS-6 and CentOS-7.  I can get - generally - everything running on all platforms now.  For the older, mission-critical Windows applications, I run WINE, (WINdows Emulator - except it's not really an emulator) and I am just amazed at how well it works.

But getting a current version of "zasm" running on the MacBook Pro, has been a big milestone.  I had "zasm" built from source, and deployed on the CentOS-6 and CentOS-7 (64-bit) boxes, and I was even able to just copy the binary over to the Fedora laptop, and run it there.  The "zasm" assembler is the magic that lets Z80 Assembly code, (complete with "Macros" and other useful critical features), be "compiled" (actually: "assembled") into raw Z-80 machine code which can run on the bare-metal of the CPU.  This raw machine code is than wrapped up in a simple "packet", and can be transfer to the Z80 "NorthStar" with a Linux "cat" command to a serial port, which is connected to the Z80 computer, with a "null-modem" cable - which is just an RS-232 cable with pins 2 and 3 (transmit and receive) swapped (ie. my "transmit" is your receive. So simple).  

The "cat" command (for "catenate") is Linux-speak for a  "type".  Once you have used "zasm" to build a raw binary file of executable machine instructions, you enter: "cat  mclbasic.pkt  /dev/ttyS0" and your .pkt file (which is your hacked BASIC interpreter) is copied from your machine (a Linux laptop or a MacBook Pro), to the Z-80.

You have to have set up the /dev/ttyS0 device (the Linux or MacOS serial port) to be able to communicate with the Z80 first.  On Linux, you can use "screen" which works well, or "minicom" or "kermit" (which you can build from source, which is available from Columbia University site - just google "kermit for Linux").   I have Kermit on IBM P/Cs, Linux boxes, old Windows machine, etc.  You can also use "Termite" on Windows to talk to the Z80.  For Kermit, the commands are:

      C-Kermit >  set line /dev/ttyS0       (choose the port - COM1 if it were a DOS box)

      C-Kermit > set speed 38400          ( set the baud rate to o 38400.  Fast, baby, fast...)

      C-Kermit > set carrier-watch off     (tell Kermit to ignore the goddamn Carrier Detect signal)

      C-Kermit > connect                           (connect to the Z-80.  You see ">" prompt.  Enter "R" ..)

For "screen", it's:    "screen /dev/ttyS0 38400 "

You exit from Kermit with: "ctrl-\ c"  and from "screen" with <ctrl-A><ctrl-D>.   At "C-Kermit->" prompt you can enter "push" and get to Linux command line.  When you suspend "screen", you fall back to "bash" command prompt.  Resume Kermit with "exit" or "screen" with "screen -r".

From the command line, you can issue the "cat" instruction, that transfer's your new "zasm" built assembler program (a "BASIC" interpreter, in my case), over to the "Z-80".  Once you've done this, you can resume Kermit or screen or minicom or whatever program you are using to talk to the LInux-laptop or MacBook serial port (and hence the Z-80), and enter code to jump to an address to start your program.  For the "NorthStar Z-80" (running Z80MON, the worlds simplest and best operating system) you enter a "C" to the ">" prompt, and the 2000<return> to jump to hex address 0x2000 in the Z-80 "NorthStar's" massive 64K address space.  If you have just copied the BASIC interpeter, you should see the BASIC program startup, which has "1978 Microsoft Basic" and some information on how much memory you have.

The BASIC and the Z80MON can also be squeezed into the 8K memory space, that the SST chip provides.    To run the copy of the BASIC that is in the ROM chip, just enter "B" to the Z80MON prompt.   eg:  ">B<return>" and the on-board BASIC will start.  (You will have 8K more memory, than if you put a copy of the BASIC interpreter in the Z-80 working area.)  You will have 56K of memory available!  OMG!  So much!  ;D

So, getting "zasm" working on the MacBook, has been a real milestone.  Along with the magic little TL-866+, (which is used to load the BASIC plus the Z80MON into the SST ROM chip), the Z80 "NorthStar" is a fully-functional computing machine which can be personally engineered to do any procedure - either online or offline.

[ Apr. 13, 2020] - Special Times - Just a wonderful special time we are having, no?  Spent the entire day wrestling with a stupid technical problem related to some bizaroid version of C++ that only 6 people in California and two in Waterloo are using.  I am not one of them, so it seems.  Arrrgh.

[ Apr. 12, 2020] - Easter Sunday Facetime & Grimtime - Big event today was install/config of Facetime on the MacBook.  We've had some Macbook's for years, but I used to use Skype on Windows, except Microsoft made it not work, so we gave up.  But a few simple fiddles got Facetime working on the MacBook Pro, and I chatted with family members who are holed up in their lakeside place.   Good that they are not in the city.

Listening to Shostakovitch and taking quinine and D3.  Listening to Coldplay, hacking the Z80's and working on Xerion fcst system re-design.  I have this hacky, back of the envelope thing with graphics and time-series diddling that works better than the fancy AI.  The AI is not too good, forecast horizon is probably wrong.  But this cobbled together, hacky thing is running 5 by 5 and it is pretty kinky.  Full Disclosure:  It says to go long now, week ahead to be up firmly.   I think it's wrong - but we shall see.  This is like building an airplane, while flying it thru a storm.  We remain 100% invested in equities.

Looking at the first cut of the numbers on local and global GDP, and I am just terrified.  To respond to less than a couple of hundred thousand deaths, we have burnt down the planetary economy of Earth.  This seems like an almost perfect madness.  And I am pretty sure it actually can't make much of a difference.  But it's what government people do - it is the only thing they can think of doing - their mindset is locked in a track of control and restriction and citizen domination.  

JPM Economists were calling for Q2 GDP to collapse at a 25% annual rate.  Now, they have raised their forecasts to down at a 40% annual rate.   Our sense is a negative delta closer to 50% and possibly worse.   Honestly, we must consider that most of the information pushing on the internet has no real value.  The degree to which much human activlty is now synthetic, and manifestly artificial, is actually quite shocking.   You can't eat data.   Information won't plow the field, fix the tractor, build houses, or feed your children.   The artificial, fake and the virtual  is now the norm in the world, and it is - to a large degree - useless noise.   Knowledge is only power, if there is a mechanism to link the knowledge to action.   The capacity of our economy to make a "physical difference" in our lives, has been severely impacted.

We will be lucky if real GDP is down only 50%.  Lawyers, journalists, politicians, analysts and anyone whose economic output is measured in "quantity of data-generated",  can work from home.  But with factories, stores and transportation systems shut down, we are risking *much* more than simply a horrific GDP print.

So far, the utilities are still on.  Electricity is being supplied, and the nuclear reactors are still being operated by skilled personnel.  Some hospitals are operating, and most medical workers and doctors are still on the job.   But this "lockdown" foolishness must end soon, or we will have much greater risks to deal with than simply a lethal flu virus.   We are almost certain there will be no rapid "snapback" of the global economy.   We may be Ok and alive in 18 months (the timeframe the Stock market likes to trade on), but the *Governments* of the world are now a major source of risk that we are most concerned with.  We can survive the virus, but the Governments of the world may kill a billion.  Don't laugh.  This is the way it has mostly worked in most of human history.

If you want to be safe and secure in your life - you want to have as little government in it as you can.  I feel so sorry for the poor rubes in the USA who will try to access Gov't Business Loans.  That program is not working well.  And more debt is not good for business.  In Canada, our Business Loan program is only available for business people to keep employees on the payroll.  That is so stupid, it is breathtaking. Why would you borrow money to pay those who are idle?

Anyone with a business needs to cut all their variable costs NOW as quickly as they can, so that they can  have some resources to try to make a recovery with in the future, if and when demand returns.   The last thing any business owner should be doing now, is taking on any additional debt.  In a falling-price environment, debt is a burdensome killer.

Demand has gone off a cliff, and unless we have a scenario where 30% or more of the national population dies, (very unlikely), then demand will *not* bounce back quickly.  It may never recover to where it was, for many businesses, for many years.  I was going to order a Tesla Cybertruck.  No chance of that happening now, as I am pretty sure we are looking at something at least as bad as the 1930's, going forward.  There are just too many factors stacked against us all now - and far, far too many fools and fraudsters in power everywhere.    Folly has taken charge, and she will laugh and dance a wild whirl, as Mother Nature methodically swings her great scythe.  The next several years look more than just a bit grim.

[ Apr. 11, 2020] - Saturn's Day - Quite exciting.  Hacking kept me up until 5:10 am, Sat. morning, and I noticed three stars where there normally aren't any.  They were Mars, Saturn and Jupiter, in the southern sky (see note with picture).  What I saw thru the small telescope was a tiny yellow dot - but one could clearly see the ring, some space and the dot in the middle of the ring.  OMG - it was Saturn - seen in truth and actual reality, not on a computer screen. 

[ Apr. 10, 2020] - Mrs. Potter's (Field) Lullaby - I was explaining what the term: "Potter's Field" was to someone unfamiliar with it.  In New York, that is "Hart Island". 

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa-hart-island/new-york-city-hires-laborers-to-bury-dead-in-hart-island-potters-field-amid-coronavirus-surge-idUSKCN21R398

Reuter's doesn't even put a smarmy voice-over on the video track, or grim sounding music.  

USA GDP is expected to crater at a roughly 30% annual rate, for Q2 2020.  If I had suggested that this sort of thing could happen, back in Economics School - or even around the table at the morning meetings at the Investment Firms I did work at - people would have laughed me out of the room.

Yet here we are.   And honestly - I worked out some trivial (really simple) mathematics that suggested this sort of thing could happen, back in 1998.   Bill Gates - probably because of his work to defeat malaria - has been warning about viral plague risks for years.

The damage that has and is being done to the planetary economy, will vastly exceed the costs of the virus deaths.   I do not expect there to be much of a "snap back".  And here is the reason why:

By taking the "Safety Nazi" approach here - (ie. "We must do *all* we can, to prevent people dying!"), we will ensure that no real "herd immunity" will develop, like it did after the 1918 Spanish Flu Epidemic.   That means that the virus will *stay*.   We will not get it purged or "defeated".   The coronavirus and it's variants (which will result - which are *already* resulting -  from random mutations of it's DNA/RNA sequences), will become an effectively permanent feature of life here on Earth.

I have this dismal picture of the future, that suggests that restaurants and coffee-shops and hotels and airports - will never really be the same again - at least not for 20+ years.  I hope I am wrong.

That excellent book by Albert Camus - "La Peste" ("The Plague"), was obviously a metaphor for the Nazi occupation of France.  But it was also a well-written, and accurate picture of what a modern city had to (has to?) endure during a real plague.   But the whole idea of "quarantine" is to do what the authorities did in Oran, or what the Chinese did in Wuhan.  The idea is to keep the infection confined in one place, clean that place aggressively, quarantine families of any who have had the disease, and wait until it has run it's course (ie. killed off all the weak and/or susceptable persons).  Once the infection rate/death rate has fallen to virtually zero, the quarantine can be lifted, and normal life can resume.

But with this bizarre and absurd attempt to "quarantine" people at home - except you have to let them go out an buy food and fuel and do some essential business - or they die - then this "quarantine" idea cannot possibly succeed.  Bears repeating:  This is *not* quarantine.  This is government folks flailing-at-fascism, and this approach simply cannot contain the virus.

What is happening in New York City confirms this.

We must develop medical treatment methods for this virus, and/or we must simply accept that there is now a higher-level of risk in the act of living on this planet.

It sounds terrible - but probably, our best strategy is to let the infection-rate and death-curve spike upwards, and recognize the simple fact that this SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is now in the wild, and - since it's reservoir is both humans and many type of other mammals - there is zero chance of containing it.  

Herd immunity is our only chance here.

This means we should just "spike the curve", and stop killing our economy and end this absolute idiocy of trying to "flatten the curve" by trying to shut down human society.   The cost of this madness is now measured in the "TRILLIONS OF US DOLLARS".  We are engineering an economic depression here that will make the 1930's look like a "Golden age of prosperity".

To say that this is a "mis-allocation of resources" does not even begin to do justice to the insanity that is going on here.   

We blew it.  The coronavirus is absolutely global, in-the-wild, everywhere.  It is in bats, and they are still flying.

Our only chance globally, is a "Manhattan Project" style effort - run with aggressive, military harshness - which will bring together the best medical-scientists, drug companies,  bio-medical research experts, virologiests, etc - and focus on a cure / treatment / vaccine for Covid-19.

Let's put our money into this effort.  And lets get started RIGHT ABOUT NOW!

Given that the Europeans bungled their chance to put something like this together, it will be up to America - North America - to do this.   We did it once, and we can do it again.    And we should absolutely partner with China on this.  Their early medical work from January and February was really good, and focused on effective treatment options, despite the errors of last December when they tried to supress information about the outbreak. 

The Chinese Gov't learned a very hard lesson here - but their medical personnel are now experts in treating this illness.  We must include them and their researchers in any global effort that is mounted to kill this virus.   Their doctors have good front-line experience, and their in-vitro work on hydroxychloroquine is very useful.  They even developed an experimental treatment protocol.

Rather than idiotic and foolish attempts to "blame China", we should be actively asking for their help, and making use of their treatment data.

But most of all, we need a big, well-funded, multi-disciplinary effort to address this problem.

We probably won't get to this, until the death rate climbs to the 1 million level.   But the key fact here is that this virus is treatable, most people can recover from the infection, and our scientific communities on this planet have a wealth of very actionable information on how virus agents operate and how they can be treated.   We actually learned a lot from the Ebola virus.

The "TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS" that are being thrown around and dispersed, should be used to in a more FOCUSED EFFORT to fix the actual problem, and not wasted on kick-backs to voter-groups.  If things continue as they are, we will just destroy the planetary economy, and have to endure this stupid viral contagion for another 20 years.

[ Apr. 9, 2020] - Having Scored a Trillion Dollars, We Made the Run Back Home! - "Found him slumped across the table, gun and he alone.  The only survivor of the National People's Gang....  Panic in Detroit."    RIP David.   We still miss ya, lad.

It's so easy to predict the future.  The hard part is acting on it.  We read that Bernie Sanders has "suspended" his campaign.   We think to ourselves here:  Suspended, where?  From a bridge?  From a lamp-post?   Like some strange fruit down in the US South, from a tree that has flowers?   I wonder where his campaign is suspended from?   😀

Methinks that Bernie was "hoisted on his own petard".  😮🙂😀

 "It ain't over ..."  (until the fat lady dies?).    (Read a note by a French Gov't type, who suggested the high SARS-CoV-2 lethality rate in USA is due to Americans being dangerously overweight.  Really? ...  )

Here's an algo:  1) Google this phrase:  sdfsdfsdfsdfsdfsdf

                             2) Click and display the images:

                             3) Page down until you find: "Crying Girl"

                             4) Go a little further, and find the "Collectable Hieronymus Bosch figurines "

                             5) Go further still:  (Find the "Fully Functional Vagina Mask"  (really) ).  Keep going...

                             6) When you get to the fat oodah wearing the pink yarmuckle, go further

                             7) Eventually, you reach: "SellYourFishOnline" images.  Click the "Show More Results" bar...

                             8) Page down, and you can find the image of the book "Bioquimica Medica". 

                             9) Click on the "Bioquimica Medica" image, and expand it.  It is a book, which is available for purchase/download.  It is in Spanish.  You might have to stretch a bit to read it.   Pay attention to chapters: 9, 22 to 24, and 37 and 38.

From the "Bioquimica Medica" image-link, you can find other stuff.  Like this:

http://www.biomedscience-fabriciomedeiros.com/livros-ebooks-donwload/virology

And you can learn how to cure, or at least treat, a Covid-19 infection.   And if you invest a bit of time and effort, you can determine why hydroxychloroquine works as an anti-viral agent against SARS-CoV-2.    This particular book provides a little interesting, light reading, before bedtime:

https://64179c4b-a-ed95c172-s-sites.googlegroups.com/a/biomedscience-fabriciomedeiros.com/biomedicine/livros-ebooks-donwload/virology/Innate%20Antiviral%20Immunity%20Methods%20and%20Protocols%202017%20By%20Karen%20Mossman.jpg?attachauth=ANoY7coMpGW83dyTURxxuTBEezIrd80Jq5lH7LNvzegcwOb_xWRZQbiy5BFakMsVpiEkd9l927U1481anhoR1ivWEreFGo4SiQFwI76AjCdHFAq9TuY3MdjRS4C3mpXmm3SFtnfR2YhOYIHUFwlfitZCi_uh6EP0zFcpzwyMhiRdjhFGSEA_a2UaAcVSkvSGYvFsTXqxhoDMzSN-6P4ZLPor-f3-dAW2nGfvzZ2XTSU7IQX4bKJ80dKYDBpn_em0jzLh3h4g9vOiLNnJa4iwzrO_SRidrWOuIdkh2RoUoiyi_kea_IjPBsX3zlccVMn7ejrM9pWwi1OSkalWGvgBWMPXZ7-3mbFn4VrQlVqMRQY8dd7eBY-8uB0%3D&attredirects=0

If you work for a while on some of this material, you can start to see why a funny thing happens:  Some people who catch Covid-19, get a brutal and quick "cytokine storm" reaction, their lungs fill with fluid, and they cannot breathe.  The pneumonic response kills them.

But other people, get a slower, or much reduced cytokine flood, and get sick - but the SARS-CoV-2 virus just gives them symptoms similar to a bad flu.  They recover.

Why is this?  Why do some people have a "no-problem", almost asymptomatic response, and others get cytokine-flooded, and drown coughing their guts out before they die?

The answer is there - staring us right in the face, like it always is.   I am pretty sure of this.

Dr. Maruo Ferrari (the just-fired former head of the so-called "European Research Council"), tried to create a group of diverse specialists to focus on finding a viable treatment protocol for Covid-19, but the Euro-idiots literally fired him and sent him packing.  Europe has failed completely here.  Their scientific establishment is toxic, sadly.

(Read todays Forbes note about why the EU is probably going to be finished by this virus epidemic.  The European response has been idiotic, absurd fascist madness. It just makes me sick to my stomach to see it play out.  England is no better.   Brexit didn't help.) 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/stephenpope/2020/04/09/european-disunion-a-continent-courting-a-viral-crisis/#54f412c93770

So, it's up to America - "NORTH America" - like it always is.   We have to find an effective treatment for this awful, mindless nasty piece of living bio-chemistry. 

And I am *absolutely certain* that the answer is just lying there, waiting to be found - just like it was with the bread-mould in petri-dishes problem, which most scientists and doctors IGNORED for over 20 years, despite seeing how the mould-chemistry killed their little bacillus experiments.

We've got all these dying human "lab-rats" - almost 90,000 now.  Let's ditch all the stupid medical "ethics" protocols, tell the FDA it can fuck off, and ask people to sign a form allowing medical researchers to run radical experimentation of treatment options on them, to see which ones work.   Some will die.  Some will not.    Let's get lots of evidence-driven-outcomes to see what works and what does not.  I am pretty sure the Chinese did this, and they shutdown the outbreak (more or less), and developed some effective protocols.  (See the Bio-technical notes below).

The Europeans can't find their arse with both hands on this, and the Brits are running a fascist "lockdown" experiment that is *certain* to fail.  It's just a tragic, idiotic waste.

Can we PLEASE just do the fucking science, and get to a fucking treatment that works for this?  All that Ebola research has given us a really good head start with products like "remdesivir", and the basic, standard knowledge of medical biochemistry should let us get to to a good, clear understanding of why hydroxychloroquine works so amazingly well - for SOME people, but not everyone.  We even have solid in-vitro evidence that it works.  So just fucking use it guys, and stop being pansy-assed fuckwits about the whole thing.

We should have DETAILED PUBLISHED CHARTS - AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE ON THE INTERNET about explicit efficacy of various Covid-19 treatment options.

If "war is too important to be left to the Generals" (it is), then you can be double-goddamn sure that "medical science is too important to be left to Doctors" - and it is dead-on-arrival, if you leave Science to government bureaucrats.    Unless it is a "Manhattan Project" - Government fails at Science.    The European Union science-failure has PROVEN this assertion to be true for biomedical research, just like it has PROVEN also to be the case in areas like Fusion Energy research.  It's just so terrible-awful, bad.

End the EU.  Save Science.   Use the experimental anti-virals.  Use quinine and hydroxychloroquine.    Every Covid-19 death should have a document that details the treatment provided.  WIth that, I could tell in 10 minutes, what works and what does not. 

This fucking around trying to "quarantine" the entire planet, by having people "stay at home" is fucking retarded, idiotic insane nonsense, and is already systematically destroying the global economy.  It will create *much* greater damage than the virus will.   It is fucking stupid.

[ Apr. 8, 2020] - Babylon Don't Love You. - Watching those numbers climb.   Have you booked your "Sea Cruise" yet?

Are you getting the feeling yet:  "I can't help but feel, I've made some mistake."  ?  

I feel that way about GM.  I hate GM.  But that is a foolish, personal reaction, which I know to be toxic.  How you emotionally "feel" about a stock - or anything, really - is always terrible indicator.  

Pilots learn this when they are doing instrument-training "under the hood".   The only things that matter, are what is true.  And for stocks - the test, is whether the filthy thing will make you money. 

GM was at $19, and we didn't buy any.  Today, it's up $1.80 (8.47%), over $23/shr, and we still have not bought any.  It offers a dividend of $0.38/shr, in real money (ie. US-dollars).   That may be cancelled - but if it is, they will just make more money.  Car-production is an awful business.

But if you give people a bag of free money, they will use it to by a car.  Always.  And even if GM is a filthy awful company, it is now making medical-products.  It's becoming a medical-products company.  This is hilarious.  The multiples on medical products companies are always stupid high.    GM might have won the randomness lottery here - they might have been dragged by force, into a good business, away from a bad business, by pure chance.   Probably you want to buy some, especially if you want to profit by way of the death and misery of others!   😀

Go out and enjoy the day.  What if:  *everything you know, is wrong?*

(Read the comment on the "Tiny Command Centre - No Desk" image above)

Look, one has to consider that this entire "lockdown" is foolish, destructive, unwise nonsense.  Have the fascist agents and deep-state operatives inside the government agencies, engineered this to do their thing - and vastly increase their powers?  Like they always seem to be able to do, yes?  (Oh, I am just kidding.   There is no conspiracy.  Just foolishness most likely.)   But we really need to consider the possibility that this entire response is extremely, seriously, wrong.  There are just so many bad mistakes being made.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/04/we-could-be-vastly-overestimating-the-death-rate-for-covid-19-heres-why/

The Motherland don't love you.  Really.   It's not your problem.  You see the mistakes, but we just have let it go.  Maybe this is wrong. 

We are dumping food now.   Farms around the world are pouring milk down the drains, and dumping food product they can't get to market onto their manure piles.  This is way past stupid.  We can't - and must not - live this way.  The government response is to "social engineer" happy/happy feel-good, hand-clapping-for-doctors type of bullshit events.  The South African citizens who are trashing stores and stealing food are being more rational.  Ya, Hey!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6A-vhsSERE

[ Apr. 7, 2020] - I'm (not) Going to a Town That's Already Been Burnt Down.   - Interesting times - and the educational opportunites are significant.  When crisis comes, and people are dying and it is a time of emergency, you learn very quickly who you can trust, who is reliable, and who is a useless cowardly fraudster.  You learn who your real friends are.  And you learn about the others, also.

The American "government", such as it is, has stolen 3 million 3M N95 masks that the Ontario Government had bought and paid for.  These were to protect our medical workers and doctors and nurses, as well as at-risk citizens.   American government people actually stole my family's N95 masks.   The US Government stole these masks from us, by violating lawful trade agreements both nations had agreed to, and put in place.  We have learned a hard lesson here.  We can't trust America.

We will remember this..   

I see there are now more Americans dead from Covid-19 in New York City than in all of China.  How about that?  Hey America!  Does that not tell you something?  Can you maybe grasp a piece of actionable data from this? 

Thankfully, the border is closed.  No problem.  We will be fine - except more will die who didn't have to - and many of those will be medical personnel.  Maybe the death rate will accelerate south of the border - in the "Bad-lands."

This is just so sad and bad.

You find out who your friends are during a crisis.  

Canadians on so many occasions risked their lives to save Americans.  In 1979, when the terrorists had taken over the American embassy in Iran, we printed American diplomats fake Canadian passports, and our diplomats risked their lives to smuggle six American diplomats out of that city, Tehran.  And of course, the Americans made up a fake story - and even a phony movie! - that impiled it was all a CIA operation. If it had been a CIA operation, the American diplomats would have probably been arrested and killed.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/history-must-reflect-argo-was-mainly-a-canadian-mission-former-ambassador/article9011859/

America:  You steal our medical supplies, when our doctors and nurses need them to treat our sick and dying .   WTF?

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-canada/canadian-province-angry-over-unacceptable-us-move-to-block-face-masks-idUSKBN21O28C

Strong nations - used to argue for: "Fire, Blood and Steel!".   But America now is just a "Fired Dud. And Steal,,,.".    

[ Apr. 6, 2020] - Watching the Defectives. - "She's filing her nails, while they're dragging the lake..."   & we are being flooded with click-bait that is probably fake.   "Don't know how much more of this I can take."  <apologies to Elivis, of course - scarfed under the Artistic License>  (or maybe the Autistic License?).. 

Some guy flew over in a tiny ultra-light aircraft today.   Another day of extremely perfect, sunny weather.  The "Super Moon" was so bright last nite, I thought I had left the security flood-lights on.  I looked out at 1:00am, and the whole world was almost as bright as day.  The effect was due to everything having a layer of highly reflective white frost.  Quite pretty. 

USA market is up hard today.  I have said it before, and say it again.  News is noise.  It really honestly is.  News generation follows market action - it almost *never* leads it. 

There are some very foolish and unwise "regulators"  suggesting that the banks should not pay dividends.  Let's consider:  Folks get major income-streams from their investment dividends.  In a low-interest or zero-interest world, dividends are really all there is.   It is little Miss TINA - There Is No Alternative.  (except going rogue, I guess, and robbing people with a six-gun, maybe.  Not recommended..  very BAD idea..)   So, dividends it is.

And if bank dividend income streams are stopped - then folks like us will not be making property tax payments.  Property tax payments cover social-welfare expenditures - like salaries for doctors and hospitals.   The Bank shares and their dividend flow, also backstops the Pension funds for most workers & citizens, and investment schemes the Insurance companies have to have to remain economically operational.

Don't take my word for this.  Do some SIMPLE, BASIC THINKING - or, if you are a government type, and have an allergy to the thinking process, just read Keynes's "Economic Consequences of the Peace" - the article Keynes wrote in 1919 explaining why the brutal war-reparations that Germany was going to be forced to pay, would not work, would just damage the whole place, and would probably lead to a level of failure and destruction that would be bad all around for everyone.   And of course, lead to another terrible war.   The key point, is that you need to keep an economy functioning - and that means keeping the money-streams flowing.

The idea here - in the middle of this stupid coronavirus plague - is to *REDUCE* the level of economic harm the is occuring, NOT TO INCREASE IT, you poor child-like, ignorant Europeans.  Why can't the Europeans see this?

In Canada, our Bank of Canada folks are, surprisingly, doing a pretty good job.  They have create a special STLF - Standard Term Lending Facility - window, and to deal with the problem that typically, NO BANK WILL USE IT, as it risks sending a message that the bank using it is having financial trouble, the Bank of Canada did a clever thing:   They told ALL the banks to go borrow some money at that window last Tuesday, at the SAME TIME.

Now that was goddamn clever.   I wonder if my old high-school buddy had a hand in this smart idea.  Since all the banks have now accessed this window - there is no financial stigma associated with using it.  And that is how it should be.

Read the book about what old J.P. Morgan did back in 1907, when the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 had caused the "Panic of 1907".  (Book by:  Robert Bruner and Sean Carr)   The Old Man locked the Bankers in a room, and they were not allowed to leave until they had ponyied up enough funds to create a common stabilization fund, and a plan.  Morgan almost singlehandedly averted a major economic break that could have damaged the USA so badly, it might not have been able to enter the First World War.

I read what the crazy German regulators at BAFIN are blathering about - warning the Banks in Germany, not to pay dividends, and I wonder if these German regulators have mental problems or something.  Seriously - these regulators at BAFIN are dangerous, foolish dolts, and their entire organization should probably be ended, and replaced by something sensible and sane.

During a crisis that wrecks economic output  - you want to assist the banks, and keep all the funds flowing - including the dividend payments to shareholders.  These are people's income streams.

During the Great Depression in Canada, for example, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, continued to pay its dividend throughout this major economic collapse.  General Motors (which was an honourable company in those days), actually borrowed money - at low interest rates, of course - to be able to maintain it's dividend payments.    And sane, sensible government people understood that many folks - especially retired folks who were no longer in the labour force - relied on those dividend income streams to buy their food, and pay their taxes.

"Dividend reliability" is one of the most useful "markers" of management quality and commercial integrity,    A company with a strong reputation for protecting the interests of its shareholders will command a higher share price, and that higher share price, can be used as currency to acquire (and repair), dishonourable, low-quality companies that fail to make money & manage their profit distribution process. 

Much of the modern writing on dividends in the financial press and periodicals, is nonsense.   Dividend payment history is one of the best indicators of financial reliability that you can use.

Yes, the modern technology companies trade of share-price appreciation alone, and avoid dividends.   This worlds in the early-stage, high-growth phase.  But the *really* good companies, which have "made it" - they pay dividends - and the STILL CAN GROW.  The canonial example is Microsoft.  MSFT is up over $8.00 per share today, and pays a $0.51 quarterly dividend.  It is the best technology company on the planet.  The US military made EXACTLY the right choice in selecting Microsoft to run it's "Cloud" systems.   And it appears their Teams thing works better than Zoom, as MSFT has designed in the necessary security to thwart criminal intrusion.

And MSFT pays a dividend.   Learn from this.  A real company passes profits to it's investor-shareholders, and still can grow like a weed in the sun.

Dividend reliability is a very powerful indicator.   Once 30% of the cars and trucks on the road are Tesla's, I predict TSLA will pay a dividend.  They still have a long way to go, but GM and Ford are making it really easy for them, by trashing investors who bought into partial ownership of GM and F.  

And if the government regulators set out to trash the banks, they will simply add to the  damage that is being done to their own national economic operations.    Curious that they cannot see this in Europe.   But then, Europe has never been a very good or wise place, has it?   The whole history of the place is a tragic nightmare of foolishness, ignorance, and brutal, senseless blood-letting violence.   I suppose we have to expect more of the same.

[ Apr. 5, 2020] - Dr. Frankenstein, I presume? - If only.  In the UK, a rumor is being spread that 5G cell-towers are spreading the coronavirus.  This sounds like the stuff of urban legend - the initial thought is "No one could be that fucking stupid.  Not even a yob."  But then I derived the sub-text...  No one is that stupid.  The Brit-cops are maybe using cell-phone tracking to enforce their weirdly  hard-lockdown of the place - and folks are damaging 5G towers because they have learned that they have better granularity for citizen monitoring?   Comm-towers for 5G are being vandalized,and one was even set on fire.   Curious.

I did see the Brit-cops were using Police "Drones" to monitor folks walking their dogs out on emtpy common lands - no where near other people.   They are trying to enforce that strange lockdown-at-home quarantine idea.   That is so wrong.  Anyone flys a Drone over my property,  I have a 12-guage solution to that trespass - real easy problem to solve.    Also read about how the Germans and Swiss are re-installing double sets of fences between their borders again - following exactly the old barbed-wire ones that the Nazi Germans installed in the 1940's.  Such a lovely little world.  And some euro-trash fool of a fellow who works for Bafin (the State Bank regulator in the New Germany), has instructed the Banks in Germany not to pay dividends - and of course, that is profoundly insane.

Maybe all German banks are bankrupt?  Is that the problem?   Bank dividends are an absolute mainstay of personal, private portfolios in Canada, as well as a critical source of reliable income for all Pension funds (Government and private), as well as critical investment vehicles for Cdn Insurance companies.  Telling profitable companies they are not allowed to pay dividends, would just ramp-up impoverishment for a whole lot of bank-stock owners.

Perhaps the Europeans are just too stupid to live?  What I am seeing government people do lately, seems to be close to insane.

It's as if we have suddenly created this wild monster that is rampaging out of control.  I think the British are being almost looney-tune silly.  Having everyone hide at home for a month, is absolutely not going to stop this virus.   People have to eat and exercise and do some work to make money to pay the bills.  Maybe you can quarantine the sick ones, and/or their families?  But you cannot just quarantine a whole nation, and trying to do so is just crazy stupid.   Is no one willing to stand up and say this?  You are being foolish, and should stop this nonsense.  It will not help.  The virus is in the wild now.   We have to reach herd-immunity.   It's too late for any sort of *containment*.

But we seem to have created this weird monster now - a world-wrecking madness that threatens to engineer a massive economic crash that is already on the verge of becoming self-reenforcing.

I really hope I am wrong about this. 

One of my models is predicting a run-away rally/re-trace for today, and I noticed that the DJIA futures are up sharply.  But another one which I also put a bit of faith in, is forecasting just the opposite - a continued down-trend.

Full Disclosure:  We remain fully invested, standing pat, and have added small amounts to some positions.   We might be wrong here.  

Our honest belief is that the "lockdown" stay-at-home strategy, that we see in some places, cannot be sustained. Our working forecast for Covid-19, is 3,950,000 confirmed cases by April 30, with total global deaths due to SARS-CoV-2 virus, of 215,275 (using the 0.0545 death rate observed today: 1,273,990 cases, total global deaths: 69,444.)

That number - 215,275 - for the estimated total global coronavirus deaths by April 30th, is an unfortunate and awful outcome - but it is not the end of the world.   The USA invasion of Iraq is estimated to have caused the deaths of more than 600,000.   The Syrian Civil War and the rise of the murder-cult ISIS caused the deaths of several hundred thousand more, and the displacement of millions of people.  Cancer and heart disease kill thousands every month.  No matter what  we do, there will be death - in big numbers - in our future.

The solution to this viral outbreak is: 1) Use N95 level masks, if you can get them, or standard cotton if that is all you can get.  2) Practice "social-distance" actions - keep 2 meters away from others.  3) Wash hands often, esp. when returning home, and don't touch face, eyes or mouth when out.  4) Carry 100% or 99%  rubbing alcohol-soaked-cloths in plastic bags, and wipe down gas-pump handles and other common stuff you have to touch.  5) Work from home if you can. 

What we need to do, is accelerate testing of treatment options, and engineer rapid development of an effective treatment protocol for Covid-19.

We might want to think in terms of a concentrated, aggressive development effort - a "Manhattan Project" kind of thing, which pulls together drug company and government efforts, and issues daily guidence and advice, based on rapidly tested strategies.   The Chinese developed a protocol involving hydroxychoroquine, and given the low cost of this drug, and the fact that the USA has been given several million doses, it should be tried, and the results reported to all.

Below is a news story about a farmer who runs a large dairy operation, and he had to *dump* all his milk production - he was not able to get it to market.    And this at the same time as the food stores were limiting dairy purchases in nearby towns.    The current global economic dislocation may turn out ot be more serious and more destructive than the Covid-19 SARS-2 flu.   This is looking too much like the start of the 1930's.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-dairy-insight-idUSKBN21L1DW

[ Apr. 4, 2020 ] - Calm Before The Storm - There is a scene in the 1982 movie "Blade Runner" - a favourite film - where the evil replicant Leon is just about to kill Decker, but suddenly Tyrell's niece shoots Leon thru the head, with Decker's .50 cal. plasma-pistol.  It's a great creative trick - a sudden, extreme shift in action and mood.   

Surreal quiet day.  Did a perimeter walk of the property - chatted with the neighbours about the usefulness of our machines.  Walked  with the dogs, slung a JR-Carbine .45 cal. over my shoulder.  Looking for gophers and other fat rodentia, but didn't see any.   One of the dogs, caught and ate a mouse.  That will be a problem - always seems to give them nasty diarreha.   But they just love the fresh meat.  Nature's way.   And we all know about Nature now, don't we?  :)

I am a *lot* more concerned about Mr. Malthus's curves, than the Covid-19 case-curve.  The SARS-CoV-2 virus is out of Pandora's box, and until 70% of the world has had it, we are all in the poo.  We need herd-immunity.   So the Dismal Scientist (and heartless bastard) inside me, says "Spike the Curve.  Let the weak ones die.  Just expand the graveyards, or  run the crematoria 24/7.  Just let them die."   But I know, this contradicts the teachings of the Buddha, so I feel a bit of internal conflict.

But when the Americans block export of 3M N95 masks that Canadian and German Hospitals have already bought and paid for, then I figure, well, we have entered a new zone here, haven't we?

America seems to be having serious problems, and these are not all about the coronavirus.  That curious Mr. Trump is threatening tarrifs on imported oil.   Think about that for a minute.   TARRIFS ON IMPORTED OIL?  Can one really believe this news?   At a time when suddenly people in USA are a LOT poorer, the POTUS wants to  RAISE the price of imported oil, so that Americans pay more?  Just after so many lost their jobs?

https://www.newsmax.com/newsfront/trump-threatens-tariffs-oil/2020/04/04/id/961402/

Can this really be true?  The idea is to save some jobs for oil workers in Texas, by raising costs for gasoline to all Americans everywhere?

The Russians and the Saudis are fighting to send America cheap fuel, and Trump wants Americans to pay MORE for gasoline?   This seems like economic madness.   If you have a situation where prices for a critical commodity are falling, at a time when incomes have also collapsed, then this might be something that you just want to leave alone.

During a time of crisis - you WANT to have lower prices.  This is a time to LOWER tarrifs, not raise them.   People involved in Government must be like doctors here.  They must at least try not to add to the harm than is already being done.

[ Apr. 3, 2020 ] - The Good Ship Venus -  "By Christ, ya shoulda seen us... !"  (A favourite old Sea Shanty...)  ("We died like flies under sunny Guam skies, 'til they hosed out the ship to clean us!") 

The Navy guys of all nations, given the curiously challenging nature of their tasks, typically have a rather strong tradition of plain-speaking - to say the least.   They navigate dangerous seas, and are also expected to be ready to fight with vigour, to safeguard our freedoms.  A strong tradition of very clear, explicit and direct communication exists in the ranks of all Naval people.  Sailors are not shy.  They expect to be heard when they speak.

We are great fan's of the US Navy - have been ever since I bought a copy of Nathaniel Bowditch's "American Practical Navigator", years ago.     

https://www.nga.mil/About/History/NGAinHistory/Pages/NathanielBowditch.aspx

The Naval commanders of the world - in all nations - also have a long tradition of not screwing around.   Immediate, decisive action is expected to follow after careful analysis of the situation.  This is a habit a commander is required to cultivate.  You size up the situation, and then you take action - right in the time of the "now".  This is the way it works. 

If you wait too long, and dither, events may overwhelm you, and the moments where your action can lead to successful outcome, may be lost forever.

We are sad to see an American Naval commander, fired for sending a letter demanding action, to his military masters at the Pentagon.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-52145230

Our (limited, of course) understanding, is that former Captain Brett Crozier of the USS Theodore Rossevelt, was sending his letter to his superiors through channels in an appropriate manner.  There is no evidence he "leaked" the letter to embarrass the US Navy.  His actions seem entirely consistant with what one would call, "good judgement", by an active commander in a time of peace.  He has to safeguard readiness, and act in the best interests of his ship and crew.  That is his job.

His removal seems unwise.    And from a political perspective, it looks even more wrong, as it now offers all the enemies of the current Administration, the opportunity to say: "Look at that!  They just shot the messenger! "

We all now have some knowledge of how efficiently the SARS-Cov-2 coronavirus infection can race through a ship.   Without *immediate* action, we know that almost everyone will eventually get the virus, and that it's rate of lethality is roughly 5%.  With a crew of 5000, that means 250 dead sailors - in a port, in a time of peace.   This would be very bad.

Crozier was right to demand a rapid-response from his Naval top brass.  What else could he do?   The Navy is really good with numbers,   The US Navy funded, designed, built and deployed the very first computers.   The US Navy does some very clever things, that many people know nothing about.   The Navy knows science and math.   If you know what the numbers are saying, then you have a duty to act on that information.

Does the man really have to fall on his sword, just to get his message across?  We actually also understand the viewpoint of the top Naval officials - a Commander would be expected to keep this kind of communication confidential.  But the world is not at war with a human enemy - we are at war with a nasty, infectious virus.   Anyone who studied science knew that this day would come.  If the virus infection degrades the ship's operational readiness, then perhaps Crozier had an even a higher duty as an American citizen, acting in the interests of his country.

It's been said before, and it still remains true.  Sunlight is a good disinfectant.

[ Apr. 2, 2020 PM] - Dead Man's Curve - Total confirmed Covid-19 Cases: 1,002,519, Total Deaths from Covid-19: 51,485.   Total Coronavirus Case Curve still geometric growth, trajectory straight up.   The race is on. 

Social distancing hard core everywhere now in our little corner of Planet Oran.   Supermarkets and Banks (still open, of course), have lines and tape on the floor, indicating line positions where those waiting to enter, have to stand.  We went to CostCo today - too busy - line stretched out into the parking lot, which was almost full.  We left, found a "Food Basics" with no line up, and loaded up on Food-Curve product.

Mkt bounced up a bit, but cat may be dead,  Now that Johnny Thornton has unloaded a big slug of his ABX, the stock can be bid up without quite so much overhang fear, virus or no virus.  Gold market is red-hot.   With the trill-printers running in USA-land, and even the staid old Bank of Canada running QE, metal should move.  We are seeing the creation of "Fortress North-America" perhaps?     Weather is crazy lovely.    "Ali-Express" emails, and says our ePROM programmer has shipped via DHL.  We paid a silly premium to have the little device shipped by courier.   Let's see if DHL can come thru for us.

[ Apr. 2,  2020 ] - Madmen Watching Curves - What can we do?  A million infected, and tens of millions out of  work. Doubtless there are *many* who are just economically bitched now - no income, and not able to file for "Unemployment Insurance", since they are either free-lancers, gig-economy workers, private consultants, specialists, authors, traders, speculators, investors, small-time crooks, big-time crooks, enforcers, gangsters, drug-dealers, drug-users, private teachers, tutors, good-old-boys, good-old-girls, etc, all of whom probably cannot "claim" the dole, but all of whom suddenly are without any income at all.

The economic shutdown risks doing greater harm than the virus.  Nobody is really asking the big question - is this the start of a real "Malthusian Event"?  We took the new Honda 4x4 to the store, bought some fresh chicken breasts, cooked a lovely dinner after marinating the chicken, bits of sliced garlic, some mushrooms and fresh brocolli, with some rice and barley mixed, a little ponzu and fresh ground pepper, and some furakaki sprinkled on the rice.  Imported food from Japan, USA, India, China, plus fine local ingredients, and a lovely Pinot Noir wine from Chile.  It was a nice little global-supply-chain dinner.   Even perhaps a little French brandy afterwards.

Is this all to slowly fail now?   Will this be the "Corona Apocolypse"?  No more imported wine?  The Honda is actually made in Ontario, so that is good.   But I suspect many parts are sourced from all over the world. 

And USA is now "Ground Zero" for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.  As goes USA, so goes the world.  So far, there is absolutely no evidence of growth rate of cases slowing.  The Confirmed-Cases Curve is still launching geometrically upwards.   This is cause for some concern.    In our city, social distance procedures are pretty rigourous now, just by mutual consensus.   No enforcement is needed, but there is also no hard-core lockdown.   There is zero chance such an order would be obeyed, given the weather change.  We have already been locked-down by winter.    And in spring, there is much critical work that must be done - virus or no virus. 

But we also have the luxury of sparse population in most areas. 

Also, new threats:  Apparently now, the USA aircraft carrier personnel are infected.  I had no idea there were 4000 sailors on a single nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.  That is a lot, in a very tight space.   They will *all* have to be removed, and the ship aggressively cleaned, or most of them will get sick, and upwards of 200 could die, if the roughly 5% figure that we see globally, applies to the sailors on board.  That is a high casualty rate for a peace-time deployment.  A quick solution will be needed.

[ Apr. 1,  2020 - AM] - I hear they have cured the Coronavirus!...  The cure involves a massive injestion of Corona beer, combined with several gin-and-tonics.    April Fool - of course.  

Weather has turned amazing lovely, after a long spell of damp, cold rain and storms.  Typical early Spring in the GWN (Great White North).   Going to the Bank was hilarious today - everyone was lined up out into the parking lot - the "social distance" rules requiring everyone stand at least 2 meters away from everyone else.  Inside the bank, the cow-line of folks waiting for tellers, had green spots painted on the floor, indicating where each person had to stand.  

We were moving some liquid funds into one of the investment accounts.   And so , with the market meltdown again today, we are chipping away at positions - small purchases at deeply discounted prices.   Probably, market will continue to fall - but we are using Canadian dollars, which are being thrown under the bus, or in the dumpster -whatever metaphor you like - by the Bank of Canada.  Either we all crash into a 1930's scenario of complete economic collapse,  and the currency becomes close to worthless (I doubt this happening - based on research done on the Austrian and German experience from the mid and late 1920's), or we get a wave of real inflation.  Either way, quality stocks are likely to at least survive this disruption.  Maybe they get bid up hard, once the inflation hits (maybe 6 months out, or maybe 12...)

It's the one thing that governments can actually do.  They can print (or instantiate) money, using monetary methods - as is being done in the USA, with the "Trill-printers".  Need another Trillion?  <Pooff!> there it is!   A few more?  Hey, MMT (Modern Monetary Theory, says "No problem, man!")  <Pooff!>  And another Trill-$ appears.    Just repeat as necessary.   It's easy-peasy to whip up the funds  - the actual hard part, is getting it into the hands of the people.  

But I can't believe the Americans - they are going to use the tax-collectors of the tax-collection agency to send cheques to people?  Are they all INSANE?   I used to work with "Ministry of Revenue" people here.  Tax-collectors take.   The awful swear words we have don't even begin to do justice to some in that human dataset.   

All I can do is laugh.   They should create a new Agency - call it the "Economic Stabilization Department" - or since it is USA, the "Department of Economic Stabilization".   It will be the:  "DES", and instead of being armed with guns, they would be armed (like the Navy and Airforce is), with chequebooks.  They could divide up the USA, and send squadrons of "Fund-Men" out into the towns and cities, where cheques and cash, would be distributed quickly, and with real vigour.     

Using tax-collectors to send out money, is like using bartenders to reduce alcohol consumption.  It is just crazy, silly.  But such is the upside-down world of today.

My, but there is a lot of literature on Plagues and Sickness at the mass-level.   Reading true accounts of wars - one finds that in history, most soldiers, mostly died of sickness.  One English general estimated a 10 to 1 ratio - they lost 10 soldiers to sickness, for every one felled by a weapon or a bullet.   The experience of most English naval people and ship-captains also confirms this.   English sailors often willingly joined pirates who attacked their ships, as the pirates promised a *profoundly* better treatment and wildly reduced rate of shipboard illness and infection.   The priates practiced evidence-based decision-action algorithms.   They created a rum-punch - a mixture of fruit and rum - which every pirate drank every day.  This completely prevented scurvy (vitamin-C deficiency), and also allowed the water to be consumed safely, even if it was laced with bacteria.    The English Navy often lost hafl their crews to disease on a long voyage.   This is an astonishing rate of death, but it was accepted as normal.

In battlefield situations, soldiers who were wounded, usually died of various sepsis-related infections.  Even as late as the US Civil War (where a photographic record exists), soldiers suffered terrible rates of infection and death from disease.  There were 620,000 recorded deaths on both side, and modern estimates suggest roughtly two-thirds died from disease - typically diarrhea and dysentery, malaria, and "camp fever".  Interestingly, the average Union soldier, was roughly 5 feet, 8 inches tall, and had a weight 143 pounds.   This was a recent conflict by historical standards, and there is a lot of detailed technical information available.

A TV-Series by PBS:  http://www.pbs.org/mercy-street/uncover-history/behind-lens/disease/

This site reports the following data:   https://ehistory.osu.edu/exhibitions/cwsurgeon/cwsurgeon/statistics

110,100 Union soldiers died in battle: 67,088 KIA, 43,012 MW.
224,580 died of disease.

This data suggests disease was only twice as likely to kill as was a bullet.

But the earlier experience of the British Army in wars of the 18th and 19th centuries, suggests the mortality rate was greater than 10 to 1 - for every soldier killed in battle, 10 or more were lost to disease.   This number seems shockingly high, and almost beyond belief.

But it gets even weirder, since actual research suggests the 10 to 1 ratio is actually far TOO LOW!

A PhD Student at Queen's University in Kingston Ontario, went looking for hard numbers.  His initial research suggests that greater than 30 to 1 might be a better estimate.   He documents battles in the Napoleonic Wars, were disease killed almost ALL the soldiers.  

Robert Engen has compiled some compelling statistics and anecdotes in his one-man display, called War and Public Health.

The exhibit stems from a project he did during a research fellowship at the museum.

He had decided to explore how public health and preventive medicine have impacted the world’s militaries over the centuries and compared a disastrous British expedition into the Walcheren region of the Netherlands in 1809 with a Canadian army attack in the same place 130 years later.

“In 1809, the military expedition was completely wiped out by disease,” he explained. “They hardly had any battle casualties whatsoever.”

The expedition, during the Napoleonic wars, saw the British lose 38 soldiers to disease compared to every one who died in combat. It was a combination of malaria, typhus, typhoid fever and dysentery. Five thousand died and almost 40,000 were sickened in a scandal that brought down the government.

https://www.thewhig.com/2014/02/20/a-close-look-at-disease-and-the-battlefield/wcm/447adcae-25ec-5cef-aff0-48ec2fb99d71

The last paragraph documents his findings.   It is worth repeating:  "during the Napoleonic wars, saw the British lose 38 soldiers to disease compared to every one who died in combat."

This is really interesting.  It shows that virus-plagues have been *weaponized* for a very long time.  There is nothing new about using disease as a battlefield weapon.    Nature has already created and implemented this explicit population-control model.   

The great English Economist, Thomas Malthus, was one of the first to make an explicit link to this war-and-disease process, and economic process.   Malthus famously asserted that food production typically grew arithmetically, and that population grow grew as a percentage of existing population.  From this, he suggested when the growths curves would cross, Nature herself provided war, famine and disease as the remedy.  This accurate picture of what "can* happen, (but only if the technical co-efficients in the Leontif transformation matricies are held constant) , but might not just yet, earned the science of Economics, the label "The Dismal Science".   But it is not dismal, if you can make the technical transform co-efficients an endogenous variable in the growth model.  (Ie. The more your grow, the smarter and more diverse your economy can become, the more you can learn, do science, and trade, and the more people you can support alive - ie. the curves can grow together, if we let the economy grow fast and hard and well.)

This is the real meat of our problem now.

If we butcher the world economy, we might just be ADDING to the killed-by-virus probability, you understand?  We might be helping Nature, that vicious bitch, in her cruel attempt to force a massive Malthusian die-back.   We might be helping Her kill-a-billion so as to effect the curve-crossing reset.

Try to grasp the nature of this risk, please?   Now is not the time to be damaging the world economy.  We need to hit the gas hard, to make sure we don't aid this Nature-virus and help its  attempt to engineer a Malthusian collapse in global population. 

[ Mar. 31, 2020] - The damn curve is still growing geometrically.   Now, everyone everywhere here is being careful, maintaining social distance, and taking real precautions.  I carry alcohol-soaked towelettes in a plastic bag, wiping things before I touch them (like gas-pump handles).   This behaviour is serious now, no one looks surprise.  My relatives have left Toronto, and are staying at their cottages, using internet for work.  Schools are closed.   Most stores are closed.   The pistol ranges have even closed.  The Johns-Hopkins website dashboard map, which for some curious reason - the map does not work on my Linux machines with Firefox - works fine on my old Windows laptop or the Macbook.   Why do designers not make simpler, standard plain-vanilla html-only versions of their clever/fancy sh/t?  JHC, most software is such dreck, and most designers have their heads stuffed up their backsides.  <big, long, sigh...>

This viral shutdown is making all sorts of fragile, crappy stuff fail, and is also showing the extreme value of simple, robust methods and designs.   We use the CentOS-7x boxes for real, hard-core, mission-critical stuff now, like updating government documents, financial applications, funds transfer, trade-execution, and of course, data-management and analytic software.    The reliabilty of Linux compared to our historical experience with Windows and Apple products is really strikingly better.   We run WINE on the Linux boxes, and under that, we can run critically-important applications - and they JUST WORK.   This is so damn important.  Really, designers and developers:  Learn this: "An OUNCE of IT JUST WORKS is worth several POUNDS of clever features."   Now that our lives depend upon this software and telecom stuff, the operational effectiveness of it has become the difference between stable, comfortable survival, and rude, life-wrecking improverishment.   This bifurcation is just goddamn stark.  If you don't have the tech, and the access to the communications grid, you are just fucked.  But if you can get online, you are ok.  

Spoke today with good friends.  They are both lawyers with several children.  They are outside the city, at their country place, and doing fine.   Kids are safe, business is just hopping - she works for a major bank, he is a senior partner, does restructuring and deal-making work.  Both are seriously busy - working from home, works for them, as it does here for us. (And has for many years, so we are well set up for this...)   What is so curious, is that suddenly, everyone is now having to do this.    The telecom/internet grid, and the effective, working technology, is actually letting all this get done.

Mr. Trump now looks likely to win the November election now.   He has pulled it together, and it looks pretty clear he is now finally listening to his experts, and not just "shooting from the lip" as much anymore.  He really appears to have matured as a leader, and he is working with NY Gov. Cuomo to keep NYC from going into a virus-induced death-spiral.    This is good, and it is really important work.   The risk is that if NYC gets seriously infected, the death-rate in USA could go up in a very ugly spike.  No one at all will benefit if the USA gets damaged.

And it already is badly hurt economically.  The folks at JP Morgan (who actually are finally calling it more realistically - good for them) are saying, according to Reuters report, that the USA downturn in real GDP is maybe 10% in Q1, and 25% in Q2.  This is just bloody shocking, and is probably pretty close to what we will see.  JPM is planning a "capital raise", which it says is to target new, virus-specific investment opportunities.   Sure.  Of course it is.  I don't doubt that.  But it is also a bloody good time to raise up a little bit of extra capital - cause yer gonna maybe just plain need it, since between SIX and SEVEN TRILLION USA DOLLARS in global wealth has been vapourized in the last month.  This is just a 1929-to-1933 level of wealth destruction - except it happened in ONE MONTH!  

I've seen TV talking-heads, and Wall-Street-Experts comparing this meltdown to Sept. 11, 2001.  But that is the wrong thing to look at. The 9/11 terrorist attacks were actually not that big a deal, a couple of big buildings full of people killed, and some minor damage at the Pentagon. As a "war-thing", it really was not that much damage.  The US Air Force or the RAF could do massively more damage than that in one night, and the German or Japanese economy could just hammer along, no problem.  But this bio-plague thing - which has the potential to attack EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE is much more serious.  The right comparison is with the 1929 market event, and the resulting 1930's economic Depression.   Except - instead of taking a couple of YEARS to dial-back production, this virus has done the same damage, in THREE MONTHS.   Here is URL link to a very small story, with some very big numbers:

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/jpmorgan-plans-raise-10-billion-185247880.html

US real GDP down 25% in one quarter?  Damn, in a real war, you could nuclear-bomb a couple of USA cities, and still not get that level of drop in economic output.    Hell, if the Americans got really angry, and shifted into war-production mode - you might even see GDP go UP, as consumer production lines were converted rapidly into military-product production lines.   But this virus attack is just so different. 

What we need here, is an almost "Manhattan Project" style committment to research and development of effective anti-viral drugs and vaccines.   Pooled resources, shared-data, and a common goal - a safe vaccine and an effective treatment that disrupts and degrades the operation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.   And China and the USA and Russia should all work together on this.

See:  The destructive effectiveness of this virus has shown how wars might be fought in the future.  Like it or not, the damage that the Coronavirus has already done to the American and global economy, proves beyond any doubt, that this is the most effective weapon a determined enemy could deploy.   The problem with a virus, is that it will infect and kill your own people also.   But what if they are immunized?  What if your own people have immunity?  Then, you just spray your virus everywhere, sit back and wait, and in 6 months, you capture the world.

You have the ultimate "Winner take All" military model here.  It's better and more economically effective than a neutron-bomb.  You leave the attractive real-estate undamaged, and simply kill all the pesky people.  If all your people are vaccinated, then you just win it all.

This perfect nightmare scenario is already being demostrated daily, now, by events. 

But we have a reach chance and opportunity here.  This is one of the first major plagues in all of human history - where we know *EXACTLY* what we are fighting.  We know exactly what the enemy looks like, and we know it's genome sequence, and we know what it's glycoprotein invader-system looks like, and how the hinged glycoprotein binds to ACE in a host cell.   So a solid, well-funded, focused, military-managed aggressive deployment of science-effort, might actually be successful.

And it wouldn't take TWO TRILLION DOLLARS.  But even if it did - it might be worth it.

We need not to just defeat the Coronavirus - we need to have drugs to deal with, and maybe defeat *ALL* virus assaults.

We need this, because these damn virus agents make almost PERFECT weapons.

We need to have effective defense against this powerful, effective, and astonishingly destructive, tiny piece of evolutionary bio-technology.  

But the problem - of course - is that once we have a drug, which can target the RNA/DNA of the virus, and then disrupt and damage it - kill it - then of course, that same technology will probably be able to be adapted to attack any DNA/RNA data-sequence, in any animal - or person.   And we have - essentially - the same thing we now have with the virus.

To kill a virus - effectively - may well require developing a "virus killing virus" - which targets the DNA or glycoproteins of the coronavirus.   But once you have that - you now have a really, really nasty thing - a killer virus you can target to a sequence - maybe even you could make custom killer virus agents, that would only kill a single person, by targeting unique RFLP sequences in their DNA or some such awful sci-fi type of thing.  We really could end up with a "Frankenstein" virus-killing-virus - we release the thing into the wild, it kills and/or degrades/disables all the coronaviruses - and then happily mutates and evolves to start killing other cells with other type of structural formats, or binding sites.  And suddenly, we have something that is even worse, than the coronavirus - perhaps much, much more lethal.

This isn't science fiction.  This is the reason why all nations - back in the 1960's agreed to stop research on CBW - Chemical/Biological Weapons - because they figured out pretty quickly, that they could - really quite easily and accidentally - unleash a viral plague that could damage all mammalian life on earth.   Seriously.  You take the smallpox virus, graft it into the influenza virus for respiratory transmission, graft in the rabies virus that makes dogs and cats and bats sick, and then add a tweak that produces out-of-control runaway cell growth (we call this "cancer"), and Bob's your Uncle - you have the "Satan" virus - an agent that, when released into the wild, kills all the mammals - or messes them up so bad, they are happy to die.   And it stays contagious, and spreads easily, and cannot be touched by antibiotic agents.

See, nature is already doing this everyday, as we sit here.   Just thru random mutation, she is trying - all the time - every key, in every lock, always, day in, day out, never-ending.  This is evolution.  It is always happening.  It's a biological "arms-race", and nature is running it all the time, in every species, with every birth, with every DNA/RNA mutation.  It's the life-machine, running always.  It produces sparrows and swans and wasps and cancer cells.  It produces your children.  And then it kills them.  Or not.    It's a roll of the dice. 

So, dangerous or not - we probably need to get a good hold of this process, and take control.  Are we "Playing God?"   No, we just are "god", because this lack-of-god is the obvious problem here.  The wild maelstrom of constant randomness produces sh/t like the coronavirus - and cancer, and warts and stupid, annoying diseases like ALS that kills pretty young girls after first hurting them.   Nature is crap and god is a moron.  We need to fix this sh/t so it works right.  "Toad's wet sprocket" is just not engaging properly.   We must take control of the machine - for better or worse- as we have no other feasible alternative.

We can no more rely on nature, than we can on fictional gods.  Nature is happy to make you and your loved ones, suffer terribly and then just die.  Nature is mindless and random, and our role and purpose as living beings - is to take control of the process of nature, and make it run more smoothly.   We can address "climate change" by putting a Dyson Sphere around the Sun, or by at least building a Ringworld.  Crazy, but it points us in the right direction.

[Freeman Dyson, the famous physicist, first proposed the idea of building a sphere around a star, to capture all it's energy.  Here is a Forbes article about this idea, from a couple of years back:  https://www.forbes.com/sites/startswithabang/2018/05/03/dyson-spheres-the-ultimate-alien-megastructures-are-missing-from-the-galaxy/#3435b6ef3138    The image at right - our experimental IEC fusion reactor in operation - provides a model of what the initial superstructure of a Dyson Sphere might look like. ]

JPM has a good idea.  We should be able to fully sequence the RNA/DNA in the coronavirus, hack it's glycoprotein, and then design a virus-killing-virus that can seek out, and and butcher the coronavirus.  This is a product that should be buildable now - with our current technology.  It makes for a nice investment idea. 

And yes, this technology is goddamn dangerous.  it's dangerous as hell.  A virus-killing-virus could result in a perfect "Frankenstein" monster - tiny, and way more lethal than the thing we set out to kill.   But we still have to try.  

Because nature herself will take us all out someday, with something similar, eventually.  The coronavirus gives us an opportunity to get our technology together, and get it working, so we can deal with killer virus agents of all kind.  

We have no choice.  We have to work on this, develop it, and make it work.  We just have to try to ensure it is not weaponized.  We have to do this, because Nature herself, has already weaponize the technology of life, and we need to deal with this threat.   If the phylogenic model is correct  (all life came/comes from a few simple original mutations), we could someday lose all the bilaterians on this planet to a viral plague - everything from ants to zebras.  

We have no choice but to take explicit control of the machinery of evolution.   And this nasty Coronavirus has made it painfully clear that we must begin this work immediately.

[ Mar. 30, 2020] - Different models point in different directions, choppy day.  Studying phylogeny, bats, the hydroxychloroquine + azithromycin research, vitamine D3 as a prophylaxis against cytokine storms and other bio-technical stuff.  I'm coughing and sneezing, one of the dogs tried to eat a dead mouse today, and yesterday, when I went to buy petrol, the traffic was light, and I drove behind a slate-grey, matte-coloured Lamborgini.  The engine made a sound - even puttering along at legal speeds - like an excitable girl having a really good time.  These are the strangest of strange times.   Mkt was down (futures down, then up, then pulse-like choppy), and now (11:45 am) Mkts are up almost (but not quite) hard.  Everyone seems to have forgotten how strong a typical "bear-market rally" can be - it has to be intense enough to get everyone's attention, and tweak behaviour using the (deep neural drive of) "Happy Days are Here Again!" desire - what Constantinius wrote on his coins as: "Fel Temp Reparatio"  -  almost certainly meaning: "Restoration of Happy Times!"   Almost certainly, this cannot and will not happen.  But the desire can be leveraged effectively, and it is being so done as I key this.

Look - full disclosure: We remain long.  But we also have no choice, but to try and bar-bell this nonsense.   And I have this worst-case scenario of a terrible 6 month collapse in economic activity, complete with a few small (or not so small) wars happening (like they always do), and then, a post-war time, where runaway inflation is not just allowed to occur, but is in fact *designed* to be made to happen, due to central-bank fear of the crash-and-burn problems that a deep deflation could bring on.   An Associate of mine, makes great reference to those few short scenes at the beginning of the first "Mad Max" movie.    Is it really SHTF time?   Or is are we seeing that "whimper" that T.S. Elliot referred to?

We are looking at a "Depression" on par with the 1930's.  There is just no way around this.  We have had too many complete stops, in too many sectors, in too many nations and regions and industries - to expect a "Great Leap" back to even where we were.   I don't know *anyone* who has not pulled the plug on their "future plans" and expected investments.   The key requirement here now, is economic (and maybe even actual!) survival.

I read a note once, by a respected historian, who suggested that the Roman city of Londinium (modern London, in the UK), did not recover back to a similar level of prosperity and economic plenty that it had during the 2nd and 3rd century AD, until Victorian times, roughly 1600 years later.

Our marvelous and magical world, with it's long, global supply-chains, it's almost free (or very low tarrif) trade structure, it's falling prices for basic commodities and foods, it's wonderful "green revolution" (the huge increases in corn/rice/wheat crop-yields and disease-resistance), it's relative peace and reasonable security for most (since end of World War II) - all this - this long trend, could be ending.   Really, despite a few ugly setbacks (there always are a few), the world has enjoyed an amazing run of improving prosperity, freedom and opportunity just about everywhere on the planet, for the last 75 years.   It has been an amazing and spectacular run of economic, scientific and political improvement.

What if now, we just see the whole long movie - the movie which almost everyone alive today only knows - start to run in reverse?   Governments - from UK to Hungary, from USA to China, are using the Coronavirus, to introduce draconian control measures - all in the name of "public safety" - as if safety is the only goal that a society or a person should strive to achieve.

I think safety is over-rated.   We need to think in terms of *managing* risk, and not be induced to run like terrified pups into safety-holes, and then letting a bunch of political lightweights hardwire the fascism of the "Safety Nazi" into our culture and our economic process.

We cannot wish-back the "Happy Times", but we can at least make sure that political opportunists and agency operatives cannot *lockdown* economic prosperity and human freedom for ever.   I warn you:  They will try to do it.   One can know this for certain, just by inspecting the historical record.  They try to do it when-ever and where-ever they can.

"Is Hecker Still Alive / Is He Hanging from a Tree?  No, He Lives Forever in Your Hearts, if You Love Democracy!"

And there is another Hecker - not just the South German revolutionary of legend.  He was a Doctor, and wrote this fascinating book about the European "Black Death":

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/1739/1739-h/1739-h.htm

[ Mar. 27 - 28, 2020] - This is all just insane.  The idea that we have to quarantine the whole world,  and shut down all economic activity,  to deal with a few thousand deaths from a bad flu, is just so absurd, that it proves beyond any doubt, that our governments are run by people who only have one card to play - absolute social control

They don't have anything else they can do.  The governments of the world are in panic mode, and have collapsed into the stupid policy-options of terrified fascists.  They can't build hospitals with words, they can't materialize doctors out of thin air, and the absurd and malevolent ignorance of our stupid experiments with cost-controlled, socialist medical-delivery strategies is now shown to be a bankrupt failure.  And anyone who had any experience with it already knew this was the case.

We are seeing not just the limits of government power, but also a perfect manifestation of the great fraud of government action.   When I was young, you could call a Doctor, and he would come to your house.   In Canada - certainly in Ontario  - you have not been able to do that, since they created the socialist "Medicare for All" model for Health-services delivery - at least 40 years.  It is illegal for a Doctor to offer fee-for-service medical services in Ontario.

Our medical services delivery system and facilities in Canada is built on a "denial of service" business model.  We have the illusion of medical services.  You simply cannot purchase any medical services in this country - and it has been illegal, for over 40 years, for Doctors or medical personnel such as Nurse Practitioners, to invoice private citizens for medical services.

So, the only option is to physically get yourself to a clinic, or an overcrowded, badly run hospital waiting room - where you will sit with a bunch of sick people, coughing and talking.  You are certain to get sick or sicker.

And of course, this loss of the old "Doctor making house-calls" model - which has been the mainstay of medical service delivery since Roman times - means that eventually, everyone gets sick.   In the event of something like this Coronavirus epidemic - we cannot get any medical services, unless we cluster up, in a virus-infested hospital or in a clinical communal setting.   So, we are completely screwed.   We cannot "Doctor" our way out of this crisis, even if we had the resources to do so.   But we don't - since the arrogant, ignorant louts who run the Provincial Health Ministry - have been using the "Target Income Hypothesis" model to explicitly limit the number of Doctors and the number of OHIP billing numbers, for the last 40 years in this Province, in an effort to limit Socialist medical-costs or at least reduce their rate of  growth.

This stupid, toxic, ugly, failed, and cruel Socialist medical services delivery model - which prevents Doctors from actually running a practice like any sensible, quality-focused professional should be able to do - is now going to kill a lot of us.

It's about f*cking time, we rounded up the Socialists, and hung them from lampposts, and/or threw them from high places to low places far below - metaphorically speaking, of course.  We must purge socialism, as it has now proven to be dangerous and foolish - and lethal.

We elected a different government recently in Ontario, but at the Federal level, we have a terrible problem that can only be fixed by having another election.

We MUST ABOLISH the Socialist Medical Services Health Care Model that restricts and limits the number of Doctors and Medical-services persons working in Ontario.   Doctoring needs to be returned to being a fee-for-service business, and anyone who wants to pay the fee, and can pass the courses in a Medical school, should be allowed to become a Doctor.

Our "Everything-is-Free", Socialist "medicare-for-all" political model, and its aggressive limits on the number of Doctors allowed to practice in Ontario, is a PROFOUND, PERFECT FAILURE from the economic viewpoint - and now, the Coronavirus plague has PROVEN THAT THIS STUPID, PHONY "EVERYTHING-IS-FREE" Model, is also LETHAL and really could actually kill us all.

It is time we just abolished the Socialist medical model.   Give poor people free care if necessary, but let normal folks hire and call in a Doctor, that they can pay for, if they require his or her services.

It Is Time for a major Economic Course Change Here.

We have to return to the old model, where Doctors are respected Professionals, who are responsible for their own revenues & profits, and are able to offer services directly to the public, at whatever price people wish to pay.   We have this model for Dentists - and this means there are lots of very good Dentists, and lots of quality dental professionals accepting new patients.

We have this model for veterinarians - and there are 12 (TWELVE!) vet clinics within easy driving distance of our farm.  Our animals can get high quality medical care.   BUT THERE ARE NO DOCTORS - OR AT LEAST NONE THAT ACCEPT NEW PATIENTS!  And there is not one single Doctor in Ontario that does "house calls".  Not one.  If you do manage to see an overworked and unhelpful GP, all he will do is refer you to a Specialist, and you will then be told the wait time - just to see the Specialist - will be YEARS!!  I am very serious.   We have a perfect "denial of service" Health-Care model here.  It offers the illusion of medical service, but almost nothing ever actually gets done, until you are really, really sick, and then you will ALMOST CERTAINLY DIE once hospitalized.

This means, the coronavirus is absolutely certain to infect many people in this Province, and that if you get sick, you are at great risk if you go to a hospital.  Go to the hospital in Ontario, next stop, is the morgue, and then the graveyard.

This is just crazy, and it needs to change, and change soon.

[ Mar. 26, 2020]: -  Model which is suppose to forecast & project turning points is not showing any turn at all.  This is ugly.  I have this awful fear that the US $2 trillion "stimulus" is actually a really bad idea, and will cause great harm - much more harm than people yet realize. 

The Titanic was supposed to be "unsinkable", because of it's seperate water-tight compartments.  But when the iceberg sliced along the entire side of the ship, due to the dangerous and foolish speed the captain was running her at, every compartment was breeched and flooded.   That big ship is metaphor for our diversified global economy today.   The coronavirus is a great scythe, slicing thru every sector, in every land.

Once we have an in-period delta of > 30%, the chaotic process that is buried in the linkage relationships throughout the world economy, can destabilize us to the point of "Noah's Ark" style collapse  (ie. a large population reduced to a just a few breeding pairs).  

And you probably want to avoid any debt at all, if we get Japan-style systemic deflation - like we are already seeing in the oil market.

[ Mar. 25, 2020] : - The European CDC (Centre for Disease Control) has some useful links to GISAID and Nextstrain.  The Nextstrain site provides a good visualization tool, to track the mutation and phylogeny (mutation evolution) of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, as it spreads thru the world.  The top picture shows a phylogenetic timeline of the evolutionary mutation of the SARS-2 coronavirus.

Top chart is created by the Nextstrain.Org group, an open-source effort to provide tools to assist in the data-tracking of virus outbreaks.  The site link for coronavirus (Covid-19) tracking::

https://nextstrain.org/ncov

Right side chart is montage of Johns-Hopkins case data summary screen, with visual from Nextstrain, showing phylogeny of SARS-Cov-2 virus thru time, as of Mar. 25, 2020 PM.

Doing Harm

Market action in USA and Canada is runaway positive, on expectation of emergency relief efforts from US Gov't, and expectation of some sort of QE in Canada.   This action probably fails the basic Hippocratic requirement of "First, Do No Harm".   We are in the middle of a lethal viral epidemic, embedded within a commodity price-war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, and now subject to a legislative-storm of further administrative and restrictive requirements from Governments which are in full-panic mode over a situation which has caused only 20,000 deaths on a planet which contains 7.2 billion people.

It seems that there is no chance anywhere, of anyone taking a calm, measured approach to this problem.  Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer wanted to mandate that companies had to hire "Diversity Officers" if they were to obtain Federal financial assistance.   Not sure if this idiotic and foolish requirement made it into the final bill - but the entire process is already tainted with pure, political toxic nonsense.

The assistance to small-business will be in the form of loans, apparently, which makes it unlikely that any sane or sensible business owner will opt for that.  When your business implodes and your customers - and revenues - are vapourized - only a fool from a Government Agency could possibly think that you would want to take on more debt to solve the problem.

We are predicting that most businesses and consumers will survive this crisis - but we strongly advise that business people think very carefully about acccepting any "government assistance" from the likes of the Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelsoi Democrats.    The "Virus Bailout" appears to have been successfully rigged to benefit Democrat-voters.  Businesses will almost certainly face restrictions, regulations, inspections and many attached strings to obtain loans which will encumber the business with debt going forward.   You are probably better to shutter the business, and dismiss your employees, rather than taking on debt to run a business which is not allowed to service customers, and which has little chance of making a profit.

If we are tracking into a period of *deflation* - then even a 0% loan, is a very dangerous thing to take on, as the cost of paying it back, will ***GROW*** as the price level falls.  If everything is 25% lower priced one year from now, then that 0% loan, will have ***GROWN*** in real value, by 25%, and will be a burdensome and difficult thing to repay.

This is exactly what happened in the 1930's, and it looks like it could happen again.

Be very, very careful about accepting any "government assistance".   We always advise our clients to avoid any and all government "programs" that appear to offer "help", as they almost always have "strings" that make them either unworkable or time-wasting efforts in back-door regulation and restriction.

The massive $2-trillion "free-money for the unemployed bailout" is probably the worst thing the US government could do right now, but it is already a done deal.   It will destroy any and all integrity in the United States federal finances, but this will not become evident right away.  But it proves that the USA will never be able to run any kind of balanced fiscal and monetary policy, ever, at all.  It just will not ever happen.  

I fear we are seeing the beginning of the destruction of the US dollar as the world's reserve currency.  The result of the loss-of-confidence that must eventually result, will be non-linear and non-predictable at the micro level, but it is certain to have effects at the macro level. 

If you are a business owner, you should pull-back hard on the stick right now.  You will want to reduce any discretionary spending, cut any investment plans you had, and expect a 20% to 30% loss of revenue and customer activity, unless perhaps you are Amazon or Netflix.  It will not likely bounce back in the third quarter.   It never has in the past.

We've had a massive recovery on the stock market - but it looks too much like January 1930, I fear.  And I am certain that people like Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelsoi, and Donald Trump are not looking to actually "help" anyone.  They will say they are, because they are political people.  But the "help" they offer, is nothing more than a mortgage your children will pay.  And pay, and pay, and pay, and pay....    These politicians are just programming future poverty into the USA financial and economic system, and this is very dangerous and profoundly unwise.

[ Mar. 24, 2020] : - Democratic Senators in USA "are being A-holes" - these are not our words, these are the words of USA Senator Kennedy.  But I think he is right on the money.  See URL below, for video interview:

https://www.foxnews.com/media/sen-kennedy-democrats-acting-like-a-holes 

The dynamics of the November election have really changed.   The American people have to do everything they can, to remove abusive individuals like Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi from elected office.  America must survive and prosper, and not be brought down to economic ruin by "Socialists", who actually may be a greater threat to the American nation, than even the coronavirus.

The Democrats have a real interest in seeing the American economy damaged, and the gains of the last 4 years trashed.  They think this will propel their candidates to victory in November.  

But this Anti-American strategy must be seen for what it is - an assault on the private sector industrial, financial and economic engines that power American commerce.  Not since the 1860's have the choices for the American people been more clear.  Pelosi has floated a proposal that would see people told they do not have to pay their mortgages and their car-payments.   Think exactly what that means.   You are doing two things with  that idea:  1) you will damage and degrade the financial agencies that offered the loans, and 2), you will be explicitly teaching people that they can sign contracts, make financial promises, and then weasel out of living up to what they promised.   Teaching them that, attacks the legal basis for  commerce in a free society.   It attacks the system a nation needs to operate. 

And the "Democrats" want to "forgive" student-debt - again, another strategy to teach - in the most clear way possible - that young people need not honor their financial promises.

Pelosi and Schumer and the rest of these "Democrats" are actively working to undermine the spirit of honesty, hard-work, and fair-dealing that America was founded upon.  Ben Franklin would weep if he saw these two at work.

This is not a Left Wing versus Right Wing debate.  This is a Right versus Wrong debate.

What the Democrats are doing in Washington now is just so wrong.   They actually appear to be trying to assault American commerical institutions, and degrade ihe traditions of contract law and honorable business ethics that are base-line requirements for the operation of a modern economy.

Please understand how subversive and dishonest this strategy is.   They want failure and hardship to come to the USA, as that is an outcome that they believe will put their people into power.

Resist the bad bastards.

Covid-19 Bio-technical Info - followup ...

Also in our Bio-technical notes, we provided information on the Covid-19 treatment option: the drug: hydroxychloroquine - a modified version of the old malaria-treatment drug, quinine.  Here is an interview with a patient who make it clear, the hydroxychloroquine saved his life, he believes.   After getting access to the drug, his fever subsided, and he was able to breathe.

https://www.foxnews.com/media/coronavirus-patient-says-hydroxychloroquine-saved-his-life

There are solutions to the Covid-19 epidemic, and there are drugs which can be used to combat - successfully - the SARS-CoV-2 virus.  And these solutions need not involve the complete closure of the entire world economy!  The extreme "Shelter-in-Place" shutdown restrictions are foolish and unwise, and will just prevent people from working to solve this problem.

We need to get the various "Safety Nazi" politicians out of the halls of power.  They do more harm than good.  Really.

***  Hydroxychloroquine Sulfate Information:  ***       ----> please see below <----

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:

https://academic.oup.com/cid/advance-article/doi/10.1093/cid/ciaa237/5801998

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."

And try to catch turning points, not the damn virus.   Best of luck to all.

[ Mar. 23, 2020] PM: - Now I hear that the US Gov't folks are talking about offering small businesses "forgivable loans".  What is this absurd nonsense?   How can anyone suggest that more debt is the solution to this health-driven liquidity implosion?   Today, when something could have been done, the Democrats blocked it.

The Democrats are obviously interested in seeing real damage being done to the US economy.   They want to have most people unemployed and broke or bankrupt by November, so the poor sorry folks with no money, will vote for that brain-degraded old man they have chosen as their leader.  This should be understood by all people.

The USA political people should just give up, go home, and self-isolate to avoid spreading the lethal virus.  If there is going to be any "government stimulus" - it should be targeted at the self-financing sector of the economy - businesses and financial institutions - and not be wasted on giving consumers a few dollars of extra spending money.  In three months, most small business entities in the USA will simply be finished. 

No customers, means no revenue.  This means no funds for retaining employees.  Workers will be turned rapidly into non-workers, and a bankrupt "Welfare State" will be all that remains.   This outcome should be avoided.   If any "stimulus" is possible, it should be directed at providing immediate, no-strings-attached, funds to self-financing business entities, as this might allow the economy to recover and maintain employment for many who will otherwise be made unemployed, due to the closure of their workplaces.

We will get through this - but it won't likely be because of any action by any government.  Humans have actually evolved to deal with this type of viral infection.  You will get sick, and most will recover.  I fear the political people are just making a bad situation worse by trying to shut everything down.  Grim as it seems, all we can do now, is track the spike in the curve, build a lot of hospitals, distribute drugs and supplies, and deal with the results.  It's probably now too late for "shelter in place" strategies.

Those of us left alive in November should remember what the "Democrats" did here on this day.

[ Mar. 23, 2020] - This is becoming quite extreme - we are seeing an economic collapse that is almost certain to cause greater grief and harm than even the Coronavirus itself.  Here is a time-line summary of some of the articles in one of our databases (from Feb. 24th to today, March 23, early AM):

Dow Futures Plunge as Coronavirus Spreads to Western Europe - Feb. 24, 2020 - TheStreet     
Global Stocks Hammered As Coronavirus Spreads Outside of China - Feb. 24, 2020 - Barrons     
Futures sink as coronavirus cases outside China surge - Feb. 24, 2020 - Reuters     
US STOCKS-Dow set for 800-point fall at open as pandemic fears grip Wall St - Feb. 24, 2020 - Reuters     
Scotiabank quarterly profit tops estimates on strong markets unit - Feb. 25, 2020 - Reuters     
US STOCKS-Pandemic fears send investors running as Wall St confirms correction - Feb. 27, 2020 - Reuters     
Korea Cases Top 2,000; Nigeria Confirms Infection: Virus Update - Feb. 28, 2020 - Bloomberg     
Stocks fall again in worst week since 2008 crisis - Feb. 28, 2020 - Financial Times     
US STOCKS-Wall St to open sharply lower as virus fears shut down California - Mar. 5, 2020 - Reuters     
COVID-19 Coronavirus Spreading Globally, Mexico Reports Sixth Case - Mar. 6, 2020 - Reuters     
Coronavirus concerns drag down Wall Street, but indexes eke out weekly gains - Mar. 6, 2020 - Reuters     
Stocks Plunge, U.S. Yields Crater Amid Oil Shock: Markets Wrap - Mar. 9, 2020 - Bloomberg     
Traders Are Flying Blind in S&P Futures After CME Limits Are Hit - Mar. 9, 2020 - Bloomberg     
Stocks Enter Bear Market as Coronavirus declared Pandemic by WHO - Mar. 11, 2020 - CBS     
Dow Futures Plunge, Global Markets Reel After Trump Issues Sweeping European Travel Ban to Combat Coronavirus Outbreak - Mar. 12, 2020 - TheStreet.com     
Recession Calls Mount in Canada on Double Hit from Virus and Oil - Mar. 12, 2020 - Bloomberg     
Markets suffer record meltdown as global coronavirus alarm grows - Mar. 12, 2020 - Reuters     
How The Longest Bull Market In History Ended in a Pandemic Panic - Mar. 13, 2020 - Reuters     
Trump declares U.S. emergency as coronavirus chaos spreads - Mar. 13, 2020 - Reuters     
Delta cuts flight capacity by 40% as coronavirus cripples global travel - Mar, 13, 2020 - CBS     
World closes borders, restricts travel to contain coronavirus spread - Mar. 14, 2020 - Reuters     
Shutdowns Spread Across Europe as Spain and France Order Broad Restrictions - Mar. 14, 2020 - NYTimes     
Fed slashes rates, global central banks coordinate to cushion coronavirus blow - Mar. 15, 2020 - Reuters     
Dow Jones Futures 'Limit Down' Even As Fed Cuts Rates To 0%, Plans $700 Billion In QE; Covid-19 Cases Soar - Mar. 16, 2020 - Investors Business Daily     
European stocks open nearly 5% lower after Fed's emergency actions - Mar. 16, 2020 - MarketWatch     
Wall Street set to crash again after Fed slashes rates - Mar. 16, 2020 - Reuters     
U.S. Stock Futures Drop to Limit Down With S&P 500 ETF Plunging - Mar. 16, 2020 - Bloomberg     
New York Fed will conduct $500 billion repo on Tuesday afternoon - Mar. 17, 2020 - MarketWatch     
Fallout From Turmoil in Global Credit Markets Is Spreading - Mar. 18, 2020 - Bloomberg     
Dow Futures 'Limit Down', Global Stocks Slump, As Countries Plan Trillions in Stimulus - Mar. 18, 2020 - TheStreet     
Fujifilm Shares Skyrocket As China Says Its Flu Medicine Works For Coronavirus - March 18, 2020 - Benzinga     
Mylan to restart production of hydroxychloroquine - Mar. 19, 2020 - MarketWatch     
European shares bounce for second day on stimulus hopes - Mar. 20, 2020 - Reuters     
Coronavirus deaths in Italy overtake China as economic damage mounts - Mar. 20, 2020 - Reuters     
Disease Doubling Faster Now; Deaths Top 10,000: Virus Update - Mar. 20, 2020 - Bloomberg     
Joint Statement By Canadian Banks and Life Insurance Companies Regarding Annual Meeting Planning - Mar. 20, 2020 - CanadianNewsWire     
CIBC Announces a Change of Location of its Annual Meeting of Shareholders - Mar. 20, 2020 - CanadianNewsWire     
Stocks Revisit 2008 Lows as Economy Looks Even Grimmer - Mar. 20, 2020 - Barrons     
Canada’s Labor Market Sent Into Freefall with 500,000 Jobless Claims - Mar. 20, 2020 - Bloomberg     
Boeing Suspends Dividend Amid Covid-19 Crisis - Mar. 21, 2020 - Barrons     
Asian markets fall, led by plunge from Australian stocks - Mar. 23, 2020 - AP     
Fifth Week of Market Mayhem Starts With Limit-Down U.S. Futures - Mar. 23, 2020 - Bloomberg     
'Unrecognizable': Experts warn of historic collapse in economic activity - Mar. 23, 2020 - YahooFinance     

The scale and speed of this global collapse is disturbing and extreme.  It highlights the danger of a highly complex, interconnected system-structure, with dependency linkages that cannot be fully modelled.    The rapid shutdown of a planetary economy, is not necessarily going to be followed by a rapid restart.   The restart may be slow, painful, and problematic.

This Coronavirus may be a permanent part of our economic landscape now, and for quite some time to come.   The Chinese demonstrated how to deal with the outbreak, but their approach is not being emulated by other nations.  France is an interesting and extreme case.  The Macron government is acting in such a profoundly unwise manner, that I fear the outcome may be a social revolt against their idiotic attempts to jail everyone in their own home.  The Coronavirus is now in the wild.  The solution is hospitals and treatment facilities, medical research and real-time, evidence-based, pharmacological experimentation.   And this cannot occur, if all sectors of the economy are simply disabled, and non-operational.

People - millions of people - are going to die from this disease.   Just like happens with cancer and heart attack, for example, every year.   We are seeing the limits to the Leftist "Safety Squad" political phenomeonon, that began in the early 1970's, when government agencies began their efforts to restrict and limit any economic activity that was considered dangerous - all in an effort to reach a "maximum safety/no-risk world", where government protects and coddles everyone from birth to the grave.  

We have now reached the limiting case - a complete shutdown of the global economy, by the "Safety Squads", in order to restrict the progression of an infection with a lethality rate of between 2 and 4%.   Think about this for a minute.  Yes, we should take sensible precautions.  But no, we should not try to simply shut-down everything, for some unclear period of time.   That is simply so unwise as to be very dangerously stupid,

These "Shelter in Place" legal mandates are probably unwise, and might even be self-destructive now.  We cannot simply shut everything down for 18 months.   We have to develop methods to allow society and economics to operate, within a world where infectious virus agents exist, and can cause serious harm.   This is the way of nature, and we cannot stand against it, without we destroy our prosperity and our world.

We may well have to make a choice - we maintain a functioning world economy, where the virus exists, and some people get sick and die - but we all work hard on developing solutions and procedures that allow us to mitigate the risk - or a world where we simply shut down everything and hide at home, hoping the Government can save us.   

Obviously, we cannot accept the foolishness of the second option.   It reminds me too strongly of those tragic Korean kids, on that sinking ferry, who were told by their stupid ship's Captain, to "Stay in your rooms!", as the ship sank, thus causing them all to drown.  

We finally got our TL866II+ USB chip Programmer from our Chinese supplier. This image shows the BASIC interpreter+Z80MON OS being written into the NorthStar onboard chip (an SST39SF010A) using the MINIPRO software, which we installed on the MacBook, using HomeBrew. Thanx to "HomeBrew" team, and to the guys who wrote the MINIPRO software. Damn stuff "Just Works!". I am in awe. We are goddamn impressed. Really. We can now fully fab our Z80 "NorthStar" boards from components and the "zasm" Z80 Assembler. This creates a machine that is functionally equivalent to the original IBM P/C, once a VT-100 "terminal" is attached, and some sort of mass-storage (hopefully, an SD card or a disk-drive).

This is our "Dark Theme" version of the NextStrain Phylogeny chart, showing a visualization of the SARS-Cov-2 virus time-line dispersion and evolutionary mutation. Colorcode: Blue is China, Green is Europe, and Orange is North America. Pink is South America. Ontario, Canada has only two data-points on this chart, due to either our inadequate Covid-19 testing efforts, or a problem that may be the result of failure to share information. The only two Ontario, Canada datapoints are from January. The USA is doing a better job of testing, and also of sharing their data. It is realistic to expect that different mutations of the SARS-CoV-2 virus will respond slightly differently to different anti-viral drugs. Note; It may be important for those running clinical trials of Covid-19 treatment options, to control for the different strains of the SARS-Cov-2 virus.

Coronavirus Treatment Options - Bio-Technical Note;

Daily Data back to 1995, and previous two days win the prize for the delta dance. Dangerous days of dramatic deltas...

NOTE: Technical Treatment Data:    COVID-19 Coronovirus / SARS-CoV-2 Virus

March 22 "We'll see you when the Virus ends, for now, ciao ciao, Bambinas! "

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3TqXc0wjZI

March 21 - Canada's Unemployment Claims Exceed 500,000,  labour market collapsed.

Economic costs in Canada will likely create greater harm than the virus>

In USA, we are witnessing the attempted systematic, self-destruction of America.  The Americans - like our own selves here - have been unwilling to operate in any sort of sane or sensible fiscal manner.  A wise course of action, at this point in the crisis  - might be to avoid any further economic dislocation, disruption, and tax-assisted government assault against private wealth. 

Of course, this is not happening.  Chuck Schumer has termed any assistance offered to US companies as a "bailout" and has insisted that any such financial aid explicitly not benefit executive or shareholders of industries.  In other words, the owners are to be punished for risk-taking, while the "workers" will obtain taxpayer-funded "bailout benefits".

This man clearly wants to destroy America - or at least destroy it's culture of risk-taking and of individual achievement - and reduce it's people to poverty and  dependence.  He is such a grotesque, dishonest political fraudster, that he makes Mr. Trump look like a paragon of honesty.  That is an impressive accomplishment.

The USA will blow up over $2-trillion dollars *more* of wealth - at a time when it has just vapourized close to $7 trillion in the last two weeks, and since the Democrats are in control of this process - the money will be spent on "beer and pizzas", and little else.     It is not enough that their economy has stopped - Americans will now undertake to inflict greater damage upon it through extremely unwise, knee-jerk financial idiocy.

As in the absurd and foolish GM "bailout", shareholders and risk-takers will be punished and sent the invoice for the coronavirus tragedy, while the dishonest political fraudsters and their parasite client-constituents will get another great whack of free money.

The US Government action, as currently proposed, will just further damage and degrade an already badly broken USA.   Trump has behaved badly, but the Democrats have managed to behave even worse.  

Any money spent now, to  "bailout" workers, but also punish shareholders and business-owners, will just be another, painful, destructive cost applied to the American economy.

Chuck Schumer and the other "Democrats" are going to make sure that the productive, self-financing sectors of the American economy are punished further.  The Democrats look like they want to damage the US economy, so that there will be mass-poverty by November, so that their aged, 77-year old brain-fogged candidate can win the Presidential election, and their group can effect regime-change..   This is really ugly politics.

But they should be careful.  The old rule is: "Never kick a man when he is down.  He might get up and kill you."   The Chuck Schumer Democrats look like they want to kick US business now, when it is down.   Their strategy is very clear.

But the USA has shown it has the ability to survive really bad scenarios.  If the USA self-financing sector survives this ugly assault from nature herself - it might just rise up and reduce Chuck Schumer and the Democratic fraudsters into an electoral defeat at the polls that will resemble roadkill, come this November.  Trump will win, and win big.

Many US people hate Trump.   But Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi make Trump look like a winged-angel by comparison.    Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse - Chuck Schumer Nancy Pelsoi are promising to throw another  TWO TRILLION DOLLAR COST into the lap of the American self-financing sector.  This is just economic insanity.  (Oh wait!  Now, it's TWO point TWO TRILLION DOLLARS!)

These so-called "Democrat" political gangsters truly look like they want to whack the USA.  Or at least cripple it badly, so it's chances for any economic recovery, post-virus, are check-mated.  It makes one sad.  No one will benefit if America is damaged to the point of not being economcally operational.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa-congress/u-s-senate-will-seek-deal-on-1-trillion-coronavirus-economic-aid-package-idUSKBN2161FX

This Two Thousand Billion US Dollar cost will be born by businesses, and other productive people operating in the self-financing sector.   It will just be more economic pain for those in America who create prosperity by taking risk, and working for themselves.   The abusive, dishonest, corrupt Democrats want to kick the business owners and risk-takers, when they are down, sick and hurting.  Remember this when the election comes.  

 

March 20 - 872 SARS-Cov-2 cases in Canada, Total world Cases: 245,484;

Total deaths: 10,031.   Recovered: 86,035.   These numbers from Johns Hopkins University website.    Once proven death total > 10,000, we are now starting to see the Governments panic.  (Johns Hopkins information-page URL below..)

https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html

Russia has almost no cases, because they have no test-kits and no labs that can do the testing.  Japan has a very low case-growth curve, because their gov't policy is to deny access to the test (Source: National Broadcaster NHK - interview with a Tokyo doctor who was told he could *not* test a 28 year old patient with severe flu-like symptoms. )  If Japan ramps up testing, they will see more cases.   This is why - I suspect - Canada had so few cases reported initially.

Anyone who has familiarlity with the math behind the spread of infectious, lethal diseases, knows that the current experience of Italy - right now - will most likely be our picture of things in two weeks, unless we can disrupt the spread of this virus by simple prophylaxis (blocking)  methods - quarantines, stay-at-home, lots of hand-washing, general disinfectant usage, and so on.

The virus is much like internet advertisements versus your browsers "ad-blocker".  If the virus or adverts have a consistant format or shape, the body's immune system can learn to block the virus, like your browsers adblock filter list can do with annoying adverts.  But if the virus can constantly keep changing the configuration of it's binding proteins - like the Dianomi adverts on Reuters.com are now doing (each advert is served using a different unique string, and no URL at all), then the cell's immune system filters can be bypassed. 

The virus invades the body by binding to lung tissue cells, with slightly different configurations of its binding glycoproteins (the stuff at the end of the corona filaments).   This makes the virus much more contagious than an ordinary flu, and even much more contagious than SARS-1.  Research suggests the increase in this contagious ability is 10 to 20 times the ability of the original SARS virus.  This is evolution in action.  Know this truth.  Through randomness, nature can simply try all the combinations on all the locks everywhere.  This process never stops.  And it occurs in all mammals, from mice to elephants.  Most recent evidence suggests the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus evolved in bats in China.

We are fortunate, as we have an explicit example of what this process looks like - the 1918 Spanish Influenza epidemic.   

This new virus also has a very long inccubation period, so that people can walk around feeling just fine, and yet can be carrying - and spreading - the infection.  Most folks will recover.  But if you get the "cytokine storm", you can suddenly be struck down with aggressive pneumonia - your lungs fill up with fluid, and you cannot get enough oxygen into your blood and you die.  This is where the anti-virals and hydroxychloroquine might help.

Do your best *not* to catch this nasty virus.  Stay home.  Just relax, and stay home.  We want to "flatten the curve", and avoid the rapid, geometric spike in cases that is in the math, if folks keep spreading it to others.   If 30 or 40% of the population all get the virus at once, then the sick will not be able to get treatment, and we could have a high-death scenario, that need not happen.

Trudeau:      " Bring out your Dead!"

Citizen:         "' 'Ere ya go.."

Economy:     " I'm Not Dead!"

Trudeau:       "Hang on there... < *THUMP* >  Oy.  There ya go! "

March 19 - Canada Closing Banks & Restaurants & Stores;

The viral storm has arrived here.  Testing has indicated the coronavirus is well-entrenched in Canada apparently.  Deaths are starting to be recorded.  Checked with my Bank branch, and they said they would be closed today.  So, I took yesterday's trading gains, and withdrew as cash.  Used 99% alcohol to wipe down each bill, both sides.   Then took the funds later to another bank, may need to transfer to a margin account.   Yes, one feels silly.  But the virus can live for *days* on a surface, some have suggested.   Trading opportunities are many, but risk is high.  The portfolios are down by serious amounts.   These are dangerous times.   Take care, stay safe.  And maybe you want to ensure you maintain some liquidity.

US drug-maker Mylan to ramp-up production of hydroxychloroquine for Covid-19 treatment:

 https://finance.yahoo.com/m/7881c459-34cc-343d-9778-d0c077c8d243/mylan-to-restart-production.html 

March 18 - PM: Details re. "Avigan" (Favipiravir) ;

The drug Avigan (generic name: Favipiravir) is made by Japanese firm: Fujifilm.   Details in link below:

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/fujifilm-shares-skyrocket-china-says-090303639.html

This drug is one of several anti-virals that has shown both safety & good efficacy in treating Covid-19 (SARS-Cov-2 coronavirus).

March 18 - AM:  Bad, Bad, Not Good (that's the name of a Toronto jazz band) (See note in Web-log section, for some notes about liquidity.  If you survive the Coronavirus, you will want to still have some money left.  It's the economics that is going to harm us most, not the virus.  The virus we can deal with - but the economics is going way wrong, I fear)

  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

March 17: Coronavirus update: 189,386 cases, 7,504 deaths, COVID-19 clinical trials begin in the U.S.  (Summary information from American news websites.  )

Markets gyrate, unclear if downtrend is broken.   Dow Jones Industrial Average closes up 1048 points to 21,237.  The represents a recovery of roughly 1/3rd of the 2999 point loss on Monday, March 16. Virus continues to spread.  US cases roughly 5,000 with some estimates suggesting the total true case-level could be 10 to 100 times higher.  Exact numbers unknown.

Link to European Centre for Infectious Disease Control, and has clear, hard numbers, and some clear graphics. 

https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/geographical-distribution-2019-ncov-cases

March 16: As of 8:43 am, Eastern Dailylight Time:  Total Covid-19 Cases - all World: 167,414, Total Deaths attributed to Covid-19 infection: 6,507.  This gives an estimated death-rate for this virus of 3.89%.

Simple Estimates:  Total global population (roughly): 7.2 billion.   If we assume that 1/4 of the world's population eventually gets this virus, this implies a total-death level of:  70,020,000.    This number of 70 million, is not too dissimilar from the 10 to 50 million deaths estimated for the 1918 "Spanish Flu" epidemic.

Modern treatment methods, public health response, and better technical communication has the potential to drop this number to 10% of the above estimate.  A much more likely estimate of total mortality is around 7 million deaths.    People's behaviour has already changed, and sensible precautions are already being taken.   China has proven that an early, aggressive response can limit the spread of the virus rather effectively.  It is unlikely that similar methods can be effective now globally, for obvious reasons.  The virus is now in the wild, and it will not likely be contained.  

[Update - Mar. 17th]  Total deaths probably will be much lower, given that vaccines are under development, and that a number of drug-combinations are showing efficacy in treating Covid-19.  Total deaths could be  < 500,000 if widespread distribution of effective treatment technology is available.  This is still an ugly outcome, but it is wildly better than the 1918 Spanish Flu estimated mortality level, which has death estimates of 10 to 50 million.

Much more serious, could be the damage done to global economic activity, and world trade.   These costs may ultimately prove to be more destructive, particularly if global conflict occurs and is ramped up in expectation of easy victory.  Human nature has not really changed since Roman times.

Technical Notes:

[Mar. 17, 2020 PM]

[Update:  Gilead Sciences worked in partnership with Chinese health agents - conducted randomized Phase III clinical trials using antiviral drug: remdesivir.   Germany is testing remdesivir (maybe), and reports indicated (unconfirmed) that U.S. Department of Defense is making remdesivir available to military and some civilian employees.  No details on reports of efficacy or side-effects yet.]

[ Followup on Thailand results:  Flu drugs oseltamivir, combined with HIV drugs lopinavir and ritonavir improved conditions of Covid-19 patients at Rajavithi Hospital in Bangkok - but within 48 hours, patient conditions reversed.  No dosage or protocol information, sorry.]

[Chinese news reports a doctor cured/recovered from Covid-19, by anti-HIV drug: Kaletra.   Kaletra is produced by AbbVie.  Also called: Aluvia.  UK has banned export of Kaletra and hydroxychoroquine (the anti-malaria drug which seems to work - and demonstrates effectiveness in physiologically-based pharmacokinetic models (PBPK) (inspection of the drug action in vitro)]

[Korean Society of Infectious DIseases, Korean Society for Antimicrobial Therapy, Korean of Pediatric Infectious Diseases & a Korean Tuberculosis Association all recommend the use of anti-HIV drug Kaletra.    Koreans are also recommending hydroxychloroquine (the old anti-malaria drug)  be used in combination with Kaletra.]

[Mar. 17, 2020 12:54 pm] Chinese recommending Covid-19 also may be treated with Favipiravir, an anti-influenza drug approved for clinical using in 2014 in Japan.    The trade name of the drug is "Avigan".   Zhang Xinmin, who is Director of the China National Centre for BioTechnology Development has said that this drug has shown no evident adverse reactions in a clinical trail, adn that the drug has shown good clinical efficacy aganst the Covid-19 virus.   The clinical trial involved more than 80 patients and the trial was conducted at The Third People's Hospital of Shenzen, south China's Guangdong province.   The trial involved 35 patients taking Favipiravir and 45 patients in a control group.  Results indicated patients receiving Favipiravir treatment turned negative for the virus in a shorter time compared with patients in the control group.   This result was also seen in a randomized clinical run at the Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University, reported Chinese state-run Xinhua news agency.   Zhang suggested Favipiravir be included in the treatment plan for Covid-19 as soon as possible.]

[Kaiser Permanente Research Facility in Seattle, USA State of Washington, reported to have begun clinical trial of investigational vaccine for Covid-19.  Also, a vaccine is reported to have been developed by Shanghai Municipal Health Commission, and is expected to enter clinical trails by mid-April.]

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.

[Please page down past 5 pictures for regular Web-Log...]

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:

https://academic.oup.com/cid/advance-article/doi/10.1093/cid/ciaa237/5801998

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:

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/367/6483/1260

https://www.drugtargetreview.com/news/56895/scientists-demonstrate-how-covid-19-infects-human-cells/

https://chemrxiv.org/articles/COVID-19_Disease_ORF8_and_Surface_Glycoprotein_Inhibit_Heme_Metabolism_by_Binding_to_Porphyrin/11938173

https://www.cell.com/2019-nCOV

----------------------------  

Note: We are *not* physicians.   These notes are a volunteer effort.  These are bio-technical notes only, and should not be considered 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.

 

SARS-1 and the COVID-19 Virus, showing the "hinged" spike-glycoprotein [RDB (receptor-binding domain) in "Up" and "Down" conformation], which enhances the binding to ACE2, and which appears to be the reason the new COVID-19 coronavirus (what the Chinese are calling: SARS-CoV-2) is more contagious than SARS-1.

To our Chinese Friends: Grim times now, but the sun will return, and blue skies and calm waters will return. This is the Way of Nature.
[Update: April 8, 2020: We got our TL866II+ delivered by DHL+Loomis. Thank you, guys! You came thru for us, unlike the Americans, who stole our N95 Masks! You learn who you can trust, in a crisis... :)

[Feb. 12, 2020 Update] - We just ordered a bunch of electronics from China. We like doing business with the Chinese. They are honest, the stuff works, and they ship quick.

Guide to this Site

The Covid-19 coronavirus is ugly, and the market meltdown is painful, but in this world, there are many more worse disasters that can fall on us. And most of these are created and authorized by Government committees. Know this truth.

Decided I should put a top-level explanation here. This was originally just my Xerion research log, and some notes about some APL & GNUplot apps I ported to Android.  But I started keeping daily notes (the Xerion neural-network stuff and the other AI research is oriented to financial markets, as I need to trade to pay the bills.  So I started keeping notes here.  And then it got sometimes political, as I saw political activity destabilizing most attempts at financial market analysis - AI or just plain old hum-int.. Since my site is self-financing, and not subject to censorship (like Google and Facebook are), I decided to just try to tell the truth.

[... moved Web-log notes to top of page.  Will archive these notes soon ... ]

[Mar. 21, 2020] - Canada's "Prime Minister" is "governing from home", Labour market has collapsed, National economy has stopped, & oil prices below $20/bbl makes Alberta non-economic.  Canada is in crisis.

Seriously looks like Canada is in trouble here.  We needed firm and stable leadership at the top.  We have gotten something different.

If you operate in the self-financing sector - if you are not a government worker or a teacher - you have to feel a quiet rage at the sad failure and profound dishonest that characterize Federal political actions now.

We might have been able to skate thru this very rough patch, if we had build up some resources and set aside some funding to deal with a disaster like this falling on us.   But we don't have that "rainy day fund" - just a massive debt that will be added to, as our currency collapses.  With $15 oil, a completely shut-down labour market, and an economy already being held hostage by rail and highway-blocking economic terrorists and other forms of political parasites - we face an almost perfect storm of economic failure now on all fronts.

Here is text of the news story today:

Speaking outside his residence in Ottawa, Trudeau said Service Canada has received more than 500,000 "applications" this week, 20 times the number recorded in the same week a year ago. The Minister of Families, Children and Social Development’s office confirmed Trudeau was referring to applications for unemployment insurance.

The speed of the meltdown in the labor market has no precedent. The largest number of jobless claims for a whole month was 499,200 in 1957, according to Statistics Canada data.

“This is of course an unprecedented situation and it is putting a lot of pressure on our system but we’re on it,” Trudeau told reporters Friday at Rideau Cottage, where he is "governing from home" after his wife tested positive for coronavirus.

The number highlights just how quickly economic activity has come to a halt as Canadians stay home and governments tell businesses to close to control the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. It also indicates the depth of the contraction may be worse than even the most pessimistic analysts had feared."

It is profoundly important that we make political changes as soon as possible.  A profound "parasite sector" has not just been allowed - but actively encouraged - to develop and thrive. 

Doubtless hundreds of billions will be allocated to economic terrorists, fraudsters, political cronys, and other Liberal hangers-on.  The bill for this madness, will be sent to the few folks who actually operate independently and try to survive by self-financing their efforts.  Trudeau says he is "on it".  This fellow is both the architect and part-author of this disaster.   All he is doing is standing on it.

This is all just so wrong.   The whole idea of running an economy and a nation is to set aside wealth and resources during the good times, for use when we have disasters and hard-times.   But the Liberal operatives and government cheats who swan around on the taxpayers fisc in Ottawa, never do this.  

Regardless of the death-rate we face from the coronavirus, maybe some small good might come from it.  The events here now, may let people see that we  absolutely *must* change how we do things in this country.  The continous fire-storm of bad policy and profound, ongoing serial failure that is generated the by the Liberals who are holding power in Ottawa should be ended.

We absolutely must make a change, and attempt to restore some sort of economic sanity to the Federal finances, otherwise this nation will almost certainly break apart.   It won't just be Quebec that removes itself - Alberta will act to leave two days after Quebec does.   Federalism - under the Liberals - is showing itself to be a model for economic failure and political dishonesty.  Liberalism does not work.   It resembles a classical scam, run for the benefit of the economic parasites who want a funded-life, and don't want to pay their own bills.

This painful virus disaster is just bringing it all into focus.

We don't have to always be foolish, and remain embedded in this Liberal failure-model where these leftist-cheats and fraudsters always take over and destroy the working economics, and then damage and degrade our future chances for prosperity.

We must restore economic sanity to our Federal finances, and elect a government that represents those Canadians who work and want to work - not just the failures, the scammers, and the economic parasites.  Those people will always vote Liberal.  But the rest of us need not do so. 

[Mar. 20, 2020] - Bring on those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer.. - Days of poverty, biscuits and beer?  Spring starts today.  Maybe we could just climb into the stasis-chamber, and wake up in June or something?   Normally, we *love* spring, but things are looking a little strange this year.   I can tell it's getting strange, just by the number of scam calls the land-line is generating.   Any  vector to a port in a storm, I guess.  It's already like the 1930's, in that scam-scum fraudery seems to be the only growth industry.   That, and government taxation.   All else is secondary.  

 [Mar, 18, 2020] - No Soup for You! - It is just getting so weird, that humour is our only remaining defense, I fear.     Not feeling well.  Didn't actually have any Irish Whisky yesterday, perhaps that is why? 

The pools of liquidity are drying up.   I watched the field at our farm, successfully drain away all the snow melt-water that had accumulated in a big pond.   Three geese had been swimming in the pond for the last few days, and also feeding there.  Today, they looked at the almost dry pond-bottom, and just stood there staring at it.  I could see their thoughts:  "Where the f**k is our godd*mn WATER!??"   

You just have to realize - that a time can come, when not just some - but *ALL* your liquidity drains away, and all your emotion and anger will not bring it back.  The field will completely dry, and it shall be plowed and planted.  That pond is *GONE* guys, and you had better realize this, and not build a nest near it, lest you - and your little Geese family nest, with it's little nest-eggs, will be obliterated.

This is a hard lesson for any of us to learn, is it not?   No amount of politician talking is going to restore the world to what it was, only a short while ago.  The violence with which so much wealth has been just vapourized, will remain for a long time.   Once, I wrote a note, suggesting that we really need dividends to yield around 8%, to compensate us all for the risk we take on when we buy stocks.  This is true - and it remains true, regardless of where the central bankers set their administered interest rates.

The world is a very risky place, and you can be handed your head at just about any time, if you do just about anything.  And after a while, you will just die.  This is the truth of things.   THere is no escape from these absolute facts.    You will die, and probably, so will your portolio, at some future point.   This reality cannot be escaped - except by making it happen.

Such is the way of the world.  No godistic nonsense, or phony talk from fraudsters will alter this truth.   Live well, invest wisely, and be good to everyone you meet, and all whom you care about.  We are all just prisoners in a car being driven to the point of our execution.  Lets at least try to enjoy the ride!   :)

And don't be a silly goose.  The liquidity is drying up, and it won't likely be back for a while.

[Mar. 17, 2020] - Happy St. Patrick's Day.  Is Irish Whisky Really a Prophylaxis for Covid-19? - No, of course not.  But I might raise a wee glass anyway.   Keep your spirits up.  :)

[Mar. 16, 2020] - Welcome to Planet Oran.  - Reading a copy of "La Peste" (in English), the most excellent novel by Camus.   It is a strange and unique sensation reading this story that was written in the 1940's - and yet the first part of it feels like reading last month's newspapers.

I am so reminded of the Chinese doctor - his name was Dr. Li WenLiang.   This was the honest and honorable medical man who first warned the Chinese authorities about the Coronavirus - on Dec. 30, 2019.   He was told by Chinese Police to "stop making false comments".  

There were actually several doctors who sent warnings like this  - some were just told to be quiet, and others were made to write stupid letters of apology to their hospital administrations.  

But it is Dr. Li WenLaing, who was one of the first.   And the authorities shut him down hard.   He continued treating patients, but contracted the virus, and then died.  Here is the BBC story confirming his death, Feb. 7th, 2020.  

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-51403795

He was a true, authentic hero.   And his death is a tragic outcome, on so many levels.   But what sets him apart, is that he knew, and he tried.  And despite knowing what was likely to be the response - he tried anyway.    He didn't just die to help his patients - that happens to many good doctors - he also tried to do what truth required him to do, despite the stupid response he got from the authorities - who were in obviously no position to know anything about the accuracy of his medical comments.  

Just like when Dr. Rieux tried to warn the city authorities in Oran, and they were skeptical.   And just like Oran, the climbing death-rates - the hard numbers - finally convinced authorities to take action. 

The Chinese did the right thing, once the numbers made it clear  - but their "Dr. Rieux" died, while treating patients.  He became infected, and died.   This makes me sad - because it confirms that the world cannot really change or be improved - as much as it does because a young and good man, died.

Even the fictional Dr. Rieux was skeptical at first.  A magnificant and clever quote from Camus'  "The Plague": 

"...Rieux was caught off his guard, and we should understand his hesitations in the light of this fact; and similarly understand how he was torn between conflicting fears and confidence.  When a war breaks out, people say: "It's too stupid; it can't last long."  but though a war may be "too stupid", that doesn't prevent it lasting.  Stupidity has a knack of getting its way; as we should see if we were not always so much wrapped up in ourselves."

I am reading Stuart Gilbert's translation of "The Plague".  It's well done, and worth reading.   And does it just not put it's finger on the 21st century?   "Stupidity has a knack of getting its way".  Could any other single sentance describe our modern world with more accuracy?  :/

"Quick, Watson!  The needle..."  (It's a great line - except it's not in any of Doyle's storys.)

DJIA down 3000 points.   The robot-market is slewing out of control.  We remain long, and have added to positions - even taken a tiny bit of leverage - but it has been a bad decision, it seems.     The stock-markets are pricing in a 1930's style collapse in demand.   Certainly, this is starting to look possible.   The infection numbers will tell the story this week.  But in Canada, I am not seeing any evidence of testing.  What is measured - is managed.   But we seem to manage by not measuring.  Such an old strategy...  <big sigh...>  

Take care.  We may be off-line soon.

[Mar. 15, 2020] - CoronaViral Press Conference: Vice President Mike Pence Gives Up date on response.  Seriously - this was the tag/hook line for a CBS News Story in the Google News aggregator thing.   Hilarious.   We got the bait, and we get the click, eh?  I laughed like Mozart.

When I was younger, I studied the calculus-math-models of plague progression, once many years ago, the result of auditing some university calculus classes.  The young female professor allowed me to attend the classes, to improve my poor understanding of the mathematics I needed to pass/understand my economics courses.   This was Math Department at University of Waterloo.   The Pink Tie.  The 24hr bridge games.  The giant Model 75, with it's water-cooled memory, which we were using to save and create the new world.  I was just a hanger-on...  a rather slow fellow from the other side of the campus who had to struggle to understand that stuff the smart guys could soak up like sponges.  But as a dumb-kid, I learned to pay attention.   I had a curious natural talent for programming.   Suddenly, this was useful...   

It was such a good school, as they really focused on teaching &  learning, not just having/doing good research work.   I was crappy at math, but I could hold these complex moving pictures of tables and boolean logic in my head, and move them around like pictures.  The math-folks would use calculus, and I would go hack a numeric result out using Fortran or APL whatever computer terminal I could find, and use when no one was looking.

Two ways a plague can progress:  Driven by whether you remove infected patients, or leave them in-situ socially, to transmit infection.  Results are very different.  Option B -the option where the plague-victims remain non-quarantined and able to infect others - obviously has a *much* higher death rate, and much higher absolute numbers.

I tend to use discrete math and explicit, simpler equations with time-index values.   Executing the models algorithmically, instead of just solving them analytically, appeals to me more.   But both approaches work.   The calculus-model approach is really some elegant mathematics.  And the progression of plagues has been studied by "natural historians" and scientists since the time of Lucretius  (see the final section in "De Rerum Natura" => "The Nature of the Universe").

Italy has over 21,000 confirmed Covid-19 Coronavirus infections, and over 1400 confirmed deaths, as of last nite.   They are in danger of saturating the ability of their hospitals and medical services agencies to handle the sick people.   Folks get real sick with this infection, and have trouble breathing.  Access to a hospital, with lung-clearing drugs and oxygen respirators can help a person recover.  Without this, you can get real sick, and might not make it.  I fear the math suggests that Italy is close to a "tipping point", as Mr. Gladwell terms it.

The response in Ireland has been sensible.  There, the authorities have already made plans to seconde (borrow temporarily) beds in hotels, and used the hotels as temporary hospitals.  This is a good idea, as the seperate hotel rooms allow patient isolation, which is what you want to do.

Really glad we are not travelling, do not live in the USA and do not live in a city.

The Ides of March.   How ironic and amusing, since I've always been a fan of Julius Caesar.  This coming week will give us some hard information, as to how successful each nation is being in combating this pandemic.  The numbers for this next week, will tell us if we are being successful, or if it is already too late to avoid a super-surge (which is what the math actually projects in the "no-quarantine-of-infected-folks" scenario).

Spain and France are going into lockdown.  Poland and Denmark and Czech Repubic have closed their borders, and UK and Ireland are added to US list of "no-entry for Europeans" restrictions list, which takes effect tonite.

What happened to the all the cool stuff we were supposed to have in the future?   Flying cars, space travel, Martian colonies?  We just seem to be only getting the awful stuff.  :(   "May you live during interesting times."   Good luck.   Go read Albert Camus's "La Peste" for a literary take on this scenario.   Heck, read whatever you can.  Just stay home, and lets try for Option A, eh?  :)

Hey, I found Camus's "The Plague" -  full text - in English - online, here:

https://antilogicalism.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/the-plague.pdf

I'm going to put it on the iPad and read it again this week.  It's a great story.   Camus's grandson or grand-nephew or something like that - whose name is Thain - lives in Japan, and does a TV-show there, where he and a cute girl review and promote beautiful and interesting Japanese tourist locations.

Just please, if you are taking your speedster - or Facel Vega - out for a spin on those lovely California highways, please drive slowly - or if you can't drive slow, at least wear your seatbelt, and drive carefully.   Q: What exactly *is* a Facel Vega?   The Shepilov Murders of course, are the 1956 Soviet invasion and mass-murder that crushed the Hungarian Freedom Rebellion.   The Hungarians revolted against against the rotting filth of communism.  The coronavirus is not the worse virus.  There was that strange, hideously awful social virus called "communisim" that infected the world in the 20th century.  And of course, it killed millions upon millions.

https://bookhaven.stanford.edu/2011/08/albert-camus-the-words-that-may-have-cost-his-life/

There is a far-fetched theory that it was the KGB which sabotaged Camus' friends car, and caused the tire to blow out, to cause the crash that killed him.   Unlikely, but it makes his absurd death less absurd.  

[Mar. 14, 2020] - Beware the Middle of March,  Mr. Caesar. - This is always a time for risk mitigation, I suppose. Maybe Caesar should have listened more carefully to his oracle?

We stocked up, and bought some petrol and extra food.   It is possible Canada may go into lock-down of some sort, next week.  Given that our foolish Prime Minister and his wife are quarantined at home (we know for certain she has tested positive for the Covid-19 Coronavirus, and Mr. Trudeau is obviously almost certainly infected - but in a further act of irresponsibility, he has either not been tested, or has withheld the information of his test results.)    Either way, the virus is here and is in the wild now.  We shall have to deal with this.

Stay home, and watch a movie.

We screened an old Japanese DVD, English title:  "Only Yesterday" - and it is a lovely and really a quite charming film, about a young woman's memories of growing up in the 1960's in Japan.  It is an animated film for adults - from Studio Ghibli.  The quality of the animation is very good, and it is a delightful film with a clever, low-key story line and it really was an amusing pleasure to watch.  I had not seen it before.   Even in Japanese, with English subtitles, it was just wonderful.

It was made in 1991.   It is a quiet masterpiece.  See it in Japanese, with the English subtitles, if you can.    Here are some links:

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/only_yesterday_1991

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Only_Yesterday_(1991_film)

The Japanese title is "Omoide Poro Poro", literal translation - "memories come tumbling down".  On one level, it is a clever, retrospective story about a 27 year old career woman in Japan, going on a holiday, and finding that all her memories from being in Grade 5 as a 10-year old girl, have come with her. 

But it manages to be much more.  As someone who gave up city life, to live on a farm, the film suddenly become amusingly personal.    Taeko Okajima - the female protagonist - meets a young lad at the station when she arrives in farm country, who remembers her from a previous visit a year earlier.  He is an organic farmer, near Taeko's family's farm, and has given up his office job, to work with a friend on his friend's organic farm. 

Much of the film involves flashbacks to Taeko's childhood - and her difficulty with fractions mirrored my own memories to a surprising degree.   (I always needed to *understand* the math, I can't and never could, just memorize it.)

It's really a charming and clever film - in some ways like one of my other Japanese favourites, "The Twilight Samurai", which is a period Samurai drama from the time of the Boshin War.   Both films make use of a gentle narrative voice-over of an older woman, remembering the events of her childhood - and realizing how those events shaped her and all those around her.

Both films are actually love stories - and both have an authenticity that is quite compelling.   Truth is always interesting - people do manage to overcome the grief and foolishness they encounter, and sometimes the guy and the girl do manage to get together - dispite all pain that must be endured, and the wild events that try to prevent this.

If you are "working from home" or somehow otherwise in an off-line, can't-go-anywhere situation because of the viral plague, take a moment to reflect,  pause, and use the down-time for some thinking about what you really want from life.  

We don't all have to be Caesar.   And we need not worry about the silly senators and their fights with each other.  Maybe just tune it out.

Watch a good movie, and stay safe, relax, and all might well be just fine.   😎

[Mar. 13, 2020] - Red Rover Over to Port Dover? No, Too Cold. - If I were young and completely crazy, I might have fired up the Virago, and made the Friday the 13th run to Lake Erie.  (We have strange customs in Canada...).   But I decided I had best watch the wild show that is playing out on the global equity markets. 

Disappointed I am, as I did not make money from this madness.  We have the historical knowledge-base, but this has been psycho-crazy panic trading.   I have no experience with this.  Even Warren Buffet said he had to wait 89 year to see a hellstorm like this.   It's pretty wild.   We've done lots of research on the Covid-19 thing, and now expect it will be serious, but not lethal for most. 

But the coronavirus will likely race thru everywhere now.  The attempts to contain and limit it's spread, have been absolutely non-existent here, and our sad little Prime Minister, thru his own foolish ignorance, has managed to get his wife infected.

When you are so arrogant-unwise, that you put your wife or family in harm's way, and let them get hit with this kind of thing - and then bring it back to Canada, and risk infecting Canadians in Ottawa, then it's really time to resign, Mr. Trudeau.  Just please go.  I hope your wife is ok and recovers.  But you need to get out of politics, and let someone else take over.  Your time is over.

That is my rant for today.  It's a bit of a sad rant, and I truly hope the woman does not die.  But if she does, then we will all have to work very hard in the next election, so that this sort of tragic stupidity can be avoided in the future, and we can get a national government that is not so painfully foolish.

Markets went into full panic mode yesterday.  I've read about events like this - but never really seen one, except the 1987 economic storm.   And 1987 sell-off was just a one-day burp that was the result of a silly product (really silly) called "Portfolio Insurance" - which was of course, not insurance at all, just a stupid idea.   Such is the world.

And I would love to ask the dipsters and hipsters in Ottawa, what the hell they think farting around with administered interest rates is going to do, when the rates are already flatlined at so close to zero.  Eh?   Just exactly what do you think this will do?

The obvious and intense stupidity of most pubilc figures is now so astonishingly manifest, that I can only just put my head in my hands, and rub my face in tired disgust.

What shall we do?  Tell Boeing to build a bunch more aircraft that fly into the ground automatically, and see if we can book all these guys on free vacations using this fleet?   We could call the aircraft fleet "The Great  B-Ark Project!"   The trick would be to get all the politicians to sign up for the free travel.   And they like to travel - especially on someone else's tab!

We could send them to a wonderful new place:  viz. ->   "Free Trip To The Next World!   Travel Now!  Hurry, Spaces are Filling Up Quickly!!"   (This movie would have a script that would be a combination of "The Island", "BeetleJuice" and "Blade Runner". )   😀  

----

Ever teach or study English?   Isn't it a great language?  So positional, no?  Like, consider the difference between:  "Virus Free!"    and   "Free Virus!"

Stay home, stay safe, & have a drink.   Relax.   🙂

[Mar. 12, 2020] - You Will Probably Become Infected. - It's getting serious now.   A metaphor? Investors around the world are the Aizu clan, and the Imperial Army (the Coronavirus) is closing in.   We will not escape this.   Trump plans to ban entry from Europe into the USA for 30 days, starting Friday the 13th, to limit the spread of the Covid-19 (Wuhan) Coronavirus.    Will this be possible?   I doubt it.   Markets in Asia are down sharply.

European cases spike (see first graphic).  The low rates that are printed for Canada, probably reflect the characteristics of the Canadian "Health Care" system, which explicitly prevents doctors from billing patients for any medical services, and so turns medical services delivery in Canada into a "denial-of-service" business model.  

Canada has one of the least effective health care systems in the world, and the very low Canadian infection numbers (something like 103 cases as of last night) probably reflects the lack of any sort of systematic testing program.   Many average Canadians do not even have access to a "family doctor", so their health condition is unknown, until they present at a typically over-crowded emergency room, which of course, many are reluctant to do, because of the high probability of thus catching a contagious disease.

In truth, the Canadian numbers for Coronavirus-positive cases are probably substantially higher than are indicated at the moment.  

The market response is significant, but it's just a panic, and mirrors the worthless chatter from political officials - it all seems to be fear-driven, and reactive, but without real substance. 

The infection - which is highly contagious - is actually not that lethal.  Self-isolation is probably the best defense for those who are hoping to avoid infection, and even for those who are infected.   There apparently is almost nothing medical specialists can do except to provide oxygen to those with breathing difficulty.   Expensive anti-viral drugs are not yet "proven" to be effective, and so by the rules that hospitals and doctors are required to follow - to control costs - will not likely be available to ordinary patients.

So just stay at home, wear a mask if that makes you feel better, and wash your hands frequently. Keep a good distance from others, and use alcohol santizer when in a store or at a check-out counter.

You will probably catch the virus.  Our research suggests (and informal discussions seem to confirm this), that the very high degree of contagiousness means that it is likely the virus will run all through the global population, much like the 1918 Spanish Influenza did.  There is now no way to avoid this.  Try to rest, eat well, get enough sleep, and look after each other.  If one person in your house gets the virus, you will all get it.  But it will have different rates of progression.  The heathier ones need to look after the really sick ones.  Chicken-soups, cold washcloth on forehead for fever, that sort of thing.

The data suggests that almost all people will recover.  You will feel like shit, and you may have fluid in your lungs and a high fever.   Take aspirin or ibuprofen or whatever you can get access to, to try to keep the fever down.  If you have trouble breathing, try to get access to medical equipment, such as oxygen and a mask.  Be very careful if you are using oxygen at home, as it is extremely flamable.  If using an oxygen mask, or helping someone use one, make sure the little mask fits right on the patient's face, and makes a good seal, so the O2 does not leak out.

Keep surfaces clean, wipe them with alcohol.  Use the 100% or 99% rubbing alcohol, not  the water-diluted 70% stuff, as it is ineffective in some cases.  Wash your hands a lot.  If you go out to buy supplies or food, use sanitizer if it is available in the store, and wash you hands first thing you do returning home.

Almost everyone will recover from this, and come out the other side, with enhanced immunity.  For most people, it will be no worse than a nasty flu.  But if you are looking after someone who is having real breathing difficulty, try to get them medical attention, if you can.  If you can't, try to get them oxygen.   The pneumonia-response - the lungs filling with fluid - is what your body does to kill the virus - but it also makes if very difficult to breathe.   If this happens, you may need to have oxygen, just to breathe, so get help, if you can.

Good luck to everyone.  You probably will catch it, but you also will probably be ok and recover.  Once you recover, you can have a nice party with your virus-recovered friends.

[Mar. 11, 2020 - PM] - We are Officially Being Eaten by the Bear. - Well, it's official now.  Dow-Jones closed down over 20% from it's Feb. 12th high.  We are officially in a full-tilt "bear-market".   We are toast, it looks like.  There is no where to hide - not even in gold or oil or silver or bitcoin.

But there are some bright spots.  Consider the articulate auto-worker, Jerry Wayne, who actually understands how politics is supposed to work.  Hats off to Mr. Wayne.  He is the man I would vote for, for US President, if I could vote in a US election.   Biden is the one who is full of sh*t.  Damn, I wish we had more people like Jerry Wayne here in the Great White North.

https://www.foxnews.com/media/worker-confronted-biden-auto-plant-guns-fox-friends

Dear America:  We love you.  We really do.   But please consider things carefully.  Do you really want Joe Biden to replace Mr. Trump?  If you change horses in mid-stream, do you not risk making a bad situation, even worse?  The Democrats want to confiscate things and restrict what you can do.   They want to confiscate your money, and they want to confiscate your guns.   You really want to give these guys & gals more power?   They already control your legislature.   Maybe that is enough?

And do you really want every poor-person, south of the Rio Grande, to come zooming up into the good, old USA, with mouths open like baby-birds?  Do you want your taxes to zoom up, along with your unemployment rate?

Between Biden and Trump - you might just have to hold your nose, and vote for Trump.  The devil you know, might be less of a risk than this re-cycled, pale-faced, Obama guy, who is an old, old, old professional politician.      As we move into this crazy, chaotic future, it's gonna be all about risk management.   How do we survive the COVID-19  viral plague, and the economic meltdown it is already causing?   

We are now, already, all officially in the storm.  We now have the SHTF scenario.  The "preppers" don't look so silly now, do they?  

We are still long, and have still almost no leverage (just a very little bit.)  The action is so bad, and the market prognosis is so *very* bad, that we are re-thinking things.  I had one model that explicitly predicted this - but I thought it was just not working right, since the forecast was so extreme  (it was forecasting around a  12% further fall, after stocks has already come off close to 10%.  At the time (last week), this forecast seemed just stupid and wrong.  But in fact, I was the one who was stupid and wrong .. ðŸ˜²ðŸ˜®

[Mar. 11, 2020] - The Smell of Hospitals in Winter -  We've had a not just a Long December, but a long, cold Winter.    One more down day in the canyon...   Didn't sell... guess I should.

Even the Samurai could not help us.    They are remembering what happened 9 years ago on this day.  There are worse things than viral plagues.  The 3/11 event in Japan 9 years ago, was much worse than the 9/11 thing in USA back in 2001.   They don't really show the actual videos of how awful the big Tohoku Tsunami really was.  When you see some of the actual, true videos (not the sanitized disinfo on MSM), you see an astonishing thing - a large city, being smashed by a 14 meter high wall of water, and the buildings and houses are all **burning** - which seems unbelievable and impossible.   But there it is, fires burning *everywhere* in all the floating wreckage!

But what actually happened is that the tsunami smashed the houses and buildings off their foundations, and as this mass of floating wreckage moved, the large propane-tanks that each house used for fuel storage for heat and cooking, burst, and exploded,  Over 30,000 people were killed in a few minutes.  Lots of guys who were working, and were not at home, lost their entire families - wife, children, and parents.  

And then, if this horrorshow from hell was not enough - the goddamn nuclear reactors at Fukushima exploded, and spewed highly radioactive fallout over a large area.   The reactors perfectly withstood the great wave.  The seawall, designed to stop a big tsunami, held, and blocked the wave.  But the poor stupid bastards who had designed all the backup power-systems and emergency generators, had put the backup generators and power cables *underground*, in an act of design stupidity that rocks the mind.  They *all* shorted out and failed, because they were flooded with seawater!  So the reactor operators - in a dark control room, with NO ELECTRIC POWER watched events spiral to a second, greater - and avoidable - disaster.  With no way to move the water that is flowed by the cooling and circulation pumps, all four large reactors failed dramatically.

Without cooling water - or any method of control whatsover, because of the power loss - the reactors boiled away the water, grew super hot, and the nuclear fuel melted (a "meltdown") and the resulting hydrogen + oxygen gas forced out, cause the buildings to explode in great radioactive mushroom clouds - since these poor sorry TEPCO boneheads had been storing the spent nuclear fuel up above the reactor itself!   That was what got blown up and scattered over the Japanese landscape - spent fuel.  The melted liquid "meltdown" glop from the inside of the reactor is still there - to this very day - contained, inside the containment vessel.  This was the final and most tragic act of design failure, since if they had simply transported the spent nuclear fuel to a proper off-site storage location, the massive dispersal of highly radioactive compounds, could have been avoided. 

The massive reactor "containment vessel" - like the seawall -  actually did it's job, and contained the awful toxic hot mess that resulted from the complete meltdown of the nuclear fuel rods, and the metal boxes and tubes that they were contained in.   It is still sitting there - hot and nasty and radioactive as hell.   (Is Hell radioactive?  Unclear.   Maybe...)

We seem to be marking this century by the disasters and horrific awful things that just keep occuring, rolling in wave after wave.

And wait - my story gets even better today:

I was at a local retail store, buying some electronics - and spoke to the young female clerk about viruses and possible school closures.  She was cute, and had eyes like a big puppy.   We talked of viruses, and I asked about the status of the schools.   In Waterloo, the schools are still open - although the teachers have been striking regularly - overpaid arrogant louts that they are. 

The little girl mentioned that the local Health Department has been keeping her informed (I was putting sanitizer on my hands, rubbing it in), and she mentioned that Waterloo now has it's first confirmed Wuhan Covid-19 coronavirus case.  And get this - we have this *large* Chinese student population here, because of the Universities.  But our local Patient-Zero, is a woman who returned from Milan, Italy, and brought the COVID-19 virus with her!.  Apparently everyone who was on the aircraft has been quarantined, and I would assume that plague protocols are being followed.   

But how ironic!  We have *thousands* of Chinese kids travelling back and forth between here and China, and a substantial Chinese population in town - but the nasty Covid-19 virus got to our little city from goddamn Europe - the source of all the bad, nasty, stupid, awful stuff in all the short national history of our cold country.   Canada imported all the stupid war-feelings and religious foolishness and old hatreds from England & Europe.  We fought wars here over langauge, over godism and jesus-junk and land-taxes that supported corrupt churches and dishonest government frauds that dominated the early history of our nation. 

Really, religion is just a pile of rotting ignorance mixed with foolishness.   Our history is actually crazy-violent - we just don't make movies about it, since we are a bit embarrassed about how foolish and awful it was, truth be told.  

And really,  if all of Europe just fell into a big hole and disappeared - along with the entire Middle East - jews and arabs all - I am not sure I would shed too many tears.  I might just feel more relief than grief.

But this is just comic in the extreme, really.   The source of the Wuhan COVID-19 coronavirus  - the new, and improved SARS, Version 2.0 - for Our Town is....  Milan, Italy!   Not China - but Europe - again!.  What a truly hilarious, ironic, kick-arse piece of divine comedy!   😀

Like bringing a face-mask, to a gun-fight, eh? 

[Mar. 10, 2020] - The Weird Turning Pro - What can one do?  When it gets this weird, we have to turn pro,  I guess.   I hear they closed Italy.   Hope it helps.   Markets up mildly - looking like the proverbial "dead cat bounce".  Yesterday, we stocked-up on coffee.   We all love coffee here, and we don't - and can't - grow it ourselves in this climate.   Got some more electronics from China.   We can replace spinning disk-drives with solid-state memory.    Some serious hacking in Linux to make it work smoothly, but got the first prototype working nicely.

More and more, we are crafting independence from the internet, and the web.   I truly think the drift to "cloud computing" is in some ways more dangerous than lethal virus plagues.   You can survive a bad viral attack.  But "cloud computing" will put an entire economic sector - maybe even a national army - at risk.   If you can fail the internet communications grid, you can blind and cripple an entire economic segment, and army and perhaps even an economy.    Our concern is that "cloud computing" models are little more than the re-invention of the old "service bureau", from back in the days of "time-sharing".    It was cool and sort-of worked (cf. IP Sharp and IBM), but it was both expensive and it created a dangerous dependency and external point of failure which one had no control over.    Localization of technical capability created a universe of new products, opportunity and most importantly - economic demand and economic growth.

The "cloud computing" model, and the centralization of control, command and authority that it both represents and enables, may turn out to be a terrible, retrograde step that reduces the internet to being little more than a big, wiretapped, government-run telephone-network, rife with scams, fraud, and deliberate falsified disinformation, the purpose of which is to mislead.

I am surprised and find it curious that more folks don't see this.   If I am chatting with some "net-heads" - I am literally the only  person in the room, who expresses this concern with the "cloud" model and the "always-connected" future that most of these folks envision.  But they spend much of their time looking at their iPhones - to a degree that reminds me folks who are dealing with a neural or chemical addiction and such.    Curious times.

Had some discussions with a friend on the front lines - medical guy working in an ER.   His sense is that basically, with the Wuhan coronavirus, it is not if, but when.  It is loose, in the world, and everyone will eventually catch it.  If you are in a room with someone who has it - you will likely catch it.  Trick is to survive.  Previous flu - and even if you had MERS or SARS - does not apparently confer immunity.  But the virus is not the same as the 1918 "Spanish" Flu.  (Spain was neutral in the First World War, and it was the only country that did not have  a censored Press.  So, the Asian-originated infuenza epidemic of 1918 was first reported to have appeared in Spain - again, only because they had uncensored newpapers.  All other papers in war-nations, were censored, and information on the flu epidemic was supressed by Government authorities.)

The 1918 Flu hit young, healthy people much harder than it hit old people, due to the severity of the rapid-onset of pneumonia.  A "cytokine reaction" occurred quickly in young, healthy people, that was not as intense as it was in older, less healthy patients.   This is the exact opposite of  the coronavirus, which kills the old and the sick more easily, than it kills the young and healthy.

So, I overuled the models, and stayed long - even added to positions a bit.   So far, this is hurting just a bit.  But this is why the automatic, "robot" trading strategies are so successful in the trading of risky assets.   The robot-decision makers have no emotion, and only the memory that you think that they should have.   This is why they work so damn well.   We had a strong start to the day, but then swung negative, as the centre did not hold.    😲   But as we marched towards the close, up across the field came the Light Brigade, loaded heavy with bid-money, and started throwing it around.  We, the wounded, looked up, raised ourselves up with one elbow on the stretchers, and cheered as loud as our broken and battered portfolios would allow.

"Holy Crap!  Look!"  a voice of one of the wounded exclaimed.  "They're Samurai's!"  🙂😀

[Mar. 09, 2020 - PM] - One for the History Books  - Complete panic.  Quite amazing, really.  We were down 7 or 8% at the second open.  Things have stabilized, but may well trend lower for a while.  Quite extreme, really.   Had to grit my teeth and add to some positions.  I even have a little cough - more likely the result of staying up all night fixing this Linux box, and drinking coffee laced with Bushmills. 🙂  

The dogs went crazy around 11:00am, and it was the big brown UPS truck.  Absolutely amazing - we ordered a bunch of electronics from Mouser, on Friday, and this was the delivery!  I am quite impressed.  Mouser is better than Amazon - it really is.   Now, truth be told, they have opened a distribution office in Waterloo, but the package was FOB Mansfield, Texas, USA.  Damn fine shipping, guys.   Really, really top rate.   There's a guy down the road who wholesales Porsche parts from his farmhouse, and he swears by (not at!) UPS.  I see the truck in his driveway all the time.   So here is my plug for these guys - if you want to get some electronics, the Mouser+UPS combo seems to work very well in Canada.  Just amazing - ordered Friday afternoon, delivery of a BOM (Bill Of Materials) of parts, on Monday morning!   You just can't get better than that.

Now, if the markets would stop this silly free-fall panic nonsense, it would be a perfect Spring day.  We will probably be selectively buying a bit more, if another down-leg happens.  Normally, I *never* do the "average down" thing.  It is generally unwise and foolish.   But this viral panic just seems overdone - and if it is not overdone, and we are *all* dead in a year, then our little nibbles of bargain-buying won't matter much at all.   Stocks are volatile, but also viable.  Or would you rather buy some government bonds, that yield less than nothing after inflation?  And will drop like stones in water, if rates are upshifted to address an inflationary bubble-run?   We've been running this model since 2004, and we tracked on thru the 2008 meltdown no problem (well it hurt a bit, truth be told, at the time), but we launched nicely after it was addressed by liquidity stabilization.

As a policy prescription, we - as a nation -  actually can do the same thing here - but we might not be able to re-start business activity until the late summer or fall, or maybe even next year.  We will probably have a 3 or 4% negative GDP print, both globally and locally.  We are overdue for a downturn, and it will happen, once the US does it's election, regardless of who wins.  But we are actually prepped for this, truth again be told.   

Right now - we are seeing real, actual deflation.  It is curious and interesting - like living inside a lab-experiment.  The oil-price collapse is just hilarious.  Alberta will be econ-whacked.  This is what they called the "Keynesian Liquidity Trap", and we actually talked about this - using examples from the 1930's - back in Economics school.    Interest rates track down to near-zero, but the lack of liquidity available, and the demand for it - causes economic demand to flatline - the market does not clear - and you remain trapped in an environment of no liquidity.  In the 1930's, you could buy a factory, sometimes, for the cash that the business had in it's till.  There was no demand, and hence no supply brought forth.  

Say's "Law" is just a bit silly - supply does not necessarily create it's own demand, anymore than the value of a coat or a pair of shoes is represented by the labour-effort that went into making them.  If I have size 12 feet, a pair of size 8 shoes offers no value at all to me.   It is truly astonishing the absolute nonsense than can be (and was!) retailed as real analysis and thoughtful observation.   A lot of economic writing is just silly - a kind of intellectual masterbation that resembles modern jazz music.   It creates a lot of noise which affects others, and probably feels good to the creator, but both are really just more examples of human beings being silly.

Keynes (and many, many others) begged governments to "prime the pump" and buy or build something - even it meant building "pyramids on the Salsbury Plains".   This is how the Empire State Building got built.   That sort of stimulus can sort-of work.  And if you build a highway system, or a rail-network, or a communications grid, and use it later, then the expenditures might even offer real benefits.

And with $30/bbl oil, we are back in a lab-experiment.   We won't all be driving Tesla's by next week, so this presents a real opportunity.   

We can expect some more infrastructure projects, no doubt.   But this is different from 2008, since the financial institutions are actually very well capitalized.  And with these non-inflationary super-low rates, we can do some real national builds that might make real economic sense.   But this may not happen.  And it might not even need to happen.

And of course, the next "Black Swan" will likely be the big inflationary jump, that will surprise all the traditionalists.    It is almost certain to happen, and happen hard, once the viral plague has run its course.   We may have 5 or 10 million dead, but that will by tiny, compared to 1918 (and 1350) events.    The post-plague run-up could be dramatic and wild.  Trust me on this one.  Get ready for it.  And stocks - equity paper - will offer some real protection, that bonds will not offer.   I fear the bond-holders will just get nuked, actually. 

If you want to see a picture of what it might look like, take a long look at Austria (not just Germany), in the 1920's.    Stocks worked pretty good, at first, as a hedge against the runaway inflation that hit them hard.  If you want to understand extremeistan economics, and the rise of German Fascism (and its's runaway economic success), never mind the jews and Hitler and all the political/moral hype - study the insane economics of the 1920's, and the economic madness of the Treaty that ended the First World War.  

Crazy followup:  Went to the bank, and borrowed a bag of money.  I never use leverage - but I wanted to have some extra ammo, just in case.   This is getting very silly.   We are seeing prices that are stupid-cheap, and getting cheaper.   The market is running on robot-control, like those 737 Max8's that fly into the ground automatically.  This is nuts, but it may offer some real opportunity.

Maybe we still fall massively from here - but maybe not.  I think we are *way* overdone here, and the risks are actually on the inflation side of things, since that is the only trick the gov'ts of the world have left.  And a world of $20/bbl oil will alter the dynamics of the US shale-oil disruption.  The Russians, truth be told (again), are actually damn good traders.  They *really* understand markets - like the way Catholic girls understand sex.   We could see some really serious prices swings in the next 3 to 8 months - far beyond what is typical or sane.    The probability of 5 and 6 standard deviation events has just shot way the hell up.

No one knows anything for sure.  So we shall see.  Meantime, make sure to stock up on propane, diesel fuel, rice and canned goods, eh?  (I am kidding - really.   I think...)    :)

[Mar. 09, 2020 - AM] - There are Worse Things than Coronavirus. - No, I don't mean nuclear war - I mean the destructive, nasty madness that seems to be affecting systems-design people.

I did an update on a Redhat/CentOS-7 box today - wanted to fix the "Gnome-Tweak-Tool" thing that was not working right.  This update destroyed my desktop environment, and rendered my computer non-operational - and lot of critical software I need for tomorrow, with it.

I spent *hours* tracking down what had happened.  I run a CentOS-7 box, and the update of the stupid "Gnome-Tweak-Tool" - done to simply disable the hyper-annoying "Hot Top-Left Corner" nonsense, caused a whole bunch of new Gnome stuff to be loaded.  I did a:

        "yum install gnome-shell-extension-no-hot-corner"

since I did not have the option listed in the Gnome "Extensions".  This did not work, so I also did a:

        "yum install gnome-tweak-tool"

And this actually works, as was suggested  on Stackoverflow, here:

https://stackoverflow.com/questions/29993531/how-do-i-remove-the-centos-7-desktop-hot-corner-top-right-effect

Now, what happened next was insane.   I lost all of Gnome (my GUI/Window-Desktop environment!), since when I updated the Gnome Tweak-tool (for changing GUI parms), this caused the bottom window bar to show up again,and disabling it in the Tweak-Tool did not work.  SO, I tried the idea, mentioned here: 

https://forums.centos.org/viewtopic.php?t=50815

What I did was: "yum erase gnome-shell-extension-window-list", and this was a bad idea.  I restarted Gnome with Alt-F2, and then "restart", and it blew up.   When I managed to shutdown the Linux session, and log in again, and ran "startx", I got a BLANK KDE desktop - completely virgin, no apps or icons, just a stupid KDE screen!  WTF?  Where IS MY STUFF? Where the hell is my DESKTOP??  (ie. Gnome Desktop, and a WHOLE BUNCH OF APPLICATION ICONS FOR CUSTOM SOFTWARE THAT I WROTE AND USE EVERYDAY..)

Took a long while, but I determined I could get the Gnome Desktop back, with this: 

1) create a file called ".xinitrc" in my home directory, and put "exec gnome-session" in it.  Probably there is some annoying systemctl option that will do this, but I couldn't find it.  (PS.  Yes, I truly madly deeply hate systemd. )

2) then, when I log in - to a standard multi-user session (where Alt-<Functionkey> lets you jump to different sessions), I can start the Window environment on one session with: "startx")

3) this got my Gnome environment back - except it was WHACKED!  THERE WERE NO DESKTOP ICONS ON IT!!   "Ahaghh!" I screamed.  My dog came running in, and so on...

4) After a ridiculous amount of screwing around and searching - I discovered that some design-fockwit had decided to make THE DEFAULT OPTION ON THE  GNOME-TWEAK-TOOL BE SET NOT TO SHOW ANY DESKTOP ICONS!!   (Yes, really.  The default option, for an install of the Gnome "Tweak-Tool", which you need in order to change anything about your Windowed-Desktop GUI (Graphic User Interface) is set to "DO NOT DISPLAY THE USER'S ICONS" that might be defined in his "~/Desktop" directory.  

So, I;m writing all this blather here - to save some other poor dumb bastard like me from this sort of abusive timewaste..  I am so goddamn mad I could spit nails at ballistic velocity. 

Anyway, if you are running Linux version: Redhat/CentOS-7 (or maybe 8 also, not sure) and your icons all disappear, you have to do this:

1) In your BLANK NO-ICON SESSION of Gnome 3, you have to drag the mouse pointer to the left side, and get a vertical icon-bar, and click on the TERMINAL to get an xterm session window.  In that window, you enter: 

                               gnome-tweaks

2) This will bring up the  "Gnome-Tweaks" panel, which will have a second option on the left side panel called of "Desktop". Click on it, and you will see a panel brought up that has a slider-bar switch for "Show Icons" AND THE DEFAULT WILL SET TO BE **OFF** if you can believe this.  Slide this stupid little switch to "ON" and ALL YOUR ICONS WILL MAGICALLY POP INTO LIFE and appear on your Gnome-3 Desktop.

This is truly one of the nastiest, most user-hostile design tricks I have ever seen - with the exception of the "Auto-stick-push-forward" feature on the Boeing 737 Max-8.   That was really bad software design, as it killed people.  This "Make your Icons Disappear" trick just harms folks mildly, and wrecks their systems and burns their time away.  Here is an actual piece of data that confirms some little person designed this on PURPOSE!

https://access.redhat.com/discussions/4725951

What kind of a evil-collective would design a Window-based system, and then include a tool to set the parms - that TURNS ALL THE VISIBLE DESKTOP ICONS OFF??    Has Gnome turned into ransomware or something?   This is just insane.

If you are using your computer to do real work, I hope this angry rant will make you smile, and also save you the many hours of  extreme timewaste and frustration I went thru this evening, restoring my CentOS-7 box to useable operation.  This nasty design-assault cost me my dinner.   ;)

Oh crap, I thought I was done - but no!   The problem now, is that if you put "exec gnome-shell" in your ~/.xinitrc file, then you will be running the modern "Gnome Shell" which  has no drop-down top bar menus!  It is awful, and stupid, and looks like a retarded Android cellphone!  It's just silly.

You want the "Gnome Classic" version, which is NOT running the Gnome shell.  Just delete the .xinitrc file - after the system has defaulted back to running Gnome (not KDE).   But then you will have the stupid bottom bar (called a "panel"), blocking a half inch of screen real-estate. 

My other boxes have this fix applied.   See, the Gnome Tweak-Tool extensions option which lets you supposedly DISABLE the stupid bottom panel (bar) does not work, since Gnome Shell decides that the stupid bottom panel of window lists is a required thing.  But you can just kill it where it lives - but DONT USE YUM to do this, or you will kill Gnome.  The bottom-bar code is in: /usr/share/gnome-shell/extensions/window-list@gnome-shell-extensions-gcampax.gitlab.com and you can just "rm -r" the whole directory. But it is better to just rename the directory to <same-name>.bak and that will turn off the panel, after you log out and log in again of your session.  (You can restore the window-list bottom panel thing if you want, by renaming it back to what it was)

Almost all the information on the internet about this is wrong or outdated.  You cannot turn off the bottom bar with an Alt-Ctrl-Winkey <right-click> and turning it off using the Gnome-Tweak-Tool does not work.  You have to find the above named directory and delete or rename it.

But once you've done that, you can run Gnome Tweaks, disable the stupid "Hot Corner" feature, and have the bottom-bar gone, and have the "Applications  Places  <current Window Name>" on left side of top-bar, and the date and network/sound/login glyphs on the right-side of the top bar in a Gnome Classic session window, which works in a sane and usable manner (and like the other machines).

What happened is that my main Windows machine blew up a while back, and the power-supply has not been replaced yet.   We are using the Linux boxes all the time now, in mission-critical, high-demand environment, where they are needed, and they must work. 

Tokyo tanked over 1000 points tonite, and we are sweating a few small bullets.   Not sure if we will be forced to begin liquidation tomorrow.   I just really don't like selling into a panic.  It just goes against my nature in a deep and painful way.  But we saw the Financials lose 50% of their value in 2008.  We are a long way from that scenario - but we are tracking toward it at a rate that is disturbing.   Good that I got this box fixed, as we will need it tomorrow.  :/

Oh my...  I just checked the futures.  The DowJones  futures are down over 1200 points, and one newswire story says trading has been halted.   It looks like the silly "circuit breakers" will engage tomorrow, and further scare the crap out of investors and ordinary folks alike.   When markets close during business hours, and you cannot get a price-quote, then is that really a good idea?   If you cannot sell - at any price, because the market is closed when it should be open - what is your portfolio of financial assets really worth?  Pretty close to not much at all, could one not argue or assume?     I don't think markets should ever be closed, just because some rich guys don't like the prices that are being quoted.

We are tracking along my worst-case scenario now.   But hey - I have the computers working again.    This is interesting, I guess - like that old Chinese curse.  We may actually see a meltdown than cannot be fixed by any sort of monetary stimulus.  If your city or province is under quarantine, then that is just that..  A wall of money cannot stop a spreading infection.

[Mar. 08, 2020] - The Curious Behaviour of the Dog in the Night. -  "But the dog did nothing!", said our host.  To which Holmes replied:  "Don't you find that rather curious?"

There are times that doing nothing offers a strategy that can deliver great benefit.  But equally, there are different times, when doing nothing can be both costly and sometimes even quite lethal.  What will historians say about our present times?   Like "Sweet Jane", will they calmly assert: "Those were different times... All the Poets studied 'Rules of Verse', & All the ladies rolled their eyes."?   Or, will they speak of "Too Little, Too Late."?

Unclear.   We went to several stores, shopping yesterday.  We even went to two different ethnic-Asian oriented stores - one was a small Korean shop, and the other was a *very* large and wonderful supermarket, called "T&T", which is very Chinese.   Both were  busy, and many folks had face-masks on at the Chinese supermarket.  We felt a bit exposed and naked, actually.

Later, I wondered about risk, and remembed a scene from a movie about the development of the US atomic bomb - a group of scientists were running an experiment called "tickling the tail of the dragon",  which involved dropping a small sphere of enriched fissile Uranium thru a small ring, made of the same hyper-reactive Uranium metal.   The lab experiment was behind a lead shield, and the scientists were interested in calculating the degree to which  the radiation signature would jump, as the sphere fell thru the ring.   It's a simple calculation, you know the accelleration of the sphere due to gravity, and you know it's mass, so you can determine the delta-t that the sphere is inside the ring, and if your monitoring equipment runs fast enough, you can get the math that describes rise-time in the reaction rate of the chain-reaction, as the Uranium decay reaction moves into the regime of "critical mass", where the chain-reaction becomes super-critical, due to the increase in the neutron flux. 

(I remember playing with this idea, back in grade-six, when we had a teacher who taught us optional lunch-time courses in the technology of nuclear weapons.   We had had gymnasium "duck and cover" drills only 5 years earlier, and I recall wishing that a nuclear war would happen, so our school could be destroyed...  The idea of critical-mass - to me - seemed so amazing and wonderful.   I truly expected we would have nuclear rockets in only a few years.)

But the experiment that the boys on the Manhattan Project were doing, went badly wrong.  In the movie, the little sphere of uranium had grown quite warm, just by virtue of its own high level of radioactivity, and it has slightly expanded in size.  When it was dropped - instead of transiting thru the uranium ring, it got stuck, and sat there.    The reaction began to go super-critical, and began to run away - the whole apparatus glowed with sharp, bright blue light from air-ionization, and one of the scientists - in an act of insane bravery - grabbed a pencil or some object, and ran over, past the shielding, and poked on the sphere to push it thru the ring, thus averting a lab-destroying accident, and the loss of the very valuable experimental enriched uranium.

Then, the scientist rushed to a black-board and began to do calculations.   He had everyone mark exactly where they had been standing, and ordered everyone out.   He began the calculations to determine who had received how much exposure.  Later, with calculations complete, and a diagram of the room on the blackboard, we see everyone assembled.  He turns, looks over, and says:  "Everyone should make it."   And then he says simply:  "I'm dead."     He says they would maybe be ill, but should all be ok.   ANd then he re-iterated: "But I'm dead.  For sure."    And a few days later - as his body swelled up to twice it's size in a fluid-retention bloat that occurs just before death, as the body tries it's last defensive measures to protect it's homeostatic mechanisms - he  was seen by his fellow scientists, being wheeled into intensive care, where he died shortly thereafter.   This story makes great cinema, and it is re-created in several of the films about the Project.    Here is the version from "Fat Man and Little Boy":

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQ0P7R9CfCY

Turns out, of course, that what I remembered - the filmic version of events - it is not actually true.   There were, in fact, two criticality accidents - and both of these occurred after the bombs had been dropped on Japan, and both were the results of experiments that used neutron reflectors, on a surplus plutonium core.  A video made by some fellow with an annoying British accent, about the actual accidents, is here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VE8FnsnWz48

Truth is always hard to grab and  hold.  There used to be videos on Youtube that had de-classified US military footage of the scenes from Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  These were very interesting and educational, but American and or Google/Youtube censorship efforts have caused these interesting historical videos to be removed.   This censorship stuff is really sad.    Youtube is sadly becoming rather worthless and stupid - like the much of the internet...  :(

I remembered these various fictional and authentic atomic-death scenes as we drove back from shopping for the Asian food we like so much.   But we are not dead, and in fact, I am pretty sure we are all ok.  And will remain so, for quite some time.    It's a funny world.  My mother's cousin actually worked on uranium enrichment R&D at Elliot Lake during WWII.   It was Canadian uranium that supplied much of the material used for US military enrichment activity.   Cousin Lloyd actually built an electronic machine that did first-stage enrichment, by selecting radioactive ore from non-radioactive rock.   After the war, he used this technology, to build a machine that sorted ripe oranges and lemons and such, from non-ripe fruit - substituting photo-electric detectors for the Geiger–Müller scintillation detectors.   (Pretty good trick, given that one had to use 1930's vaccum-tube technology to lash together one's circuit ideas....)

We need to understand that the lethality of an evolved virus, is almost nothing, compared to the power of the weapons we have manufactured to kill each other.    So don't sweat the thunderstorms, eh?   :)

Oh, and of course - please be very careful if you are machining beryllium.  It's fun to mess around with neutron reflectors, but that darn beryllium is terribly toxic.   Beryllium - which is not radioactive at all - is a wonderful metal to make things with - it is 50% stronger than steel, and has only 1/4 the weight - but it is lethal to breathe the dust. 

https://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/pubs/alerts/a21.php

https://www.americanmachinist.com/machining-cutting/article/21893950/understanding-beryllium

Really, so much of our world is so seriously lethal.  Much more lethal than Covid-19 coronavirus.  You just have to be a little careful, and exercise some simple safely protocols.  That way, you can "Live Long and Prosper."    :)

[Mar. 07, 2020] - Dismal Science. - This has become ugly.  We have to make sure we are not programming a simple negative-damped collapse into our market price-discovery process. (See first slide above).   (I have to be better at catching typos...)

Since Feb. 19th, when the S&P in the USA made it's high, we are now down roughly 12% in the US, and this has vapourized roughly 3.4 *TRILLION* dollars of American wealth.  The market is doing it's job, it appears.

Sadly, these market crashes have to happen, otherwise simple compound growth - after a few generations - would make every family a wealthy billionaire family.  Financial investments would let everyone become rich.  But this *never* happens, since these massive *re-basing* events, where great segments of an economy get just wiped out, are programmed by the harsh reality of our universe, to occur.  There is an ecology to markets, as they are human institutions, and by definition, must reflect human reality.

During the 2008 US Housing-Fraud and related Financial System Meltdown, we watched many financial stocks fall roughly 50%.   This has not happened now, and probably won't.  But any economic growth for this year is probably off the table.  There will likely be a sharp contraction. 

The response from national governments will have to be market-accomodative, but this will not make cancelled business activity magically re-start.   A real fear has entered the world, as the Covid-19 novel coronavirus is remarkably contagious, despite it not being very lethal.

The Bull Market is probably over, and it remains to be seen, just how bad the coming recession will be.  The 12% drop in the S&P, in such a short time frame, is serious, and will not likely be re-traced.  There is *no mechanism* that exists to inject real monetary stimulus, and replace the wealth that has been destroyed.   Government bond-buying, and reductions in financial market interest-rates will do nothing to change the economic reality, for someone who is "working  from home" for a company or business that is suddenly losing large amounts of money. 

Most people finance their debt requirements using VISA cards and such, which typically carry interest rates of 20%.    The low rates set by administrators in political agencies in national capitols have zero impact on ordinary people.   And home-owners already have very low mortgage rates.

Economists and political people like to joke about "helicopter money" - but no such mechanism exists.  There are no helicopters dropping money on cities full of sick people - and there will not be any.   Such talk is foolish and silly.   

The problem with "economic stimulus" is that it only works at the very top level, for the major, money-centre banks and financial institutions.   There is no mechanism for it to get down to the street level, down to small businesses or consumers, or working people.   This is a real problem, because it is this layer of economic agents that actually drive production and consumption.  And this layer is going to go to ground, if it has any sense.   

In China, new car sales are down 90% in February, year over year.  Starbucks in China, reports that recent sales at  it's coffee shops that have been open for at least a year, are down 50%.   In some areas in China, factory activity is reported to be at an absolute stand-still.   Production lines are stopped.  People are at home and are not going out.

A good trader/investor has to have some hard and fast rules related to capital-protection and preservation.   Typically, these *must liquidate* tripwires are around 10% of capital.  Once your risk-asset portfolio is off by 10% or more, there comes a point where you *must* start liquidation. 

If you don't have rules like this - then you risk what happened to people who owned General Motors stock in the USA, or Nortel stock in Canada.  You risk complete destruction of all your capital.

If you lose all your capital, then you are dead.   It's economic death, as sure as the graveyard.  And if one looks at the "graveyard of stocks", one sees a very, very big graveyard.  Most stocks go to zero.  This is not an emotion-driven assertion - this is just a simple, statistical observation.  Most investments crater, given sufficient time.   All the rich Banks of Venice from it's time of prosperity beginning in the 1400's, eventually went bankrupt, and failed.

The key fact here, is that we could see equity markets do a 50% drop - from here.  And one can make this assertion, because this is what we saw in 2008, not that long ago.  What concerns me, is that the 2008 crisis & meltdown was fixable.   You basically just whip up some re-capitalization funding - just print it, if you must -  and inject these funds into the financial system  - and WHAM - like a shot of epinephrine slammed straight into the heart - the banks and the economy sit up, eyes wide open, and ready to rock and roll.  We have the technology.

But a real, honest, fear-driven global event like this Covid-19 viral contagion, presents a different problem, which is not the same as a liquidity-exhaustion financial crash.   My real concern is that maybe this is Mother Nature slapping us in the face, and saying: "Too.  Many.   People."   If that is really what is happening, then we have no economic mechanism to address this scenario.

I notice that Saudi Arabia is starting to begin arrests of members of the "Royal Family".   This is probably too little, too late.   No amount of money will save the Saudi's from the tragedy that will befall them, I suspect.    You can't plug folks into the modern internet communications grid, that lets them see how free people live - and then try to keep them as slaves, wrapped in bags.   Muslim culture is insane and grotesque and anti-human - as is all religion and religious fascism.   Religion is a horrific and tragic stupidity that infects many humans, worse than any virus.  And there may be no solution, other than to nuke the whole Middle East from orbit.  That will never happen, so I don't ever see any solution to the tragic, sad stupidity of religion, and the painful fraud of godism.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-51778781

It may be that superstitious humans are fated by circumstance to run through these sad cycles of civil prosperity, followed by tragic and destructive collapse.  Years back, I grew interested in Mayan history, and studied their calendar, and their glyph-language.  I went to Mexico and Tulum and Coba.  I went to Belize and then to Tikal in Guatemala.  I stood at the top of the tallest structure in Tikal and studied the landscape for some time, and was able to see the outlines of the city.  It was shockingly large and sophisticated.  I know exactly what happened to them, and why their civilization collapsed so suddenly and so completely.  It's disturbingly easy to figure it out.   And there are detailed cave paintings far inside their assumed entrance to Xilbalba (their "hell", or underworld) which indicate exactly what happened, and what they tried to do about it.

Stocks eventually go to zero, and civilizations will collapse.  We want it to be different, but it never is, because our world is very small and finite, and the tribal nature of humans makes it clear that we cannot really learn.   If you really study economics, you discover that it's either Ricardo or Malthus.  We can use the genius of Ricardo to make money and get rich - but we still cannot escape the harsh reality of Malthus.  All science becomes dismal, once the conclusions of the research become clear.

The Game of Economic Life:  You can't win.  You can't even break-even.  And you can't quit the Game until you die, at which point, you lose.     Happy Trails!   :)

[Mar. 06, 2020] - Failed Technology as a Guardian Angel? - This is getting just a little bit crazy.  I mean real, hard-core, late-night-science-fiction movie crazy.   Yesterday, at around 3:20 pm I was starting to think maybe it was time to wade in and buy a bit.  Then, our internet provider lost the whole Province.     --- circuits busy if you called the Xplornet land-line contact number.   FInally, after a few tries, I get thru, and get the message "Province-wide outage...  Technicians are working on it... blah blah blah "

Must have been my Guardian Angel (or Daemon?)  Not sure which.  With no internet, we did no buying.  I think this panic is overdone.  But, Today, the Great Viral Meltdown continues.  Think maybe we better stock up on diesel.  

I'm concerned that this robot-driven market (the 3:30 pm algos all came on, and started bidding...) will do more damage eventually, than any virus ever could.   We run the risk of a machine that can oscillate - with essentially negative damping -  and swing with ever-increasing ampltude, until liquidity is exhausted.

The real question is: Will this viral scare, alter forward-looking behaviour for a long time to come?  It might.   Will we have a future of fear and face-masks?   What is the sound of no hands shaking?   Silence, perhaps? 

 [Mar. 05, 2020] - California Is a State of Emergency, No Question. - California just declared a "State of Emergency".  Well, heck, we *all* knew that.  The Democrats in that State just voted for Bernie "I'm Gonna Tax You Up!" Sanders, the self-declared "socialist".   I'll say that's a "State of Emergency", no question whatsoever.   That State has a real serious emergency going on, except it sure isn't "Coronavirus" - it's mentally-defective, hipsters, dipsters and Hollywood-pornographers who knee-jerk vote socialist.   This movie is called: "Tragedy in the Making."

Socialism basically involves taking your economy out behind the barn, and shooting it in the head.  Americans historically knew the truth of this assertion.   Then something went wrong in California.   Sunstroke, maybe?

When people start to vote for that sort of bonehead-stupid leftist policy choices - then I would say "Yup, you have a real emergency shaping up."

The Demos are seriously trying to pump up Coronavirus fear, it's starting to look like.  They want to capitalize on the US prediliction-to-panic, and try to translate that fear into anti-Trump hysteria.  It might work - but it also might backfire very badly.  The American "Tribe" might decide to rally round it's current, angry, sort-of-a-bad-guy Leader, and start to see the virus - which came from offshore - as exactly the kind of threat that Mr. Trump has been warning about. 

It's a bit awful, really - but in a world where you really might actually have infected hoards of virus-carrying refugee wetbacks literally storming your borders, then suddenly the idea of a big wall, to protect your own Homeland, does not seem so silly.   It actually looks rather proactive & prescient.  Right?  Like the kind of unpopular policy idea that a good Leader should actually be promoting?  It's another example of the weirdly hilarious world we live in now.  Trump looks to have been hard right on this wall idea, and the painfully unwise "Waterholes" of the world, look to have been very, very wrong.  

The more the Democrat agents hype the Coronavirus, "OH MY GOD!  WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!!  (true, actually).  the more likely people are to vote for Trump.   Hilarious.

[PM Update..]  Prep me, 8 to the bar..:  Ok, so CostCo is doing good.  We have not bot the stock.  We just go there and shop like loons.  Today, we took the F-150 and sorta just backed it up, and loaded it up.  Truly comical, really... running around and buying two of everything we liked. Weather was sunny and lovely - like California, but cold.  Parking lot was full.  No one was eating the free samples.  "Hi.  Wow, looks good!  Does that come with Virus?"    I have always really hated shopping - but at Costco, I am like Homer Simpson...  "Wow!  Look at this!  We *need* this!"  and so on.  Ya get to the check out, and it is "Oh sh/t!  Wow... a big number.  Better use the offshore credit card..."  and so on.

Here is the reprint URL from Barrons:   

https://www.barrons.com/articles/costco-february-same-store-sales-earnings-coronavirus-51583445707?siteid=yhoof2&yptr=yahoo

I have to say, I like CostCo.   Just what we need, to survive a viral plague...    Well, that and Amazon and AliExpress.   Curious world.   I mean - California has one single death from the Coronavirus, and they declare a "State of Emergency"?   Jeezuz - what will they do, if they get two or may be three deaths?  Will their heads all explode?   Oh my.  The USA used to be the top-dog nation of righteous BSD's.    We love you guys, and are cheering for ya.   What the heck is going on?  Please stop flying the aircraft into the deck.  Double-Plus Ungood Est.

 [Mar. 04, 2020] - The Great Disruption? - We just got part of a shipment of Chinese electronics, and the stuff is impressive.  The boards seem to work, and they do their magic.   We also tried to source some similar technology from an American firm, and they informed us they no longer manufacture the type of things we wanted.  Curious - but the world is a funny place now.

What I suspect may occur, is that there may be some disruption for those who have profited by disruption.   So much of what is available now, is just crap - designed from the outset to fail, and need to be replaced within a few years.   This is economic madness, and creates an economy that resembles what the Japanese call a "bicycle-business" - the metaphor being a man who has to pedal his bike harder and faster every mile, just to stay where he is, as business conditions are out-racing him, if he slacks off for just a minute.

This is a rat-race.  We call the same phenomenon a "rat-race" - the customers - and the business people are little more than lab-rats is a maze, running for their cheese.  There was even an amusing book written several years back, called "Who Moved My Cheese?", which describes the commercial and personal tragedies of those who fail to react to changing conditions.

What if the net effect of our latest little viral disruption - is a collapse of fragile supply-chains?   I recall the awful feeling of horror I felt, when I first read about "just-in-time" inventory strategies, long years ago.  It seems to me absolute foolishness... literally penny-wise, pound-foolishness.

But, when the world is spinning down, you make the best of whats still around...  :)

We just got notified by an importer, that the very last shipment of something we want, is now available.  The Chinese factory is shutting down production - forever - apparently.  Hmmm.

Excuse me - but I need to order some more stuff.   :D

[Mar. 03, 2020] - First, Do No Harm. - This is the first rule "Doctors" are supposed to learn.  They still have a difficulty with it - as do many other professionals.  Economists are no exception. 

Nothing cries out for "intervention" more than a system that is working right, and doing it's job correctly..  It's just hilarious, really.  We used to have a term for the phenomenon:  "The Fiddle Factor".    Technically clever, well-trained people are especially likely to be victims of this malady.  You would get these guys, who would get a really fine-operating, tuned system put at their disposal.  And rather than just use it to make money, or do their job, or make their lives easier - they would start to futz and fiddle with it, until they broke it.   Myself and others who were often responsible for making complex things work right, would see this kind of strange behaviour happen over and over again.

"The Fiddle Factor:"  A guy (almost always a guy) will start messing and fritzing with something that is working fine and well and flawlessly, until he breaks or ruins it.   I've found lots of descriptions of this process in other domains.  A good one is in a real-estate book, called "Winning Through Intimidation" - which is actually a book about how real-estate agents are able to protect themselves from people who will try and avoid paying the real-estate commission that they had contracted - in writing - to pay, if the agent finds them a deal.    The author asserts that once you have got to a deal, don't mess around with it - since "if you mess with it long enough, you will just break it."   Curious and amusing.   And true.

I can't help feeling that this is what Powell just did with his 50 basis point rate cut.   Why?  Things were working fine.  Now, they are not working so fine - the logic being everyone is saying now: "OMG!  It must be *MUCH* worse than we thought!  Let's lighten up & go to cash. "    And the pro-cycllic, trend-following aglos get tripwired, and wheee! - off we go.   Just know this: "Langdon's Law of Leverage:  "Leverage is large and lubricational when the landscape is lovely - but long-term, it's lethal - like life!"   Or the short version: "Leverage Leads to Large Losses".

Low rates stimulate by encouraging leverage expansion.  And leverage expansion in a fear-driven evironment is both ineffective and profoundly dangerous - if it takes and it works, it will probably just amplify the "cost of collapse".   

Modern folks seriously refuse to accept the profound beauty and delightful benefits of a simple "Steady as She Goes" strategy.  They have not had sufficient experience with real storms.  This is an old problem.  The young-bloods beat the drums and shout for "War Now!"  The old grey-bearded warriors quietly point out that war means burning cities - first those of the enemy, then our own.  Even the bravest will grow sad to see the collapse of their homeland.

The Basic rule of Sickness:  If you are ill, take a rest, relax, slow-down, and recover your strength.  You don't want to try to "stimulate" an economy dealing with sickness.   Sickness needs nurses and doctors and medicine and hospitals - not knee-jerk reactive attempts to push processes that perhaps *should* be dialed down and reduced in intensity so that recovery can occur.

The system was already recovering from it's shock, and the Federal Reserve & unwise government people just threw a gernade into the machine room, and a stink-bomb onto the trading floor.

"...with such little wisdom, the world is governed."   :/

[Mar. 02, 2020] - The Curious Cocktail of Algorithmic Trading and a Fear-Driven Market. - This could be the real killer - or maybe it becomes your "poison of choice?".   We are seeing curiously rapid price adjustments in global markets.  This is not unusual or unexpected.  In fact, this actually shows the health and vitality of our commerical process.   We actually have global markets - and these markets are able to accurately reflect human responses.  The price-discovery mechanism is working, and working well.

And the Chinese response to the Covid-19 virual outbreak is aggressive and looks like it is effective.   We are seeing a lot of things working right.  This is very encouraging, despite the sickness and death that this outbreak has caused.   We are *not* seeing death-rates in the tens of thousands, and we *are* seeing significant numbers of people catch the virus, show mild symptoms, and recover completely.

One has to ask the question:   Is this *really* as bad as it first appeared?  It still might be.  The virus could mutate, and adapt.   Once it gets into Africa, where aggressive Chinese control approaches are not possible, what will we see?  But we have seen Ebola and even that terrible illness in the difficult, hot African environment, has shown that it can be controlled.

So there is cause for some relief here. It's too soon to declare the outbreak over - but it appears that a global outbreak at the level of the 1918 influenza epidemic, is looking less likely.  It would be interesting to know if the seasonal influenza immunization shots will be shown to reduce the likelyhood of catching, or the severity of, the Covid-19 infection.

A curious concern now, is that maybe the serious delta in economic activity, will prove to be the most dangerous phenomenon we face - especially as it is combined with an already exhausted  Central-bank driven stimulation strategy.   Interest-rates pushed below zero, combined with severely disrupted supply chains, risks downshifting global economic activity to the level where pro-cyclic algorithmic investment mechanisms could cause markets to just go crazy.

Crazy markets scare investors, and this could cause a pull-back that could become a real, old-fashioned panic.    Again, we expect this is *very* unlikely - but one has to consider the possibility.

We are not going to see 50% death rates in any nation, I am pretty sure.  Not even 5% - given that we are seeing less than 4% lethality among people already infected with the virus.

But we could see a 50% fall in the markets, and in some measures of business activity.   And this is happening at a time when Central Banks have already pushed their stimulus strategies to the zero-bound limit.  

Leverage may be lethal.   And it may do more damage than the virus, if it knocks great chunks of people from the beginnings of prosperity,  down into real poverty.

Everyone should just maintain careful, effective and measured approaches to what they are doing, and also quietly prepare for disruption.  This event again shows the virtue and necessity of maintaining buffer-stocks. and inventory, and of the need for contingency planning.  

A global market-panic and business-activity collapse, could cause more harm than that spead of the virus itself.  We probably want to all do what we can to guard against this sort of ugly outcome.   Perhaps the professional algorithmic investors could dial-down the pro-cyclic "gun for stops" algos that hard-sell into market declines, and market regulators might want to ask the basic question: "Is computer-driven automatic trading really something we should be allowing?" 

I suspect but cannot prove, that many of the algorithmic strategies that are trend-following, are also driving trend amplification - such that one ends up with a fast market running on "automatic", and that this "automatic" mechanism that results looks an awful lot like the Boeing 737 Max-8 "auto-wheel-push-forward" system that has flown two perfectly good aircraft full of people into the deck.  

A fear-driven market, combined with automatic, trend-enhancing computer-trading machinery, seems like a combo that might a bad idea.  We should *not* close the markets ("circuit-breakers" that halt trading are a really stupid idea, and just prevent V-bottoms from happening), but we also don't want to encourage technological foolishness that can destroy the system.  We all benefit from orderly, fair market operation.   We are seeing more and more examples of our modern technology delivering pathological results.  We should identify & fix this nonsense.

Also: Go out and buy something.   Seriously.   Now is a good time to buy something made in China.  We've been ordering electronics, and will probably purchase a new computer, made by Lenovo.  It sounds comical, but it might be true:  Go shopping, and save the world.   :)

[Mar. 01, 2020] - We Knew American Technology Could Not be Trusted.  But Swiss Also? - Anyone who has studied the details of the Intel "AMT" technology (embedded in most Intel CPU chips), or researched the exfiltration features of Apple iPhone, knows that modern American computer technology is not secure.  This is by design.

But the details of the Swiss "Rubicon Project" - in which a corrupted "Swiss" firm - Crypto AG - sold deliberately compromised "Encryption machines" to national governments - which had in-built American "back-doors" - has finally become a public news item.  Folks in the so-called "Intelligence community" knew about this scam for years - just like folks in Canada know that "Project Blarney" and the Ottawa-based "Communications Research Establishment"  has been monitoring and recording all USA-originating overseas telephone calls since the 1970's.  We do it here, and give the recordings to the Americans, because it is technically not  illegal for us to wiretap other nations's communication.  A court-order is of course required to wiretap our own domestic communication - but active wiretaps of  non-Canadian communication is not illegal under Canadian Law.  This sophistry was used to allow the wiretapping restrictions to be circumvented by US spy agencies.  They do ours, we do their's.  Datasets move back and forth.  This should be illegal, of course - and maybe it will be soon.  It will be eventually, if the Americans don't stop being dishonst, murdering gangster thugs.

What was not as well know, was the scam of the Swiss "Crypto" company, which was secretly owned by the CIA and German spy-agency sub-company entities.   The result of this black project ("Project Rubicon", it was known as), allowed national governments and others, to acquire what they thought were secure communication technology - for government and national/legal communication - which in fact had explicit in-built "backdoors" that allowed American (and other, unknown entities) to decode and read - completely - all the supposedly encrypted government diplomatic and other messages.  The Swiss, and their customers - got hacked & fucked - badly.

I've quietly warned friends and clients who cared about "security of communication" for many years that *any* communication carried out on any American-made communication technology, is almost certainly compromised - or at least is subject to being compromised - ie. decrypted and read completely.  This is the mandate of the NSA and the CIA, and they are very effective at operationalizing this mandate.   And the Snowden slideshows proved this to be true, beyond any doubt whatsoever.

But  the news has finally come out that the Swiss technology was also hacked-over and worthless.   Ever since the details of Tuttle's work on "Tuney" became public, and the details of the "Colosus" decrypts became public knowledge - most folks figured out that just about anything can be hacked - even the PGP/GPG stuff, if you have access to the private keys.  And you can get that, just by exfiltration efforts on whatever device is going to be used to read the message.  If the "target" can read it - then the "spy-guy" can read it.   

There is no security of electronic communication.  There just isn't .  People should understand this truth, and deal with this reality.   In some ways, this little news item, shows the existence of a threat that exceeds the level of the coronavirus.   Accept the truth of this or not.  Nothing made in America - and probably most of the rest of the world - can really be trusted to be secure.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-swiss-spying-crypto/switzerland-files-criminal-complaint-over-crypto-spying-scandal-idUSKBN20O1VD

[Feb. 29, 2020] - What if Our WCS is Too Modest? - A good analyst always considers things.  And a good trader/speculator - even more so -  is always edit-checking his/her own results against both sanity and reality.  This is both difficult and of critical importance.   Based on the 1918 Flu Epidemic, I've assumed a worst-case scenario (WCS) global die-back of 205 million (based on a 2.77% overall epidemic lethality in 1918).   And what with modern methods of diagnosis and treatment, maybe we cut that number by half - so 100 million dead, as a maximum, worst-case estimate is what remains.  And that was my absolute worst-case scenario for a Coronavirus plague.

But what if this is just plain wrong?  What factors could make it wrong?  What if the 6 standard-deviation worst-case event-cost in this case, is actually much higher?    Could it be 500 million?  Could it be a billion?  Could it be more?  Most of the extreme-scenario population-blooms and rapid-diebacks - typical of insect populations, for example - are probably not applicable to mammals or humans, based on radically different fecundity rates (human females do not have 5000 live offspring, like insects are capable of), and insect and other rapid blooming / rapid declining populations (red-tides, plankton or algae blooms) are also usually taken down by having outstripped their food supply.  Again, not likely applicable to human populations - at least not for quite a while yet.  So you just can't take the animal population models and the ecology models, and apply them to human populations.  Humans react and respond.  Humans change things.  They adapt and adjust, and they typically do so pretty quickly.

But that does not mean that global population might not get hit badly.  Lack of evidence is not evidence of lack. 

See, I am pretty sure that - grim and scary as it may sound - we, the citizens of Earth here - could quite comfortably handle a 200 million-person epidemic-driven dieback.  It would be a bad time for a while - but it would not really change things too much.  Our economic and political institutions would survive.   It is actually - honestly - a shock we could absorb without too much dislocation or economic trauma.   So, I looked at this as the worst-case possible scenario for the Covid-19 coronavirus.  We might see another 10 or even 20 percent drop in the global equity markets - but again, this would be manageable and not really change things too much - it would be painful - but it would be something we could all track thru, and come out the other side of, without really too much changing.

But if we lost 1 or 2 billion from the global population, say within the next three years -  that would be a quite different scenario.  That scenario could - and probably would - seriously change things.  We would have a very different world, and selling into these falling markets, and using the funds to acquire facilities to mitigate the costs of living in that different world - that is not irrational behaviour, one could argue. 

Now, let me be clear - I do *not* expect this at all.  This is extremely unlikely.  But I began to wonder if maybe the probability of this kind of hyper-extreme scenario might not be zero.  

Should we peg the absolute worse-case scenario for a modern plague at more than 200 million dead?  China could absorb 20 million dead without much change in anything other than their growth rate.  But 200 million dead in just China alone - that would really change things.  If a death rate like that, was matched with maybe another 300 to 500 million virus-caused deaths outside of China, then we might have a different world result.  And if the number of deaths reaches into the billions - what then?   How much changes then?  Quite a lot, no doubt. 

There actually are examples of something like this, we can look at.  The "Black Death" in Europe, which began in the late 1340's, and lasted for almost a decade, was something at this level.  Some estimates suggest 60 percent of the European population was killed.  Entire towns and surrounding farming settlements were completely wiped out.  Urban populations fell in half - or worse.  Death was everywhere, and this fact is reflected in the artwork of the period. 

The historical record exists, and it can be consulted.

Explicit, detailed, eyewitness accounts in many areas describe death rates so high, that it became difficult to bury the bodies.   Mass graves were dug - but the few remaining who were strong enough to work, did not dig very deep, and animals typically dug up the shallow graves and feasted on the rotting corpses - perhaps contributing to the spread of the lethal bacteria.

Again, let me be very clear - I do not at all expect anything of this magnitude from the Coronavirus.  But it is interesting that there is a detailed, confirmable, well-documented example in the historical record, of an epidemic death-rate that exceeded 50% of a very large, trans-national population.  

And what this tells me - as a scientist and an economist - is that perhaps a "worst-case" scenario of 200 million dead from a globe-spanning virual plague, is perhaps too low.   We could absorb a 200-million-deaths scenario without too much changing.  But a global death-rate scenario that even does only *half* the level that the "Black Death" did in Europe in the 1350's -  would take us to greater than 2 billion dead - and this would almost certainly cause profound and signifcant changes in economics and political organization, for those who survive.

But we don't expect this.  We added to our positions on Friday.   No dancing with Mr. D just yet... ðŸ˜Ž

[Feb. 28, 2020] - Fel Temp Reparatio - This means: "Happy Times will Return", I think.  It's the inscription on an ancient Roman coin I acquired.  The image shows a Roman soldier, armed with a long lance, spearing a Persian invader, who is mounted on a horse - and the using a magical new invention - the "stirrup", which gives the horse-rider (calvary soldier), a pretty big advantage, especially if he want to shoot an arrow from a bow, or swing a sword while in motion.

But the Roman emperor was suggesting: "No problem, we will triumph.  Happy times will return."  The coin was made in Cyzicus, I believe, which is now in modern-day Turkey.  And this was the "Eastern" Roman Empire - which was actually a long way from the city of Rome.

Will happy times return for us?  Or are we on the cusp of a meltdown of biblical proportions?  I suspect we won't be blowing up the world just yet.  We've added to two different positions, since stocks are getting pretty cheap. 

[Feb. 27, 2020] - Nexus of the Crisis - And the Origin of Storms?  Not sure about that, but we are all certainly standing with our feet in it.  We remain long, and will be adding to positions, if this continues.  The obvious response here by State Authorities will be to introduce more inflation-making strategies - push out free money and such - but it is not possible to drive interest rates much lower, without really messing up the operation of the financial system. 

Negative rates will just beat the stuffing out of savers and rational investors, and degrade the operational characteristics of money itself.  We are already at the point were there is danger of damage being done to the fundamental economic model, from too-much-for-tool-long "stimulus".

But since governments are pretty much out of economic ammo here, I suspect they will continue to do what they know how to do.  No one ever changes their models in mid-stream, do they?

Like when Admiral Doenitz had that meeting, where he and his top staff knew the U-Boat war was lost, and they had a meeting to decide what they should do.  As good, courageous military fellows, they decided to keep on with campaign, even though their information-channels all made it very clear, that their cause was hopeless, and Germany would lose the war.  People almost never reverse or even much alter course, during a crisis.   And this leads me to remain long, even as our losses mount, since the reactive-response will likely be one of further "stimulus" application.   What else can governments do?  People are born, they live, and then they die.  But capital can move from generation to generation, and with luck and careful management, it can even grow.

It is the economy, and human economic freedom, that brings prosperity and power to a nation and a people.   And stimulus works, and so does economic freedom.  The governments of the world will have no choice but to maintain or enhance monetary and other forms of stimulus.

The Great Flu Epidemic, ("Spanish Flu" and other such names), was serious.  It took out between 20 and 50 million people worldwide - but we don't know for sure, since there were inadequate public health records.  Both my grandparents had it - and each almost died.  My father related how they survived only because first one got sick, and then recovered a bit, before the other fell seriously ill - so sick and weak, they were unable to even move for several days.  Each nursed the other back to health.   What happens, is that your lungs fill with fluid, and you have to keep coughing - violently - to remove the fluid, else you die from lack of air.  If you don't get sufficient nutrients, during a terrible virual lung infection, you weaken so much, than you cannot maintain respiration - you don't have sufficient strength to continue breathing.

The lungs fill with fluid, as this is the immune-system response that the body uses, so it can be effective in killing the invading virus particles in lung airways.  The new Covid-19 coronavirus is particularly nasty, since the glycoproteins on the end of it's "corona" filaments, have a clever trick that involves part of the cell-binding protein swinging like a door on a hinge.  This makes the Covid-19 virus about 10 to 20 times *more* effective at binding to the ACE-2 cell material that it links to (technically: Receptor Binding Domain), than the SARS virus was.  The new Coronavirus is both more contagious and more lethal than SARS or MERS was, as a result.  [Data from article in Science.  I'll post URL link later]

But the 1918 Flu, gave way to the runaway 1920's.   After a big plague, and a high dieback rate, you typically get an economic boom.   But beware - global population could be hit with a dieback of 50 to 100 million from this virus, and percentage-wise, this death rate might still be lower than that of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic. 

So, here is the back-of-the-envelope analysis:  50 million out of a 1918 global population of 1.8 billion, imples a 2.77% rate of dieback, and if we apply the same 2.77 percent kill-rate to our world with an 7.4 billion global population, then we get a total number killed of 205 million.  Let's say new technology, plus modern public health strategies cut that 50%, maybe we only get 100 million, tops.  But that number will be disruptive, I suspect.  

Stay cool, and stay safe.

[Feb. 26, 2020] - Nos Tempestate Detentus Est - ...

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5BmEGm-mraE

[Feb. 25, 2020] - Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition - It is good that the Chinese are learning to tell the truth, and openly publish reasonably accurate numbers about things.  Their President Xi has admitted the country is "in crisis", and it is.  This honesty is a good and wise thing, and will probably save them.  Now, if they can just learn the concept of a "Loyal Opposition".   This is a rather curious and quite difficult concept for Asians to accept and understand.  It really is one of the really great, genius inventions of the world, like the "Wheel" and the "Clock" and Arabic numbers and electricity and nuclear energy.  

Most people have real trouble with this concept - that you can be aggressively in opposition to the actions of the current government - yet retain a fierce loyalty to the legalistic, structural characteristics of your government and it's process and praxis.   Like all really world-changing inventions, this one was discovered by accident.  The Brits had had a really ugly civil war, and a bunch of religious fanactics had taken over the government.  Once these god-lie promoters and "pikers" had finally been defeated, the brother of the murdered King, was asked if he wanted to come over to London, and be the "King of the Briton's." 

Imagine the conversation! - "Yo ho, Charles!  How would you like to come over to lovely London, and be our King?"  Charles probably replied something like: "Why don't you fuck off?  You cut off my brother's head, and put it on a 50-foot pole, outside of your corrupt "Parliament".  Just go the fuck away"   To which our good Representative might have said:  "Oh we are terribly sad about tthat.  It was the other guy's that did that - those crazy religious nutjobs who don't believe in drinking or dancing or having any fun.   We're going to send them all to the "New World", where they can freeze and starve and die."

Charles: "Ok, so then you will take my brother's head down from that pole, and give his corpse a proper burial, with State honours, and apologize for the rude actions of your insane fellow countrymen?"    English Representative:  "Oh yes, of course.  And we want you to be our King.  You can do whatever you want.   The only restriction is that the *new* Parliament, will control all the money, and the taxing authority.  We put one of our science-guys in charge of the gold and mint and the coining of money and such.  But you can be King of the People! "

Charles: "Your people are mostly poor, almost all crazy, drink too much, like to fight *way* too much, tell really awful jokes and are quite astonishingly sinful and sexually-excited much of the time...."  English Representative: "Well, yes, that's true...."   Charles: "Well, Ok.  Sure, I'll be your King.  Sound's like fun, actually...!"

And so, the "Restoration" happened.  And from all historical accounts, it was a fine and good thing - except that London burned down - but there is a true story, of the King, right out there in the streets, helping the fire-fighters and the citizens of London, work to contain and put out the fire.   Oh, and there was a plague also, and a lot of people died.

But this curious and unique idea was born - since the English Parliament - which now had to actually argue and debate and decide how the taxes would be levied, and the money spent, and the affairs of the country managed - found itself with a new freedom of action.  But with freedom, comes responsibility to make things happen in some sort of sensible and effective way.   Political groups - real actual representatives from real actual different groups of people in the country, had to figure out how to get stuff done.  They created a real, working democracy, where the different groups would all say how loyal they were to the King - as the representative and personification of the English nation - but they would shout and scream at each other in the House, as they debated about *money* - like most people typically do.

And so, the concept of Political Parties was born, and these "Parties" (a legal term, actually), could honestly insist they were absolutely loyal to the King, but in fierce disagreement with what the "Government" was trying to do.  And in order to prevent fist-fights in Parliament, it was necessary to establish "Rules of Order", so that fighting could be done with words and ideas, instead of fists and swords.  

Now this crazy model for running a Nation actually works pretty good.  It's not great, and in times of war or great crisis - a leader can still assume emergency power - but not forever.  And the use of "elections" to select the various representatives that would go to Parliament, turned out to be a really good idea, since it meant that different ideas from different groups, could be actively discussed and debated, and this allowed the possibility that sometimes, a wise and sensible decsion could be made.  It didn't always happen.  But it raised the probability that  in the fierce debates in Parliament, someone might actually have a good idea, and this good idea could have a chance to become national policy, and be implemented.

The King was left free to have a bit of fun, and, as it turns out, so was the nation and the people.  The English "Restoration" was the event that let the modern world be created, and also allowed a tiny, bankrupt nation like England rise quickly in wealth, status and power, and pretty much dominate the world.  Freedom - especially economic freedom - turns out to be a *really* good idea.  

But you really *need* that idea of a "Loyal Opposition" - like in a Law Court, where each side can be fierce in it's arguments and can pull forth facts that surround disputed events.  The Judge and/or the Jury, get to hear as much information and as many interpretations, as they can.   This improves the chances that the Rashamon-problem can be avoided - where everyone only see's what their own beliefs let them see.  You really need an adversarial process, to have any real chance of learning the truth, when facts are in dispute, and people disagree.  But if you can get to the truth, then you raise up the chance that  a wise decision can be taken.

They have figured this out in Taiwan.   And it sort-of works in Japan.   Now it is China's turn.  It's important for every national government to see that criticism - especially from patriots loyal to the nation - is part of a nation's *strength*.  A "Loyal Opposition", debating government policy in an open Parliament of elected representatives, following fair "Rules of Order", makes for a strong, free, and prosperous people, who can weather any crisis and survive any storm.

[Comic-Relief Editorial:  Just learned what those weird Romanji glyphs "[RoHS]" that I kept seeing on my electronics orders mean: "Restriction of Hazardous Substances"!   (More stupid Euro-Nazi nonsense, of course!)   I laughed so hard.  Guess that means I might start having trouble ordering the purex I need for the reactor, eh?...  :)    Oh, heck.  How will we keep the cyclotron and the time-portal running?   But seriously, are we not going just a little too far here?  I made rocket-fuel, nitrogen tri-iodide, nitro-celluose, and about 10 other interesting compounds - to launch our rockets with - when I was a tiny child.  We used raw mercury, potassium nitrate and a ton of other stuff that probably even adults can't acquire today.  We took precautions, and understood about dangerous stuff.   What a silly world now.   The "Safety Nazis" are killing us, really.  Kids are supposed to be able to experiment with dangerous stuff.  We all are.  Much better, for us to restrict "socialist politicians", than lead solder!   :D  The key is to dispose of it correctly, not just ban the ability to access it.  

https://www.weasyl.com/~tiido/submissions/1031734/cat-month-fuck-rohs-8-31  ]

[Feb. 24, 2020] - Quantitative Sneezing, Coughing, Weezing... - Trump is in India.  Markets are in the toilet.  Optimists are in denial.  World is in trouble.   Or maybe not - but we all might have a rough ride for a spell. 

Corona virus looks like it has now been spread thru Toronto, due to absense of any quarantine efforts here - near as I can tell.  News reports indicate a women arrived from China, at Toronto Airport on Feb. 21st, and went to a hospital, with a bad cough. She tested positive to COVID-19, so Toronto is now infected, it looks like.  I can't get the total virus numbers for Canada, and we have no real medical services in many areas now, since we have a truly awful "socialist" health-care model here.  If you can't get yourself to a clinic (there really are very frew that even have doctors now)  or a hospital emergency room - then you can just f**k-off and die, is pretty much how it works here.    Unless you have had a heart-attack, and are unconcious, or dead on the floor, there is really little in the way of medical options for us here.   This is generally a good thing, as avoiding doctors tends to keep people healthy.   But in times of plague and such, this might not be that wise.   

There used to be "family doctors" - but now, there aren't any - or the few that do exist, don't really see patients - they mostly focus on in-office strategies that allow them to invoice the Provincial Health Insurance scheme, and do very little real hands-on "doctoring".   This is really different than what it used to be, back before "medicare-for-all" was introduced here.   Once we got "free" health care, the doctors *all* stopped making any sort of house-calls.  So what we have now is a "denial-of-service" health-care model.  It creates the "illusion" of medical services, without anyone actually having to deal with or even really, touch - sick people.  It's pretty funny, really.

So, people just get sick and then die at home now.   And thus for us, the coronavirus really won't make much difference, since we are all pretty much used to not having any access to doctors or medical care outside of the crowded, virus-infested hospitals.   In the hospitals in Ontario and Quebec, they have had this nasty, recurring viral infection called "C-difficult" - because, hey, it is a difficult infection to get rid of.    As the doctors (and others) make their rounds from patient-to-patient in the crowded hospitals, they transmit the virus from one person to the next.  This is really true, I am not kidding.  It is so awful here, it's just a comedy-show.   But the folks who actually survive and grow up in Canada, have pretty strong immune systems, as a consequence!  :)

Folks in many parts of the Third World actually get better health care, and have more effective access to medical services, than we now do in many parts of Canada.  It's really strange - but in a black-comedy kind of way.  I could write 50 pages on how useless and ineffective our socialist health-care model is - but it's just wasted effort.  Just try not to catch the coronavirus.  It looks like it's a pretty fierce virus, and the associated pnemonic reaction (lungs fill with fluid, as the body tries to defeat the invader), is very serious, and you will probably need oxygen, just to breathe.  Good luck.

And keep your sense of humor.   Remember, no matter how bad it gets...  it can always get worse!   But at some point, it can't get worse.  And very soon after that point, nothing will matter at all.   So, as Warren Zevon pointed out, make sure you enjoy every sandwich.      :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hl9Tw2GzvA

[Feb. 23, 2020] - Printer's Devil - We can print from the Z80.  Got a couple of little BASIC programs working that can accept input from, and write output to, the 2nd serial port on the Z80 correctly now, by looking at the status of the control-port for the serial port.  This lets serial communication work at *much* faster speeds, without the data being scrambled or overrun. With this fix, I can drive a printer correctly from the Z80.

Posted video of the Z80 "NorthStar" board at top, showing the little computer accepting a "matrix definition runfile" as input, doing a matrix multiply, and writing out a product matrix to an old-school mechanical "Diablo" daisywheel printer.  ( "Diablo" means "Devil" in Spanish..)

Devil printing history:  Printing has always had *sinister* connotations and associations.  The term "Printer's Devil" has various meanings - from describing daemons that haunted print-shops (and created typographic errors), to the workers themselves.  Lead type, when no longer usable, was thrown into the "hellbox", to be melted down, and re-cast.  The first book printed when the first printing presses were invented - was the Bible, since it sold well, and for high prices.  But this action disrupted (broke completely, actually) the monopoly of the Catholic Church, and Bible-printing was at first characterized as a sinful act. 

Printing was the *internet* of the Middle Ages - and was partly responsible for creating the modern world.  In the early 1400's, the best estimates suggest there were at most 30,000 books in Europe.  Scriptoriums were kept locked.  By 1500 (the printing press was invented around 1450), best estimates suggest there were between 8 and 9 *million* books in existence in Europe.   If you had any money, you had a library, as knowledge - combined with wise action - could bring wealth, power, influence and success - just like it does to this day.   The Devil may or may not wear Prada, but he (or she?) will probably have a printer.  And so will the Priest, the Vicar, the General and the Politician.    :)

[Feb. 21, 2020] - Beware the Rate of Change of Change - Don't get killed by a 2nd derivative.  And if you're in school, make sure to go to *all* your math classes - and really *learn* your math and science and philosophy.  Hack with it and play with it, and mess with it, until you make it your own thing, and understand it like Gauss and Newton did.   Oh, and the best advice you will ever get: "Go to the Original Source!"  Avoid stuff written by lightweights, and shun textbooks if you can.  Try to get your hands on original work, written by people who changed things.  Look for the baseline, canonical documents on any topic you have to master.  You will learn and progress much faster, than if you try to read "textbooks".  Know the truth of this.

See, that original stuff will be written by people who really want to be understood.  They want their new idea to be looked at, so they write clearly.  Later "derivative" publications will be written by people who want to impress everyone with how clever they are, so they will bury their trivial ideas under a mountain of dense, incomprehensible data-vomit, so they look wise, and get tenure.   Arrogant lightweights *alway* get tenure, because they are politically astute, and easy to control, so organizations of any kind like them, since they make compliant, obedient servants.

But your task, is to become a master, not a servant.   But realize of course, that the best course of teaching for a master, is to first be a helpful, and effective servant.  It's a paradox.  In the military, they carefully teach young lads, that before you can *give* orders, you first have to learn to *take* orders.   For this modern generation of "little emperors", this is a difficult course of study, no question.    And the "times they are a changin' ... back!"   :)

[Feb. 20, 2020] - Steam Punk Tech - Real Steam-Punk tech here - "Rustic Doings", perhaps as Hamlet would say... Tried to buy some old memory chips on a stick yesterday - the modern ones are DDR3 and such - several gigabytes per small board - but the one I wanted was 128 megabytes - which is actual called "SDR", which is a generation before DDR1.  Truly hilarious.  The lad at the computer store was so impressed - that he took a picture of my "Bad" memory board with his iPhone.  I suppose it's like being a salesguy at a GM dealer, back in the late '80's - and some guy comes in with a 1959 Corvette, and wants to get some parts for the fuel-injection system.

It's interesting how stuff is designed to fail now - nothing is supposed to last beyod five years.  If we do get into on of these apocolypse scenarios, and world trade collapeses, and supply-chains all break - then older technology - the stuff you can fix yourself, or build yourself with a soldering iron - will become very fashionable, no doubt.  

It might not be "Ghost Fleet" at all.  Maybe the future will be more like the "Mary Celeste".   :)

But I think not.  And yet, with a wind-generator, and some solar-panels, I'll be able to spool up the lithium-ion cells on the Cybertruck, and visit the local merchant - who will probably use .223 primers as currency, if he (or she?) is not using gold-backed Bitcoin.  We'll need some materiel to take with us, when we go to visit our friends who live near the edge of the "Chicago Crater".   ff we're lucky, we'll get coverage from the "Elonet" most of the way, so we can monitor sitreps, and avoid any serious roverpack flash-clusters along the way.  

Oh got to mention this - so retro-cool:   I built "C-Kermit" from source, which is still available from Columbia University - bravo guys.  It's really bloody good software - it even has "ssh" which surprised me.  Here is a cool trick.  Hack the "makefile", and if building for Linux (why would you *not* be?), find the block with label "linuxa:", which is standard, generic Linux.  Insert in the string of compiler-flags for "cc" the parameter:  "-DNOUUCP \"  (the backslash just means you put this on it's own line, the "\" is the line=continuation character, of course).

Anyway, the "-DNOUUCP" compiler flag says to build "C-Kermit" without the UUCP and other LOCKFILE stuff, so you can use C-Kermit for simultaneous access to the serial device (typically something like "/dev/ttyS1" or maybe "/dev/ttyS0" and such).  This way, you can use a shell-script or a Fortran program or whatever, to send something to the serial port, and *also" have a C-Kermit session-window running, so you can watch the action using Kermit.  If you are connecting to a Raspberry Pi, or an Arduino or even perhaps a "NorthStar Z80" (**SELF PROMOTE!!!**), then you can avoid the nonsense of "lockfiles", which are used in multi-user environments, to prevent multiple users grabbing the serial port.  (Are there *any* multi-user environments left anywhere?  Everything is virtual Docker boxes of AWS drecksites, right? Meh.)

C-Kermit is actually an amazingly good program - way better and more useful, than "minicom" and "screen" and such.  Go forward, avoid the "cloud", and stay in control of yer own stuff!

Like that line from the "CannonBall Rally" - "What'sa behind me, don't matter!"   :D

[Feb. 17, 2020] - Soft Where? - Gentlemen, we can rebuild him!  Make him *better* than he was!.  (Well, maybe not..)  But we do have the Z80 NorthStar working with BASIC in the ROM now, and so you can just switch the board on, and enter "B" on the "terminal", and you get to the interpreter!  So, we now have an educational tool that really works!  :)

[Feb. 15, 2020] - Murder Games.  There is a video of the immediate aftermath of the American drone strike that killed Iranain General Soleimani, and Iraqi military leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and four other people.  It makes chilling viewing, and looks like any other ugly, violent terrorist attack - burning wreckage, flames, the smashed parts of automobiles and body panels - as well as human body parts - all lying on a highway leading into town from a modern, international airport.

This story dropped from the news-cycle pretty quickly, given the nature of the American media - but I was impressed that the video was recently aired on Japanese TV, by their national broadcaster.  

We make a grave mistake by censoring violent images.  Hollywood profits from the pornography of violence, but the true images and sounds of violence - the Chicago "St. Valentines Day Massacre", or the drone strike that killed Soliemani, or the audio recordings of Khashoggi being carved up by the Saudi Government Agents - show us what "gangsterism" really looks like.   It is ugly and grotesque - and remarkably common.  But it reaches its most impressive extreme, when State actors are the authors of the horror.

Private folks can only kill so many - but State agents can kill millions.  And they can sanitize their crimes with effective media lies and clever, scientifically designed propaganda.

It is important that people see and study propaganda - they need to see why and how it can be so remarkably effective.  The American "Justice" Department charges Chinese technology company Huawei with "racketeering" - under a legal definition and law designed to stop violent gangsters - but ignores the appalling crimes of pre-meditated murder, carried out by it's own State agents - and explicitly authorized by it's corrupt and deeply dishonest President.   This is so astonishing and amazingly awful, it is almost comical.  "The Trump Show!" - and the tag-line: "You're Killed!"

Why would any nation, anywhere, allow an American military base to exist on it's territory?   The answer to that question is pretty simple.  When you have a gun pointed at your head by cruel gangsters, with a proven history of extreme violence - you generally comply with the requests that are made, yes?  

Is America just a "gangster nation" now?   It is becoming difficult to see it as really very much less.  They have these law schools, and there are people who talk and write about "law" and there are lots of court-rooms and many people in jail.  But the truth of America and the history of America - is violence, and violent, murderous armed conflict with just about everyone, everywhere.   War and murder have defined the USA, more than anything.  Americans are a nation of effective and determined killers.   But they still have laws, don't they?

But any good scientist and historian has to ask the question:  What generally happens to nations of this sort?   How long can warfare and violence sustain and maintain you?

See, if America can argue - and it now does - that it has the legal right to commit targeted murder of people in foreign lands, as part of it's "defense",  then this legal right has to extend to the nations whose citizens have been attacked and killed by American military and other American State agents.   They must also have the legal right to defend themselves against American murder machines.  And the nature of their "defense" has to be equally far-reaching.

There actually is such a thing as "International Law", although some might argue that this is nonsense - that there is no law between nations - and that the "world is a dangerous back alley", as one specialist characterized it to me.   But since the First World War, international law has been asserted as being a real thing.

But whether by law - and "rules" of IAC ("International Armed Conflict") - or simply by the more basic philosophical principle of "what works for you, can work for me also", the murder of Soleimani and al-Muhandis sets a profoundly dangerous situation in motion.

By the rules of IAC, by law, and by principles of natural justice (Simply: "If you reach out and put six of mine in the morgue, I will do the same, or greater"), it seems pretty clear, that targeted strikes on American military and Government officials are now legal and appropriate actions for nations engaged in "defense" to undertake.    HIstorically, this sort of targeted killing is characterized as "terrorism".  But as a scientist and social analyst, one has to see it is just not possible to call it "terrorism" any more.  There is no intent to terrorize.  There is no focus on public opinion or even a sense of anger.   This is now seen as simple "defense".    You kill the other guy's top people as a simple, planned, cold-blooded strategic objective, without any desire or intent to create a sense of "terror" anywhere.

Now this is a problem.    This is a very bad idea, for very many reasons, and it is why Kings and Leaders throughout history, have avoided killing each other, and even avoided killing the family members of the "royal"  top people.  The Romans understood this, the Kings and leaders of Europe understood this, and even the Nazis respected the international laws around the treatment of downed airmen during World War Two.

Let me be clear here:  Trump crossed a very big, and very wide "Rubicon", when he ordered the killing of Soleimani.  Two outcomes are possible:  1) He is a murderer, and by all that is lawful, he should face a charge of murder in open court.  Or 2) This was a legal act of "defense" by America, despite it taking place in Iraq.

But if number 2) above is really true, then the same right - and perhaps even the same legal obligation - has to be accorded to Iran.  That nation has to have the same legal right of defense, and perhaps even an obligation, to "defend" itself, by taking equivalent action against senior Americans, of similar rank and status, or against anyone it deems a clear and present threat to it's national security.  

And what is interesting, is that the "rules of armed conflict" and "international law' (if such a thing really exists), make some sort of Iranian "defensive" action, virtually "mandatory", if the second option indicated above, really is true.

I don't believe the second option is true.  And if that is the case, then Mr. Trump is as guilty of murder as Al Capone was.

If Trump travels outside of the USA, then I look forward to his arrest for the crime of murder.

The alternative, is a world where assassination and "targeted killings" become standard operating procedure.  We will have defeated "terrorism", and replaced it with something that is very much worse.

Trump needs to be prosecuted for the crime of murdering Iranian General Soleimani.  He may be acquitted again, but the prosecution should be undertaken.  The alternative is to establish an absolute legal foundation for targeted assassination as a legal and legitimate political tool, under the rules of armed conflict.  If this occurs, then the world tracks forward to an almost certain mass-conflict.

There is even a much more sinister potential outcome here.  We track far forward in time, and a significant assault is successfully undertaken by the World, against what is seen as a violent, corrupt and degraded America.  The future historians write it all up - with the 9/11 attacks seen as a correct beginning to the necessary efforts to take down and destroy the violent "Monster" of America.  The whole beautiful American experiment ends in complete failure, and the North American land-mass is pock-marked with curious, "no-go" zones of rancid lakes, a strange unhealthfulness, and many mutated and deformed creatures.

Mr. Trump's unwise actions, may be programming the perfect future American nightmare.

[Feb. 14, 2020] - Watching the Failure & Fraud of American "Justice".   Wow, the United States "Justice"  Department is a deeply broken organ.  They are basically just making shit up now, and throwing it at the world, to see if anything will stick.   They look like a bunch of desperate, evil clowns.  It's really sad to see.   They are acting like abusive, political gangsters.

Don't take my word for it.  Google the name of the fatboy that now runs the place, and the first hit that had any information that was not puffery and flag-waving, was this:

https://www.justsecurity.org/68422/william-barr-a-failed-attorney-general-unfit-to-serve/

"Unfit to serve".  Sorta says it all, no?  It's not like it's just us folks in Canada saying this.   Barr says he won't be bullied.  Well, listen up, fatboy:  The Whole Rest of the World feels pretty much the same way about the "Justice" Department that you work for.  We are growing very tired of American bullies.  Why the don't you just resign and go golfing or something?

What would Ben Franklin say, if he could see the clown-show of fraud and failure that is Washington now?  Trump is bad, the Democrats are even worse, and the old, noble US Institutions that were meant to safeguard and protect an emerging Nation with grand ideals and great plans, have been subverted by vicious political hacks, bent on assault and revenge, and little else. 

[Feb. 12, 2020] - The Machinery of Freedom is Broken. - Oh my - I watched Bernie Sanders win New Hampshire, and Chuck Schumer have kittens because Trump tweats about the put-up job against Roger Stone.   The US "Justice" Department is rather like the "Ministry of Truth", isn't it?   It seems to be a place where political hacks generate injustice, doesn't it?    The whole US government-legal apparatus seems to look a lot like that Saudi Hit Squad that murdered Khashoggi.  They just go after people, and try to take them down - for political reasons.  Trump was right - the sentance of 9 years for Stone was crazy harsh and abusively outrageous - but so is much of the other nonsense that the American Government-Legal machinery doing.

The idiotic and illegal arrest of the daughter of the founder of Huawei - and the Company's Chief Financial Officer -  at the Vancouver Airport in December 2018, is another example of the  *very bad behaviour* by the US "Justice" Department.   Because we have a deeply unfortunate and rather poorly written Extradition Treaty with the Americans, and because we actually and really are a "Rule of Law" country here, we had to assist in the arrest of Meng Wanzhao.  

A politically-motivated "Airport Arrest" of someone like this is clearly and explicitly contrary to Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms that protects private citizens from this sort of abusive Government political practice.   And it is sad, and deeply embarrassing to the World, that our little Mr. Trudeau, does not simply demand that she be released.  He argues he cannot interfere in the actions of the Courts, but there are many actions he could take to correct this nasty and abusive action that the political *Hit Squads* of the US Justice Department have taken.

The American Government - under both Trump and Obama - seems determined to lick the boots of the Saudi murder-men, and give active assistance to the racist and abusive criminal Israeli's in their missions of conquest and violence - and not even the American political leaders can stop this drift towards tragedy and foolishness. 

And this is because the real power in America, exists inside it's corrupt and abusive institutions and the machinery of it's political organs in Washington.    This of course, is a governance problem in every nation.  Faceless, nameless angry and powerful men (and women) inside powerful institutions, take aim at political foes, or are players in a shadow-game of political cat-kill-mouse, and they can reach out with their stiff little fingers, and hurt and degrade anyone they want.  

Every nation has this problem - because all really *evil* decisions are made in Committee, like the "Wannsee Conference" cleverly illustrated.

And the clever political leaders are thus given cover, and can maintain "plausable deniability" - and honestly say they did not really know what was going on.

I think it's time this shit stopped.   It's easy to fix software and hardware that does not work right.  But we all have to work a bit harder at our tasks, when the wetware of the World, is so badly broken.  

And I don't think that Bernie Sanders, or even Mr. Trump himself are going to be much use in getting this job done.     Real, and honest, active reform, is needed.  The powerful, deep, secret and abusively illegal groups and organs operating within the State Agencies and apparatus of Government machinery, need to be removed, and the Machinery of Freedom, repaired. 

[Feb. 11, 2020] - The Fix for Git. - Ah, got it.  As mentioned, the "Git" client was not working on my older, home-built, custom Linux, which runs on various 32-bit boxes and laptops.  I figured out why, and made the fix.  Git client does not use "Wget" to scarf data from websites, it uses "curl", and the curl on the 32-bit boxes was version 7.20, and was using OpenSSL 0.9.8.  I got the very latest Git and "curl", and build the "curl" using GnuTLS, instead of OpenSSL 1.1.0x, since OpenSSL was still trying to link against the old version, it seemed.  The latest OpenSSL libs were in /usr/lib, but "curl" version 7.68 would not build.  So, I used configure parm changes for the ./configure for curl, and built it with "gnuTLS" (with it's "Nettle" and "Hogweed" security and encryption libraries).

And now I can "git pull " against public (and our own!) software repositories!

Here is the detailed note if you are curious:

==========================================================================
'Git' Client - How to Build it from Source on a 32-bit Linux machine     - Feb. 11, 2020

I Kept working on this, got latest source, and FIXED IT myself, once I confirmed that
a new "curl" version was needed, which can support the TLS-1.2 protocol.
==========================================================================

Here is the trick:  The "Git" client stuff does *not* use Wget, it uses CURL or "curl",
which was still using the old "OpenSSL" stuff on my Linux box.   

I removed all my $PATH stuff, and just used a simple PATH environment variable of
the following:

      export PATH=/bin:/usr/bin:/sbin:/usr/local/bin:

(I had a bunch of stuff for Kerberios and Android and other crap in the $PATH.  Just
set PATH to be as above.  But this was probably not needed.  Problem was with OpenSSL.)

I got the *latest* "curl" and the *latest* "git" client-side code:

    These are as follows (the tarballs):

                   git-2.25.0.tar.gz

                   curl-7.68.0.tar.gz

and used "tar -xvf" cmds to untar the tarballs, and create the build-and-source directories.

For each one, just cd to the directory, and build the program:  Eg:

For git, 2.25.0:  

                   cd /home/git/git-2.25.0
                   ./configure
                   make
                   make install

But for curl, it was a bit more involved.  The OpenSSL 1.1.0g stuff I was trying
to link to, just would not work.  I confirmed that I had carefully, and explicitly
pointed to the current /usr/include/openssl header file directory, and that the
OpenSSL libraries were in /usr/local/lib/libssl.*.  I checked /usr/lib/pkgconfig,
and noticed that the /usr/lib/pkgconfig/openssl.pc file was now pointing to the
OpenSSL 0.9.8g (the old version) again. It looks like somewhere in the build process
for something, the /usr/lib/pkgconfig/openssl.pc file gets updated and points
back to the older, original version of OpenSSL.

So it looks like (I am not sure) that the OpenSSL stuff is getting toggled back to
using the old 0.9.8g version somehow.   Rather than spending more time to debug
what RedHat is doing, I just decided to build "curl" with GnuTLS, since I *know*
for sure that this works with Wget (since I built it already, and it works.)

To build "curl" with GnuTLS (and with the Nettle and Hogweed encryption libraries),
you put this information as "./configure" parameter arguments for build of "curl":

                   cd /home/curl/curl-7.68.0.tar
                   ./configure -without-ssl -with-gnugtls=/usr/local

(this assumes that your "gnuTLS" header files are in /usr/local/include, and such.)
(In "/usr/local/include/gnutls" directory, you should see the files:

  abstract.h  compat.h crypto.h dtls.h gnutls.h gnulsxx.h ocsp.h openpgp.h openssl.h
  pkcs11.h self-test.h tpm.h x509-ext.h x509.h

 which are put there, as part of the gnuTLS build process. You have already built
 all the GnuTLS, Nettle, Hogweed, etc. stuff, right?)

Once the "curl" configure completes, just:

                    make
                       (and if it all builds ok...)
                    make install

(Go to a non-root user, and confirm that "curl --version:" gives you the
 curl version of "7.68.0", and you should also see a list of protocols supported,
 which should include: "GnuTLS/3.3.28 ..." or something like that on the same
 line as the "curl <version#>" info.)

Once you have a working "curl" that can use the TLS-1.2 protocol, the "Git" client
should work, and not throw the error where says it can only find TLS1.0

Eg: if you try a "git pull" against an already updated and current software suite,
    you have a command-line dialog something like:

           git pull https://github.com//.git

           From  https://github.com//
              * branch           HEAD     -> FETCH_HEAD
           Already up to date.

And your "built from source" git and curl stuff is now working correctly.
Hope this information is helpful.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[Feb. 9-10, 2020] - Git Fix? - Not yet, but working on it. Spent many hours working on the "git client" failure on the 32-bit boxes (the really crazy-reliable ones...) that run our custom Linux.  I hadn't realized that the Git client code was broken, because of github's disabling the older encryption protocols. 

The "TLS-1.2" encryption protocol is their (Github's)  minimum now, and it requires a new version of OpenSSL (which breaks some things we are using).  So, I did the hack of using GnuTLS (with it's "Nettle" and "Hogweed" libraries - basically just the various encryption libraries for various codecs), and built a new version of Wget, which uses GnuTLS, instead of the old TLS1.0  OpenSSL-enabled wget.   The new, home-made Wget - with GnuTLS  for SSL/TLS - works nicely.  And the OpenSSL client, works fine by itself - with the TLS1.2 protocol.    

But so far, even though the Git Client code compiles and builds without error - and seems to be using the new  OpenSSL libraries - any sort of "git pull" fails as follows:

                 Eg:  git pull https://github.com//.git
                  causes:
                 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------              
                 error:1407742E:SSL routines: SSL23_GET_SERVER_HELLO:tlsv1
                   alert protocol version
                 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

We've tried the obvious "git config" option:

                   ----------------------------------------------------------------
                     git config --global --add http.sslVersion tlsv1.2
                   ----------------------------------------------------------------

and confirmed the libraries are being found, and OpenSSL with TLS1.2 protocols is being loaded (it looks like), but we still get the same error trying to pull a code update from a "git" repository, with "Git" indicating it is trying to use the old "tls1.0" encryption protocol.

Most folks typically solve this by just upgrading their O/S and/or browsers, and such.  But this burys and disguises what is actually happening, which we like to know about, for various reasons.   You only learn how the stuff really works, if you build it from source, and use it to run your own applications.  And it is your own applications that can - maybe - give you a tiny edge, in this curiously hostile, and crowded world.   

So far, we have Wget and the newer OpenSSL running on some of the custom mono-core boxes.  There are reasons we like older, simpler Intel chips, without the backdoors built into them (like AMT, for example).  Big companies and governments love all this "backdoored" stuff - but it carries real risks.   All actions and all designs have risk.  But it is wise not to amplify the potential for abuse and bad behaviour.

When we get it fixed, I will post a note on this site, what we did to get Git up and running again.  :)

[Feb. 08, 2020] - Git is Kacked - So, we have this software, and it is on "git", or "github".  The "Git" client is broken on several machines, because it needs an upgrade to TLS - Transport Layer Security.

https://github.blog/2018-02-01-crypto-removal-notice/

I can't understand why we need very high level encryption on something that lives on Github, as plaintext, and can be read by anyone, anywhere.

This is like building a big, stainless - steel vault - to keep your office stationary in.  It's just crazy silly - but more and more, this seems to be the strategy of the modern world.  We are putting high-security in all these places where it should not be - just so we can avoid putting were it should be, in the way it should be put.  It's all part of the "Grand Illusion" that we are constructing everywhere.   Folks should wake up to what is actually happening.  Fake security on small stuff, means that the big security on the big stuff can be bent.  We are doing it all back-asswards.

Let me be real clear about what happens:  When everyone is attaching all this supposed "high-security" stuff to places where it does not need to be, where it should not be, and where it just makes everyone's job harder to meet the requirements of the new high-security environment - the net result is a substantial *degradation* of overall security.  To get the needed work done, we end up losing all the benefits of a common repository, and improved distribution systems, and folks will find other ways to get their stuff done.

[Feb. 07, 2020] - Ok, so it's President Buttigieger - Of course, that young lad with the dark hair, and the weird name, is obviously the best choice - I just didn't think the Americans were ready for a gay guy in the White House.  Except I forgot about J. Edgar Hoover, who some say was as queer as 3 dollar bill, and it didn't stop him being the "Top Man" at the FBI.   In fact, it may have helped, as he got sex-data on everybody, thru surveillence, and apparently this is why no one would fire him.   Hilarious.

America has always had this amazing ability and capacity to re-invent itself and recover from disasters.  Like the Chinese have also.  Bravo to them both.   Pete Buttigieg "has built his campaign around generational change" says the JYork Times.   Bull.  He has built his campaign around not being a f**king loon, like all of them except Biden.  Buttigieg has said rational stuff, like "we need to attract more people to this Party", with the obvious subtext message that "and your better off voting for an honest queer like me, rather than any of these other chimps, who put all their queerness into the policy plans!"   IF the Demorats pick Pete, they will win.  No one gives a shit about sex-stuff anymore - especially old folks.    A wise tribe always knows when it has to choose a young leader - and a Gay Mayor - if he can win a city - can win a country.

Being a homosexual is probably a rational qualification for a political career.  Politics is so absolutely crazy, and toxic to family life, that a passion for weird sex is probably a relief mechanism that keeps a pol in the game.   Political life just kills and destroys family life.  It is worse than business for being able to do that.   No one gives a shit about Apple's President Tim Cook, being a gay.  And here in Ontario, we had a card-carrying Lesbian - who of course, was a "Liberal" - as our "Governor"  (we call them "Premier's" here - but it's the same job), for two terms.   She was dumped, because of her policy failures.  No on cared about her private life.  It was her very bad economic policy choices that ended her run

So, Pete Buttigeig would be a sensible choice - instead of angry, crazy old Socialists (God help us all if Sanders or Warren take it), or other southern-style do-nothing types, like Biden.  (I like the fact that Biden is a lightweight.  He won't feel compelled to do too much damage.  We need a "steady as she goes" guy for a while....).

So sure, President Butthead.  He could prevent a worse President Beavis from gaining Office, and he looks young and fresh and not as scary as Orange-Hair guy.   And he is not likely to go "Full Kennedy", and try to take us to the brink of Nuclear War.   Or hell, maybe he might.  Trouble is that it worked for Kennedy.  But it might not work the next time.  The Game Theory calcs on the Cuban Missle Crisis  was a standard example in one of our Operations Research/ Combinatorics classes, back in the day.   Wonder what they teach the kids now?  The Creation and Disolution of the European Union?  The Serbian National Anthem?  Or is it all just "Political Correctness 101", up to  "Socialist Welfare 499" ?  I wonder if they even make them learn any math anymore?   Sure doen't look like it, based on what seems to be appealing to the kids. 

"May You Live During Interesting Times"...

We ordered some electronics from China.  But the delivery dates are all in mid-MARCH, not February.   Tough times.  

Good luck, China.   You should let the American medical types come in and help.   America seems to be one of the few Western places where there still are real Doctors.  We don't really have real doctors in Canada anymore - a legacy of our manifestly awful, poorly-run Socialist medical system. 

There is no competition at all in medical services here, and no "doctors" here actually take on or see sick people, unless they can bill the Government for serious cash.  We tried to build a system that was not about money - and we have created a system that is not about anything except money!  It's what economics would predict, actually.   And anyone who really has a sense of calling, and wants to treat and help sick people, goes to work for "Doctors without Borders", or leaves the country.  It's pretty strange.  

But living without doctors is ok, since we are all *much* heathier because of this...    :)  

[Feb. 06, 2020] - If You're Not Long, You're Wrong. - We've been saying this for over two *years* now.  You can run thru the "wayback machine" listings of this blog, if skeptical.  It's been a crazy ride.  Long thru crazy times, murder and tragedy.  Long thru sickness and plagues...  Quite curious, no?  Except it is TINA, right?  She is a harsh mistress.  The dividend streams have paid the bills and kept the labs running, and kept the lights on.  And they've paid for new equipment - latest was a Honda CRV, with 4-wheel drive.

The entire bond portfolio was vectored into a real-estate project, since fixed-income investments in a time of negative interest rates, are an absurdly bad deal - old fashioned "certificates of confiscation" - what they called "bonds" back in the go-go days of the 1960's (before my time - but you can go to old libraries, and read old publications from the 1960's. Or just read "The Money Game" by "Adam Smith" - brilliant book.  "Do you see support here?  How about here?" he says, as he points to the x-axis...ie. zero zero zero. (Just like what my GM common shares - and my Nortel Preferreds became worth!  Ha ha.))

So, today is sort of long overdue, really.  In the words of the best pop song ever written ("The Bewley Brothers", by David Bowie), "It's Stalking-Time, for the Moon-Boys. "

I read the drivel that is output by the Financial MSM, and it is several sigmas beyond sensible now.   (I always hear "smegma" when someone starts into talking about "sigma's" - you know, like General Electric and it's "Six Smegma" Strategy?  How did that work out for you?) 

Anything can happen in the Stock Market, remember that.  But also grasp this:  When interest rates are below "bugger all", and monetery stimulus is run in overdrive for *years* and *years* and silly nonsense like "Modern Monetary Theory" is taken seriously by adults - then you can't not have asset inflation.  It may not happen for 10 years - but it has to happen at some point.  And all the math suggests its onset will be non-linear.

The process of the market is always non-linear.  And the only real protection one has from crazy inflation, or monetary meltdown - is hard assets and equity assets.  Historically, equity assets do pretty good, in times of stupid high-levels of inflation.  Not great - but better than most stuff.

Of course, if a confiscating loon takes political power, and starts *taxing* assets, then sure, you could have a financial market meltdown of Biblical proportions.   But the Democrats in the Good Old USA, have been shooting themselves in the feet, even worse than the orange-haired guy in the white house has.  It's quite amazing and surprising.  But I guess, not unexpected.

Trump said a clever - really damn clever - thing.  "You may hate me - but you're gonna vote for me."   And the fellow is probably right.   His "Israel Policy Suggestion" is a receipe for a big war in the Middle East.  But no one in USA really gives a shit.  The Israeli's will probably be the authors of the Third World War, if and when it happens.   But what the heck.  Global population needs a , and nature always comes up with something.  (cf. Malthus)

Let's just make sure, we don't have that "Mineshaft Gap", eh?    :)   (cf. Dr. Strangelove)

Now, excuse me please.  I have to go and order that Tesla truck.  Once the Middle East is entirely nuked, blasted & wasted, we may still want to tool around town, or spin up North.  My neighbour has installed this massive wind-turbine electric generator  (don't know how the heck he got planning permission to do it - it's like 10 stories tall!), and I  figure I will be able to do barter deals with him, for some kilowatts to pump up the Tesla's lithium ions, if needed.  

Probably three or four years before the CyberTruck is production-ready and available.  Till then, we've got the Honda.   (You realize, we build them here - just about every single part.  And we build Toyota's just down the road.)   Friend of mine bought a Prius.  It actually scoots along pretty quick.  Amazing, really.  And the Toyota guys, have this crazy fuel-cell car, that runs on hydrogen.  (We tried all this in the 1970's -but the tech. was immature.  But it works, now.)  Man, the Future's so bright, we're all gonna have to wear shades...  It's all kinda unexpected, really.

Stay safe, stay warm, stay healthy and be cool.  It's only gonna get more weird, as we lurch towards this crazy future.   

Oh, and take a hard, local look at what stocks did in the 1920's. Don't just look at historical bull-dung from academics.  Go find real numbers in old newspapers, for actual stock prices.  They went crazy.  And they did this, because the technology - and the technical disruption it caused - was real.  Airplanes really flew.  Movies and cinema created a completely new industry.  Medical science stopped killing people, and started curing them.  Radio let everyone listen to everything in *real time*.  It was the internet of the day.  And everyone could afford the technology.  And the A/C power grid was extended to everyone, everywhere.  This was a very, very big deal.   Automobiles went from being very expensive toys for the very, very rich, to being available for almost everyone.  This was also a very, very big deal.  The stock market prices were not bogus - they were the reflection of the real economy, which was changing in a wild and rapid manner.

Based on those percent delta's, we could see a Dow Jones of 50,000 before we even begin to get into the zone of ballistic price+value  weirdness.    If low interest rates continue (they will), then stocks that pay 5.5 percent return, can be re-priced to yield 3% return - or less.    Note what that price delta looks like, do your own back-of-envelope calcs,  don't take my word for it.    :)

[Feb. 04, 2020] - I/O ... Wha???? - Wow.  The Demo-hacks have just proven conclusively, that they are completely unfit to govern.   Holy Mackeral - the failure in IOWA to actually run any sort of real election, pretty much demonstrates that these monkeyboys and girls are not to be let near the levers of power.   Is that why the Stock Market is rocketing upwards today?   Unclear.

Maybe it is the strange outcome that we might be able to use anti-HIV drugs to hack the nasty coronavirus.  How about that?   The whole AIDS/HIV horror-show might actually save the world.  The medical knowledge gained from using anti-HIV drugs, looks like it might offer viable treatment options for Coronavirus sufferers.  

I was actually talking about the astonishing failure of most internet-based "apps" and current technology "solutions" to someone yesterday.   Much of our technology does just not work right.   I get examples of this every single day.

It's not just automatically crashing airliners, and the internet scam-attacks and security-related hacks that happen every day - it is the basic failure of many modern systems to make things better.   Much of our modern technology drops this curious load of real *work* onto average people, so that fatboys (and fatgirls) sitting pretty, can basically do no real work.   I could write for 5 pages, just describing what I have to do, to actually get a real copy of my cell-phone bill, and then pay it in a way that I can confirm is secure.  It is hilarious.  The Phone Company requires I log-in to a website, download a .PDF, scp that PDF to a machine that has an attached printer, and then print the bill, (which is the only place I can find detailed call-by-call summary), and then I can take the bill into the bank - where they now refuse to stamp the date on it any more, and say that a tiny little slip of paper - which fades away after a few months - is sufficient receipt.

Here is what I've discovered: The whole *internet* model is designed to make me "pay to know" and then "pay to pay".  In the old days of "snail mail", I could just get a bill, and then pay it with money.  But now, I have to dance and jump thru hoops, and use klunky, slow, security-compromised, crappy web-apps, to get the same data, and then either pay-per-transaction to send a payment, or have a payments-account that charges for each transaction.  I can't just pay a fucking bill anymore with a handful of twenty-dollar bills, because I won't even be told what the fucking bill is for, unless I fuck around with some wanker's web-app, and figure out how to access the one place where the real information is hidden.

What has occurred, is that all the payments and accounting and verification work required to run a payments systems - has been abstracted from both the service provider - and the financial institution also - and has been dropped right into my lap.  Oh, and I also get to be the Information Security and Authorization Department for my bank, and anyone I do business with, and I also need to run an Information Management Department, and a Data Centre - on my own computer network.  Oh, and right...  I also need to run a WiFi and/or  ethernet home/office network, and regularly ensure it is running safely and working correctly.   And I need to do ALL of this, just to pay a fucking bill from a Phone company, or buy *anything* at all now, since all the specialty stores for stuff I want, have disappeared, and/or migrated to the internet, because they were killed by Amazon.

Look, we are pretty fucking technical savvy.   We do AI research and development - and the stuff is working, lets be clear.  This is not some "boomer complaining".    This is a professional, offering a warning.  Modern technology is not being created to help you.

But I so understand what failed in Iowa.   The systems the children are building now are just shit.  That is all it is.  We are all just using shit-quality systems, designed by arrogant blowhards who don't want to spend any time dealing with real, actual user-requirements, or actually even do their bloody jobs properly.   I've seen - and lived - this movie so many times.

The internet is not only becoming horrible and insecure - it is also being used to drop a bucket of unnecessary work, into the laps of everyone and anyone who needs to actually do anything.  

Look, we built a small building - and the goddamn trusses had to be certified for load-factors and such, by an engineering firm in Toronto - so I had to buy engineered trusses from a factory, and the factory carpenters had to internet each one their designs and build jobs to Toronto, for approval by a firm of consulting engineers, and the Building Inspector basically said if I didn't do that, and had the trusses made onsite, the Municipality would not approve the building plans.  A big truck had to deliver the trusses, and it drove over stuff.  We could have made better trusses ourselves - but that would have multiplied the work even further, given the systems involved.

The very existence of the internet, is making everyone's job *bigger* and is multiplying workload just about everywhere.  This is ok, if there is some benefit - but this is not happening now.  The benefits are flowing to a few very large companies, and the workload is flowing right down into my little office, and my little lap  - but with no benefits of any kind attached.  

Now this is curious.   

And the failure of the Iowa Democrat election to actually "launch", shows *exactly* what I am talking about here.  This is a real phenomenon.

Our modern systems are badly built.  And it is getting worse - not better.

The solution is to demand better - and be suspicious of *any* new attempt to further degrade basic social-economic system operation.

Start to use cash for payments again.   Demand signed-receipts for any transaction that you are uncomfortable with.  Make the agent doing the invoicing provide a first and last name.  Be courteous, but be firm.  Distrust electronic payments.  We have to use them - but they offer no benefit to the payer - just the payee.  You are being told you must "pay to pay" and "pay to know". Demand better.

Most of all, one needs to recognize that the "Just pay me now, and then I will send it to you" business model is really a nasty shit-poor way to do business.   Walk away from it, if you can. 

But folks need to see what has happened.   Much of the valueable things that one wants to acquire, are no longer on offer - anywhere.  The good stuff has been replaced by crappy stuff.

Economic scarcity has returned - and it is actually showing up in the crap-poor garbage that is offered on the internet, the nasty and difficult operation & data-harvesting features of most internet "apps", and in the curious difficulty one faces in actually acquiring, using and even paying-for correctly, items of value.

And this includes - maybe not surprisingly - elections.

[Feb. 02-03, 2020] - Coronavirus Treatment Options:  Note to medical personal & doctors dealing with coronavirus victims:  We are *not* Physicians, but suggest you try to treat coronavirus victims in severe breathing distress, with a cocktail of 3 anti-viral drugs:  Anti-flu drug oseltamivir, and the HIV-treatment drugs lopinavir and ritonavir.   This experimental  three-drug combo has shown efficacy in treating coronavirus patients in Thailand. 

Top picture shows a sunset beginning over Northern Lake in Canada in the Summer.  Blue skies, calm waters, and bright sunshine will return - a gentle message of hope to our Chinese friends, dealing with the ugly corona virus outbreak. 

[Feb. 01, 2020] - What of World Trade? - Many of us have always wondered how things would work, if global trade got dialed way back.   This is an extremely unlikely scenario.  But it is an interesting "thought experiment" for economists and "tech-preppers" alike.  Extremely complex systems have a tendency to fail, and do so in ways that are not predictable.

Does this explain our extreme interest in simple computers, like the Z-80?  Not entirely, but it may be a factor.  Several of us really like to *fully* understand the technology we are using.  With modern software and hardware "stacks", this is close to impossible.  And the multi-core architectures, of modern 64-bit Intel & AMD chips could have entire surveiilence subsystems contained within them.   And in fact, with Intel's awful "AMT" subsystem - we have shown this to be the case.   The modern chip architectures are riddled with strange traces and unclear components which could be doing anything - especially if such devices are connected to the internet.    The recent exfiltration of Jeff Bezo's private and personal photos from his supposedly "secure" Apple iPhone should be a wake-up call to us all:  Modern platforms are so complex, we cannot know for sure if they are *secure*,  They really cannot be trusted, because it is not possible to find every hole, or technical "backdoor".   You just cannot be sure your hardware+software is yours.  If your device connects to the internet, then you are in a public space, and all your code and data may well be also.

It is a lie and myth to expect that *anything* on the internet can be trusted to be 100% *secure*.  It simply cannot be the case.  The technology is simply too complex to secure now.  Tiny modern chips come complete with full Bluetooth and Wifi access, built right into the chip itself.   Even if you x-ray the chip, you cannot nail down all the functions of all the circuits you see.  And with FPGA chips - the architecture of the chip can be altered by software. 

So, suddenly, older, simpler chip designs  that *can* be x-rayed, understood, and where pretty much everything happening *can* be nailed down, start to look a *lot* more attractive than they used to be, given their slow speed, and relatively simple designs. 

For us, the Z-80 is represents a good balance between simplicity and complexity.   It can be used to do real work - but I don't have to assume that all the work will immedately leak into the public space - like I *know* it can, if I use modern Intel or AMD chips.  What use is *speed*, if the main thing it is used for, is to shout all your trade-secrets and private data out to your enemies and the wider-world also?   Personally, I think the mass use of the "Cloud" is little more than the tragic re-invention of the big "data-centre" where everything was centralized - including all social and corporate control.   I remember those times, and they were "double-plus ungood."  Freedom to calculate - is very much like freedom to speak.  You don't know how important it is, until some "political correctness" type tries to take it away from you.   Learn and know this truth.  The "Cloud" represents a risky and questionable platform to do one's computing and communication.  And the iPhone is now almost a form of social control, and perhaps even a toxic neural addiction that is already harming us in ways we don't yet fully grasp.

Or, maybe not.   The jury is still out, really.   Every radical new technology has benefits and costs.   But I believe we need to guard against creating a world where only a very few really understand or can re-design and change the technology.   I see these neural-numbed kids walking along - staring at their iPhones, oblivious to the events around them, and I feel a real sense of horror. We might be creating a generation of extremely narrow-minded, uncritical herd-followers, and this will - most certainly, in the financial markets - create a major disaster in the future - like it always has.   But do we need to *amplify* the worst, and most abusively ignorant characteristics of people?  Is this not *exactly* what the social networks are doing?

Might the current "Cloud+iPhone+always-connected-internet" model just be another in a long line of abusive, social-control mechanisms that governments use to entrench themselves and prevent freedom from being possible?  And might this hyper-linked approach magnify and amplify the worst behaviour of people, rather than freeing them from it?

Personal computational freedom is critical.  You need to be able to hack the numbers yourself, to see if you are being lied to.   Google recently took down all my APL and graphics and gDOSBox interpreter software from their "PlayStore", because I did not support the very latest Google fiddles to Android.  But the "PlayStore" is not about offering benefit to *me*, it is about making money.  So of course, they want it filled with product people will pay for.   And kids love neural-addictive games.  Useful programs that offer computational freedom and are offered for free are not economically useful, so they are being purged.  All my apps were free, so it does not harm me..  But I had over 10,000 users of my gDOSbox app, and now, I can't even offer them upgrades - or in any way reach them.  I feel a bit guilty that I let them down.   

But that is the "company store" economic model.  Apple wouldn't  let me publish any sort of  "Interpreter" to operate on the iPad.  They want the device to be be deliberately crippled, for a variety of economic reasons.

My cynical "Inner Trader" says "So what?  That's how it works.  Business exists to make money. They want paying customers.  You should also put your efforts into stuff that makes money.  You worked for *years* building that APL and GNUplot stuff.  What did it gain you?  Not a thing, really.  So?  Avoid projects where no money at all flows to you.  Bad trade.  Walk away.  Do something else that folks will pay for.

My "Inner Trader" is wise. This is good advice - but it also leads me to think the whole internet thing is leaning towards the side of things that are toxic and nasty, and that if it leans too far in that direction, something will just have to break.  Even tech-heads now recognize that Facebook is dangerous, and LinkedIn is maybe not a good idea.   Any data you put there is harvested, and you risk having it used against you, in so many new and different ways and contexts.  It offers little benefit, and proveable risk.  Bad trade?

What if everyone suddenly just steps back from this wild internet machine?   Maybe at the same time as it becomes clear, that a real plague is underway?  People may connect the two, and believe that perhaps the internet itself is helping spreading disease.  The collapse-trend could become self-generating?  But this might also be the machinery of an antidote.  The sheep could look up, and see the Storm inside the Cloud.

So if world trade collapses, and an extreme economic meltdown and nasty financial collapse occurs, we will still be ok, since we can actually get quite a lot done, using 30 year old technology, that we can completely maintain ourselves.   And I found and have been experimenting with an APL that runs in a tiny memory space, on the Z-80, under CP/M.  It is actually quite impressive, but so far, we have not found any source code.  But it is a cool proof--of-concept.   :) 

[Jan. 31, 2020] - Metropolis in Winter - We seem to have experienced a cascade failure of the Banking/Trading computers - at least two of the ones we use.  A third seems to be unaffected.   It is either extreme incompetence on the part of IBM (they run the web platforms for several institutions), or perhaps a co-ordinated attack on various gateway machines and DNS servers.  At the very least, something is pretty badly buggered up.    The error message screens we have been getting are pretty funny and quite diverse.   It is really an impressive kack-up.

I can access my website (it's run out of Denmark, or at least it used to be..), but the trading accounts are all unavailable - and this on a day when the blood is running in the streets.  Oh my.   

[Jan. 30, 2020] - Blood in the Streets? - Good time to invest then...  Hilarious, eh?  But it's true.  If you look a plagues from the "Black Death" of the MIddle Ages, to the "Spanish Flu" of 1918, you can see a common pattern.  Great time to take long positions, it turns out.

The 1918 "Influenza" epidemic - with its associated rapid onset of pneumonic distress and quick death - caused somewhere between 10 million and 100 million deaths world-wide.  There were basically *no* real "public health" records.  Gov'ts started keeping  records (and doing "public health" actions) as a result of this mass-killer of soldiers.   More soldiers died from this "flu" than were killed in the First World War, some analysts suspect.    Truth is, we just don't know for sure.

But what is interesting, is that the mass-deaths of 1918, tee-ed up the runaway Stock Market boom of the 1920's - which itself was really mostly driven by the disruptive economics that resulted from the wild upswing in the economy of the Western World - a result of the new technology (radio, cinema, air-travel, falling costs for automobiles, development of the automobile highway systems, development and extension of the A/C power grid, rapid and significant improvements in medical technology (ie. use of X-rays to diagnose illness, and assess broken bones, etc.).  And of course, the technical improvements in agriculture and food production - which allowed a mass-migration, from the farms to the cities.  Main factor was the replacement of horses with diesel and gasoline powered tractors.   But  lots of other machines came also -  mechanical bailers, which are still amazing to watch.  Two men can cut and bring in a harvest, where before, an entire village was needed to harvest a field.

And basically, the massive death rates from the 1918 Flu Pandemic, did not stop the boom-time market run of the 1920's.   And, I am pretty sure - based on research of the Black Death in the Middle Ages - it maybe even *helped* trigger the boom-times.   Lots of  death, means lots of money moving from old savers, to young spenders.  And boy, do they *spend*.  They spend like it's 1899, and even if "You must be nuts - to drive a Stutz", the auto industry blossomed like those Japanese Cherry Trees in Spring.  And so did almost everything else.  The "Panic of 1906" became a distant memory, not expected to be repeated.  The mass-deaths from the 1918 Flu may well have actually *helped* accelerate the market run, as it got static Victorian wealth moving into the new technology-driven opportunities and products.  

So, "Don't fear the Reaper", is the bottom-line take-away message here!   Learn to embrace and enjoy Chaos.   Stay long, maybe.   We certainly are.      :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ClQcUyhoxTg

"Seasons Don't Fear the Reaper....  40,000 men and women every day...".   Maybe the C-virus will help make Gatsby great again.    Stay safe, wash your hands, and keep your cool.   :)

[Jan. 29, 2020] - Ina Godda Da Vida - So, it's 2020.    And next is Ground Hog Day.  Amazing.

Many years back, there was an APL interpreter written for the Z-80.  It ran in like - 22K or something like that.  I am running an 8K Basic interpreter on the Z-80, and it works well - but the memory is limited, of course.  I havn't programmed in assembler since the early 1980's, when the IBM P/C came out.   It's a re-learning curve - easier than a typical learning-curve, I guess.  But I never really learned matrix algebra properly, so I am back at it.   I was trying to find that APL code for the Z-80, but it does not seem to exist anywhere.   It did nice matrix math, apparently.

Matrix math is just magical.  You work on it, and it seems like real magic - the way a simultaneous system of equations can be represented  - and solved - using matrix math, is just wild.  It's charming and delightful - like the first time you discover the details of a young and lovely girl.    Sure, math is difficult, and takes real effort to master - but so do pretty girls, right?  

It's the whole Faust myth, isn't it?   What does one do with all the knowledge and power and ability that one could possibly ask for?    Suppose you made a deal with the Devil - or his agent - in the guise of big, black Poodle? (Mephistopheles of course...), and you could choose anything you wanted?   What would that be?  Scientific knowledge, and the prettiest star, of course.

Maybe am probably somewhat unusual, in that I have all these books of mythology and fantasy, piled up with all these other books on electronics and probablity theory and economic and financial modelling and such.  The house and the lab is an awful mess - books and circuits and computers and such, with shelves of books on myth and history.    But it was (and is) the Faust story that really resonates.   Who wouldn't want to gain *all* knowledge?   Is that not our objective, as living, thinking, creatures?

Goethe (born: 1749 - died 1832) spent much of his life working on scientific research.  He published treatises on light and colour.   Artists - like the Impressionists - were influenced by his work on colour, and made use of the theory, in their magnificant work.  Goethe started working on Faust in 1790, and the first part was published in 1808.

I have an edition with illustrations by Harry Clarke, who himself was a fascinating character.  He was an Irish artist who studied stained glass window design. He got a scholarship to study in France, and later, returning to England, did the illustrations for the edition of Faust I have, which was published by Harrap in 1925 in London.  Clarke suffered from tuberculosis, and died in 1930, in Switzerland.

Faust wanted Margaret, a young woman he meets after Mephistopheles has helped Faust regain his youthful appearance.   Of course, he gets her, and in the events that follow, she murders her mother, and drowns her child.  Faust tries to save her, but she refuses to flee from jail, with him, and stays instead to be executed for her crimes - and seek forgiveness from "Heaven".   Faust flees with Mephistopheles, and the book ends.

It is such a strange and disturbing story.  But the translation, by John Anster is well done, and combined with the bizarre and curious illustrations by Clarke, made it a book I had to have. 

It is a myth that captures something in us all.

[Jan. 27-28, 2020] - Of Arms and the Man, I Sing - Or, as they say in America, "Fake it, 'till you Break It!"   We are still long, and still fully invested, and all is ticking along fine.  I was hoping a big down-spike was in the cards, but no luck.  We hoped to add to some positions.

This is curiouser and curiouser, but it's what the models and my cynical "Inner-Trader" says is the right course of action.

I suppose I better order a CyberTruck.  I can run a wind-generator, easier than I can run an oil-refinery.  And the reactors over on Lake Huron, and the water flowing down the Niagara River seem to be working ok.  (Thank-you again, Mr. Tesla).   In our town, both Volkswagon and Tesla (the car-maker) have built new dealerships.  The Volkswagon dealer has all these cars for sale.

At the Tesla dealership, they have no inventory, just a few vehicles in for servicing.  All vehicles seem to be pre-sold.   And people actually *short* Tesla stock?  I am afraid to buy the stock, but I am not stupid enough to short it.  

I think most Equity Analysts (Stock Market analysts), are not very wise.  They may have CFA's and such, because they are good at the nose-to-grindstone thing, but they are - almost to a man (or woman) - arrogant, low-grade people who are rude, driven by their own opinions, and expert at missing the obvious.  I know of what I speak, since I did that gig a few times.  They were all rude to me.   But I was pretty good at doing analysis, getting the truth from company owners, and writing and model-building.  Turned out I was actually good at being an "Analyst", so I figured, why just talk and write - put yar buckarooskis down and get rich!  

So I did, and of course, after I had lost half my 6-figure account, I figured - "Ok, lad.  Dat's enough of dis..."  My Inner Cheech-Wizard kept me from stubbornly blowing up *all* my capital.   And like Wiley E. Coyote, I went back to the drawing board.   What works, are the heuristic algorithms and the simple stuff - that you can read in any of the real books written by real, actual investors who made money.   Most folks get nuked in markets, and should just buy index funds.  Really, that is good advice.  But  if you must speculate, here is a great heuristic; (ie. a "rule of thumb"):  "Don't buy stocks in companies you like.  Buy stock in companies that you don't like, or you think are stupid, too-high priced."

Above all, don't buy stock in cheap, low-priced companies, or even "fallen angels".  The fallen angels will often keep falling right down to Hell, and will take your money with them.  And the cheap shit, will usually just get cheaper.   And bastards will probably continue to be bastards.

I mean, I knew this girl, who married a good-looking fellow, with good propects, who had ditched his first wife and daughter.   I wanted to tell her, (as a statistician, and a friend), that the probability was - oh, pretty effing clear, like maybe 80% or better  - that this fine fellow would do the same behaviour again with her, most likely.  But I had grown wisdom, and elected to say nothing.  This is best, since people cannot be changed.   And if you tell a girl, that her choice is going to cause pain and heartache and such, she will just think you are a shit, or are jealous or something.  So just keep quiet.  You cannot change people.   And you cannot change markets.   And you should read, "On the Nature of the Universe", by Lucretius, and the story at the end of it.  It's all about a plague.   Later, I read Albert Camus, who wrote "The Plague".  It's a good book.   The world is a funny place.  I was in Japan, and there is Thain Camus, on Japanese TV.  You think - "WTF?".   It's actually a pretty small world.   I was disappointed I was not invited to Jeff Bezo's party...  :(      But I don't travel anymore - since I hate the whole airport/airplane experience so much now - so I guess I wouldn't have gone.   So really, all is good.         :)

Nothing changes.   It's like "Groundhog Day", really.    But you can use this grim knowledge, to make a little bit of cash, if you need to, in the Stock Market.   Just realize, it won't make much difference.   Everybody gets the same thing.  We get one lifetime, and that is it.    Enjoy every sandwich.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5BmEGm-mraE

Hope you have got your sh/t together...    :)

[Jan. 25, 2020] - President Biden - I suppose we will all have to get used to saying this soon.  The more I look at the horror-show that US politics has become, the more it becomes clear that Biden will win in November.  It would appear this expectation has already leaked into the markets.  The current clown in the Masion Blanche now has not only orange hair - but his hands are bright red from all the blood that is dripping down from them.  

Yesterday, I got an email from the president of my old University, asking for money for an endowment that is being established in the name of some Iranian-Canadian Phd students, graduates,  a post-doctoral fellow - and a family of a guy who had recently got his Phd, and was visiting Tehran with his whole family.  I never pay other people's bills if I can help it - but this time is different.

The people the endowment will be named for,  were among the 179 killed when Iranian air-defenses automatically shot down the Ukranian Boeing passenger aircraft, during the Christmas holidays.  The aircraft was mistaken for an American cruise missle.

This horrible tragedy occured *directly* as a result of idiotic and unecessary murderous hostilities Donald Trump has started with Iran.   Trump's mass murder of 12 people, at the Baghdad Airport in Iraq, including Iranian General Soleimani and an Iraqi military commander,  by means of robotic drone aircraft, is not only a "war-crime', it is also a war-starting action, and the war that this American leader has started has claimed a plane-load of our people, here in Canada.   

Trump is not only a liar and a fraud, but he is also now a guilty mass murderer who is the equivalent of Stephen Paddock, the evil person who killed people from his hotel window in Las Vegas.

Jesus, when I saw the list of local students, and recent Phd graduates that died in that Tehran shoot-down, it made me see that each living person on this planet has a responsibility to assist the Americans in correcting the terrible tragedy that has resulted from putting that orange-haired goof into a position of great power.   This has been a very bad mistake.  It must be corrected.

So no matter how much of a God-fearing, right-thinking, hard-core Republican that you are, you just cannot vote for a kill-clown like Trump, with so much blood on his hands.   If you do, then it would be the equivalent of deficating on the Bible, tearing up the US Constitution, and dismissing everything that the great American project has stood for from it's beginning.   There is simply no way that anyone with an IQ over 80, could possibly hold their nose, grit their teeth, and vote for Trump.  Well, maybe if Elizabeth Warren is the Democratic candidate.   Maybe then, I guess, in an last desperate act to save one's country.

But in all seriousness, it looks like Biden will take it, and if he takes it, then all he has to do is stay quiet, and let Trump destroy himself.    I see that Trump has invited another mass-murderer - from Israel this time - to Washington, and another "MidEast Peace Plan" will be floated.  This of course is just pure politics, and no-one except racists, rabid Zionists, and the American media, will likely take it seriously.

So any rational analyst, with any sense of moral integrity, or any kind of belief in the principle of justice or fairness, could possibly expect Trump to win in November.   And that means, all the Democrats have to do, is not pick a worse clown to represent their party.  That is all they have to do - just don't pick a terrible candidate that will anger and frighten normal, sane, folks who just want to live peace and freedom, and remove the stain of blood that is on the White House now.

And that means Biden.  He is not very bright.  He is a career politician.  But his lack of psychotic obsession and adherence to stupid, toxic destructive policy-choices (ie. such as debt-forgiveness for lazy, over-entitled dead-beat kids who don't want to pay off their student loans, or 2% capital taxes on folks with a few million dollars in assets, etc.), means he will win.

Biden will win.  He will win the Democratic nomination (if the Democrats are not insane), and he will win against Trump, because not all Americans are cruel, stupid, low-IQ "haters" who want to jump up and down and see "red flow".   At least I am pretty sure this is the case.  There are many good Americans.

I used to be a big supporter of Trump.  I thought the guy stood for something, and was trying to do things that needed to be done.   But it is now clear, that there is something else going on.  This guy turned a completely blind eye to the Saudi Government murder of Jamil Khashoggi - an American-resident journalist - even though this event was recorded in detail using US surveillence technology.  And then Trump decided to murder 12 people at the Baghdad Airport, like a filthy terrorist might do.

So this dangerous Mr. Trump has got to go.  If the impeachment fails (it will, since a 2/3rds majority is a bar that is set too high), then we will all have to wait until November to remove this person from his position, and correct the mistake that was made.

All Biden has to do, is just be there, and not back any stupid, hostile, abusive or unwise policy choices - like the other Democrat candidates seem so intent on doing. (What is wrong with them?).   I suspect Biden will win, because he represents the least-awful choice, given the current options that exist now.   The most important thing for him to do, between now and November, is simply not to die.

[Jan. 24, 2020] - The Man Who Sold the World - "We passed upon the stair..."   Yes, we did.  But those were different times...  All the poets studied rules-of-verse, and all the ladies rolled their eyes.   I am stealing lines today - spent too much time doing things with no value, and high-level of irritation.   Oh well... so it goes.   Curious how fiction can tell the truth, no?

[Jan. 23, 2020 - PM] - Bezos, The Most Expensive Hack in History, and the murder of Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Agents   - I have always told my clients that the "secure" smartphone is myth.   If it's on your phone - it's available for the world.  The Jeff Bezos penis pictures - which he sent to his secret paramour & which got leaked and thus cost him his marriage - and something like $35 billion in US dollars for his divorce - were apparently stripped from his phone by an exfiltration payload dropkicked on to the device by a virus attached to Whatsapp video downloading software, which Bezos used to receive an encrypted video message from Saudi Prince Bin Salman.  

I've just read the technical summary, and this is very close to being proven.

If this is true, it may bring down Donald Trump, due to his tight links with the Saudis.

Suddenly, this madness actually makes sense.  Jamal Khashoggi worked as a reporter for the Washington Post, and many suspect Bin Salman was behind the killing.  Bezos owns the Post, which has been very critical of the Saudis, in many articles - the best ones and most critical, written by Khashoggi.   So Bin Salman might have assumed this blackmail vector could be used to make Bezos to dial down the information stream that is flooding out about the ugly Khashoggi murder. 

There is an article all about this in Barrons and The Guardian.   There is also a UN report on this topic, which identifies some of the software used, and provides an explicit timeline of events, which really nails it down.

Here is the URL: 

https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Expression/SRsSumexFreedexAnnexes.pdf?mod=article_inline

Bin Salman would obviously have an incentive to force Bezos to shut the Post up.    And the reporters at the Post must truly hate Bin Salman, for murdering one of their reporters.  Mark Twain famously suggested: "Never pick fights with people who buy their ink by the barrel."   Probably not a good idea to kill their guys, either.

You could not make this stuff up.

I have often tried to say:  Strong encryption and personal security are very important.    They are necessary preconditions to the survival of the modern democratic state.  If Bin Salman comes to Canada, he seriously risks arrest for the crimes of murder and fraud.  The first may be hard to prove, but the second, now looks like a slam-dunk.

Imagine this curious turn of events:  Jeff Bezos's disclosed penis-pictures, may lead us to the successful conviction of Saudi Prince Bin Salman. This will help us bring down a very high-level criminal who authorized the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the journalist.   The flower that started growing out of the manure is already starting to blossom.   How about that?

[Jan. 23, 2020] - Res Publica Romana - No, I am not going to write about the Roman Republic.  You should already know all about it.  You can read this short, well-written page:

https://historycollection.co/spqr-roman-republics-influential-leaders/

What I want to point out, is that Google really is an AI now.  Seriously, Google is not a search engine anymore - it is a fully-formed Artifical Intelligence device.  Software developers and coders have known this for a while.  If you want to learn some new development environment, or get to the bottom of a complex problem, you google-search the error messages - in some detail, if need be - and view the "Stack-Overflow' query and response results, and often (just about always, if the info is knowable) find the answer.

But today, I tried something different.   A well-run military, can sometimes be nasty thing - but much more often, it is a hive of hard-working, honest and honorable people, working together to get a difficult and dangerous job done, so they can go home and live in peace.  In order to work effectively, an "esprit de corps" (defn: "a feeling of pride, fellowship, and common loyalty shared by the members of a particular group") is both created and then fostered, and this is a real thing.  It isn't fake propaganda, it is a real feeling.   Military projects, when run well, are based on accurate, clear thinking and sensible decision-making structures.  Military honour is a real thing.

Military people are taught to tell the truth, take responsibility for their actions, and actively assist their team-mates.  These are the ideals and ideas that make for effective citizens of a viable democratic State - what the Romans called their "Res Publica" - in English, "Republic'.   This is a good idea, which has stood the test of time.

The military virtues described as courage and honour are real ideas, with power and value.  And these often remain true, even if the government the military works for, is corrupt.  This is one of the real paradoxes of many historical situations.

So, to see how the Google AI is doing, on more subtle queries, I tried this:

  "why was starship troopers such a bad movie, when the book was so good?"

Now, there is one simple answer. The Director who made the film, made an explicit decision to ruin - with malace - the story, the back-story, the ideals, the underlying concepts, the primary motivations of the characters, the technology-view, etc.   The little fellow simply decided to make a piece of political material based on his own life, instead of using the really excellent book Robert Heinlein wrote.  Sad.  Really sad and bad.

And guess what?  Google-search was able to interpret the query, and the first suggested response was this excellent, short, 2012-written article that some guy published on Facebook.  It is really a fine piece of writing, explains clearly what happened.

https://www.facebook.com/notes/robert-anson-heinlein/how-did-verhoeven-manage-to-ruin-starship-troopers-so-completely/10150749110329221/

My father flew bomber aircraft in the Second World War.  Because of him, I took on these difficult personal projects, learned more than I needed to just live, and lived in a particular way and made particular decisions, that I might not have made otherwise.  

At University, we created our own mythical "Urban Spaceman".  His name was "Fenstein".  He created axioms and lemmas - the most basic of which was: "Everybody Lies".

But in the military, you are taught to be honest and truthful.  And to take personal responsibility for your actions.  This is a real and good thing, and if our democratic models, and Western Culture and even Science itself are to survive, we must all grasp this idea and use it's power.

And to my surprise, it looks like Google can help us there, also.   :)

[Jan. 22, 2020] - Love Enough for Time. - If your kids want to play video games, best to discourage them doing so.  But if they want to sit around and read SF (Science/Speculative-Fiction), that's probably a fine idea.  Between Kurt Vonnegut, Issac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, I was given a pretty good picture of the *present* time I was embedded within.  Such raging optimism prevailed - and miracles were an everyday occurance. 

So, we've jumped back a year, and again we need to examine the future.  Pretty curious, no?

I find this daily writing exercise curiously helpful.  One writes - every day - and it *forces* some level of *thinking*.  Maybe not much thinking - but thinking clearly is like exercise - it is critical that some be done - even it just a small amount.    The alternative is to be in *reactive* mode, which seems to be what has happened to many folks now.  Most decisions now - even at top level, by folks who should know better - seem to be badly done, and are probably made in pure reactive mode.  Sober, second-thought is unlikely, if all are drunk on the sweet-wine of power.

How can one explain the comically stupid behaviour we see everywhere now?     So much activity resembles the actions of fools and children... quite curious.   The equity markets are a lovely and amusing example of how nutty things can be.  (Hint:  the boomlet is probably not over.)   We remain long... fully invested, but without margin being used.   During down-spikes we try to carefully and selective add to postions.   We don't own Tesla or Google - and this was probably an error.  Small positions in expensive shares can be wise.  We use the products, rather than buy the stock.   I'll probably order a Cybertruck, because I *really* like the fabrication concept.  What I really want is a stainless-steel armored truck, with a Ford 4.6 litre V8, like I have in the F-150.  Or maybe two, independent Honda 2.4 litre engines, driving front-left/back-right and front-right/back-left - so that even if one engine fails, your truck still drives.   The coolest thing about the cybertruck, is its ability to withstand small-arms fire, up to 9mm.  That will be a useful feature in the future, I suspect.   Maybe some run-flat tires, also.   (Am I allowed any weaponization options?  :D )

The current times almost demand the use of margin.  The chatter and nonsense in the fakenews media dumps suggest a concern that "stocks are too high".  This suggests the boomlet will continue for a while longer yet.  

Curious how I can't find anyone writing on the internet, who seems to know anything anywhere anymore.  Proabably because anything of use and/or value is behind paywalls now, and all I am seeing is the garbage generated for the proles and wanksters.  This is a common problem for any analytic effort.  The data you see/are given/is evident is not the real or true data.   You are just seeing the picture folks want you to see.    There is some good stuff available at the St. Louis Fed, and I've found some good virology journals online.   But I can't understand why any government would fund science research, and then let the little wankerboy scientists publish their results in locked Jstor and Elsevier journals that are behind goddamn paywalls.  This is just bad policy, amplified.  Science only works if the observations, insights, errors, experimental results, theories ( and the ideas themselves ) are allowed to be shared. 

And it is actually *crazy important* that the information be available to folks on "fringe" and/or those types who are *not* part of the hard-core, tenure-track-seeking, doing-their-Phd type of science workers.  The mainstream people will not likely make any important discoveries.  They just won't.  They will get their degrees, publish fine papers, and get teaching postions and make money, and have families, and buy stuff and so on - but about 97% of them won't matter at all.  This is just how it is.

The history of just about every significant scientific development is characterized by it being discovered or developed by some outsider who was not part of the "science establishment" who recognized and developed something that the establishment boys (and girls)  with their Phd's were not interested in investigating, or could not see, even if it was bouncing up and down in the lab.  

Almost every major development (with the special exception of nuclear weapons), was the result of someone on the fringe of the academic world (or not in it at all), who noticed something really curious, and made a real *creative* leap, and then just beavered away to understand it and make it real.  This is more than just paradigm-shifting.  This is void-leaping and creative phase-jumping.  It is how the big stuff that matters, actually happens.

Consider: Faraday, who was a bottle-washer and a lab assisitant at the Royal Society.  He was self-educated, and treated as a servant.   He discovered much of what we know about electricity, made the first electric motor, etc.  He was a pure creative genius.  Maxwell, just did some after-the-discovery math to put the numbers on the model.  Volta discovered of how a battery could be made, by looking at the inside of electricity-using fish.  Ben Franklin - famous as a diplomat and political figure, also made the genius insight into the postive/negative nature of electricity.  Marconi and his "radio" invention are a great example.  The Hertzian waves were a great lab experiment - and it would have all stayed in the lab, were it not for Marconi.  His insights and engineering  were amazing.   He created our world for us.   And it just goes on and on.  Telsa and his A/C eletricity-grid system (Telsa actually invented the entire A/C power grid we use today - not just big sparking air-transformers.  He and Westinghouse built the first Niagara Falls generators, and Buffalo, New York, and the small city I live near, were the first places to be electrified using Falls A/C.  Few folks here even know this.)   The PCR reaction (the basis for reading DNA sequences, by unwinding and rewinding - ie. copying - a beaker of  DNA molecules, by adjusting the temperature), was another discovery, made by a science outsider, Kary Mullis, who was basically a junior employee who had an idea.   The story of the discovery of DNA itself interesting.   DNA's double-helix structure was discovered by the Rosalind Franklin and research student Raymond Gosling.  Ms. Franklin was often characterized as an "x-ray photographer" - but in fact she was a skilled researcher and had already prepared a first-draft for publication in the journal "Nature", describing the double-helix DNA structure - because she had used x-ray diffraction to actually image the thing.   She died of cancer in 1958, and otherwise, would probably have shared the Nobel Prize with Watson and Crick.

Rosalind Franklin knew *exactly* what she had discovered.  She and Gosling had written their own paper, and their discovery was *completely* independent of the work of Watson and Crick (who got the Nobel in Medicine in 1962 for their efforts).  The key-fact about DNA, is that the dual-helix shape of the molecule, allows the molecule to copy itself.  The base-pair sequences in the long molecular DNA chain, encode protein-creation information.  This process allows information transfer to be made from one time-period to the next.  This process of information transfer forward in time, is the mechanism by which the evolution of living systems occurs.   This is probably the single most important scientific discovery ever made in all of human history.

Each of these major discovery-jumps, tend to get made by folks outside the *system*, or on the fringes of it.    Einstein - working as a Swiss patent-office researcher, is the canoical example.   Without the assistance of Planck, Einstein's first paper on the photo-electric effect, would never have been published, since Einstein was a nobody, outside the European science establishment.    Everyone knows that example.  But there are also *hundreds* of others.

So, locking down the science-data behind paywalls in this age of the internet, is so crazy-stupid, as to be almost beyond belief.  But it does give us an interesting example of an economic *fail* of commercial economics.   Our current economic restrictions are like that locked library, that Liebniz got the key for when he was a kid.

The libraries should not be locked.    And it is curious that the internet is turning into this big sinkhole of locked-libraries and Sideshow-Bob entertainment crap for children.   Curious.   I suppose this is the Rant-for-Today - like the 1984 Orwellian "Two-Minute Hate", perhaps.  (That's now "Twitter", right?   I mean, what the heck is Twitter, if not just a vector for your daily "Two Minute Hate"?)

Here is another new discovery:   The internet might be toxic.    It actually might really be a *very bad thing*, and this inverts much of what many have come to believe.   But this is not a new thought, is it?

It's like those authors who wrote books, whining that "Literature is Dead!  No one *reads* anymore!"...  So they write a book to tell everyone.   Silly - but actually this was the zeitgeist of the late 1960's - 1970's.    Television was going to destroy literature and art.  Of course, that didn't happen.   We had to wait for the internet to have that happen, right? 

Sometimes, just when you think all is lost, and everything has completely turned into rotting shit, you discover a flower growing in the smelly pile of manure you are standing on  (or even buried in, maybe).  And the flower turns out to be a new horticultural species variant that you can clone easily, creates a high-protein seed, and is resistant to disease.   So you patent it and market it, and it makes you crazy-wealthy.    The financial markets are like that.   Really.   

And this looks like where we are now.    Do we find the "flower in the Poop", or are we all to be buried in the coming 'SHTF' storm?    The current markets seem to have a different take on this view each day now - sometimes, each hour.   Take care.  Volatility lies ahead, I suspect.

And here is link to an interesting site I found, which summarized the ancient hero's of Republican Rome.  Learn where Hollywood filmakers steal their ideas from, and how the US City of Cincinnati got its name:

https://historycollection.co/spqr-roman-republics-influential-leaders/3/

[Jan, 21, 2020] - Another Corona, Please. - I see a world performing like a drunken American, after having had too many Mexican beers,    It's OK as long as he is having fun, but once he gets behind the wheel, or out to the range, or climbs into the pilot's seat, people start dying. This is beyond just being sad.  It is slowing becoming quite tragic.

In the last year for which data was published, before US government "gag orders" shut down the information, Apple is on record for having turned over 14,000 iCloud backups, to US government spy agencies.  The iCloud backups are not encrypted, and the orders to turn over information, are made typically by secret court orders, which are not public information.

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/exclusive-apple-dropped-plan-encrypting-120506800.html

In the Second World War, the USA, the British and the Allies (ie.  Our parents, etc.) fought against fascism and the tragically evil murder-states that Gemany and Japan had turned into.   It is both sad and curious to see what has happened since.  Arguments in favour of the necesscity of the Korean and Vietnam wars are valid, and even the first Gulf War to free an invaded Kuwait are reasonable and sound.  But the second Gulf War, and the US invasion of Iraq, and the murder of its (evil) an corrupt leader, started to stretch things just a bit.  The estimates by the UN suggest over 600.000 people died as the direct results of US invasion actions of Iraq..

Well, such is war, we all say.  But war has given way to routine murder now.  And this is being enabled by deeply dishonest government agents, spies, and liars who are now top-level political figures.   US President Trump has shown himself to be an unstable, dishonest and murderous creature, and who sits - now proveably - at the top of murder-machine of deeply impressive features and abilities.    This is really an interesting and curious development, given the founding charters and legal process and constitution of the USA.

What the Americans - and the free-world - fought against back in the middle of the 20th century, America itself has managed to morph into.   This is really bizarre and surprising.

Apple had plans to provide reasonable encryption - end-to-end, properly done - on it's iCloud backups, but dropped the plan to appease the US spy agencies and the FBI.   

These facts are proven: The USA abuses and tortures it's political prisoners, it requires it's technology companies to turn over both meta-data and actual private data-backups - which are by default non-encrypted - and this information is then used to operate robotic aircraft and carry out murders of military and civilian persons in foreign countries that the USA is not at war with.  These actions violate local and US laws.     This is actually quite an amazing and surprising transition, is it not? 

And when these illegal murder-missions are launched, the deaths can snowball quickly, as the events in Iran have shown.   A plane-load of our people were murdered there.

Can anyone, anywhere really believe that this *complete* reversal of all the basic and honorable ideals that the USA once stood for - really assist or promote the cause of world peace?  Are we all not just programming our own destruction - and the rise of powerful neo-criminal groups like ISIS?  Of course, as no other outcome can be expected by any rational person.   Every illegal and cruel action provokes an equal reaction.  This is the N3 response.

The debate about encryption is really basic.   Really, really basic.

I warn clients, friends and associates about the dangers of the internet "cloud".  It is a profoundly risky idea, and represents something that has an ability to implement essentially what took down Winston and Julia in Orwell's novel: 1984.   It is a kill vector.  It is a virus vector.  It is high risk, with low benefit.

We do *not* use "iCloud", despite our Apple devices trying to vector us into enabling it by lots of little tricks.   We consider iCloud-avoidance just plain, old-fashioned wise behaviour - nothing more.  Keep your private stuff private, or you will be put at risk, and damaged, economically, and maybe even in other ways.  This is just basic, English, common sense.  It used to be understood by all sensible people.

Any data you put on the internet is simply public.  It is "in the wild", in the world.  You may as well just print it and publish it on Youtube or Facebook.  Except these are now being actively censored.  What you don't want to be seen, will be seen.  And what you may want to see, may be actively filtered and surpressed.

So, folks - heed the warning:  The good-days of the internet are over.  This is surprising and of course, more than just a little sad.   The technological link-ups of the 'net have created an ugly combination of mass-monitoring of all private action, and enabled abusive fascists to not only gain power and operate illegal kill-projects which cannot even be called "war", but has also allowed them to come to power in the first place.  It is quite an astonishing development.

Imagine if Hitler and Goebels had had the internet, and had prevented anyone from using strong-encryption?   Actually, they did, and they tried.   It was called radio and cinema.  Radios of the day, had push-buttons to select stations, not tuning dials.  The cinema news-reel clips are very impressive.  The story of the "Tunny" high-security code, and it decryption by computer is interesting and well known.  But it is also useful and instructive to study the news reel films.   Examples used to be on Youtube - but the historical propaganda examples have been removed.   Also surprising and unfortunate.  This information set is now blocked.

This is all really quite amazing.   The abusive dishonesty of the US political process is matched now by the abusive dishonesty of the US government process. 

It's almost as if the American political and government machinery - in fighting fascism and terrorism - have quietly and carefully adopted the mechanisms and methods of their adversaries.   Rather like Israel has done.   And I guess this is not that surprising.

But it means we are now living in a *very* different world.  And what it means for countries like Canada and Japan and NATO members and so on, is that  we can no longer assume that the American Government entities represent the same political ideals or respect for freedoms that are accepted as part of the legal structures of our countries.  

We need to review and probably adjust all our treaties and linkages and other arrangements that we have with the Americans.    Basically, it comes down to a simple fact:  The bad guys look like they have taken over down there, and those folks can't be trusted.

We must govern ourselves accordingly, and re-think - and re-structure - our international arrangements.   This has now become a serious, top-priority task, regardless of one's political party membership. 

Nature, time and elections may solve these problems for us, and for them also.   But we here still need to ask ourselves some basic questions.

[Jan. 20, 2020] - The Forester's Daughter.  Lovely, sunny day, with powerful January high-pressure system in place.  Bitter cold, but the possibility of spring is proven.   Busy day.  We bought a car - well, a small 4-wheel drive SUV - a pretty white Honda CRV.  Matches the colour of the landscape.

[Jan. 19, 2020] - Army of the 12 Monkeys. - or  maybe "How I Learned to Stop Worrying, and Love The Virus"?    The  MERS-like Coronavirus outbreak of a severe respiratory infection, in city of Wuhan, China, is serious.   Nature will not be cheated.   Our only defense may be bedrest, and morbid humor.

A virus is really an amazing evolutionary development - essentially a ball of DNA, which is not really "alive" by itself.  It is just a data-set of base pair sequences (the DNA information set), that gets loaded into an operational living cell, where it then is able to replicated itself.   

The "coronavirus" is called what it is, because the glops of binding, defensive proteins that surround it, and make the thing look like the "corona" around the sun (during an eclipse), or the electric dischage around a high-voltage conductor (top of a tesla coil).  ("Corona" means a garland or a crown, in Latin. )

SARS is a coronavirus, as was MERS (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome).   Some info, from the Center for Disease Control, in Atlanta: 

This is an image of the SARS virus, from CDC:

https://www.cdc.gov/about/images/history/sars/pgall_img4.jpg

Some summary material from CDC on the coronavirus:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/index.html

Detailed technical article link below, on internal details of SARs coronavirus structure and operational features (ie. how it infects and kills the hairly little cells in our lungs called "cilia"  that let us breathe.)  I like to read technical articles.    The jist of this very technical report, suggests that the "human ciliated airway epithelia (HAE)" characteristics - specifically enhance the lethality and infectiousness of SARs - and such characteristics are less present in the monkeys and bats and civit cats that also carry the virus.   These guys created an "in-vitro" model of HAE, and then used a cloned version of the SARs virus - with fluorescent green-glowing protein slotted into the virus - to track its infection action.   Cool science, actually.  Just wish they could write better.

The little glops of protein that make the "corona" are a "spike glycoprotein" - basically a sugar-protein - that make it easy for the virus to interact with a human generated enzyme called angiotensin converting enzyme-2 (hACE2) - and this lets the virus slip into healthy cilia cells and kill as it replicates.  The rapid destruction of cilia impairs lung function, and provokes a strong cytokine reaction,

(I almost died from something like this, a couple of  years ago.  I got this wild, quick-acting pneumonia, that left me lying on the floor, gasping for air.  My research later, after I recovered, suggested it was a "cytokine storm" - an intense, violent immune-system response, which actually saved me.  The lower part of my lungs filled up with fluid - I could only get air in *very* rapid little breaths, using the upper-lung tissue.  I coughed fluid for days, but the process saved me, and I'm fine now.   My symptoms matched the flu that folks got, back in 1918.)

This article is interesting, and virological research might be the difference between comfortable human survival and a mass-dieback of the species.  (Mass diebacks are common in species that experience very rapid population growth, for obvious reasons.)

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1316022/

More info on how folks survive SARs/MERs (coronavirus and IAV) type of severe lung infections:  This article is also extremely technical, but is very well written (medical stuff is particularly interesting to read - it is a *lot* like advanced financial-modelling material - full to bursting with acronyms and references, and reads like it was written by a committee (it mostly is), but also, it has to actually say something to get published. 

Most doctors have no clue how to treat an advanced pneumonia-like infection now, since antibiotics do not work against viruses.  But having had a "cytokine storm" rage thru me, and almost kill me - I have an interest in this stuff.   It is curious I survived - but I did.  I found some tetracycline, and some old pen-G, and took the anti-biotics as I was recovering, to protect against secondary infection.  The amount of dreck and fluid I coughed up was quite significant. 

This year, at the beginning of December, we both had extremely bad flu-like infections again - but not to the point of almost dying - just really bad, two-week flu's that caused massive amount of yellow mucous to be expelled - we coughed for weeks.    This year also, we had both got flu shots, for immunization.  This might have either helped or hurt - we can't know. 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6024012/

But two things we've learned: 

1)  Immunization is the only effective defense we have against against these new virual outbreakes.   You have to get immunized - regardless of the risks.  It's a risk-mitigation strategy.  A bad influenza virus or a SARS/MERS coronavirus can kill you very quickly.

2) You maybe preserve health, by allowing a sickness to run it's course.  If you get sick, take it easy, and stay home.     IL-22, IL-15, NK cells, and so on  (human immune agents) can help repair damaged cells, but if these come-on too soon, you may just increase the viral load, and the pathogen can ramp-up it's infectiousness, since new cellls => new viruses being generated.   You can get a runaway response, similar to a nuclear meltdown. (cf. the May equation for chaotic growth, which can runaway explosively).

Maybe the old, old doctors who "bled" people were not completely stupid.  The trick looks like it might be to let the body get quite "sick", and thus reduce metabolic function to prevent the virus from experiencing runaway growth.  (ie. Maybe you want to prevent IL-22, (which stimulates cell-growth to repair the damage)  from flooding in too soon.)  Then, as the virus-growth has been contained, you treat with anti-bacteria compounds to preserve homeostatis  (ie. a reasonable degree of balanced "health" - what we used to call "dynamic equalibrium" - how all living systems stay living.)   And you can then let the cytokine-response dial-in the agents to repair the damage.  If you start "damage repair" too soon, you might actually be enhancing the ability for the virus to overwhelm the system, and thus engineer a lethal outcome.

It's good to see doctors and medical research people start thinking this way. 

 

[Jan. 18, 2020] - Simplicity is Elegance.  Been experimenting with the MMX board, which is an old Pentium III MMX which runs original MS-DOS 5.0.

The "retro-computing" trend is for real.   It is not just nostalgia.   It offers useful information.  As you experiment with old, tractable technology, you can consider: "How do we encode real AI-capability onto a low-power, capacity-constrained device.  Is it possible?"  I think it might be.

The Pentium MMX board is very cool.   I've been using it as the controller for the first Z-80 board, but the MMX only had a 3-1/4" hard-shell floppy disk drive to load code.  The MMX has a 500 mb hard disk, and a CD-ROM drive configured. But it had no network access.   I found an old 1994 3Com ethernet card, with an RJ-45 access connector (and even a co-ax connector!).   Using the old "3C509.COM" ethernet packet-driver software, I was able to get mTCP stuff running on the MMX board.

This means now, I can have a real MS-DOS computer, on the internet.  The mTCP program suite allows a program "FTPSRV" to run, which even lets the MMX return "ping" requests. 

The old "crynwr" packet drivers don't seem to be available anymore, but the following sites were useful.  I found the 3c509.com packet driver on an old 80386 I still had. The site below has packet-drivers, which you have to load, so that mTCP programs can see the ethernet card:

http://www.georgpotthast.de/sioux/packet.htm

The mTCP programs are maintained by one fellow, who is a scholar and a gentleman.  His name is Michael Brutman, and he has just updated the mTCP program-suite, as of Jan. 1st, 2020.   The FTPSRV program works well on the old MMX board.  I used "yum" to install an original, no-encryption FTP on one of my CentOS-7 boxes.  Mr. Brutman's site is:

http://www.brutman.com/mTCP/

Getting the packet driver and ethernet card to work took a lot of experimenting.  I tried many other old cards and many different ethernet packet-drivers, before I found the 3Com combination that worked. 

Once I got the driver & mTCP programs working, I then found a DOS-based full-graphical web-browser, called ARACHNE, which I have finally got working.  It is an amazing collection of software.  There is no HTTPS access, but it will render HTTP pages, on an old DOS machine!  I found ARACHNE via this site:

https://www.bttr-software.de/freesoft/comm2.htm

The coolest thing about ARACHNE is the screen-saver program that is a part of it.  ARACHNE is like a talking-dog, with a bad accent.  It's the fact that it works (talks) at all, that makes it so amazing.   And it's worth installing and configuring and learning, just to see the built-in screensaver engage.  I think the programmers spent most of their efforts on writing the screensaver thing.  It is impressive. 

Film notes:  From the Japanese DVD collection:    Screened Jim Jarmusch's "Coffee & Cigarettes", tonite, which was made in 2003.  Has Iggy Pop, Tom Waits, Bill Murray, etc.  It's a hilarious collection of black-and-white short vignettes.   I loved Jarmusch's "Broken Flowers", since it introduced me to the music of Holly GoLightly, who is excellent.   

A toast - to Paris in the 1920's, and NYC, in the late 1970's.  Who knew, at the time?  We met the New York Dolls, when they did a concert in Bala, at the "Kee to Bala", up in Muskoka, back in the late 70's.  

Strange times - we are in "Blade Runner" time now - and the Americans don't even have a working space-launch system that can carry humans into orbit, much less to other worlds.   And the music has become just silly and bad.   There are these rare times, where Art and Science seem to advance quickly, and new ideas blossom and bloom.   These times come along, where magic and creativity seem to be amplified and enhanced.  And then the time of magic ends.

You can still make money.  But the magic is gone.

[Jan. 17, 2020] - A Time of No Libraries. - "Libraries will get you thru times of no money, better than money will get you thru times of no libraries."    The fellow who told me this old investor's aphorism is no longer with us.   He died many years back, in a foreign country.  His body was found in his hotel room in the morning.  I suspect he was done in for reasons I can't go into here.  But if travelling in a foreign country, on business, one should probably not  travel alone, and without security.

From Africa, Asia, the Far East, the Middle East and Eastern Europe - I've met so many folks who travelled because their homelands became places of "no libraries".   Their worlds and their societies ended, for various reasons.   The "Cultural Revolution" in China, the German-Russian invasion of Poland at the beginning of the Second World War, a military coup in Pakistan, the explusion of the Asians from Uganda by Idi Amin, the Ethiopian-Eritrean War, the FARQ death-squads of Columbia, and of course, the latest group, Syrians and others from Palestine and the Middle East who managed to escape to here.  If I think about it, I can add more to this list. 

I've personally met and spoke with people who watched civil society collapse &  fail in their homelands, and their nations-states simply be destroyed - sometimes by external forces, but also sometimes by internal government agents and entities who engineered atrocity and mayhem for personal or political gain.  (I am impressed that the Chinese don't just dig up Mao's body, and dump the corpse into a septic tank.  I think they show remarkable restraint, after the needless horror and engineered sadism of the "Cultural Revolution".   I understand why the Chinese Communists are so afraid of social unrest.  They should be afraid.)

Humans can be amazingly cruel, stupid and foolish.  It really is quite astonishing, just how badly and with what little knowledge, powerful political agents can act.  

But sometimes, we build libraries.  Libraries are a very good thing.  Most of what I learned, I learned in libraries, sitting, reading, and working on things I didn't understand at the beginning, but grew to understand as I explored and read.   When I would get bored with my project, I would go read other books not connected with my project.  The most interesting book I ever read, was a Phd thesis written on the whore-houses of London in the Victorian times.   We think of the English as prissy and Victorian culture as reserved and restrained to the point of constipation.   Nothing could be further from the truth, and detailed (and honest) historical research proves this.  The London whorehouses were known as "Introducing Houses", and many were run by the hookers themselves.   Whoring has a long and almost noble history in England. 

And so did coffee-drinking.   The nation known now for tea-drinking, actually invented the "Coffee House".   And the first coffee-houses became meeting places where the technical & financial businesses of shareholder-owned companies were effectively invented.  The Coffee-Houses were places were people could meet and make plans and organize business ventures - much like the Starbuck's of today.

Social organization - without the toxic elements of "Government" being involved - can be a very good thing.   Government - like organized religion - is often the architect and the enabler of the very worst that humans can invent.   The hideous and destructive evil of "communism" provides the best example.  If Russia could have avoided the tragedy of communist mass-theft and mass-murder, it would be the richest nation on the planet now.  The "Bolsheviks" simply siezed power by force, and held the entire nation in slavery for 70 years.  Mao and his group of bandits did much the same thing in China.  The Chinese communists won, because they were more cruel and effective than the Nationalists, and because of the terrible war against the Japanese invaders.

And now the ugly apparatus of cruel, evil Government-controlled kill-machinery is reaching right out to my little nearby villages and is killing my neighbours, who were visiting their families at Christmas in Tehran.   The accidental shoot-down of the Ukranian Boeing passenger aircraft, by Iranian air-defence anti-missle systems, was a direct result of the actions of that grotesque person, Donald Trump.  Iran cannot be blamed for having it's (effective) anti-missle air defences engaged.   Yes, they made a tragic and awful error - but my research indicates that this is exactly what happens (quite a lot), during times of conflict and war.

The American news media, which - look, lets try to be honest here - is controlled by people who are very sympathetic to those who operate the Israeli death-squads - has spun this mass-murder by Trump into just the "taking out of a terrorist".  And this is deeply and aggressively dishonest.

Trump's murder-drones killed 12 people on the highway in from the Baghdad airport, including an Iraqi military commander who had been helping the American forces in Iraq in the war against the ISIS bandits.

Donald Trump did basically the same thing that Stephen Paddock did.  He ordered - and thereby committed - an act of mass-murder.   The US media can spin and spin and spin, like a dervish holding a gyroscope, but the truth of this fact remains.  And the events that this unwise person put in motion, caused the murder of a planeload of Canadians.  This must stop.  This man must go.

If Trump ever comes to Canada, he seriously risks being arrested for murder.  The man has also made it clear that top-level assassination is now a legitimate US-government policy option.   The British were smart enough not to just kill Napolean.   The US war-planners during WW2 were smart enough not to nuke Tokyo.   The murder of Caesar showed the folly of "decapitation" as a political strategy to the ancient world.   

Trump has made a serious error, ordering an assassination.   This seems - to me at least - an astonishingly unwise thing for a pumpkinheaded US President, with his orange-hair, to do.   It seems really unwise.   He has put himself in the world's crosshairs.  My Irish grandmother would say "What's sauce for the goose - is sauce for the gander".  Did the USA really want to start a "Decapitation War"?

Mr. Trump is now on-plan to be remembered as the 'Worst President in USA History".   The Christians and the US Right now have no choice now but to abandon this person, or else re-write the Bible, and throw Jesus under the bus.  Trump's primary constituency now are people who are not very smart, the TV-ignorant and the hateful.  I just can't see this going too much further.  The USA is not completely foolish, and the Republicans are not all hateful fools. 

But perhaps the curious American government and political mechanisms can demostrate successful operation, and remove this toxic clown before he does any more tragic damage.

I remember when Richard Nixon fired the Watergate Special Prosecuter, whose name was Archibald Cox.  Bumper stickers appeared all thru American, saying:  "Impeach the Cox-sacker".

No one in North America will benefit if this current fellow brings us a "Time of No Libraries". 

[Jan. 15, 2020] - Secret Histories - There are these various "Secret Histories" that have been written.  The first was by Procopius, and when I first discovered it, I was delighted, transported, terrified, horrified, and just a little bit enlightened - and so on.    Procopius set out to document the general awfulness of the two people who ran the Eastern Roman Empire, back in the Sixth Century - Justinian and Theodora, Emperor and Empress.     Just Google: "Procopius secret history".  The page that Google throws up when you search this is a fine little work of art in itself - quite impressive, really.

I awoke from another Faustian fantasy-nightmare, to transport boxes of crap to the highway, so Central Services could collect it - and driving the laneway in the dark, suddenly realized, I had seen all this crazy political stuff before somewhere - in a book I read long ago.  

Attorney General Barr - (where do the 'Muricans get these people?) is angry that Apple is not helping the FBI read a "terrorist's" cellphone.  Maybe this fellow should raise the questions of why the American military are in the business of training  jihadist Saudi Arab "Officers" in US military establishments?   I just want to weep, gnash my teeth, and put on a sack-cloth and cover myself with ash in frustration at the stupid crazy-mad stuff I see our American Empire people tracking along doing.   We are joined at the  hip to these dear folks, and I have family and friends embedded in their matrix.    And their murder-monkey kill-nonsense is starting to cause local folks around my furusato to get murdered.  This is a problem people - and it is just growing.

These unwise populists pols start out playing roles  - and then the roles start playing them.  The whole process takes on a life of its own, and a "Time of Misery and Failure and Dissolution" is tee-ed up to begin - all quite unnecessarily.   Barr is being a clown, and should just stand down.  Strong encryption - without stupid "backdoors" for the cops, is necessary to keep the global economy we have built (and is now worth many TRILLIONS), working properly.  And if this dear fellow cannot understand this simple fact, then he needs to be quietly shown the exit door, and sent out to do some golfing, so he does not disturb and damage the correct order of things, and blow everything up.   

And I realize I have seen this movie before, too.    The NSA were unwise, but now have become wise, and have finally seen what their true role should be.  Good for them.  (Finally!)  Their job is to not to damage and rape our technology so that bugs and wiretaps can be planted everywhere - their fine job is to make sure this CANNOT HAPPEN.  And they finally seem to have figured this out.  Bravo guys.  Seriously - this is a good thing.

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/us-microsoft-nsa-security-flaw-182512448.html

This is what our spy-guys need to be doing - helping us keep our encrypto-dependent technology secure, not inventing evil ways to break and hack it.     In this modern world, we are now all ABSOLUTELY dependent now on this technical infrastructure we have built to run commerce and knowledge-distribution on this planet.   If we blow-up and and break all this, then the world will experience an economic collapse that will make the 1930's - with it's 25% unemployment and starving, bankrupt farmers (cf. John Steinbeck and those Wrathful Grapes...) look mild and fine, compared to the post-technology world we will experience.   The blown-up, broken-technology world will look like the collapse of the Roman Empire - a hard-core, no-civilization outcome for many people.   This must be understood.

Strong encryption is now a pre-condition for the operational maintenance and continued development of global civilization itself.

Barr needs to sit down and just think a bit more.   Apple is doing the right thing here, by making their phones "unbreakable", and the people who think they are making society and civilization safer by hacking into cellphones to get names of folks that some Saudi wanker telephoned before he went "full jihad", is just not true.   We all have to start saying this this clearly, because key people have not learned this yet.

If you love America, enjoy peace, and require freedom to live, what does one do?

I mean, do I have to have a front-row seat at the end of America?   I truly like the place, and I would rather not see it get torn down and ripped apart by unwise people and abusive clowns.

Here Mr. President - here is a simple idea:

If you want to stop murder-attacks and terrorist activity - you might stop doing the same thing around the world to people you don't like.    Stop this  "violence is the solution" model that hate-mongering angry folks keep trying to sell you.   And stop importing people from Saudi Arabia - a corrupt nation run by murderers - into your Military!   The US military - especially the US Navy - is a pretty impressive bunch of professional, honourable folks, who have a strong tradition of discipline, bravery and wisdom.   Probably the same goes for the rest of your military guys, also.

The FBI and other security-intelligence agencies should focus on doing better analysis and vetting of Officer Candidates from foreign lands, rather than trying to force technology companies to build security-degraded products that would put the entire American economy at risk.  Understand this: Without a working economy, there will be no "America" in the future.  And this outcome must be avoided.

America's natural allies in the Middle East are actually the Iranians, not the Saudi Arabs.   Is there no one with creative ability who can see this?   Iran is a violent, religiously-crazed nation, that freed itself from a ruthless regime, using a violent revolution.   Pretty much like USA did, back in 1776.    No one in USA-land sees this?  

Your natural allies in the region are not the Royal Saudi Family, and the klepto-state that those persons run, but those angry, revolutionary Iranians.  They are just like you guys.  Iran and America should be natural allies.   Old Ronald Reagan - who had more brains in his boot than most of the current crop of politicals now have in total - was clever enough to know this.  He tried to find peace with everyone, and mostly, he found it.   He prepared for war (the SDI or "Star Wars" program), and thereby ended war (the Cold War).   He knew what he was doing - and was probably the greatest President since George Washington.  

What is wrong with the current crew?

And how do we fix it?   What the Democrats have on offer is just a bucket of bad economics and outright financial fraud and confiscation.   If any of their current crop of candidates take power, they will do great damage, and impair America's prosperity.

The British have a good political model for fixing this sort of problem.  Prime Minister Boris Johnson has just demostrated the effective workmanship of that model.  And democracy bloody well works - the recent election results in Taiwan show that also.   Fear-mongering and threats do not intimidate folks.   Once they get democracy - folks will fight to keep it - because democracy is a better way to live.  It is just that simple.  It's a better social model.   Iran - for all its bad behaviour and faults - is actually almost a real democacy.  It is a hell of a lot more democracy than exists in Saudi Arabia.

At the very least, the USA should remove it's military base in Saudi, and stop taking sides in the Gulf.    And the murdering  death-by-drone activity has to stop.   Trump's assassination of Iranian General Soleimani was the most abusive, illegal action I have ever seen a politician take.   Trump almost looks to be either under the control of some entity that does not have America's interests as it's objective, or maybe he is or emotionally compromised somehow, and is unable to judge right from wrong.  

The NSA seems to have seen the light of wisdom, and is now acting to protect rather than assault the USA.  This is a fine step in a good direction.  Strong encryption and security-of-personal communication is a pre-condition to a functioning, prosperous economy now.

But the politics is still broken.  And broken politics will cause us to lose it all, someday, if we don't learn the lessons from history. 

Especially the lessons from those "Secret Histories" that actually tell the truth, instead of the made up dreck that we are fed by the social-programmers, the fake-news media, and the other liars and fraudsters that grow rich by their deceptions.

And we need to do more than just put a black man in a white house.

A working democracy requires people who think - it has to be more than just angry children who react to things, and dishonest tub-thumpers who exploit the ignorance of the kids.

This is why it is best if the truth comes out, and there are no secrets.   Then maybe we won't need to read "Secret History" to find the truth of things, and better, wiser choices can be made by everyone, every day.

[Jan. 14, 2020] - Furusato - This is a Japanese song-title that means "Hometown" or homeland.  It was written in 1914, music by Teiichi Okano and lyrics by Tatsuyuki Takano.  The lyrics and tune are charming, and have a delightful universality.    A close English equivalent, is Stephen Foster's 1853 song: "Old Kentucky Home".   Both songs express a yearning for the simple pleasure of a rural childhood home - but one that is now lost to the passage of time.

http://utc.iath.virginia.edu/songs/kyhomef.html

Foster's song is also interesting, in that it speaks of how "hard times" followed, and the hearth and home that knew pleasure, now knows sorrow.  

"The day goes by like a shadow o'er the heart,
With sorrow, where all was delight:"

Furusato - which is a nostalgic children's song - also describes a deep emotional sensation.  The word could be technically translated as 'old village" - but it's meaning is more like the German "heimatland" or "homeland".

The lyrics of "Furusato"  evoke a similar yearning as Foster's song does, and as many effective and popular folk-songs do.   The Japanese even have a technical term to describe this process - "furusato zukuri" = "home-village/native-place making" = a social process by which a we-feeling and "homeland-desire-comfort"  sensation is evoked.  This is of course part of the cultural socialization process that every nation-state uses to create the "social-glue" that helps society function smoothly.

Furusato is this wonderful children's song - but it is also neural-programming, let's be clear.  All songs work this way, to some degree.  All social information works this way.   Humans are remarkably easy to manipulate, as our neural mechanisms have evolved to keep us alive, and protect us by making it crazy-easy for our net's to load heuristic algos quickly, and get the data called back quickly, and with enough emotional power to make us take immediate action.  See the tiger's face, or the black-yellow stripes on the wasp, and know the face of risk and pain, and take action - real quick.

Successful investing, and knowing-the-future (like dear Cassandra), require deep sensitivity to datasets, and yet an almost pathological ability to become emotionally detached, and make difficult, pain-generating decisions - and then acting on them.

"Furusato" is powerful, because it is not just a song, but also an algorithm - "Furusato-zukuri".

You have to be able to listen to Furusato  (use a "babble-fish algo" and get simultaneous real-time translation, if you want the full experience), and feel the power of the "we/us-together feeling", and the sensucht (desire/yearning) for home-town and childhood pleasures - combined with the lovely minor-key music - (if done right, you surrender your emotions, let the memories flood, etc.), and it can bring tears to your eyes.    

But at the same time - be observant - and see the dangerous social-linking that deep feeling can cause.   Suddenly, the mental image of WInston Smith, in Orwell's novel "1984" comes up, and you remember the "Two-Minute Hate" - a similar hard-core process, where "war-hate-anger-kill" feelings are system-generated effectively, using socialization modelling & neural-programming techniques. 

Japanese kids learn "Furusato" in school, and that is a good thing.  

But the truth is that "nationalism" on planet Earth is a silly and sad concept, really.  That is what the Apollo 11 pictures taught us.  We are living on this tiny lifeboat in the dark void.   Does it make sense for people in a small lifeboat, to start drawing boundries and borders?  And developing different religions and deep-feeling social constructs of We versus Them? 

Albert Einstein called "nationalism" an "infantile disease".  He said it was the "measles of mankind" and hoped humans could grow out of this childhood disease quickly, and not be killed by it.

My "Cassandra" algorithms tell me clearly what future awaits us all, if Trump and Pompeo and the other war-monkeys in USA continue to hold power and use gangland-style "hits" as public policy options.   The "Netanyahu Doctrine" (or perhaps the "Israeli Model"?) that the USA has now adopted, will become SOP ("Standard Operating Procedure") around the world, if we do not change direction.   Murdering people to gain political cover and alter public opinion, is not a legitimate political strategy, and it is very poor State-craft.  It is pretty awful "trade-craft", too.   You want to turn them and ask them questions - not splatter the ground with their blood.

Troy will fall guys, unless you can get the whole planet to feel that "Furusato" sensation.  Earth is our "Heimatland", not some particular part of the lifeboat.  

The situation could be manageable, given the USA's "checks-and-balances" system - except for the powerful, dishonest actors who have brought us this "decapitation" strategy, and take political benefit from the spilling of blood, claiming it is "self-defence".   You know who these people are. 

And that's why those tunes like "Furusato" and "My old Kentucky Home" can bring tears to your eyes.   In our DNA, we know that the cycle-of-destruction is our fate.  And we know we are all on the path to the graveyard.  We know we're most likely to fail if we offer any warning, but we all have to at least try to effect a course-change, when we can see clearly what lies ahead - even if we face Cassandra's outcome.

Because the future always matters.

[Jan. 12, 2020] - Cassandra's Legacy - Suppose for a moment you had Cassandra's Curse, and had accurate fore-knowledge, but also knew with certainty, you would be unable to offer guidence or even be believed.  What rational action is possible?   Put on your "economist" hat, and set-aside neural-misdirection, and know you have no interesting in being "nudged" in any specific direction.   You face the "Hamlet" problem, no?   Suffer the arrows, or try to assault a sea of troubles - niether action attractive or even sensible.   

We face a continued algo of markets which are being monetarily goosed to a degree that is extreme, in all of history - combined with a degraded political model that is just plain unravelling in a manner that is both tragic and dangerous.  Throw in the massive expansion of data-on-everything, (Apache Cassandra?) and the expanding problem of fraud and deception that taints all human interaction thru the technology now, and you have a witches-brew of possible nasty outcomes.

But what really keeps me up at nite, in real worry-mode, is the nagging sense that the bad-guys are winning now.  Sort of everywhere, both quietly, and vocally.  Cassandra keeps her mouth shut, and just goes to her keyboard, and makes bets.  She expects to be disbelieved, and has given up on Troy and Apollo.  Her fingers move quickly, and she uses anonymizing code.   "Let the cities burn..." she thinks to herself as she places her trades..     And most of all, I fear the wisdom of her actions.   We are deep in the future now.   Nothing matters at all now, and I'm sure she knows it.  Cassandra looks at Troy - it's gleaming glass and steel towers -  and she can only see it as shattered wreckage, burning.  She stays silent, but not still.  It's the only rational option possible. 

 [Jan. 10, 2020] - Collateral Damage  - Tonite, our local TV station showed pictures of a young Iranain-Canadian woman who had moved to live in Canada, and was back in Iran, visiting her family.  She was a dentist, and is -- was -- married to her dentist husband.  They ran a local clinic, and had a young daughter.   Her husband now faces a horrific loss - both his wife and his young daughter killed as a result of the crash of the Ukranian Boeing 737 airliner.

This crash looks like it was probably an accidental "shoot-down", due to Iranian air-defences being engaged - of course, accidentally.   But this makes it *directly* the fault of that cruel pair  - Pompeo and Trump.     The amount of blood on the hands of these two monkeys just continues to flow & grow.   Will someone not stop this tragic horror-show?

I wish that Mike Pompeo could see the images of this young woman, and her daughter.   Pompeo and Trump are murdering Canadians now.  This has to end.

I watched Pompeo spout-on about how pleased he was that his henchmen have murdered 12 people - including General Soleimani.   He said "American lives were at stake", and I don't believe him.    He looks like a tool of the forces of darkness. 

No matter what happens to Mr. Trump - no one who examines carefully the unnecessary, murderous destruction this person and his henchment have caused - can possibly have any delusion that he has done anything positive for the USA.   He has missed his chance for greatness.   It's over.

It's now up to a few honest and honorable Republicans in the US Senate, to hold their noses and join with the Democrats, and vote this fellow into retirement and oblivion, and make some positive change happen.   Study your history, guys.   You can change the course of things.  Do what you know in your hearts has to be done - so we can step back from this trek towards the heart of darkness.

[Jan. 9, 2020] - Scaramooch, Scaramooch... (shades of Freddy Mercury) -  "I see a little silloetto of a man..."  ["Thunderbolts and lightning - very very frightening..."]   (and so on, with the Rapsody).    So, Scaramucci has suggested the Republicans "put a relief pitcher in".   Well, how about that?  What a curiously good idea.   Mr. Trump could declare that he has "made America great again", and indicate he will not be running for a second term.  He could leave on a bloody great high-note, and open the field to some younger, stronger lads in the Party, who could then have an open, hard-hitting, real convention and actually, maybe pick a good, strong fellow - a fellow who is young and good-looking, and wise.  Shades of Meatloaf... "Two outta three ain't bad.." ?  :)

We've seen this movie in Canadastan.  Young, fresh new face comes along, and he wipes the floor with everyone else.   Nothing sticks to him - he is ziconian-teflon - he can dress up like a darkie and sing Jolson songs in "blackface", and no one cares.  He can do anything he wants, and the voters still back him - because he has that magic quality - YOUTH!

See:  A tribe will pick a young, strong leader over the old Chiefton, just about every time, since they know that the relentless march of time will crush the old man, and that will leave them all headless and armless and vulnerable to their enemies.   This choice-model is inside human DNA I suspect.   It's why California voted for Arnold.  It explains most transitions in most hierarchies and many companies.  It's why soldiers and sailors and airmen like war - the promotions come quickly, as the dotards get blown to bits, or have to fall on their swords, Roman-style.    The new young gun comes to town, and gains immediate acceptance.  Politics is a blood-sport.  One needs to wear kevlar to prevent from becoming Ceasar, even at the best of times.  To retire with grace, and claim success, is a good outcome for any oldster in the game.

So, Scaramucci's idea is brilliant.  Genius, actually.   Trump could finish his single term on a high-note, step aside and play the role of "Elder Statesman", and save his reputation.   I'm not comfortable with "Mike Pounce" as President, but even that would be ok, if Trump wanted to stand-down now.  The fellow might have had a small stroke, which could perhaps explain (and even mitigate, let's be honest) his very bad behaviour at ordering a mass-murder.   

And gently removing Mr. Trump now would give the Republicans a good shot at winning against Biden or the other whats-his-names (or even worse, the whats-her-names), that the Democrats might field.    The future could be saved.   Maybe.

Perhaps this explains the serious run we are seeing today.  This looks to be more than just a 'relief-rally" because we avoided the Third World Bio-War... It has all the earmarks of a real run beginning.

Bring on the "Roaring Twenties - Part Deux", I guess.  Like that Paul Simon song: "These are the days of wonderment..."

[Jan. 8, 2020] - Winter. - " Spring brings the rain, With Winter, comes pain.  Every season has an end."  - Holly GoLightly, from the soundtrack to "Broken Flowers", a clever and amusing film made several years back.  

The markets are not reacting to political events - at least not too much.  Gold and oil are stronger, but not by much.  So one may assume all is fine?    Not likely.   We remain long, fully invested, but are now concerned that Ursa Major may be in more than just the stars,

Bear markets generally don't begin with violent down-spikes.  Significant market disruptions are usually followed by retracements.  But real Bear markets are more like erosion.  Prices fall by two or three percent a month - nothing dramatic.  It is the long, slow grind that characterizes a real Bear.    Are we looking at this now?   No one can know for sure - but I can speak with honesty here (what I try to do, always), and indicate that we have no debt.   If you use no "gearing", then you can ride the back of the Dragon with some degree of comfort, and maybe even stay above the violent struggle between the Bulls and the Bears.  Maybe.

If you are living in the world and travelling thru it, you will experience weather. You can seek shelter from the storm, but you cannot pretend it will not ever occur.    There will be weather, and there will be seasons.  That's why we all have responsibility to build good structures, and invest wisely.    And yes, if my neighbour's house is burning, one would lend him the use of a fire-hose.  But it is perhaps a different matter, if my neighbour is shooting at people from out his window.  That might call for a different response, would it not?  And if he lives above a shop, do I want to do business there?

I just can't see it being "business as usual" in America, if the nation is dominated by a government led by proven mass-murderers.   BBC News reported last nite that over 30 people died in Iran, as a result of a crowd-crush at a funeral event for General Soleimani.

First as Tragedy, then as Farce...  At present, we appear to be seeing the Tragedy phase.  I suppose we will have to wait until November, to see the beginning of the Farce.

What I suspect we will not see, is any great desire to bid-up prices from current levels.  (5:30 PM  Update: Well, at days end, looks like I'm wrong.  Lots of bid caught today, as both USA MM's and Iranian missle-men dial back the rhetoric in the face of the expanding body-count.   We are still fully-invested, but with no leverage.  That leads to curious situations like today, where we feel quite nervous & uncomfortable - and we make some serious money.)

[Jan. 7, 2020] - SPQR. - The Ancient Roman Empire was not just a State, it was also an Idea.  The Idea was Civilization.  And this idea has stood the test of time.  It is a good and just thing, that is worth trying to protect and maintain.   Civilization represents something beyond just cities and nations and mouth-farting politicians.  It is an Idea, and carries with it responsibility and a requirement for honesty and truthfulness.  When "politicians" degrade and assault this pure Idea, then they must be removed, and replaced.  

America is an interesting and traditionally successful, civil model, and their democracy has historically been effective at correcting error.  

Perhaps it will be this time, also.   One thing is certain:  Trump and Pompeo have to go.  They are not only liars and cheaters - they are now proven, self-confessed mass-murders, and they need to be removed.   I wonder if American democracy can make this happen, before more innocent people are murdered by these people?

[Jan. 6, 2020] - Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire. - US President Trump has been retailing an assertion that Iranian General Soleimani was "planning further attacks" against America.   My information - which could be wrong, of course - suggests that in fact, Soleimani was in the process of making a journey to Baghdad to ask the PMF fighters to stand down, and stop attacking the US embassy compound, as it was seen a pointless thing to do, and had no military objective that was sensible or useful.  The feeling was that it was just making the Iraqi soldiers engaged in the protest look foolish and unprofessional, and that he wanted it to end.

So not only is Mr. Trump a murderer, and a proven liar - but by killing Soleimani he may have also removed a powerful old, grey-haired Iranian who was trying to engineer peace. 

Mr. Trump's murderous action looks to have almost perfectly blown-up any chance for peace with Iran.   It is not unrealistic to think Soleimani was trying to dial-down the protests.

It makes sense.  Soleimani was an old man, with grey hair, and a grey beard.  The pictures floating around the internet are many years out of date.  Recent images of Soleimani show a very old man - and very old men who have daughters recognize that peace has real benefits.

But Trump is a liar and a vicious, spiteful fraudster - a dangerously unstable man who looks now way out of his depth.  His pants may not be on fire just yet - but you can bet his devious brain is boiling with anger and frustration. 

The USA has now fallen deeper - not into some made-up fiction like the "Thucidydes Trap" - but simply into a tragic swamp of deception and criminality.

I used to think Mr. Trump was not a bad person - and that the impeachment thing was just plain wrong, as it looked too much like treason and mutiny.

But now that the man has all this blood on his hands - the hands of a mass-murderer - this changes things.  He appears to be dangerous, dishonest, and unstable.  His removal is a good idea whose time has come.

This is a sad day for America.  But it will be even worse, if this unstable, dangerous liar drags us all into an unnecessary war.  It may even be a small nuclear war.   Or maybe it will be a bio-war - fought with DNA-modified anthrax, re-engineered smallpox virus,  or something like SARS crossed with Ebola.   Iran would be foolish to attack American military outposts.  There are many nice, soft high-value targets inside the USA itself.  Will America close it's borders - just to protect their unstable, violent President and his henchmen?  This is just crazy.  It has to stop.

We are in a world now where seriously advanced technology is available to pretty much everyone.   In such a world, the maintenance of peaceful, law-based relations between nations is something that *everyone* has an interest in preserving.   The world cannot afford to have a US President who is an "active shooter", threatening people with mass-murder if they don't comply with his demands.  This is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

Mr. Trump, and his dishonest Vice-President Pence, need to be removed from power, and some form of "caretaker" government should be established in the USA, until the November elections can be held.   This is now in everyone's interest.

See; This murderous behaviour makes the world vastly more risky.  Ever read Nevil Shute's book "On the Beach"?  In his scenario, the "Third World War" was started by a rogue Egyptian bomber, disguised as a civilian airliner, which dropped a small, Hiroshima-grade nuclear device on New York.  USA assumed it had been attacked by Russia, and launched against them.  The Russians, detecting the incoming missles, launched all against the US and Europe.  The book was written in 1957, when the USA was testing fusion bombs in the atmosphere.    A few years later, came President Jack Kennedy, and the Cuban Missle Crisis.  Kennedy took us to the brink of atomic war with the USSR.  But Shute's book had the war begin as a result of a revenge attack by angry Egyptian nationalists.

So consider the current situation:  Would this not be a *perfect* time to launch a small, nuclear attack against USA - the device delivered in a shipping container, or via an oil-tanker?  The "clever" folks in the State Department and/or the White House, would assume it was an Iranian relatiation, and begin bombing Iranian sites.  CIA and NSA "intelligence" is a unlikely to be helpful, as we all know.  USA political people "believe' what they are told to "believe" - the Bush Administration proved this, and Obama did nothing to improve the sorry situation.   So, this kind of murderous criminality on the part of the US President simply increases the likelyhood that another rogue (or maybe not-so-rogue) actor could initiate an action against a US site - with almost perfect cover.

Mr. Trump is guilty not only of murder and fraud - but also of putting the USA and all it's overseas holdings, in an elevated level of harm's way.    How long will rational, thinking-Americans (damn, but there must be some, somewhere, right?) stand for this foolishness?

[Jan. 5, 2020] - Leaving California. - We enjoyed a lovely California Pinot Noir last nite with dinner.  I suppose that soon we will have to do without California wine.  This will be a sad thing, but the changes coming will likely make it necessary to do without a lot of American-sourced products of many kinds.   California is overdue for an earthquake, and USA itself is overdue for a market retracement, and the murder-monkeyism that is now US foreign-policy means that anyone who can do anything to degrade or limit American military power-projection, may be viewed as a hero by both thinking-people and angry people who are not American bigots or supporters of racist-rogue nations. 

A major war is almost a certainty now, now that assassination is considered to be legitimate American policy.   I deeply fear that Mr. Trump has declared it to be open-season on his own people,  What if the first revenge-assassination of an American official is carried out by an angry Japanese person?  Or by an angry, Anglo-Saxon citizen of England?  Will Trump bomb Japan?   Will he bomb London?  I fear that hundreds, maybe thousands and maybe even millions may die as a result of this murderous, grotesque decision by an obviously out-of-control, mentally unstable individual.   But Trump has the backing of roughly half of America - a strange, wealthy people who seeth with hatred and rage.   And this unstable person is in direct possession of a major nuclear arsenal, and has expressed an interest in using it.  And his Vice-President has even invented a new lie that connects the Iranians with the 9/11 attacks - attacks which were carried out by Saudi Arabs, whom Trump is protecting.  Mike Pence is a liar and a disgraceful human being for trying to create this completely false narrative. 

https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/mike-pence-soleimani-911-false_n_5e1113fbe4b0843d36133ab0?ri18n=true

Are Americans so blind and stupid that they cannot see what is going on here?   This is more that just a little curious.

The Iraqis might consider filling tanker-trucks with liquid sewage, and then spraying it into the American "embassy" compound in Baghdad.   They might also want to cut off all electricity and water to the place, if they can.   At the very least, they should formally ask all US personal to leave the country immediately.  

The world community might even consider simply "sanctioning" America.    Every person could simply ask themselves - "Do I want to buy a product or a service, that is sold or offered by murderers?  Should I really be doing business with these American people?"

[Jan. 4, 2020] - Shouting "Death to America" is stupid.  Don't be stupid. - It is time for people to take back the world from the political fraudsters, the criminals, and the murderous madmen who control it now.  Changes in government are now needed in USA, Saudi Arabia, and Israel.  The old leaders - who have built their power-bases by the use of *murder* need to be swept away, and put into the garbage-bin of history.  

Over 250,000 people - possibly more -  marched in Baghdad in a funeral event for an Iranian General.   This is amazing.  These two nations - Iraq and Iran - historically have hated each other, and have fought wars with each other.  And yet, the Idiots-of-America, have succeeded in forging a strong bond between the people of these two nations who were formerly enemies.   This is interesting.   America is so fucking stupid that it is breath-taking.   Watching American politics is like watching the Roman Empire destroy itself.  It is unique and surprising, that such sensible people can so completely collapse into cruelty and madness.  Trump is now no different than Lee Harvey Oswald.    Except he has a massive military at his disposal.   Amazing, really.

The folks in Iraq and Iran should just walk quietly in their funeral processions, and not say anything at all.  But then - when the funerals are over -  they should forge a careful and rational peace between their nations, and seek to remove the ugly force of evil that is holding them all hostage.   This will take hard work, it will be dangerous, and it will require the clear focus and committment of everyone.   The first problem to be addressed will likely be Saudi Arabia - a dangerous, dishonest nation of vicious, wealthy, murder-monkeys, who currently have the US President in their pocket.   This makes them *very* dangerous, very powerful, but also seriously fragile, in certain ways.   The task will be to determine where that fragility lies, and exploit it, so that the American military bases can be removed that are currently threatening the peace and stability of the entire Middle East.

I would not allow American murder-monkeys to locate military bases in my country, nor would the Russians, nor would Africans, and nor would most of Europe, now.    The Russians are being clever, and so are the Chinese.  You can defeat the USA just by waiting and watching.  American power is waning.  NATO is a tragic, historical joke, and USA has proven that it is both dangerous and unstable.   Big changes are already underway.   Watchful waiting is wise.

The people of Iran and Iraq should recognize where the source of their problems are coming from, keep their mouths shut, put their shoulders back, and grit their teeth with resolve to deal with the ugly and difficult situation they find themselves embedded in.    Shouting stupid slogans does nothing.    Iranians and Iraqis need to be beating plowshares into assembly-lines, enriching their uranium, and arming their people with powerful, effective weapons.

If you stay weak and stupid and silly, then you will all be killed, and your nations overrun by cruel murderers.  When you walk in a funeral procession - keep quiet, grit your teeth, and then volunteer for military service when the funeral is over.  Keep your passion for the enemy.  Keep your anger under firm control, and use your resolve, your focus and your abilities to the fullest extent you can.   And above all - do not fight among yourselves. 

Understand clearly who your enemies are - and where they are located, and how they operate.  Many of us in the West do not wish to be enemies with anyone.  We would fight like demons if our own nations were invaded, and are not surprised when others around the world do the same thing.   We are *deeply* uncomfortable with America, and American murder-monkeyism.  

But now, it is clear a "Rubicon" has been crossed.   The world cannot afford any more America murder-monkeyism.  No sane person could be surprised by, or really even object to a massive military assault on America by an Iranian-Iraqi coalition.    But if that is the path that is to be taken, then recognize that it has great costs, and will require great sacrifice by many.

You will have to disperse your cities, put your factories underground, and prepare your people for great hardships.   And of course, what concerns me, and other thinking-folks like me - is that this is precisely what our parents did when they fought Hitler, back in the 1940's.  England and Russia burned.  Millions died.   But the evil of Hitler's Fascism was stopped.

As an analyst, I have to look at the situation now, and ask: "Could the folks in Iran and Iraq not also show the same resolve, that our parents showed?   Why couldn't they?"   And I have no answer other than: "Of course they could..."

[Jan 3, 2020] - Murder, Inc. - I tried google-searching for any historical situation where an assassination induced a peaceful response, or reduced the threat-level to a group of people, and I could find no examples.    Both historical examples, and basic common-sense suggest that Iran will now work  - quickly - to develop nuclear weapons, and test them immediately to confirm to the world that they possess this technology.  It is the only sane and sensible way that they can ensure their own continued national existence.  USA has done a "Pearl Harbour" to them, by murdering their top hero-man.

I also searched for information related to the mental-health state of Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo - two war-guys who seem interested in bringing on World War III.   Pompeo is just plain nuts - maybe not quite is looney-tune as Bolton - but he is a CIA disinformationalist, and seems to pretty much talk sh/t now, whenever he speaks.  And Trump is clearly over-the-edge.   This is not some crazy conspiracy nonsense - this is the opinion of *many* USA medical people who happen to be doctors and psychiatrists.   Only an insane man could think that and act of mass-murder could somehow induce a people to behave peacefully.   

I have no interest in Iran or General Soleimani - but on Al Jazeera, you can see the films that show the results of the US air-strike on his car, driving in from the Baghdad airport.  You can see the iPhone video of the aftermath - the pieces of body parts on the roadway.   What kind of sick fuck could possibly think - in his wildest imagination - that this kind of murder could somehow create any kind of postive outcome???   Only a truly insane person could believe that mass-murder of a grey-haired, respected, military leader, and a group of diplomatic people travelling with him,  could move any nation toward peace and stability.

Unless the Iranians are some weird kind or a strange version of humans, who are cowards or fools or something like that, one now has to expect that a *significant* response has to be forthcoming.    Did America go all quiet when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour?  DId they get all peaceful, after the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington?  No -  of course not.  

Unless Iran is full of humanoid-robots, it is certain that human passion will ignite a new level of anger and hatred that seems curiously unnecessary.  But the USA has signalled that it REALLY, REALLY WANTS A WAR.   So I can only suspect that they will perhaps get one.

The USA has this impressive and powerful military, which is able to kill and destroy anywhere in the world.  But can the World really have this sort of general-purpose "Murder Inc." machine rovering around and killing people whenever and whereever it wants to?   Is this really the future that we are supposed to be creating?    Somehow, I don't expect that this madness will bring peace or any sort of stability.  It seems a perfect algorithm for war-starting.

The USA leadership clearly wants to go to war.  But what if they find someday, that the rest of the world decides that having this nuclear-weapon armed mad-dog-like, kill-thing running around loose, is just too dangerous.   The USA looks way, way too much like ISIS here, and if a device were used to simply remove Washington from the planet - would anyone outside America really be sad? 

Hell, lets be honest here - just for scenario analysis:  How many in the USA itself would even be sad?  If Washington were just removed from our planet...   Would really anyone be sad?   How many in America would be sad?  How many would simply say:  "Those folks just got what was coming to them.  Glad I wasn't near the place.  'Hollywood for the Ugly & Cruel'  is now a large crater."  What would Nelson say?  

Even now, many people outside North America just say quietly:  'These USA folks, with their murder-machines, are dangerous.  Their leader is clinically insane, and their CIA "intelligence" looks like warmed-over Israeli dis-information.  Our world is broken, and under threat.  We need change.'

At some point in the future, if present trends continue to unfold in the same manner, the world may find it cannot support such an unstable, powerful, nuclear-armed murder-state, which appears to be what the USA is sadly becoming.  How did we get to this point?

Ask yourself - what would the Founders of the USA say, if they could see what America is doing in the world now?  Would any of them approve?   I just can't see it.

[Jan. 1, 2020] - Happy 2020. - Hope everyone has a Happy New Year.  Except the evil people of course.  You know who you are.  You can burn in Hell - the sooner the better, eh?   ;)

[Dec. 31, 2019] - El Perfecto! - I bought this really strange-looking rifle as a Christmas present to myself, which actually was "previously-owned" => ie. "used", and I was concerned it might not work well.  So, before we went to the range together, I cleaned the grease that the previous owner has slathered it inside with.  Used CLP to really clean it down, and the subsequent range excursion proved most satisfactory.   Tried 4 different magazines, and two different types of ammunition.   Flawless operation!  It was a real treat, actually.   It is a *loud* little fellow, and the brass gets flung downrange with just about the same aggressive intent as the little bullets - but everything worked fine - really quite perfect, actually.  And since I have another unit in the same calibre, but which was over *twice* the price - and which gives me a mis-feed about every 2 mags, this was a real pleasure.  Really, it worked so nicely...

It is very wonderful when the technology works perfectly.  You know, like when you pull back on the control-wheel, and the nose comes up, and the air-speed starts to fall off, unless you push in the throttle?   When the technology works as expected, and without failing in an ugly and unpleasent manner, then all is right with the world, and everyone can face the future with joy and renewed strength of purpose.  :)

All the best to my robot friends - and even the few real humans as well.  

My, but the internet has become funny.  Funny-strange, not funny-haha.   I tried to post to a reddit site, and simply could not do it, despite having had an account for years, and a few karma-points.  I realize the robots are locking down everything - except I find I keep getting whacked.  I was doing something that required an email confirmation, and of course, no email came.  It was only until much later, that I figured out that Google "Gmail" had routed my email-confirm msg to a new "spam filter" area.  "Oh.  That is why I have suddenly stopped getting emails on my Google "Gmail" account..."   (I know the person who runs "Gmail", and she is a dear, fine person.   I won't even mention it.   Just make sure to check your "Spam" sh/tbox, if you are not seeing a message you know you should have received.   This automatic spam-filter thing on Gmail is probably a good idea.  I have other accounts, and I am thinking of setting up "CR-114" screening, to deal with the spam-garbage I am getting on those....)

All the best, everyone, for 2020.   (Funny number for a year...   I actually have a DecSystem 20/20 around here somewhere...   well, at least a Digital Equipment box, which runs a KL10 emulator...  I mean, right down to the and HALT instructions...   :D   )

[Dec. 30, 2019] - A Year Like A Decade, a Decade Like A Year.  - And so we draw to a close.  The year has been like decade, the decade has been like a year.   It is rather difficult to be positive on the future of the future.  In the last 10 years, so little has been accomplished anywhere.  It all just winds down - neither a bang nor a whimper.  Just the sound of wind and rain, and a promise of snow to come later.    Ta.

[Dec. 29, 2019] - The Penny Drops. - And so the answer comes - early in the morning, when it is still dark.  At this time of year, where I live, at 7:00 AM, it is still pitch-black dark outside.  The hours of daylight are short, but at least now growing longer.   I know now the source of my unease.  It is starvation.

It is some kind of intellectual starvation.   The bookstores - that used to sell newspapers and interesting books - now do not sell newspapers, and the books are appalling drivel and garbage with titles and jackets based on neural-science attractors. There are no interesting books.  My favourite bookstore relocated from a wonderful, stand-alone site, to an unpleasent location in a major shopping mall.  It is now a large store full of crap, like most retail outlets that compete in shopping centres.  And it no longer has *any* newspapers for sale.

This has occurred at the same time as most of the honest and useful information on the internet has clustered behind paywalls, or simply gone dark.   Or has been removed by censorship.   The wholesale removal of  *everything* controversial from Youtube - eg.  German newsreel footage from the 1930's and 1940's - interesting and honest information that offered illustration of why European fascism was so attractive - all this has simply disappeared.  The removal of the "Dr. Ludwig" videos on Youtube is another example.   Youtube has become just garbage for children.  It is now just crap product of the absolutely lowest-level possible - much like television now is.  And television is also dark - quite literally.

And so what I have noticed - clearly now - is that one experiences a form of "starvation".  We eat well, and life is good - but there is no question that as the information channel capacity has been dialed up - the quality and accuracy of the content has crashed.  We have new cellphones - and now are getting several crap/scam calls per day (these ramp-up at Christmas and New Years - everyone should be *very* careful now).   But the response is to disable and further block channel access, right?  The scammers degrade the gains from our technology, no question.

The internet is rapidly morphing into something profoundly ugly and unattractive.  It is now an effective instrument for political control, active monitoring by State police authorities, and the projection of dishonest commercial schemes.  

Honestly, this is the attraction of the little Z-80 Single Board Computer.  It has not been "neural hacked".  There is enough power there to do real work, yet I can run it completely off-line, and not be subject to the corrosive false, misleading or dishonest data that is now most of internet communication.  

And this has been a big realization.   The mass-and-rapid information interconnection that we have become used to - and was intitially a wonderful tool for positive change and social and economic disruption - is very effectively being pivoted into something harmful.

And even more curious - as I have just about given up completely on any and all news or information sources from the 'net, I have seen my trading/investing results improve, no question. 

It is this simple:  Most public "news" is either fake, or created-after-the-fact, or is just "opinion".  This makes it quite literally worse-than-useless.   And if you are sensitive, and you can think, then most news is also painfully disturbing.   Not just terrible events - but the profound ignorance and foolishness of the political process will become - eventually - actually quite painful to watch and monitor.   You end up just closing your eyes, or switching off.  Or both.   Truly, letting modern "news"  leak into your thought-process, will just degrade and obfuscate any few, small, true information-feeds you actually have.

But it is like starvation.  Our brains - as active neural mechanisms - need material to work on or they will invent it, and loop it back on themselves.  This is dangerous - but it explains the success of the modern "entertainment industry", does it not?  We need to dream, or go mad.  But the true-data starvation has costs.   One's dreams at night become complex and exhausting - you wake up literally quite mentally tired.    The only benefit is that as one decouples from the false and manipulative dataflows, ones speculative operations can grow much more successful.

[Dec. 28, 2019] - Why Am I so Uneasy? - Time off, a little R&R.  Coffee and a muffin at Starbucks, with a well-written newspaper.  Except there are no papers now, the Starbuck's are full of line-ups, and the bookstores are full of lies, foolishness, and profound disinfo and nonsense.  This is *so* different from just 5 years ago.  As economic prosperity has been ramped up hard, the quality of product on offer has fallen sharply.

So, this is a real problem.  When I start to pull together a new thesis, and it looks wrong, then I grow uneasy.  We had a failed election in my home country recently, and the good guys did not win.  The bad guys won, and have decided on a course of action that is deeply unwise and will damage our collective futures.   If the USA falls apart or collapses into civil conflict, then Canada would be a *very* soft target.  I run these absurd, extreme scenarios, and try to put probabilities on them, and see if they make economic and strategic sense.   And what is curious, is that the most extreme, and most outrageous ones appear to offer these extreme payoffs, at such curiously low costs.  We are too much like Norway.   A small group of determined folks, armed with tactical fission devices, could overrun this place in a weekend, I suspect. 

On the surface, it seems an absurd scenario.  And yet there are now all these Syrians here, who had exactly this thing happen in their own, very rich, country.  I see them in their head-scarves, driving late model Japanese SUV's.   I have friends and business associates from Hungary and Poland, who saw this happen in their countries. I have Japanese friends whose parents watched their country suffer two major nuclear strikes, which resulted in Japan being utterly defeated and overrun by an enemy force.  I have Chinese friends who saw their nation brought down to economic ruin and social collapse twice in their lifetime - and both these times were *after* the complete destruction of China that occurred in the Second World War.

And I have African friends and associates, who have seen their nations reduced to poverty and mass-starvation and ruin by corrupt, despotic kleptogovernments, such that the only rational alternative was to flee with whatever one could carry.

Are we so special, that the worst-case nightmare scenario could not happen here?  With an incompetent, dishonest, abusive government, anything is possible.  In the 1900 to 1910 period, one could safely travel by train from London to Moscow, and do business.  One could make commerical banking arrangement from Athens to Zagreb, from Helsinki to Istanbul.  Within the next 10 years, everything was blown up.  The First World War smashed national institutions and destroyed Russia, and bankrupted Germany. As the First War ended, technological uplift gave us a newer, faster world.   The technological change gave us a massive economic lift.  But the turning of the market cycle, combined with unwise political choices, brought ruin.  The USA entered a Depression.  England losts its Empire, and the stupid and cruel madness of Russian communism was set against the ugly rise of European fascism - "National Socialism".  It started with private ownership of firearms being banned, and ended up with trainloads of people being send to death camps, and murdered by the thousands, then tens of thousands, and then millions.  Europe was smashed flat, and Russia was destroyed a second time.  England was reduced to a bankrupt, impoverished island-nation of "labourers", barely able to feed itself.

Why should the 21st century be better than the 20th?   The planet is burdened with more people, the same unwise and abusive political ideologies (with slightly different names), and is now subject to more extreme and competitive economic pressures.  Technology change has again bailed us out, and allowed rising living standards.  But what happens if the engines of growth run in reverse?  Will people happily endure multiple decades of *falling* living standards? 

History suggests mass-conflict will be crafted as the solution, as has always been in the past.

And when I look at the nonsense and just plain foolish-idiocy that people are buying and reading now in bookstores, it mirrors the foolishness I see in our political discourse - and in our political choices.   The dishonest light-weights are in power, because people are happy to be lied to, and seek simplistic solutions to complex problems.   And this makes me uneasy.

[Dec. 27, 2019] - Boom! - I bought a rifle at a Boxing Day sale.  What a curious looking device.  It looks like a 40 Mw plasma-rifle from a science-fiction movie - but is in fact a traditional gas-operated design that dates back to the 1960's, like so much of our good technology.  I have yet to try it - but perhaps once I get to the range, and have a chance to try it out, I will write a short note about it afterwards, and post it here.  Click - Boom!  Good, clean fun...  :)

[Dec. 25, 2019] - Happy Christmas! - Put up a little video of the Z-80 SBC running some simulations, (written in MS-Basic, the interpreter based on the old Nascom-Basic interpreter). Works very well, I am quite surprised.  Very small memory image (64K, really).  But you can get a *lot* done in a tiny space, if you are writing in Assembler.  MS-Basic converted into ZASM Z-80 assembler, still has to be loaded from another machine at this point.  Looking to include an SD car somehow, so the Z-80 can start, and IPL itself from the SD card (right now, the Z80MON monitor is in a Flash/ROM chip, and the MS-Basic, and then the Basic source code for the sims, has to be loaded on the RS-232 connection, null-modem cable.  Currently using Linux Kermit, from a very old Slackware box (an 80386, actually.)   But you can use Screen on a MacBook or Kermit or Termite on a Windows box if you want  It all works.  To load the Basic interpreter, you just "cat" the file over to /dev/stty01 or /dev/cua3 via a Linux pipe: Eg: ""cat rambasic.pkt > /dev/cua3" for the old Slackware box.  Then, I have a text-file loader for the Basic programs (which has a pause as it copies each line to /dev/cua3, so the Z80 Basic interpreter is not over-driven).  The  Z-80 runs at 10 mhz.  But it can get a surprising amount of stuff done,  :)

Happy hacking!  (But keep those white-hats on, eh guys?)  :D

[Dec. 24, 2019] - The Eve of Destruction? - No, I don't think so.  Just a gentle Christmas, again, with some tasty treats and some fine food, cooked well.  I prefer salmon to bird, so that is what usually gets slid onto the BBQ at our farmhouse.   And since we've come unstuck in time, and are back exploring the magical 1930's, here is another song for those of you who are trying to learn German.  It's a tough language, if you have no background in it. 

My Grandfather, who actually came from a pure German immigrant family, was discouraged from learning the language at home - his parents wanted him to learn *English* only, and to look foreward, not backward towards the failures of their European past.  He was to focus on his future in his new homeland, so they only spoke English to him, even as a child.   He had to learn German as an adult, as many of his clients were from German backgrounds, and being able to converse a little bit in their language, gave him an advantage in his business dealings.   Irony of our private histories, eh?  

Imagine the mixture I deal with - the soul of a drunken poet (my Irish side), a desire (and ability) to run the world (my English heritage), combined with a deep Germanic comfort with precision and advanced technology, which has plagued (and helped) me since I was a tiny child.  Oh, and just enough Scots for me to feel very happy and content on the Heather-covered northern moor-lands or the "highlands" as the Scots characterize it.    (This explains perhaps why I like Scotch - a beverage that when I first tasted it, seemed curiously awful.  So awful, that I had to try a bit more.  By the third or fourth sip, I think the racial DNA engaged or something - and I started to actually like the stuff...)

So, imagine the Scots highlands - but the small purple flower is called "Erika", not "Heather", in German.   Same flower, same desire, different langauge.   We should all try to see things from different perspectives, no?  Below is link to "Erika" in German, with English sub-titles, so you can learn a wee bit of the very fine language of Goethe, Bach, Planck, Beethoven and Wagner.

Erika  -  German with English Subtitles...

http://www.gemesyscanada.com/442467903

Sadly, the Youtube/Google people took down a whole series of most interesting German videos.  For many of us, it is an ugly assault on our heritage, and for everyone else, it is  a disturbing attempt to "sanitize" history.   History is like politics.  And those who seek to purge the historical record do a great injustice to anyone and everyone seeking to understand how the world and the people within it, actually work.  Falsified history leads to bad analysis, and incorrect estimates of expected values.  To degrade and censor the historical record, is to attack the basis of any kind of social science, and is a form of social manipulation that honourable students and honest scientists must resist.

[Dec. 23, 2019] - Happy Robots. - Funny times.  The robots are having fun, it appears.   And the data-harvesters are reaping one's gigabytes.   I miss the dictates of Fordism, the lovely art-deco designs on the Bauhaus structures, the martial music, and the parades with the flags, and all the young girls with their perfect smiles and bright white teeth and blonde hair.  Strength through Joy, I guess...  Here is my favourite from those days, with a modern take:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vx-a5NrcigA

Lou Reed did  some great songs.  He had one I liked, with the lyrics: "Oh, there are problems in these times.  But none of them are mine."    We need to hold that thought at this time of year.  :)

[Dec. 22,  2019] - Quiet Times? - One expects busy crowded stores at this time of year.  But this is not what we saw today, and I found that odd - untll the reason struck me: Christmas Day is on a Wednesday - right smack in the middle of the week.  Here and in UK, Boxing Day is a legal holiday, same status as Christmas Day.  So, it means:  book only 3 days vacation, and you get an almost 10-day stretch of time off.  And I bet the airports were full yesterday.  Christmas is a really great time to get the hell away - "Get Outta Dodge!", as they say.  Next week will be quiet, I suspect.  Everyone's gone, maybe.

But quiet means a few can make things happen - call it the "Law of Small Numbers"...

Plus, it's a great time to attack, isn't it?   Whatever your agenda or plan, it's a great time to launch, no?  Everyone either drunk, asleep, fuzzy or most likely, just on vacation.  The Democrats are attacking their own Commander-In-Chief, while the UK seems to have seriously (finally) gotten it's act together, and rejected the idiocy and foolishness of "socialism" - the most toxic economic fraud since the Middle Ages.   Curious to see that.  Usually, it's America showing the way, while Ye Olde Country - the UK - dithers and flails about.  Curious to see the scenario reversed this year.   

And oh, Jesus - does Nancy Pelosi not remind you of the "Wicked Witch of the West"?   I swear, I expect to  someday see her collapse into a pool of black-slime, and hear a high-pitched voice: "I'm melting... I'm melting..! ..."    If only.

It's interesting to see the success of China.  The Mainland Chinese have shown remarkable wisdom re. Hong Kong.  The wisest thing for them to do is - nothing.   Violent protests are self-defeating, and the kids protesting in HK have not advanced their cause wisely.  They're kids, of course.  Wisdom is not a strength of youth - action is.    But by running an open, economically-free, property-based economy, China has made itself rich - and powerful.     This is one of the truly great economic transitions in human history.  And the USA was the model.   And HK was the model.   

 [Dec. 19, 2019] - Harvard - and The Triumph of Deception.  Critical comments that "not everything in Massachusetts is dishonest, angry fraud.  Look at wonderful Harvard!"   And then comes the latest Lie From the Left.   Michael Porters, and several other overpaid flunkies from Harvard, have just released a wonderful, perfect example of fraud and deception:  "A Recovery Squandered".   This bogus piece of "research" (oh, but I use this term so lightly...) cannot of course deny the outrageous success of the Trump-initiated economic recovery (the numbers are just too compelling - the US economy is just hammering along), so they create this deeply dishonest piece of political fiction, suggesting that somehow, we have "wasted" the recovery, by not spending enough on leftists-agenda items.  

Listen: This is the reports summary, from the Harvard Business School website itself:

"This Report details ... a striking lack of shared reality about the trajectory of U.S. competitiveness, a poor understanding of the structural nature of our political problems, and other gaps in understanding."

In other words, if you don't agree that we should be spending more on their agenda, then you suffer from "a gap in understanding" and are the reason for this "lack of shared reality".  This is - right from the outset - a document of deception and illustrates perfectly what I am talking about, in Massachusetts.   That State is ground-zero for American political dishonesty - and it reaches right up into Harvard Business School.

This report address "competitiveness".  But what is that?  To a businessman, it means low labour costs.  Drive down wages, and drive up output, and your business is more "competitive".  But that is not what this report means by the term.  And that is the problem.  The term "competitiveness" is a bogus, waste-basket term, that means whatever the speech-writer wants it to mean today.  Tomorrow, it may mean something quite different.  It is a soft, mushball of a term, with no honest, shared meaning.  And that is why it is the objective of this report.  Because this report is a fraud.  It is not a scientific document - it is a political document, as it makes a purely political arguement.  But the authors are not honest enough to say that.

Read the document.  It makes this long case that business "special interests" doing lobby-related activity in Washington, are somehow acting *against* democracy.   When you could equally argue, that the action of the business-interests in Washington IS HOW DEMOCRACY HAS TO WORK!   Business and private lobby-people have to be there, making their case, or they risk getting whacked by the lazy cheaters looking to score a free-ride from the *democracy* scam.

Think about it!  What is the basic flaw of democracy?  It is that a bunch of yahoos in a different city can vote away your money and your property.  That is the basic problem of democracy.  If a democratic state does not have *aggressive* protections for private property and private, personal, individual human-rights, then any group or gang, can get together and destroy - just by their vote - the very existence of a few private individuals.  Democracy without explicit protection of the property-rights of private individuals - is just mob-rule, and the Founders of the United States were *very* aware of this problem.  The mass exodus of "United Empire Loyalists" - folks who left the USA for British Canada, after the American Revolution - were explictly motivated by this fear, and their actions provide clear proof of the visible danger that pure "democracy" can represent.  It is why the US Constitution has the *explicit* black-letter legal protections within it, that it does.  Those protections were included because everyone agreed they were *necessary* for the new US democratic system to operate correctly, without abuse.

Think about the alternative:  "Hey!  We had a vote!  And we voted that *YOU* are gonna pay all our bills!  And if you don't pay all our bills, then we voted to put you - and your kind - in jail, and take all your stuff!"

This is why people who have property, go to Washington to "lobby" lawmakers.  If you don't, then you risk - literally - your own destruction.  And this is well understood by all.  There is no gap.

Michael Porter is full of shit.  And so is most of Massachusetts.  The American Economic Recovery was not "squandered".   It was simply carried out.  Had "competitiveness" been the goal (a fuzzy, fake goal, which could actually mean "more money for Harvard Professors" as much as it means anything at all), then there probably would not even have been any recovery.  

These Harvard Business School people are just pushing their political agenda - and their document is just a shrill piece of politics.  And that makes it standard-grade dishonest, like so much of the "documents of deception" that are created by the left-leaning establishment types. 

Massachusetts - originally known for witch-burning, religious intolerance, rum-production, the Triangle-Trade, dead Kennedy's and high-taxes, now can add another characteristic to it's nature, thanks to HBS:  The Fountainhead of Economic Fraud.

[Dec. 17, 2019] - Adeste Fideles! - Those of you who put your faith in the Equity Markets, come one, come all.  There will be thrills and chills and probably a few spills - but like the old prospectors would assure - there's gold in them thar hills!  The stock markets are the only place one can find any legitimate financial investments.  Otherwise, it is booze, drugs, or weapons, eh?  (The Holy Trinity for bad-guy investors, I guess)  Although I hear Goldman Sax is leaning to upping its targets for green-slime and soylent-brown.  Oh yum.  Yes, the markets are fine, fun and ever-changing.   Just don't eat too much of  what they are selling.  You need to do your own cooking, and grow your own vitamine C.

And all would be just hunky dory for us, except we keep getting shot at by American Analysts.  Silly action.  Apparently, the Telecommunications Analyst, John Smallberries at Morgellens Stanley (that name might be wrong) has downgraded BCE from Equal-Weight to Underweight - what ever the heck that means.  (Well, it mean's $1.31/share, is what it means today...) and not much else, it would seem.   What a curious world we inhabit now.  

If the price wanders down far enough, we will pick up a bit more.   The idiocy of the professional herd-followers, is where we have a provable edge, truth be told.   We note JPM and C are both up a buck (JPM at 138.  How about that?  Remember Jamie Dimon saying he would be a buyer  of JPM at 56  "all day" or something like that?   Good advice, it was. 

The situation in USA is crazy.  The "impeachment" case against Trump is a joke - pure politics at it's very worst.  The "Democrat" collective are showing that they are unfit to govern.  It is quite astonishing - a display of the most grotesque attempt to subvert democracy and democratic intent I think I have ever seen the Americans  engage in.  The Democrat fraudsters in Washington happily deficate all over their basic traditions and their fundemental rule-of-law procedures, when they go down a bogus path like this.   Trump's people are not allowed to cross-examine the "witness-types", nor introduce any of their own evidence - which would of course show that the treason being committed by the so-called "whistleblowers" is just dirty politics being practiced by dis-loyal, dishonest, bad persons who wanted to destroy the authority of the elected President.

Whether you love or hate Mr. Trump, the actions of the Democrats here are reprehensible.  Just like the corrupt and dishonest authorities of New York Jails, who are happy to carry out a  murder when they can, the Democrats are driving forward a deeply dishonest political calculus. 

America is turning into a dangerous, nasty and deeply dishonest crazy-show of selfish madness.   Maybe it's always been this bad, and it is only now, with this clever computer-linked communications technology, that we are so easily able to see it all up close and clear.  My, but I am glad I don't live there.  Sometimes, I seriously think they are headed for a real civil war.  The really sad thing, is that it is likely to be California that slides into the ocean, when of course, it would be so much better if it could be Massachusetts!  Massachusetts is a nasty place full of bitter, jealous folks who are full of a phoney self-rightiousness.  It's the only place in North America that had "Witch Trials" and executed people by "religious law" for being "Agents of Satan".  

The place is a quiet, angry, seething madhouse.  And it produces political figures like Elizabeth Warren who climb up on the backs of those angry, jealous low-self-esteem people to try to shout-down and degrade anyone who is successful.   People like her turn the bitterness and anger that comes from failure, into political capital and use it to fund their abusive climb up the lamp-post of American politics.   God, but it is an ugly scene to watch unfold.  It's like watching a slow-motion lynching of those American values of honesty, hard-work, and self-reliance.    What would Emerson or Thoreau think, if they could see the swamp and cesspool that is the American political bathhouse of today?

And the really crazy thing, is that the ugly, dishonest actions of the Democrats, will likely ensure that Mr. Trump gets re-elected.  

Socialism is economic cancer.  The great tragedies of the 20th century are due to this foolish nonsense.  The "National Socialists" of Germany, the sad, destructive failure of Communist Russia, the abusive economic fraud of Eastern Europe under Communism, and the vicious, evil horror of Mao Tse Tung's "Cultural Revolution" - all these manufactured global failures are the direct results of "socialist" political policy.  

And since the Democrats are trying to push this same ugly fraud on the USA, it would seem that any sane, right-thinking person will have no choice but to make his "X" next November, beside Mr. Trump's name.   

If the Democrat politicals could field a sane, sensible candidate, they might stand a chance.  But it appears clear, that this cannot happen in the current climate of hatred and anger that seems to characterize USA. 

And Mr. Trump is at least trying to get things done.   He gets a lot of points, just for that.  :)

[Dec. 14, 2019] - White Out.  An old Blues song:  "Woke up this morning, and my world was green.  Sunshine and fog, but the land sharp and clean.   But a short time later, as I'd just turned my back, it came on quick, like a heart-attack.  We got that change-from-the-sky thing  -  a wild whirl of white.  All the fine crystal-flakes, fog-dull yet bright.  Then evening fell,  all dark deepest black.   And I looked thru the window, and my face looked back.   "Oh man, I hope we don't run outta air today."   (That's always the way that  we quietly pray.)     Just another strange day on my small planet Mars, that cruel, cold-world you can see among the stars."

Folks who want to go to Mars, should spend a few months in northern Canada in the winter.  And understand it is an easy, nice place, easier to live in than Mars, since you don't need to bring or make your own air.  Just heat.   I still think we should colonize Mars - but it will be difficult, and many will die.

Got the Z-80 working nicely with a big VGA screen, and tweaked the VT-100 emulator board to display 36 lines instead of just 24, so when the simulation results are charted on a histogram, you can see more of it.  I really stand in awe of the Central Limit Theorum.  It puts food on our table, and keeps the wolves from eating us.  :)

[Dec. 13, 2019] - Happy Friday 13th! - Lucky day for me yesterday, as day before, a bunch of electronics arrived in the mailbox - a VT-100 emulation board, and a cool, black-frame small 7-inch VGA/TTL monitor kit.  Scrambled to put all these together with the Z-80 Northstar, and *voila!" a computer! - with a screen and keyboard, and verflazhin-lightzen und der blinkeren mit das dataflingen-zum der busseconnecteren - or something like that I guess.

I'll write up some notes later on what I had to do to get it to work nicely.

Update: 15:07  - Ok, so I notice BNS is down almost a buck, while all the other Cdn Banks are up. Ha ha  --  ha.  Found out why.  Not sure if this is the right name (Hint: It isn't) but there is rumor of a report from the Analyst Mr. Dick Small, at Credits-Wisse (sic), where he has downgraded BNS from "Outperform" to "Neutral".   Mr. Small also upgraded RBC. Maybe he likes the colour blue?  ( l like the colour blue too, truth be told.)

Gosh but I am having trouble typing this while laughing..  I had a meeting with BNS person yesterday, and talking to her was educational and helpful.  ("I know something you don't know..." < in a silly child's voice..> perhaps?).  RBC if a fine bank.  BNS is a fine bank.  And just for FFFD (Flaunting Full Fair Disclosure), we have just heavied up (a wee little bit) on a BNS postion in one ouf our accounts.  We think the price - in the mid 70's Cdn - is actually pretty attractive.... even a bit of a bargain, maybe.   Time will tell.  But the money and the mouth are in alignment here...

Folks - honestly - I say this without even a hint of FUD - the Analysts at these big institutions, are fine people - but they are *not* business-people.   And BNS looks like it actually might be gettings it's plans together, and is maybe actively engaged in trying to be a little more proactively focused on being a bank for business folks and entrepreneurs - in Canada.  And this is a good and wise thing.  There is money here.  (Hint-Guess: Not sure if this matters, but that whole Carribean/South-American money-laundering thing is maybe just not that profitable anymore.  Too much competition, I suspect..  Of course, BNS is not involved in anything illegal like that.   But the Southern-World seems to run on bad data, bad thinking, borked politics, funny-money and bent process.  I  can't prove anything.   It's just a feeling.  But they still take Karl Marx seriously down south.  They still teach that absurd garbage in their schools.  I have no direct knowledge of what goes on day by day.  And I havn't even been down to BVI since I was very young, and we sold the sailboat to pirates. :)    But Marxism is such an awful fraud and it leads to such corrupt politics, a breakdown in the rule of law and a tragic suspension of basic common sense.   Sort of like religion does.   

[Dec. 10, 2019] - Santa Rally?  Or another Nightmare Before Christmas? - making a list and checking it twice.   Got a fair bit of electronics to order.  Looking at Tindie, and seeing some real "must-haves".   I've got this simulator-suite that runs on the Z-80, transcoded from APL to Basic (yup, you can do it... I mean, vector's and matricies, eh?  How hard can it be?  :)  )  The thing works and after a thousand or two sims, I can chart a histogram of all the simulation means, and yup, they all cluster about the true population mean, and in just the way the Central Limit Theorum says they should. 

It's one thing to read about this blather in Economics school and encounter it in stats courses at University.  And it is quite another thing entirely to use this hack to put a fat envelope of $100 bills in your hand (legally!).    Of course, it is exactly what the old life-insurance companies do with their "p's" and "q's".   But really, we should all get up in the morning, and do a little prayer-ritual to the perfect beauty of the Central Limit Theorum.  And in the evening, raise a glass to Dr. K. F.  Gauss...

I'll do a tiny video (like for the Xerion thing), and post it here, showing the Z-80 generate the final histogram ( a nice proxy for a probability density function), after 1000 sims being run.  It is comical, since the display screen is my 1983, original IBM P/C video monitor.  I found it among my father's stuff, along with a spinning-wheel printer, that will let the Z-80 print APL characters, if I can actually build a super-tiny APL for it.   I dug up my old 80386 "Opti chipset" computer (with it's 80387 math co-processor!), and got it working.  It was quite a hack.  The Trident video board had died, and the 3 1/4 floppy drive was rusted or something - could not read or write.  I managed to find an original CGA monochrome-graphics board.  And I was able to re-load the CMOS so I could boot MS-DOS (which was on the disk), and Slackware Linux 1.2.1. 

The old 80386 machine first boots up MS-DOS 6.1 or something, and you can then start Windows IIRC.  But just default to load and run Linux.  We stay in CLI (command line) mode, since I have no graphics card.

Once I log into Linux I can run Linux-Kermit to talk to CUA3 (COM3 port), and the null-modem cable to the Z-80 lets me see the Z80MON. [Setup commands to kermit:  "set port /dev/cua3" and then "set baud 38400"  (which is the hardwired default for the Z-80 Northstar).  I can then "connect" and I see the ">" prompt, and can enter "R" to confirm all is fine.  The Z-80 returns "Z80-Monitor. Oct. 19, 2019" or something similar... ].   To load the MS-Basic interpreter: Just enter: "<Ctrl-\>c "   to return to "Linux-Kermit>" mode, and enter "push" to get a CLI shell.

From there, just a "cat" of the RAMBASIC.PKT file  ( a binary with a SOH char to start, and then an EOT char to end), and I can load the MS-Basic into the Z-80 "NorthStar" and start to load data & run programs.    The file copy is just:  "cat rambasic.pkt > /dev/cua3 "

Ok, the new super-retro Z-80 setup is shown in the little green-text video above, at the top.  :)

[Dec. 9, 2019] - GameOver & Dridex - Reading about the "Russian Boys" behind the Dridex fraudware.  You can see how profitable so many things are now, when you can see just how much cheatware and black-hat filth the internet and the financial system is dealing with.  What kind of a dimwit criminal steals over $100 million US, and then paints his Lambo in dazzle-glow colours to drive around the streets of Moscow?  Well, lemmie tell ya - a Ukranian lad who got turned and works for the FSB!   He figures now his "Evil Corp" is 10-feet tall and bullet-proof.   Tsk tsk.   Poor Russia is still so deeply embedded in "spy culture".  It would be good if they could just engineer an honest, stable, First-World economy.  My analyst friends are skeptical this will ever happen.   I sort of thought it had, but I sometimes see the world thru my rose-coloured lenses.  

The story of "Evil Corp" is hilarious - and tragic.   I am waiting for the movie-rights to be sold...  Will Disney make the movie?  Or maybe Sony?

https://www.bankinfosecurity.com/two-russians-indicted-over-100m-dridex-malware-thefts-a-13473

Like all really genius-evil stuff, Dridex was simple.  It used phishing and spear-phishing tricks to get idiots to click-thru to sites that would install sh/tware on their machines, and then would actively insert "collector"  fields into *real* banking documents.  This was the trick.  You are filling out a *real* form from your real bank, and the form has two extra fields where you have to enter account number and password or pin and such.  You do this, and *whooopsee!*, all you money is siphoned out of your account, a few moments later.   Blame the f*ck-stupid software of web-browsers and javascript for allowing idiocy like this to be possible.  

Prediction:  Web-browsers are going to die soon for financial sites.  They blow chunks, honestly.  Complex, crappy and written by drunken monkeys who are primarily interested in hacking your privacy for profit.  Really. 

Soon, we might have to migrate back to app-ware, with tight-security features, and probaby closed-source design.  Of course, the risk there, is that these apps get reverse-engineered, and then hacked.  Ideally, your first communication with any financial site, should be complex authentication, which involves key-exchange, hash-code verification of software *at each end* (yours and theirs, by you both!).  You could be connected to a bogus *bank site*, and the bank-site (the real one) could be connecting with a bogus version of the client-side app.  Each one needs to run solid verify-check calculations on the other, and only then, let a login occur.  

Really, the whole internet is going to have to migrate (quickly) to military-grade encryption and verification technology, or we will be putting the World financial systems at real risk.

But this will also mean an end to the "surveillance/spy culture" so beloved by Russia and China.  (and USA also, it seems).   The bootfookers that run the the big spyland countries are just gonna have to accept milspec-level private communication for everyone, or else see their economies die.

One way or another, some interesting changes lie just ahead.  One thing I am curious about, is how well the Tesla Cybertruck handles high-levels of gamma radiation.  Do you think they test for this?  It's difficult, since one needs a nice. "bright" gamma-source to do the flash-tests with.   The idea is to ensure your on-board electronics do not get cooked or damaged by the high-energy gamma packets.  (Generally, you need access to the inside of a nuclear fission reactor, to really get enough gamma-ray brightness to do a real test.  Most modern low-voltage electronics do not survive very well, unless specifically *hardened*.  Old vaccum-tube circuits did much better.)

Wouldn't one feel annoyed if an air-burst with bright gamma, fried your Cybertruck's electronics, just when you needed them most?

Imagine a Post-Nuclear-Family-Roadtrip:  "GF:  Honey, start the car!"   Me: "I can't.  The computer-screen is completely black."   GF: "What!?  What??!"   Me. "I can't even get a reading on the battery-level.  Nothing.  The whole system is DEAD!"   GF: "Then we're stupid, and we're gonna die here..."   Me: "No, not yet.  We'll take the Lincoln..."   GF: "Doesn't it have a computer to run it also?"   Me: "Yah, but it's old, it was in the Faraday-cage hardened garage, and when the computer fails, the engine parameters default to baseline values."  GF: "What the f(ck does that mean?"  Me:  "It means the old bugger will run, but it will just run badly.  But it should run, if mice haven't crawled up the air-intake, and made nests..."   GF: "Maybe you should check that..."   Me: "Right." 

 [Dec. 7, 2019] - Happy Pearl Harbour Day.  Got that "Ghost Fleet" ready for action yet?  Polished up the feed-ramps on the Rail-Gun?  Able to spool-up 50 megawatts in 30-seconds?  Well, no problem if not.   We are at peace, and we should do all we can to keep it that way.  

When a nation gets all jingo-ed up and starts rattling the sabres and swashing the buckles, they should look at some of the first war-pics - the American Civil war.  Or the actual real pictures of Hiroshima, and the acres and acres of burnt and rotting corpses - almost all women, children and old men.  The Japanese had these horse-drawn wagons - big flatbeds - piled high, five or six bodies deep of corpses that had to be buried, lest everyone still alive would die of cholera or typhus.

In Europe, entire cities were burnt and smashed.  Russia lost over 20 million dead.  That was more than the population of Canada at the time.  Germany was destroyed.  England was bankrupt - sure they won, sort-of, but they lost their Empire, and a rich, prosperous country was crushed under the twin horrors of massive debt, and socialist government policy.  England actually had *currency controls (!)*  (if you can believe it!), until the 1970's!

https://www.nytimes.com/1979/10/24/archives/british-abolish-controls-on-foreign-currency-some-outflows-are.html

It's actually kind of hard to believe.  The awful and absurd "currency restrictions" were introduced in 1939, at the start of England's war (USA would not join the fight until Pearl Harbour happened, although they did front the Brits some "lend-lease" hardware that was *very* helpful).  But the currency controls were not removed until by Margaret Thatcher, in 1979.   The controls probably did much more damage to the UK than Hitler's bombers ever did. 

And what most folks also forget, is that Japan struck out at Pearl, to damage the warship fleet that was being use to strangle it's island economy.   USA had *blockaded* Japan, and was preventing Japanese ships reaching their home ports.  So the Americans are completely full of sh/t, when they suggest that Pearl Harbour was a *surprise*.   This is a lie.   The USA government of the day knew the day Yamamoto's fleet put to sea, they knew it's destination, and they knew exactly what was coming.  Roosevelt, a liar and a fraud, was even careful to take real action to try to withhold the information, and there is hard evidence that operatives in Hawaii acted to surpress the solid, real-time information (such as the entire Japanese attacking air-fleet being picked up on radar, and this information being transmitted to the military base at Pearl!)

An amazing document, is the Honolulu Advertiser newspaper front page, from Nov. 30th, 1941, which has the headline "Japanese May Strike Over Weekend!".   Paul Brown has a copy on his wall, in Panama.  What is not as well known, is that Mr. Brown explained that US agents went around Honolulu and tore off the front page of every copy of the paper they could find.   There are only a couple of copies of this front page from the main Honolulu paper in existence. 

Roosevelt knew *exactly* what was happening, since the US had been closely monitoring Yamamoto's fleet.   Roosevelt needed a "surprise" attack, to get American public opinion to back another "Great War", which most Americans were against.  There is overwhelming proof that Roosevelt knew *exactly* what was planned, as there is proof that the Japanese Naval cryptographic codes had been broken, and that the US was reading *all* of the Japanese Naval communications.  The research into this is of a very high quality, and is fully supported by documents obtained under USA  FOI (Freedom of Information) laws.  This is not *conspiracy theory" nonsense - it is as close to proven fact as any historical information ever can be.

https://www.independent.org/issues/article.asp?id=408

Funny old world, no?  Roosevelt makes my stomach turn.  He knowingly let thousands of *junior* American sailors die (most of those who died at Pearl were kids - 17, 18 years old), just to whip-up the public to support America's entry into World War 2.   And he could have reached a peace-deal with Japan - there is lots of diplomatic information that makes this very clear.   But he wanted war, even if that meant being a partner with a criminal like Stalin. 

The "March of History", once war begins, is for many, just a short march to the graveyard, or the veteran's hospital. where life in a wheelchair awaits.  And remember, the true face of war, is that unarmed white van in Iraq, with Reuter's reporters inside it, being shot to bits by American warplanes as they filmed the murders, or those Twin Towers in New York City burning & crumbling to the ground.  Or those hundred-thousand corpses of Hiroshima - mostly women and children.  That's the face of war. Or the more than 50,000 dead Americans from that sad Vietnam conflict, where America just cut and ran, and left Vietnam to be overrun by Communists.  

What is the old expression? "The first casualty of war is the truth."   I think that is more true than I realized.

So lets not let the liars & bastards scam us again this time also, eh?  :) 

 

[Dec. 6, 2019] - A small win for the Eh-Team    Like that old Pogue's tune:   "I bet on a horse named "Bottle-o-Smoke", and My Horse Won!"    ("Bookies cursing, cars reversing ... I bet on a Bottle-o-Smoke!")...   😎

We bet against the Bay Street Analysts, and it played well.  Love it when a plan comes together...!   Yesterday & today, at least, the "Eh-Team" takes it..  :)  => 🙂

Yesterday, we re-acquired our entire bank-stock portfolio at a nicely lower price-point, and extracted some cash.   This is "path-dependent" trading, and it is a bit crazy.  I honestly don't recommend it as a strategy.   It's just that it sort of keeps working.   And like every enterprise large and small, we have expenses.   And it can really work, if you are able to see and know things that other miss.   (What? The fractal dimension of the Time Series?  The Hausdorf dimension?  Do you know your embedding space?  What is your largest Lyapunov exponent?  Do your Hurst Exponents show a mean-reverting process?  Is the Xerion Neural Network thing finally working to give you that "edge"?)

Honestly, it's like this:  The harder you work, and the better you prepare and plan, the *luckier* you will be.   Luck - pure randomness flipping the right way - is really important - but so is having done the background work, made the big position changes, and taken some big - but controlled - risks.  If you know what you are looking to see, and are properly positioned, then the action-plan just slides along and one can achieve the good outcome, just by following the plan, if and when the "stars line up"  (.ie randomness "toggles a switch" in your favour...).

It is pretty clear, that the ongoing trend of the market is towards the upside.  There is just way too much cash sitting in silly (and hyper-risky) bonds and fixed-income paper, that is yielding basically somewhere between negative and bugger-all.  If you want to *invest*, you have to "dance with TINA"  (TINA => "There Is No Alternative") and buy stocks.   In Canada, that means bank-stocks and/or telecom companies.  Oil & gas and mining is tough - and slowly getting tougher.   If you are an expert in that area, then by all means.  But I worked for the banks and the tech-guys and the telecoms.  I know them.  So that is where we put the bets on, and roll the dice.  But it feels funny to go in one direction, when the rest of the world is going the other way.  [And WIN.  That is the key, which I forgot to mention.]  Anyone can be a contrarian.  The key is to do yer homework, so that your bet contains a real edge. You bet against the world, and WIN.  An investor who takes more money out of the market than he puts in, will have a lot of times when things don't work.  So when things *do* work, it's a curious feeling.

Oh, also been running some simulation experiments on the Z-80's.  I'll post some of the results here.  The Z-80, even at a slow 10 mhz, is a fine little math-engine, and that is really surprising.  And it is deeply satisifying to run code you designed and wrote yourself, on a machine that you build yourself with a soldering iron.  :)

[Dec. 5, 2019] - Kings of Oblivion - (Out of Africa, and Into Ca-Na-Duh?)  We are the only country in the world, whose name literally means: "WTF?"   The true story is, that when Jacque Cartier first came ashore at what is now the Gaspe peninsula, in the year 1534, and asked the native Indians,  (in French) "What land is this?", their response was: "What the F*ck?" or  "Ca - naa - Duh!?"  (Some suggest it was actually: "Who Are You?" => "Ka Nah Tah?")   Later on, the story was put about that "Ka-na-Ta" meant "Meeting Place" in Iroquois/Huron language, but I like the true story better.   It is unlikely that the local Indians in Gaspe region, would have spoken the Huron/Iroquois language.

But "WTF?" is actually a good name for this country.  Think about it.  In these curious modern times, what is the first thought that occurs when you start to read the newspaper or data-feeds, about current political and economic events?  What is your first immediate thought?   Is it not honestly: "WTF?!"

[Dec. 4, 2019 - PM] - Scam-Scam-Sam! - The internet and the public telecom networks are certainly enabling all manner of scam-slugs.  We updated our phones to show "call display",and I see now the strange numbers that keep calling us (and speaking Chinese) are coming from a Turks & Ciacos Islands Area Code.  (649).  And research shows you do not even have to physically be there.  The call could be originating in a call-centre in Romania or Ukraine or Thailand.

Hilarious.  Here is a "sh/t-list" - as a public service - of Carribean (Blue?) area codes.  Unless you have friends down there, the calls from these A/C's will probably be scams:

 Area code Location
268 Antigua and Barbuda
284 British Virgin Islands
473 Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique
664 Montserrat
649 Turks and Caicos Islands
767 Commonwealth of Dominica
809 Dominican Republic
829 Dominican Republic
849 Dominican Republic
876 Jamaica

 232   => Unassigned Area code.  This code is used by scammers/telemarketers as a "spoof" code. (They fiddle the "displayed" number, in the Call-Display.)   All this scam-sh/t