Hey Millennials, Quit Yer Griping

So the system is stacked against you?

And you’ve got it all figured: Unfair tax rates allow old white men to steal money that would otherwise make everyone rich. Racism, sexism, indifference to LGBT and immigrant issues and pronouns are they key issues in modern western society; they are a terrible wrong to be righted, and can be fixed by voting the same was as all your friends do.

Maybe.

There might be other issues of concern. Here’s one: The structural stealing of wealth from the future.

Between the end of WWII and the nineties, the USA, as a result of being the last country standing, having a system of free enterprise and private ownership, technological progress and industrial scale experienced a wave of growth unlike anything seen before. Generation after generation correctly assumed a better, longer life than preceding one. Hard work, smart risk taking were often rewarded with success. People were optimistic about the future, and, unlike most of the world, the conditions you were born into were less important to success than hard work.

We could argue about when this ended, but it would be sometime between 1970 and 1990. It ended because the cycle ended – the rest of the world caught up, or better. Communications, travel and global supply chains created the “Flat Earth”, driving the price of labor down, dramatically. The impact of the mainframe and minicomputer tech waves in the 60s and 70s was mostly in allowing already large organizations (and growing sluggish because of it) to grow even larger. And slower. For a few decades. The PC  and communication waves were the first time tech had the potential to really revolutionize every person’s ability and every industry. And they did.

But the tech waves were also highly exclusionary. Not in the least in the ways we think they are exclusionary today (i.e. race, gender, orientation, religion, etc) but simply as result that they needed fewer, highly specialized workers. The tech crowd became the new elite. And the working class began a long slow decline that continues to this day. American society is increasingly class-oriented. Not formally, but structurally. It has never been more important to have the right parents in America that it is now.

Governments took steps to keep the good times flowing. Small ones, at first, with Regan’s “tax cuts pay for themselves” spending increases. The truth is the deficit spending is taking wealth from the future, and spending it now.

You don’t hear much about this in the news, or in classrooms. Perhaps it has been fixed, or will be, when just the right people are elected. Judge for yourself:

The reason you hear about pronouns, micro-aggressions, racism, transgender athletes and global warming is precisely because it has not been fixed, and there’s not enough war to distract you. Nobody even tried. It’s best if you just don’t think about.

We are borrowing so much money that no one will lend us any more at the offered interest rates. Indeed, we are buying our own debt with money created out of thin air, and then spending it. Economic theory tells us that this should have caused massive inflation, yet the government tells us it hasn’t. Looked at the price of a house lately? Do you really think a house built in 1980 for a cost of $60,000 is now worth $750,000. Deficits and inflation are the largest tool the older generations have to steal from the younger, and the unborn. Elon Musk? Dogecoin? 

Here’s one you might not be aware of, despite being in plain view for decades: The Trust Fund Fraud. Indeed, Medicare and Social Security are indeed massive transfers of wealth from the young to the old. Medicare for All would increase this, for the simple reason the old consume most of the health care dollars.

Education” is in on it. Universities, long thought to be the way to escape one’s born into class, have become sorting machines to identify the winners and losers in tech/medicine/finance. And if you are not sorted so, you graduate with a worthless degree, a mind full of nonsense, and an unpayable debt. University professors and administrators, like the ever growing governing class, do quite well for themselves. And government spending and loans, intended to make university more affordable, has done the opposite, do to the inflation these actions created in education.

The Diversity Industry plays a role here too. It’s helpful to the governing class, and the tech/medicine/finance/education class that you not figure any of this out. Diversity Inc. produces mountains of seemingly academic nonsense proving that the US is place where white men have structural advantage, and are meanies, which keeps people at each other’s throats while the system is changed to give structural advantage to other demographics. One of these demographics is not Millennials.

Heard of a “share buyback”? That’s where company leaders issue new debt to buyback existing shares, increasing the price of these shares, making themselves and other shareholders rich. They are taking unearned future revenue, which might be used to fund your pension (via the stock market), and spending it now. Lots of that going on.

Finally, underfunded pensions. This might be the biggest one of all. Pensions owned to retired or soon to be retired workers, without any saved money to pay them.

Perhaps you think the rich just need to pick up the slack here, and pay their fair share. It’s completely academic what their fair share is, the math isn’t remotely close to working.

Politicians know you are angry, and have happy to blame people, take more power, and make the situation worse. It’s hard to know if the governing class ever had any integrity; indeed, if it has always been this bad. But it bad now.

Mike.

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Real World Covid19 Experiments

For much of last year I used publicly available data and news to attempt to create models that demonstrated which mitigations we were doing were effective, and in what order. In addition to just understanding what was going on, and being bored and confined, I have an interest in complexity theory and the ways we learn, and don’t learn.

I encountered many problems doing so, above and beyond bad data and proving causation, including the PCR-RT false positives, the difficulty of measuring  actual Vs reported Vs mandated behavior, my failure to correct for geographic spread when looking for correlations, and the non-linear nature of the spread of infections. Many measures, including disinfecting, grocery store aisle directions, 6 feet, data was just not available to even attempt to model them.

On return from Fiji in Feb 2020, I was wearing a clean NOOSH N.95 mask during travel back to the USA. At that time the outbreak at LifeCare had just been announced, but I had been watching China since December. When I traveled internationally, multiple times, in the fall of 2020, I was wearing a clean NOOSH N.95 mask all the way.

I did not start out thinking masks don’t work, and I still think that worn correctly, they are likely an effective low cost prophylactic.

During the summer of 2020, there was enough geographic variance in mask wearing that it was possible to find decent A/B comparisons, and control for most other likely important variables. In my models I have a range of “percentage wearing”, prior to late Sept, of 50% to 85%.

I’d like to say I found no difference in outcomes correlated to this variable, but I didn’t. I found a slightly worse outcome based on higher percentage of mask wearing.

After the beginning of October, there was no reason to believe the globe wasn’t masking at about 90-95%, despite widespread unsubstantiated belief that “we’re doing it, but they are not”. And save a few exceptions, the entire western hemisphere experienced the largest, by far, wave of C19 deaths. While masked to the nines.

I don’t postulate that mask wearing caused wave 3, despite the correlation. It’s possible, but seems unlikely. But there’s little evidence it helped in the least. None, really.

There are a couple of counter-arguments I want to address: It would have been worse. I can’t disprove this, but while I did find some variables that seemed dominant throughout the last 12 months, masking wasn’t one of them. And on the decay side of wave 3, there was again considerable difference in behavior between say, California and Florida, with outcomes being worse for mask states. There are few counter examples of this pattern.

Another argument, which might explain apparent success  in South Korea and Japan, is that there is a critical point of mask compliance and hygiene, and anything below that point leads to spread. This is curious and I cannot prove nor disprove it.

Arguments I will not address: I am not a doctor, I am stupid, I am anti-science, I let Trump do my thinking, I don’t care if you die.

So what variables do seem to have an effect? In my admittedly crude models, in order: global travel in/out, local travel (cell phone data), population density, average age.

I gave up trying to model lockdowns. There are just too many variables to attempt to control for. Maybe they delay things, but they don ‘t seem to change outcomes unless you stay in lockdown until a cure arrives.

There are two maybe instructive populations I’m watching now. The first is Israel, who demonstrated that at about 45% vaccinated, the disease – at least in the short to the present term – drops to near zero, and effectively zero at about 60%. But the news is taking about vaccine resistant mutations now, and the Indian variant is in Israel. We shall see in 6-8 weeks if the current crop of vaccines are effective against mutations, at least in this population.

The second is my old home Nova Scotia. After successfully maintaining a basically zero infection curve for 8 months (with travel restrictions, I suspect), the “case” curve over the last 10 days is looking more like the upslope of a wave 3. And the province has already implemented a strict lockdown, which will likely have  a high compliance. Note that there has been, and likely will not be any real change in travel policy, or masking behavior there.

Here’s what we might learn:

“Cases” went up as testing went up (1000/day to 10,000 day). Hospitalizations and deaths have not gone up … yet. If cases grow but health outcomes do not (in proportion), the crisis might be a data ghost. I believe the PCR-RT false positive problem resulted in massive policy mistakes based on not understanding actual cause and effect last year around most of the world. I will note that an increasing % of tests are Antigen, which seem to have a lower false positive rate than PCR-RT, and the government is making access to tests more difficult.

 If testing remains constant, and cases come down in 2-3 weeks, this will argue that lockdowns are effective.

If cases and outcomes grow into a traditional wave 3, until vaccination rates reach maybe 30%, then the argument that masking and lockdowns will be even weaker. Indeed it will show what I actually believe, that we have far less control over this than we think. I have no hypothesis about how to prove/disprove the traveler/student theory which is popular in the press there now, or if C19 was moving undetected all along.

I want to write something insightful about the corrosive effect of politics on science and humanity’s decency, the apparent innate human need to find someone to blame, the ease which which people can be tricked, the complexity on non-linear systems, and our failure to learn despite apparent massive amounts of data.

But I don’t know what it would be.

Mike.

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Double Mutant Variation

I’m been working diligently toward the goal of someday fluidly but casually interweaving the phrase “Double Mutant Variation” into a dialog.

“While highly efficient, one of the drawbacks to the taking a dependency on a Double Mutant Variation (DMV) in long range propulsion system is that it can’t be safely replaced in situ.”

“The tension between the suits and the DP over the fundamental tone of the production finally came to a boil when the Double Mutant Variation ending was selected.”

“The strange visuals in the sky toward the East were a result of a rare atmospheric phenomenon that occurs when dioxygen bonds chemically with hydrogen in the Cirrocumulus producing a psychedelic fog-like effect known as a Double Mutant Variation”

Mike.

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Graph Shows Hydroxychloroquine Is Effective Against Covid19 After All

Blue is new cases. Orange, % of population taking Hydroxchloroquine.

Of course it doesn’t. If anything, it shows the opposite of that the post title claims. It seems that HCQ causes increases in cases, rather dramatically in the 3rd wave, rather than decrease them.

There is a lot of information missing: Is % on HCQ it a dominant variable? What are the sensitive variables? How do we prove this? What does the graph look like when we control for other sensitive variables? Is there a control scenario? How are the graphs different than the control?

That’s not even what it’s a graph of. It’s a complete fake. The fake title was chosen to generate interest among the folks most affected by the topic of the post.

This post isn’t about HCQ. It’s about how we learn. And don’t learn. And become more confident of our knowledge at each step, regardless of it’s correctness.

This is a post about selection bias.

Selection bias is a mental process that causes us to not examine information which conflicts with already held beliefs, Most people think of selection bias as a bad thing, but it’s an essential part of managing mental complexity. If you notice in passing that the sun rose in the South today, you can reasonably save yourself a complete re-examination of the layout of the galaxy and the laws of gravity, and quickly file the knowledge away as likely noise. If the same information is recorded by instruments or seen by many people, it deserves more examination. Selection bias, in this case confirmation bias, saves time and energy and reduces confusion.

I chose HCQ because many people have an opinion as to its effectiveness that is not based on pharmacology or any medical science. And they often convicted not only that are correct, but that science supports their position. Often neither is true.

Selection bias is a cause of major judgement errors, that grow larger and more unmovable over time.

The graph is actually the percentage of people reported in a fb study to be wearing masks, and the number of new PCR-RT positive tests each day in the USA.

All the same caveats and questions apply re: Does this show that masks work? Or not? Why?

But this isn’t a post about masks, HCQ, or Covid19. The amount of effort you put into understanding the graph, and your receptiveness to information is likely sharply constrained around if you do or do not already believe that they do.

Simplifying life is critical to understanding it from multiple perspectives, scales and over time. Confirmation bias is a key tool in this effort. Indeed we can’t understand complex abstract concepts without a layering of highly simplified concepts. Bias is critical to learning at scale.


But it is also used by marketing and policy people to change thought patterns broadly using propaganda. And by politicians to stoke mistrust and dislike of groups as tool to win power.

And it is the mental basis for racism.

One of the interesting things about selection bias is that it is at least as strong or stronger among high cognitive function individuals.

Mike.

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Final Submission, Style As Message 302, Columbia SoJ

Style Pattern 5: All Commercial Airlines Move Many People to Remote Destinations, and Quickly, and That’s What Matters, Experts Say

While flying can be disorienting and makes some people anxious, flying on commercial airlines is a very safe activity, thanks to ever vigilant government oversight of the entire industry.

Plane crashes are rare, and Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) even more so. DVH is potentially serious medical event that occurs when blood clots form in the legs. While a sedentary activity can increase the chances that a person might suffer from DVT, the overwhelming  majority of cases do not occur while flying.

Airline seats are designed by airline seat experts and tested and certified by the Federal Government to reduce the risk of DVT to the lowest level possible. Millions of passengers fly every day on these seats without incident.

While people with a genetic clotting, family predisposition, or history of a clotting disorder might intuitively worry about flying, the odds of a DVT occurring on any trip in the flying population are 0.0000532. General management of these diseases and simple lifestyle changes generally allow such people to live a normal life.

DVT while flying among POC, women and the LGBT community – often ignored if not actively shunned by the medical community is a serious concern and highlights the need to keep making progress on social equity.

Style Pattern 11: A Silent Deadly Killer in Every Airplane Takes Life of Mother of Three.

Finley Violet was the first member of her rural Kentucky family to go to college. The young, fit mother of three was texting her spouse Kai on final approach to their home in Oakland, CA.  She was sharing the good news that her bottom surgery in New York had been completely successful, when she noticed a sharp pain near the calf of her left leg.

It went away as soon as she stood up and didn’t think further about it.

That night, Findley and her wife Kai and their three children, Kendall, Morgan and Jaime, were enjoying their first night together as a family in months.  Kai and Finley shared stories until midnight, and then dozed off to sleep.

The next morning Kai woke to the shock of realizing that Findley wasn’t breathing.

The Medical Examiner explained to Ka and the children that a blood clot, known as a Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) in Finley’s left leg, likely a result of sitting too long in an airline flight, had broken off and traveled to her lungs and brain. In the middle of the night partially awoke briefly to symptoms of a heart attack and a stroke at the same time.

DVT can happen suddenly, and without warning, to anyone, and research shows that it happens more frequently on long stretches of sitting on airlines.

Experts recommend standing up once every 2 hours and moving your legs regularly while flying.

DVT while flying among POC, women and the LGBT community – often ignored if not actively shunned by the medical community is a serious concern and highlights the need to keep making progress on social equity.

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What Exactly Is A Cloud?

In the early 90s, Microsoft was riding a wave of growth that would propel them to become one of the most valuable companies of all time. At the core of this growth was the Windows operating system. To understand the core value of Windows and explain its stunning success, consider it to have a top and bottom half. The bottom half – the Device Driver Kit (DDK) allowed, and required, hardware vendors to expose their products to Windows, and Windows applications, in a consistent way. The top half – the Software Development Kit (SDK) and Application Programming APIs, also known as Win32, enabled Windows applications to run on a wide range of hardware without adaptation. Combined with Windows global language support (localization), and single worldwide binary, Windows became the glue that enabled an explosion of applications, around the globe, to run on an explosion of hardware. Both Win32 applications and hardware became cheaper as volumes grew exponentially, and Windows to this day is very inexpensive product relative to the value it provides.

This model, while enabling the industry to grow rapidly by decreasing the cost and increasing the value provided by PCs and applications, was not without conflict. Hardware manufacturers frequently wanted to expose unique functionality, and Microsoft restricted this via a certification process. The argument being that unique functionality would not be understood by all applications, and so would break some of them – fragmenting the platform. Over time, Microsoft asserted that a majority of Windows blue screens were actually caused by bugs in “third party” (other companies) code, requiring even more control over it.

As a concrete example, the touch pad on PCs understands click, pinch and drag. Despite the usability of many more gestures on MacBooks, Windows would not easily be able to add more gestures as the operating system abstracts mouse and touch gestures into a narrow set that applications expect.

There were several implications of these design and business decisions. Installations of Windows are measured in the billions. It’s doubtful the world would have experienced the computing revolution that ultimately touched the lives of nearly everyone on the planet. But it also slowed the rate of innovation. Innovation and backwards compatibility, as Apple has demonstrated many times by breaking it, are at odds. Eventually this, combined with a growing hostility toward the degree of control Microsoft exerted on the industry led to other companies winning on the internet and the phone.

Local Area Networking, or the ability for computers to exchange data over office building distances at high speed started to become popular in the mid-80s. As Microsoft and Novell adopted LANs to Windows, their approach was to virtualize remote systems (servers) into models that already existed in Windows, in order to not break applications. Remote servers appeared to be locally attached disk driver and printers, and for the first time could be used by multiple different computers at the same time (sharing).

At the same time, the Unix approach to networking supported virtualization, but also supported simple application to application to application connections made via the sockets API. Unix adopted the TCP/IP protocol, which worked on local area networks but also on networks that spanned the globe. The ability for an application to connect to another application without the operating system understanding and supporting the application produced a wave of innovation on connected application innovation that continues to this day.

Window 95 was not the first version of Windows to support the sockets API, but it was the first commercially successful one. It is unlikely that the internet as it exists today would have grown as fast as it did without the Winsock API in Windows 95. It is unclear if Microsoft really understood the implications of this decision at the time – although in reality TCP/IP and sockets would likely have eventually been adopted globally, regardless of what Microsoft did. This was the beginning of the series of innovations that would break the grip that Windows had on the application ecosystem.

The most disruptive of the TCP/IP and sockets based applications was the browser and web server, starting to catch on in the mid-90s. The very first browsers were not much more than document directories and viewers, but they laid some important groundwork. Much of what we would come to think of as “the application” in a browser environment was downloaded immediately, from the remote server, upon looking a page. From the customer’s perspective, this was a zero-install application, and from the publishers perspective they could update the code of the application, across the globe, a single action. This value proposition remains to this day, and separates browser applications from mobile, Windows and MacOS applications.

Two other transformative browser features were the first global “application directory”, the Uniform Application Locator (URL). The URL was a readable identifier for a site/application, that had one part (www.zintel.net) that was centrally administrated, and another part (http://www.zintel.net/Public/Underwater/Underwater.html) completely under the control of an organization. Unlike existing application directories, this enabled massive growth without collisions, or any central clearing house.

Finally, hyperlinks enabled a new kind of application that referenced parts of other applications, without coordination (or even agreement, as current events in Australia are highlighting). A web of applications. The page/click/link model, which many people assumed to be an overly simple first version, has proven to be useful to this very day.

Microsoft had several responses to the explosion of growth on the internet. The company initially cancelled its competing investment based on the doomed X.25 standard, and invested in a browser called Internet Explorer.  Later, the company would “internet-enable” Windows and Office in way that would be come to be known as software+services.

But at that point Microsoft had grown accustomed to defining what would be successful, and what wouldn’t, simply as a side effect of the volumes of Windows being shipped. It is very difficult to displace a product once it has reached global scale. The company took two swings at making the browser standards effectively Windows standards, in a strategy known at the time as embrace and extend.

The first was ActiveX, introduced in 1996. This was a repurposing of a technology called COM/OLE II, which existed on the Windows desktop, and to some extent in Win32 applications, into Internet Explorer. This allowed browser applications to access functionality in the underlying Windows operating system. There is no doubt that this created customer value, as the subsequent popularity of Shockwave Flash for games and video demonstrated, but had the perhaps not entirely coincidental side effect of making web pages that ran ActiveX incompatible with all other operating systems, and put Microsoft in control of a piece of Internet technology.

ActiveX eventually was discontinued primarily because of real and perceived security flaws in ActiveX itself, and more so in the most popular ActiveX plug-in, Flash.

By the end of the late 90s, Microsoft’s control of the computing platform, not unlike Google’s control of web search, and Apple’s control of applications today, was starting to be understood from a technical / strategy perspective, externally, and actively opposed. In 1998 The DOJ under Clinton filed an antitrust suit against Microsoft, egged on by Sun Microsystems, Netscape and other competitors. The actual premise of the suit, that Microsoft held an unfair advantage because they could include their own browser with Windows, and that that customers wanted choice in operating systems on PCs, was quite weak. Unlike Apple today, which simply decides what application vendors will be allowed to compete, and which will be driven to bankruptcy, it was never difficult to load an application onto a Windows PC. And using Internet distribution, achieving scale and dominance quite possible, as Google’s Chrome has demonstrated. It turns out that customers did want choice in operating system, in the from of iPhone, iPad, Android, MacOS and Linux, but they didn’t not want an alternative to Windows – that would have simply not run Windows apps. The market took care of the problem the DOJ thought they were solving.

The suit did distract Microsoft for many years, and slowed innovation at the company. Likely this was the goal all along, at least in the minds of competitors informing the government.

I’ll only briefly mention Microsoft’s second attempt to control the browser standards, Windows Presentation Framework. Had this succeeded, it would have forced every web application developer to choose standards (sorry, enabled them with choice) that ran across all browsers, or a Microsoft standard that ran only on Windows. It was arguably a better technology than HTML at the time, but failed.

Somewhat ironically, the one important standard that is still running the web today, Jscript, was fully supported by Microsoft browsers from the beginning, ,and Microsoft only recently gave up on their own browser core and adopted Google’s WebKit. “Control” of the browser was a losing strategy from day one.

The first “cloud” companies were web hosters like GoDaddy is today. They ran Microsoft’s Internet Information Server (IIS) on Windows Server, or open source Apache on Linux in large datacenters, and leased “instances” to customers. It is quite difficult to manage 100 servers exposed to the internet in a datacenter, but not incrementally more difficult to manage 1000, or 10,000. Customers, who initially thought of themselves more as publishers and less application developers in the beginning, found hosted solutions to be compelling. This remains true today.

Over time, as web and browser technology became more powerful, more and more applications moved to the web, primarily because of no touch install, global single gesture updates, telemetry, and operating system independence.

In the mid-90s, the important large scale off the shelf business applications were from SAP, Seibel and Oracle. Most of these systems were installed and ran on customers’ hardware, and were complex and expensive to operate and upgrade. In 1999, Salesforce was founded on the idea of delivering enterprise grade applications entirely as a  browser application plus a hosted (by Salesforce itself) “backend” component. The model was referred to at the time as an [internet] service, or Software as a Service (SaaS), and proved to be highly disruptive. It was much easier for customers to try before buy, to deploy, manage instances, and for Salesforce to update and manage the backend. Over time, Salesforce enabled 3rd parties to extend their application even running the datacenter. Applications tend to command more margin (https://mikezintel.wordpress.com/2019/07/17/cloud-economics) than raw infrastructure, and applications with a 3rd party ecosystem even more so. Salesforce continues today as cloud provider of enterprise applications, with sales of $14B in 2019.

Amazon launched Amazon Web Services (AWS), specifically Elastic Cloud Compute and Simple Storage in 2006. Unlike (cloud) web hosters, and (cloud) hosted applications, AWS offered customers instances of entire (virtualized) computers to do as they wish. At the end of 2020, AWS reported $13B in profit on $45B in annual revenue. This model eventually became known as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

As all of this was happening, a new model of application, enabled by large numbers of inexpensive servers hosted in the cloud. These applications ran on many computers, often 10s of thousands and now 100s of thousands or more in order to perform jobs like internet search. Google took the lead on search, with profit of $34B on revenue of $160B in 2019. Unlike existing licensing models, Google, and later Facebook’s revenue source was selling advertisements.

Consumer distributed systems evolved through many models including messaging, cloud drives, photo browsing, blogging, file sharing, but Facebook emerged as the winner. Initially Facebook solved the “permissions problem” (how do I control who can see my stuff) with a simple gesture – become my online “friend”. Unlike MySpace they were closed by default (the world can’t see my stuff), and they had an innovative way to continue to draw you back into the site via customized “feeds”.  As the application evolved, Facebook integrated instant messaging, persistent threaded messaging that hung off individual topics, persistent email style messaging, photo and video storage and promotion, and web links into a highly immersive experience. Facebooks profit in 2020 was $29B on revenue of $86B.

Both Google and Facebook pushed the envelope of assumed privacy by actively reading customer data and aggregating it to sell to advertisers. Microsoft was an early developer of consumer distributed systems, with SkyDrive, Messenger, and Hotmail, and at the peak had very impressive adoption numbers. The company was not comfortable changing the privacy model customers had assumed with the personal computer, which likely led to poor revenue in this space, but increased enterprise customer’s trust in the company.

Microsoft launched an AWS competitor, Azure, in 2010. Microsoft does not disclose Azure revenue.

Microsoft and Apple also pursued the model of software+(cloud) services. The iTunes, iCloud, Office 365 and Windows experiences are now backed by often very large cloud services, that provide storage, sharing, email hosting, music fingerprinting, messaging, and many others.

Despite Apple proving to the world that ordinary web browsing was possible on a mobile phone with the iPhone, and despite the fact that a lot of it is done today, mobile applications+services are the dominant application model on phones, as the apps can break out of the page and click model, work offline, and leverage the unique input models of the phone.

Today, nearly all new systems are browser applications against a cloud backend and mobile app based against possibly the same cloud backend. Windows and Office are not new systems, but service-enabling these things has allowed them to provide new value in a cloud world. SAP other enterprise application vendors are working to move their backend systems from customer installed, to hosted by them, and have all provided browser applications even against their existing pre-cloud backends.

So what is the cloud? And who is winning, in the cloud?

Microsoft, Oracle and IBM seem to want to be cloud vendors, in part chasing new growth streams, but also to be and be seen as current and innovative. I’m sure someone knows what IBM and Oracle are doing in the cloud, but I don’t. Microsoft has both an IaaS offering (Azure) and a software+service offering with Office 365. It’s hard to gauge or even define how much of their 2020 profit of $44B on revenue of $143B is “cloud” revenue, as their “intelligent Cloud” segment includes “Server products and cloud services, including Microsoft SQL Server, Windows Server, Visual Studio, System Center, and related CALs, Microsoft Azure, and GitHub”, according to their financial statements.  Sometimes they use the term “Commercial Cloud” in press (but not financial statements), and it seems to include Office 365, the largest value proposition of which is the Win32 Office applications themselves.

Salesforce is a cloud vendor.

Other than Android, all of Google’s systems run in the cloud. And they have an IaaS offering, which they refer to as Google Cloud. They do not generally talk about bulk of their revenue and income which comes from ads, as cloud revenue.

Other than a few mobile apps, all of Facebook’s systems run in the cloud.  They do not generally talk about being a cloud vendor.

Netflix is a large software+services company that does not refer to itself as a cloud vendor.

Cloud doesn’t really mean anything at all.

Mike.

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Rep. Maxine Waters, Chairwomen Financial Services Committee Vs. Ken Griffin, Smart Rich Person

[ Waters ] Mr. Griffin, Americans feel the system is stacked against them, and Wall Street always wins. The Gamestop, er, thing put a spotlight on this. What say you?

[ Griffin ]  We at Citadel take this seriously. Our innovative business model with Robinhood has enabled, for the first time, free stocks trades to be available to millions of young investors.

[ Waters ] And what is that model?

[ Griffin ]  We are one of the pioneers of a technique that moves information over a special light. This is much faster than the old system, which uses sound. This allows us to provide Robinhood with the information needed to build a very responsive and engaging mobile application, making stock trading not just available to many more people of modest means, but to make the whole experience fun. The high speed of the whole system allows us to true-up prices in realtime, making for more trued-up prices.

[ Waters ] Um, retail investors are mad. Get in their faces, retail investors, in the bars, at the shopping mall, at the gas stations.

[ Griffin ] Excuse me?

[ Waters ] I demand – demand – that you tell this committee of which I am Chairwomen what you did to make these people mad.

[ Griffin ] What happened is this: Some good news on an out of favor stock, Gamestonk, sorry, Gamestop, caused Robinhood  trading volumes to spike – remember, this is free trading app and a fun one too! This caused an overload on the light system, and we had to fall back on the older sound system.  I blame reddit, specifically the subredditors.

[ Waters ] Save the Wall Street jive for your white boy club buddies, Kenny. The people are mad, and I demand you tell me what you did to make them so mad.

[ Griffin ] An overload is rather like when you put too many clothes in your washer, and it gets unbalanced. Eventually an alarm trips and the washer shuts down. Had we done nothing, a single overload would have become what’s called a cascade failure. That’s when you take the clothes from one overloaded washer, and add them the next washer, causing that one to overload. And so on. This would have quickly overwhelmed the entire electrical grid of the USA, had we not taken action with Robinhood, facebook and google to shut down the dangerous overloaded Reddit. Even with out quick action, much of Texas grid eventually failed. It’s all Trump’s fault.

[ Waters ] Thank you Mr. Griffin. BTW, if one was thinking, hypothetically of buying the recently cancelled Learjet 75, would you go Gulfstream or that Brazilian company?

[ Griffin ] G650, without a doubt. Would you like travel in one, as a try before buy? DM me.

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WaPo is American Fascism

It isn’t of course. That’s a silly non-sequitur, like “Bananas are Ballroom Rollercoasters“, but it didn’t stop WaPo from publishing garbage titled “Trumpism is American Fascism“.

The word fascism used to mean:

A governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.

But now means:

A word I use.

For much of my adult life, the left has been hurling insults at the right and the middle. Initially this was done to suppress discussion and thought long enough for social changes to be embedded into the structure of society and become effectively irreversible. Or simply to be unpleasant.

If someone suggested that soaring black on black crime might be in part caused by fatherless children, they quickly discovered that they were racists. Have you ever wondered if rap lyrics create a good climate for raising children that respect women? Racist. The underlying social / political change this covered for was the destruction of black self-sufficiency and subsequent reliance on the state, and declining opportunities for growth. Why this is good is unclear, but it is done.

If you once thought, as billions did, for thousands of years, that marriage was a social and legal construct designed to keep the father around, because – pre-social science – biological fathers and mothers raising their children seemed to the natural order of things, and post social science because we know that children so raised fare better: homophobe.

Hypothetically, one might wonder if giving powerful hormones to pre-pubescent teens, and promoting the notion that irreversible surgical alteration of their reproductive organs is always in their best interests, but then one would be transphobic.

Do you think hiring, firing, salary and promotion decisions should be made based on ability, effort and accomplishment, and not gender or skin color: misogynist, and a few others.

Christian: bible clinger. Gun owner: gun clinger. Hater. Far right winger.

For a long time these things worked, primarily because they abused peoples’ innate decency. When first accused of one of these things, most people immediately become concerned that they said or did something that offended someone, or perhaps, really are racist, etc.

By the ten thousandth time, people understand the game. They understand it even more clearly when they see it ramp up for 3 months before any election, and then disappear magically.

Most sane people over 30 ignore these things, assuming this to be the most graceful way to manage unpleasant people.

More recently, as the left hurls insults, they are aimed less at the seemingly intended target, and are actually aimed at left themselves. Two or maybe three generations of children have been structurally indoctrinated by the left to believe Americans are fundamentally racist, and that freedom is a tool to be abused by the white supremacy. There’s no need to defect older people who know better when you can just brainwash every new generation.

After the election in 2016, the left doubled down on rhetoric and actions that made people turn against each other. While doing this, they blamed the subsequent anger and violence on Donald Trump and Trump voters. Trump, for his part, used the same language of flighting and winning that the left has been using for decades, making the left’s story a little easier to believe. It’s likely that at least some Biden voters believed they were voting for an overdue de-escalation of the anger in the country.

There are going to be disappointed.

For the last 4 years we have watched the left tell each other that the right is intolerant, ignorant and responsible for all the violence and anger in America, ignorant. And they seem to believe it. Don’t be confused when they say Trump, or Trumpism – they mean you.

The right’s immediate response to the capital riots was a tactical mistake, but one made for the right reasons. It was the same response the first time one is accused of being a racist: No, I’m not. That would be terrible. Am I? I’ll get back to you. The right denounced the riots immediately, as decency required, and they gave the left the benefit of the doubt that Trump incited them.

At least for a few days, when it became clear that was nonsense.

There’s a new theme on the left, and a dangerous one. Consider the recent Tim Cook memo. His objection to facebook’s business model is not that it erodes privacy, but that it could (or did) create an information feedback loop that makes ignorant people violent. And by ignorant people, he means the right. Tim slanders half the country, offers not a shred of evidence, and is celebrated for his kindly thoughts.

It worth noting that neither Apple under Tim Cook, nor facebook is in favor of freedom of speech. And somewhat ironically, they are in perfect agreement as to what speech is to be allowed. Apple recently removed Parlor from the app store, breaking the company, because they allowed speech not approved by silicon valley.

The meme in the news, and my facebook feed, is that the legacy of Trump is an ignorant, angry and violent right.

Notice how effective this trick is. In the old days, you might have wanted to say something about the mathematics of evolution, but you found yourself explaining why owning a shotgun doesn’t make you an angry, fearful bitter clinger. A conversation that you had lost before it began. Prior to the capital riots, the conversation was (always) about election fraud, and after, about the danger of the fascist right.

Politely ignoring this will not work. It will not stop. It will become an excuse to destroy more freedom.

The right has a choice: Do nothing, and lose. Fight back using the same techniques, and probably lose, and likely cause great damage, or find a way to defuse this nonsense.

Quickly.

Mike.

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You’re wrong, she’s wrong, everybody’s wrong.

A few notes:

The spread of this disease is profoundly non-linear. Looking at cause and effect, and extrapolating the future from any given window of time is likely to produce very large (order of magnitude) errors. And has.

My hoped for “resistance” to infection and disease at about 35% is not supported by the facts. There is no factual reason to hope for this. The folks who predicted a fall wave based on people moving indoors have been more correct than anyone else.

Most people who extrapolated from the “case” explosion staring in May-Jun as testing ramped up (not shown on this graph) to produce curves like we are now seeing, and are claiming modelling success, are lying. “Cases” went up dramatically and stayed there for about 10-12 weeks before the disease as measured by deaths started climbing. In many places, cases and positive rates were falling as the last wave was increasing. This is still true. Nobody knows if the current wave will continue to grow for 12 more weeks, or will flatten and start to fall in the usual pattern, or some new pattern, starting today.  Sadly, we see few signs of peaking in the data yet.

The policy problems we have created by ignoring the false positive rate of the PCR-RT at a 40+ cycle count remain. A hypothetical administration, wanting to show better results, would lower the PCR-RT cycle guidance to, say 35.

There was a 3 month period when the US seemed to be doing dramatically worse than almost all (or all) reasonable comparisons.  I tried to explain this with the admittedly poor data I had in my models. What I did was remove the US (an outlier) , and then tried to do a Monte Carlo analysis of what I believed to be potential “causes” of disease spread and actual results to determine the sensitive variables. For the most part I failed to find much stastical correlation between policy and outcome. Variables that did seem to have an effect were limiting travel (globally and locally), limiting group sizes and population density. While I couldn’t measure it, there seems to be strong scientific reason to believe the 3’ (6’) practice is effective.

I failed to effectively model large quarantines with enough comparables effectively. I simply don’t know what they do.

One thing I did notice, and pointed out at the time, was that US failure to suppress the first wave was a statistical mistake – we were treating the summation over time of a many smaller graphs, each resembling places with smaller geography, as a single unit. In fact what we were seeing was the virus moving geographically, and hitting larger and larger populations, at the same time as we got better at treating it, and maybe better at preventing it. This explains, for me, the duration of the USA “bad time”, and the failure to suppress the first wave, but not the magnitude difference.

Of course, there were lots of explanations in the news: Southern and Mid-Western Americans are too stupid to follow rules, America all up is too stupid to follow rules, socialized medicine, the lack of a one-size fits all strategy, the lack of power at the federal government, unlike the more progressive China to weld shut the doors to people’s apartments, and the superior morality of people protects them from disease. Trump.

All nonsense, as we know can observe.

I’ll point out that global masking started as the same time as the geometrical explosion of wave 3. Policy and Karen wise, we still think whatever it is we’re doing with masks works. And there’s no real proof that it doesn’t. We can’t compare with wave 1 because the virus had not spread geographically yet.

There’s also no proof it doesn’t make things worse, which is what the data shows if you assume (statistical dangerous) correlation.

One constant though all of this: Fauci hasn’t a clue.

Mike.

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Was Trump “Worth It”? (was: You Never Go Full Smollett)

Trigger warnings: Longer than a tweet or a fb meme. Thought required.

The country is badly divided, and full of hate. Trump did such a terrible job on the important topics of election fraud and Covid19 that he lost the middle. He placed his sad lack of loyalty on full display and armed his opponents. The leftish media, greedy tech companies congress and the White House are now fully aligned and empowered for an old testament level assault on liberty.

Apparently not.

Unity. Now is the time for unity, they say. Unity, racists!, they say.

unity
u·ni·ty
noun
the practice of persuading someone to do something by using force or threats

It’s important to remind ourselves that the overwhelming majority of conservatives in America do not know what 4Chan is, are not dumb, racist, sexist gun and bible clingers, and do not condone violence or economic / social punishment toward those who disagree with them. The majority of liberals are not so lacking self-awareness and consumed with hatred that they don’t know this. But some are, and with their bigotry amplified by the twitter and fb, they do a great deal of what we might call social injustice.

The amount of hatred on the ignorance networks this week is deeply saddening. And the justification for it, a cause for reasonable people to be concerned.

The odd thing is that we’ve told ourselves for 4 years now that the source of intolerance in America is the racist and sexist “far right” (i.e. your neighbor, two blocks down), led by the buffoonish clown Donald Trump. But Trump is a lame duck now, completely without power, and yet the anger has gone up. Way up.

Why is this? Perhaps conservatives are just too bad to be excused.

Perhaps.

One of the recurring patterns in Canadian elections is the post-election calls for the need to set aside differences and work together for the common good. I remember being proud of this civility and decency. It took me long time to notice that “setting aside differences” meant supporting more taxes, a larger civil service and more regulation. And nobody in the governing class really objected to this, because being a member of this class meant decent working hours, a low stress / low effort job, job security, early retirement and good, secure pension, expense accounts, and good bit of handy influence over business and people.

Canadian elections are not really about disagreements in the proper role of and size of government in society. That is a settled issue – nobody cares in the least how you really feel about it, and you have no ability to influence it. The power is fully distributed in the bureaucracy now. Elections used to be about who people believed could steer the leviathan a little more efficiently or fairly, but recently they’ve become  more about celebrity and greed. Each new generation understands and cares less about how government is supposed to work, and how it actually does work. Each generation lives under more regulation, has less freedom and fewer job opportunities. And each generation demand more of exactly that.

US elections are less civil, and less honorable. There is a lot more money at stake. The government class is less a group of people, and more system of coercion and collusion that includes corporations including the media and law firms, the education industry, non-profits, lobbyists, and the government itself. It’s worth reflecting on the fact that the the US government is Microsoft’s single largest customer.

Legal methods like trading “advice”, “speaking fees”, book and movie deals, board positions, non-profit foundations and others can net an ambitious political family like the Clintons $300 million, relative pikers like the Bidens a few 10s of millions,  the Obamas and Gores, $100 million. Run of the mill congressmen can easily make a few 10s of millions. And layers of staff, lawyers PR people and others around them do well too. One thing this election proved, clearly, is that the public couldn’t care less about any of this.

Politicians have to choose between a comfortable, easy life in exchange for just keeping quiet about the system, or working  to make it less corrupt, failing to achieve much, and ultimately losing power after being betrayed by their other friends in power.

While it sounds counter-intuitive, given that Donald Trump appears to place little value on integrity, loyalty and principal, the 4 year wave of hatred that was engineered against him was in no small way a result of the fact that he was not willing to be compromised by the swamp. It’s unclear exactly what his end game was, or if there was one, or if simply enjoyed messing with people, but he is far less compromised than the Bidens are. Joe’s range of motion will be severely restricted by the knowledge that he is deeply in debt to those that covered for him, and those that finance his family’s lifestyle.

Albert Bourla’s assertion that his timing of the news of a vaccine – one week after the election – after Pfizer had benefited from a large federal order, had nothing to do with politics, was not just a tribute to voter’s gullibility, but a statement that the swamp had prevailed against Donald Trump. It’s worth noting that Trump did not break Pfizer ‘s confidence about the vaccine’s progress, something he almost certainly knew about. And the current wave of deplatforming (i.e. removing their source of income) of conservatives at scale by tech companies is both a warning, and a signal of power. Tech companies, like the old media before them, can make or break you as a politician, and truth is not important as they can easily create monsters and heroes at will.

It was interesting to watch Microsoft, a company with very lefty employees and leadership, go quiet about Trump after the JEDI contract. And Amazon to sue, as soon as they saw Trump losing power. The purchase of Washington Post was far more “business”-savy than most people understand. I expect some sort of brokered deal between the companies, with the cover story that security and availability requires diversity of underlying systems.

And voters don’t care, or are actually for this level of corruption. Biden’s pre-selection assertion that he would not even consider a man for the VP and likely president role was a signal that you can expect the government and corporations to continue to create advantage for women at the expense of men. This alone likely bought him 5-10M votes.

Trump angered another group of people beyond the DC money crowd.

Over the last 50 years liberals have made steady inroads into the bureaucracy over nearly every organization: government, business, “non-profits”,  media, entertainment, academia, Christian churches. For 30 years of this long march, they have projected humility, altruism in the form of concern for the weak, unlucky, or disadvantaged. The perception, supported in no small way by some truth and a strong conviction that they on the right side of history – the good side – but still fighting more powerful forces, was one of a David and Goliath battle. Somewhere along the way liberals failed to notice that they had won. Indeed, the battle became more important than the results, and liberals were corrupted by power as everyone is corrupted by power.

Liberals have amassed huge power. They “educate” the children, shape values via the news and entertainment industries, use the law strategically to further their agenda, and decide who gets funded, hired, promoted or fired.

Over the last 6 or 8 election cycles, a pattern has emerged, growing more intense with every cycle. Preceding the election, the left, in the words of Eric Holder,  “When they go low, we kick them”. In fact, there’s a fair bit of kicking going on even if they don’t go low. And as they hurl unwarranted insults – always the same ones – at the right, they claim that it is actually the right that is doing this. Or “started it”. They have been forced by some injustice into a defensive offense.

Good grief.

After the election, all the nastiness is immediately forgotten. Not in the rhetorical sense – it is literally forgotten. It never happened. People forget what they said about Sarah Palin’s children, about Romney and many others. In fact it realty doesn’t matter who you are or what your record and values are; the rhetoric is simply necessary to defeat you so power can be maintained in the hands of the good people. To do good with.

Teabagger: Remember that one?

With Donald Trump they may have encountered the first candidate worthy of the level of contempt they had been handing out for decades.

If you don’t bring this up, maybe you won’t be next on the layoff list. If you do bring it up that is proof that you were and are the root of the problem all along.

Along with amnesia, the left also selectively reverts into a wounded position. They were and are being injured somehow, by your words. This is of course entirely fake and simply a tool to manipulate you.

If you doubt this, and reading the news, or the fb walls of liberals this week doesn’t convince you, here’s a little test you can do at home. Cut and paste the following into you fb status, and leave it there. Make sure your coworkers and colleagues see it too. And then watch the reaction:

While I am happy to see Trump marched off the stage in defeat, I sometimes wonder if in our zeal to defeat him we went too far. He didn’t start any new wars, doesn’t appear to have used his position for business gain as we feared he would, and did deliver a Covid19 vaccine in a year, as he promised. While these things don’t excuse his racism, intolerance toward LGBT and sexism and clownish behavior on the world stage, I am not sure we are completely blameless for acrimony know threatening to tear the country apart. Did we go too far?

We all know what the result will be.

But something different happened this cycle. The left lost, to a clown, that they had promoted during the primaries as an in-joke on the right.

Before Donald Trump had an opportunity to troll them, the left lost their shit. Then he trolled them mercilessly for 4 years. And they lost their shit. For 4 years. Decades of a formula that was working were dumped in favor of blatant dishonestly and an ugly nastiness that be very hard to put back in the bottle. It was ugly. The left behaved very badly.

If you doubt this, try this test:

Ask a liberal if the impeachment of Donald Trump was merited. Worth it.

Then, after the answer, ask what is was that got him impeached?

Now, repeat this a few times and compare the answers to the second question.

That will tell you want you need to know about the left’s honesty, objectivity and level of information.

We all know what the result will be.

Ironically Joe Biden was trying to clean this mess up and go back to the old successful formula. He tried, for a bit to call for unity. Unity, to the left, is where you forget all the things they did during the election, agree with everything they now assert to be true, and maybe you get to keep your job.

But even Biden couldn’t do it. His tweet about the hypothetical difference between how the capital protesters where treated and how BLM would have been treated was not just insulting, given that it’s not hypothetical – we know they answer – and BLM wasn’t shot and killed by the police despite 4 months of rioting, looting and murder. It was another baseless accusation of racism.

Conservatives a have some serious decisions to make here. The anger that got Trump elected was merited. And Trump was one of the very very few willing to fight an appallingly nasty opposition. But he didn’t have a plan, or a road map, he failed to understand that loyalty matters, he didn’t take good advice, and he repeatedly rearmed his opposition rhetorically. Trump’s treatment of Barr and Pence and I suspect many others was disgraceful.

A repeat of this, with each side taking it more the extreme don’t seem like a good choice. A return to the old way – surrender with decorum like Romney, doesn’t seem like a good choice either.

Mike.

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