Stuff

Things from around the interwebs that will blow your minds…

OK – An Hour Has Passed…

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Short DAX at 6678 (it’s way above that now, but exactly one hour after the last post it was 6678, so let’s be fair).

OK – Bank That…

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OK, so the other day I made it pretty clear what I thought about the post-Sarko hissy-fit by the Euro-bankster class:

I’m buying Gold (at $1633), DAX (at 6595) and SPI (at 4337) – just for a dead-cat bounce from this pathetic over-reaction to the replacement of one Frog career-parasite with another.

And where do we sit today… well, Gold is above $1643, the SPI is above 4390, and the DAX is above 6640. So I’m closing all of those (having ridden the Gatorade Bottle of Doom Up the Vord during Monday night’s session). Using standard futures margins, each of those positions returned a 20% gain on margin in three days. Easier that shelling peas.

Now, look to short DAX on the next primary overbought – it’s already hugely overbought on the hourly, so give it another hour and ride that shit down 50 points.

Sarko

Load It Up, Lads…

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Europe’s bankster class is behaving like a pack of spoilt children – boo fucking hoo, you prats… so the Frog populace has had a gutful of your little Frog Goblin-Dwarf “Mini-Me” Sarkozy. Get over it.

 

I’m buying Gold (at $1633), DAX (at 6595) and SPI (at 4337) – just for a dead-cat bounce from this pathetic over-reaction to the replacement of one Frog career-parasite with another.

 

Although there’s still some faint hope that the King of the Frog Dwarves might still pull his agates out of the fire, I must say… va te faire foutre, pauvre con.

Your handsome, beloved analyst

Less Than 20? Really?

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OK, so I’m not sure if youse know this, but one of the mechanisms used by your Beloved GT to keep his geriatric mind sharp is to tutor the odd Uni stude. (Stude – pronounced ‘stewed’ – is CoPS-ese for a student).

I don’t tutor on behalf of the institutions themselves – I stopped doing that over a decade ago.

As youse are all aware, I am constitutionally incapable of putting up with bureaucracy – and the modern University is so infested with bureaucrats that it’s a wonder they haven’t ground completely to a halt under the weight of the bullshit.

Anyhoooo… your Beloved GT is something of a tutor ronin. No allegiances, no affiliations to any daimyo or shogunWakarimasu ka?

So… from time to time a suitable stude pops up, and I sign on to mould the mind.

The range of studes can be interesting: from first year Stats through to Honours and Masters’ Micro/Macro/Econometrics.

All who are admitted into the circle, can bask in the warm glow of your Beloved GT’s gentle genius. And it’s not hard to get in – be keen and show up.

Anyway: part of the sowing of wisdom is when I tell each and every one of them that there is, at the absolute maximum, 20 things you need to learn in order to get a First at Honours level in Economics and Econometrics (and then get straight Firsts at Masters’ coursework).

20.

I kid you not. Armed with 20 tools and techniques, any person capable of getting in​ to a Uni Economics course, can get out with a First.

In fact it’s probably less than 20. It might be as few as 12 or 13.

Those 12 or 13 things aren’t “facts” – they are skills​. But those skills take less than an hour each to learn, and perhaps another hour or two each to really properly understand.

And if you’re not prepared to spend 26 hours (spread over a couple of years), absolutely grokking the fuck out of those things, you should resign yourself to mediocrity – because that’s where you’re headed.

The key things are almost all to do with being able to competently and easily handle the ‘alpha-getti’ smart-ass mathematical gymnastics that Economics has become (and to some extent is unavoidable in Econometrics).

I dislike alpha-getti when it’s not necessary, but here’s the thing – you stick that shit on an exam, and I will kick that exam’s arse, all.fucking.day.

The higher the proportion of alpha-getti bullshit on an exam, the more tumescent I become during reading time on exam day, because you can get that shit done quick, pocket the cheap marks, and leave yourself ages to do the hand-waving, waffly, essay questions.

And not to put too fine a point on it, people over-estimate your brilliance if your academic record is full of subjects whose titles say “Yeah, fucking bring me some numbers, and I will tear them up, yo”.

Well, they don’t over-estimate my​ brilliance. That would be impossible.

So anyhow – as a result of all this moulding of minds, I’ve accumulated a wee stash of crapola that I have prepared and distributed to past students (much like those old International Eco notes that I printed out in third year, that Ash used for years). It’s not fucking Khan Academy by any stretch (speaking of which – Salman Khan is a legend and a GOTI.. .God Of The Internet).

But notice this… no swearing. How can this be? I promise – read the intro from one of my ‘Primers’… completely free of the normally-liberal use of the Soldierly Vernacular.

GT Primer – Distributions P1 Read this.

 

Anyhow. Main point: 20 things – but maybe as few as 12 – are quite literally the difference between ‘star’ students (like Ditch and your Beloved GT) and the pack.

Of which, more later.

Your handsome, beloved analyst

Awake

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Your Beloved GT is a simple creature when it comes to audiovisual entertainments – one of those guys who likes things to blow up, or for there to be a chance of side-boob, or fangs, or tentacles. Or stabbings, or exchanges of weapons fire. Or all of the above…

Or it has to be properly funny (wihout a fucking laugh track – I hate anything with a laugh track: it's supposed to make ME fucking laugh, you assholes). Also it has to not have Rowan Atkinson* or Jim Carrey in it.

(*exception: Blackadder II through IV. Everything else Atkinson has ever done is shit)

Speaking of sideboob and fangs and exchanges of gunfire…  the new Underworld movie: fairly awesome. 

Yeah the plotline is thin and the credits are 10 minutes long (who the fuck invented that shit?) but seriously Kate Beckinsdale is teh hawt. Her Dad was pretty too – he was in "Rising Damp" in the 70s (and "Porridge", too).

Movie-wise (in the mind of your Beloved GT) it is a 3-way tie between three franchises in the 'bodysuits and gunfire' genre: Underworld, Matrix and ResidentEvil.

Obviously Matrix gets pluses for having Keanu Reeves in it and for having the coolest sunglasses, but that is counterbalanced by the minuses for being a thinly disguised Jesus narrative. As for the Resident Evil franchise… Milla Jovovich is awesome on stilts and doesn't even need a latex bodysuit, but the plotlines are repetitive and predictable and silly (but I will still watch the new one).

But I'm digressing, dear Reader… because that's not why I've gathered you here.

I just watched the pilot of Awake and it doesn't meet any of the criteria  mentioned above. Little or no boob (front or side), no explosions, and only the slightest amount of violence. Not a fang or tentacle in the whole thing.

But it is a really well-crafted and (dare I say it?) sophisticated piece of work. If the writers continue to develop the "Schrodinger's Cat" lietmotif (where the lead character struggles with the possibility that his actions could collapse a wave function) and the inner tension in the central character as a result, they really do stand a chance of creating a series on a par with "Walking Dead", "Dexter", "Oz" or "The Wire" (my fave non-sci-fi or cartoon shows).

Two things rankle though: both are functions of American youth-obsession rather than the show itself.

First: the lead character has a superb and manly face (quite like Daniel Craig), but he looks like someone dipped him in a bucket of Just For Men. It's clear from his teeth and skin that he's a smoker, and I bet that under the silly black-dyed hair he sports more grey than your Beloved GT. He's supposed to be a detective of some experience – which would send you grey. So does the character dye his har like a sissy faggot, or is it simply unrealistic?

Second: his wifey-character is half his age. She's lovely and all, but it's dumb to have someone play a wifey role where she's only about 5 years older than her putative son.

Anyhow – when it hits these shores, be sure and have a look at it. It shits all over some of the other dreck that is being shoved down our throats ("Person of Interest", "Alcatraz" and shit like that).

Obviously it's not "Archer" or "American Dad" or "Futurama" or "Ren & Stimpy" – which is to say that it's not unadulterated genius. But it really could be a live-actor show that's worth watching.

World01

This? Perfect.

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In any dispute between a citizen and the government, it is my instinct to side with the citizen. I am against bureaucrats, policemen, wowsers, snouters, smellers, uplifters, lawyers, bishops and all other sworn enemies of the free man. I am against all efforts to make men virtuous by law. I believe that the government, practically considered, is simply a camorra of incompetent and mainly dishonest men, transiently licensed to live by the labor of the rest of us. I am thus in favor of limiting its powers as much as possible, even at the cost of considerable inconvenience, and of giving every citizen, wise or foolish, right or wrong, the right to criticize it freely, and to advocate changes in its constitution and personnel…the very commonest of common men has certain inalienable rights.

H.L. Mencken (who else?)

World01

So Far, So Awesome…

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OK. So far nothing has blown up yet. That’s some sort of record. The new setup has such fast page-load times that there’s almost no point in going the last step (moving static assets to a CDN).

In case you haven’t been paying attention to the ongoing spasms of pure awesomeness that have been emanating from MentatSpace recently, here’s a recap.

Dismayed at the incompetence of our webhosts for the domain, your Beloved GT decided to test just how much load he was applying to their bank of state-of-the-art 1980’s desktops.

So he set up an Ubuntu-64 instance on Amazon’s AWS EC2, wherein he replicated everything.

Time taken: about half an hour. Pain: zero. Cost (first year): zero. Yes – zero cost for the first year (provided the traffic remains below about 15Gb… that’s 5x current traffic, and each extra Gb above that costs 20¢/month). [Correction @ 2:17pm: it’s 9¢/Gb]

The instance was deliberately set up to be space- and RAM-constrained relative to the setup at the webhost (which is notionally 1GB RAM and unlimited storage). So the EC2 instance has 8Gb storage, and 618M RAM, and is on an Amazon server in Japan.

Your Beloved GT also replicated the entire MentatSpace on a spare Compaq notebook that is connected to the telly (so we can watch internet video and so forth on the big screen); the notebook had 100Gb free space and 2Gb RAM, but is also running normal computer-y stuff all the time.

The aim of this exercise – once everything was set up, the plan was to kick both machines in the guts and see how much CPU and RAM gets used when, say, the big OzRant cron job is running.

Now the big OzRant job does the following:

  • fetches and stores the days’ ecodata outcomes, and compares them to (stored) consensus;
  • fetches and stores OHLCV data for every stock listed on the ASX, every industry and ‘TopX’ index, plus indices for NZ, Japan, Korea etc;
  • calculates and stores percentage changes, technicals (CCI, %R, and 3 different MAs), and advance-decline numbers;
  • updates weekly databases;
  • generates ALL the text you see in the ‘vanilla’ OzRant – the tables, the waffle – the lot;
  • posts the gentext to the MentatSpace.

It then goes and does some other, time-insensitive tasks (i.e., stuff that doesn’t need to be out as quickly as possible).

So the verdict? The entire cron batch – which is 17 individual PHP scripts, called consecutively by a bash script – finishes in 3 minutes on the EC2 instance and never gets above 50% CPU or 45% RAM. It finishes in the same time on the home media notebook, with lower resource use.

If I wasn’t so stingy about waiting for free (20-minute delayed) ASX data, I could produce the entire schemozzle at 4:18 every day (you might have thought 4:03p.m., but you would be wrong: the settlement time for the ASX is 4:15p.m., and things sometimes change after the close but before settlement). If I had fewer scruples I could do it at 4:03p.m. and tell you it was right, then surreptitiously update it later like the big boys.

 

Now here’s the thing: not only does the cron job happen 5 times faster on the AMZN free layer than it does on the webhost – the actual site page load times for the actual final Steaming Grogans of Wisdom are faster by a similar magnitude.

And yet it gets better. If some addition to the MentatSpace process resulted in a much much higher resource use – say a new big data-backfill job that involved getting even more financial report data than we already have (10+ years for 1700+ stocks not enough?) – the AWS makes it trivial to bid for a ‘spot instance’. This is effectively uprating the entire machine-instance by a factor of 5 or 6, for as many or as few minutes as you like. Cost: about 20¢/hour.

[Correction @2:14pm… just checked pricing. 20¢/hour is the price for an ‘Extra Large’ spot instance, which would uprate the instance by a factor of more than 15; a 5-factor increase is would be a spot-instance of ‘small’ which costs 2.7¢/hour]

So if I had a massive job that would make the current AWS instance redline, I could – with a one-line entry on the command line – uprate the machine for as long as it took to clear the job.

And that ‘static assets to a CDN’ stuff I mentioned above? Well guess what – the AWS has its own built-in CDN (called ‘CloudFont’). It’s a matter of defining a ‘bucket’ and letting the cache shift the static assets. We can pull the trigger on that shit anytime, yo.

 

Forecast: anybody who sells webspace is doomed. Smart people will write free software that does all the customisation for you (that already exists for widely-used things like WordPress).

So the average semi-savvy webmaster/blogger will be able to break the shackles of hared hosting, without forking out $30 a month for an uprated sharedhost or $150 a month for a standalone bare-metal rack. (A bare-metal rack would be sweet, but WAY overkill, for MarketMentat in its current manifestation).

 

World01

See That?

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I know, right?

You’re probably feeling a little light-headed from the rapidity with which the page appeared.

You typed in ‘marketmentat.com’ and whooshka!, you were spirited to MentatSpace V2.0 in the blink of an eye.

That shit is what we web-genii call a ‘redirect’ (aka a 301).

 

I’ve put a redirect in place while I’m making sure that the server side is optimised to within an inch of its life; I am root on this beeyatch, and so I can do stuff that I could not previously do (e.g., FILE LOAD LOCAL INFILE in mysql, and some other ginchy stuff that will speed up the algorithm).

In fact not only can I do stuff, I can sudo stuff. Process that, ladies and jenner-menz.

Once the server is set up ‘just so’, I will formalise the attachment of the domain name to the new IP address.

 

There’s a downside though: the algorithm that produces the gentext bits of each SGW (Steaming Grogan of Wisdom) includes a lot of domain-specific references, and produces images and <a> tags that use the domain name. Left untended, that will introduce negative enhancements because pages will try to grab images from the old MMSpace, and will then be redirected back here – the risk of ever-decreasing circles arises, and we all know how that ends (it ends with the algorithm disappearing up its own bumhole).

In all likelihood I will get the algorithm edited and so on before the market closes tomorrow (Oz time); if not, I will hand-craft tomorrow’s OzRant (today’s OzRant failed to materialise – that is the proximate cause of my decision to dispense as quickly as possible with the old, failed, webhost).

 

Just as an aside – there are some known issues that need to be fixed tomorrow: the fact that links to individual posts, pages and category archives result in a 404 (and the 404 is not the canonical 404 page) is the first cab off the rank.

As mentioned above, the decision to finalise the move was made abruptly today, and was necessary because of the exponential growth in the incompetence of the former webhosts – it appeared that they had somehow struck a rich vein of either Moronium or Stupidite, and remaining under their aegis was simply dooming oneself to a Stone Age version of the internet.

Suck it up for a day or so – the archive will be better than it was in the old digs, for I am root. (Did you notice I resisted the temptation to say anything about how I am a good root? I should think that goes without saying.)

Let’s Test This Shit, Yo.

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OK, let's start with a "known known".

Your Beloved GT is one of those oddballs who thinks that #Twitter is reasonably awesome.

From there, some things are natural corollaries.

If Twitter is awesome, it makes sense to integrate it with the bloggy droppings to the greatest extent possible.

In the past, each blog-dropping was automatically blasted into the Twitterverse with a quasi-customised tweet – it appeared in the timeline of @MarketMentat but the tweets were not fully customised because the #hashtags at the end of the tweet did not change from post to post.

Anyhooo… if the plugin that was just enabled functions as it says on the tin, the twitter usernames and hashtags should be automagically linked to Twitter.

 

This ought to do a bunch of things – things that will be explained at a later date, in a later post. Dark, scary things.

Help Assange BY ACTION

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My take on the silly "Open Letter to Kevin Rudd", which is trying to get help for Julian Assange – from the short-ass parasitic maniac who grinned like a psychopathic accountant when he learned that an Indonesian accused had been killed without trial:

When will people larn that relying on political parasites to defend individual rights, is nonsense? Might as well PRAY for all the good it will do.

 

Here’s something that would guarantee Assange’s safety: make it clear to anyone who participates in some stupid theatrical ‘legal’ set-piece that deprives Assange of his liberty, that they will never, for the rest of their lives, be able to “tell pale-hearted fear it lies, and sleep in spite of thunder”.

 

That goes for the robed geriatrics in their 16th century costumes, the badged and constumed jailers etc (who Thoreau rightly placed on a par with straw or lumps of dirt); everyone who participates.

 

Reliance on politicians – when the state is clearly showing itself neither capable nor willing to do anything except tend to its own malignant metastasis – is flat-out dopey.

 

Mencken wrote famously that there comes a time when a reasonable man has to hoist the black flag and start slitting throats; Diderot made it clear that man will be free when the last king (politician) is strangled ith the entrails of the last priest (or judge). We are there, folks: they have thrown taxes – collected by force -onto a bonfire in order to make their financiers a minute amount more rich. They are NOT here to help.

Bet that doesn't get past the 'moderation' phase… which is good, because we are past the point where being 'moderate' helps.

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