Twitter Digest: 2011-10-16

  • Great to see entrepreneurial energy in disrupting finance, but social stockpicking and crowd EPS estimates are just paving cowpaths. #
  • NYT: Manhattan lease prices pass peak 2007 levels #
  • NYT: Mexico’s President Reloads in Drug War #
  • Wealthtrack interview with Rob Arnott – #
  • A modest proposal: Cancel all retirement plans – #
  • Watch Siri "Work" On the Old iPhone 4 #
  • Training for a couple of beastly trail races over coming weeks, and have dropped under 160 lb. Jeans hang off me in unsettling way. #
  • Have long been baffled by South Korean religiosity. The Economist weighs in on " Jerusalem of the East" #
  • Missed this in GQ Feb 2008: How the sheep are out to get us #
  • Good CDC overview: Progress Toward Implementation of Human Papillomavirus Vaccination #
  • Strange Bloomberg Headlines: Fed Pays Lip Service to Beef to Skirt Ridicule #
  • Decline Watch: Ivy League universities are now India's safety schools #
  • Solar Panels Start To Outshine Mirrors – #
  • I'm convinced that sometime in next four quarters MSFT misses & guides down. Would that it be next week's report …. #

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Twitter Digest: 2011-10-15

  • Colleague of mine made entertaining case yesterday that the path of most pain for the most investors is a 10-15% leap higher. #
  • That AAPL death star trade YTD – #
  • WordPress-ers: I need a new twitter digest plugin to take tweets and post them as blog entry. Mine is failing. /cc @photomatt #
  • Finally watched Donnie Darko. So almost great, but not quite, esp the ick end. Nevertheless, inventive, unsettling and … good tunes. #
  • Economist: The booms and busts of stockmarkets in the 20th century. #
  • IBM's "Goldilocks" model? #
  • Airlines sued over idiotic patent for mobile checkin. #
  • So true. RT @gaberivera: @johnbattelle Actually, even calling it The Battelle 2.0 Summit may be an improvement. #
  • Everything about this data terrifies me. #
  • People take these iPhone 4S teardowns awfully seriously. Infrared microscopes? #
  • Yet another article makes same point I made two (!) years ago in my TED talk wrt the Simon/Ehrlich bet – #
  • Watching the market absorb iPhone 4S teardown data the last few days has been fun – #
  • I apparently rated a mention on CNBC today under an alias. Well, that's a first. #
  • The "Too many kids go to college debate" with Peter Thiel, Vivek, etc #
  • Just did Bloomberg segment while wearing flannel shirt. #SmellsLikeTeenFinancialCommentary #
  • The Copernican revolution in economics #
  • Not family reading & NSFW, but … the causes & consequences of female public hair's disappearance – #
  • Not family reading & NSFW, but … the causes & consequences of female pubic hair's disappearance – #
  • .@mathewi Fixed. Damn iPad was insistent on changing pubic to public. Prudish thing. #
  • Black Swans on the Prairie: On the farmland bubble #
  • The Jim (Meatloaf/Bat Out of Hell) Steinman story: "I've been called over the top. How silly." #
  • Facebook shares go "no sale": SecondMarket Facebook Auction #43 Fails To Clear Any Shares: #

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Readings: Zetas, Tevez, Fannie, Oil, etc.

  • Quds and Zetas (Source)
  • John Lanchester · #tevezexcuses · (Source)
  • Did Fannie Cause the Disaster? by Jeff Madrick and Frank Partnoy (Source)
  • Global oil risks in the early 21st century (Source)

How Apple DDOS’d the Interweb Yesterday

Fun — the consequences of Apple upgrading iPhones and OSX in one day was that the entire Interweb nearly went down.

It appears that whilst Apple stuggled to cope with demand, ISPs were facing issues trying to keep traffic flowing through their networks, as Apple device owners attempted to download at least 600 megabyte updates.

One ISP, AAISP, was “caught unawares” and yesterday evening saw “silly high usage since around 18:40 [BST]” leading them to think that “something [was] clearly ‘up’ and there [was] some ‘internet event’ happening”.

As Cult of Mac notes, that “internet event” was the release of iOS 5, Mac OS X 10.7.2 and a number of new applications.

Throughout the evening, AAISP engineers posted on the company’s Incident and Status Page, noting just what was happening to its network as subscribers fired up their iTunes clients and updated their iOS devices:

At 8.53pm, they wrote:

This is worse than the world cup traffic!

via Demand for iOS 5 & iCloud was so high, Apple almost broke the Internet.

The Other Protest: End Market Correlation!


/via Whitney Tilson:


The Complexity Break

Normally I disagree with Paul Allen pretty much on principle, but I think he has the complexity break pretty much correct:

The foregoing points at a basic issue with how quickly a scientifically adequate account of human intelligence can be developed. We call this issue the complexity brake. As we go deeper and deeper in our understanding of natural systems, we typically find that we require more and more specialized knowledge to characterize them, and we are forced to continuously expand our scientific theories in more and more complex ways. Understanding the detailed mechanisms of human cognition is a task that is subject to this complexity brake. Just think about what is required to thoroughly understand the human brain at a micro level. The complexity of the brain is simply awesome. Every structure has been precisely shaped by millions of years of evolution to do a particular thing, whatever it might be. It is not like a computer, with billions of identical transistors in regular memory arrays that are controlled by a CPU with a few different elements. In the brain every individual structure and neural circuit has been individually refined by evolution and environmental factors. The closer we look at the brain, the greater the degree of neural variation we find. Understanding the neural structure of the human brain is getting harder as we learn more. Put another way, the more we learn, the more we realize there is to know, and the more we have to go back and revise our earlier understandings.

via Paul Allen: The Singularity Isnt Near – Technology Review.

Essay on the State of Economics

Good essay:

The reputation of economics and economists, never high, has been a victim of the crash of 2008.  The Queen was hardly alone in asking why no one had predicted it.  An even more serious criticism is that the economic policy debate that followed seems only to replay the similar debate after 1929.  The issue is budgetary austerity versus fiscal stimulus, and the positions of the protagonists are entirely predictable from their previous political allegiances.

The doyen of modern macroeconomics, Robert Lucas, responded to the Queen’s question in a guest article in The Economist in August 2009.[1]  The crisis was not predicted, he explained, because economic theory predicts that such events cannot be predicted.  Faced with such a response, a wise sovereign will seek counsel elsewhere.

But not from the principal associates of Lucas, who are even less apologetic.  Edward Prescott, like Lucas, a Nobel Prize winner, began a recent address to a gathering of Laureates by announcing ‘this is a great time in aggregate economics’.  Thomas Sargent, whose role in developing Lucas’s ideas has been decisive, is more robust still.[2] Sargent observes that criticisms such as Her Majesty’s ‘reflect either woeful ignorance or intentional disregard of what modern macroeconomics is about’. ‘Off with his head’, perhaps.  But before dismissing such responses as ridiculous, consider why these economists thought them appropriate.

via John Kay – The Map is Not the Territory: An Essay on the State of Economics.

I’m Reading a Book

I never knew reading could be so street/hip/menacing.

Twitter Digest: 2011-10-11

  • Took all of 30 seconds into @TetonGravity's latest "On the Road" before I shouted "No f-ing way!" to an empty room. ->
  • Urban Dictionary: dad jeans ->
  • Briefly flipped on a TV tonight and ran into BBC's "24 Hours in an ER". I am now so freaked out I won't sleep for a week. ->
  • Benford's Law and the Decreasing Reliability of Accounting Data for US Firms /via @markthoma ->

Benford’s Law and the Decreasing Reliability of Accounting Data

Unsurprising but interesting results from a Benford’s time-series analysis of U.S. public company financial accounting data. Things are, in short, getting worse.

So according to Benford’s law, accounting statements are getting less and less representative of whats really going on inside of companies.  The major reform that was passed after Enron and other major accounting standards barely made a dent.

Next, I looked at Benfords law for three industries: finance, information technology, and manufacturing.  The finance industry showed a huge surge in the deviation from Benfords from 1981-82, coincident with two major deregulatory acts that sparked the beginnings of that other big mortgage debacle, the Savings and Loan Crisis.  The deviation from Benfords in the finance industry reached a peak in 1988 and then decreased starting in 1993 at the tail end of the S&L fraud wave, not matching its 1988 level until … 2008.

The time series for information technology is similarly tied to that industrys big debacle, the dotcom bubble.  Neither manufacturing nor IT showed the huge increase and decline of the deviation from Benfords that finance experienced in the 1980s and early 1990s, further validating the measure since neither industry experienced major fraud scandals during that period.  The deviation for IT streaked up between 1998-2002 exactly during the dotcom bubble, and manufacturing experienced a more muted increase during the same period.

via Studies in Everyday Life: Benfords Law and the Decreasing Reliability of Accounting Data for US Firms.