Friday assorted links

1. Francis Bacon and machine learning.

2. Fat Cats in The New Yorker.

3. Top 100 albums of the last ten years?  By Quietus, a highly intelligent source.

4. South Korea will not allow its citizens to smoke pot in Canada.

5. Interview with Stephen Sondheim.

6. How to judge tech companies, recommended.  By Patrick McKenzie. “You might sensibly read these heuristics and think “Hmm, you seem to over-focus on speed. Aren’t quality, price, etc also really important?” These questions don’t *really* test for speed. They test for *repeatable competence at scale*, which is another thing entirely.”


6. Tech credibility is riding on Tesla. Data mining companies (Google, Facebook, Amazon) make the big bucks and have the huge capitalization, but a tech company that can actually produce a real quality useful product will give tech the credibility to avoid tech credibility collapse. I am rooting for Elon Musk: a titan in an industry of hucksters.

Your comments always leave the distinct impression that you do not read

Heuristic: enabling a person to discover or learn something for themselves. Duh.

Have you ever heard of Apple? Samsung?

They produce products too. Phones and Washers. Tesla is at the frontier.

Well, by that same token, Tesla makes cars. Cars have been around for a century, so how does making a car generate any credibility over and above, say, a smart phone?

Today Cowen participated in a symposium on AI. Of course, the money in AI is is in data mining to sell stuff. Some participants in the symposium ignored data mining to sell stuff; I don't. Tesla is different: a car that is essentially a computer. Sure, Elon Musk might be crazy, but while he is trying to build a car for the future, his former partner is mining Bitcoin: Musk's former partner is treated like a genius, while Musk is treated like a nut case. Something isn't right. And it's reflected on this blog.

Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Isaiah 40:3

Musk is a pretty bright guy. For a secular guy, anyway, if you measure inputs (poor guy was educated in late 20-th century America, and no, none of his teachers were geniuses - not that I know of any way) - if you measure his outputs, compared to the obviously meager inputs, he is almost at the Godel level, when it comes to trying TO understand. Which is basically top level for secular people.

We look back with less kindness than we should on the dream-makers, the resentful but kind-hearted students who tried, in later years, to create the art that their teachers, with their teacher salaries, tried so hard to describe to the students, the children of those who paid those salaries.

When was the last time you wondered how the prophecies of Isaiah would seem if they had been written by Shakespeare, at his youthful best (early 1590s) or vice versa? I don't get paid to do standup but if I did I would charge the most I could for that routine where I recite the funniest parts in the funniest chapters of Isaiah in the intonations and word choices Falstaff would have used, had he been a 20th century comic (WC Fields - the timing, the timing ---- the elegance of Larry and the good-heartedness of Curly - can you imagine????)

in the shadow of a great rock, indeed

and yes that made sense, if you think it didn't, read again.

All of us, or almost all of us, are stunned by our lack of intelligence. Even the great artists, the autists with their recreational math and their "new interpretations" of Bach, even the Nobel prize winners of every year, in every subject. Trust me on that .....

Sometimes someone has the energy to not only get good grades in school but also to do real things in the real world.

Almost all the time, such people are basically mediocre in their spiritual life - to be fair, if you think that you can not, at any given moment, say a prayer to God for happiness and immediately feel joy in your heart, you are, I hope I am not the first to give you this news, mediocre. (Not that being mediocre is a bad thing --- if that was your first thought, you haven't begun to understand what I am talking about .....mediocrity, in this world, is not a bad thing - this world is so small, and it such a gift to be not unlike most of our fellow creatures, all of them equally loved - trust me) . God still loves you more than God will ever love me (this is a technicality, what I am about to explain - but .... but I long ago told God I do not want him (God) to love me as much as the rest of you, because He (God) left me alone when I was small and living with evildoers, but I did tell him that I would be, as God is my witness (did you see what I did there?) the best friend He ever had, at least in my humble way, if He only shows me how to be such a good friend..... (friendships are built on mutual respect, and mutual forgiveness, too, and what could be more important - money, power, art? - all of that fades compared to loyalty, and all of that, money power art and loyalty, fades even more compared to the pure loyalty of a friend to a friend, reconciled) I do (understand what I am talking about ... I do know how easy it is to say a short prayer for joy in my heart and to immediately experience that joy - but I don't do that all that often, because this world is my world and I want to live in it, and to be helpful and to TRY TO UNDERSTAND, with charity in my heart) but if you can't accept joy from prayer then you don't know something you should know (i.e., God loves you, and understands where you were, and where you are going, and for the love of God, there is nothing easier than answering God when God tells you --- that you were created in the hope that you would love someone, and be kind to someone, and so on and so forth - most parents have understood this, many times over - not all, but most ..... and do you have any idea how lucky someone is to be a parent in this world, or, if they have been balked of that possibility, how much God loves them anyway, and how much God wants them to pass on that feeling of love?)

People who understand that do not lose winnable wars, do not buckle under sadness, and are thought of kindly by EVERYONE they have ever met.

Cold rain, lonely urban gas station west of the middle of Manhattan, and I forget the name of that bus station a few blocks west of Broadway, that night in the early "70s" when the rich people of the "70s" were having a good time and I was poor, as poor as you can imagine. I did not have a dollar for a decent bag of French Fries. That was when I learned that people all want to be loved, and when I realized that we were all born to be kind. I forget a lot of things like that, but what I remember most is feeling sorry for people who had it even worse than me. Kindness is so important, and so powerful. Anger and mockery and such things are repulsive. You might remember, though. God is your friend, and always was. Trust me, I remember much more than you would believe, if you did not realize how much you yourself remember. And you do realize, I hope, how much you have been given to remember. God loves you more than God loves me, remember that, too. Then again, I know what year this is, and you probably don't ---- but hey, who cares. We all share in an infinity of magnanimous generosity. I am humble enough to know I am not the truly generous one.

"what I remember most is feeling sorry for people who had it even worse than me"

I hope to God you never know what those words really mean

"Anger and mockery and such things are repulsive. You might remember, though. God is your friend, and always was. Trust me, I remember much more than you would believe, if you did not realize how much you yourself remember."

Are you sure you know what year this is? I know, and I know that I have always been humble enough to know that I am not the truly generous one.

Try and remember. What was the kindest thing anyone did for you? The bravest thing?

there are Saints in Heaven who never once felt the level of misery almost all my friends have known, forgetting to remember .... not this year, not in 1974, not in 2098, not ever ....

but it doesn't matter, if they do that one thing that only they can do to make the roads to happiness and blessedness straighter.

it is no small thing to be a friend to a creature that cannot remember ever having had a friend in this world

If you are kind, adopt a dog or do something like that, if you are not kind, for the love of God, and for your own sake, don't...

if you are not kind - well, I know your heart, and I have been praying for people like you my whole life.

Remember, God left me almost alone, as a small child, with evildoers - and I learned how to pray for people who do not know how to be kind.

Consider yourself prayed for, if you have read this far.

R u saying the ship can't be built without sourcing Brazilian balsawood?

"La navicella de la nuestra anima non sa non puede saber donde esta la ciudad celestial y lo mismo que era la ciudad de nuestros sueños, sinon non falta la bondad del amigo mas abandonado de todos nuestros amigos"

Brazil is a nice little country, you know that, I know that, but Brazil means nothing if there comes a day

when no Brazilian says, in her or his Lusitanian heart of hearts

"I for one, will pray, and will accept the goodness of God, for those (prayer) and on behalf of those (acceptance of the goodness of God) whom I care about"

Brazil me your Brazils and I will Heaven you my Heavens
chebere amigo chebere
do you know what year this is?
I do but you probably don't
That being said God loves you more than God loves me
it makes me happy to say that
chebere amigo

translation --- the little ship that is our soul cannot know - and, here and now, does not know - where the Heavenly City is (that city that so many of us dream of, those nights when we dream we are again in high school, ready to take the finals but more interested in telling those we miss that we miss them, and have missed them for lo these many years, or in those dreams where we are back in the military, although we for some reason forgot to make sure that our uniforms were acceptable - anyone who was in the military back in the day knows those dreams - and all of that cannot happen if we cannot rely on the goodness of those friends whom we have not seen for years but who, we know this in our heart, would love to see us this weekend, no matter how dull the meeting place - that phony pizza shop, or Pizza Hut, or the Gift Shop at the Museum where that painting of that woman who looked exactly like the girlfriend who left your son, in 2010, because he was not sufficiently supportive of her religious or political ideas - where that painting was overpraised (the artist did not really know how to express, in a portrait, the soul of the person whom the artist purported to be drawing or painting a portrait of....)

if you spent a moment in that pizza shop, with the intention in your heart of being a good parent to the person you were sharing a pizza with -

then you know what I am talking about.
and of course you know
you are as much a human as I am
although of course
one hopes that you
did not spend those years on the waters,
in those poverty boats
apart from God
through no fault of your own
remember you did not have it easy either
I pretend that I did not have it easy
but I sort of did, for reasons that I do not want to go into
but I have lived a long time
and I know that it is very possible that you did not have it easy
well God loves you anyway
God did not want you to live through that
but you did
and if you are a decent human being
you triumphed
remember that
if you are kind to a small creature that never had a friend in this world
that is success

It makes me happy to say that
chebere amigo

Consider yourself prayed for if you have read this far

I remember lots of things, so do you

God loves us all

remember that

Thanks, hun.

US tech credibility rests on Elon Musk AND Jeff Bezos.

Who both are full out Keynesians:
"I feel sure that the demand for capital is strictly limited in the sense that it would not be difficult to increase the stock of capital up to a point where its marginal efficiency had fallen to a very low figure. This would not mean that the use of capital instruments would cost almost nothing, but only that the return from them would have to cover little more than their exhaustion by wastage and obsolescence together with some margin to cover risk and the exercise of skill and judgment. In short, the aggregate return from durable goods in the course of their life would, as in the case of short-lived goods, just cover their labour costs of production plus an allowance for risk and the costs of skill and supervision."

Both have sought to deliver Keynes':
"Now, though this state of affairs would be quite compatible with some measure of individualism, yet it would mean the euthanasia of the rentier, and, consequently, the euthanasia of the cumulative oppressive power of the capitalist to exploit the scarcity-value of capital. Interest today rewards no genuine sacrifice, any more than does the rent of land. The owner of capital can obtain interest because capital is scarce, just as the owner of land can obtain rent because land is scarce. But whilst there may be intrinsic reasons for the scarcity of land, there are no intrinsic reasons for the scarcity of capital. An intrinsic reason for such scarcity, in the sense of a genuine sacrifice which could only be called forth by the offer of a reward in the shape of interest, would not exist, in the long run, except in the event of the individual propensity to consume proving to be of such a character that net saving in conditions of full employment comes to an end before capital has become sufficiently abundant. But even so, it will still be possible for communal saving through the agency of the State to be maintained at a level which will allow the growth of capital up to the point where it ceases to be scarce."

However, China is better at doing what both strive to do in the US first and then globally.

Jobs wanted to manufacture in the US, but was convinced by Tim Cook that US public policy destroyed manufacturing in the US as as capital asset, while China public policy made manufacture capability capital assets not scarce.

Elon figured out a decade ago that manufacturing was the hardest problem there is. Amazon is tackling 80% of manufacturing, sourcing parts quickly and integrating them and delivering them. The problems Elon has had is getting designed parts sourced, delivered at the right time to put together, then deliver them to the buyer and collect payment.

Designing parts is hard, but doing the design is pointless if you can't make them. Designing a product using parts is hard, but pointless if you can't get the parts and assemble them and deliver to paying customers.

Apple improved on design, and on delivery, did not build the capital to build rapidly in high volume complex products. If Apple had, it would be low profits because they would have had to do as Amazon and Tesla and SpaceX have and currently do, pay to build manufacturing and logistics capital, of which human capital matches built productive capital.

China manufacturers would never make the big mistakes Elon did because they made thousands off small mistakes over the decades of taking over for US manufacturing capital, advised by Japan and Taiwan who led the way.

The biggest problem for US manufacturing is the US policy of promoting rent seeking and monopoly profits by making manufacturing capital extremely scarce.

Free lunch Trump is trying to make the much diminished metal refining capital in the US extremely profitable by excluding all global capital from the US market. And that depends on the Fed to create all the money too pay the profits, the money charged to workers for consuming thde good they consume but not paid to workers. Given workers are not paid to build capital in order to keep capital scarce so high rents and profits can be extracted from workers.

Like Keynes, i know free lunch economics is like HW said in 1980, "voodoo".

I worked at a company that scaled come about 40 people to 6000 in the time I worked there.

On day one they said "you're a developer you'll need the root passwords," and they gave them to me, for all the machines.

Perhaps it is not surprising that with a certain scale they started taking my root privileges away(*), but yeah there's a lot of truth to this list.

* - They also said that with thousands of employees my first name could not be my account across the network :-)

#5: I watched a telly programme about West Side Story once. In the whole show neither Bernstein nor the interviewer once mentioned Sondheim.

I take it Bernstein was a shit?

The guy that writes the songs stays in the background, that's the convention I think. Once in a while the artist that sings the song gets her name inserted in the lyrics for vanity.

'I take it Bernstein was a shit?"

@ #1 - On Francis Bacon, I have to bring to your attention that the personal physician of Francis Bacon (1561-1626) was none other than the famous physician who discovered blood circulation, William Harvey (1578-1657), and if you read Harvey's blood circulation treatise of 1628 it directly talks about the scientific method as taught by Bacon. Some speculate they talked to each other, but Bacon does not credit Harvey at all. It's also true that Bacon was the older man and may have not wanted to credit Harvey since Harvey did not contribute anything. But clearly one influenced the other.

#2. Similarly (or: mutatis mutandis), progressive thought-leader The Atlantic is maintaining its online venue of opinionated drive-by journalism and half-edited, half-written pop culture puff pieces at least in part by featuring an ad for Red Dead II (rated M for strong language, violence, nudity, depictions of drug abuse, et cetera).

BLAM! KA-BOOM! UGGHHH! (Cartoon headlines, anyone?)

Just another day's work for our corrupt and corrupting Media Establishment! (the same one tied into corrupt governance, corrupt business, corrupt academia, corrupt entertainment, et cetera et cetera, et cetera)

What a crappy corrupt country we have! Better move to one of those incorruptible ones.

I prefer a different galaxy these days, maybe one situated closer to the Dipole Repeller than to the Shapley Concentration. (We can begin to blame gravitational anomalies for local corruption, given our relative proximity to the Great Attractor and the Norma Cluster: gravity being the proximate source of all corruption, it seems, bliss might only be capable of being found within cosmic voids, contemporary cosmography begins to suggest or reveal.)

"What a crappy corrupt country we have! Better move to one of those incorruptible ones."

America, love it or leave it.

That's what I do.

#2: The best is Suntrust Private Wealth Reserve. It's not the mega-bucks financial institution Suntrust Bank sponsoring these anti-capitalist ravings. No sir, it's the private wealth management division of that mega-bucks financial institution, serving, per their website, "those with $5MM-25MM in managed assets" and offering a "white glove experience" which includes, among other things, "Preferred pricing on products and services from companies such Delta Private Jets," I guess for when you're in such a hurry to stick it to the bourgeoisie that you just don't have the patience to fly commercial.

Yeah you FUCKING IDIOT Jeffrey Golberg is a real hero of the left. You fucking, fucking idiot.

at the end of the day why don't you and malcom and donald go on a journey together down to the sociology dept. and get a complementary brain scan?
seriously, its on us,
no charge

a quick brain sdan

wait a minute;
if 80 percent of the overturned rape convictions in a small sample involve misidentification by the accuser then mebbe we are all gonna need brain scans

@ #3 - best albums of last decade - I don't listen to music, but I've never heard of the music mentioned in this link. I mean, I did not see Taylor Swift or Rihanna or Lady Gaga. What sort of music are they rating, classic? Before I hit the Enter key let me take one more look to make sure I'm not going to make a fool out of myself...#17, "The Queen Sucks Nazi Cock" by Good Throb -is that indie music or something? I never hard of that tune...

Good question, I have not heard of most of these artists, not sure what genres they cover? Also confused as to how they left off Robyn's Body Talk.

Lot of albums and artists I've never heard of, but finally found some I do know and agree about in the middle of the list. The list is a weird mix of music only a total music hipster would know of, total mainstream, and a few in between that are good. I think multiple people with very different tastes compiled it.


Americans believe "greed is good". Brazilians believe "those who do not live to serve are nota fit to live".

así que si los brasileños creen que aquellos que no viven para servir no son aptos para vivir
¿por qué tantos brazlians viven en las favelas

"por qué tantos brazlians viven en las favelas"
Brazil is already implementing the biggest subsidized housing programmankind has ever seen. Brazil intends to abolish homelesness and inadequate living quarters in a few years.

President Captain Bolsonaro has vouched eliminate leftist doctrination in Brazilian schools, give more money to the deserving poor, cut taxes, allow all families to buy 600 bullets each month and block Chinese investments.

la mayoría de los estadounidenses piensan que un poco de avaricia puede ser buena en algunos aspectos, pero demasiada avaricia es espeluznante.
la mayoría de los estadounidenses piensan
declarar a la gente incapacitada para vivir es un poco juzgado.

Yet, Brazil has got good outcomes. While America's president spent his life scamming innocent people. President Bolsonaro server in Brazil's Army. Príncipes are importante for Brazilians.

este la problemma;
some of bolsonaros principles are mebbe a little creepy
at the end of the day
how about if bolsonaro and donald and malcom
take an aerobic stroll down to the sociology dept and see what bolsonaros brain scan says.

he will like malcom
he likes to explain stuff


we would be honored to cover the cost of the brain scan
no problemma
how much are we talking about?

Is that why Brazil is voting back in a military dictatorship?

It is not. President-elect Captain Bolsonaro has vouched to respect democracy. Mr. Bannon has officially supported him and called him brilliant.

Brasil is again the wave of the future


> Officials work to project an image of a “drug-free nation” and only about 12,000 drug arrests were made in 2015 in a country of more than 50 million people.

Oh great, glad the country has such a clean, drug free image...

> Many companies require their employees to join in frequent eating and drinking binges after work with bosses

oh, wait

> the World Health Organisation found in 2010 that Korea has the highest prevalence of alcohol abuse and dependence at 6.76 per cent of the population.

I mean I don't want to be that guy that goes "what about booze" but really.

I know, I know, it's not clear that MJ is a substitute for Alcohol, and a lot of people will use them together (and have worse health outcomes) but it's so fundamentally unreasonable to take such an aggressive stance against a drug like MJ that's mostly harmless, but utter nary a peep on a highly addictive and harmful substance that's responsible for 1 in 20 deaths worldwide.

I'd rather live in a pothead culture like the one I came from in Southern California than the functioning alcoholic culture that is DC. (N.b. government workers and private contractors can be alcoholics, but can't consume legal cannabis)

#2 There is a meme floating around out there of a tug of war between a "don't tread on me" libertarian and a communist. Then, the libertarian is joined by a fascist pulling for his side, with slight surprise. The he sees the communist joined by a "fat-cat" capitalist with the attendant surprise of "Huh?"

The point of this meme-comic as I see it is that the "fat-cat" capitalist and communist are strange bed-fellows but not really. He joins the tug of war on the other side because he know that should they be victorious, communist is either easily controlled or easy to eliminate. The libertarian much less so. I feel this is a wide metaphor for some of our current economic and political discourse.

#4 I'm imagining in Korean what that re-entry conversation at customs would look like. It's interesting.

#6 "Scalability" is today what "Synergy" was a decade ago. A word symbolizing a concept that at inception was only slight representative but has now being hijacked.

> #4 I'm imagining in Korean what that re-entry conversation at customs would look like. It's interesting.

"Welcome back sir, a few questions for you this evening."

Uh sure, no problem.

"Have you ever been to Canada?"

Well, yes, I'm coming from Canada, in fact.

"Good. Now, have you ever been to Canada... *on weeeeed*?"

(reference is Jon Stewart in Half Baked)

Fat cats like Churchill of English aristocracy and Roosevelt of dynastic NYC wealth also chose Stalin over Hitler. Libertarians though, unlike your example, fought with the allies not against. Fascists were much faster at eliminating opposition than the Reds by a hair so were the bigger threat to everyone.

Wrong. There are no libertarians outside of a few DC area think-tanks and some random people hanging around blogs like this on the internet. Fascism has always been supported by the wealthy and is in fact the response of the wealthy capitalist classes to serious threats by workers and the left. Fascism and the capitalist class are almost always allies (cue any day now when Tyler writes about how Bolesanaro "isn't so bad after all...") . Libertarians are essentially a fiction.

3. Very nice that it can be streamed. Monoliths and Dimensions is .. good for Halloween?

I decided to reel back my amplifier plans and just picked up a refurb Yamaha A-S501. I'm happy with it.

3. Sunn O. O, my! Is this tops on Cowen's Gnostic list? Or is it Revelation?

The concept that "laws made in Seoul still apply to citizens anywhere in the world" is surprising.

In France, the rule is that if you're a French citizen doing something in another country where this thing is legal, while being a crime under France's law, you can not be punished in France if the
crime is a misdemeanor (a "délit", actually a misdemeanor or a lighter felony, punishable by 10 years in prison at most). For instance smoking weed in Canada is legal for a French person, while it is no in France.

But if the crime is a serious felony (punishable by 15 years in prison or more) then you can be indicted in France. For instance, a "spousal rape"
done in a country where this is not a crime (there are many of them) can still be punished in France because rape is a grave felony according to French law (a "crime", as they say in France, which does not mean the same as the English word crime).

I think this is a good principle, acknowledging that there is some arbitrariness in law, but still punishing certain serious acts (murders, rapes, etc.) done everywhere as a matter of principle.

I wonder is there is a similar principle in the US. Not found info on wikipedia on that.

Same for the USA. That's why US pedophiles overseas are busted in accordance with US law, not foreign law.

Are you over 30 years old, Ray?

right in Ray's wheelhouse

Just some random bonus trivia there, eh Ray?

Surprising that Lorde doesn't make the list. But then I'm often amazed at the need of some to grade things like this and think it really has any meaning to anyone but them.

#5: This guy looks really good for 88 years old, unless he used a really old photo for the article.

#3-no pink floyd? no fleetwood mac? no eagles? These were mega-albums that redefined music! A little disappointed with this list.

It's just for the past 10 years, and to show how hip and edgy they are. Like when I add that they missed fine efforts by Rainover and Effloresce

Prog-rock bands like Oceansize, Porcupine Tree and Vennart tend to enjoy less mainstream success because their artistic style tends to be more sophisticated, require a more nuanced ear. Sometimes these bands have academic backgrounds, often referred to as "math rock" for their more complex, rather orchestral compositions. Pink Floyd met as architecture majors at London Polytechnic and initially formed a group "Architectural Abdabs". That was before Syd Barrett went nuts.

Porcupine Tree's last album was in 2009 and wasn't too hot so their exclusion is unsurprising (Deadwing is very good but their style makes me want to kill myself which is why I listen to a lot of Pop instead; not much pop in that list either...)

It’s strange that there is no EDM. I’m sure other genres were left out. I’m a millenial and recognize perhaps eight of the artists.

Culture isn’t at monolithic as it once was I suppose.

2. As we all know, the ruling class are bald, obese, champaign-sipping men in suits, stomping the common man underfoot, and lighting their expensive cigars with $100 bills. Even the art directors of the New Masses and the Daily Worker at their Stalinist worst would have turned this down as too corny. Thomas Nast would have said, "Looks good. But where's the big bag of coins with the dollar sign on it?"

And the top hats

#3. The Quietus list almost perfectly captures everything I hate about music. Not surprising they picked the worst Wild Beasts album. I wish I could see their Bottom 100 list as a way to get ideas about what is actually good.

So yes the Quietus list is pretentious and un-Lindy. But I appreciated their 100 selected 30 second snippets. Some of it was enjoyable (D'angelo, Icarus Line), some was interestingly horrible (VNV nation, Death Grips, The Fall ca. 2008, The Body). Though all these artists sound inconsequential compared to the popular music of the 20th century.

3. I'm a pretty avant-garde guy, but I cannot get into Sunn O))). Lye by Mistake? Yep. Merkabah? Sure. EX EYE? Hell yes. But Sunn O))), no.

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