Monday, June 17, 2019

June 17th Links

  • I worked on a project of 700,000 lines of banking COBOL written by 12 folks in 1983. There was no clear logic and it perplexed everyone. I tracked down the last programer alive age 73. He laughed and said he hated the bank and hoped someday they would be in a mess—they were! [Brian Roemmele]
  • To make the right move, you have to understand the game, the meta-game, the game beyond the meta-game. You need second-level thinking to succeed, you need to think strategically. You also want positive convexity, situations that that have the potential to go really really well but don't cost you much downside. (Think the poker equivalent of calling from the big blind with 6-7 suited). But in poker, in investing, in life, you also need keep it simple, stupid. You are often better off limiting your options. Even if you think you're the smartest player at the table, you want to avoid marginal situations, where you may have to make a big decision in an unclear situation. And if you're not the smartest or most confident person at the table, the people who are will force you to make a very tough decision at a time when they have the edge. [link]
  • Dietrich Braess, a mathematician at Ruhr University, Germany, noticed the flow in a road network could be impeded by adding a new road, when he was working on traffic modelling. His idea was that if each driver is making the optimal self-interested decision as to which route is quickest, a shortcut could be chosen too often for drivers to have the shortest travel times possible. More formally, the idea behind Braess's discovery is that the Nash equilibrium may not equate with the best overall flow through a network. [Wiki]
  • What modern capital markets do very well is raise large amounts of capital from a broad base of investors who are persuaded to give their money to perfect strangers with precious little idea of what these fortunate recipients are going to do with it. In order to keep the money coming in under such admittedly odd circumstances, liquidity and the universal, instantaneous "price discovery" that financial markets offer with a glance at a computer screen are essential. The public investor, knowing so little about what he is buying, must be able to tell himself he can get that money back (or what's left of it) pretty much whenever he likes. [...] Public securities markets, and especially equity and derivative markets, are bad markets because their knowledge base is thin (at least compared to the sum of what could be known about the underlying companies if shareholders were allowed to know it, or inclined to learn it). [Oddball Stocks]
  • A patent owner that has its disclosure used to block later-filed claims by a competitor should consider substantially copying the competitor's later-filed rejected claims. To the extent that the patent owner is able to obtain their claims and need to assert these claims against the rejected company at a later time, this will put the rejected company in an awkward position when you assert the patent against them. [JDBIP]
  • Brian Roemmele spends an insane amount of time reading patent filings. Like a huge volume. He also spends time reading job postings. And talking to people in various corners of various industries. All of that gives a really clear picture of direction, if you know what to look for. He's also competent at hacking together all sorts of prototypes, with a solid belief that if he can sort of make a run at it, someone with actual budget can make a business out of it. [Quora]
  • American elites are having an exceptionally easy time getting away with their conspiracies. Maybe it is because the population is so mentally and physically debilitated - by bad diet, television, and so forth - that it can not even imagine the type of person that could pull off a conspiracy? [CBS]
  • Starting with the claim support chart, we can create an infringement chart by first describing the desired infringement. Next, to the extent it is not already part of the support chart, we can describe the support in the specification. Third, update or draft a new claim element by element that is both infringed and supported and enabled by the specification. [JDBIP]
  • From my reading, he clearly saw the financial crisis coming (is there anyone in real estate who didn't know what was happening? Especially a distressed real estate investor??) and wanted to sell out at the top, which he did quite successfully. Since he was probably bored and no one knows when the music is going to stop, he then put a small equity slice in a huge LBO of the Tribune assets, which went south. Since he sold Equity Office Properties at an inflated valuation to people he knows and is friendly with, this book seemed like a bit of an apologist account, trying to make it seem like he didn't know the top was in, so that his counter-parties can save face and people won't be afraid to buy from him (and it won't carry a negative stigma) in the future. Reminded me of reading Burt Reynolds biography once, which seemed to be a similar apologist account to explain how he didn't actually kill the husband of his lover at Merv Griffin's house out in the desert (which I believe remains unsolved and he was the obvious suspect). [CBS]
  • One of the most common topics I have with young Japanese would-be entrepreneurs isn't about how to get investment or how to find customers. Many of them want my advice on how to sell the idea to their parents or girlfriends. [Patio11]
  • As a general rule, wagons are the best kinds of cars. They look better than sedans, and they offer the cargo volume of SUVs, but without all the top-heaviness and handling compromises. So it won't surprise you that I'm 100 percent onboard with the new BMW 3 Series Touring, codenamed "G21." [Jalopnik]
  • My friend has a 330i with 190K miles. No major issues, little stuff like oil pan leaking, worn engine mounts. Stuff that you expect to wear out. The N52 was a really good engine, it showcased that turbocharging really reduced the life of an engine when compared to an NA counterpart (N54 vs N52). [Opposite Lock]
  • A lifting body is a fixed-wing aircraft or spacecraft configuration in which the body itself produces lift. In contrast to a flying wing, which is a wing with minimal or no conventional fuselage, a lifting body can be thought of as a fuselage with little or no conventional wing. Whereas a flying wing seeks to maximize cruise efficiency at subsonic speeds by eliminating non-lifting surfaces, lifting bodies generally minimize the drag and structure of a wing for subsonic, supersonic and hypersonic flight, or spacecraft re-entry. All of these flight regimes pose challenges for proper flight safety. [Wiki]
  • Sure, Carlos Slim had to bail out the Sulzberger family in 2009, but Slim, who has managed to extract an absurd amount of money out Mexico, is a very smart man. He's done well off his investment, both financially and, more important, by ensuring that his monopolistic exploitation of his Mexican telephone customers wasn’t much covered by the Times and thus was generally considered in the U.S. to be Not News. [Sailer]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For many Gnostic writers, the New Testament was much too accommodating and failed to acknowledge that the world is evil to the core, that nothing in this life has any redeeming features. Influenced by Plato’s ideas about a remote supreme God who allowed a lesser god, the Demiurge, to create the world, some Gnostic writers spun out extremely dualistic accounts of the universe.

To summarize these views, the best source to consult is The Secret Book According to John (or The Apocryphon of John). Because it is a complete document dating from around the fourth century, no one can dismiss it as a biased summary written by the conventional Christian enemies of Gnosticism. Finally, to the extent that there is a core Gnostic work, this is it--Michel Tardieu has called it “the gnostic Bible par excellence.”

The manuscript identifies its author as the Apostle John, based on a postresurrection appearance by Christ, who instructed John about “the mysteries which are hidden in silence.” The revelation begins with the supreme mystery, the nature of God, who is identified as the “invisible spirit,” so “superior to deity” that it “is not fitting to think of it as divine.” Eventually, when God thought about his own perfection, that resulted in the existence of an independent entity known as First Thought, or Barbelo. Barbelo also is the Mother and hence the consort of God the Father, and this resulted in a self-generated Child. This trinity then produced a whole entourage of divine entities known as “aeons.”

For some immense time all went well: “[T]he scene portrayed in this divine realm is one of complete order, peace, and reverence.” But the calm didn’t last. One of the divine entities went bad—the one named Wisdom. Without permission from God, Wisdom did her own creative imagining, bringing forth a child. It was a grotesque monster: “serpentine, with a lion’s face, and with its eyes gleaming like flashes of lightning.” To hide her folly, Wisdom “surrounded it with a luminous cloud.And she put a throne in the midst of the cloud, so that no being might see it except for the holy spirit... and she called its name Ialtabaoth.”

Now things get interesting. Ialtabaoth doesn’t merely look like a monster; he is one. “Completely self-willed, he steals spiritual power from his mother and runs off and sets about creating a world he can control as he pleases.” He is none other than the God of Genesis, who creates “a gang of angelic henchmen, rulers (“archons”) who are to help him control the realm of darkness, and he goes about setting up his rule in the classic style of a petty tyrant,” as Michael Williams so aptly summarized.

Having created the earth and given it inhabitants, Ialtabaoth began to assert, “For my part, I am a jealous God. And there is no other god apart from me.” The book now relates a revised version of the whole Adam and Eve, Garden of Eden saga. Once having thrown Adam and Eve out of the Garden, Ialtabaoth instilled a desire for sexual intercourse in humans and then seduced Eve to produce Cain and Abel, the former with the face of a bear, the latter with that of a cat. Adam then fathered Seth, who, unlike Cain and Abel, possessed the spirit of God. Seth and his descendents were regarded as an affront by Ialtabaoth and his henchmen, so he tried to kill them all with the flood. Having been thwarted by Noah, next Ialtabaoth sent evil angels disguised as men; they took women for their brides and generated a polluted humankind.

At this point the secret book offers a “poem of deliverance,” wherein Jesus explains that he came to free humanity from the chains of Ialtabaoth. However, Jesus does not end his revelations by encouraging John to go forth and convert the world. Not at all: “For my part, I have told you all things, so that you might write them down and transmit them secretly to those who are like you in spirit.”