Tuesday
Aug062019

China stops buying US agriculture

So in July the Trump Administration seemed willing to pay farmers $16 billion dollars as a result of the Tarrif situation and trade war with China.   That's about $15 dollars an acre or $7000 per farmer, and near infinite terms and conditions apply - for example:  did your state vote red or blue - and also are you an awesome farmer and produce 200 bushes per acre or mediocre and manage 50 bushels?

Today China officially stopped buying US agriculture, which amounts to 11.3% of all US agricultural production.  11.3% doesn't sound serious, but if you have the misfortune to be growing soybeans this year - I suggest prices may well fall to about 40% of what they were last year (China usually buys 60% of US soy production).   

So, dollar calculation - will the average soybean farmer come out ahead with prices at 40% last year?  So thats $15 farm credits per acre... divided by 200 Bushels per acre on quality farmland... or $0.075 dollar credit per bushel...plus the quantity... $10.39 per bushel in Feb 2018... times 0.4... works out to a very rough estimate of $4.231 per bushel - a soy price per bushel last witnessed in 2001-2002 under Bush.   O damn.

Mediocre farmers are likely to see fatter government farm policy handouts:  At 50 bushels per acre, one would expect about a $0.30 per bushel voter retention adjustment to $4.53 per bushel.

My estimate is certainly wrong... but ouch.. be it thirty cents or seven and a half per bushel- farm aid isn't likely to make a big difference in the heartland.  The soybean price has already fallen $0.50 on China's walk-away anouncement.

Thursday
Aug012019

Just how bad is Baltimore?

If you happen to worried about the most common kind of crime in Baltimore (property crime), how many large US cities might be worse?  From wikipedia, given a rate as total/population - Spokane Washinton is #1 among thevies, followed by Baton Rouge, Mobile, Des Moines, St. Louis, Orlando, Anchorage, Glendale Arizona, San Bernardino California, Cincinnatti, St. Petersburg Florida, Norfolk Virgina, Buffalo New York, Toleod, Durham, Wichita, Savannah-Catham, Oakland California, Tulsa, Albuquerque, Garland, Cleveland, Reno, Greensboro North Carolina, Fort Wayne Indiana, Lexington Kentucky, Stockton California, St. Paul and Minneapolis Minnesota, Boise Idaho, Corpus Christi Texas, New Orleans Louisiana, Bakersfield California, Irving Texas, Madison Wisconsin, Pittsburg Pennsylvania, Atlanta Georgia, Tucson Arizona, Las Vegas Nevada, Memphis Tennessee, Laredo Texas, Chesapeake Virgina, Kansas City Missouri, Chandler Arisona, Riverside California, Hialeah Florida, Fremont Californiak, Portland Oregon, Omaha Nebraska, Scottsdale Arizona, Newark New Jersy, Aurora Colorado and Arlington Texas followed by #56 property crime city Baltimore Maryland.

If you want to avoid high rates of violent crime, St. Louis Missouri is #1 for murder, bar fights, rapes and robbery followed by San Bernardino and Stockton California, Baton Rouge Louisiana, Las Vegas, Anchorage Alaska, Clevland Ohio, Buffalo New York and Kansas City missouri before #11 spot:  Baltimore Maryland.  

Perhaps it isn't the rate per hundred thousand that concerns you, and just the total number of rapes - if so Baltimore takes #41, and beware New Orleans, Anchorage, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Spokane, Columbus, Tulsa, Detroid, Colorado Springs and Denver, Wichita, Cincinnati, Oakland.... hmm... Washington DC... many others.   If it just happens to be total reported Murders, beware #1 spot St. Louis Missouri (with about 7 violent crimes per thousand residents every year and Baltimore (with about half the violent crime rate of St. Louis.)

What's my point:  Baltimore isn't fantastic, but it certainly isn't beyond redemption.   

 

Monday
Jul222019

The tweet "I could wipe Afghanistan off the map if I wanted to"

So a random US political figure tweeted today he could wipe Afghanistan off the map.  Could they?  The US has roughly 6000 nukes, and Afghanisan is Roughly the size of Texas at 251,800 square miles.  Each nuke can take out every non-borrowing animal in 1250 square miles - so just 201 nukes could pretty well destroy every inch of Texas or Afghanistan.  So yes, they could as far as ending human lives goes.

However, the bad news, Afghanistan is flanked by Nuclear actors:  Iran, Pakistan, China and Kazakhstan (Say with 1, 40, 400 and 1400 nuclear weapons.)... not to mention the unpleasant fall out that would land and cause deaths in not just neighboring countries but as far away as Russia (roughly another 6500 weapons that each have multiplewarheads.).  If immediate neighbors retaliate in full, the US could expect a loss of 2.3 million square miles (Roughly everything west of the Mississippi.)   If just one retaliated with a single cargo-ship nuke to a port city that makes the loss of 3 thousand US lives in Afghanistan look like 1% of casualties. 

If all weapons were fired, that's a habitat loss of 18 million square miles, basically North America minus a few artic bits.  Even if only the United States was hit - a few decades of winter would kill almost everyone that remains anywhere in the northern hemisphere... though perhaps Hawaii wouldn't become completely locked in sea ice.  The only good news in this senario is that if the explosions are confined to the northern Hemisphere, radiation starvation and nuclear winter likely would not kill everyone in the southern hemisphere as well - frozen ice might help contain the radiation in the north so Humainty should be able to survive in Argintina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Nambia and Madagascar on a planet that might take a thousand years to largely return to "normal."  

The only point of something so terrible a threat is deniable targeted use (i.e. there's no way to prove who destroyed a single city), or to force communication and issues.  Long gone is the world in which only the US had this weapon.       

Monday
Jun032019

Apple's New 2019 Mac Pro isn't for Professionals, It's for the Luxury Market

Apple sometimes has a way of paying a lot of attention to the wrong things.  UI, Users, Accessibility - maybe the right thing.  Professionals, maybe the right thing.  The thousand people that can afford a solid gold apple watch... um... sure the profit margin is fantastic but maybe they are not the reason apple is frequently wonderful.  Lust worthy technology, to a technologist - or perhaps just me, isn't going to really be about using some beautify soft inferior metal that can't handle a picnic on on a boulder at the beach without looking like scrap.  Sorry gold.

I saw Apple's WWDC mac pro and had bummer moments aplenty.  

The case is thick.  That grill is deep.  And my first bummer moment - electronic discharge milling or convential CNC can cut precise half hemispheres into a 20mm slab of aluminium at considerable waste... but why go there at all with a design that reminds one of bee's and the breeding backs of the surinan toad?  What professional need is met with a insect nest friendly computing enviroment, a ban on workplace squirt guns?   A Unique solution to a difficult problem is quite a different thing than a silly solution to a well solved problem.   Posh, sure, useful... umm.  Useful like optional roller feet on a $6000 to $59,000+ desktop because are accidents never happen. Useful like a monitor with grill that lets those damn little beetles fly right inside your $6000 pro monitor when you are filming on set?

Then we move on to the Xeon CPU.  I like xeons... historically nice preformers solid choice... and the 14 nanometer 28 CPU version is available on New Egg for $10,000ish dollars.  A reminder, 14 nanometer is the best intel can do these days... but maybe they will soon have 10nanometer chips to be marketed as 7 nanometer despite microscopic evidence to the contrary.   Apple already has 7 nanometer components in the chips in the Iphone tennis... so awkward tech lust moment - its like falling in love with Juliet and trying to chase her down to go all "But soft what light" on her, but then getting waylaid by that mopey goth bitch Ophelia and being forced to hear all about everything rotten in Denmark and how drowning might be the only way to ease her sorrows so you know, when you finally do get away, that it's all going to be Act V Scene 3 for you and Juliet even if you both find each other?     

Really Apple, I have to buy ophelia?  Ophellia?  Even if I want Juliet?

Hook line and sinker.  Because next comes the GPU options.  And Nvidia's CUDA isn't in the offering, and the story is much the same.  

If you don't program AI, let me expain there's a training phase that takes hours or days to teach your computer dog to hold a biscuit on it's nose, followed by a trick phase that makes the biscuit vanish in a magical instant so quick that everyone thinks it must be easy - after all - obviously the dog did all the work.  If you ever trained a dog you might know better... and this is my beef with Apple's state of AI:  With apple you can have a trained dog easy enough, but to do any dog training is really going to be slow and painful in Apple's ecosystem.  For me... CUDA and machine learning go together.  It isn't that you can't do AI with just a single CPU or AMD boards or Apples modest Metal AI tools... it's just that running tensorflow on that 28 core xeon is never going to be fast compared with what you can do for less on a CUDA freindly graphics card with a thousand of cores.

...so.   Yes.  Apple made a AI development bet that looks stupid to me and hints a a fundamental forward technology disconnect.  The AI community probably isn't going to be flocking back to mac's soon.  And it kind of makes my brain hurt - apple should deeply embrace AI given its niche in the companion / personal assistant products - and instead... they made design decisions for their "professional" market that amount to "AI dev?  eh maybe next time?  Maybe never?  Oh, and good luck finding third party vendor and a hackintosh ktext and drivers so you can run Cuda boards in our walled garden."  And worse, that choice may likely keep Apple's Siri in the slow lane, compared to Amazon and Google, unless there are plenty of windows and linux boxes in Apple with cuda boards just exactly for deep learning and training.  But given the state of Siri, I think they don't exist at apple. 

Apple's new and different and moderately less useful AI developer tools -  isn't going do it apple.  Forcing devopers to  buy expensive GPU options that they almost certainly would want to immediately replace isn't super great for anyone but apple and hardware vendors.  It makes other options look pretty strong.  I really wish apple saw it's professionals as less monolithic and more in need of future proofing technology side bets  and able to support special use cases.  

I like apple.  I think I'm done with apple.  I don't need a specialized supercomputer workstation that isn't targeted to my needs, and more or less by random decreem can not be targeted to my needs.  I hate the pain of switching, but it seems like soon enough, that's me.  I'm not part of the luxury market, or whatever niche film maker video edit suite pro market this Mac Cheese Grater is tailored to (8K video hardly exists, but if that's the 2-3 year future of film, maybe they are the targets of the quirky engine tuning the 2019 mac pro has?)  

Beautiful, prideful, sleek, powerful and able to roll off a desk onto concrete floors in less than a second?  sure, the 2019 Mac Pro is all that.  Something I want to own?  No, not for me.

Monday
May202019

Game of Thrones Should Issue Season 8 Shorts

Game of thrones, maybe I never got you.  Shows done, and what are the fans left with - a hot mess?

I firmly believe HBO should seed a little "OH HOLY SHIT" good will by giving Bran-esque glimpses of the future... at least half of which involve political assassinations if Bran raises taxes to restore Kings Landing or should he fail to do so.  Enough wiggle room that the viewer is left to wonder what comes to pass.

 Dinkle getting a drop with a sword... Massie with a mask... Bran falling off a horse or tumbling down a tower... daenerys as dead zombie nom nom or maybe resurected by a lucky drunk.. Jon Snow with the night watch over taxation..  A diplomat from disputed lands... 

yea.  No reason any of it needs to be anything but one of bram's fever dreams...