The Tom and Jerry

The Tom and Jerry Hot Potation

beat an egg, add icing sugar until very think
in a mug add the following:
1 tablespoon of the egg mixture
1 oz. brandy
1 oz. dark rum
a pinch of nutmeg
a cup of boiling water

Rating: 7/10

stir and serve

18 November 2009 | Hot, Rating 5 - 8 | No Comments

What the Butterfly Thought

“Call me Miller.”, said the young man in the brown suit as he got up from the table to greet his guest.

“Very well Mr. Miller. I am Eric Holder.”
Holder was a man in his fifties, in a black blazer, lanky, an aging geek perhaps.

“Everyone knows who you are, Mr. Holder. You’re about as enigmatic as Howard Hughes though.”
The men sat down and the waiter filled in the details.
“I am awfully grateful that you granted me this interview. I am a bit surprised though, my research suggests that you have never been interviewed before.”

“Well, Mr. Miller, you are one of the most popular news men on the net, your readership is in the millions is it not?”

“Yes, that’s true, but that can’t be the reason, you could have given an interview to anyone and gotten millions of readers. You are about the most famous person alive. Everyone knows the discoveries you have made, the inventions, you are like an Einstein or a Darwin, though many of your inventions are in the realm of applied science. Your company, Genexus, is probably the greatest business success story the world has known. It has a market cap of over a trillion dollars…”

“I see you have done some reading.”

“It’s all there, except of course, the 800 pound gorilla question, how. How can a group of 12 scientists in Genexus come up with so many useful inventions and scientific discoveries?”

“How indeed?”

“And to make things even more mysterious, only some of these 12 have advanced degrees. I think one of them, Ethan Collins, didn’t even graduate high school. That’s pretty unusual.”

“Well, its a strange story. I hardly know where to begin…”
Miller switched his phone onto record and pushed it to the center of the table where it could get a good 3d image of the entire interview as Holder began again.
“Your research probably told you that I was trained as a geneticist. When I graduated in twenty twelve, I received a grant to study monarch butterflies. They were dying out, I was brought in to study their genome. Maybe I am getting ahead of myself, how much do you know about butterflies, Mr. Miller?”

“I’m afraid you have gone beyond my preparation for this interview, I know as much as the next man I suppose, they start as a worm-like creature and then spin a cocoon and emerge as flying insects, some with brilliantly colored wings… I’m afraid that’s about it.”

“Butterflies are most interesting creatures, Mr. Miller, you should do some reading about them some time. For the purposes of our discussion its only important that you know one thing.”

“And that is?”

“They migrate, from the Southern hemisphere to the north and back again. To the same tree where they lay their eggs.”

“Like Pacific Salmon, go back to the stream of their birth.”

“Very good, Mr. Miller!”, Holder began looking at Miller like he was some sort of specimen, “Did you know that if you put the eggs from one stream into another, years later the adult salmon will swim back to the first stream?”

“I didn’t know that.”

“Are you sure you didn’t know that?”
Holder’s staring was beginning to make Miller uncomfortable.

Miller broke the silence, “Maybe I read it somewhere.”

“Perhaps… You know, the lifespan of a monarch butterfly isn’t long enough to allow it to complete the migration. Its their descendants that end up in the tree years later. In my second year of university I had a roommate, do you know what his name was?”

“Excuse me… roommate? No, I didn’t find that in my research.”

“How do you feel about that?”

“Well, I feel nothing about not knowing the name of your roommate, if that’s the question?”

“Exactly. Tell me, do you know much about geometry?”

“I am suddenly feeling very unprepared for this interview.”

“I’m sorry to put you on the spot.”, Holder grinned.

“I feel like I am being tested, and Math was never my best subject.”
Holder pulled out a pen and sketched a square on the napkin.

“Do you see this square, each side about two centimeters long? If I asked you to draw a square that has double the area, could you do that?”

“That’s not too difficult, I would merely double the length of each side.”

“How do you feel Mr. Miller?”, Holder extended the sides to double their length and then completed the square.

“Excuse me?”

“Oh look, Mr. Miller, the new square contains not two squares of the original size but four.”

Miller laughed a bit, “Oh I guess I was incorrect about that.”

“How do you feel Mr. Miller?”

“I don’t understand, why do you keep asking me that?”

“Its a simple enough question.”

“Honestly, a little pissed off and somewhat confused.”

“Excellent. Look here, if I draw a diagonal line in the original square, how much area is in the triangle?”

“Half that of the square.”

“And how many halves would equal twice the area of the original square?”

“Four”

“Does that help you with the original problem?”

“Well, yes actually, if I were to draw diagonals in all four of the new squares then the square made from the diagonals would be twice the area of the original square.”

“How do you feel?”

“Fine I guess, a little self-satisfied maybe.”

“Do you know what a truism is Mr. Miller?”

“Something so obviously correct that it goes without saying.”

“Like the phrase, ‘All things in moderation’?”

“Yes, I suppose so.”

“May I tell you a story, Mr. Miller?”

“You don’t stay on a theme for very long do you?”

“A long time ago three friends were traveling through the country. Upon rounding a corner they were attacked by bandits. One man took to his heels and ran for his life. Another was surrounded by the bandits and was fighting for his life. The third man rushed to aid his friend but, in the confusion, stabbed and killed the very friend he was trying to save. He was still able to escape the bandits though and make it home.”

“So now I presume you will change the subject instead of telling me what the story means.”

“I’m sorry that you think I am changing the subject, it must make you feel somewhat confused. You’ll have to trust me that this is the only route to the meaning, the process is more important than the words.”

“And the men in the story?”

“Upon arriving back in town the men were arrested, their friend had died and one had admitted to delivering the death blow. The laws of the society clearly stated that to kill someone was a crime punishable by death.”

“And so they killed him?”

“Is that what you would have done, Mr. Miller, had you been their judge?”

“No, not at all, the killing was unintentional so the friend is blameless”

“And what of the man who ran away?”

“He probably deserves more censure than the friend who did the killing as he didn’t try to help.”

“Would you say that this is a truism, or would you expect different legal jurisdictions to find differently?”

“I would expect most, if not all, to agree with my finding. But you have evaded my question, did they kill him?”

“Well, they didn’t quite know what to do, their law clearly stated that he had to be killed, yet it didn’t sit well with them. So they did what they always did in these cases.”

“And that was?”

“Have you ever visited a cave, Mr. Miller?”

“You aren’t going to tell me what happened are you?”

“Well, they took their question to a higher power.”

“To their chief?”

“No, higher than that.”

“Their God?”

“Sort of, they asked their question of justice itself.”

“And the result?”

“As we know. There after it was enshrined in the written law, ‘actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea’. Interesting that you never asked me how they contacted justice? That would have been my first question. Have you ever been in a cave Mr. Miller?”

“When I was a boy I once went into an abandoned mine. What was that you said, was that Latin?”

“Yes, roughly, ‘the act does not make a person guilty unless the mind be also guilty’, the common test of liability in law. The story is true by the way, but you know that. Did you know that caves were once used as places of healing?”

“How so?”

“The god of healing, Asclepius, was invoked by going into a cave and, simply waiting, without eating, drinking or even moving, just waiting, in the dark. Did you know that monarch butterflies eat milkweed, also known by its Latin name, Asclepias? How, odd I’ve never noticed that before.”

“Does that mean something?”

“Probably, did you know that 99% of the human genome is not required to make a human?”

“What do you mean?”

“The genes that are required to express all of the physical characteristics of a human account for only about 1% of the genome. The rest of the genes would seem to be irrelevant.”

“That’s very interesting, what does it mean?”

“I cannot tell you. Have you ever noticed the sensation of remembering a forgotten fact? There would seem to be a process of remembering, wouldn’t you agree?”

“How so?”

“Well, at first you don’t think that you have forgotten anything, you think you know it. Then you realize that you don’t know it and you are confused. Finally, it dawns on you and you are sort of relieved.”

“Yes, I suppose that’s how it goes.”

“Not unlike your feelings when we were discussing the geometry problem.”

“Yes, the sensations were quite similar. Does that mean something?”

“I can’t tell you – Oh my, I must be going, this really has gone on longer that I thought it might.”

“But you haven’t really told me anything for the article.”

“Really? I am so sorry. Well, how about you ask me one question then and I will answer as briefly as I am able.”

“OK, what is the secret of your company’s success?”

“Oh dear… We make a great many consumer goods Mr. Miller, people buy them because they find them useful.”

“Yes but how?”

“This we have already discussed, and now I must be off. Good bye Mr. Miller.”

7 September 2009 | General B.S. | No Comments

The Sensation Cocktail

The Sensation Cocktail

3 dashes of Maraschino syrup
3 sprigs of fresh mint
1/4 Lemon Juice
3/4 Gin

Rating: 7/10

Shake and strain into cocktail glass.

10 August 2009 | Cocktails, Rating 5 - 8 | Comments Off

How Does Automated Trading Work?

I have talked to people who do this sort of thing. I’m no expert but here is what I think to be the general gist.

These people are known as black box traders or arbitrage traders. They construct computer systems to automatically identify opportunities and execute trades.

There are two parts to the task. Identifying the opportunity and executing the transaction.

Identifying opportunities requires low latency data from the exchanges, which includes not only network latencies but also processing latencies. Opportunities within a single market are essentially non-existent as the various merchant banks and brokerages have been doing automated trading in this space for some time. The more recent black box traders usually focus on arbitrage between exchanges or through synthetic instruments.

Arbitrage between exchanges consists of looking for an instrument that is listed on more than one exchange and identifying when the orders get out of sync, such that you can make money by buying on one exchange and selling on the other. For example, Royal Bank of Canada trades on NYSE and on the Canadian TSX exchange. The stock is traded in US $ on the NYSE and in CA $ on the TSX. Its possible to write software that looks at the orders on these exchanges and at the foreign exchange rate such that opportunities can be identified.

The second group of opportunities is through synthetic instruments. This is much more technical and I don’t really understand it. Essentially what is done is that the software identifies inequalities in the market based on a basket of instrument that, when traded together add up to an instrument. These synthetic instruments are made up of various positions on real instrument. For instance the synthetic might consist of an equity and several options to buy or sell that equity.

Once the opportunity is identified then the order must be executed before the market picture changes. For this, low latency order execution is required. I think that traders may use two different boxes, co-located at the data vendor and at the trade execution provider to reduce latency as much as possible.

24 July 2009 | Tech, The Net | No Comments

Shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

CNN reports that a white supremacist and general wacko, shot a guard at the U.S. Holocaust Museum before being shot by other guards.

I, for one, deny that this event actually took place. I see no clear evidence on CNN or anywhere else that this actually happened. Maybe a white supremacist entered the building and roughed up a guard or something.

Its much more likely that this entire story has been concocted by the U.S. Security Guards Union to create a general sympathy in the public. No doubt they intend to leverage this sympathy to allow them to rule the world. What other aim could a secretive society like the Guards Union have?

The fact that CNN is reporting this concoction can only mean that they are in on it too. Think about it, there are security guards in almost every commercial building in America, they are even in our children’s schools!

(the above is meant as satire)

11 June 2009 | General B.S. | No Comments