morwen: (Default)
News story about High Frequency Trading and the Facebook IPO

Let's assume for the moment that the stock market is an efficient way to distribute capital in endeavours that will produce surpluses, for the pie-embigenning benefit of all [and I am becoming increasingly skeptical about that, but that's the premise that capitalism has been sold to us on]. Is this level of sub-second trading really necessary? I can see who benefits from each individual action, but who benefits from the system being set up like that in the first place? Is there evidence that making price discovery faster by seconds or minutes benefits the economy overall? I very strongly doubt it. Once the stock market is efficiently allocating capital in response to information issued by the company and news, then that's enough, and the rest of stock trading is a zero-sum game.

[And let's not forget that day trading does not in fact distribute capital to companies. The point of stock exchanges is to provide a liquid market for company ownership, so as to encourage investment at flotation/new share issuance time - which is when the actual company gets the benefit - so it's already an abstraction away.]

There was a story recently about a new cable being laid down between London and Toyko, to bring the ping time down from 230ms to 168ms. They spent actual resources in the real world, with actual engineers and an actual boat, putting down a cable to let people conduct high-frequency trades that bit more efficiently than their competition. Of course, their competition will just put down their own cable, and so on. Eventually, you're left with nobody having a timing advantage over anybody, and the system is exactly the same overall as it was. It's like the Red Queen said - "it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place." Who loses out? There's the opportunity cost of what all the cable-layers and programmers could have been doing otherwise. And crucially it increases the barriers to entry for participating in the stock market.

So why have we have a society bothered doing that? They could achieve exactly the same effect by building in an artificial latency, and then levying a 'latency tax' to bring it down, the proceeds of which would be used for some socially beneficial purpose.

If they really must have automated agents doing stock trades like that, can we not find a more efficient way of doing this, perhaps using a central arbiter system and VMs running bytecode? Then we won't get people running transarctic cables down so they can get a slightly better ping time unless it's for something actually important to humans like voice communications latency or Quake.
morwen: (Default)
I've heard from some equal marriage opponents that they are opposed to "redefining" marriage. What does that mean, exactly? Redefining the word? I'm sorry, that's not how language works. Parliament or whatever doesn't get to change the meaning of the English language word "marriage". That has already changed, by the mere fact of lots of us having talked about the concept of equal marriage, without a single jurisdiction needing to have changed its law to recognise such status.
morwen: (Default)
Hi.

Your article at
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-18004439

asserts that "Parish councils were abolished in 1963 after the London County Council was replaced with the Greater London Council", and furthermore that "The power for London boroughs to establish parish councils was re-established by a 2007 law."

This is incorrect. There were no parish councils in London in 1963 (which should read 1965, anyway, as that's when the Act came into force), either in the old County of London (which had not had them since 1900), or in the other areas which joined with it to form Greater London. As far as I can make out the last parish councils in what is now Greater London survived until 1934 in Hendon Rural District, which became the parish council-less Harrow Urban District.

The second sentence is also wrong, in that it implies that there have ever been parish councils in London boroughs. There simply hasn't.
morwen: (Default)
So, there's a managerial elite of board members and chief officers that controls all the publicly quoted companies in the UK. We're told that they are so good at managing, that they are worth what would be otherwise ludicrous sums. If they weren't being paid $BIGNUMBER or if they had to pay very slightly more in tax, they may as well not bother getting out of bed.

This may seem disingenuous on their part. But let's take it at face value. They have been paid enough previously to now be independently wealthy. None of them ever needs to work again, at a practical level. So, they can take it or leave it. In that case, wasn't it a massive mistake to pay such people - whose talent is such that the country would be screwed without them - enough money that they could quit after a year, in the first place? Shouldn't they have been kept at wage-slave levels to induce them to work, like everyone else?
morwen: (Default)
The proposed new law [...] would extend those requirements to social networking sites

Er, including internet forums? Including the MUD?

I look forward to seeing them try.
morwen: (Default)
We were watching the 2010 series of Futurama last night when someone from the British Crime Survey came, to interview me about my experiences and perceptions of crime.

The perception stuff was very difficult to answer, I was for example asked whether I reckoned crime was going up or down in the area (which I have lived in for all of 2 months), and whether it was high or low compared to the national average, what I thought of the efficacy of the police, the CPS, the courts, the prisons and the probation service. Not all the questions relating to change were phrased with a specific time-frame, which seemed a bit dodgy. I was also asked what newspapers I read. I didn't know they collected that - that implies that they have data showing correlation of crime perception vs. newspapers. I'm going to see if I can dig that up.

I was asked whether I had been a victim of crime in the last 12 months (no), whether I'd witnessed various things (none I could think of). For a good part of the survey, I was handed the computer myself to directly answer questions, without the surveyor knowing the answers. These were mostly on drug use and sexual assault (and one question asking my sexual orientation). Drugs questions asked both whether I had done them and whether I had heard of them. I spent some time trying to remember the answer to one of these.

The oddest question on the survey asked me whether I had been sent various forms of 419 scams (er, yes, lots. doesn't everyone?).
morwen: (Default)


This shows the combined voting share of Labour/Conservatives, in the general elections and European elections since 1979 (when direct European elections started). Blue is general, Red is Europeans.

There is a notable tend, in that while the Lab/Con share for European elections starts higher than generals, it ends up much lower. For European elections from 1979-1994, large single-member constituencies were used, making the system even less proportional than the system used for general elections.

There's a consistent downward trend for the European elections, but it starts seriously dipping below the general election figures in 1999, the first time PR is introduced. The next time round in the Europeans the combined vote share of Labour and Conservative drops below 50%, and falls even further in 2009. Doesn't it look like voter behaviour is aware of the electoral system and changes accordingly (if with a little lag)? Yet the media appears to treat these vote shares as comparable.
morwen: (Default)
I see the lizards got in again. A shame.
morwen: (Default)
I always like to cite my sources. So when this happened


Stephen Pound: [talking about why PFI seemed like a good idea] Jubilee Line Extension was on time and on budget -

[livejournal.com profile] abigailb [interrupting]: NO IT WASN'T. IT WAS A YEAR LATE! CHECK HANSARD!


I feel the need to reference my heckle further.

So, the links are: here, where Baroness Hayman reports that "London Transport is planning to open the line in September 1998". A BBC news story from November 1999, reports "Jubilee Line finally opens". Westminster station was not to open until later, in December.
morwen: (Default)
So, was the ceremony before the State Opening different today? Perhaps Black Rod should have just knocked on the door once and then be let in without question?
morwen: (Default)
the underground was being philosophical today. it said "The next station is." this is rather reassuring: imagine if the next station wasn't!

also: congratulations to americaland for ejecting the wrong lizards.
morwen: (Default)
so it appears i will be having some form of flatcooling party saturday week afternoon/evening, before going to intelekt! which has been kindly moved to a saturday! (thanks guys ;)

i was half-heartedly protesting against things on Whitehall/Westminster Bridge earlier this evening. things I protested against included: Tony Blair, the war, etc, cheese, roadworks, Big Ben (in fact i denounced all clocks as evil), and also the very bridge itself, which i claimed was stopping people from learning to swim. i appear not to have been arrested yet, although in fairness if i was going to get arrested for anything it was more likely to be for drunk & disorderly... ;)
morwen: (Default)
surely the best bit about this BNP newspapers being seized by police story is the revelation that their newspaper is printed in Slovakia. hahaha.
morwen: (Default)
Rehnquist dies. So, Bush gets his 2nd Supreme Court appointment.
morwen: (Default)
US troops ordered to leave London

Well, it's a start. Hopefully they'll leave the entire country next...
morwen: (Default)
I think I jinxed it. Oops. Sorry.

(link fixed now)
morwen: (Default)
The US Supreme Court has ruled against the display of the Ten Commandments inside two Kentucky courtrooms.

Hurrah. Now, let's just hope that Rehnquist doesn't pop his clogs until February 2009.
morwen: (Default)
apparently, in a staggering display of missing the point, the new Minister for Women and Equality is working unpaid.

i mean, blergh??? they have an excuse (the number of paid ministerial positions is limited by law) but it doesn't sound like a very good one. you only need so many damn minister of state for paperclips at the department of administrative affairs, and this, whilst not exactly a high-profile position, is actually a position with wide-ranging responsibility, and not really subordinate to any one department.

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Abigail Brady

May 2017

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