My afternoon train reads:

Why Things Fail: From Tires to Helicopter Blades, Everything Breaks Eventually (Wired)
• How China Became Capitalist (The American)
• Changing the Conventional Wisdom on Wall Street (Economix)
• Europe’s Recession (Dr.Ed’s Blog)
• Katrina’s Effect on Jobless Claims vs. Sandy (Avondale Asset Management) see also Hurricane Sandy’s huge size: freak of nature or climate change? (Dr. Jeff Masters’ WunderBlog)
• The Long Story of U.S. Debt, From 1790 to 2011, in 1 Little Chart (The Atlantic)
• 10 things 401(k) plans won’t tell you (MarketWatch)
• Is it game over for Grover Norquist? (Salon) see also Tax Reform Won’t Save the World (Bloomberg)
• Human intelligence ‘peaked thousands of years ago and we’ve been on an intellectual and emotional decline ever since’ (Independent)
• John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John Christmas Album Plunges Nation Into Double-Dip Recession (The Onion)

What are you reading?


Stocks Can’t Shake Their Funk

Source: WSJ

Category: Financial Press

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

16 Responses to “10 Thursday PM Reads”

  1. gkm says:

    If somebody really wanted to do some good – instead of getting their knickers in a knot about HFT they would get an investigation going into NAV manipulation by ETF/N’s providers. That is IMHO where the real jacking around is happening. I would be willing to bet that the next scandal will eventually come from there, and can be revealed by digging into what goes on with NAV reporting.

  2. slowkarma says:

    The ‘Human Intelligence’ article reminded me of another that suggested that rather than becoming dimmer, human evolution had been artificially altered by the division of the human race into two groups — those who go to college (and seek mates there) and those who don’t. In the past, the theory was, people tended to marry close to home, and to mix in ways that didn’t tend to maximize intelligence.

    As for the John Travolta/Olivia Newton-John article in the’s hard to believe that any rational government would allow this album to be issued. And don’t tell me about freedom of speech: the Supremes held long ago that freedom of speech did not allow shouting”Fire” in a crowded theater.

  3. ilsm says:


    All things break unless they are fixed first!

    Aviation safety managers have been working similar issues since the 30′s.

    Lots has evolved.

    “In 2011, Southwest Airlines grounded 79 planes after one of its Boeing 737s”…..

    In 1988 an Aloha airlines 737 (Flight 243) went convertible in flight, lost one fight attendant, it succumbed (accepted cause) to wide area stress fatigue, something that has been “known” since a 1950′s movie with Jimmy Stewart. That SW was not inspecting (decided they could fly more flight hours than was safe given prpobaility WASF, if they and Boeing were thinking at all) properly is a failure of management.

    Granted some of the examples are expendables and non complex with limited safety issues which only need cost benfit analysis for economic reasons.

    A better dilemma: was the reason the Explorers were flipping because the tires were badly designed or was the vehicle designed to roll over when a tire blew?

  4. Greg0658 says:

    cause I feel like interacting .. “Human intelligence ‘peaked ” (thats alink above) .. “dazed and confused for so long its not true” (thats LedZep) .. “Couch-potato man” from linkie (does that get a payolla now) (I gotta get 1 or 2 of them)

    Constant Craving by KDLang – its a song (grammy award material)

    I lost my train of thought – did some drinking – beeeeeeer earlier – prophets written on the subway walls – I ah if I keep this up will loose my privledges -ie koolaid bliss’ie’ness

    please please please fix the Twinkie impass – as mush as I wonder what a 20yo Twinkie will bring at 2032 market price – I really really really don’t wanna hoarde them to see

  5. DiggidyDan says:

    Greg. . . or you could invest in fine scotch instead of INGEST fine scotch. It appreciates with inflation, and only gets more expensive the older it is. . . plus if everything goes to hell in a handbasket and we get NEOTWAWKI scenarios, you can bet your ass that fine scotch will be up there with ammo as a valued currency! Try bartering a gold bar for food if the entire financial system collapses! It has great . . . err. . . liquidity!

  6. call me ahab says:

    Why don’t Japanese toilets spread to the US?

  7. Bob is still unemployed   says:

    The article in Wired about Why Things Fail reminded me of a book I read many years ago.

    It’s a scary reminder of what happens when computers show the weakness that they are programmed by humans.

  8. farmera1 says:

    Why things fail, hum as a Certified Quality Engineer, I can shed some lite on the subject. There is a very famous curve in Quality Assurance circles called the “mean time between failure” and it works for “all” complex systems. Not just some piece of steel.

    When systems are new they fail frequently and when they age they fail frequently, hence when you plot failure rates you get the famous U shaped failure curve. Think about big systems, they fail frequently when new
    the bugs and problems are corrected and then they work well for some period of time. Then as they age they fail more frequently. Anyone (well almost) that has worked in a complex manufacturing environment understands this concept. Starting up large complex systems is a bitch. Then the systems evens out and works better. Then the systems wear out and the failure rate increases.

    Why is it like this, pretty much “shit happens”.

  9. beaufou says:

    401ks, who would need a 401k if the trickle down bullshit worked?
    Baby Boomers, any ideas on how not to suck your retirement out of the active working population?

  10. from the “Wired” article…

    “…Arnum owes his livelihood to Enron. In the wake of the scandal that took down the energy juggernaut, the Financial Accounting Standards Board made changes to the Generally Accepted Accounting Principals—the rules that, among other things, govern how companies write financial statements. As of November 2002, companies were required to provide a detailed reckoning of their guarantees, including their warranty reserves and payments, in quarterly and yearly filings. The result was that, for the first time in history, someone could look at, and compare, how US public companies handle claims—how much they pay out, how much they hold aside for future payments.

    And this is just what Arnum did. He began gathering warranty information, 10-Q filing by 10-Q filing. His job is even harder than it sounds. Because companies are so reluctant to share this information, they often stash their warranty numbers in footnotes. Arnum frequently must pick through an entire hundred-page filing before he finds what he’s looking for. Then he enters this information by hand into his spreadsheets…”

    except iffin’ you happen to a ‘Monoline’, or a ‘Ratings Agency’, right, Warren?

    also, where has the SEC been on XBRL?

  11. ilsm says:


    In defense systems the “infant mortality” front side occurs due to untested design, and running out of money to do reliability and maintenance designs properly.

    The “wear out” back side occurs because the operators want to say the things are worn out so they get new toys.

    The new toys start as the old.

    However, the bottom of the bathtubs is getting higher all the time.

    See why Okinawans don’t want MV 22 falling out of sky over Naha!.

  12. mathman says:

    just another sign that we’re on the “right road” with the continuation of “the way it is”:

  13. farmera1 says:

    ilsm, boy did you hit a great point. Couldn’t agree more. Having worked for a number of large US corporations infant mortality, is always build into start-up costs. Slower line speeds, more material loss, more down time all that sort of thing, but…..

    We were involved in the 1980s starting a plant in Japan. We provided the product (a product that had been in the US and made by my company for many years) and specific product design, and the Japanese provided the equipment in Japan to but the product together. Much to our (US team) astonishment the Japanese turned the equipment on and it ran at design speed, no unusual material loss, no significant defect levels. In a word the line ran perfectly. So you say why can’t the Americans do it, here are my observations (having worked in manufacturing QA, Engineering and Manufacturing over the years).

    -Us companies choose cost numbers (usually arbitrarily brought down) to some upper managers dream
    (corallary: The size of the lies in a request for capital depends on the level of managment that wants the project)
    -Upper management chooses a start up date based on some annual board meeting or similar well thought out scientific reason
    -On a long project most of the actual workers get fired before the completion of the project (fire the innocent) because they didn’t meet upper managements dreams/night mares
    -Then the non-participants are awarded
    -Costmetic things like a million dollars worth of pretty ceramic tile are much more important than getting the best equipment
    -Managing quarter to quarter numbers and project costs over rule all other concerns.

    A lot of this stuff goes back to Deming and Juran and American style of management. I could go on, but that is enough.

    “The “wear out” back side occurs because the operators want to say the things are worn out so they get new toys.” On this point you are off base. I disagree, blaming workers (I’d maybe give you 10% but no more) because lines don’t run right/wears out is a fools game.