20 April 2018

The Asymptote of Progress - part the ninth

Yesterday morning was going to be a Carnac day, in which a missive stating the prediction that FAA/NTSB would demand stepped up inspection of high-cycle engines was to be offered. Never got around to it and, naturally, such was reported later in the day. Which brings us to today's reporting where we get some fruitful quotes about jet engines.
Like the engine on the Southwest jet, two others — one used on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and another on some Boeing 767s — developed cracks. On Tuesday, the same day as the engine failure on the Southwest plane, the Federal Aviation Administration said Boeing 787 Dreamliners powered by Rolls-Royce engines could no longer be flown on ultralong, over-water flights.

The engines are produced by three different manufacturers, but the fact that all three have developed safety issues is prompting questions about the engines' design, operation and their inspection procedures.

The worry is that the flaws are part of a trend as manufacturers push to develop ever more powerful and complex machines.

"We've gotten smarter," said Richard Giannotti, an aerospace engineer. "We can design things to a very low margin with a lot of reliability data to back it up. But when we get to the ragged edge, it doesn't take much for things to go wrong."

Sound like turbofans have reached the wall? Along with Li-ion batteries?

16 April 2018

The Asymptote of Progress - part the eighth

This hot off the presses (7:56):
VALE Vale S.A. reports Iron ore production reached 82.0 Mt in 1Q18, 4.2 Mt and 11.4 Mt lower than in 1Q17 and 4Q17, respectively (13.12 )
Iron ore production reached 82.0 Mt in 1Q18, 4.2 Mt and 11.4 Mt lower than in 1Q17 and 4Q17, respectively, mainly due to management's decision in 2Q17 to reduce production of lower grade ore, reinforcing the positioning of Vale as a premium producer and resulting in higher price realization and better margins since 1Q17. The more intense rain season also affected production in 1Q18.

So, let's make America Great Again with imported iron ore, since we haven't enough in the ground worth digging for. Such a Wonderful Idea.

15 April 2018

The Deplorables - part the second

Yet another series, with unknown length, impelled by the Trumpistas. I'm going to guess that Bevin hasn't the faintest idea that he's indicting his state's redneck deplorables. And he's implicitly demanding that public school teachers be domestic violence cops, in addition to gun-totin', rootin-tootin eraser cleaners. Hillary is lookin righter by the day.
I guarantee you somewhere in Kentucky today a child was sexually assaulted that was left at home because there was nobody there to watch them. I guarantee you somewhere today a child was physically harmed or ingested poison because they were home alone because a single parent didn't have any money to take care of them.

13 April 2018

The Case for Public Goods

Since Orange Julius Caesar is the illegitimate love child of Ayn Rand and Benito Mussolini, we've seen (I'm talkin Pruitt, Ryan, et al) the rise of Social Darwinism to never attained heights. Which brings us to this "study".
When curing a disease with gene therapy is bad business

The answer, naturally, is that such science has no business being a business. Especially in the cited cases where the "cures" are for truly rare diseases, and not the faux types which Pharma is jumping into with both feet.

So, where's the moolah going to come from?
Novartis's projections that the treatment could bring in several billion a year in revenue also suggest that the company might charge unheard-of prices, perhaps $2.25 million according to Wall Street bankers.

Society as a whole, through whatever damn gummint insurance exists and "taxing" the privately insured, should shift mountains of money for some basic science?? Time to wake up and smell the coffee. There are public goods, and there's no benefit to piling on gobs of empty profit to the price. The science will out, no matter.

09 April 2018

The End of The World as We Know It - part the second

In today's news
According to Mintel's research, 43 percent of adults eat cereal as a snack at home. Of people who eat cereal, 30 percent choose cereal that tastes good regardless of how nutritious it is.

Stupid is as stupid does. Or as Mrs. Darcy says at the end of that 'Law and Order' episode,
Girl, you're as dumb as a sack of hair.

R.U.R. - part the second

The first installment in what is now another series of data analysis made this point:
The standard whipping boy of the lunatic right, who are clearly conflicted, is the unionized auto worker. On the one hand, they've spent decades demonizing such folks, just the Rust Belt angry white folks who're now out of work. But, now of course, Kim Jong-Don claims that he's their savior. Baloney, of course. Here's a detailed analysis of the way the world really was, at the time of the auto rescue.
A final note on all this: Labor costs only account for about 10 percent of the cost of producing a vehicle.

Today we get the news that Der Trumper Bankster, aka John Cryan CEO du Deutsche Bank, is out the door. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy. But, he's not the only one likely to get FIREd in the coming times. Last fall, we heard this:
AI has, however, piled pressure on costs by automating mundane and repetitive tasks. The implication is that employees like the accountants singled out by Cryan as "doing work like robots" are living on borrowed time.

Which raises that nasty existential question yet again: if high-value, high-wage, high-education FIRE jobs are on the bonfire, how is it that education is the key to prosperity? Will we really need millions of new EEs in the coming years? And if so, can your average MBA actually earn the lowly BSEE? My wild ass guess? Not in a million years. It's that Pareto gut punch, yet again.

08 April 2018

The Asymptote of Progress - part the seventh

Another note of asymptote existence. Anandtech just reviewed the latest SSD from Western Digital. For the first time in a while, they implemented their own controller. One of the comments complained that the review didn't reveal the entire design/implementation of said controller. Billy Tallis replied (in part):
We asked repeatedly, and all we could get was that it isn't RISC-V. But every other NVMe controller used in consumer SSDs uses Cortex-R, and there's no reason to suspect WD is doing anything different. There aren't many alternatives.

Which comment points to, at least, two asymptotic factors:
1) CPU availability (not the whole controllers, of which there are legion) boils down to something ARM or RISC-V
and
2) The designers assert that new principles are becoming rare in instruction set design, as the most successful designs of the last forty years have become increasingly similar. Of those that failed, most did so because their sponsoring companies failed commercially, not because the instruction sets were poor technically. So, a well-designed open instruction set designed using well-established principles should attract long-term support by many vendors.

That second is from the wiki article on RISC-V. This is the quote's link. That old Zeno problem, stepping halfway to the wall. Or as stated in recent missives, CPU is a manifestation of maths, and in the end there will be one "best" resolution to a maths problem. You really should read the whole thing. One, therefore, might wonder how much microarchitecture "evolution" is pointless wheel spinning?
If you are one of the few hardware or software developers out there who still think that instruction set architectures, reduced (RISC) or complex (CISC), have any significant effect on the power, energy or performance of your processor-based designs, forget it.
Not to say that engineering of chip production has hit the wall (it is close, though). (And an amusing stackoverflow discussion.)

The commoditization of even CPU and OS might lead one to ask the next question. What becomes the high-value/high-wage occupations? Do we really need to repeat the fiasco of FIRE burning down the global economy? But if real science/engineering becomes unnecessary (in the creation and production of consumer goods; cosmology need not apply), how should we educate all those little grey cells (yes, that's not original, and you should look it up) for what sorts of work? The soft questions are always the most difficult to answer.

And, it turns out, that RISC-V machines are being made. Not all is peaches and cream, naturally. A short tour of the innterTubes will dig up criticism. But CPU was, is, and always will be a manifestation of maths, and as every other type of maths, there's one best way to do it. Guido says so.