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I am a mote the size of the earth,
blotting out the entire sun’s white,
and all just for a moment’s spite…
A continent-sized clod I am; and now, without a hearth.

A hasty rash word, a pasty last word,
and this worm squirms pinned and pricked – a quivering curd.
Oh, to scratch out my curdled tofu brain with a straw,
right through this punctured unlistening ear with a flaw.

Argh… Just lay me in my crypt.
My heart, from my chest, ripped.
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Love, if you knew the light
That your soul casts in my sight,
How I look to you
For the pure and true
And the beauteous and the right,—
Bear with a moment’s spite
When a mere mote threats the white!

What of a hasty word?
Is the fleshly heart not stirred
By a worm’s pin-prick
Where its roots are quick?
See the eye, by a fly’s foot blurred—
Ear, when a straw is heard
Scratch the brain’s coat of curd!

Then, were the world well stripped
Of the gear wherein equipped
We can stand apart,
Heart dispense with heart
In the sun, with the flowers unnipped,—
Oh, the world’s hangings ripped,
We were both in a bare-walled crypt!

Each in the crypt would cry
“But one freezes here! and why?
“When a heart, as chill,
“At my own would thrill
“Back to life, and its fires out-fly?
“Heart, shall we live or die?
“The rest. . . . settle by-and-by!”

So, she’d efface the score,
And forgive me as before.
It is twelve o’clock:
I shall hear her knock
In the worst of a storm’s uproar,
I shall pull her through the door,
I shall have her for evermore

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A Lovers’ Quarrel

I.

Oh, what a dawn of day!
How the March sun feels like May!
All is blue again
After last night’s rain,
And the South dries the hawthorn-spray.
Only, my Love’s away!
I’d as lief that the blue were grey,

II.

Runnels, which rillets swell,
Must be dancing down the dell,
With a foaming head
On the beryl bed
Paven smooth as a hermit’s cell;
Each with a tale to tell,
Could my Love but attend as well.

III.

Dearest, three months ago!
When we lived blocked-up with snow,—
When the wind would edge
In and in his wedge,
In, as far as the point could go—
Not to our ingle, though,
Where we loved each the other so!

IV.

Laughs with so little cause!
We devised games out of straws.
We would try and trace
One another’s face
In the ash, as an artist draws;
Free on each other’s flaws,
How we chattered like two church daws!

V.

What’s in the `Times”?—a scold
At the Emperor deep and cold;
He has taken a bride
To his gruesome side,
That’s as fair as himself is bold:
There they sit ermine-stoled,
And she powders her hair with gold.

VI.

Fancy the Pampas’ sheen!
Miles and miles of gold and green
Where the sunflowers blow
In a solid glow,
And—to break now and then the screen—
Black neck and eyeballs keen,
Up a wild horse leaps between!

VII.

Try, will our table turn?
Lay your hands there light, and yearn
Till the yearning slips
Thro’ the finger-tips
In a fire which a few discern,
And a very few feel burn,
And the rest, they may live and learn!

VIII.

Then we would up and pace,
For a change, about the place,
Each with arm o’er neck:
‘Tis our quarter-deck,
We are seamen in woeful case.
Help in the ocean-space!
Or, if no help, we’ll embrace.

IX.

See, how she looks now, dressed
In a sledging-cap and vest!
‘Tis a huge fur cloak—
Like a reindeer’s yoke
Falls the lappet along the breast:
Sleeves for her arms to rest,
Or to hang, as my Love likes best.

X.

Teach me to flirt a fan
As the Spanish ladies can,
Or I tint your lip
With a burnt stick’s tip
And you turn into such a man!
Just the two spots that span
Half the bill of the young male swan.

XI.

Dearest, three months ago
When the mesmerizer Snow
With his hand’s first sweep
Put the earth to sleep:
‘Twas a time when the heart could show
All—how was earth to know,
‘Neath the mute hand’s to-and-fro?

XII.

Dearest, three months ago
When we loved each other so,
Lived and loved the same
Till an evening came
When a shaft from the devil’s bow
Pierced to our ingle-glow,
And the friends were friend and foe!

XIII.

Not from the heart beneath—
‘Twas a bubble born of breath,
Neither sneer nor vaunt,
Nor reproach nor taunt.
See a word, how it severeth!
Oh, power of life and death
In the tongue, as the Preacher saith!

XIV.

Woman, and will you cast
For a word, quite off at last
Me, your own, your You,—
Since, as truth is true,
I was You all the happy past—
Me do you leave aghast
With the memories We amassed?

XV.

Love, if you knew the light
That your soul casts in my sight,
How I look to you
For the pure and true
And the beauteous and the right,—
Bear with a moment’s spite
When a mere mote threats the white!

XVI.

What of a hasty word?
Is the fleshly heart not stirred
By a worm’s pin-prick
Where its roots are quick?
See the eye, by a fly’s foot blurred—
Ear, when a straw is heard
Scratch the brain’s coat of curd!

XVII.

Foul be the world or fair
More or less, how can I care?
‘Tis the world the same
For my praise or blame,
And endurance is easy there.
Wrong in the one thing rare—
Oh, it is hard to bear!

XVIII.

Here’s the spring back or close,
When the almond-blossom blows:
We shall have the word
In a minor third
There is none but the cuckoo knows:
Heaps of the guelder-rose!
I must bear with it, I suppose.

XIX.

Could but November come,
Were the noisy birds struck dumb
At the warning slash
Of his driver’s-lash—
I would laugh like the valiant Thumb
Facing the castle glum
And the giant’s fee-faw-fum!

XX.

Then, were the world well stripped
Of the gear wherein equipped
We can stand apart,
Heart dispense with heart
In the sun, with the flowers unnipped,—
Oh, the world’s hangings ripped,
We were both in a bare-walled crypt!

XXI.

Each in the crypt would cry
“But one freezes here! and why?
“When a heart, as chill,
“At my own would thrill
“Back to life, and its fires out-fly?
“Heart, shall we live or die?
“The rest. . . . settle by-and-by!”

XXII.

So, she’d efface the score,
And forgive me as before.
It is twelve o’clock:
I shall hear her knock
In the worst of a storm’s uproar,
I shall pull her through the door,
I shall have her for evermore!

-Robert Browning

… Gasp! The Asians?

http://www.oecd.org/pisa/singapore-and-korea-top-first-oecd-pisa-problem-solving-test.htm

Singapore and Korea top OECD’s first PISA problem-solving test

01/04/2014 – Students from Singapore and Korea have performed best in the OECD PISA first assessment of creative problem-solving. Students in these countries are quick learners, highly inquisitive and able to solve unstructured problems in unfamiliar contexts.

85,000 students from 44 countries and economies took the computer-based test, involving real-life scenarios to measure the skills young people will use when faced with everyday problems, such as setting a thermostat or finding the quickest route to a destination.

Japan, Macao‑China, Hong Kong-China, Shanghai-China and Chinese Taipei were also among the top-performing economies.

Students from Canada, Australia, Finland, England, Estonia, France, the Netherlands, Italy, the Czech Republic, Germany, the United States and Belgium all scored above the OECD average.

Not all countries that did well in school subjects like mathematics or science did well on the problem-solving test. Conversely, students in the United Kingdom, the United States and Japan did better on problem-solving than in key school subjects.

“Today’s 15-year-olds with poor problem-solving skills will become tomorrow’s adults struggling to find or keep a good job,” said Andreas Schleicher, acting Director of Education and Skills at the OECD. “Policy makers and educators should reshape their school systems and curricula to help students develop their problem-solving skills which are increasingly needed in today’s economies.”

Around one in nine (11.4%) of 15-year-old students across OECD countries are able to solve the most complex problems, compared to one in five in Singapore, Korea and Japan. But on average across OECD countries about one in five students are able to solve only the simplest problems, meaning they lack the skills the modern workplace needs.

Huh? But aren’t Asians supposed to be just rote-learners devoid of creativity?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/01/pisa-problem-solving_n_5066568.html

And The World’s Best Problem-Solvers Are…

American students are barely above the average of 44 countries and economies in problem-solving skills, far behind teens in Asia, according to the first international test of that attribute in 15-year-olds.

U.S. teens on average earned a score of 508 on the Programme for International Student Assessment — Creative Problem Solving test, between top-ranked Singapore’s 562 and bottom-ranked Colombia’s 399. The PISA results, released Tuesday, put U.S. students in the middle of the pack, hardly supporting the American workforce reputation for creativity.

The top-performing Asian countries are known as “pressure-cooker countries,” according to Amanda Ripley, whose recent book, The Smartest Kids In The World, followed American high school students in exchange programs in Finland, Korea and Poland to better understand how those countries’ education systems fare so well on PISA. Korea in particular has an intense culture around tutoring.

“The big criticism of these systems — the one you hear most often from people within these countries — is that they aren’t teaching kids to think creatively and problem-solve,” Ripley said. “Well, now we have a test that gets closer to measuring those skills than any other — and they are killing it. Again. So what does this mean?”

Ripley suggested two likely factors. First, critics may be “underestimating just how effective their system is in helping kids think for themselves.” Second, while the exam is probably among the best tools for measuring problem-solving skills, “it probably still is not measuring all the many, many ways in which humans can be creative,” Ripley said.

Ouch…

Katsuyama VS Narang
FIGHT!

Katsuyama_VS_Narang_FIGHT!

Katsuyama_VS_Narang_FIGHT!

Video link:

http://www.bloomberg.com/video/katsuyama-narang-lewis-debate-speed-trading-~tZW9uHxRPm4Un24I0pyTg.html

Not quite as visceral as a Guile VS Sagat, or indeed, a Honda VS Dhalsim, FIGHT!, but still funny to see a Japanese-Canadian and Indian-American go at it, drilling down into a debate on technical market micro-structure, while the North Americans sitting at the same table watch gaped-mouthed, including the writer and creator of this Flash Boy narrative himself, Michael Lewis. Like Lewis said, twenty minutes on a TV spot is not the best forum to judge the merits of either side or even to make sense of this knotty issue; but if the two Asian guys with their quant teams can square up on each side with their powerpoint slides and reams of data and we have hours to spare…

In the end, it is a moot debate. Of course the markets are rigged, of course there is ‘legal front-running’ going on.

But this is simply quantitative algorithmic methods paired with physical network infrastructure built over flawed regulatory and incentive structures at the regulators and exchanges:
Regulatory/market-structure arbitrage, courtesy of Regulation NMS blowback.

The Narangs and Tradeworxs and GETCOs and Virtus and dark pools of the world will always do what they do: sniff out inefficiencies/grey areas in markets (derived from flawed regulation or otherwise) and find ways to exploit them to derive a profitable edge.

Kudos to Lewis for highlighting this problem and Katsuyama and his team at IEX for doing what they think provides a ‘speed-bumped’ solution to the problem. But a problem of flawed or grey regulation in the end still requires a regulatory solution; though in this case, the problem is overly-complex regulation to begin with, so … …

Here’s a sober perspective, from the older version of a HFTer, a floor trader:

I Hate to Say it, But… from Gary Phillips

I hate to say it, but i don’t see that much difference between yesterday’s human-driven liquidity providers (floor traders) and the machine-driven liquidity providers of today. Except that as a local in the pit, I often possessed exogenous information, yet to be incorporated in the market. Predatory algorithms must rely on their endogenous actions to trigger the desired outcome.
[Hmm, think Lewis was actually making the point that HFTs possessed exogenous information (eg. through 'market-taker' rebate schemes to pay to have first looks at market orders and be able to react to and front-run them.)
But predatory algorithms with their endogenous actions (eg. 'quote-stuffing')... Right or wrong, hmm...]

Of course, in my own version of strategic sequential trading, I would often hit bids and lift offers, in search of stops, only not quite as fast or unemotionally. Yet all of this was easily rationalized as our due privilege for the risk incurred while providing liquidity. Ceteris paribas, we did this for the same reason a dog licks his balls… because we could.
[Yep. And a nice graphic analogy there.]

Perhaps, if Goldman wasn’t Obama’s largest campaign contributor, and SEC officials didn’t have a quid pro quo for job placement in place with the private sector b&ds and law firms, and the exchanges hadn’t gone for-profit, we might not be discussing this topic.
[Exactly]

This quote from this article sums it up best:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-21/trading-rebates-skew-markets-nyse-and-allies-tell-sec.html

Trading Rebates Skew Markets, NYSE and Allies Tell SEC

ICE’s call to abandon maker-taker could face opposition from other exchanges, including Bats, the broker-owned operator of four exchanges that is challenging NYSE for the most market share. In an interview, Bats President William O’Brien said maker-taker is “regulated pretty well today” and doesn’t “create any truly irrational outcomes in the marketplace.” Bats spokesman Randy Williams declined to comment on ICE’s meetings.

“Everybody’s got a whole different set of vested interests here are really hard to untangle,” Tabb said. “I’m not sure that anything happens quickly on the SEC side.”

Tsk tsk…Ah, Mr O’Brien
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Regulation NMS:

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303281504579219962494432336

Market-taker Rebates:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-21/trading-rebates-skew-markets-nyse-and-allies-tell-sec.html

A film fanboy gushes…

http://thedissolve.com/features/movie-of-the-week/221-how-wong-kar-wai-turned-22-seconds-into-an-eternit/

Time is elastic in Wong Kar-Wai’s movies. As in The Steve Miller Band’s “Fly Like An Eagle,” it keeps on slippin’, slippin, slippin’. The first of Chungking Express’ twin stories involves a countdown: Cop 223’s girlfriend has dumped him, but he isn’t yet ready to accept that she’s gone, so he contrives a monthlong waiting/mourning period that gives their already-dead relationship an expiration date. The film’s second story ultimately pivots on a hand-drawn boarding pass good for a date one year in the future. Wong’s characters almost never fully exist in the present moment. Some part of them is forever looking forward or backward, either anticipating or remembering. Often, paradoxically, both at once.

The notable exception to this rule in Chungking Express is one of my favorite shots in all of cinema.

It occurs in the second story, just a little past the halfway point of the film as a whole. The shot lasts 22 seconds, and nothing whatsoever happens during that time. Cop 663 (Tony Leung) drinks a cup of coffee, and Faye (Faye Wong) watches him. That’s it. The coffee isn’t poisoned, and there’s no narrative value to be found elsewhere in the frame. The shot could be cut without impeding the story in any way. Nonetheless, it’s one of the most fervently romantic interludes of all time—22 seconds of pure rapture. As a demonstration of what movies at their best do that no other medium can, it’s hard to beat.

22_seconds_cop663_faye_coffee

22_seconds_cop663_faye_coffee

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Hope I don’t end up talking to and consoling thinning bars of soap and limp crying towels:
梁朝偉在家的獨白(重慶森林)
Tony Leung – Home Alone Monologue (Chungking Express)

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And I don’t want to be Pinned:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYS9Cj96C3U#t=125

hurt_by_a_pin_大头丁

hurt_by_a_pin_大头丁


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Hai… Loving and losing air stewardesses… Who hadn’t been through that.

In the business of life, every tiny episode is a test, every human encounter a lesson.  Look and learn. One day you might achieve all that I have.  But time is sprinting past you, faster than you think.  You’re already playing catch-up, even as you read this.  Fortunately you do get a second chance.  My advice to you is: take it.  A third rarely comes your way.

-F.S.B.

Facile words. But am feeling them rather acutely. I am Rip Van Winkle, slumbering and sleepwalking as the world moves on around me. Or worse, an awkward stilted character in a 90′s WKW film, stop-motion-ing my movement and actions as everyone and everything sprints past me in a blur:

[stop-motion starts 1:15]


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Have let a million second chances pass me by. But I just need a singular third.

[An old draft written and left un-posted. Inopportune time, I thought then. Need it to be the right time now.]
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Gattaca_IN-VALID

Gattaca_IN-VALID

Gattaca_VALID

Gattaca_VALID

Gattaca (1997):

Akan Datang.
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http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/07/genetics-of-iq/

Why Are Some People So Smart? The Answer Could Spawn a Generation of Superbabies

[...]

Assuming Zhao and his team succeed, there are implications that will trouble many people. Hsu is confident that through embryo screening during IVF, any genetic markers for intelligence that their team discovered would inevitably be used to select for more intelligent babies. Children tend to fall within a spread of 13 IQ points above and below the average IQ of their parents. But sometimes the apple can fall twice as far from the tree—that is, two parents with 100 IQs producing a child with an IQ of 126. Hsu puts the chance of such a positive outlier at around 2 or 3 percent, and it depends mostly on which sperm meets which egg.

If parents use IVF to conceive, then a genetic test—an extension of the screening tests for genetic diseases that are already routinely done on embryos—could let them pick the smartest genome from a batch of, say, 20 embryos. “It’s almost like there are 20 parallel universes,” Hsu says. “These are all really your kids.” You’re just choosing the ones with the greatest genetic potential for intelligence. But effectively, you could be giving an unborn child a boost in IQ above their parents. As Hsu sees it, this is no Faustian bargain. “Aren’t we doing them a great service?” Over the long term, he proclaims, this would “improve the average IQ of the species by quite a bit.” He hopes governments will even provide it for free; Singapore, he predicts, would be the first to sign up.

[...]

“Singapore, he predicts, would be the first to sign up.”
Heh.
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Memorable lines and scenes:

One of my favourite and most memorable films of my life, accentuated by seeing it under somber and trying life circumstances.

One of those films I watched only one time, but so affected me that I could never bear to watch it again. But with scenes and lines which had always stayed with me, like this one:

“You want to know how I did it? This is how I did it, Anton… I never saved anything for the swim back…”

-Vincent, the self-validated IN-VALID

“I never saved anything for the swim back”:

The line whispered at the edges of my mind and haunted my life for years. With each dream given-up, path un-pursued, opportunity mutely lapsed, the tremulous passion exhorted from these words lashed at me pitilessly, reproaching and holding me to task:
Have I ever really taken the plunge? To not save anything for the swim back, but rather, give it all I’ve got and strike out into the dark waves and unfathomable depths for the other side…
And worst still, how much of born “wit and lucky looks” had I wasted…

IN-VALID am I.
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[Sigh, such lovely sepia tones, bare materiality and clean lines, space and architectonics, from the film. Just a hint of Tadao Endo. Timeless machine aesthetics and utilitarian dystopia.

Have Space Suit — Will Travel, indeed.
]

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

I know, but I did not want to know. Probably I still don’t.
It tolls for me.

Donne was wrongly diagnosed of the plague and lying on what he thought was to be his death-bed, listening drearily to the church bells toll for yet another cloddish man-body succumbing to the black death, when he wrote the above.

What’s my excuse?
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Original text:

http://www.luminarium.org/sevenlit/donne/meditation17.php

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