I live under a rock

It looks like Palo Alto is about to approve Yamamoto as a name for one of its middle schools to replace their name sakes and eugenics proponents Jordan and Terman .

One have to consider the alternatives, let’s just say it

* Adolf or Hitler school of art. (I’ve certainly known an Adolfo walking around and succeeding in the Bay Area in his own way)

* Jesus middle school (a common name, especially in Latin America.)

* Stalin elementary

* Mussolini Middle School, a language model of a single layered artificial neural network without nonlinearities could concievably think it is equally suitable for a school name as Cipriani Elementary or Capuchino High School.

* Castro elementary.

* Guevara charter school (of Che fame.

What’s wrong with those names? There is ample opportunity for Americans of those names to succeed here that they can be name sake of a middle school in Palo Alto. Why were they not chosen? Would they be approved over significant objection of the city’s residents?

But that’s not so bad. Imagine if there was a successful Chinese-American worthy of this designation with Mao as last name. What would all of you say then? Probably something like “I don’t want my son to be chairman of the Mao middle school student council”

The main problem is probably because Chinese Americans all live under rocks like me. We don’t really care about politics until we’re stung in the eye and ear with this kind of Nonsense.

We should avoid naming schools using very distinctive war criminal names. For god sakes, you have kids whose grandpa’s were bayoneted and mother raped or bombed by troops under command by a certain Admiral Yamamoto. And I don’t mean just Chinese kids. There are so many people who suffered due to the machinations of the evil axis powers during WW III. Let’s have some human decency to be sensitive to others’ sufferings in our school choices. Let’s not use a recent war criminal name for this otherwise desirable school.

What in the name of all that is good and holy are you thinking? Shame on you who decided to use this name.

But after fussing a bit. I guess it’s pretty well known that Chinese have been encroaching on Palo Altan real estate. This is probably an antagonizer intended to reduce foreign Chinese investments in those houses. Anyway… I guess this saying is true: all is fair in politics and capitalism. It’s just sad that it has to be a criminal from a crime against humanities.

(Okay, he wasn’t a convicted war criminal, but only because he was shot down by American due to him being an enemy of the country. But that he is killed by Americans is not an excuse for what he caused to happen. That name still stirs fear and disgust in many many Asian countries. What he did was unusually cruel and wrong. The suffering people have memories, even if history books are selective… We remember.)

Android 8.1.0

I am very frustrated with Google Android’s 8.1.0 on the pixel 2. In particular, TalkBack has some serious bugs. In this version of Android, on my pixel 2, I cannot activate screen reading at all. The volume control drop-down sticks to the screen constantly after activating TalkBack. And all it reads is the volume control drop down. Click, double click, inside, outside the box all changes volume instead of making the drop down disappear. Has a proud and profitable tech giant really let slip so check a huge bug? I mean what the f? Who are you who help to put this feature out?

I don’t get it. Like, this is so easy on the iPhone with a three-fingered swipe. What does one have to do in this town to get some hands-free information?

But again, this goes to Software Engineers being at mercy of Business folk. There is no self respecting QA or SE who would write such a piece highly visible bug. This must be some kind of coordinated protest by Google against the Trump government: is it immigrants again that I’m suffering for? Is it a show of stregnth to net neutrality? You screw with our streaming eights and we will f* your screen reader up! Is this kind of degradation of service really necessary?

What has this valley come to? And where will it go?

It’s getting worse

The civil safe world around me and my family seems to dissolve further. My mom’s car gets two screws in it within the span of a week. Same wheel each time. Then two weeks later, my car gets a flat.

Driving on 101 is also dangerous now. I’ve never in my almost decade and half of stay in the SF Bay Area encounter a dangerous driver on 101 in Palo Alto. But today, one tried to merge into my lane just before embacadero on South 101. He almost pushed me and my whole family into the center divide.

I am seriously concerned for my family’s safety. I don’t care if we are been harrased for talking about forming Unions for software engineers or if we are being harrased for driving to Palo Alto to celebrate Chinese New year’s. I don’t care if it’s some Chinese generational econo-political faction that I’ve upset. I don’t care if the real cause is the large number of immigrants, who are new drivers, into this area from elsewhere in the USA or from elsewhere in the world.

What ever the reason this is happening to me, each occurrence and the latency between the incidents are very very disturbing.

Is it really falling apart? I’m going to have to verify if it was fake news that Trump applauded a change to unending presidency in China–both of them. That is a really troubling sign for anyone to want to be in power for ever, much worse for a democracy to vote that into law. What the fuck? Are they for real? Ach! Let me not over react, it’s probably fake news, even if it showed up in Google Android’s news feed. (And that’s also a huge sign of things falling apart if Google now suffers from fake news too)

This Absurdity is all in good fun until someone loses a human right or two…

But honestly though. I don’t know if any American citizens, or any of their beloved immigrant aliens, legal or otherwise, has really understood to a full extent of the miracle that is being worked here! The checks and balances kicked in when judges ruled some executive orders unconstitutional. Sure, the Hill had to approve the Tax cut and Jobs act. But that had also experienced due process. Why are we protesting and unhappy when there is no plenty of evidence that it’s all working?

The big problem here is not that America is being ruined. The big problem is that the leader of the free world also leads the rest of the world. And the rest of the world does not have a population as politically sophisticated as Americans and they do not have a time tested government as USA. His antics might very well mislead them into very dark alleys of humanity with generations of negative impact.

Immho, this is the most fearful aspect. The world may be ruined and come to hate America for not preventing these things. And in the meantime it is getting less safe to live in SF Bay Area 😦

P.s. oh God please stop playing tricks on me. That guy who ran into my right side with a shopping cart at the Whole Foods 6 hours after I wrote this blog. He says: “oh, that’s okay,” in a thick Germanish/Russian/French European accent. He hit my arm with his shopping cart. In what culture or law does the responsible party of this collision declare that “it is okay?”

Is this funny to you? Who are you who causes these happenings? Ares? Satan? Lex Luthor? You just have to drive home the point that these immigrants are here and will endlessly make my life miserable in all traffic big and small?! Wtf!? Was that really necessary? Wtf?! What is this really about? Wtf?!

The Log Inequality Measure and the Inverse

Consider the replacement of square in QIM with the log function. This equality metric is useful in modeling realistic expectations.

When I compare the inequality of my networth with those very rich people, I am actually not very hurt by that fact. They are distant to me and I could care less if they owned a moon, as long as they don’t drop it on me, I’m fine with it.

But if you compare your networth with those of my college freshman classmates, or those of graduate school classmates, of with those of my coworkers, then suddenly, even a difference of $100 could put me in very bad mood. The underlying cause of my bias is unknown to me. But if my feeling were a guide to what is truly unequal, I am able to write it, approximately, as

log(a-b)

It is quite noticeable that this curve, for the LIM, has very different shape than the QIM. But perhaps because my k-nearest-neighbors occupy more attainable positions. It is likely that I can get an equally large size of cow guts as the señor at the next table. It is unlikely that I can wrestle Micro$oft to the mat by writing a new operating system. In fact one could almost imagine

(a-b)^{-1}

With the infinity at complete equality set to zero. The Inverse Inequality Metric (IIM), along with its partner the LIM can perhaps be most useful in personal servicee effort to gain equality. For example, I can try smiling a bit more at the cashier and waitress in my neighborhood restaurant while I order cow tounge in Spanish. A little respect will impact my C little, while it may lead to increased E and consequently a larger piece of the cow(dX).

Tax-Free Tax System

If the money paid towards tax are untaxable, then should the system be so for the tax itself? Suppose we want to tax a person with income A and nominal tax rate R. The tax amount is then

RA(1-p)=pA

Where p is some unknown proportion of A to be paid into taxes this year. Aka effective tax rate.

R-Rp=p

R/(1+R) = p

A 30% nominal tax rate resolved to effective rate of 23.1% of income in this system.

So to set an effective rate using nominal setting under the system, one would solve for R.

R = p/(1-p)

Say some bracket should have effective rate of 30% the rate on taxable income, under this system, would require that nominal tax be set to 42.8%.

However you massage dung, it’s still money you have to pay. But the system should be self consistent. We should not have to pay taxes on money we spent on paying taxes during the year we earn and use that money to pay taxes.

Phished by ‭(800)922-0206‬

I just read my 8-digit Verizon password reset temporary password to this 800 number. Half asleep, I had really thought it was Verizon trying to help me recover two iPhone XR’s ordered on my account.

I read them the numbers right underneath the text

Verizon Msg: For the security of your account, Verizon will never contact you for this code. Your My Verizon temporary password is dumbanddumber”

DOH!

But the funny thing is, Verizon seem to have a second filter that randomly asks for another field of personal information after someone uses the temporary password. So the entity trying to phish me called me five times in the next five minutes from a landline ‭(673)180-4668‬. I guess they were hoping I was still on the hook and may give them that second field of information.

To my credit, I realized in time and called Verizon to deactivate any changes for the next 24 hours while ignoring those 5 calls. It had seemed that they were successful to change my password, I could not log in. But I reset my password using the same mechanism. The down side is, I don’t know what they did to my account in the mean time. They could have downloaded statements containing detailed information about every call I made. They could have ordered two iPhone XR’s… Verizon claims nothing happened, but that’s likely just support line ass coverage. They don’t want to admit anything happened even if it did, at least not at a casual customer request.

Let’s see what happens…

The Deep Universal Regressor

There’s this idea in Deep Learning that Neural Networks are universal function approximates. They can approximate any function you can provide data for.

It has confounded me for a long time exactly how it does this for continuous valued output, but recently, through the grapevines that is the Deep Learning community, I finally discovered one answer to this question.

Consider some deep neural network taking in X and producing some kind of penultimate layer of activations, A. We want to write a formula for producing a Y that approximates \hat{Y}.

Oh boy, who are we kidding, let’s just drop down to tensorflow code…

You want to do

Y = inverse\_sigmoid(tf.mean(tf.sigmoid(A)))

Being careful, of course, to calculate the pooling not for the batch but for each input and not to double sigmoid-activate A, but the last activation must be sigmoid-compatible. Note since sigmoid produces numbers between zero and one inclusive, so the mean, or any convex combination, of a bunch of such numbers can also exactly span that range, suitable for input to the inverse\_sigmoid. And of course if you need to, A could have been activated with the likes of tf.exp or tf.square and then filtered through the tf.sigmoid

For example, if you think \hat{Y} ultimately grows with tf.log(A), and you have already made sure A is positive, then you can use the following by simplifying out the exponential and compute

Y = inverse\_sigmoid(tf.mean(\frac{A}{A+1}))

The sigmoidsigmoid^{-1} pair can also be replaced with other bounded activations like the tanh or \frac{x}{\sqrt[1/k]{1+x^k}} and their respective closed-form inverses.It can also be replaced with unbounded constricting activations such as x^{\frac{1}{2k+1}} and x^{2k+1} pair for a chosen whole numbers k.

Tada!

This solves the problems of your deep neural network needing constricting nonlinearities like the sigmoids, your need to produce a continuous output that may grow at non-linear rates relative to activations, your limited computational resources, and your having a lucid hunch as to how they are related.

Hopefully this helps you and saves significant amount of brain activity and experimentation. Your problem will probably need a special architecture using a configuration of this pooling later.

P.s. the use of sigmoidal functions seems beckons to a probabilistic interpretation. The desigmoid, that’s inverse sigmoid, can be interpreted as a lookup from the CDF of a random variable, the value at which it achieves that accumulation. Essentially, in the most basic configuration, this regressor uses each element of A in the penultimate layer to support(or to reflect evidence that) that the desire Y is larger. In a human brain, this positive-only thinking seem overly restrictive. What if we have a field of A is a positive signal that strictly means smaller Y? One way is to use a second FCL to remove effect of one sigmoid from another. A second intuitive idea would be to do the following:

Y = tf.atanh(tf.mean(tf.tanh(A)))

In one step, this regressor can consider both support for larger and for smaller value of Y.

P.p.s. Want to also put in a plug to our wonderful democracy. The computation of mean is explicitly mixing votes of each activation in the penultimate layer equally–each neuron gets an equal vote as to the result. Politics aside, and in addition to convex combinations, all other range preserving combination are fair game–e.g. geometric mean, softmax,etc. depending on the relationship between X and Y and the network that produced A.

Smile, Pay and Hope

So, this fat old lady cuts in front of me at the Los Altos Whole Foods meat counter…

After a few seconds I say loudly to the clerk “I’m next in line, please do not let anyone else cut in front of me.”

“Oh sorry, we’re you in line? I didn’t see you!” The fat old lady said in pretentious seriousness.

This is one very maddening experience just because there are three Chinese looking people standing in line, and all Chinese people look alike, it doesn’t mean that three separate Chinese people are the same person! We’re all in line and we each get a turn. And yes, you are thinking but she could have legitimately thought you were all in the same.e family. With three separate shopping carts, it would be a very insulting scenario she has in her mind for a family of Chinese to push three shopping carts! What are we like pigs and eat a cart full of food each?!

Some days, it’s kind of important to put on that smile and carry on like the world doesn’t have any gunk like I just see.

Whole foods used to be so friendly… Perhaps this also speaks to Amazon’s ownership?

This past weekend we went to buy some chickens from a local poultry vendor. Wow, that was like a very sad experience. I drove an hour with my daughter to her store . She tries to sell us heat lamp and feed stuff. When I looked down to check her prices versus Amazon’s, I got an earful of anti-competition rant about how Amazon squeezed everyone out. “I’m not going to tell you anything about these chickens if you ask for Amazon’s prices.”

I started to talk capitalists sense into her, to explain price competition is good. Organized production is more prolific… But I thought better of it. I fear various kind of retribution for additional expression of disagreement. In this wilderness, maybe her gang of crew can come chasing after me with their ATV’s and pitch forks,… Or guns,… Who knows what could happen.

I put on a smile and paid full price.

It was only a smile and extra money to pay to facilitate the happiness of the people we care about. Hopefully all that politics doesn’t get in the way of our common pursuit of individual happiness.

Perils of having being associated with startups

I worked at a lot of San Francisco Bay Area startups (aka Silicon Valley startups) There is a really serious elitist attitude here that you have to be l33t and hack the everything in order to hack a startup.

What that generally means, at least in one respect, is that you have to be smart enough and quick enough to take opportunistic advantage of your surroundings: the competitors(aka incumbent disruptees), some compound economic conditions, but also your customers and investors as needed.

I mean sure, I love all these people trying to do something truly better for their customers and break the old and decadent to create the new and efficient. I get that. And I’m all for that.

But, take this example of what happened to me when I tried to transfer some stock out of the Robinhood platform. I initiated a partial account transfer out of Robinhood to E*TRADE because Robinhood could not provide some service regarding those shares. A few days later, half way through setting up a bracket, Robinhood deactivates my account. It canceled every single outstanding trade I had in flight. And it also nicely sent an email for each of those actions, piling up a screen full in my mail client.

Some thoughts race through my mind… shoot! Did I trigger some kind of secretive financial services rule for brokerage firms that warranted Robinhood deactivating my account and reporting me to an anti-illegal-activity agency?? Did they think I was laundering money by transferring these shares in and out? Did they think I was trying to evade tax and report me to the IRS??? Wait! No no, those are clandestine snitching and invisible to me. This type of deactivation with no explanation usually has to be for something that immediately impacts the company’s business.

And then it dawned on me, yes it does affect Robinhood business! This startup lives off DAU’s and subscription fees (and for god’s sake I even bought gold membership just to patronize fellow startup) making it prohibitively difficult to leave its services. It is to its business advantage to do this. And customer is the wiser until he tries to get his money or stock out of the system, and by then, as it is for me, all is too late.

I’m not picking on Robinhood, it’s a great free service. And because it is so great it really shouldn’t have snuck in that hack into it. For goodness sake! I did a partial transfer and left a lot of money and shares in Robinhood so I can continue to trade!

Wait, are they picking on me because of my race? I know it’s really easy to detect that nowadays with their app reporting my location and the spelling of my name… are they picking on me because my account is too small compared to other users?

The support email responded after almost 24 hours. It claims that they do this to everyone: https://support.robinhood.com/hc/en-us/articles/115001535326-Stock-Transfer.

What happens to my stocks during the transfer?

While stocks are being transferred, you’ll be restricted from trading them until the transfer is complete. You still own the stocks during this process, and they’ll update to reflect the current market value.

Their public documentation indicates that only shares being transferred cannot be traded not all shares! And while it took two days for me to receive this information, i hade the time to call E*TRADE twice to confirm that the transfer was indeed a partial account transfer (of just one stock among maybe two dozen that I own at Robinhood)

This reminds me of my own work at other companies… sometimes technological choices render the upkeep of documentation and sprawling knowledge base impossible. But wait… no the support sent me the link so it must be current as of now?

And certainly there are cases where an unnoticed bug prevented some metric driving feature from being disabled by customers in many situations… sure everyone hacks here.

But it doesn’t need to do that! It’s such a great service, free !! I mean how do I even ask for remediation of my trading losses from a brokerage firm that doesn’t charge money to trade? Is the truism “you get what you paid for” really true? And yet I feel outraged. Like I’ve been lied to, like I was cheated out of proper service, I feel like I lost money not being able to execute on my trading plan.

In the mean time, my transfer has not progressed. The share sits in Robinhood inaccessible to me. AND all my other shares at Robinhood are also inaccessible.

When I hack it… if I ever try to hack a startup,… I would never be sneaky in this way. I mean, com’on at least leave the customer and investor out of the con!

I hope by the time this blog publishes the company has either changed its ways or else gone out of business. Deploying this kind of unnecessary tactics to retain customers is just bad.

PostScript

Haha, just saw Square unapologetically settle a lawsuite for taking gratuities from caviar customers but not passing the gratuities to the couriers(those who deliver the food) or to the chefs(those who cook them) The company insists that it did not confuse anyone that the gratuity was for Square, the S&P 500 public company and not its small sellers or its individually contributing couriers. (Techcrunch article circa 6/11/2018) There was one time when I made an order, there was a mandatory 18% gratuity. I, as a customer of Square’s customers cursed the courier for requiring such an exorbitant tip… Sorry courior.

This drastically lower my already very low esteem for having provided service to this startup. I’ve increased my trust in Square’s leadership and management in the time that I worked for it. I grew to believe that it wanted o empower the economically disadvantaged(this word keeps on becoming misspelled in my blog, I don’t know why, but it says disadvantaged)  and help the excluded minorities(economically speaking regarding both the aid and nature of the exclusion). But it is definitely a company that appreciates hackers and engages in this generalized hacking. Specifically, I am not excluding a suggestion that it may take significant advantage of its merchants who are economically disabled or those who are members of an excluded minority. Clearly this law suite is one such case. I feel it has taken advantage of participants of this transaction. What it charged should not be called gratuity from customer and then it did not give it to couriers or restaurants who are the recipient of tip in almost all normal circumstances.

But, as a shareholder, I applaud, as I did at their bi-monthly townsquare all-hands, the dilligence of their legal team for wordsmithing the legal documents to make this “not Square’s fault”… We gladly applaud it even though it is like applauding a democratic politician’s claim “I did not have sexual relations with that women” (…according to dictionary definition of that word)—and in the mean time enjoying an mind’s eye voyourism of purported acts upon, in or near relevant sex-organs of parties involved—I guess…, I mean…, I guess we kind of just accepted that and voted red anyways, right? So, yay, let me buy some more when NYSE:SQ drops at this news.

But seriously though! You all startup hackers should be ashamed of yourselves for taking advantage of those like Square Caviar’s poor drivers! Sheesh!!! I’m going to go out and eat at a restaurant and give the server, to his hands, a proper tip! This is a big karmic dent that needs to be patched with certainty.

Postpostscript

These recollections bring to my mind my humiliating experiences as a software engineer. As a person of reasonably intellect, if I were an engineer coding that “mandatory gratuity” do I think and feel something is wrong? If I am an engineer coding up “freeze entire account on partial transfer” do I question the impact this little bit of code will have on the customer? If I am an engineer for an unamed crypto trading platform (so, it could be Robinhood, or Square, or another site where I experienced this bufeature) and I wrote a piece of code that produces a cryptic error when user request a “sell $x of bitcoin with limit price of $y/bitcoin” using the UI my own system provide, do I think about it? Do I think about why that should error out? Do I think about the impact it will have on a trader who just made a million dollars just if he could just sell those darn coins?

Or … I wonder, do Software engineers suffer brain damage due to excessive caffeine intake, lack of sleep, lack of sun light, lack of proper power to influence business and product decisions?

Or I wonder if the engineers who did this are recent immigrant who don’t eat at American restaurants or who don’t really know the culture of tipping? I do not wonder if the engineer come from a country where they are so bad at logic that they could not harmonize the problem with that limit order—that’s not possible outside of the US.

I wonder if they need that American residency so they don’t have to return to a place where they have no freedom or safety? I wonder if they are really spies from these evil regimes trying to corrupt the fabric of our wonderful American Startup culture?

What’s fake? Who is bad? Who is unintelligent? Who cares?

This is really so sad… and I was part of this… so sad… wait… am i…. a secret foreign agent… all these years, have my upbringing by my parents, have they conditioned me to cast doubt on this worlds sanity?? When all these things are really all good and righteous? To what end? Why do I feel everything is so fucked up? I mean, trump is the racist right? The hypocrit and the worst America could dish up to the world right? Why am I writing about these minutiae of some stinking startup’s software feature which is probably just beta software? Why don’t I complain about the wall, or immigrantion or clean energy and climate… all those really important but fucked up things? Like, who is the enemy here?

I don’t know why.

Maybe, really, deep down, I feel that software can be done right–And that doing it wrong is not right. Maybe in my subconscious, I had a dream that working at startup, one man, can make a difference(with the help of women engineer/mechanic and AI). Maybe I drank from the Kookaid fountain of America and always thought things were just going to work out, that the right things will make all the difference in the world. Maybe, I am additionally blinded by the thinking that racism, climate, immigration, the wall, clean energy, are things that just can’t be done right, and thence one wrong is just as wrong as another wrong…

Maybe!