Monthly Archives: April 2014

Manoj Narang and Haim Bodek “debate” HFT and Flash Boys

This video in which Manoj Narang and “HFT critic” Haim Bodek take turns promoting HFT and bashing Michael Lewis is pretty amazing. Haim Bodek is an “HFT critic” in the same way that Jimmy Savile is a “pedophile critic.” With Haim singing backup “The entire US stock market is not rigged;” “All of this is old news,” Manoj repeatedly shits out steaming turds which lay stinking on the studio floor. Everyone admires these turds and wonders at his amazing ability to produce gold bars out of his ass. For example, blaming Reg NMS for the tricks that HFT operators use to steal from suckers,

“There’s a very very simple fix to reg NMS that would cure virtually all the ills of the market that people complain about. Things like quote stuffing would disappear. Things like exotic order types like Hide not Slide orders,
they would have no purpose anymore… Endless fragmentation of the market would go away…”

…More bullshit…Order Protection Rule…regulators created a loophole… bullshit…

“That (Reg NMS) created an unlevel playing field (tilted AGAINST the HFT operators). All of these exotic order types that have come up since then are an attempt to ameliorate that and to limit that activity.”

Both Haim and host Rhonda Schaffler smile and nod as they admire this turd. No criticism is uttered. None. Nobody says a word as he weaves a golden curtain out of pure shit.

“They (HFT Operators) have had … a very positive effect on the market in the sense that things like quote stuffing have largely gone away.”

Where is the pushback to this amazing claim? Isn’t anyone going to say anything like “But… HFT operators invented quote stuffing!” Crickets chirp as Manoj continues to sell turds for $1297 per ounce. He goes on to claim that quote stuffing (which has largely gone away now) was never done on purpose; it was just a mistake!

(Quote stuffing) “was an INADVERTENT ERRONEOUS activity that arose naturally from the behavior of how algorithms work.”

Wha…? I’m starting to wonder whether I know what an algorithm is. Are algorithms plucked from mysterious trees in the Amazon jungle, and they just work the way they work, and nobody knows why? Are they grown in caves in a special region of France, and they just have these natural behaviors that nobody can control? Stupid me, I thought that algorithms were invented by humans to perform specific operations in response to specific inputs. Amazingly, Haim and Rhonda sit there smiling and nodding as these massive stinking turds pile up on the studio floor.

Eventually Haim jumps in with some criticism, “I’m very happy with a lot of things Manoj says!” “Lewis was irresponsible.” “Manoj’s firm Tradeworx has commercial solutions.”

What a great debate! I look forward to the next “Wealth Strategies” debate on Reuters TV, regarding pedophilia, starring pedophile critics Jimmy Savile and Robert H. Richards IV, and David Thorstad.

For contrast, here is a real debate in which they accidentally let Michael Lewis have the mike, and he proceeds to mop the floor with Manoj and his HFT-promoting bullshit.

For more about HFT please see this and this.


What happened to Malaysian flight MH370?

I’ve been following the story of Malaysian flight MH370 with some skepticism; the official story not only doesn’t make a lot of sense, but appears to be false. It’s not obvious what happened, but it seems clear that the plane did not just disappear without a trace. 
Why do I doubt the official story? There are a few reasons. One is that the officials telling us the story are stonewalling. For example, The Straits Times (which claims to be the most widely read newspaper in Singapore) published an article Wednesday March 26th which reports that Malaysian officials told relatives of the missing about “sealed evidence that cannot be made public.” The article claims that the sealed evidence includes “air traffic control radio transcript, radar data and airport security recordings.”
Another problem with the official story is that it keeps changing. The most recent change occurred yesterday (March 31st) when Malaysia’s civil aviation department said the last words spoken by one of the pilots were “Good night Malaysian three seven zero”. They had previously said that the last words were “All right, good night.” This may not seem like a huge difference, but according to “pilots and aviation experts”, “All right, good night” is not a standard thing for an airline pilot to say, whereas “Good night Malaysian three seven zero” is exactly the standard thing that they would say. Even if mistakes were made, why did it take 23 days to correct this mistake? This is only the latest change; this Yahoo News article is one of many in the mainstream press that mentions contradictory statements made by Malaysian officials.
The third problem with the official story is that it doesn’t fit the facts. They claim that the pilot shut off the communication systems, and the transponder, and that somehow the plane managed to evade the overlapping military and commercial radar systems of Malaysia, Thailand and surrounding countries for hundreds or thousands of miles as it traveled off course. Numerous mainstream articles have debated and meditated upon various scenarios in which the wily captain could have flown below 5000 feet, or memorized the capabilities and waveforms of various countries’ radar systems, or played other tricks to evade radar. This is unlikely but not impossible. It is conceivable that a talented pilot armed with detailed information about radar systems could have evaded the 19th century technology of radar. None of these mainstream stories have discussed ways that the pilot could have evaded the United States’ infrared satellite imaging system. It is well known that spy satellites have a resolution of a few centimeters or less, and that they can track a fist-sized object anywhere on Earth. Some mainstream articles attempt to minimize this capability by claiming that the US operates less than 10 spy satellites and that they only cover small areas of the earth, but other apparently knowledgeable sources claim that the US operates hundreds of spy satellites.
Not so well-known is the fact that infrared imaging is used to watch for missile launches, and to track planes. The engines on a Boeing 777-200ER put out a lot of heat, the exhaust is approximately 850 degrees Celsius. The United States’ SBIRS infrared satellite system is capable of tracking planes (and much smaller objects such as missiles). A system that can detect and track a missile launch anywhere on Earth will certainly be able to track a commercial jetliner. It is indisputable that the US military knows exactly what happened to flight MH370.
Although the official story appears false, until recently I didn’t have any leads to follow, so I didn’t do any investigation beyond reading news and opinions on various websites and blogs. The situation changed when a story came out claiming that Philip Wood, one of the American passengers on the plane, sent a photo and text message from his IPhone after the plane went missing, claiming that he was being held prisoner. This story claims that the Exif data on the photo proves that the message is really from Philip Wood, and that it came from Diego Garcia, a military base near the Maldives. This article claims that the message and photo were originally posted on 4chan, which would most likely indicate that it is a hoax. When I interviewed people who knew Phil (see below) they had not seen the “photo” story but believed that his first contact would have been his girlfriend Sarah. This 50-year-old IBM manager is not the typical 4chan poster, and the claim that he posted on 4chan instead of contacting his girlfriend or another relative does not seem credible. 
Some writers claim that Exif data is easy to modify. This article discusses various methods for modifying Exif data. Others say that modifications can easily be detected and that this particular photo was not modified, but these claims were not backed up by evidence, and after searching diligently I did not find any information explaining how to determine whether Exif data on a photo has been modified. If anyone knows how to detect modified Exif data, please speak up in the comments.
Another story claims that Phil Wood never existed. I searched for him on LinkedIn and found his profile here. I picked 3
of his “Endorsements” at random and messaged them through LinkedIn. I asked all three to call me to talk about Philip Wood. All three called me, and two told similar stories about Phil. I did not intend to contact any of his relatives, but one of the people I contacted was an in-law who had spoken with him two days before MH370 went missing. Another had been his mentor at IBM for many years, and had heard from him two weeks before the flight. The third asked me to email questions, and has not replied yet, but we may hear from him in an update. If Phil Wood doesn’t exist, someone has performed significant work to fake his existence, complete with 184 LinkedIn contacts all prepared to answer questions about him (with matching stories). I am declaring the “Phil Wood never existed” story debunked.
It is not obvious what happened here. The information I got from Phil’s LinkedIn contacts neither supports nor disproves the official story, but it raises serious questions with the “photo” story. At this point I see no credible evidence that the “photo” story is true, and it appears to be a hoax. We have a clearly false official story, a debunked conspiracy theory, and another discredited conspiracy theory. The only obvious conclusion is that we have no idea what happened to MH370. Will we ever know?