Are there any engineers in The House?

October 5, 2011

The BBC reports that

The Italian government’s credit rating has been slashed by Moody’s from Aa2 to A2 with a negative outlook.

The ratings agency blamed a “material increase in long-term funding risks for the euro area”, due to lost confidence in eurozone government debts.

To anyone with any sort of engineering background this is as clear example as it is possible to have of a positive feedback loop leading to hunting oscillation. And the answer in this case is equally clear – break the loop and then, if it is certain that controlled feedback has some value, remake it with some appropriate hysteresis in place.

Breaking the loop means simply shutting down the ratings agencies – any useful purpose they may once have served is now vastly outweighed by the damage they are doing through providing this feedback mechanism. I would suggest also simply banning short selling for a period – this too is clearly a major contributor to hunting oscillation. Once the markets have reached a more stable state, and after a period of careful thought, then some elements of positive feedback could be reintroduced, with appropriate regulatory controls.

Sadly, with governments staffed by lawyers and under the sway of the gambling bankers I fear this is unlikely to happen. It’s a great shame that there aren’t sufficient people of a rational scientific or engineering background in government.


Racism in the SCMP

October 12, 2010

I was surprised, and not a little saddened, to read the racist views of Alvin Sallay in the SCMP on Sunday when writing about the Hong Kong ladies cricket team:

Godiva is one of nine Chinese girls in the 15-strong women’s squad. The rest are non-Chinese, but all are united in the fact that they qualify for the games by being born in Hong Kong and holding SAR passports.

This is a quite outrageous sentiment. People who are born in Hong Kong and are citizens of China holding Hong Kong passports must be “Chinese”. What else could they be?

Read the rest of this entry »


Government by Fear (again)

March 3, 2010

With thanks to Bruce Schneier for highlighting it in his blog, I must recommend this essay by Tom Engelhardt for getting to the essence of the US Government’s “management by fear” approach to terrorism. Sadly, many other governments seem to follow their lead.


They just don’t get it, do they?

March 3, 2010

On viewing the plans for the new Legco accommodation (in part of what used to be the beautiful Victoria Harbour) Emily Lau commented “I think it’s better sound-proofing the room because it will be disturbing if there are protests outside”.

Oh dear. Democracy? Who needs it, eh?


“Procurement by false pretences” – the HK legal system makes an ass of itself

January 6, 2010

There are so many issues raised by the case brought against a self-proclaimed Taoist practitioner accused of duping a young model into having sex, and by the verdict and judgement delivered against him, that it is difficult to know where to start. But there is no doubt in my mind that the Hong Kong legal system (normally so sound) has made a complete ass of itself in this case.

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Meyado / Meretec / MITL / Martin Young – A Cautionary Tale

November 9, 2009

One of the banes of one’s life as an expat is the frequent calls from often very persistent “Financial Advisers” who claim to be able to offer all sorts of ways of enhancing one’s wealth. Unfortunately, bitter experience has taught me that the only people’s wealth they tend to enhance is their own – and the best example of this for me is the “Meyado Private Wealth Management Group“, a UK-based group who were active in Hong Kong in 2001 to 2003 and succeeded in extracting quite a bit of wealth from me before they were run out of town by the Securities and Futures Commission. It is clear that I was far from alone in this, and there are various sites on the internet where others have expressed their displeasure over the years with Meyado (there were more, but apparently Meyado has resorted to legal action to get some taken down). The latest such attempt to get a critical mass of people together to go after Martin Young (the CEO and owner of Meyado) and his cronies has now appeared at http://www.forespoke.com and I wish it every success. Read the rest of this entry »


Here we go again!

May 2, 2009

I hope to address the current institutionalised panic in more detail when I have time later. But I just have to say that the government’s imprisoning of 300 people against their will in the Metro Park Hotel for no rational reason whatsoever is a gross violation of their human rights, and I hope that they were take appropriate legal action for false imprisonment when they are released. I hope that a good number of them are foreign citizens who will be fully supported by their governments in this.

It is a crying shame that Hong Kong has been made the laughing stock of rational people worldwide by the actions of the administrative class in Hong Kong. These people were very well trained to administer the city under other people’s leadership, but they are totally and utterly out of their depth intellectually when it comes to providing the leadership which this city has been so sadly lacking for the last 12 years.