With all the talk of “making markets” i.e. manipulating markets, I thought I’d tell a recent illustrative tale which happened to me last night.
I just got a second hard drive so I could back up my media collection without worry. I set up a cron job to run a script daily to do this. I ran the script manually to test it, and it worked fine. I figured everything worked and didn’t give it a second thought, until it actually came time to run it for the first time in real time.
Things went nuts. Both drives started going insane. I noticed around 150 rsync processes running, and things ground to a halt as I issued multiple killall commands. Gradually, the processes stopped, and normal operation resumed. Obviously, something went wrong.
I looked in my /etc/cron.daily directory. This directory has something special about it. The cron daemon runs every file in it once per day. A quick directory listing showed me that Emacs had saved a backup file ending in ~ as it usually does. This meant that not only did it execute the regular version of the file which I had tested and which worked, but it also executed the backup file at the same time. Goddess only knows how they differed! I really need to customize Emacs to save all the backups in one directory. Keep this in mind if you use Linux. Purge your backups from your cron directories.
Running two programs like that did something very weird. It ran rsync, which synchronizes directory structures, good for backups. Since it ran twice at the same time, it began having to compensate for itself, as it didn’t know that it also ran in another process. You can imagine the loop that built, causing the spawning of other processes to deal with the race condition. This perfectly illustrates what happens when two computer programs, and in this case two of the same program, interact with unpredictable results.
Does this remind you of anything going on in the news? I watched with amazement last Thursday as the stock market dipped a thousand points in fifteen minutes, and just as quickly began shooting up to make up the difference, finally closing down around 350 points. Today, the market has shot way up but still shy of 11,000. The whole thing seemed weird, and the establishment still hasn’t given a reason as the pundits continue to clamor.
So why did it happen? Don’t you love the cliches they have come up with over the years? Fat fingers? I picture some greasy dude in nasty sweatpants with fat fingers pressing the wrong button on a Bloomburg machine while wrestling with a Big Mac. Give me a break! Every programmer knows what happens when programs interact in the manner I described above. Computers trade seventy percent of the shares on the New York Stock Exchange. These programs protected by sneaky secret proprietary processes interact in unpredictable ways. They cause feedback loops just as my backup program did. In this case, this causes sells to outnumber buys, and this drives the price of stocks and the whole market down. Once this happens, humans begin reacting, selling to not lose money. People can also put in stops, in other words telling their broker to sell a stock when it hits a certain price or percentage, and these huge swings will blow out a lot of stops, further adding to the selling. All these things compound, and
So did this happen by accident? I don’t think so. If I can figure this out while sitting comfortably in my armchair, surely these Wall Street intellectuals can. Globalist bankers want to crash our economy, and they will use these computer systems to do it. After all, you can’t convict a machine.