Byron just got back from a week's vacation in Hawaii with his family. Stayed on the big island. All the islands are tropical on the west side and desert on the east side. They drove up the mountain toward the big telescope installation on the peak. The road has a 17% grade and went up right through the cloud layer. They stopped at the 9,000 foot level because kids lungs cannot handle the thinner air at higher elevations. The 9,000 foot site is named after Ellison Onizuka, the Japanese-American scientist who died in the Challenger space shuttle disaster.
Irba was late because he had been at a meeting and it ran long. The meeting was a hearing regarding his security clearance. Seems the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) wants to keep him but the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) wants to kick him out. This is happening because he applied for membership in the Arapaho Indian Nation and was accepted based on his fractional blood descendency. Seems that becoming a member of an Indian tribe raised a red flag in somebody's database.
Byron was telling us about the book Flash Boys written by Michael Lewis who also wrote the book on which the movie Moneyball was based. Seems some Russians have taken to setting up computers near the trading floor in order to take advantage of millisecond long advance notice of impending trades, and use this advance knowledge to place their own orders and so make out like bandits. Not sure whether the Russians were first or not, but now everyone is doing it. Somebody has installed his own fiber optic cable from Chicago to New York in order to get information passed from one place to the other more quickly than by commercial service. If the business of routing the cable along a straight line is to be believed, then he is saving nano-seconds. Sounds nuts to me.
Older son corroborates this story and adds that there is a guy working in a clearing house (New Jersey, maybe?) whose sole job is to make sure that all the fiberoptic links from all the computers on the premises are the same length so that no one has any speed advantage.
2 weeks ago