Tag Archive: Technology


The New York Stock Exchange or NYSE began at 68 Wall Street under a buttonwood tree on May 17, 1792 with the signing of the Buttonwood Agreement by 24 stock brokers.  The signing of Buttonwood marked the birth of what would later become New York’s largest trading floor and exchange.  

By 1975 the NYSE had survived two world wars and the Great Depression.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), established as a measure of industrial sector performance, hovered around $800.  And Congress enacted new legislation governing the electronic collection and reporting of all NYSE stocks.  Implementation of this legislation marked the introduction of computers on the trading floor.  

In 1978 the NYSE implemented the ITS or Intermarket Trading System which used computers to connect the NYSE with other markets.  The intelligent technology behind the ITS spawned new markets including the NASDAQ in 1982, replacing the old “over the counter” or OTC market.  Today, computers are used for everything from automated trades to podcasts broadcast from the trade-floor.  People can now trade stock at four in the morning from the comfort of their own home.     

Not only do the computers provide valuable information, they also do some of the thinking for us and offer an “emotionless” and objective view of the market.  Today computers auto-generate one third of all trades.

As the DJIA began to fluctuate amid fears over the state of our economy, humans began to sell.  As people sold and stock prices came crashing down, the computers began buying, stock prices rose slightly, then fell again amid more worries.  While computers may have prevented a dramatic market crash (worse than the $777 loss two weeks ago), they may have also indirectly contributed to the overall losses. 

Could it be our system wasn’t designed to handle the enormous influx of real-time information disseminated by individual investors and the subsequent trading of stocks based on this information?  In other words, do computers aide in the crime of wide-spread market panic?

We made it to Michigan (and through Michigan taking a more scenic, albeit much longer route winding our way through forests, farmland and little towns).  Total duration: 18 hours.

I forgot to mention a previous adventure which subsequently made for a lot of fun had on the longer trip north.  Friday morning, Erick woke the whole family and hurried us out the door and down to the Apple Store to wait in line for the new iPhone.  I thought he was insane – the line was hundreds of people long (five-hundred during our six hours) and the wait was boring, but the reward well worth it.  I’ve never before been so enthralled with technology (you know, the word that means magic). 

At first glance, the unassuming little device appears to be little more than an iPod, but spend some time surfing the internet and email photos while driving through a mountain tunnel and you’ll know the little iPod-GPS-camera-phone has super-powers.  Rather than using satellites to locate your position on the map, it triangulates your position by bouncing signals off nearby towers.  Maybe not as cool as satellites, but someone had to come up with the idea and I’m impressed.  I’m also impressed that Erick needed only stand near his computer while his personal data was uploaded “magically” to his iPhone.  And that during our trip, I snapped a photo of the “Welcome to Michigan” sign, attached it in an email and sent it to Erick’s family awaiting our arrival up north with the message, “We’re here.”  Me, a simple human being, capable of wielding such power!  Bwah-ha-ha!

Anyway, wow.  Again, wow.  Cooler even than the personal computer.

Exoskeleton

UC Berkley and Raytheon are both working on developing a powerful exoskeleton to aid soldiers in carrying heavy equipment, climbing, fighting, jumping, etc.  Running, however, seems awkward, but really, it’d be the other guy running – the suit is scary enough.  

So, how far will technology go in war?  Can’t we just develop uber-suits for moving companies to lift pianos and leave well enough alone?   

Fueling the argument

I’m 29 years old. I purchased my first gallon of gas for around $0.79 at age 16. Ten years later, I was paying $2.49/gallon. Today, a gallon of gasoline (regular unleaded) is $4.18 at the pump; a 430% increase over my first gallon.

Some get mad at the price. They point fingers at oil companies making record profits or at President Bush (the worst president ever) and his oil buddies or they blame the war. And they (we) should be angry, but what really angers me is the feeling that we’ll allow this rise in prices to continue unabated until our country bursts at the seams with inflation. The oil companies have a hand in everything we do from driving to work to taking a much-needed, well-deserved vacation. We had a choice in the 1970s when we saw the first dramatic spike in oil, but we sat idling in the great parking-lots of centers of energy and policy. And we have the same choice today, but for some reason, the technologies are slow-moving. Why are hybrids still too costly for the lower middle class? What does it mean when in America, the cost of driving to work, does not warrant the job itself? And today there’s more at stake than just the price of gas, we must consider also the cost of driving. What impact will current and future technologies have on our environment and well-being? So I’m not just frustrated with big oil, I’m frustrated with us. We’re not the only country in the world importing oil, but we a great country on the fragile brink of economic collapse because of a severe lack of foresight.

I’m asking now for those readers who do not normally comment, to consider posting ideas for free-energy, education, the economy, etc. We don’t need to fuel the argument; we need to power a solution.

I’m up early this morning doing a little research for my book.  I was reading Benjamin Franklin’s bio on Wiki where I discovered Franklin had donated an amount worth $4,400 at the time to the cities of Boston and Philadelphia “in a trust to gather interest for 200 years.”  To paraphrase the article, this act of faith in the future prosperity of our country was mocked and criticized, but at present time the trust is worth over $5,000,000 and has been used for mortgage loans, scholarships for local schools, and to establish the Franklin Institute of Boston.  
Of other interest to me, Benjamin Franklin, at age 20, wrote down a set of virtues by which to live out his life:

  • “TEMPERANCE. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.”
  • “SILENCE. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.”
  • “ORDER. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.”
  • “RESOLUTION. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.”
  • “FRUGALITY. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.”
  • “INDUSTRY. Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.”
  • “SINCERITY. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.”
  • “JUSTICE. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.”
  • “MODERATION. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.”
  • “CLEANLINESS. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.”
  • “TRANQUILLITY. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.”
  • “CHASTITY. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.”
  • “HUMILITY. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.”
  • Protected: Tech this out!

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