Mr. T.M. sent along this article, and I found it very intriguing, especially considering that yesterday I ranted about edgykayshun and the inability of the millennial generation (by and large) to handle analogue technology. We'll get back to that.
For the moment, the main story - about which, incidentally, we're told precious little - is that Montreal's and Toronto's stock exchanges shut down last Friday:
Here, the story is so short and uninformative, that I can quote the whole thing:
All trading has stopped for the rest of Friday at the Toronto Stock Exchange and the Montreal Exchange due to an unexplained technical problem, the company that operates them said.
The TMX Group said that trading was halted shortly after 2 p.m. on both exchanges due to an outage.
The S&P/TSX Index was up 31 points or 0.2 per cent at 1:39 p.m., the last time Friday’s trading volume was updated on all charts.
It appears the Toronto Venture Exchange also went down at the same time.
The operator said later Friday that all trading would be suspended for the rest of Friday as crews were unable to solve the outage. (Emphasis added)
There you have it.
So what's the connection to my rant, yesterday, about "edgykayshun"? Well, recall that yesterday's blog was about younger British students not being able to tell time from analogue clocks! The solution - which would be obvious to any reasonable person - was to teach the students how to read analogue clocks. But no, in the upside-down world of the eddubabbler and professional products of schools of pedagogiblither, the solution is to remove the analogue clocks, not to show people how simple it is to use them (and, more importantly, how convenient those old wind-up things are when the electricity goes out).
Now we have an example of what could happen if, in the mad rush to embrace all things digital, the entire system went down: all trading suspended: the computers aren't working. We don't know what to do. Today's trader is a helpless computer-jockey. He doesn't know how to do things "the old fashioned, analogue way", to stand in a trading pit, holler out buy and sell orders, and to record them on sheets of paper, have a runner get a time stamp on it (from an analogue time stamping machine). He probably doesn't know how to fill out entries in old fashioned things like physical ledgers either. (But I notice, oddly, that when I go to my bank, a paper trail of forms, stamps, and so on, is still in use... Gee, I wonder why?) You own x amount of shares in Rumples and Widgets, Ltd? Sorry, we have no record of that. What's that? You didn't insist on physical stock certificates/bonds/cash/bills of exchange/paper records of puts? Sorry, can't help you.
As a result, there is no analogue back up system in place, and everything must come to a screeching halt: trading suspended; "your ebook/document'/account is unavailable for access at this time due to a system-wide outage. We apologize for any inconvenience and hope to get things running smoothly in the near future." And of course, no financial compensation will be forthcoming to the consumer/customer for lost business.
A few years ago, I blogged about an unusual story out of Russia. The Russian government, it seemed, was increasingly concerned about the vulnerability of its cyber-systems to precisely this sort of thing and, one may presume, cyber-warfare and attacks. As a result, it was considering buying thousands of typewriters - an old, scary, frightening analogue technology - for the purposes of generating hard copy. It's difficult, if not impossible, to hack a typewriter without an actual human being at the typewriter. And should "the system" go down, Russia, at least, wouldn't be helpless, because an analogue back up is in place.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not some sort of Luddite saying that digital technology is bad, or it hasn't done a lot of good. I used it to compose and post this blog, and you're using it to read it. But I cannot help but recall some peculiarities of analogue systems all but forgotten in the modern world. I'm thinking, believe it or not, of those analogue fire control computers on battleships, clunky things with vacuum tubes and gears and knobs and dials, that were functional enough to calculate the roll and speed and direction of a ship, wind direction and speed, temperature effects, track an enemy ship, and come up with firing solutions capable of landing projectiles on a target from over twenty miles away, with reasonable statistical accuracy. I can even recall those peculiar statements in some of the Majesic-12 UFO documents that I talked about in Reich of the Black Sun and SS Brotherhood of the Bell, alleging that the Roswell craft, upon examination, had strange gears and other clunky analogue-sounding stuff in it (the transmission!? the fire control computer??) And if one follows the Roswell-Ufological dogma that this was all some sort of advanced ET technology (which I decidedly do not), then perhaps ET knows something that we do not.
The bottom line is: everyone is talking about building redundancy into our systems, but no one seems to be noticing that building redundant digital systems isn't real redundancy; the electromagnetic pulse or power surge or the ever-popular "glitch ex machina" that can take out primary digital systems can take out secondary ones as well. The bottom line? It's looking increasingly like real redundancy requires analogue and the ability to use it.
See you on the flip side...
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