Current Affairs Discourse

Blog about Current Affairs

Current Affairs Discourse

Lion Air Flight 610 Boeing 737 MAX 8

I have been following this incident since October 2018. Reading and commenting on articles in New York Times and Wall Street Journal using Twitter thread to sort of catalog my findings.

The Flight Data Recorder was found back in November which enabled the investigators to piece together what may have happened to this aircraft.

It appears that a safety feature designed to prevent a stall condition seen in Air France flight 447 (an Airbus A330) crash created an unintended consequence of deep dive due to the perceived failure of the similar sensor as in the AF447 incident (pitot tubes) albeit a different failure mode! A functional safety failure.

Boeing may have finally realized that the algorithm design might be flawed and appears to be in the process of making design changes.

The cockpit voice recorder has been found now as per news reports (January 14, 2019). The WSJ article on this is reporting that there might be an issue with calibration update in the field.

My thoughts on this calibration issue (further elaboration of my Comment posted on WSJ article):

Field calibrations (or Service Trims as they are called sometime) can be changed in the field using service tools used by trained technicians. However, it does require a protocol, training, certification for techs etc. Usually all these are developed by engineers.


There was something wrong with one of the sensor inputs here. Replacing the sensor did not fix the issue. This happened several times. So most likely it wasn’t the sensor at fault. It appears to be a 20 degree offset.

Could be a mounting, wiring, signal conditioning instead of a sensor to sensor variation. Calibration fix while possible, a field technician would be not be capable of doing this. Unless of’course this was known issue, a protocol has been developed for it, it was in place, technicians were trained for it etc.

All this does not preclude the fact that this was just a poorly designed safety feature for the following reason:

1) Why would the MCAS algorithm decide to act on flawed sensor data? Especially when there is discrepancy between the two sensor inputs.

2) Why would the MCAS algorithm automatically put the aircraft into steep dive and then ignore pilot attempts to pull the nose up?

3) Why does it require the pilot to turn off the feature by manually disabling the control system?


Also, questions have been raised about pilot training and training manuals.

How do you write a training manual for a flawed design which may not be an intended feature?

You can’t. Which explains why there wasn’t a training protocol for this.

I hear Boeing is making design changes to the MCAS algorithm which once released would require a software update to the ECU in question.

Needless to say before making any such changes a comprehensive functional safety review of the entire system is warranted using methodologies like Failure Modes Effects and Diagnostic Analysis.



Time to Regulate the Autonomous Vehicles and Ride Share

It is time to regulate the autonomous vehicle and autonomous ride share services space.

Similar to the regulations we have in the healthcare space via FDA. Perhaps even more critical here since the repercussions are lot more severe.

In the medical field, the failure of a product or service only impact the patients receiving that product or service (NCDs).

Here, an autonomous vehicle has the potential to cause havoc way beyond just the person(s) receiving the service at the time of service delivery.

What business do non automotive manufacturers have selling an autonomous vehicle or a service?

They are basically modifying a vehicle with their own technology and are selling a service using a product that has been tampered with.

Who is regulating this?

Automotive manufacturers have decades of experience in bringing fail safe systems to market. The app makers don’t.

It is simply impossible to develop fault tolerant mission critical systems in overnight hackathons. It is a iterative process. Takes time to evolve.

So for starters, why not mandate that technology providers have to work with OEMs and only an OEM can sell an autonomous vehicle. A service provider can buy the certified vehicle from the OEM to sell a service.

This way the OEM is responsible;y for the system, and there is no finger pointing when there is an incident. This will make the entire autonomous ecosystem a lot safer.

The autonomous ecosystem includes smart infrastructure as well.  This needs to be developed in parallel.

Obviously the tech providers have to work with the public sector on developing the smart infrastructure.

The autonomous vehicles will be crucial part of the autonomous smart infrastructure.

It is imperative that its evolution be managed in controlled manner by working with the OEMs similar to what we do with infrastructure via the public sector.

The only way it will happen is via regulation. Need someone in US Congress (House or Senate) to sponsor the bill. We know it won’t be anyone from California for sure.

Are you not Entertained?

So why did judge Brett Kavanaugh chose to present his congressional statement at the confirmation hearing like Russell Crowe in Gladiator?


He didn’t really have have a choice. Here is a good explanation:


As for this tainting his ability to be an impartial justice, well, Justice Clarence Thomas presented himself and his case in almost a similar fashion back in 1991. He was confirmed and is still on the bench. So there is that.

Trying to reason and argue eloquently in the face a such irascible gathering would have been a mute point.

It doesn’t matter that there is a presumption of innocence in normal circumstances when someone is accused of anything. Except when it is anything to do with #MeToo movement apparently.

So was it a job interview? Obviously not. It is senate confirmation hearing for God’s sake. More of a Political Discourse.

Unfortunately, the art of which appears to be disappearing.

Well said  Justice Anthony Kennedy: https://www.newsweek.com/former-justice-anthony-kennedy-warns-democracy-danger-1145017

“He urged the students to follow the Constitution and participate in civil discourse”


Update 1: October 5th, 2018

Great response from Judge Kavanaugh: https://www.wsj.com/articles/i-am-an-independent-impartial-judge-1538695822

My thoughts on his response:

Ironic that the issue is not the uncorroborated allegations any more but the defiant testimony which was the only possibly response to this charade. The investigation should have happened before the hearing and there should have been either no hearing at all, ie withdrwal, or no Ford. Judge Kavanugh was the Gladiator thrown into the cage. What was he supposed to do? Put on reasonableness argument for an unreasonable charade? Didn’t Justice Thomas do the exact same thing back 1991?

Update 2: October 6th, 2018

Excellent WSJ Opinion Piece: https://www.wsj.com/articles/kavanaugh-may-be-the-democrats-waterloo-1538780107

Update 3: October 9th, 2018

Swearing-in is complete. First day of work for Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Preparations have started for impeachment hearings if the Democrats regain the majority in the US Senate.

Tennessee US Senate race between Marsha Blackburn and Phil Bredesen might be the key. So Taylor Swift weighs in…

Now this is even more true. Are You Not Entertained? Must have had a premonition!


To be continued….

Why am I cancelling my Tesla Model 3 Reservation?


Why am I cancelling my Tesla Model 3 reservation?

I ordered my Tesla Model 3 on December 27, 2017 after all the initial order rush was over. The email said Delivery estimate was mid 2018.

I didn’t believe it and was prepared to wait until 2020 to get my $35,000 Tesla Model 3 with the additional $7,000 tax credit which would bring my effective cost down to $31K with the sales tax factored in ($38K – $7k). Would be cash purchase so no financing cost etc. Don’t believe in borrowing money to buy a depreciating property – A topic for another conversation perhaps.


Then few months into 2018 I got another email saying the new estimate was late 2018. Really? Didn’t believe it. Still waiting for 2020.

Then came the great reviews of the product from early adopters and some consultants which added to the anticipation. Then the horror stories about bottlenecks, delay’s, quality problems, scrap rate etc. All understandable and to be expected since since we have a new product, new process, new supply chain, new robots, new software etc.

However, the car runs on Linux. Not acceptable to me as an embedded systems engineer in my early career. This is the reason I waited to order a Tesla since my expectation is that by 2020, Tesla will run on new Nvidia GPU that runs on QNX.


That and the fact that new products, especially cars, take years to mature to a point where the defect rate stabilizes to a manageable level. The 2020 Tesla’s shouldn’t have the durability issues that the 2013 Tesla’s are having now. Key word being shouldn’t.


However, it appears there is a huge culture issue at Tesla that permeates the entire organization driven my Mr. Elon Musk’s management style or lack thereof.


Details: (paywall) -> https://www.wsj.com/articles/elon-musk-faces-his-own-worst-enemy-1535727324

This will prevent Tesla from addressing the product issues and slowly improving the reliability (infant mortality) and long term durability issues.


Now that is a deal breaker for me. It doesn’t help that the $7,000 tax credit will expire soon as well, however, that was not a deal breaker.


Can this be fixed? Maybe. But not by 2020.

Also, by then there will be other choices in this space from competitors that are laser focused on making the cars instead of being distracted by flamethrowers, short shorts, submarines, rockets etc.

Now this (hobbies) would be ok if there was trust and empowerment to senior managers that manage supply chain issues, operations etc. There isn’t.


Making reliable and durable cars profitably is lot harder than it appears….


Whole Foods HealthCare?

Well folks, someone had to take this on.

So why not a consortium of Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and J.P. Morgan Chase to try to figure out and tackle the intractable Health Care problem in the US.

At the gist of it, the problem on supply side of the equation involves the incentive system.

The incentives of the service providers (hospitals, physicians, labs etc), the payers (private insurance, Medicare, Medicaid) and the pharmaceutical industry are not aligned with the real overall long term well-being of the patients.

On the demand side of the equation, patients themselves are not empowered, educated or incentivized to take charge of their own health.

Large corporations are usually self insured. Meaning that the claims are paid by the corporation. However, they do hire a service provider to manage the healthcare plan. Like Anthem, United Health, Aetna etc.

So in this case, this consortium of Amazon, Berkshire and JPMorgan, will instead create its own administrator as a non profit.

Second, They will also most likely be a provider as well by building their own hospitals and hiring staff. Could be a non profit as well.

Third, the patients (the employees of the three firms to begin with) will be incentivized to really care for their own health for the long term.

Last but not least, this consortium will roll out this system to other interested corporations or even patients directly. How about $2,000/year per person for continuous monitoring of ones  health and proactively addressing issues?

Whole Foods might be leveraged to be part of this solution. Perhaps ship stuff on demand to address issues identified by this self monitoring system.


Now we know the real reason for why Amazon acquired Whole Foods.


Health Care Maintenance As a Service offering once the service matures in its internal operations in collaboration with Berkshire and J.P. Morgan and Chase.

This is Very similar to the strategy Amazon used with AWS. System was first developed for its own retail operations and then sold as a service to others. Now half the internet is hosted on Amazon including Netflix!

Real ISquared Immigration Innovation using Blockchain

The big news on immigration reform this week wasn’t DACA.

It was the so called Immigration Innovation (ISquared) Act of 2017 being reintroduced in the Senate by Senator Orrin Hatch (R) of Utah.

The innovation in this Senate Bill that caught my attention was the following:

Prohibitions on Replacement: Prohibits employers from hiring an H1B visa holder with the purpose and intent to replace a U.S. worker.

The intent is good here but the wording is very vague and open to lot of interpretation.

The Real Immigration Innovation would consist of a robust system that ensures the intent of the above which is, or should be if it is not, that American workers are not being short changed.

I propose the following to address this issue:

Let us create a national system for matching jobs to job seekers using, you guessed it, Blockchain!

Step 1: All US employers post all jobs in this system. Required. Not optional. Real job postings, not fake ones to eliminate US workers.

Step 2: All US Citizens seeking employment would register in this first system that automatically checks all credentials and does background checks.

Step 3: The system would match the jobs to candidates and select top 10% for further screening. The employer can decide who they want to interview in person and make selection.

Step 4: If none found, the job gets posted into a second layer where legal US residents (Green cards holders) go through the same process.

Step 5: Job gets posted to a third layer where other legal US residents (ie other than Green card holders) can apply. This would include F1 Visa students, H1B workers, H4 dependents etc. If selected, they get a temporary green card. No work visa or H4EAD or OPT needed.

Step 6: Job gets posted globally. Anyone can apply. If selected, get a provisional Green Card immediately. No work visa needed.

Highlights and Link (ISquared by Senator Orrin Hatch):

Link  https://www.hatch.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=releases&id=F7E803D0-753E-4787-B5F7-9CAB10EE5878

Employment Based Non Immigrant H1B

Allows for unto 195,000n annual non immigrant H1B visas for skilled workers to fill the so called skills gap.

Work authorization for the spouses and children of the above H1B workers.

Raises the salary threshold for H1 Dependent employers to $100,000/year

“Super-Dependent” Employers lose that exception.

Green cards

Eliminate per country limit for Employment based green cards for those “Non Immigrant” workers.

Allow recapture of unused numbers from previous years.

Exempt the spouses and children from this cap

Exempt STEM workers and other extraordinary ability folks (athletes, artists etc)

Separate direct path for US based F1 students and those on OPT.


Blockchain – The Mother of All Disruptions!

The mother of all disruptions could be happening right now with Blockchain.

Not to be confused with the digital currency bubble.

Blockchain could be an enabler for Decentralization of just about everything. This will happen rapidly.

Think back to 2000 and compare it today.

Due to Rate of change acceleration 2050 could happen by 2030.

High fixed cost conglomerate business model might be a casualty as well.

As evident from the recent strategic shift at GE after a catastrophic drop in free cash flow from $14 Billion to $ 7 Billion.

The last man standing of the original Dow components.


By 2030, more than half of the current Dow Components could be gone. Possibly two thirds.

Yes, that is right, 20 of 30 current dow component could be gone by 2030.


The biggest reason for that will be Blockchain in my opinion.


So how is all this related to Political Discourse?


Stay tuned…


Good additional information here: https://oilprice.com/Finance/the-Economy/The-Blockchain-Revolution-Is-Heading-To-Space.html

Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! TaxCutsAndJobsAct Is it the TrumpEconomics Era?

Are we at the cusp of a historic structural shift of the same magnitude as the Reaganomics due to the Tax Cuts And Jobs Act passed last year 2017?


I think we are. Let me explain.

The biggest change in the Tax Code is the change to the Corporate tax for C corps. All publicly listed firms are C corps.

It is not the rate change from 35% to 21% that is the game changer.

Most corporations don’t really pay that top rate due to various tax strategies. All legal.

The bigger change is the change to a territorial tax system.

What does that mean?

It means US Corporations will now pay US taxes only on US Revenue minus US Costs.

So Tax = 21% x (Revenue in US – Cost in US)

Guess where most of the revenue comes from for most US multinationals?

From overseas. It is global economy. US is only 5% of world population. So this is not a surprise. Shouldn’t be. Right?

US based corporations have been shifting jobs overseas to lower costs since wages are lower.

Now there is a huge incentive to bring all those jobs back to the US due this new Tax Code.

Back to the Tax equation. Tax = 21% x (Revenue in US – Cost in US)


So that is why, Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!

India Means Business! Fifth largest economy.

Discourse of this blog post on Twitter

China and India have always been the world largest economies by virtue of the fact that those two subcontinental areas, since national boundaries are a more recent phennomenon, have always had the largest populations for the past few thousand years.


Then Europeans took over. Followed by Britain. Then the Americans. Japan had its roaring 80s and then fell into a deflation malaise.

Most of these economic shifts were due to trade, industrialization and currency.


Now once again we are in the midst of tectonic shifts in the world economy. Most of it is due to technology and obviously population and demographics play a role as well.


China overtook Japan to become the world’s second largest economy a decade or so ago. Will soon be largest overtaking the United States by 2032 I hear.


This year, 2018, is when India is expected to or already has over taken France and United Kingdom to become the world’s fifth largest economy.


This is a watershed moment. India overtaking its former colonist, mighty Britain, to become world’s fifth largest economy.


Prime minister Narendra Modi’s Make In India initiative and later de-monitization most likely will pave the way for future growth even though it (de-monetization) did cause a temporary setback.


The US Tax Code change and currency fluctuations could provide some challenges especially to the now quite mature IT export sector.


The multinational corporations that have a large USD denominated debt component on their balance sheet would need to watch out for further depreciation of Indian Rupee against the USD.


Ladies and gentlemen, hold on to your seats and watch the lift off of Indian economy. Stars are all lined up for India.


21st Century belongs to India. India Means Business indeed!


Caveats are the the following:

The GDP metric and units of measurement for gross domestic product is USD. That could change in the future.

Also, all this is predicated on the assumption that things will continue to progress as executed.

Unfortunately, they never do.

Remember Japan in 1980s?


Good additional information here in this WSJ Article (paywall):

Davos is Narendra Modi’s big stage to push a muscular vision of India https://www.wsj.com/articles/davos-offers-modi-stage-to-push-muscular-vision-for-india-1516552979 via @WSJ


To be continued…

US Senate 60 Vote Rule – Is it fair?

The Senate 60 Vote Rule discussion.



Yes, the smaller states do get the same votes (two senators from each state) as the bigger states and can filibuster legislative agenda.


We do have a similar issue, although of not the same magnitude, with the US Electoral College system where one can lose the popular vote but still win.


The 60 Vote rule apparently can be changed by the senate and it has been in the past (2013).




However, the above change from 60 to 51 vote was for presidential nominees excluding US Supreme Court judges.


So it appears, the agreement right now might be for the Senate to change the 60 Vote rule to 51 for Appropriation legislative voting as well?


The Nuclear Option?


Stay tuned…