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February 21, 2013

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The switch from COBOL to java (and I've had unpleasant experience), at least in the Fortune X00 world (where most COBOL lives), isn't as many believe. In fact, most enterprise java applications are nearly line for line transliterations of existing COBOL. What was called "lipstick on a pig" in the days from MS/DOS to Win 3.1. "New" java applications are tied to the VSAM file images with which such developers are comfortable. There isn't much relational model in Fortune X00 RDBMS, COBOL or java. And don't get me started on the silliness of EJBs.

The switch, to extent that it does occur, from S* to R is rather different, in that all stat packs are tied to flatfile data images. Reading Muenchen's "R for SAS and SPSS Users" defines the landscape. I'm not all sure it's possible to transliterate the semantics of S* to R in the way that it's done from COBOL to java.

Also, in the interview with Mr. Rich, he says “When the 2008 recession hit,” he told me recently, “the question was how come we weren’t better prepared with all the money we’ve spent in the last decade on information systems? ..."

The reason is that the quants (and their Suit handlers) chose to ignore the underlying data which was in plain sight: the gross divergence of median income from mortgage values; there was simply no way that house prices could rise without a foundation of rising median income, except through corruption in the mortgagers. (A precious few among the pundit class, including humble self, made the point.) The quants simply didn't wish to include such data in their models. Whether this was due to poor training in quants or mortgaging or simple corruption, I don't know. I've yet to read a mea culpa.

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