Thursday 14 October 2010

Svend Egil Larsen and Peder Veiby: traders, heroes, men, not machines!

Svend Egil Larsen and Peder Veiby are men. And I could leave it there. But I have more to say. These heroic Norwegian day traders fought the machines and beat them at their own game. They defeated Timber Hill's automated trading system. (Timber Hill is a part of Interactive Brokers.) The price they paid was prosecution, conviction and suspended sentences for market manipulation. I hope Christian Stenberg can sleep at night. He's the Norwegian police attorney who took the side of the machines against the human race. His name will live in infamy!

What would Knut Hamsun have to say about this affair, if he were alive? Knut Hamsun (for those of you who don't know, and shame on you) was the greatest Norwegian writer who ever lived. He made a monkey out of Ibsen and his moralistic crap. He wrote his best novels in the 1890s - Hunger, Mysteries, and Pan. Like all right-thinking people he loathed left-wing politics. Unfortunately, this led to his shaking hands with Hitler. He supported the Nazis during the Second World War. That's why you won't see his books piled up on a table at the entrance of your local bookshop. He would have been better off staying completely apolitical, like me. If he were alive today, maybe he would be labelled a libertarian. I don't know. But his achievement (besides giving Ibsen a good pasting) was to cut all the waffle out of novels, thirty years before Hemingway was credited with doing so. Imagine a ruthless editor ripping Dostoyevsky to pieces. You would be left with the work of Hamsun.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure Hamsun wouldn't be too keen on these infernal trading machines. And he would most probably be outraged by the behaviour of that police attorney. I can imagine him writing a letter of support to Svend Egil Larsen and Peder Veiby. Something like this -

There are so many strange things between heaven and earth, beautiful, inexplicable things, presentiments that can't be explained, terrors that make your blood freeze. Imagine hearing someone brushing against the walls on a dark night. You're wide awake, sitting at a table smoking a pipe, but aware that your senses are somewhat blurred. Your head is full of plans that you are anxious to sort out. Then you distinctly hear someone brushing against the outside wall - or in the room, over by the stove where you can see a shadow on the wall. You remove the lampshade to get more light, and approach the stove. You stand there facing the shadow and you are face to face with an unknown person - a man of medium height wearing a black-and-white woollen scarf around his neck, with incredibly blue lips. He looks like the jack of clubs in a Norwegian deck of cards. You're more curious that afraid and you walk right up to the fellow and give him a withering look. But he doesn't move, though you're so close to him you can see his eyes blink and know he's as alive as you are. Then you try to be friendly (you realize you've seen him before); you say: 'Your name isn't by any chance Stenberg, Christian Stenberg?' When he doesn't answer you leer at him. But he still doesn't move and you don't know what to do next. Then you take a step back, poke at him with the stem of your pipe, and say: 'Bah!' Still his expression doesn't change. That's going too far! Your anger mounts, and you give him a good whack. The man is definitely there in the room, though he doesn't react to your whack. He doesn't keel over but sticks both hands deep down in his pockets, and shrugs his shoulders, as if to say: 'Well, what is that supposed to mean?' 'What is that supposed to mean?' you repeat, and by now furious, you give him another whack in the pit of the stomach. After this, the man begins to fade away. You watch him slowly vanish, his form becoming more and more blurred, until at last there is nothing left but his stomach, which also eventually disappears. All this time he has kept his hands in his pockets, looking at you with the same defiant, scornful expression, as if to say: 'What's that supposed to mean?'