On Contemporary Fireworks Displays

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A sparkler’s glow in this rapt child’s eye,
eclipses sterile bombs in a distant sky.

Genachowski Gone—no Bang, no Whimper… just hold FCC’s revolving door, please.

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Possibly the least effective Chairman in the history of the FCC departs in yesterday’s ignoble Friday afternoon news dump, two years after Wikipedia predicted so. The sequester didn’t stop FCC from hiring consultants to scrounge up revisions to his Wiki history: “entries were added that tout accomplishments such as his work with Mexico to prevent stolen cellphones from crossing the border.” {Washington Post} Of course the fence he built to stop the illegal cell phones is only 8-inches high.

And that ‘hardened Internet’ he promised in bold headlines—well, just check contemporary headlines about cyberwarfare and hacking. And how about that unified National Emergency Communications program that can perform under cyberattack—nope, no progress since 9/11. Ever much the lawyer, clueless on technology—he held an “ask Julius” Twitter session at Twitter, which failed for his not knowing how to tweet.

“If someone like him upholds compromise, it quickly leads to capitulation, which is what he’s done. He folds, folds, folds to the pressure of big companies.”——Derek Turner, head of policy analysis at public interest group Free Press.

U.S. Bans Intrade Market Prediction Site

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 Revised: 20121130

Intrade has been operating above board under the same regulations since at least 1999, so something happened that the U.S. didn’t like—such as the GOP U.S. Election manipulation that I have reported.

I escaped quickly, unlike those with complex positions who have only a few weeks to fight to the bottom as the internationals take advantage of the fire sale. Many U.S. predictors will be seriously trashed by the U.S. decision. Instead of simply letting existing positions expire, the U.S. closed this market chaotically, forcing liquidation and maximum losses upon its citizens; thus ensuring that Intrade and prediction markets earn the worst possible reputation, and discouraging future participation.

Hysteria over the mere suggestion of the U.S. government’s first floating the idea of wagering on political targets a decade ago is well-known. This action could be connected to recent Intrade movement on the question whether Syria’s Assad will be dethroned by year end 2012 (12%, falling) or by March 2013 (56%, rising). The perception that U.S citizens are profiting by wagers on the fall of Mid-Eastern governments may not be the message it wants sent at these delicate times. Moreover, should the market again prove as subject to manipulation as may have been demonstrated in the Presidential Election.

It seems that the wisdom of crowds from their power to put their money where their free speech is, has now been identified as a security risk. Have we reached the point where networked knowledge aggregation now threatens Intelligence Specialists with competition from the Intelligence of Crowds? Note to crowds: Take the Hint!

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GOP Manipulated the 2012 Prediction Market, Failed Statistics

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Revised: 20121118



Everyone knows about Nate Silver’s projections. And everyone is going to have to learn about prediction or ‘futures’ markets, which are argued to potentially be highly efficient ways to quickly ‘aggregate’ the truth across disparate sources.

Statistics and predictive markets are entirely different things and should not be directly compared. They are designed to operate completely independently. Statistical projections are numbers, of course, derived from historical trends, and current polls—but which remain an a priori calculation of current behavior. In contrast, predictive markets are a posteriori betting pools where people place hard money where their mouths are: they have skin in the game. You can also think of the difference as in vitro test-tube experimental medicine compared to real in vivo bodily results. Forecasts and polls are grounded in numerate statistics, whereas predictive markets are grounded in money-backed, diversely informed, crowd psychology.

The data of crowd psychology is expected to diverge from the pundits: that is the point. But as well, one can reasonably expect an approximate correlation if not convergence as statistics increasingly  support emerging reality. For the U.S. Presidential Election 2012 that didn’t happen, providing abundant ground for well-supported suspicions about GOP manipulation of, the world’s largest independent predictive betting site.

Background on Prediction Markets:

Video: Riz Khan:Prediction Markets

Idea Futures – The Concept

Policy Analysis Market

Iowa Electronic Markets

Book: The Wisdom of Crowds



November 1

With Nate suggesting 80% I noticed a great bargain at the prediction site, which was showing the President in the low 60%s. Votamatic also maintained great confidence in its scenario—which, by the way it nailed.

Believing in the numbers and The President, I was able to wire money barely in time to average-in for Obama at these 2:1 odds, also shorting Romney at his 35%, thus planning to make a 50% return in a few days. I separately bet on Ohio, as well, as that was key. The goal was to make back my contributions to the Democratic campaign. I was also hypnotized by daily talk of ‘doubling-down,” thus entrained for the opportunity to join in.



I then sat fairly perplexed as over the next few days Silver’s numbers tightened along with many others’ but Romney’s Intrade percentage sat stuck up at about 35%, unaffected by the stats. This was a little disconcerting, but I’m new to it, so I watch. And by this point I’m all in, so watch is all I can do.

November 5

Basically, Intrade still hovers around 65/35 throughout the day. Remembering yet again that by design there is no tight linkage between forecasts and crowds, Nate has tightened to 85, so there remains something arguably inexplicable about such a 20-point Obama bargain, or Romney overvaluation, at Intrade:

The other notable oddity is that everyone knew that Ohio was key. Yet Intrade’s Ohio market consistently ran 5 points higher for the President e.g. 71/29 than the overall election. There was a gap between confidence on Romney in Ohio and nationally. That is, if you believed Romney would win with Ohio, you would make more money by placing a bet in Ohio with odds at 29% than nationally at 35%. And it seemed to me quite odd that there would be a GOP segment betting that Ohio was not key for Romney.

November 6

In the morning, Silver reports 90/10% for the President. Intrade still 65/35%. At least this motivates me to make a few dozen GOTV calls to New Hampshire and North Carolina! (My favorite OGM, from a ‘little old lady’: “I’m out testing the Ferrari.”)

On election night, I bring up Intrade, three vote reporting windows, and Excel. (CBS soon proved too conservative in their state calls or useless, as you prefer.) I started charting the President’s Intrade % [Blue] with his averaged Electoral College  returns [Red]. The time range is 4:30-7:00 Pacific = 7:30-10:00 Eastern.

Again, the first question one brings is to the situation is, why is Romney at 32% on intrade, not 10%. Or again Obama not 90% but fluctuating from 66-68%. Apparently “the crowd” is still unconvinced, and with an international pool widely subject to Fox perhaps this could be expected, as well. My serious impression at the time was that the market was bearish out of fear of wide reports of GOP voter suppression efforts, potential voting machine tampering, and the likelihood of protracted litigation complicating and delaying Intrade’s final call.

At point 9 5:13/8:13 one sees an Obama dip as the early southern Red states reported—but those were all expected. A rational, let alone predictive, market should not really react that way. But as the EC totals amassed, Romney’s and the President’s probabilities remained strangely static, still hovering at 70/30 as if this great prediction market was actually severely lagging reality. This pattern persisted until an hour later POTUS hit about 158 EC votes at point 32 6:22/9:22, after which Obama continued upwards with Intrade nevertheless still lagging.

My data for election night shows that the price support denying Obama Intrade market momentum persisted at least while Ohio was still officially open. Manipulation also accounts for the graph betraying a persistent lag on Intrade even after the decision was clear: you can’t dump a huge position at once without setting-off alarms. You have to transact realistic share quantities at plausible prices. This buffered Romney’s Intrade descent throughout the month and night.

Let’s review Romney’s month at Intrade. Dark blue is the daily close, brown is the running average. The record seems strangely resilient and resistant to change, admittedly with hindsight and in the face of the downward trend noted by 23 of 24 polls in Silver’s final report.


But consider, as the statisticians and pundits gave up on Romney over the month, he lost debates 2 & 3, then Sandy hit him, after the Nov 1 dip shown, why did Intrade recover stiffly instead of continuing downwards? Sure, some divergence from the result is explicable by mere speculation and day-trading. Yet, on both the Romney and Obama Intrade charts note the sharp, unrealistic discontinuity at Nov 6. Why would a diverse market of opinions behave this way? How can one learn about this putative predictive ‘wisdom of crowds’ arena without some expert opinion on why they seem to have so lagged reality at this point?


I sent my data around for opinion by some smart folk (Thank you Drew Linzer of and they agreed it was rather inexplicable. As well, they cautioned these are new areas where the psychology of the marketplace is not yet well-known.

November 7
Someone else noticed! A shoe loudly drops: Overcoming Bias presents its evidence that Romney’s value had indeed been artificially supported.

Was Intrade being manipulated over the last month?

According to Overcoming Bias, someone thought it was so important to control the most-watched independent index, that they entirely distorted its operation with as little as $1M. Within a campaign that reportedly spent $2B, this would seemingly be a tiny piece of the cost of doing business.



Wild theory. Unbelievable, you say.

Admittedly there is not a lot of comparative data, and what exists may well be compromised as well. First, Intrade’s Ohio charts indeed show a slightly softer trajectory; but that market was only 12 – 14K shares, compared to  2 – 2.4M for the National. The interesting question remains, if an agent believed Romney winning Ohio were crucial and wanted to maximize their return, why would they not invest in Ohio at 30%, as opposed to placing money into the national at 35%? This suggests that profit might not have been their primary motive. In my case I was not confident about Ohio, but at 70% compared to 65% nationally, the opposite choice gave me the 5% advantage.



It Takes Practice

But, here comes the real, matching other shoe. In 2008 the New York Times reported similar but more successful manipulation of Intrade, for McCain:

Trading Variance in Election Predictions Raises

As to the question of motivation, this year expert research appeared exposing direct GOP voting manipulation already in the 2012 primaries:

Video: Retired NSA Analyst Proves GOP Is Stealing Elections

Republican Primary Election 2012 Results:Amazing Statistical Anomalies



Now you see the source of their Nate Hate. His numbers were a continuous refutation not only of their narrative, but their entire methodology and echo-chamber. The disparity I noted between Ohio and the national is easily explained: they simply focused on the most-watched indicators. That covers the oddities deserving report.

Yes, I made 54%, roughly matching my contributions to the President and Democrats and to the extent this analysis is correct, largely from the GOP’s own money! But aside from noticing an oddity, my result was from dumb luck and with great help by GOP operatives, not any particular skill on my part. Keep that in mind before placing your next bet in a public predictive market. As one writer hinted: Democrats might want to watch Intrade for similar opportunities in forthcoming elections. On the other hand, it may well be some time before such as good a bet as President Barack Obama with David Axelrod again appears.

Prediction markets are here to stay. Under the right conditions, they can find the truth of a question better than experts. Want to know what your staff really thinks about the new product design? Offer an anonymous betting pool, if you have the guts for the answer. Predictors within government may decide whether you become a Person of Interest. So it is keenly important for everyone to know both that these methods are in use privately, and that until the public markets become too large to buy, any prediction market may well be subject to corruption. These systems only work correctly under well-defined conditions, which include transparency, anonymity, a free flow of information, and independent judgment of a diverse pool.

To be clear, I do not see this as a failing of Intrade, as any attempt to regulate the market would negate the theoretical advantage that prediction methodology contributes. For example, it would be easy to evade limits on particular accounts by just opening a plethora of them.

Nevertheless, though active for at least a decade, public prediction by crowds subject to this degree of market influence demonstrably classifies it as at best an immature, if promising industry. The whole affair should give interested economists pause.



Initially, the GOP’s ORCA project seemed to be a secret weapon campaign control system, perhaps from which the alleged manipulation of market appearances may have been integrated. Now, according to a range of reports from GOP sources, ORCA was a disaster on several levels. Unlike that corruption affecting my little corner of the economic world, the subsequent GOP blame and devolution is being well covered.

Voter suppression was obviously ineffective. And I’m not aware of reports of electronic tampering for which Anonymous warned it was monitoring GOP servers:

October 22
Video: Anon2Rove

What remains of the grand conspiracy at this point is a trove of hated Republican state officials, and a link collection recording the sad progression of inevitable overconfidence, incompetence, defeat, and betrayal. After reviewing the journalism below, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Romney and Rove were defeated by staffs operating under exactly the selfish ideals they embodied and espoused. Rove and others fed Romney inaccurate, unrealistic, self-interested data which he displayed the poorest of judgment in trusting. Rove is suspect for deliberate manipulation of an important nascent public market, alleged ballot machine tampering, and collapse of the Orca system which so thoroughly embarrassed him on Fox. Finally, Norquist dismisses the entire ‘rolling calamity’ (famously, per Peggy Noonan)  with playground talk. Imagine this reckless, hapless team within the Oval Office. The nation truly dodged a bullet of nuclear scale.

November 1
Overconfidence: Mitt Romney’s Son Went to Russia With a Secret Message for Putin

A Romney Travels to Russia, but on Strictly Friendly Terms

November 5
“Orca will deploy 34,000 operatives in key precincts tomorrow, linked by a smartphone “killer app” Romney Campaign Enlists Help of ‘Killer Whale’ Project to Get Out the Vote

November 6
Rove said on Fox he was on the phone getting updated exit polls from his field. He so believed in his model that he could not even accept Fox’s call, and running his own inaccurate numbers about Ohio as far as he could take them: this is the meltdown against Fox’s own experts that you witnessed.

Then comes Romney’s inexcusable delay and curt concession speech.

November 7
Romney’s Delay Due to Failure ORCA Exit Poll Analysis

Romney’s concession speech was not gracious

They All Got it Right: Polls, Markets, and Models

November 8
“the end result was that 30,000+ of the most active and fired-up volunteers were wandering around confused and frustrated ” The Unmitigated Disaster Known As Project ORCA

Adviser: Romney “shellshocked” by loss

November 9
“If you’re in the con game and you don’t know who the mark is … you’re the mark.” Mitt Romney had no idea what was coming.” Campaign Sources: The Romney Campaign was a Consultant Con Job

“I like firing people.” Mitt Romney cuts off campaign workers credit cards, leaves workers stranded

“When so much data started flowing into the facility, it was perceived to be a hack and rejected” Mitt Romney’s ORCA program couldn’t stay afloat

Epic Whale: Romney volunteers say ‘Orca’ was debacle

Inside Team Romney’s whale of an IT meltdown

“This didn’t materially change the course of the election.” Romney digital director: Orca wasn’t a loss

“If ORCA had no relation to outcome, then tell me, what the hell was the point of the project? ” Team Romney: Actually Project ORCA Was Pretty Darn Successful

November 10
Karl Rove Under Fire After Election Failure

Rethinking “shellshocked” Romney

November 11
Pollsters Helped the Republicans

November 12
Orca was no fail whale, says Romney’s digital director

Grover Norquist: Mitt Romney painted as ‘poopy head’. But you told us that is exactly what you wanted to buy; a sheisskopf with a pen.

November 16
I thought we were done. But Anonymous has checked back in with a completely different take on Orca: Anonymous Claims it Stopped Karl Rove from Hacking the Election by Hacking ORCA, We Think I leave it to the press to sort this out.


Thank you to my facebook interlocutors who contributed to this reporting and linkage.

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No Blood for Social Media

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Remember the story, “How did WWI start?”—”If we only knew.” I have some serious similar concerns about current events.

First and most obviously we are losing perspective on what free speech means. Caught for killing a liquor store clerk, you can’t claim violation of expression. That kind of action is in the criminal, not civil realm.

While, admittedly, YouTube has at times called attention to atrocities, they are unquestionably—instead of reporting—intentionally provoking for profit continuing international criminal violence.

We are now told that corporations are people. Any person caught in such a pattern would be arrested and enjoined from further inciting murder, to say nothing of warfare. So, I do not understand why YouTube cannot be charged with manslaughter if not degrees of murder with intent, including conspiracy.

And does no one consider that sending troops to in effect defend a viral extremist and Google/YouTube’s right to profit from resulting international violence is even more perverse than sending troops to secure international oil based on concocted intelligence?

I recognize this is just one video out of a billion, and I know all about the slippery slope. I have stuff up there and am waiting to post more.

But I think the DOJ needs to awaken to new realities. Communications now means what once may have been repellant but legal here, is now internationally legitimized by distribution without the mitigating perspective of professional journalism and criticism. Such disregard for the laws of other nations cannot fail to continue to provoke violence, with some reason. This person YouTube deserves a thorough questioning as to its responsibilities to the rest of the citizenship. Again, murder is not a free speech issue. In the national interest justice now demands proof that YouTube is not a sociopath.

I further hold that a good citizen would actually realize this and voluntarily remove the post; at the very least to not so needlessly put world citizens, civil and military servants at further risk. The patriotic approach is to calm tensions by extracting oneself from the situation as quickly as possible while pursuing a durable solution. No lame excuse about your ‘standards difficulties’ is worth a single life. And there are too many other uncertainties in play.

I don’t want history to ask, “How did WWIII start?”—”Corporate abuse of digital rights for profit.”

Rights versus What’s Right

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Revised 20121110

The conventional wisdom is that the country backs the incumbent during crisis. The term “October surprise” originated from the Nixon’s using Kissinger to declare that peace was at hand in Vietnam.

But I see no evidence for conspiracy here, just chaos. Any opportunist can make a film, and did. Any demagogue can whip up desperate people into frenzy, and they did. The Libyan attack is currently suspected to be a planned two-stage operation under cover of the riot. Still in our national interest we can’t close the embassies and hope to have any constructive influence upon these fractured lands. So we again send 19 year-olds into harm’s way.

If you find this story strangely disconcerting it may be because it forces the nation to ask the ethical question of how many diplomats or soldiers have to die for some shmuck’s free speech, and necessarily your own rights to promulgate a crappy ‘film.’

That ground shifting from under your ideologies could be the realization that it is so much simpler to spout within social media extremism of any ilk, or chicken-hawk jingoistic platitudes, when you are totally insulated from the consequences. When no one you know or for which you have responsibility is at risk. As someone you will never meet is now sitting ready to die for you in sand that burns even at night.

If managers at Google/YouTube were not incurring ethical if not legal dilemmas, they would not be selectively blocking the video depending on the degree of rioting in the market country. But now that corporations are persons, I suggest that a highly pertinent question arises of complicity to murderwhich has nothing to do with free speech.

Manslaughter is a person causing death without prior intention. This would seem to be a slam-dunk case of YouTube guilt.

If the person continues, knowing their actions are likely to produce death, as they are, it becomes murder.

Sleep tight, YouTube, now obviously choosing to sustain international violence for revenue, leveraged on the backs of yet another innocent generation.

I am now informed that the rationale, liberty, and indemnification for this situation derives from Federal Statute 47 U.S.C. §230; which I would identify as now deserving review.

Apple Clouds Privacy Beyond Acceptance: EFF AWOL

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Revised: 20120913

The perspicacious South Park Season 15’s ‘HumancentiPad’ slammed Apple for its social imperialism, as well as users for their gullibility. It being South Park I can only repeat their caveat to watch at your own risk. But if there were any doubt about their targets, I’ve just found a real, stomach-turning systematization by Apple of even poorer taste, but sadly uninformed by Trey and Matt’s higher wisdom.

The issue is transcription, whereby your computer converts your speech into text characters or perhaps computer operations. In following this field I’ve owned all versions of Dragon Naturally Speaking for Windows. Whatever its faults, this has been the leading program for many years, and my only real reason for having a fast Windows machine. The Mac never had anything like it; the third-party MacSpeech being utterly lame until a few years ago apparently licensing the Dragon engine. (Likely enabled by Apple’s switch to Intel processors.)

But the huge productivity difference remained: correct-ability. Dragon succeeded because it adapted to your voice. You could teach it. When it erred, you could nudge it back on course to create a truly efficient process in fact used by hundreds of thousands of professionals. However, MacSpeech remained unteachable. It seemingly didn’t get that part of Dragon, and remained essentially useless.

Imagine my glee to discover there might be a reason for the iPad—built in dictation! I tried it for a simple list. Its performance was mediocre.  It inserted unpredictable and inexplicable processing delays. There was no correction interface and it didn’t seem to be adapting to my speech. Against my denials, it actually seemed to be accessing the web, and dutifully crashing more often than not.

But wait, surely this new version released in the extremely cloudy Mountain Lion 10.8.1 must have a complete implementation for my screaming, solid-state 17″ Pro. They must have gotten adaptivity right by now.

In their minds they did. And their answer is so technically arrogant and extravagant it strains the credulity of their entire PR scheme about their real motivations and the security of your data in their cloud. Searching in vain for an adaptation interface I found their EULA for transcription:

When you use the keyboard dictation feature on your computer, the things you dictate will be recorded and sent to Apple to convert what you say into text. Your computer will also send Apple other information, such as your first name and nickname; and the names, nicknames, and relationship with you (for example, “my dad”) of your address book contacts.  All of this data is used to help the dictation feature understand you better and recognize what you say. Your User Data is not linked to other data that Apple may have from your use of other Apple services.

Information collected by Apple will be treated in accordance with Apple’s Privacy Policy, which can be found at

You can choose to turn off the dictation feature at any time. To do so, open System Preferences, click Dictation & Speech, and then click Off in the Dictation section. If you turn off Dictation, Apple will delete your User Data, as well as your recent voice input data. Older voice input data that has been disassociated from you may be retained for a period of time to generally improve Dictation and other Apple products and services. This voice input data may include audio files and transcripts of what you said and related diagnostic data, such as hardware and operating system specifications and performance statistics.

You can restrict access to the Dictation feature on your computer in the Parental Controls pane of System Preferences.

This is stunningly outrageous. As Dragon has proven for over a decade, it is absolutely unnecessary to send all your voice data off your machine to obtain premier performance. Such a scheme adds delay and bandwidth cost with no apparent benefit to the task. I dare say, Apple’s suggested concept is dubious: do they propose to build a library of all the speech patterns in the world? And by when? And are my voice and personal relationships to my Address Book—oh, sorry, I forgot it is Apple’s Address Book—so critical to their success that they have to steal my voice? They don’t have enough different voices among their 47,000 U.S. employees to tune their transcription? Nor within millions of recorded Support calls? Nor internationally? Nor among their legions of alpha-test partners? Seriously? My real-time input is that important to the viability of Apple’s adaptive dictation? Wow. Then it seems Apple should pay me for using iCloud.

Apple ‘geniuses’—as you so modestly redefine language to falsely elevate yourselves—I don’t actually need my dictation optimized for the entire U.S. population nor the world. After twenty years of this nonsense I simply want Macintosh to transcribe adaptively using a program that you can update periodically like any others—and that doesn’t interrupt my time nor compromise my privacy with espionage! I’m in this game: I exactly predicted iTunes Match. For that matter, I was the first to put sound on Intel processors, in 1993. But this dictation architecture is an idea so bizarre, so off-the-wall that I would not have thought it even a remotely reasonable solution, when you are already holding a so-called supercomputer with 32 Gb minimum in your hand. Why on earth would you invoke a network for a job that needs to be fast and local, and for which superabundant processing resources and software already exist?

It seems to me that if they cared at all for our security, real geniuses would have figured out a more efficient way to tweak their Nuance-supplied (Dragon) software than entailing the constant overhead of shipping millions of voice files to Cupertino. After all, the same technology ran on Windows/Intel standalone. Doesn’t it make you kind of wonder why they—no, you—would pay so much to store all of this voice material indefinitely? They must think your junk is quite valuable—though the resulting daily customizations on your behalf can not be much more than parametric adjustments as easily made locally by Dragon software with a downloaded model. And if they cared at all for our security, real geniuses might even be able to design a simple, non-threatening correction interface that likely would not confuse us any more than their arbitrary interface changes to justify system releases. Tellingly, of course none of this requires anything resembling true genius, just honesty and sincerity. Yet Apple doesn’t think we deserve even a simple disclosing dialog box. They may or may not be legally covered, but they are now ethically bared.

The parsimonious explanation for the indignities we are instead dealt by this strategy is most credible: profit. Computing is only incidental to Apple’s future business: marketing demographics. Apple is selling dictation that does not work unless you tell them everything. All your thoughts, business agreements, inventions, all your emails, pillow talk, everything. Voice memos. Bookmarks. All of your information. Captured in their formats, such as the only allowed predictably-searchable Pages, Numbers, and Keynote documents. Siri operations revealing real-time trends. Photostreamed images and videos of your family and friends openly subject to facial recognition which you obediently supply through iPhoto. They want it all. All of you and yours. In your cloud. Or their cloud. Whatever. They really prefer you no longer bother to ask for respect for your life and property: the distinction is now moot. You are for resale. Period.

Please, actually read their privacy statement then try to believe you can fully trust them in concert with “their partners.” Every colorful manager in the U.S.’s now most valuable company might have once been by definition ‘insanely great.’ But that long-uncolored broken fruit may now signify merely ‘schizophrenically insane.’ How else classify conscienceless barkers paid to famously evangelize—that is, propagandize—that they have your interests at heart, while surreptitiously implementing non-negotiable, comprehensive access to your personal communications that the government can’t even obtain without warrant and for which they have a short and mediocre record of protection? We are to believe that, solely for your convenience, they unnecessarily and secretly bundled with dictation essential disclosure of all your ideas, feelings, and relationships. And you can just take it or leave it—if you accidentally even learn about it! Apple’s dictation solution disguises that you are talking to them, not your computer. Apparently mocking even TRUSTe’s commitment to “choice and transparency” as generally understood, Apple’s elusive EULA allows them to ensure most of their users obliviously inter-radiate exhaustive revelations; each life to become a brick in their Global Tower of Babel 2.0. Or, once aware, supplicate elsewhere for service with integrity.

Apple makes this an easy choice and growing competitive opportunity for independent enablers of protected, personal clouds—which actually may not be mandatory for sync nor a desirable security exposure. Unfortunately but predictably, iCloud is now the prime target of hackers worldwide who are happy just to teach Apple apparently deserved lessons in humility—the reports evolve daily. So, you can plan on two things. One, your iCloud data will be scrutinized, analyzed, and data-mined in every conceivable way to ensure that the most possible money can be taken from you by Apple’s new top customers: partnered megacorporations that manipulate the media and the world through demographics. Two, your iCloud data will be further stolen as arguably, it may already have been. Hackers—including the government itself—may get your data and voice recordings before the geeks are done wankin’ with them.

Laughing off FCC’s fining Google an entire $25,000, Apple’s competitor itself could with relative impunity continue to scoop up your now audio-embellished privacy with their street snoops simply to embarrass Apple. Ready to hear you dictating your journal on YouTube? After all, it could be your 15 minutes of fame, times 300,000 views.

The country’s dominant personal technology provider is out of control, their competitors’ patent trolling has gone stratospheric, but we seem to be on our own. As the EFF remains in straight-jacketed self-admiration before their fun-house mirrors—built with Google’s $1M donation in 2011—I have to do their job.

Which is to say: Boycott iCloud. You can’t get anything back. But you can stop sustaining the leeches. Keep your data local, in common formats readable by a variety of likely future apps; encrypt backups with Retrospect, for example; remotely backup to storage specialists like Carbonite. Re-evaluate your real needs for daily sync compared to what you are giving away. You may find even the minimum plan a lousy deal.

To invoke South Park Eric Cartman’s mildest possible condemnation, “Screw you guys. I’m going home.”

FCC Leadership: Headless, Gutless, Senseless

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Revised: 20120602

This is too sad to belabor. But you need to know that the agency that promises to protect us from cyberwarfare by hardening the internet cannot even protect us from Google.

In obvious pre-election fear of the new web robber-barons, after a two-year effort FCC just punted and fined Google $25,000 for illegally gathering servers full of personal communications with their street snoops. Does anyone imagine Google officers chastened and dissuaded, or simply laughing their asses off as they unroll a well-planned series of strategic workarounds?

For perspective, FCC routinely levies minimum fines of $17,000 against wayward FM pirates, CBers, hams, and restaurants with cell phone quieters. FCC just fined Clear Channel $22,000 simply for vague contest terms. They got ripped off! For only $3,000 more, Clear Channel could have bought the rights to data-mine all of the country’s personal online activity.

FCC’s purported investigation was stymied simply by one engineer claiming the 5th Amendment and hence offering no information on those who green-lighted the project. Though its Chairman is an admittedly brilliant Communications jurist and former Supreme Court clerk, FCC was curiously unable to uncover essential evidence despite this stonewalling. (Notably, several European agencies are not so timid either in their fines or continuing investigations.)

Now FCC implies that Congress missed something; as if we don’t have enough laws and precedent against invasion of privacy, illegal wiretapping, to say nothing of that pesky 4th Amendment protecting personal security. In fact, Mr. Genachowski has been legally advising the FCC since the early 90s, specifically assisting two previous Chairmen by writing their telecommunications legislation; and now twenty years later finds enough loopholes surrounding encryption to obstruct his own decisiveness on behalf of the public? Ultimately, Google got off simply because you didn’t encrypt all of your love letters and other private information. Their theory is that you invited data rape. That is how your FCC is protecting you today; by deciding your digital life is all fair game for the unseen.

Effectively, Chairman Genachowski just told every internet service they could do whatever they like by simply adding $12,500 per year to their cost of doing business. What nonsense be this? Was he oblivious to privacy issues when writing the laws or only now while incapable of respecting them? You cannot call this incompetence: he is too smart. We are left only to suspect the accelerated collusion and corruption surrounding this budget-strapped and weakened FCC since Genachowski’s rise to stardom with The 1996 Telecom Act—which also dissolved your rights against cell towers in your back yard.

Julius, can we just cut through the crap? Any ambiguity here resides only in the minds of the industry that put you there and continuously pushes the limits of conspiracy to steal personal data for profit. Otherwise there would have been no basis for action at all, no need for over two years of continuing international investigation, no grounds for anyone to claim the 5th, no need for bullshit excuses about encryption, no need for House Energy & Commerce to investigate you as a paradigm study for needed reforms, and finally, no need for the U.S. public to live with Federal acquiescence in this cover-up and continued erosion of our rights to privacy.

Mr. Genachowski, again, please exit through the gift shop with your former colleagues via that golden revolving door that you have so publicly applauded. I was going to refrain from saying that you have ill-served the President, until finding that Wikipedia already predicted you to be gone in 2011: “criticisms have become numerous and increasingly vocal among consumer groups and legislative supporters about his lack of substantive accomplishments to date.”

Yes, it gets worse. This update notes a March 11 report from The Hill that oxymoronically reports the White House wants to move Genachowski out of FCC because of his inaction, to Commerce Secretary, which needs a more active leader. I can only conclude that no one can make sense of this without further information that is apparently not public.

Revised: 20130323: Mr. Genachowski has resigned.

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