Trump’s 2016 Big Data political arms race

Events happen so quickly in the wacky whirlwind world of Donald Trump that it’s hard to react in anything close to real time, but there was an interesting story in the Guardian last weekend that I think deserves some technical context. The Great British Brexit Robbery: How our Democracy was Hijacked is a breathless but well sourced story about how a U.S. billionaire harnessed Big Data to split up the European Union and steal a U.S. Presidential election. It’s an interesting read, but the point I want to make here is that the tale was entirely predictable and if one side hadn’t done it, the other would have. Next […]

News we aren’t supposed to know

notacrookI’m writing this post on Wednesday evening here in California. Normally I wouldn’t point that out but in this case I want to put a kind of timestamp on my writing because at this moment we’re at the end of the second day of a concerted attack by the UAE Electronic Army on various DNS providers in North America. If you follow this stuff and bother to check, say, Google News right now for “UAE Electronic Army,” your search will probably generate some Facebook entries but no news at all because — two days into it — this attack has gone unnoticed by the world at large. My last column was about fake news. This […]

Remembering Brentrance (not Brexit) and Steve Jobs returns to Netflix

HeathBritons are today voting whether to remain a part of the European Union, their so-called Brexit referendum. Watching the coverage on television makes me recall a night back in 1973 when I stood in a crowd outside the Houses of Parliament while inside the chamber was being held the vote that made the UK part of what was called back then the Common Market. If today’s vote is for Brexit, that night 43 years ago was the Brentrance.

It wasn’t clear that night which way the vote would go. The Tory government of Prime Minister Edward Heath was all for the Common Market and so that’s how the vote went sometime before midnight. The […]

Is IBM guilty of age discrimination? — Part two

agediscriminationThis is the promised second part of my attempt to decide if IBM’s recent large U.S. layoff involves age discrimination in violation of federal laws. More than a week into this process I still can’t say for sure whether Big Blue is guilty or not, primarily due to the company’s secrecy. But that very secrecy should give us all pause because IBM certainly appears to be flouting or in outright violation of several federal reporting requirements.

I will now explain this in numbing detail.

Regular readers will remember that last week I suggested laid-off IBMers go to their managers or HR and ask for statistical information they are allowed to gather under two federal laws […]

When are economic sanctions not sanctions at all?

RussianTrampolineI came across this news story today in which a Russian space official suggests the US consider using trampolines to get astronauts and supplies to the International Space Station. It’s all about economic sanctions applied to Russia over its annexation of Crimea and other meddling in Ukraine. The Russian space agency, you see, has been hard hit by the cancellation of at least five launches. Except according to my friends in the space biz Russia hasn’t been hurt at all.

Space customers pay in advance, way in advance. All five cancelled NASA launches were paid for long ago and the same for a number of now-delayed private launches. They may go ahead or not, […]