"CIA leak grand jury" page on wikipedia demonstrates the importance of a good name

Five years ago, this being 2011, there was a debate on wikipedia about the naming of an article relating to the Valerie Plame affair. The article was entitled "CIA leak grand jury investigation".

That title is rather vague. In fact, someone in the 'discussion' page for the article pointed that out, and several others concurred, including a user named rweinn, who wrote in 2006:

A title should identify the subject matter with precision. There have been more than 1 leak from the CIA in the past; it is likely there will be more in the future. Therefore the title "CIA leak etc." lacks necessary precision. rewinn

Now it is 2011. Jeffrey Sterling of the CIA is under indictment for an Espionage Act charge, the same law that a grand jury almost proferred against various members of President Bush's Whitehouse for disclosing the name of Valerie Plame to the media (specifically reporter Robert Novak).

It goes to show the importance of a name. It is a strange thing, funny in a way. People who were very critical of Novak and Mr Bush's associates are quite likely, in the modern day, to have very different opinions on these principles when James Risen (the reporter Sterling talked to) may be in trouble.

Why is that? It is because of the politics. Mr Novaks critics are more likely to be part of the Democratic Party, and Mr Risen's critics are more likely to be part of the Republican Party. It is an interesting arena to watch the principles of American government at work.

Since members of all political parties have historically 'leaked' and 'disclosed' information for political purposes, going all the way back to the 1700s, it becomes difficult for them to argue, on principle, that giving out government secrets is inherently bad.

The fact that the parties switch off running the Executive branch also contributes: when members of one party appear before the court of public opinion to plead their case, then the public remembers what that party did when it held power only a few years previously. The party finds itself unable to argue that it holds dear the principle of secrecy when the party itself so recently violated the principle.

And yet. We have this name on this wikipedia article. CIA leak scandal. CIA leak controversy. It links these two disparate political groups, across 5 years of time, by the accidents of history. There was a 'leak', there was a controversy, there was the CIA, and there was a reporter, but so many other details have been flipped. Many who were for would now be against, and many who were against will now be for, on a number of important questions. Freedom of the Press, the importance of secrecy, and so forth and so on.

Where, then, are the underlying principles?


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CIA_leak_grand_jury_investigation (note: by the time you read this, the page may have been moved to a new name. But in 2011 it was as thus described)

If the New York Times can be prosecuted for Espionage, what about Fox News?

Some people are arguing that the New York Times should be thrown under the bus because it revealed the 'terrorist surveillance program' (or whatever it was called) of the NSA, and also the SWIFT program to track alleged terrorist financing.

One example is from the folks at Powerline Blog, specifically Scott Johnson. He has some legal arguments for his statements. He points out that many of the judgdes in the NY Times v US case in the 1970s (Pentagon Papers / Ellsberg / Russo case) actually wrote that they would support Espionage Act prosecutions in certain situations. Others, whose names I have forgotten at the moment, have written that we haven't had many of these Espionage prosecutions against the media because it has become sort of a 'habit' of the executive branch to not pursue them. There is no firm court ruling barring it's use of the Espionage Act after something has already been published.

However the argument if taken to it's logical conclusion is rather perplexing. The heavily criticized New York Times is not the only media organization potentially in trouble under this theory. And Wikileaks is not the entity that I am referring to. In the case of Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, the media organization to which he allegedly gave information was James Rosen of Fox News.

I wish to compare the three cases.

Mr. Risen of the New York Times allegedly talked with Jeffrey Sterling of the CIA - Sterling has been indicted under the Espionage Act.

Mr Rosen of Fox News allegedly talked with Stephen Kim of the State Department - Kim has been indicted under the Espionage Act.

Unnamed Cambridge Associates of Wikileaks allegedly talked with Bradley Manning of the Army - Manning has been indicted under the Espioange Act.

Of these three media organizations - the New York Times, Fox News, and Wikileaks, only one (Wikileaks) is currently under investigation for Espionage Conspiracy. The New York Times has been accused of violating the Espionage Act by various critics.

Then what about Fox News? Can anyone explain to me the difference in these cases, from a legal standpoint?

While we are at it, what about the Washington Post, and Robert Novak? A grand jury met in that case - one of the charges they considered was 18 USC 793 - the Espionage Act.


I know that there is a nit to pick here: Mr Risen was gone after as an individual, the exeucitve branch has not gone after the New York Times itself. However, numerous reports have pointed out that this is a 'back door' way to hit at the Times, because Risen has for many years been one of their star reporters on national security stories.


June 19, 2011 Posted by Scott, PowerLine Blog

Did the New York Times break the law with its wire-tapping story?
, BY SCOTT W. JOHNSON, JAN 24, 2006. Weekly Standard

4-line vector math library for python

If you ever play around with graphics, pictures, lines, drawings, etc, and x,y coordinates (thank you Renee Descartes) in the python computer language you will probably want to play with vectors. Mathematica and other fancy systems let you do this pretty easily. Example: if you have a point, (1,2) and you want to vector-multiply it by 2, you can do something like 2*(1,2) and you get an answer of (2,4). What about python? You can download the fancy vector math libraries that have been created, like numpy. Or, you can use these four lines of code:

def vecadd(a,b): return map(lambda c,d: c+d, a,b)
def vecsub(a,b): return map(lambda c,d: c-d, a,b)
def vecdiv(a,d): return map(lambda e: e/float(d), a)
def vecmul(a,m): return map(lambda e: e*float(m), a)

To use it:

print vecadd(v1,v2) -> [2,4]
print vecmul(v1,4) -> [4,12]
print vecsub(v2,v1) -> [0,-2]

Further adventures in Russian language indie music

Once in a while, you may want to listen to music from other countries, in other languages.

However, this is not as simple as it sounds. Type in 'Russian Music' and you may get a lot of Russian language Music. Note that a lot of it actually comes from Belarus as well as Russia. However, there are many types of Russian music, just like there are many types of music in English. Folk, Rock, Pop, Hip-hop, 'Designed' girl bands, etc etc.

What if you are one of those people who want 'indie' music? One thing that you can do, is visit last.fm, find a band, and then click on 'radio'. It will play artists similar to the one you are listening to.

Playing "bands similar to Serebryanaya Svadba" or "Cassiopeia" has allowed me to listen to all sorts of fascinating Russian language music that is also 'indie'. For example, Alina Orlova, Dsh! Dsh!, Chikiss, 2H Company, Rocker Joker, Lyook, Deti Picasso, Serebryanaya Svadba or Tatyana Zkina (ok she's actually kinda pop but...)

Another very interesting last.fm link is Инна Желанная. There you run into Ива Нова, Theodor Bastard, Optimystica Orchestra, Жанна Агузарова, and many other interesting artists. I doubt "indy" applies to all of them, but then again, labels are just abstractions that can never match reality.

Then there is youtube, where you can run into artists like Pelagaya (Пелагея)

Is is a strange thing. People who like 'pop music' might like russian and english pop music, but they might dislike indie music, regardless of the language. And vice versa - people who like indie music, might dislike pop music, regardless of it's language.

It reminds me of Phil Rosenthal's documentary about the guy who tried to translate an American sitcom for a Russian TV audience. The TV show was named "Everybody loves raymond". The russian version is called called Воронины, you can watch it on youtube (here, or simply search for Воронины youtube.

So, the 'sitcom', the art form, is made up of far more than dialog - the meaning of the words themselves might almost be irrelevant. What makes up a sitcom, then? Is it the timing? The characters? The family relationships depicted? The beat? The rhythym?

It reminds me of "The State" skit about Crispy Pops: which is on youtube. It is a cereal commercial - but all of the actors just speak in gibberish instead of any ordinary language. What is the difference, then, between this commercial and a 'real' commercial? It is not the lighting, the expressions, the acting, the gestures, the timing, nor the framing of the picture. The difference is that they are speaking nonsense - but in a sense isn't that what the language in a 'real' commercial is full of too? Nonsense? What does the phrase "part of this complete breakfast" even mean? What is the difference between saying that and "duh duh duh duhddduh duh duh?".

It seems so strange, that something as simple as a Sitcom or a Commercial can have so many parts to it. Or that something like music, has so many ingredients, so that a person who likes 'indie' music will, without even understanding the words, be able to identify, and even prefer, what is 'indie' music in another language that they do not even speak.

What are words anyways? Do they even matter?


Q&A with Phil Rosenthal, interview at Santa Barbara Film Festival, youtube.


Update 2012

I must point out when I say 'Russian' I may also mean, the "Three Russias",  White (ByeloRussia, Belarus), "Normal" Russia, and then the Ukraine. I'm guessing some might be insulted by conflating these, but what name should I then use? "Slavic"?


Another interesting group of Indie music are Russian bands that sing in English. like InWhite.


Their lyrics sometimes are not exactly grammatically perfect English, but somehow make more sense than some of the top-40 in America. I compare, for example, InWhite's "Closer" and, say Sugar Ray's "Fly".


Then there are the metal thrash bands, a remarkable example being Traktor Bowling. (Which, interestingly, has a name using Latin characters but sings in Russian)


It is not exactly alternative, but I can imagine some of their songs 'crossing over'. Maybe it's just me.


Then there is Chikiss, who plays some kind of piano music that I don't know what category to fit into, but its kind of slow and ambient.



Interesting note... there is an entire blog at the UCLA (Univ California Los Angeles) devoted to this type of thing. http://www.farfrommoscow.com/about/

Russian Reggae

Russian seems to work very well as a language for Reggae songs. I don't know why this surprises me, but it does. Maybe every language works well for Reggae songs, I just haven't heard them yet?

There is a band called Addis Abeba, (Аддис Абеба), I would presume named after the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, for the Rastafari revere emperor Haille Sellasie of that nation (formerly called Abyssinia).

Addis Ababa have free songs available at last.fm.

18 months in prison for taking a picture of an iPad

Workers Behind iPad 2 Leak Sentenced To Prison, Chandrakant 'ck' IS, 6 16 2011

Apparently a workers at a FoxConn factory sold some iPad 2 'image data' to another company, so that it could start making 'protective cases' before the official ipad2 release.

For this crime, the punishment is 18 months in prison. And a fine worth about 100 months salary.

Eighteen months.

Is this what they meant when they said "Apple Macintosh will make sure that 1984 isn't like 1984?"

Didn't Steve Jobs get his start by selling illegal phone hacking equipment, (blueboxes?)

Didn't the Macintosh grow because Jobs took a tour of Xerox PARC, then basically copied what he saw there?

Business theorist tongue-lashes modern business leaders

Peter Day's radio show is never boring. He travels the world, having blunt discussions with business leaders, tucked away in a little corner of the BBC that is usually on around 4AM in my neck of the woods. Once in a blue moon, I am lucky enough to catch his show; whether he is exploring the lives of fisherman near the Aral Sea or interviewing a 'eccentric' CEO, it is invariably entertaining and enlightening.

His latest interview is with an apparently famous business theorist, named Gary Humel. C.K. Prahalad and Humel wrote a massively influential paper on the idea of "Core Competency" of a corporation.

But Humel has soured on the de-facto form of capitalism as practiced in modern society. In the interview he excoriates what has happened. He decries the overfocus on short-term profits and shareholders, at the expense of everything else, not only society, but innovation. Big companies are, by his way of thinking, failing to innovate. He also calls Lloyd Blankfein's (of Goldman Sachs) testimony before congress, in which he justified selling toxic assets to his customers, the "Moral Nadir of Capitalism".

For Mr Humel, who points out the definition of 'capitalism' itself is rather fuzzy, the system appears to exist not to serve shareholders, but to serve customers. He uses the example of Apple (putting aside for a moment it's environmental or labor record) - it exists to make 'beautiful products', not merely to make money; in fact he flat out says that a company worried only about making money, is not going to be that great of a company.

He also goes after customers, for demanding cheap stuff - hypothesizing that this is changing, as the internet is showing us where that stuff comes from, i.e. the FoxConn suicides, and altering the relationship between customer and business so that now, customers may complain to companies about issues like environmentalism or social justice.

It is discombobulating to hear a well regarded, famous academic of the business school world (and he gives business schools a good drubbing too), say many of the same things that ordinary muckrackers and iconoclast business types have been complaining about for years (I'm thinking of Yves Smith's Naked Capitalism, for example).

Another thing he piles on is centralization, and the destruction that causes to individual initiative. This reminds one immediately of a diary posted on Daily Kos, by user "Lightbulb", in which he describes working in the back of a retail 'big box' store where the lighting is shut off remotely from another state - sometimes while they are in the middle of running a load on a forklift!

I don't know what will become of the lambasting that top theorists of B-school give to their own charges. It is strange to see.


The Trouble With Capitalism, Peter Day, interview with Gary Humel, BBC, 2011,

Confessions of a Retail Worker: Voices from the Street, user Lightbulb, dailykos.com, 6 17 2011

Naked Capitalism, Yves Smith et al.

Soviet veterans describe Afghanistan

Veterans - Soviets in Afghanistan, Al Jazeera English, on youtube

It is strange to watch this after reading The War Behind Us. Many things about war are apparently universal.

*Young people were told they were going to defend their homeland, and had little understanding of where they were going

*Anger at colleagues death caused people to act out (shooting a camel)

*Soldiers claim they did not deliberately target civilians, and had orders to be humane

*Media reports contain evidence of numerous atrocities

*Reports of atrocities are interconnected with propaganda operations of the opposing parties

*Soldiers not given adequate supplies due to bureaucracy

*The government hides information about the war from it's own populace

*Soldiers were disappointed in the ignorance amongst civilians about the war

*There was no national memorial for a long time

*The war was considered an 'embarassement' by some

*Some veterans become very successfull

*Some veterans experience alienation on their return

*Physical head injuries lead to emotional problems - Cerebral Contusion, Shell Shock, or in 2011, Traumatic Brain Injury

*Veterans have a strong sense of justice and hatred of war

The Ghost Soldiers of Vietnam

Cathy FitzGerald documents an American veteran who moved back to Vietnam, became a mechanic, got married, and was living happily - except for one thing.

He would wake up in the middle of the night, screaming in Vietnamese, a language he didn't know. He thought he was 'posessed' by the spirit of a dead Vietnamese soldier, whose card he had taken after a battle. He tracked down the soldier's mother, befriended her, and thereafter, he was no longer "posessed" by the man's spirit. By going to his mother, the spirit was given freedom.

And this ghost was only one ghost - there are hundreds of thousands of Missing In Action Vietnamese soldiers from the war. Some were buried in mass graves by the Americans. Apparently in the traditions of Vietnam, their quick, unceremonial burial doomed them to walk the Earth as ghosts. There was even a PSYOPS program that broadcast messages of "ghost wails" to the Vietnamese troops from a helicopter, that apparently played on this idea.

There is also an interview with a Buddhist monk, who claims that he was visited by the ghost of an American soldier. This soldier was able to 'free himself', though, somehow, through his interaction with the Monk.

Another way to find freedom, is through the bodies being recovered by relatives and the proper ceremonies being followed. To help, some US soldiers have returned to the country, to try to assist in finding some of the mass grave sites.


Wandering Souls Cathy FitzGerald, BBC, Heart and Soul, 2011