I heard from someone in local government that management was pushing accountants to move away from accrual accounting (also known as accounting) and back to cash-based accounting whose inaccuracy and incompleteness is the reason we invented accrual accounting. The context for this was a migration from one accounting software package to another, but according to a Bloomberg report, the idea to move to a cash basis comes from the state governor's office.

FOIA Off

Apr. 14th, 2014 10:58 pm

Good news: You can now send FOIA requests over email.

Bad news: You need a password.

Your request for a copy of fax sent into the FBI on 12/30/2000 is not searchable in our indices. For your information, the FBI Central Records System is not arranged in a manner that allows for the retrieval of information in the form for which you have requested. Items are indexed according to individual investigatory interests.

I gave them the date, a time range, the FBI recipient city, two names used by the sender, the name of the sender's employer, and the name of the subject of the report. That was not enough.

[EDIT Apr 15] correcting my account of how much information I gave them. I did not have the fax number.

Zero Tolerance nabbed a high school science teacher for allowing science projects into a science fair.

There may also be another reason:

Schiller, 43, also was the teachers union representative on the campus and had been dealing with disagreements with administrators over updating the employment agreement under which the faculty works.

via Soy.

Minquals

Apr. 10th, 2014 10:36 pm

A local government has declared that I don't have the minimum qualifications to be an entry-level database administrator. That should surprise everyone I've worked for in the past ten years including a different branch of said same local government where I ran/was a database migration project, designed the database tables, and custom-compiled the database software. The job description is deleted so I can't go back to it and see what their specific minimum qualifications were. This must be how they get around civil service rules to give jobs to their friends.

[EDIT] Hey, they read my blog. Or it was a clerical error.

On April 10, 2014, you received an e-mail stating you did not meet the minimum qualifications for the position of Database Administrator. This notice was sent in error. We expect to send your ranking/standing notice by next week.

And I forgot Hanlon's Razor.

The headline is "Liberal Jewish college in the Northeast drops Black human rights advocate due to pressure from Muslims" and it's from a blog called Libertarian Republican and you have already taken sides, haven't you?

Math has a concept called singular value decomposition. The short version is that you put in one matrix and get three out. This apparently being a well known concept in engineering, it is implemented in the data analysis language IDL and in the NumPY library for Python, and you can probably guess where this is going. The singular value decomposition functions in IDL and NumPy produce different matrices for the same input matrix.

  • All three output matrices have their columns swapped.
  • One of the columns in the 'u' matrix is the negative of the matching column in the other language.
  • One of the rows in the 'v' matrix is the negative of the matching row in the other language.

I've only tested one chunk of data, so I do not know if the pattern will hold for different input matrices.

Seymour Hersh has a new article on the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Summary of key points:

  • The Muslim Brotherhood's Al-Nusra group has had a sarin production program supported by Saudi and Turkish suppliers.
    • By the spring of 2013, Turkey's military intelligence and state police were directly involved in the Muslim Brotherhood's sarin production program.
    • The US Defense Intelligence Agency produced a report on al-Nusra's sarin production on June 20, 2013. An earlier Hersh report names DIA deputy director David R. Shedd as a recipient of the report.
      • The DIA firmly and clearly denies that this report exists.
        • Hersh quotes from the report.
    • The DIA produced a daily situational report on Syria titled "SYRUP" that used to include information on activities related to chemical weapons production.
      • According to "a former senior Defense Department official" White House chief of staff Denis McDonough "severely curtailed" the distribution of information on chemical warfare after reading a SYRUP report on the use of chemical weapons in March and April 2013.
  • A "person with knowledge of the UN’s activities" reported that United Nations investigators found that Muslim Brotherhood forces were responsible for the the March 19 sarin attack near Aleppo (mentioned earlier), but were under a mandate not to assign blame and the news did not get out because it was not what their sponsors wanted to hear.
    • Two sources report that by the time of a May 2013 meeting with President Erdogan and Hakim Fidan, President Obama knew that a chemical weapons attack was a false flag and that Turkish intelligence was involved.
  • British analysts at Porton Down found that the sarin used in the August 21 attack on al-Ghutah (mentioned earlier and earlier) did not match any sarin in Syrian stores.
    • President Obama had ordered a large-scale airstrike on Syria in retaliation for the attack, and he cancelled the order when the information came in from Porton Down. Britain and France had planned to participate in the airstrike.
    • "a former senior US intelligence official" claims to "know" that "some in the Turkish government" called for a false flag chemical weapons attack to push the US further into war against Syria.
    • A US intelligence report in late July or early August predicted that Turkey was likely to do something to instigate a US attack on Syria.
    • According to "the former intelligence official", "intercepts and other data related to the 21 August attacks" confirmed that Turkey was responsible for the attack.
      • These intercepts were blocked from reaching the White House.
  • The US funneled arms to Muslim Brotherhood / al-Qaeda forces through Libya.
    • The Senate Intelligence Committee report on Benghazi includes a "highly classified" annex mentioning an agreement between Presidents Obama and Erdogan to arm MB/AQ forces in Syria.
    • Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar provided the funding.
    • "The operation was run by David Petraeus."
    • "The involvement of MI6 enabled the CIA to evade the law by classifying the mission as a liaison operation."
    • "The [Benghazi] consulate’s only mission was to provide cover for the moving of arms".
    • The same "former intelligence official" is the source of all of this information.

In my opinion, there is way too much reliance on one anonymous "former senior US intelligence official" but it all has an air of believability. There are also signs of counterintelligence problems with apparently multiple people shutting off the flow of information about Muslim Brotherhood sarin production.

I wonder if this guy from a few days ago got an advance copy of the Hersh report.

Edit: The National Security Council denies the story, calling the former intelligence official's claims "completely fabricated".

The #2 position on the Open Secrets list of top donors to 2014 candidates is the city of New York. The details show $5.9 million in donations to a PAC for Mayor Bloomberg's favourite candidates and another $2.5 million to a Democratic PAC. It would be so unusual for city funds to be used for a national race -- and Bloomberg has more than enough of his own money to spend -- that my assumption is that something has to be wrong with the data.
"A senior CIA official has died in an apparent suicide..." He was probably upset about his demotion to middle management by the fourth paragraph of that report. This reminds me of when one of State's top Iraq experts fell from the roof shortly before the 2003 invasion.

60 Minutes had an interesting piece on the stock market. Apparently all the talk about "high frequency trading" has little to do with algorithms anymore and is more about the HFT companies running MITM attacks on other traders, intercepting their trade orders, and using their own fiber lines to put in new trade orders quickly enough to raise the price before the original trade order gets in.

What's also interesting is that "anymore" was two years ago. 60 Minutes seems to have held back the story until someone had a book to sell, and they spent the end of the segment hawking the new company of one of the guys who identified the problem. Recall that the Benghazi report was based on someone who had a book to sell, which turned out to be a problem when CBS repeated some of the bullshit he had put in the book to make it more exciting. At least this latest book is not being published by a CBS subsidiary.

Stuff

Mar. 29th, 2014 05:46 pm

California State Senator Leland Yee was arming the al-Qaeda-allied Moro Island Liberation Front with heavy weapons. Those would be the mofos responsible for this notorious headline:

Also accused is political consultant Keith Jackson of public relations firm Singer Associates, the former school-board president whose page Singer deleted.

One of the Chinese gang members is a person from Thailand, Kongphet Chanthavong, named with the curious note: "Chanthavong has an outstanding warrant of deportation; however, country conditions preclude deportation." Thailand is a generic monarchy and US ally / client state. What "country conditions" could he have cited to stay a deportation order?


Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane shut down a sting operation that had already caught three state House members accepting bribes on tape on the grounds that the only three House members who accepted bribes were members of the Black Caucus, therefore the investigation must have been racist.


Pakistan censored the New York Times article "What Pakistan Knew About Bin Laden".


Gawker Media called for the jailing of global-warming deniers on the grounds that:

Man-made climate change kills a lot of people. It's going to kill a lot more. We have laws on the books to punish anyone whose lies contribute to people's deaths.

Let's start with Noam Chomsky.


Jawa Report found a one-paragraph final paper that earned an A- (from a second-semester African American Studies course at Chapel Hill that is said to be a grade-inflation course for athletes) and an incomprehensible Common Core kindergarten math assignment. The news is that a conservative criticism of Common Core is actually based on a Common Core product.


In a case of dueling political propagandists, AssEngine catches the Washington Post printing political propaganda. The real problem is that one of these two sides of political propagandists works for the Washington Post.


Washington Post writer Max Ehrenfreund describes counterfeiting as a "victimless crime" and "a service to society", using a variant of the broken windows fallacy as justification. This does not appear to be intentional satire.


The US budget will eliminate the current generation of Tomahawk cruise missiles and Hellfire helicopter-fired anti-tank missiles by 2016 in favor of weapons that are still on the drawing board. In short, top brass says "we're ordering you to replace weapons that work with ones that don't" or that don't even exist. In related news, the F-35 is still being worked on but at least we didn't ground every plane and order them all replaced with F-35s in 2005.


There is still only one news story on TV: that plane that was missing a week ago is still missing! Apparently every single reporter for every single news network has been on spring break. The silent war in the Ukraine has gone into the memory hole, and nothing else has happened all week. The best explanation of the missing plane so far is that the pilot thought he was working for British Airways.

Python easy_install on Windows sometimes fails with a UnicodeDecodeError:
UnicodeDecodeError: 'ascii' codec can't decode byte 0xc3 in position 6034: ordinal not in range(128)
The solution is to comment out the config = config.decode('ascii') line in Lib/site-packages/setuptools/easy_install.py.

Here's an even more fun one:

  File "geopts.py", line 128, in xp2str
    s = etree.tostring(resultset[0], method="text")
  File "lxml.etree.pyx", line 3165, in lxml.etree.tostring (src\lxml\lxml.etree.
c:69399)

exceptions.TypeError: Type '_ElementStringResult' cannot be serialized.

This says that the XML library's own tostring() function cannot convert one of its own string types to a string. What's especially brilliant about this is that _ElementStringResult inherits from the native string class.

Here is a hacky attempt to manage the problem:

r = resultset[0]
if isinstance(r, etree._ElementStringResult):
    s = r
else:
    s = etree.tostring(r, method="text")

Hack

Mar. 22nd, 2014 05:39 am
The Hack language adds several missing features to PHP, most notably static typing. It was developed by Facebook for their HipHop VM. Via soy.
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