Time Heals All Wounds.. And Then Kills the Patient
<Previous Next>
Wed Aug 11 15:24:32 2010
Clouds Partition the Sky

I was kind of amused at this chart PZ points us at - as is occasionally the case, I'm not sure of it's a strawman, weird humour, or something serious made by a believer.

There are bits that are likable and less so:

I found Vienna Teng's scrapbook for her shooting of the video for her song 「Gravity」 pretty interesting.

Julain AssangeのWikileaks - unsurprisingly propelled into cental stage of politics by large leak of US military data relating to war in Afghenistan. Central issues: what is to be done when military information that might be sensitive is released, and is radical openness positive in light of the idea that some of the information may be dangerous?

Wikileaks as a source of information on non-military matters - relatively less controversial (among my crowd) - too much PR and psychology mask the way information is presented, and without having hard facts about things not cleared by "impression managers", it's hard to discuss how businesses work or what they do. Wikileaks reveals that much of the "new, green, cares-for-the-people capitalism" is just fresh paint on the same profit-seeking entities we know of old, and that government is not simply serving any coherent set of notions of the public interest (although ultimate cyncism on government is also unwarranted, I hold). At one point, journalism led to some of this stuff coming out, but through misregulation and increasingly managed/clever PR by relevant companies and agencies, this role is not fully met. I believe it's rare that closedness ever benefits the public good in most matters, and that Wikileaks is quite benign on these matters - their work is to be lauded.

On the topic of military matters, matters are more complex and commentary is thick, drawing comments from Fidel Castro to Jimbo Wales. Points that I fundamentally accept as valid:

This is a classical question of openness in government - would we trade some of our ability to persuade, some of our ability to directly participate in military action, and possibly destabilise traditional regimes in order to, as individuals and traditional media sources, gain a highly non-PR-screened perspective on what's going on there? It's not an easy choice. Openness is not a magic idea that makes everything good - it requires real sacrifices, particularly in this realm.

Unsurprisingly, the whitehouse is pressuring its allies to squeeze Wikileaks (which is dangerously centralised, both in the person of Assange and in the funds needed to support the site infrastructure - it would not be hard to imagine the same laws that reasonably aim to prevent people from funding the remnants of the LTTE or radical Islamic militants being aimed at Wikileaks, particularly as I have not seen prominent political cover speaking for them as an organisation. If we're not to see the emergence of Wikileaks into the spotlight as a brief and fatal blip, we need to see them have some formidable patrons (difficult as they're anti-establishment in a more authentic way than we've seen in a long time). In theory, they should merit the same protections that media have always enjoyed, but our media traditions have decayed and Wikileaks may be pushing what would've been the boundaries that were there at their healthiest.

On the central questions, I am strongly inclined to think that Wikileaks-style disclosure on most topics is very important, but I don't want commitment to that style of openness to be a suicide pact. I'm comfortable with Wikileaks in their classical role of digging up dirt on government and business in modernised nations, but I've retreated from my initial gusto at the release of the military documents to being uneasy - I would love the openness we have with that information release if it doesn't preclude the possibility of having a reasonable resolution (or as close as we might expect) to our regional involvement, I would consider stifling of that information worthwhile but regretful if it made possible such a resolution, and if such a resolution is impossible I would like to go with the openness because it may have a transformative effect (in the long term) on the politics of those countries. I don't have good enough ability to weigh the effects or situations to turn this into an actual opinion on the war leaks, and I'm not prepared to pass judgement.

All this is considered in the light of the idea that Assange's politics are very different than mine, and that I consider the Afghan effort to be fundamentally well-intentioned and the route, roughly speaking, I would have western forces take to deal with the issues. Assange's efforts make a real discussion (with non-PR-cleared details) possible, which in the general case I appreciate.

Personal life: temporarily complicated but in a good way.