Interview on The Most Dangerous Man in the World

ABC’s interview with an insightful biographer of Jullian Assange, shedding some light into his childhood and mentality. It appears to me to be the most evenhanded and personal description of Assange by far. Note: the title “The Most Dangerous Man in the World” is a tribute to Daniel Ellsberg the original “Most Dangerous Man”

Japan’s Earthquake, Wikileaks and Journalism

Another week another wikileaks bombshell drop on the political establishment, this time in Japan. Apparently Japan’s government has been warn by IAEA about its nuclear plants two years ago. Continue reading

A hit job on Wikileaks

Joshua Keating an otherwise excellent blogger of international affairs for Foreign Policy‘s blog Passport (i am a subscriber), wrote a blog piece that oddly seems like a slanderous hit job on Wikileaks. Probably socialized by his pals at the State Department into hating Wikileaks, i dont know.

The post is titled “Collaborate with WikiLeaks at your own risk”. It accuse Wikileaks of “no longer seems very good at protecting its sources.” Then imply that Wikileaks has something to do with the arrest of PFC Bradley Manning and soon-to-be-arrest of Swiss banker Rudolf Elmer; and generally abandon its original mission.

From Passport:

[Wikileaks] now relies more on cooperation with major news outlets like the Guardian and the New York Times rather than its own website, which can no longer really be described as a Wiki. WikiLeaks’ primary adeversaries these days are global superpowers and the world’s most powerful corporations, rather than the “oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East” who were its original stated targets.

But perhaps most important for the WikiLeaks project, the site no longer seems very good at protecting its sources. Pfc. Bradley Manning, the U.S. soldier thought to be the source of the Afghan and Iraq war logs as well as the WikiLeaks cables, has been held a detention center in Quantico, Va. for the last five months without even a pre-trial hearing, kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day and prevented from excercising or sleeping during the day. WikiLeaks dragged its feet for months on a pledge to donate money to his defense fund.

Yesterday, Swiss banker Rudolf Elmer was arrested by Swiss authorities after handing over two CDs of client data to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Elmer had just avoided jail time related to a previous release of data to WikiLeaks in 2007.

Granted, Elmer’s motives seem more than a little suspect and he had no interest in anonymity — he handed over the data to Assange at a news conference. But the fact that the sources behind WikiLeaks’ biggest revelations are winding up in jail — contradicting the site’s original stated purpose — doesn’t bode very well for its ability to continue attracting whistleblowers.

This post have no obviously journalistic value, other than demonstrating the negative bias Joshua Keating have toward Wikileaks.
I was going to write a retort of this sleazy hit job on Wikileaks but instead of i am just going to quote a commentator signed “J-BENTHAM”. Links in the quotation are obviously mine.

Misleading and Untrue

This piece contains elements that are misleading and untrue.

Wikileaks does rely on cooperation with the Times and the Guardian, but it alone hosts the entire document database, surely an arduous task.

Given the recent Tunisian revolt brought about by Wikileaks revelations, I think that it’s difficult to say that Wikileaks has not done enough in the Middle Eastern realm.

Bradley Manning was responsible for his own arrest, revealing himself as the one responsible for the release of thousands of documents and the collateral murder video. To imply that the intolerable way in which he is being treated is the fault of Wikileaks as opposed to the U.S government is wrong.

Neither is Wikileaks responsible for the release of Elmer’s name, as the author mentions. In fact, Wikileaks couldn’t have been responsible due to the way its publishing system is set up. It does not know the identity of its sources. The author of this piece seems to know this at the beginning, and then apparently not.

The reason Wikileaks has not contributed to Manning’s defence fund is because the organization itself is struggling to stay afloat. It is by no means “dragging its feat.”

Knock it off! Joshy

Progressive paradox and transparency

Progressives laudably seek to oppose injustice by deploying government power as a countervailing force against the imagined opressive and exploitative tendencies of market institutions. Yet it seems that time and again market institutions find ways to use the government’s regulatory and insurer-of-last-resort functions as countervailing forces against their competitors and, in the end, against the very public these functions were meant to protect.

Democracy in America, The Economist on the paradox of progressive ideology.
Well written, but the author seem to forget that progressives do have a solution to this paradox, namely transparency. This is precisely why it was so disgusting when progressives comes out against Wikileaks. Finger pointed at you and your crew, Obama.

Posted from Android

No, supporting Wikileaks will not hurt your career

I am guessing that many of those who aspire to one day to join the ranks of elites in government or corporations are asking them self “will publicly voicing my support for Wikileaks’s causes hurt my career?” “Why would a position of power which certainly encompasses handling secrets be given to a person who supported Wikileaks’s cause?” Are you asking you self these questions?, I am that students of Columbia are.

To me thats just silly. Its like asking “will supporting free speech hurt my career?”
But let me elaborate and offer you three reasons why it wont hurt your career to support Wikileaks.

1. Everyone is a potential whistleblower
Even without what Wikileaks has achieved, every employee should be treated like a potential whistleblower, regardless of whether or not s/he has supported Wikileaks in the past. Now, thats more true than ever. The success of WIkileaks in the recent saga had demarcate the legal limites of what can be published. Thus the field is set for emulators and whistleblower to sprout, just like how Napster inspire legions P2P services. The culture of transparency will proliferate. All organization should operate as if all information could be leaked. Worrying about whistleblowers will be a thing of the past.

2. You wouldn’t want to work there anyway
An organization that decline candidates who have voice support for Wikileaks in the past is an organization that fear employees who after joining the company, befriending colleagues, seeing information in context and from the perspective of the organization, might still risk losing their job, friends and open them self to law suit or even incarceration to leak information. That is an organization doing some nasty stuff, their reign wont last long, so you wouldn’t want to work there anyway. Ask you self, would you have liked to work in Enron?

3. Its good to hire candidates who publicly supported Wikileaks
Why? Because their public support of Wikileaks in the past once known will provide a public confident boost for the company that hires them. Wouldn’t it make your more confortable to know that the CEO of the maker of baby milk your daughter is drinking once supported Wikileaks? Or, that the incoming attorney general defended Wikileaks? *cough* hire me *cough*

There you have it, stand for whats right and you will be alright. 🙂

The Social Network, movie of the year and reflecting on the last decade.

The Social Network is the movie of the year or the decade perhaps. For, while its direction masterful, it was the subtext of the story of Facebook so reflective of the last decade that enticed me

“They dont want you, they want your idea”
The rise of Facebook symbolise the pinnacle prominence of idea, over shadowing everything else. Dont get me wrong, ideas has always been prized since Schumpeter wrote Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy and popularise the term creative destruction. But, never before has the value of ideas so convincingly trumps all other factors of production. In the information age where Facebook inhibits, credit are plenty, labor are cheap, land are irrelevant and raw material unneeded. Karl Marx will be rolling in his grave. With the Facebook idea, Mark Zuckerberg was able to attract troves of talent and cash. Google had the same quality, but Facebook surpass it. It took about a year for google to receive their first hundred thousand dollar from an angel investor, but for Faceoobk it only took four months before it was showered with five hundred thousand cold cold cash. Facebook was worth 15 billion in 2007, two years before it could even turn a profit. Google was worth 23 billion in 2004 after it 3 years of continuous profitability. How time have changed in such short notice.

“A million dollar isn’t cool, do you know what’s cool, its a billion dollar”
Cash, and lots of it. For the majority of 2000s, Americans were swimming in pool of cash fill by the low Federal Reserve interest rate and Asian savings. Without all this cheap money, Facebook would probably never have raise finance the way it did. The decade was an bubble economy, people and banks were over-leveraging, buying houses and making financial bets that they cant afford. The mountain of wealth built on a house of cards came crushing down and drove us to near depression in 2008. We survive the crush to live with the consequence.

“Relationship status: it’s complicated”
Google Earth, Wikipedia, Second Life, Four Square, Wikileaks and a lot of last ten years was about the digitalization of our reality. Our reality because its base on our perspective. With social media like Facebook we even digitalize our social relationships. In a sense, this should not alarm us, because it bough us back to where we were for most of human existence until the the mass urbanization during the industrial age. We were people of small villages of hundreds rather than mega-cities of hundreds of millions. Everybody knows everybody in small villages, reputation were important. No as much so in mega-cities, you can hook-up with a different girl every night in New York without any of them ever knowing each other. Social media, Facebook in particular reverse that trend. Now people fear getting tagged on Facebook in places or people they dont want to be seen with, and receiving friend request from their mothers. Employer check you up before you are hired. Now, internet reputation is as important as village reputation was.

In summation
In the decade of 2001~2010, the world (Asian countries mostly) worked hard and saved while the Americans rack up mountain of debt and pool their talents to develop the idea of Facebook so that we can know each other better. It  has been fun. The party, of course had to end in the fall of 2008. Good times.

My other post on The Social Network.

Defending Wikileaks: if its not perfect, dont do it.

I am not too sure if i should pay any attention to these dumb arguments. But since Andrew Sullivan find this criticism repeatable, i guess its worth the time to write a rebuttal.

The criticism:
“He hopes for a perfect market and believes that we can achieve perfection if we just have perfect information. He says, “To put it simply, in order for there to be a market, there has to be information. A perfect market requires perfect information.” In other words, if we can just make all information free and freely available, we can finally enjoy market perfection.

Naturally the Christian must disagree here. There can be no perfect market when markets are run by humans who are, at heart, entirely imperfect. There can be no market utopia this side of eternity. There can only be varying degrees of corruption. And what this means is that Assange’s entire philosophy is broken and impossible to achieve.” –

The rebuttal:
Wikileaks is not trying to achieve perfect information, no sane person will take on that goal, its as said impossible. The philosophy behind Wikileaks is the believe that powers (or as i like to call them “the establishment”) of the world are abusive, wikileaks wish to reform power by exposing information that the establishment want to keep secret. Perfect information is never their goal.
Furthermore, even if we assume that perfect information is a goal of Wikileaks. His imply argument in the second paragraph is still fallacious. Just because perfect information cannot be achieved does not mean that every bit of information about the abuse of power cannot help reduce abuses. The absurdity of that logic can easily be detected by adding any thing bad into the blank of the following sentence.

if we cant get rid of all _________, we should not try to get rid of even one?

For example:
if we cant get rid of all corrupt cops, we should not try to get rid of even one?
if we cant get rid of all toxic material, we should not try to get rid of even one?
if we cant get rid of all land mines, we should not try to get rid of even one?
if we cant get rid of all criminals, we should not try to get rid of even one?

See the absurdity?

There is another criticism of Wikileaks in that blog post it falls under the “slippery slope argument” which has been discussed here.