Monday, January 17, 2011

Turd in the punchbowl

Rest in peace Major Richard Dick Winters. Now I don't this guy personally of course, but the impressive "Band of Brothers" series showed the actions of Easy-Company during WW II pretty well. Yes, asides from taking part on a couple of key battles, they really entered the Eagle's nest, discovered a concentration camp, and had that little soap with Capt. Sobel (the real one, not that guy from Friends). War, isn't it romantic? Well...

Maybe you can't care less, but here another opinion from a computer geek about Julian Assange & Wikileaks. Saw a coverage on a Belgium TV channel, so the type machine in my head started ticking.

Before starting, once again you and me should be happy we are free to write on a place like this. In my particular case, I might need to thank Easy-Company for that as well(operation Market Garden wasn't that far from here). Sure, maybe the Pentagon is watching, but so far I'm not really limited when being critical, or making jokes about Jesus balls. Wait, what is that car with the blinded windows doing outside here all day?

I haven't read through all those leaked documents. Only heard a few on the radio. Was it world-shocking? No, not really. I found the American opinions about other politicians & leaders in this world rather amusing. Especially "Batman & Robin", Poetin and Medvedev, was striking :)
Come on, EVERYONE talks shit about others. And so do countries and their leaders. Was it really necessary to leak that info? I mean, you can claim you have nothing to hide. But if some friend hacks your SMS and email accounts, I'm damn sure they'll be finding little secrets or nasty things you said about friends, your boss, your girl, your penis or whatever it is. Spreading such info is... a little bit childish. We want transparency, yet privacy at the same time. That collides…

More serious are the videos like the U.S. Apache above Baghdad of course. What you see there is horrifying. A pilot who pulls the trigger, tearing apart a group of "terrorists". Even more shocking is the radio communication. The other guy on the line permits to fire, without even asking or hesitating. As if they simply had to sweep a dirty floor... Does these guys have beards? Well let the .30 mm hollow point spit already. However, such images were already available before Wikileaks. And sure they are 100% wrong. But does it surprise? It's a damn war there. Or did you think everybody played by the rules in the romantic 40's? War is ugly per definition. And when seeing documentaries like "Restrepo" on National Geographic, it doesn't surprise me at all that some flip out completely. Is that an excuse? Certainly not, but we shouldn't act as if we never expected this either. That's just naive, stupid, or lying.

Another leak. Parts of the Player(first concept). Should we be transparent and throw all the game info on the table right now? Or is it better to keep it hidden for now?

Julian... Good or wrong? Internet-hero of freedom, or a turd in the punchbowl (Southpark), trying to make havoc? First, let's forget a moment about this Assange guy. Whether he is a girl raping devil or Mickey Mouse, it doesn't change the fact of sensitive documents being leaked & the contents of them. The goal of the Wikileaks organization (and the likes) is not just to share information. It's trying to force transparent politics, “true democracy”.

Yeah, one can't deny a lot of mysterious stuff is going on. I'm not the type of guy who believes 9-11 was an inside job, or clamping to conspiracies that also just rely on a few vague "sources". If you can't trust the government, then why trust "ctrlAlrDel H@ckEr '86" then? But you shouldn't close your eyes either when Michael More has something to say. Shit happens, all over the place. And it's not just America and their war on terrorism. North Korea & deathcamps, China & censoring, Holland & billion costing projects, uniting European countries, justice going wrong because of “mistakes”, Bilderberg group, pharmaceutical companies, oil concerns, Africa & Corruption. And all the stories about Soviet/Communistic regimes we are reading for Tower22 doesn't cheer up the vision about mankind either.

Does money & power turn people into selfish beasts? Or are only the selfish beasts attracted to (political) positions that provide money & power in the first place? I dare to say many of the politicians have their own agenda's, and sure not all for the good. If the system would be forced to make their plans and ideals transparent, wouldn't that make a better world on the longer term? I think so, really. We are not talking about cheating a little bit while playing Super Mario Kart. We are talking about serious issues, having effect on millions of people.

Off-topic. With reading juicy background info about the Soviet era and such, this is what I mean. Finding reference websites is part of the job to give drawers & modelers happy inspiration. This cozy town is somewhere in Siberia. Yes, even the weather sucks there.

But as with most of these almost utopia-ideals, the world doesn't work that way. Or at least, not yet. What if the Western world suddenly sais "Sorry Julian. Here a lollypop, and from now on we share everything". Would he be happy, or is this just a personal crusade against U.S.A.? Anyway, information and knowledge is a powerful thing. Not only for us voters that believe in democracy. Also for "the enemy". And I'm not talking about a bunch of “Allahu Akbar!!” yelling, running bombs. Do you really think other important players like Russia, China, Iran or North Korea would sign this "be cool, be transparent" contract? Or how about more local criminals? Tribes, gangs, mafia, extremists, drug cartels?

Great goods like the freedom of speech, voting, social support, or human rights are also our fragile weaknesses, as they are easy to abuse. Why not kick the balls if you don't have to play by the rules anyway? Other regimes, criminals, or extremists know that very well. You can try to be the best kid from class all the time, but you'll have to play hard if you want to win. If everyone uses steroids in Tour the France, there is not much else you can do except becoming one of them.

Politicians master this game, and know when to cheat way better than we normal people, not caring too much about money & power. Then who is right in the end? I'm afraid no one is. A social worker with the heart on the right place can't run a profit-making business between all the competition. Sure he/she wants to do it right, but a naïve attitude at the wrong place brings the whole company in danger.

Sharing all our information is like disarming the whole world from nuclear weapons, except North Korea; it only works if EVERYONE plays according rules. Which is clearly not going to happen anywhere soon.

So, is leaking all wrong then? No, I guess not. Look, this whole thing started the discussion about our ethics, politics and global roles on this planet. And for you and me, yet another showcase not to follow everything blindly. Always think for yourself. You have to start somewhere if you want to make a revolution. Maybe a more subtle way would have been wise, although... People don't tend to change old rusty habits, unless they are confronted with drastic news. Tell a smoker that he will die if he doesn't stop, and he will laugh. Tell that we screw up the environment, and we will be laconic. Show some soldiers who shoot an injured men, and we will say "Oh well, war is hell". It takes some dead relatives to set the smoker in motion. It takes a big (overdone) movie from Al Gore to start those brains thinking about the environment. And it might just as well take a massive leak to start questioning our governments and "democracy". Small doses don't help, as we like to face away from problems. NIMBY, Not in my backyard.

NIMBY? What strikes me in many "Soviet inspiration" pictures is that EVERYTHING is left behind as if… Godzilla suddenly appeared on the scene. For example, why not having a sub-marine in your backyard?

Good or wrong...? I can't chose, it's not black and white. Personally I think Wikileaks and the likes should think better about the possible consequences. What if Batman & Robin decide to break contact with the Western World. Does that makes us all better? What if Afghan helpers get found and slaughtered by Taliban? What if a crazy bored fool gets the lay-out of a nuclear power plant in your country? What if ...? One shouldn't live in fear, but thinking that people won't hurt each other is naive.

But ok, the leaking already happened. Whether you agree or not, let's focus on the future. It would be nice if America wouldn't respond that harsh on this whole WikiLeak thing. Dangerous or not, learn something from it. And not how-to hide information better the next time, but to stop lying and to prevent "incidents" like Abu Ghraib or pilots playing Call of Duty. Don't shoot the messenger (literally, in the case of Julian who probably has some sleepless nights). The same lesson goes for all the other leaders. Take responsibility for your deeds.

But to be honest, I'm afraid that's just wishful thinking. Business has to go on, with all the related unethical aspects. Therefore I tend not to care too much about. Just make the best of your own lives and help the ones who come along your path.

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