Tuesday, June 29, 2010

WikiLeaks (late but not out-of-date)

Since the publication of Raffi Katchadourian's piece on WikiLeaks in the June 7 issue, some relevant news has broken - (1) a US soldier claimed to be the WikiLeaker who shared the Project B video footage and (2) uh, someone published a little something in Rolling Stone. The WikiLeaks piece was, as of June 29, still (again?) high on the list - in the #3 position - for most emailed, which is a little unusual. And in the issue of TNY that arrived June 30, the first Comment (often, I feel, the best piece in the whole magazine) is on McChrystal. Or not. Rather, it is, as it should be, on the misguided Afghanistan war policy.

In any case, reaction to Michael Hasting's Rolling Stone article seems, to me, to cast light on the dark end of the piece:
"The Web site’s strengths—its near-total imperviousness to lawsuits and government harassment—make it an instrument for good in societies where the laws are unjust. But, unlike authoritarian regimes, democratic governments hold secrets largely because citizens agree that they should, in order to protect legitimate policy. In liberal societies, the site’s strengths are its weaknesses. Lawsuits, if they are fair, are a form of deterrence against abuse. Soon enough, Assange must confront the paradox of his creation: the thing that he seems to detest most—power without accountability—is encoded in the site’s DNA, and will only become more pronounced as WikiLeaks evolves into a real institution."

Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/06/07/100607fa_fact_khatchadourian?currentPage=all#ixzz0sGBfknQU
In the conclusion that frames this passage, there seems to be an implication that "democratic governments" and "liberal societies" includes the good ol' U.S.A. and so we, as readers, should worry more about the abuses WikiLeaks might perpetrate than the good it might do. But if we realize that Hastings report wasn't just about name calling, but rather about policy (see Rachel Maddow, the actual article, etc) then things shift a bit. And the anti-Hastings media backlash (from, say Lara Logan at CBS) in which he's accused of breaking some code or vow of silence or something is dangerous. When it comes to bad Afghanistan policy, I've NOT agreed that my government and its free press can "hold secrets" "in order to protect legitimate policy." Quite the opposite. Hence the need for WikiLeaks.

See also, Amy Davidson's excellent TNY blog post, on the issue (Afghanistan and the press, not WikiLeaks) - "Defending Rolling Stone."

In other news, Eugenides' story was also still among the most emailed (my dad liked it, I read it) and I'm trying to keep up with TNY online a bit more - I actually activated my online subscription and I'm using the lovely iPhone app.


Monday, June 21, 2010

eat me

Elif Batuman, "Letter from Istanbul, The Memory Kitchen." From the abstract: "The writer notes that food has never played a large role in her mental life, but that night at Çiya, she viscerally understood why someone might use a madeleine dipped in tea as a metaphor for the spiritual content of the material world."

Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/04/19/100419fa_fact_batuman#ixzz0rVWEPd5c

I really wanted to read an article about food in Istanbul. When the author admitted that she wasn't that interested in food herself, I was intrigued. When she made the ol' Proust reference, I put down the magazine. Enough already.

But really, how cool is this? In a food essay! "I get so confused by nutritional, budgetary, ecological, ethical, aesthetic, and time-managment concerns that I often subsist for weeks on instant oatmeal and multi-vitamins." Maybe I'll try again now that I'm better rested and less testy.