Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, had moved 37 times by the time he reached his 14th birthday. His mother didn’t enroll him in the local schools because, as Raffi Khatchadourian wrote in a New Yorker profile, she feared “that formal education would inculcate an unhealthy respect for authority.”
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She needn’t have worried. As a young computer hacker, he formed a group called International Subversives. As an adult, he wrote “Conspiracy as Governance,” a pseudo-intellectual online diatribe. He talks of vast “patronage networks” that constrain the human spirit.
Far from respecting authority, Assange seems to be an old-fashioned anarchist who believes that all ruling institutions are corrupt and public pronouncements are lies.
Phi Beta Iota: We like David Brooks. He’s less submissive than David Ignatius, less pretentious than Fareed Zakaria, and generally has something interesting to say. In this piece, most revealingly, he displays his limitations to the fullest. We are quite certain that David Brooks means well, but the depth of his naivete in this piece is nothing short of astonishing. The below lists of lists of book reviews will suffice to demonstrate that David Brooks is not as well-read as he needs to be, not as intellectual as he pretends to be, and not at all accurate in his assessment of Julian Assange. We share with Steven Aftergood of Federation of American Scientists (FAS) concerns about Assange’s judgment in releasing some materials that are gratuitous invasions of rightful privacy, but we also believe that Assange is finding his groove, and the recent cover story in Forbes captures that essence. WikiLeaks is an antidote to corporate fascism and elective Empire run amok. It meets a need.
Two things happened to Sandra Bullock this month. First, she won an Academy Award for best actress. Then came the news reports claiming that her husband is an adulterous jerk. So the philosophic question of the day is: Would you take that as a deal? Would you exchange a tremendous professional triumph for a severe personal blow?
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If the relationship between money and well-being is complicated, the correspondence between personal relationships and happiness is not. The daily activities most associated with happiness are sex, socializing after work and having dinner with others. The daily activity most injurious to happiness is commuting. According to one study, joining a group that meets even just once a month produces the same happiness gain as doubling your income. According to another, being married produces a psychic gain equivalent to more than $100,000 a year.
If you want to find a good place to live, just ask people if they trust their neighbors. Levels of social trust vary enormously, but countries with high social trust have happier people, better health, more efficient government, more economic growth, and less fear of crime (regardless of whether actual crime rates are increasing or decreasing).
My good friend Werther had this to say about David Brookes’ op-ed, “The Tenacity Question,” in the 29 October 09 of the New York Times, which argued that the solution to Afghanistan was a simple question of mustering willpower.
“The sleep of reason breeds monsters.”
As yet more evidence for why the newspaper industry is in an apparently terminal decline, yesterday the New York Times published neoconservative columnist David Brooks’ justification for more quagmire in Afghanistan.
There are so many things wrong with his reasoning that we can only skim the surface.