Archive for July 26th, 2010
At Common Dreams, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange explains why he published the confidential U.S. military documents regarding Afghanistan:
These files are the most comprehensive description of a war to be published during the course of a war — in other words, at a time when they still have a chance of doing some good. They cover more than 90,000 different incidents, together with precise geographical locations. They cover the small and the large. A single body of information, they eclipse all that has been previously said about Afghanistan. They will change our perspective on not only the war in Afghanistan, but on all modern wars . . . This material shines light on the everyday brutality and squalor of war. The archive will change public opinion and it will change the opinion of people in positions of political and diplomatic influence. . .
We all only live once. So we are obligated to make good use of the time that we have, and to do something that is meaningful and satisfying. This is something that I find meaningful and satisfying. That is my temperament. I enjoy creating systems on a grand scale, and I enjoy helping people who are vulnerable. And I enjoy crushing bastards. So it is enjoyable work.
Here is the location of the Wikileaks Afghanistan documents. Glenn Greenwald applauds the leak, and condemns the U.S. governments failure to be forthright about the waste of lives and money regarding the U.S. adventure in Afghanistan:
WikiLeaks has yet again proven itself to be one of the most valuable and important organizations in the world. Just as was true for the video of the Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad, there is no valid justification for having kept most of these documents a secret. But that’s what our National Security State does reflexively: it hides itself behind an essentially absolute wall of secrecy to ensure that the citizenry remains largely ignorant of what it is really doing. WikiLeaks is one of the few entities successfully blowing holes in at least parts of that wall . . .
David McCandless created an amazing graphic recently, contrasting the amount of time Americans spend watching television each year with the cumulative amount of time it has taken to create Wikipedia. Check this out:
The graphic illustrates what author Clay Shirkey calls “cognitive surplus”, or spare brainpower that exists, simply waiting to be engaged. How much of that brainpower is being wasted watching television?
This got me thinking, and I remembered a recent Newsweek article which pointed out that creativity is declining in America. Even as intelligence (measured by IQ) is rising, creativity (measured by CQ) is declining:
Like intelligence tests, Torrance’s test—a 90-minute series of discrete tasks, administered by a psychologist—has been taken by millions worldwide in 50 languages. Yet there is one crucial difference between IQ and CQ scores. With intelligence, there is a phenomenon called the Flynn effect—each generation, scores go up about 10 points. Enriched environments are making kids smarter. With creativity, a reverse trend has just been identified and is being reported for the first time here: American creativity scores are falling.
What’s at fault for this phenomenon? Television and video games share at least part of the blame:
It’s too early to determine conclusively why U.S. creativity scores are declining. One likely culprit is the number of hours kids now spend in front of the TV and playing videogames rather than engaging in creative activities. Another is the lack of creativity development in our schools. In effect, it’s left to the luck of the draw who becomes creative: there’s no concerted effort to nurture the creativity of all children.
So, how much time is spent watching television, and how do people feel about the use of their time? Check out these statistics (source):
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