July 3, 2013
Crisis + Varia: Dictionary, Stasi, Totalitarian, Journalists, Sturgeon, Healy
    "Those who sacrifice liberty for
      security deserve neither."
         -- Benjamin Franklin

Prev- crisis -Next

1.  Dictionary: The OED of the NSA
Memories of the Stasi
3.  A turnkey totalitarian state
4.  Arrest Obama and Bush, if you arrest Snowden
The life of Theodore Sturgeon
6.  Healy and the RIAT-Act
About ME/CFS


It still is the case that sleeping remains quite difficult for me. This also makes my life rather difficult, at the moment.

Anyway. Yesterday there was an item in the crisis-series, with materials on Snowden and Drake, and a bit of diversion of Bill Maher, and today I've also a split: The first four items are about the NSA and Snowden's revelations; the last two are about Theodore Sturgeon and David Healy, that is, about a good writer and a good doctor (though in either case it's more about the work they do than the persons they are).

1. Dictionary: The OED of the NSA

I start today with dictionary matters, by Tom Engelhardt, who directs TomDispatch:
This starts as follows, quite justifiedly so:

In the months after September 11, 2001, it was regularly said that “everything” had changed.  It’s a claim long forgotten, buried in everyday American life.  Still, if you think about it, in the decade-plus that followed -- the years of the PATRIOT Act, “enhanced interrogation techniques,” “black sites,” robot assassination campaigns, extraordinary renditions, the Abu Ghraib photos, the Global War on Terror, and the first cyberwarpurse strings that followed, grew in ways that would have been alien even at the height of the Cold War, when there was another giant, nuclear-armed imperial power on planet Earth.

Unfortunately, the language we use to describe the world of the national security state is still largely stuck in the pre-9/11 era.  No wonder, for example, it’s hard to begin to grasp the staggering size and changing nature of the world of secret surveillance that Edward Snowden’s recent revelations have allowed us a peek at.  If there are no words available to capture the world that is watching us, all of us, we’ve got a problem.

The problem is to adapt English to tyranny. Tom Engelhardt has quite a few entries - over 20 - already, and you can send in your own: This is a good idea.

2. Memories of the Stasi

Next, I noticed few seem to take the news really serious, and suggest the reason is mostly intelligence, in the senses of power to think and adequate information.

Then again, I also noted especially the German government seems to be reacting more or less OK, and indeed its president, Angela Merkel, was raised in East Germany, where the Stasi ruled.

Here is a link to an item that is - again - by McClatchy, written by Matthew Schofield:
It cites a 73-year old former lieutenant colonel of the Stasi, to the following effects:

You know, for us, this would have been a dream come true.  So much information, on so many people.
The dark side to gathering such a broad, seemingly untargeted, amount of information is obvious.
It is the height of naivete to think that once collected this information won’t be used. This is the nature of secret government organizations.

There is quite a bit more under the last link, including a nice picture of German demonstrators who have transformed Obama's 2008 election promise to what it should have been: "YES WE SCAN".

3. A turnkey totalitarian state

The phrase seems to be of William Binney, who claims the American people are only a tiny distance removed from it, and it is in Washington Blog's

Here is the William Binney quote:

Top NSA whistleblower William Binney – the former head of the National Security Agency’s global digital data gathering program – held his thumb and forefinger close together over a year ago, and said:

We are, like, that far from a turnkey totalitarian state

As to the forty years: Here is Zbigniew Brzezinski (<- NL link) writing in 1970:

The [future] era involves the gradual appearance of a more controlled society. Such a society would be dominated by an elite, unrestrained by traditional values. Soon it will be possible to assert almost continuous surveillance over every citizen and maintain up-to-date complete files containing even the most personal information about the citizen. These files will be subject to instantaneous retrieval by the authorities.

And here is Senator Frank Church (<- Wikipedia) from 1975:

I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.

And he also said in 1975 (with a small bit of Washington's Blog):

[NSA's] capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.  [If a dictator ever took over, the N.S.A.] could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back.

The NSA has, of course, turned its capability around on the American people.

The point is that there is no effective control whatsoever of the NSA, and it will not get there either with the Obama government, as is, at least, nor will most journalists do their real jobs.

4. Arrest Obama and Bush, if you arrest Snowden

As to the dangers and the qualities of journalists - with exceptions, to be sure: See these two items by The Young Turks, both videos [1]:

This is by one of the very few real news organizations in the U.S. (There are some more, but it is quite astounding how little there is left these days - or so it seems to me, who is not a U.S. citizen, but who is informed.)

The life of Theodore Sturgeon

Now for something entirely different.

Does any of my readers know who was Theodore Sturgeon (1918-1985)?
I suppose the few who have, know him as the originator of Sturgeon's Law or Revelation:
"Ninety percent of everything is crap"
which can be found in the Hackers' Dictionary aka Jargon File.

But he was much more, and most notably one of the few science fiction writers who can or could write. The best proof of that is
More than human
The last link is to the Wikipedia entry for it, that is reasonably well done.

I am a fan of him since the early seventies, when I first read "More than human", which I think I knew about because I had an American girl friend then. He also wrote a number of other books, that I have all read, and some 200 stories, that I did mostly not read.

In fact, my main reason to write about him
now is that I found a good site about him:
which is by a physicist, Eric R. Weeks, who is at Emory University. This is a good collection, although - while it is maintained, it seems: it certainly was in 2011 - quite a few links ceased to work. But there are many which still do work, and they are quite interesting.

Also, Eric R. Weeks is a fan, but he is not an idolator, as can be seen from some of his reviews:
I believe I think more of "More than human", and not as much as he does about some of the other novels, but then we are all different.

Finally, if you are interested at all, do not miss the faq Eric Weeks compiled:
and also check out this:
for it contains a good and fairly long essay by Paul Williams. [2]

Healy and the RIAT-Act

Finally, a bit more about dr. David Healy and the RIAT-act. First dr. Healy's blog about it:
I quote to show how serious the situation is and what it is meant to accomplish:

Unpublished and misreported studies make it difficult to determine the true value of a treatment. Around half of all clinical trials for the medicines we use today have never been published – and a whole range of widely used drugs have been represented as safer and more effective than they are, putting patients at risk and wasting public money.

The authors of the declaration, led by Peter Doshi, a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, will contact manufacturers of trials, asking them to signal their intent within 30 days to publish previously unpublished trials and formally correct previously misreported trials (i.e., to restore abandoned trials).

Also, this happens with the collaboration of the British Medical Journal.

If you are interested, here are
and here is an explanation of its significance and importance:
And here is the first paragraph of the first item:
Well designed and well performed randomised controlled trials
are considered to provide the most reliable evidence on the
effects of health related interventions. However, the credibility
of findings from individual trials and from summaries of trials
examining a similar research question (that is, systematic
reviews and meta-analyses) has been undermined by numerous
reporting biases in the published medical literature.1-14 Reporting
biases are often difficult to detect, but have the potential to
discredit earnest efforts towards evidence based decision
This really is important, indeed for medicine in general.
[1] This is news by a good news organization, and this is alas rare in the US. But they do seem to gave close to a million members now, and over a billion hits. (I have neither a cell-phone nor a computerized bank-account, and don't take memberships. Also, I have very little money and a bad disease.)

[2] There are more good writers: See my
Some Favourite Books & Authors that listed 115 (books) of them, on April 4 2010. Some of them are a lot greater than Sturgeon - e.g. Hazlitt and Schopenhauer, as are many others on the list, but it does contain two of Sturgeon's books as well.

About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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