1. Can American's Change the
Agenda of Extreme Spying?
3. Rereading Lucretius
This is apart from the first item not about the crisis.
My reasons are
that I could find little about the crisis; that I am tired; and that,
therefore, I want to write about something else today, though my guess
is that it will interest few.
Anyway... if I sleep better and there is more material tomorrow, I'll
return to that tomorrow.
There is one item on the crisis, and it is this, namely a video by TYT
aka The Young Turks of some 5 minutes:
My main reason to list it is
that the questions of secrecy and the completely deceptive use of
language by the U.S. government are at least posed and commented
As to the question posed: Joe Average, with an IQ of 100 or less, is not
worried about being spied upon, if indeed he understands it, and his
reason is that he runs no risks.
And this is probably true: The ones running risks are the
have higher IQs than close to 100, and who try to use their gifts
creatively. Thanks to the democratic average there may be soon a lot
less of the higher gifted, in so far as these are not born among the
rich and have original ideas. (I do not know, but this may well
it will come down to, with an NSA that knows everything about everyone:
only those with the right mental attitudes may live in "liberty".)
2. Rereading Boswell
I have written about Boswell and
Johnson in Nederlog before: The last link gives the proof.
It is from 2008 and in Dutch but it does mention the tomes by Boswell
that I have been rereading lately, for I mostly spend my life in a
large room that also contains around 4000 books, that I mostly have
read, at least once.
The tomes are really by Boswell and are also mostly about Boswell. I
the following four, all published in the 1950ies: "Boswell's
London Journal", "Boswell in Holland", "Boswell
on the Grand Tour", and "Boswell in search of a wife".
I bought these, second hand, as I almost always buy non-mathematical
books, in the early 1980ies, when I also read them. There are more
volumes in the series, but I never found them in a second hand
bookshop, and probably the other volumes are (or were) also less
So now I have mostly reread them, with an interval of some 30 years
between the two readings, and it turned out that I had reasonably well
remembered the important events.
Why did I buy these books, read them, and after 30 years read them
I suppose the main answer is: curiosity, plus the facts that Boswell
was a fairly interesting man and that the 18th Century was a
Also, he has a somewhat interesting tale to tell in these books, that
includes meetings and discussions with Rousseau and with Voltaire;
Boswell's repeated fights with his melancholia, that was quite real;
what he did do during the days, including his visits to prostitutes
(which are not fully described, in case you were curious).
My guess is that very few will be interested, and that the very few who
are presently need a good university library (that may not exist
anymore, e.g. in
Holland ). I have given my reasons to read them,
that included the
idea that the 18th
Century was an interesting age, and especially in Great Britain and
about which I have learned rather a lot, mostly accidentally, namely
through my interests in writers of that age.
I think that life then was rather a lot like life now, except that it
was tougher, less clean, on average shorter, and also, among the
gifted, far less given to idiotic propaganda
- "public relations" - than this time is, even though there were more
3. Rereading Lucretius
I was not certain whether I wrote about Lucretius in Nederlog, but I
just did a search and found he was mentioned 62 times in Nederlog, but
only as an aside, as someone worth reading.
Well, I have reread my Loeb Classical Library volume of him, that I
bought and read in 1986, though that was after missing an earlier
also not in Loeb, that I probably had from the early 1970ies or the
Or rather, and unlike Boswell, in which there are no underlinings: I
reread my underlinings, for that is why I buy books: to
underline and comment them, which I know is quite uncommon.
I do not do this with all books, but I do it with many, and it
turned out to be most helpful: I really do not need to (re)read
anything else, and anyway it is a good idea to read a book with a
pencil ready, and to mark or annotate what strikes one. Also, I have
been doing this for over 40 years, and indeed I know of very few who
did the same: most "lovers of books" try to keep them unsullied, if
possible also with the original wrapping, and neither annotate nor
underline, all with the effect that of the great majorituy of readers
you can neither be sure
what they have read nor what they thought about it.
Lucretius I have reread several times, the last 40 years, and the main
reason is that he really is good, even though he seems to have died at
55 B.C.: His ideas of doing science, and indeed of doing philosophy,
only got picked up the last 150 or 250 years or so (and never by "the
This does not mean that he didn't miss quite a few things - electricity
would have fascinated him, for one example - but it does mean that his
outlook is mostly scientific, and it also shows that the scientific
outlook does go back a long time (and before Lucretius there are
Epicurus and Democritus, and it is especially Epicurus's philosophy
that Lucretius tries to explain, clarify and apply).
And again my assumption is that he is for the few only, but I find it
inspiring that a man who lived at the same time as did Caesar and
Cicero - even before Christ's birth, and before the Bible - had such
very sensible ideas and explanatory schemes. How much might
have been different if his ideas had triumphed, instead of
those of the
Here are two quotes, both from the same page 273 in the edition I use,
which is from 1975:
Just as men
evidently feel that there is a weight on their minds which wearies with
its oppression, if so they could also recognize from what causes it
comes, and what makes so great a mountain of misery to lie on their
hearts, they would not so live their lives as now we generally see them
do, each ignorant what ge wants, each seeking always to change his
place as if he could drop his burden.
Which is what Lucretius
tried to do and to expound - the nature of things - though it should
also be kept in mind that
only few have the mind to do this well, for otherwise more would have
tried, in the over 2000 years that he has been dead.
Thus each man tries to flee from himself, but to that self, from which
of course he can never escape, he clings against his will, and hates
it, because he is a sick man that does not know the cause of his
complaint: for could he see that well, at once each would throw his
business aside and first study to learn the nature of things (..)
I do not know, except that the university library for
psychology in the University of Amsterdam has been mostly ruined, for
quite a while now, while there is, to my knowledge, no serious interest
of any kind in old books in Holland.
ME/CFS (that I prefer
to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search
is a disease I have since 1.1.1979: