23, 2013
Crisis: GCHQ+NSA, dangerous government, Huxley
  "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
   -- Benjamin Franklin [1]
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
   -- I.F. Stone.

  1. Watchdog demands GCHQ report on NSA's UK data

  2. Stupid Government Policy Is More Dangerous than

Aldous Huxley: the prophet of our brave new digital

About ME/CFS


This is yet another crisis item. Today is Saturday, which often means there are fewer crisis items, and today there are indeed only three crisis items.

I thought a while I would add another personal section, but decided the present is enough.

1. Watchdog demands GCHQ report on NSA's UK data storage

To start with, an article by Nick Hopkins and Matthew Taylor in the Guardian:

This starts as follows:

The watchdog tasked with scrutinising the work of Britain's intelligence agencies is to demand an urgent report from GCHQ about revelations that the phone, internet and email records of British citizens have been analysed and stored by America's National Security Agency.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the chair of the parliamentary intelligence and security committee, told the Guardian he would be seeking an explanation of a secret deal that appeared to allow the NSA to "unmask" personal data about Britons not suspected of any wrongdoing.

This material had always been off-limits because the US and UK are the two main partners in an intelligence-sharing alliance – and the governments had agreed not to spy on each other's citizens.

But that code of conduct changed fundamentally in 2007, with the approval of British intelligence officials, according to documents from the whistleblower Edward Snowden.

I say: Sir Malcolm Rifkind! And a little later: Nick Clegg! Who tells the Guardian that
"My view is with each passing day there is a stronger and stronger case … to look at this in the round."
Two professional doubledealers, who get also very well paid. So I am sorry if I am not impressed, but all I expect from them is professional doubledealing.

But there are some other voices:
Lord Strasburger added: "So now it seems that as well as being snooped on by our own spies, the last government allowed the Americans to spy on innocent Brits. As far as we know, they still are. Who have the Americans decided to share our private data with? Who knows? It's high time the coalition got a grip on this. It can no longer ignore these very disturbing revelations."
There is more in the article.

2. Stupid Government Policy Is More Dangerous than Terrorism 

Next, an article on and by Washington's Blog:

This starts as follows, with the colors and links from the article:

The Shocking Reasons that Americans Are Right to Be More Afraid of Bad Government Policy than Terrorism

Preface: I am not so much anti-government as anti-stupid policy. (Moreover, the problem is not solely “bad government” or “corrupt corporations”. The deeper problem is that the two have become intertwined in a malignant, symbiotic relation.)

Multiple polls show that Americans are more afraid of our own government than of terrorists.

Sure, the government – not Al Qaeda – is taking away virtually all of our Constitutional rights. And that includes reserving to itself the right to assassinate or indefinitely detain American citizens.

Yes, indeed. The rest of the article contains a lot of evidence for the blue proposition just quoted.

3. Aldous Huxley: the prophet of our brave new digital dystopia

Today's last crisis item is an article by John Naughton in the Guardian:
This starts as follows:
On 22 November 1963 the world was too preoccupied with the Kennedy assassination to pay much attention to the passing of two writers from the other side of the Atlantic: CS Lewis and Aldous Huxley. Fifty years on, Lewis is being honoured with a plaque in Poets' Corner at Westminster Abbey, to be unveiled in a ceremony on Friday. The fanfare for Huxley has been more muted.
I knew most of that, but I did not know C.S. Lewis is currently more popular than Aldous Huxley (<-Wikipedia). In fact, Naughton provides the reasons for it, viz. that the Christian apologist's stories have been made into films that "propelled him into the" - gasp! - "Tolkien league", which I accept, but that simultaneously explain why I wasn't aware of it: I don't go to movies; I have no interest in Christian apologists; and I found Tolkien quite boring.

As to Huxley:
Orwell feared that we would be destroyed by the things we fear – the state surveillance apparatus so vividly evoked in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Huxley's nightmare, set out in Brave New World, his great dystopian novel, was that we would be undone by the things that delight us.
Naughton gives a potted background to Huxley and his family, that I take for granted (you can look it up) and then says:
Huxley's dystopia is a totalitarian society, ruled by a supposedly benevolent dictatorship whose subjects have been programmed to enjoy their subjugation through conditioning and the use of a narcotic drug – soma – that is less damaging and more pleasurable than any narcotic known to us. The rulers of Brave New World have solved the problem of making people love their servitude.
Yes, indeed. In fact, the dictatorship is benevolent, at least in the sense that they believe they are doing the right thing - they believe their own propaganda.

Finally, as to the difference between Orwell and Huxley, here is Naughton's conclusion:
We failed to notice that our runaway infatuation with the sleek toys produced by the likes of Apple and Samsung – allied to our apparently insatiable appetite for Facebook, Google and other companies that provide us with "free" services in exchange for the intimate details of our daily lives – might well turn out to be as powerful a narcotic as soma was for the inhabitants of Brave New World.
Yes and no. Firstly, I don't like the "We" - and for one thing, I never owed an Apple or a Samsung or indeed a cell-phone; I am not and never have been on Facebook; I rarely use Google; and I can program. But secondly, I mostly agree about most of the others. Even so, thirdly, I also think considerably more is involved, and that has been well explained by Adam Curtis, e.g. in The Century of the Self. But I agree that is a bit of another subject, that I may take up myself later.

[1] Here it is necessary to insist, with Aristotle, thay the governors do not rule, or at least, should not rule: The laws rule, and the government, if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn Greenwald:
It is more proper that law should govern than any of the citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and the servant of laws.
(And I note the whole file I quote from is quite pertinent.)

About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to
facilitate search machine) which is a disease that 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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