who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin
"All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
"Power tends to corrupt, and
absolute power corrupts
absolutely. Great men
almost always bad men."
Menace of the Military Mind
Engelhardt, The End of History?
3. The Unbearable Truth
4. How "Chronic Fatigue
Syndrome" Obscures A Serious
There were very few crisis posts yesterday, and not many today. But I
have three, although the last of these is only indirectly relevant, and
all three are a bit theoretical. The fourth is a link to an essay about
ME/CFS, and the last is a brief progress report on my ME/CFS, that is
in its 36th year now. This is mainly because the last progress report
is four months ago.
Menace of the Military Mind
First, an article by Chris Hedges on Truth Dig:
This starts as follows:
I had my first
experience with the U.S. military when I was a young reporter covering
the civil war in El Salvador. We journalists were briefed at the
American Embassy each week by a U.S. Army colonel who at the time
headed the military group of U.S. advisers to the Salvadoran army. The
reality of the war, which lasted from 1979 to 1992, bore little
resemblance to the description regurgitated each week for consumption
by the press. But what was most evident was not the blatant
misinformation—this particular colonel had apparently learned to
dissemble to the public during his multiple tours in Vietnam—but the
hatred of the press by this man and most other senior officers in the
U.S. military. When first told that he would have to meet the press
once a week, the colonel reportedly protested against having to waste
his time with those “limp-dicked communists.”
Yes - and what a nice
man this colonel was, but not really. Chris Hedges goes on to explain
mainly three interrelated things.
exerts nearly total control over the lives of its members. Its
long-established hierarchy ensures that those who embrace the approved
modes of behavior rise and those who do not are belittled, insulted and
hazed. Many of the marks of civilian life are stripped away. Personal
modes of dress, hairstyle, speech and behavior are heavily regulated.
Individuality is physically and then psychologically crushed.
Aggressiveness is rewarded. Compassion is demeaned. Violence is the
favorite form of communication. These qualities are an asset in war;
they are a disaster in civil society.
This is why, after
Barack Obama signed into law Section 1021 of the National Defense
Authorization Act, which permits the U.S. military to seize U.S.
citizens who “substantially support” al-Qaida, the Taliban or
“associated forces,” to strip them of due process and to hold them
indefinitely in military detention centers, I sued the president. I and
my fellow plaintiffs won in U.S. District Court. When Obama appealed
the ruling it was overturned. We are now trying to go to the Supreme
Court. Section 1021 is a chilling reminder of what people like Clapper
could do to destroy constitutional rights. They see no useful role for
a free press, one that questions and challenges power, and are deeply
hostile to its existence. I expect Clapper, if he has a free hand, to
lock us up, just as the Egyptian military has arrested
a number of Al-Jazeera journalists, including some Westerners, on
terrorism-related charges. The military mind is amazingly uniform.
And finally third:
This is why people
like James Clapper and the bloated military and security and
surveillance apparatus must not have unchecked power to conduct
wholesale surveillance, to carry out extraordinary
renditions and to
imprison Americans indefinitely as terrorists. This is why the nation,
as our political system remains mired in paralysis, must stop
glorifying military values.
I quite agree - and the
original article is better than my quotations from it. Also, he is
quite right this is a major menace, and one that is supported by Obama.
But I do not know what to do about it, except to keep arguing against
it, which means one is considered to be like “limp-dicked communists”, by these tiny
militaristic minds, simply
because one insists on thinking for oneself, rather than lapping up the
propaganda one is offered by them,
and indeed one runs a considerable risk of being arrested and
renditioned into eternal disappearance, perhaps (!) not under Obama,
but then under the next "democratically elected" president of the
Engelhardt, The End of History?
Next, an article by Tom
Engelhardt on tomdispatch.com:
This starts as follows:
Note that the above is about
half the paragraph: it goes on, with similar points, as long as the
above quotation. And that is just the beginning. I'll come to it in a
moment, after quoting a little more:
Here’s the scoop: When it
comes to climate change, there is no “story,” not in the normal news
The fact that 97%
of scientists who have weighed in on the issue believe that climate
change is a human-caused phenomenon is not a story.
one of 9,137 peer-reviewed papers on climate change published
between November 2012 and December 2013 rejected human causation is not
a story either, nor is the fact that only 24 out of 13,950 such
articles did so over 21 years. That the anything-but-extreme
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) offers an at least 95%
guarantee of human causation for global warming is not a story, nor is
the recent revelation that IPCC experts believe we only have 15
years left to rein in carbon emissions or we’ll need new
technologies not yet in existence which may never be effective.
Nor is the recent poll showing
that only 47% of Americans believe climate change is human-caused (a
drop of 7% since 2012) or that the percentage who believe climate
change is occurring for any reason has also declined since 2012 from
70% to 63%.
The future of all
other stories, of the news and storytelling itself, rests on just how
climate change manifests itself over the coming decades or even
century. What happens in the 2014 midterms or the 2016
presidential elections, in our wars, politics, and culture, who is
celebrated and who ignored -- none of it will matter if climate change
devastates the planet.
I agree and I don't agree.
First, why I don't agree:
Climate change isn’t the
news and it isn’t a set of news stories. It’s the prospective end
of all news. Think of it as the anti-news.
I do certainly not think that "climate change devastates the planet": If it is true - which I mostly agree to,
but see below - it will devastate much of human civilization,
but then again, if the theory of climate change is true, that is, if it
is mostly man-made, then nature will get back, for the most part, to
where it is now or was 30 or 50 years ago, simply because there are
then far fewer human beings, and so far fewer consequences of there
being far too many human beings, who nearly all also have too high
But I agree climate change may wreck most, perhaps even all, of human
civilization, though it is hard to have precise predictions based on
Next, again why I don't quite agree:
I have a scientific mind, and considerable scientific knowledge, and I
tried to make sense of the science behind climate change, but I could
not quite wrap my head around it, not so much because it is difficult
(which it is), but because there are so very many (possibly)
interfering factors of many kinds.
Having a scientific mind, I see no reason to disagree with 97% of the
climatologists, who blame it on humankind, but then I have another
problem, which leads me to:
Second, why I do agree, but only sort of:
Having agreed with the authority of the vast majority of
climatologists, I still see no good reason to assume that
mankind, as it is, is capable of solving the enormous
problems they created themselves, by being greedy and profit-oriented,
and being wilfully blind to the problems they create by being so.
In fact, it seems to me - and it does so from the 1970ies onwards, that
also gives considerable backing for this - that this is the kind of
problem that is too large to be solved by mankind as it is
and for the most part also wants to be: to solve it would need
the cooperation of most major governments; it also requires radical
changes in how the economy is run, and for what ends; it requires major
plans to stop enormous transnational changes - and I see nothing
like it, and very much against it, although I agree this is mostly due
to the stupidity and egoism of our elected governors.
And of course I have seen a whole lot of measures that are
supposed to counter it, from bureaucratic plans to sort plastic, to
governmental plans to use less energy-greedy lamps, and to install many
Well... that is about the extent of what governments can do, in
practice, and as they are, and it is clearly not enough.
Therefore, I remain mostly out on climate change - it happens, it is
mostly man made, and it is very dangerous, but I do not see
that the actual policies directed against it, which I have seen now for
more than 40 years, make any real difference.
That is: We need a social revolution, before we can do anything
effective against climate change. This is a very great pity, but seems
Next, an article by Clancy Martin, who is a
professor of philosophy, in bookforum:
This is in fact a book review
of a book called "Lying" by Sam Harris, and it
starts as follows, in a rather typical philosophical and
That is typically philosophical and postmodernistic
- I know, for I studied philosophy during the postmodernistic heydays -
in reducing and changing the question of whether it is wrong to lie or
the question under what conditions men could lie, to the personal
problem of the sincerity of Clancy Martin, who does not seem to see
that the issue of his sincerity is one, while the issue of
whether it is wrong to lie, for anyone, under any or most
circumstances, is quite another issue.
What is perhaps most
curious about our belief that it is wrong to lie is that it requires
us, both individually and as a culture, to engage in a particularly
egregious kind of cognitive dissonance. It’s easy for me to insist that
it is wrong to kill human beings because I have never killed another
human being (at least not directly, though I am a citizen of a nation
that kills innocents). I can teach my children that it is wrong to
steal with a mostly clean conscience, because it’s been a long time
since my preteen shoplifting days. But when it comes to lying, the
situation is different. I don’t remember having told any lies in the
past week, but I know that if I reviewed a detailed recording of that
time I’d catch myself in several. So can I really sincerely insist that
I believe it is wrong to lie?
For why could he not say that, even if he lies half or
three quarters of the time to almost everyone, it is still
wrong to lie, though he is incapable of not lying?
Sincerity really has very little to do with it, because the same
problem underlies all moral issues: That the moral teachings
are quite simple, while the human mind is much inclined to do what it
pleases, in many respects, also when this goes counter to the very
norms they themselves insist on. (Hazlitt: "If mankind had
wished for what is right, they might have had it long ago. The theory
is plain enough; but they are prone to mischief, "to every good work
But this is something Clancy Martin doesn't see. Besides,
I don't get the line of his argument, at least in so far as this
differs from the mere contention that Harris is wrong in insisting one
shouldn't lie. He does have one sort of argument:
In fact, as
evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers has argued, deceit is fundamental
to animal communication, “and this ought, in turn, to select for a
degree of self-deception, rendering some facts and motives unconscious
so as not to betray—by the subtle signs of self-knowledge—the deception
being practiced.” In order to communicate, we lie to one another and to
ourselves. Deception, communication, and trust are all interwoven—and
truthfulness, rather than being the rule, starts to look like the
exception. After all, mightn’t that be precisely why we place such a
premium on the truth? In arguments against lying, it is often
claimed—Harris himself makes this argument—that to lie requires too
much mental effort. (“Oh, what a tangled web . . .”) But I think just
the opposite is the case: Lying is usually the easier way out. Maybe we
prize the truth because it is difficult and rare. It is often hard to
know the truth, hard to accept it, hard to tell it.
doesn't satisfy me: 1. even if "deceit
is fundamental to animal communication" (which it only can be if truth is the
norm!) this has no automatic consequences for mankind, that has
language and self-consciousness; 2. so the inference to a need for
self-deception is unfounded; 3. as is the notion that there are
unconscious lies (?!); while 4. we do lie to others and
ourselves, but not "in order to communicate", and 5. that
"Deception, communication, and trust are all interwoven" seems to me an
odd selection of topics, besides proving nothing at all.
But yes, I can understand - sort of - why Clancy Martin thinks that "truthfulness, rather than being the rule,
starts to look like the exception": it may well be the case for some
philosophy professors, who started out as a salesman of expensive
jewelry (as Martin did). And indeed, if this is so, then indeed "Lying is usually the easier way out" - which I agree is
probably the case in quite a few professions, from public
relations, through banking and politicis,
to teaching academic
Anyway...the book by Harris may be interesting and worthwile, or it may
not be: I do not know, for there is nothing in what Martin
tells me that would help me make a decision.
In fact, I am somewhat relieved that he does not tell me
what I and everybody else was told in the public lecture,
supported by the Board of Directors, by professor M.C. Brands, that
opened the academic year in the University od Amsterdam in 1978: "Everybody knows that truth
does not exist".
I quote it as I heard it in 1978. And I suppose this is the progress
academic philosophy has made: it now tells that lying is easier,
usually, rather than that everything is - by implication - a lie,
4. How "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome" Obscures A Serious
Next, an article by David
Tuller, whom I recall from having written at least two good articles in
2012, originally on buzzfeed, but I found it on niceguidelines, and
that edition is better in my browser:
Incidentally, this and the
next item are both about ME/CFS, so if you
do not have this you either may learn something, or spend your time on
Ten years ago, Jeannette
Burmeister was working full throttle, logging 80-hour weeks as an
attorney specializing in international commercial and employment law at
the San Francisco area offices of a major law firm. So when she
developed a sinus infection over the Christmas holidays in 2005, she
assumed she’d bounce right back.
And this sounds quite
familiar: I have described my disease - ME/CFS, now for the 36th year -
as "having just ran a marathon, except fot the panting". Also, this may
well last all day, all week, or all month or indeed, for some, many
But she didn’t. The
illness persisted; Burmeister then began suffering from profound lapses
of energy, crippling problems with concentration and memory, and severe
sleep disorders, among other symptoms.
“I went to work for two
hours one day, hit a wall, and couldn’t go back the next day,”
Burmeister, now 42, said in a recent telephone conversation. “I could
not think straight. I had days where I couldn’t spell my name. And such
complete exhaustion you can’t describe it, like you just ran a
marathon, are hungover, and have the flu, all at once.”
The following is also very familiar:
the disease — and its trivial-sounding moniker — has isolated her from
former friends and acquaintances. They don’t understand how sick she
is, she said, and she recognizes that explaining it to them is often
futile. “First of all you’ve got the name,” she said. “And once you’ve
put the name out there you’ve already lost most people’s attention,
because then they say, ‘Yeah, I have a hard job,’ or, ‘I’m tired too.’”
Well, I generally reject
the name "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome", because it is the wrong name, and
also because I have never been diagnosed with it: I have been
diagnosed, repeatedly, by at least three doctors of medicine, in the
late 1980ies, as having "M.E./F.M." with FM being fibromyalgia, which
was (and is) a possibility because of the pains I suffer from.
There is a lot more that sounds very familiar, such as this (from about
half way this long article):
two-thirds of patients report that their downward slide started with an
acute illness, such as mononucleosis or the flu, that never seemed to
resolve. And experts and patients agree that the word “fatigue” causes
a great deal of misunderstanding among those unfamiliar with the
illness. A cardinal symptom, they say, is not just fatigue per se, but
what is called post-exertional malaise or post-exertional relapse — the
inability of the body to recover rapidly from even small expenditures
of energy. Research in recent years has confirmed the presence of this
unusual symptom among people with ME/CFS. Moreover, the exhaustion they
report is far more severe than the garden-variety tiredness implied by
For yes, the
disease started in my ex and me as EBV; yes, this "never seemed to resolve" (which I think is a clue); yes, the cardinal
symptom for my ex and me (who both studied when we got it) is "post-exertional malaise or post-exertional
relapse" as we already insisted in 1979; and yes, I do
not have fatigue because of having ME/CFS:
I have exhaustion, and this is "far more severe" than is
In any case, there is a lot more, and the article is quite good.
Finally, a somewhat brief
update on my own ME/CFS, that started on 1.1.1979 with me, and started
on 10.1.1979 also for the woman I lived with then, who also still had
it in the 1990ies - we stopped living together in 1983 - and very
probably also now. However, since I have not heard from her this
century, I am forced to guess, although this is very likely (if she is
still alive, which I also do not know, but she is 4 years younger than
I am, so this is likely).
The major problem with
reporting on my own ME/CFS is - still - my keratoconjunctivitis
sicca (<- Wikipedia) (aka "dry eyes") that hit me, in a major
way also, in May of 2012. This has been steadily but quite slowly
improving since November 2012, but it is far from gone, which means
that I am still feeling my eyes, painfully, most of the day and that I
also still have to drip artificial tears in them, to make the pain less.
What stopped, very
happily, is some 15 months of far too little sleep that I suffered
from, from May 2012 till September 2013: By then it had cleared up
sufficiently to allow me my normal 8 hours of sleep, which I have
The minor problem with
reporting on my own ME/CFS is that I found in 2011 that the mB12
protocol helps me; then rapidly I ran into problems others who use(d)
it also ran into, namely too little potassium, which forced me to stop
it; which I took up again in the beginning of 2012, having found how
much potassium I need, approximately at least; which I stopped again
when I was hit by the keratoconjunctivitis
sicca, and that mostly to be sure it did not come from the
supplements I took, which turned out to be so, and because I needed a
new baseline; and since then started again, but with less mB12,
and the new protocol again seems to help. (And too much mB12 gets
me angry too easily.)
In fact, I am rather
certain the mB12-protocol helped me, and this is especially due to the
15 months of lack of sleep because of the keratoconjunctivitis
Until then, 34 years of
prior experiences with the disease had taught me that insufficient
sleep was a major cause for my getting much worse,
quite soon also, but this time, even 15 months with far too little
sleep - I slept between 4 and 6 hours a night all the time, and spent a
lot of time in bed, without sleep - did not appreciably worsen my ME/CFS- condition - which was a very
However, the two problems
still hamper my reports, because I still do not have a good baseline,
which for 34 years was how I felt without supplements, and which was
mostly the same, at least for the last 22 years - except that I did not
use the mB12-protocol and did not have serious keratoconjunctivitis
Then I recently increased
my dose of metafolin, and decreased my dose of mB12, and stopped most
of the other supplements I took experimentally in the last quarter of
2013, and I am, again, doing consistently a bit better than I did
The last report on my
condition is from October 8, 2013,
which still is quite good and also is considerably more complete than
is this report.
What differs a bit now from
then are the supplements I take. On the moment, and since about four
weeks, I am taking this, and nothing else (except a sleeping pill and
This is the directly usable form of folate, and part of the protocol.
C: 4 gram:
I think - statistics support me - this makes sense.
D: 20 mcg:
This turned out, when tested, to have kept me on the safe side.
This is part of the protocol. I do need at least 400 mg, given the rest.
This is mainly
because I do not drink milk anymore, and I need the calcium.
mB12: 2500 mcg: once weekly.
I was quite high on B12 when tested, at least after having supplemented
B12, and this seems a safe dose. Note this is methylcobalamin.
This is split in half,
apart from the mB12, for 2 doses a day. As to the changes:
The metafolin is twice as
much as it was; vitamin C is 1 gram more; vitamin D is double what I
took; kalium a bit less; calcium the same; and mB12 also half of what I
On this I am doing fairly
well, although I still do not do much, simply because I cannot do much,
the last 22 years.
Next, as to the other supplements I was taking in October: I have
stopped them all, mostly because taking them was quite difficult
(almost 20 pills a day) and because careful experimentation during over
two months did not show any difference.
But this also was an experiment, so that the outcome is that these
supplements do not help me, for which reason I stopped them.
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
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.
note the whole file I
quote from is quite pertinent.)
(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: