February 4, 2014

Crisis+me+ME: Military, History, Truth, "CFS", me+ME

   "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.
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton

crisis -Next  

The Menace of the Military Mind
Tomgram: Engelhardt, The End of History?
3. The Unbearable Truth
4. How "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome" Obscures A Serious

About me+ME

About ME/CFS


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.

1. The 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.

The military 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.
And second:
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 United States.

2. Tomgram: Engelhardt, The End of History? 

Next, an article by Tom Engelhardt on
This starts as follows:

Here’s the scoop: When it comes to climate change, there is no “story,” not in the normal news sense anyway.

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.  That only 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%.
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:
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.

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 agree and I don't agree. First, why I don't agree:

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 demands.

But I agree climate change may wreck most, perhaps even all, of human civilization, though it is hard to have precise predictions based on good evidence.

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 more windmills.

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 true.

3. The Unbearable Truth

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 postmodernistic way:

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?

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.

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 reprobate."").

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.
This also 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 philosophy.

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, especially science.

How "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome" Obscures A Serious Illness

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 something else:
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.

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.”

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 years.

The following is also very familiar:
Burmeister said 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):
In fact, 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 “fatigue.”
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 ""fatigue"".

In any case, there is a lot more, and the article is quite good.

5. About me+ME

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 enjoyed since.

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 sicca:

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 happy finding.

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 sicca.

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 before.

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 artificial tears):

metafolin: 1600 mcg:
This is the directly usable form of folate, and part of the protocol.
vitamin C: 4 gram:
I think - statistics support me - this makes sense.
vitamin D: 20 mcg:
This turned out, when tested, to have kept me on the safe side.
kalium: 400 mg:
This is part of the protocol. I do need at least 400 mg, given the rest.
calcium: 1200 mg:
This is mainly because I do not drink milk anymore, and I need the calcium.
vitamin 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 took.

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.



[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 machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komarof

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)[2]

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
Magical Medicine (pdf)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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