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Nederlog


  March
16, 2014
Crisis: Massive Apathy, Failing Watchdogs, I Spy, Wall Street, IT, Personal
   "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
















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Sections
Introduction

1. Public apathy over GCHQ snooping is a recipe for disaster
2. The Watchdog That Didn’t Bark
3. 
I Spy
4. What A Destructive Wall Street Owes Young Americans
5. If GCHQ wants to improve national security it must fix
     our technology

6. Personal

 About ME/CFS

Introduction:

This is the Nederlog of March 16.

It is again about the
crisis, because I think that is very important, but I am also aware I am in a minority, although that minority is more intelligent than the rest - but in A Real Democracy the most important social things are generally decided by a few hundreds of parliamentary and governmental manipulators who got elected for the most part by successfully imposing their lies on the lower half of the intelligence scale, and who also the last 15 years or so are mostly of the revolving door type, which means they have no responsibility whatsoever, except to those who pay them, and always will find the best paying jobs, inside government and outside government, that do not require any talents except lying plausibly.

Anyway - the lack of widespread anger about being massively spied on by anonymous degenerates (I am sorry, but that is what I think - and I am not talking about spying on specific persons for probable cause: I am talking about gathering all the data on everyone, which I only can see as the start of very repressive regimes, that may last forever) is also the topic of the first item.

There are four more items, but today's crop was not large, though that may be because it is a sunday. (And item 5 is there because I missed it.)

And I should say that I did find a copy of the report I wrote in October 1970 about the Sleep-In Rozengracht, and have quoted one bit in my autobio-12, that I uploaded today. It also turned out I had made very few mistakes. Also, I have not made any changes in my Nederlog of February 24, that is the source of my
autobio-12, because I generally do not make changes in my Nederlogs, apart from correcting typing and linking errors and errors of fact.

1.  Public apathy over GCHQ snooping is a recipe for disaster

The first article is by John Naughton in The Observer:

This discusses a very important theme, that is well expressed by its subtitle:
The lack of public alarm at government internet surveillance is frightening, but perhaps it's because the problem is difficult to convey in everyday terms
Yes indeed: That is a major part of the difficulty - most people simply do not understand computers or computing at all, for at most 1 in a 100 is a decent programmer. Note this clearly does not mean that people do not make productive use of computers, for this is clearly the case: it means that they do not  understand what makes computers really tick, indeed rather like their cars, washing machines, watches and phones.

The article starts as follows:
As someone who is supposed to know about these things, I'm sometimes asked to give talks about computing to non-technical audiences. The one thing I have learned from doing this is that if you want people to understand technological ideas then you have to speak to them in terms that resonate with their experience of everyday things.
Yes - but then they mostly only "understand" them, though I agree that is better than nothing at all.

A little further on Naughton says:
One of the things that baffles me is why more people are not alarmed by what Edward Snowden has been telling us about the scale and intrusiveness of internet surveillance. My hunch is that this is partly because – strangely – people can't relate the revelations to things they personally understand.
Yes, I agree - but that makes it virtually impossible to make the vast majority understand the real and major dangers they are exposed to, every day. And I think that is probably the case, and relates to the facts that by now almost half of the people using a computer (or a cell phone) is of the lower half of the IQ-scale, and at most 1 in a 100 has a decent understanding of and some solid practice in real programming. For more, see item 5.

2.  The Watchdog That Didn’t Bark

The next article is
by Peter Richardson on Truth Dig:
In fact, this is a book review, and the full title of the book is relevant: "The Watchdog That Didn’t Bark: The financial crisis and the Disappearance of Investigative Journalism".

Yes indeed - and here is the first paragraph:
Most American news organizations missed the two biggest stories of the previous decade: the unwarranted invasion of Iraq and the Wall Street depredations that crashed the global economy. Each caper immiserated millions, neither was especially difficult to detect, and both could have been prevented with a combination of critical reporting and basic governmental oversight. Dean Starkman’s new book, “The Watchdog That Didn’t Bark: The Financial Crisis and the Disappearance of Investigative Journalism,” tackles the business press’ failure to warn of the most catastrophic financial crisis in 80 years. His analysis leaves little doubt that beat reporters were focusing on the wrong things, responding to the wrong incentives and writing the wrong kind of stories for their work to perform its watchdog role. 
Quite so. There is rather a lot more - two pages - which I will leave to you, except for noting two things: One major reason why so very few papers these days employ investigative journalists is that they have far less money, because most advertisers advertise rather on the internet than in papers. And a consequence is that investigative journalism, apart from a few papers, is dying out, while a completely other kind of "journalist" has taken over. For more, see item 5.

3.   I Spy 

The next article is by Christopher Brauchli on Common Deeams:

This starts as follows:

"It seems to me what the nine hundred ninety four dupes needed was a new deal."
—A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Mark Twain

Gracious. That’s all one can say. It is simply a question of whose ox is getting gored or, in the real world, who’s spying on whom. Dian[n]e Feinstein (D.Calif) called him a traitor and even said that if he had simply come to the House or Senate Intelligence Committees and presented all his information to the Committee, the Committee could have evaluated it. She said his failure to do that was an enormous disservice to the country. She said he was not simply a whistle blower. “He took an oath-that oath is important. He violated the oath, he violated the law. It’s an act of treason in my view.” She was joined in her condemnation of Edward by John Boehner who said of Snowden: “He’s a traitor. . . . The disclosure of this information . . . . [is] a giant violation of the law. . . . The president outlined last week that there were important national security programs to help keep Americans safe, and give us tools to fight the terrorist threat that we face. The president also outlined that there are appropriate safeguards in place to make sure that there’s no snooping, if you will, on Americans here at home. . . .” That was, of course, said, before Mr. Boehner and Ms. Feinstein learned that the Senate Intelligence Committee was being snooped on by the CIA and the CIA said it was being snooped on [by] the staff members of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Incidentally: Why should the CIA protest about "being snooped" (investigated) by "the staff members of the Senate Intelligence Committee"?! I mean: it is the job of the Senate to control the CIA, which it can only do by investigating it, and it is not the job of the CIA to control or investigate the Senate. (Also, I corrected two typos, between "[]".)

There is more in the article, which is OK, but raises a question for me that I agree is not very relevant: Who knows the meaning of "I Spy"? I recall it from the 1960-ies, when "I Spy" was advertised on pirate radio, in impeccable posh  English, possibly by the father of Sir David Omand (who is more clever than anyone in the NSA, he says). It was a game for boys, that cost a shilling, I think, and "was available at all the best book stores", and thought them to spy, or at least spot things.

The reason I recall it is that I thought it sounded incredibly stupid, but that may be just me. Then again, it may also have another meaning, for there are several. Anyway... my reference is to this I-Spy (Wikipedia) that I just found was relaunched recently, and seems again to be hugely popular. (O, Lord! Anyway: Christopher Brauchli's title was quite OK.)

4.  What A Destructive Wall Street Owes Young Americans

Next, an article by Ralph Nader that I found on Common Dreams, but that is also on his site:

This starts as follows:

Wall Street’s big banks and their financial networks that collapsed the U.S. economy in 2008-2009, were saved with huge bailouts by the taxpayers, but these Wall Street Gamblers are still paid huge money and are again creeping toward reckless misbehavior. Their corporate crime wave strip-mined the economy for young workers, threw them on the unemployment rolls and helped make possible a low-wage economy that is draining away their ability to afford basic housing, goods, and services.

Meanwhile, Wall Street is declaring huge bonuses for their executive plutocrats, none of whom have been prosecuted and sent to jail for these systemic devastations of other peoples’ money, the looting of pensions and destruction of jobs.

Just what did they do? Peter Eavis of the New York Times provided a partial summary – “money laundering, market rigging, tax dodging, selling faulty financial products, trampling homeowner rights and rampant risk-taking – these are some of the sins that big banks have committed in recent years.” Mr. Eavis then reported that “regulators are starting to ask: Is there something
rotten in bank culture?”

He also quotes Jim Hightower, who wrote about Jamie Dimon:

“Assume that you ran a business that was found guilty of bribery, forgery, perjury, defrauding homeowners, fleecing investors, swindling consumers, cheating credit card holders, violating U.S. trade laws, and bilking American soldiers. Can you even imagine the punishment you’d get?

How about zero? Nada. Nothing. Zilch. No jail time. Not even a fine. Plus, you get to stay on as boss, you get to keep all the loot you gained from the crime spree, and you even get an $8.5 million pay raise!”

That is indeed what happened, and also not one year, but six years in a row: "Mr Dimon is too big to fail", Eric Holder opines.

Ralph Nader has some good ideas to do something, notably a transaction tax on the business Wall Street does. Then again, these ideas have to be picked up and implemented.

5. If GCHQ wants to improve national security it must fix our technology

Next, an article by Cory Doctorow in The Guardian (that I missed: it is from March 11):
This starts as follows:

In a recent column, security expert Bruce Schneier proposed breaking up the NSA – handing its offensive capabilities work to US Cyber Command and its law enforcement work to the FBI, and terminating its programme of attacking internet security. In place of this, Schneier proposed that “instead of working to deliberately weaken security for everyone, the NSA should work to improve security for everyone.” This is a profoundly good idea for reasons that may not be obvious at first blush.

People who worry about security and freedom on the internet have long struggled with the problem of communicating the urgent stakes to the wider public. We speak in jargon that’s a jumble of mixed metaphors – viruses, malware, trojans, zero days, exploits, vulnerabilities, RATs – that are the striated fossil remains of successive efforts to come to grips with the issue. When we do manage to make people alarmed about the stakes, we have very little comfort to offer them, because Internet security isn’t something individuals can solve.

I agree the jargon is pretty horrible, but then - apart from false analogies, of which there are also plenty - the fact is that it is, in the end, all about extremely long sequences of ons and offs (0s and 1s) that are manipulated by a mechanical calculator that can do millions or billions of manipulations each second.

Also, this is a fairly long article, that has some more good ideas. I skip most of it but quote from the end:

But for me, the most important parallel between public health and internet security is their significance to our societal wellbeing. Everything we do today involves the internet. Everything we do tomorrow will require the internet. If you live near a nuclear power plant, fly in airplanes, ride in cars or trains, have an implanted pacemaker, keep money in the bank, or carry a phone, your safety and well-being depend on a robust, evolving, practice of network security.

This is the most alarming part of the Snowden revelations: not just that spies are spying on all of us – that they are actively sabotaging all of our technical infrastructure to ensure that they can continue to spy on us.

There is no way to weaken security in a way that makes it possible to spy on “bad guys” without making all of us vulnerable to bad guys, too. The goal of national security is totally incompatible with the tactic of weakening the nation’s information security.

Actually, I think that merely the idea that "spies are spying on all of us" and indeed on everything we do, and totally regardless from who we are, all without any legal or moral foundation or justification, which is why it all was done in near total secrecy, until Edward Snowden, is - for me - worse than the fact that they are also undermining the technical infrastructure, though I agree that also is very bad.

And I agree that there are major parallels between public health and internet security, and that internet security is a major mess, that threatens to subject everyone to a very few, who know everything about everyone, but are themselves anonymous.

6. Personal

Having arrived here, I just saw that I already said in the introduction what I wanted to say here, so I merely say that I cycled again today, which was fun, and that I am now using 2400 mcg of metafolate every day, in three doses, that do seem to help some.
---------------------------------
Notes
[1] Here it is necessary to insist, with Aristotle, that 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 one of the citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place the supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and the servants of the 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 Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

2. Malcolm Hooper THE MENTAL HEALTH MOVEMENT:  
PERSECUTION OF PATIENTS?
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[2]
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
9.
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)



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