19, 2014
Crisis: British, "Journalism", Reich, Starving, Snowden, Mathematicians, 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

Prev- crisis -Next

1. British intelligence watchdog is like Yes Prime Minister,
     says MP

2. MH370 story is the new anti-journalism
Robert Reich: 'Austerity Is a Terrible Mistake'
4. Starving College Students and the Shredded Social

5. Snowden: “Is It Really Terrorism That We’re Stopping? I
     Say No.

6. Should Mathematicians Cooperate with GCHQ?
7. Personal

 About ME/CFS


This is the Nederlog of March 19. It is again a crisis issue. Also, this file got uploaded earlier than is normal.

1. British intelligence watchdog is like Yes Prime Minister, says MP

The first article is by
Ewen MacAskill on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

Britain's intelligence services had a system of oversight no better than that seen in the TV comedy Yes, Prime Minister, an MP said on Tuesday during a meeting of a Commons committee.

Julian Huppert, a Liberal Democrat, said the sitcom depicting ineffectual government was an appropriate comparison after it emerged that the intelligence services commissioner appearing before MPs worked only part-time, and operated with only one other staff member.

Huppert said: "Can I come back to this comparison between Britain and the US? I presume you are both familiar with Yes, Prime Minister. There is a line there where it says, 'Good Lord, no. Any hint of suspicion, you hold a full inquiry, have a chap straight out for lunch, ask him straight out if there is anything in it and if he says no, you have got to trust a chap's word'."

Yes, indeed: that seems a good analogy. There is considerably more in the article, and there also is this bit:

The committee also heard BT has refused to deny it has handed over data on millions of customers in bulk to government agencies, such as GCHQ, a group of MPs has been told.

Big Brother Watch director Nick Pickles told the committee BT had provided "no substantive answer" to the question of whether they had handed over masses of customer data to the UK government.

Pickles told MPs he feared BT was providing data under section 94 of the Telecommunications Act, which gives the secretary of state broad powers to demand information from an individual or organisation in the interests of national security.

This is a bit vague, necessarily, as BT "refused to deny" and "provided "no substantive answer"", but it is a fair assumption they handed over "data on millions of customers in bulk to government agencies", and if they did so under section 94, it must be - it would seem - because for the present British governors everybody is a terrorist or at least deserves being treated as a terrorist (except members of government with an Eton-education, of course).

2. MH370 story is the new anti-journalism

The next article is
by Michael Wolff on The Guardian:
This is in fact about the disappeared Malaysian plane, about which I "know" most because it is being tracked, every day, through endless "details", at Huffington Post. (In fact, I mention Huffington post because I check that every day, but I could have mentioned many other papers or media-programs, except that I do not see them every day.)

Actually, I do not know and so far did not care to find out, because it comes, roughly at least, to this:

Journalism exists to provide information. But what’s really compelling is a lack of information – or what is more particularly being called “an absence of empirical data”.

“It doesn’t mean anything; all it is a theory.” That was the key quote, from an appropriately unnamed “senior American official,” in the New York Times’ front-page story Sunday about the Malaysian government’s sudden conversion to the idea that their plane was snatched. “Find the plane, find the black boxes and then we can figure out what happened. It has to be based on something, and until they have something more to go on it’s all just theories.”


But it seems the Huffington Post, like the American media, go on and on and on about this issue while having extremely little real information: They provide hardly any real information, but instead they provide incredible lots of bullshit - which they pretend is information, and which in fact is blocking all real information they might have given instead.

I agree that seems to be The New Journalism - providing
bullshit - but I would have liked to see a bit more analysis. And maybe I should provide it, but not today.

3.  Robert Reich: 'Austerity Is a Terrible Mistake' 

The next article is by Mary O'Hara on AlterNet, though originally in The Guardian:

This is from the beginning and about Robert Reich, who also gets quoted:

"The austerity narrative is nonsense – and its dangerous nonsense. It's sort of the Vietnamisation of the economy – [that] you're saving the economy by killing it."

The political economist who has served in three US administrations, most recently as labour secretary under former president Bill Clinton, is a longstanding vocal opponent of the kind of neo-liberal economics that have influenced policy in the US and the UK since the early 1980s and fostered soaring levels of inequality and entrenched poverty. He dismisses as "nonsense" the notion that if the rich get richer wealth will "trickle down" to the wider population.

There is a lot more in the article, which seems a British attempt to explain some things about Reich (who is an American) to the English, and which does this fairly well.

As to the austerity theory and the trickle down theory:

It ought to be obvious these are not so much real theories as they are bits of ideology, and that they are completely contradicted by the facts - the rich get richer, and the rest gets poorer, and this has been happening since 1980.

4.  Starving College Students and the Shredded Social Contract

Next, an article by Michelle Goldberg, that I found on Common Dreams but originated on The Nation:
This starts as follows:
If you want to know why millennials are far more economically liberal than other generations, consider the news that colleges have started opening on-campus food banks to keep their students from going hungry.

Dozens of food pantries are “cropping up at colleges across the country in recent years as educators acknowledge the struggles many students face as the cost of getting a higher education continues to soar,” the Associated Press reported this weekend. Tuition alone, the article notes, “has become a growing burden, rising 27 percent at public colleges and 14 percent at private schools in the past five years, according to the College Board. Add in expenses for books, housing and other necessities of college life and some are left to choose between eating and learning.”

Note this also is not a small-scale phenomenon, and it is a complete and utter shame that you have "to choose between eating and learning” in the USA.

So I am not amazed, and indeed pleased, by the following:
No wonder the Pew report finds that they’re the only generation to favor a bigger, more activist federal government. A 2011 Pew poll even found that people between 18 and 29 had a more favorable view of socialism (49 percent) than capitalism (46 percent).
I am not a socialist (basically: because history has shown - it seems to me  - that socialist countries tend to be totalitarian countries) but I am certainly in favor of "a bigger, more activist federal government".

5.  Snowden: “Is It Really Terrorism That We’re Stopping? I Say No.

The next article is by Washington's Blog:
However, while that article is from yesterday, it is very brief, and refers to the following considerably longer article, also on Washington's Blog, from December last year:

That article is quite thorough and long, and also comes with two interviews, with William Binney and Russell Tice, and also one with former NSA director Joel Brenner, who simply denies everything, without offering any evidence: You have to believe him because he is bald, I presume.

In any case: My own view of the matter, that I have had since October 29, 2005 (<- Dutch link) at the latest, is the following - and I put in in the form of points:

(1) "Terrorism" always was a false pretext to justify taking of all the data of everyone,
which can only be understood rationally as the attempt to have the complete population in the (potential) total control of a few thousands of governing people, and those they employ.
(3) And to acquire
this control has been the - then explicit - aim from the late 1960ies onwards, of those running the NSA or the FBI.

And all that changed since 1968 is that the whole world got computerized, and got computerized by completely unencrypted data, so that essentially everything could be taken and inspected, and indeed now is taken and either is inspected or saved.

6.  Should Mathematicians Cooperate with GCHQ?

Finally, a bit of news from "the mathematical community", that I picked ip by way of John Baez, and is by Tom Leinster on the n-Category Café:
Here is the beginning of the article - which had many links, that disappeared on copying:
One of the UK’s largest employers of mathematicians has been embroiled in a major international scandal for the last nine months, stands accused of law-breaking on an industrial scale, and is now the object of widespread outrage. How has the mathematical community responded? Largely by ignoring it.

GCHQ and its partners have been systematically monitoring as much of our lives as they possibly can, including our emails, phone calls, text messages, bank transactions, web browsing, Skype calls, and physical location. The goal: “collect it all”. They tap internet trunk cables, bug charities and political leaders, disrupt lawful activist groups, and conduct economic espionage, all under the banner of national security.

Perhaps most pertinently to mathematicians, the NSA (GCHQ’s major partner and partial funder) has deliberately undermined internet encryption, inserting a secret back door into a standard elliptic curve algorithm. This can be exploited by anyone sufficiently skilled and malicious — not only the NSA/GCHQ. (See Thomas Hales’s piece in February’s Notices of the AMS.) We may never know what else mathematicians have been complicit in; GCHQ’s policy is not to comment on intelligence matters, which is to say, anything it does.

Indifference to mass surveillance rests partly on misconceptions such as “it’s only metadata”. This is certainly false; for instance, GCHQ has used webcams to collect images, many sexually intimate, of millions of ordinary citizens. It is also misguided, even according to the NSA’s former legal counsel: “metadata absolutely tells you everything about somebody’s life”.
Anyway - it clearly is a good and very clear article, and for more, or for the links, you have to use the last dotted link.

7. Personal

I did re-upload most but not all of the Hazlitt directory on my sites. Some more remains to be done. Also, I changed the backgrounds of the files I re-uploaded to the present background: my eyes have improved, but are not better yet, and I decided to suit my eyes rather than keep being troubled by totally white backgrounds.

Also, there are elections today in Holland, not for the national parliament but for the councils of cities and villages. Since I avoid elections since 1971 - I do not want to vote for any of a very small bunch of professional liars and deceivers, who also are for the most part grossly incompetent, untalented and egoistic - I avoid these too, but if you are a Dutch adult who believes that Our Democracy Needs You, I will not do anything to stop you from feeling Important And Responsible.

Then again, it seems this day less than half of those given the vote in Holland will vote, as about half seems to think that they will not vote, namely out of lack of interest. (This does not hold for me, in case you wonder: I am interested, but also very sickened by what I learned about Dutch politicians: See ME in Amsterdam, if you read Dutch.)

I will let you know "how democratic Holland is", tomorrow or the day after, by quoting the percentage of those who voted.
[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)

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

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