19, 2014
Crisis: Kochs, Energy, Krugman, Diamond, Obama, Peirce
   "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. Who Are the Koch Brothers and What Do They Want?
2. The Energy Revolution Is In Reverse
3. Krugman: Worried About Oligarchy? You Ain't Seen
     Nothing Yet

4. Jared Diamond: We Could Be Living in a New Stone Age
     by 2114

5. Obama’s First-Amendment Defense of Political Liars
6. On Charles Sanders Peirce

About ME/CFS


This is the Nederlog of April 19. It is another crisis issue.

Today also is the day Charles Sanders Peirce died a 100 years ago. I doubt the name will say much to most of my readers, so there also is a brief article about him at the end. I think he was the most important philosopher of the previous two centuries - but there still is no good or complete edition of his works, and much of his work never was published. (There is something done about it now, but it has not been finished, and anyway is too expensive for me.)

Apart from that, there are five crisis items: Sanders on the Koch brothers; data that the energy situation worsens; Krugman on Piketty; Diamond on the future; and Washington's Blog on Obama on lying politicians (Obama is for it, I suppose as a compromise).

1.  Who Are the Koch Brothers and What Do They Want?

The first article today is by
Senator Bernie Sanders on Truth Dig:
This starts as follows:
As a result of the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, billionaires and large corporations can now spend an unlimited amount of money to influence the political process. The results of that decision are clear. In the coming months and years the Koch brothers and other extraordinarily wealthy families will spend billions of dollars to elect right-wing candidates to the Senate, the House, governors’ mansions and the presidency of the United States. These billionaires already own much of our economy. That, apparently, is not enough. Now, they want to own the United States government as well.

Four years ago, the Supreme Court handed down the 5-4 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. A few weeks ago, they announced another horrendous campaign finance decision in McCutcheon v. FEC giving even more political power to the rich. Now, many Republicans want to push this Supreme Court to go even further. In the name of “free speech,” they want the Court to eliminate all restrictions on campaign spending – a position that Justice Thomas supported in McCutcheon – and a view supported by the Chairman of the Republican National Committee. Importantly, as a means of being able to exercise unprecedented power over the political process, this has been the position of the Koch brothers for at least the last 34 years.
There is rather a lot more, and it ends thus:

And let’s be very clear. Their goal is not only to defund Obamacare, cut Social Security, oppose an increase in the minimum wage or cut federal funding for education. Their world view and eventual goal is much greater than all of that. They want to repeal every major piece of legislation that has been signed into law over the past 80 years that has protected the middle class, the elderly, the children, the sick and the most vulnerable in this country. Every piece of legislation!

The truth is that the agenda of the Koch brothers is to move this country from a democratic society with a strong middle class to an oligarchic form of society in which the economic and political life of the nation are controlled by a handful of billionaire families.

Our great nation must not be hijacked by right-wing billionaires like the Koch brothers.

For the sake of our children and our grandchildren, we must fight back.

I think Sanders is right, although being ill since 36 years I have no children or grandchildren. (And see item 3.)

2.  The Energy Revolution Is In Reverse 

The next item is an article by Alex Kirby that I fount on Truth Dig, but that first appeared on Climate News Network:

This starts as follows (and see item 4):
Keeping the rise in global average temperatures to no more than 2C above pre-industrial levels will not be prohibitively expensive, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says, though it won’t be easy.

There’s just one problem: the atmospheric facts show that the world is not simply ignoring the IPCC. It’s moving smartly away from the clean energy future that the Panel says is attainable towards an inexorably hotter and more risky future.

Reaching the target will mean cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 40-70% over 2010 levels by mid-century, the IPCC report says. Yet what is happening at the moment is the exact opposite: average global emissions rose by a billion tonnes a year between 2000 and 2010, faster than ever before.

To avoid the worst impacts of climate change as cheaply as possible, the report urges an energy revolution to end the dominance of fossil fuels. The IPCC says investments in renewable energy need to triple, with subsidies to fossil fuels declining and a switch to natural gas to help countries to get rid of coal.

There is more under the last dotted link, but for the moment "the world is not simply ignoring the IPCC. It’s moving smartly away from the clean energy future that the Panel says is attainable".

3.  Krugman: Worried About Oligarchy? You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet 

The next item is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:
In an interview with journalist Bill Moyers set to air Friday, Nobel laureate and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman celebrates both the insights and warnings of French economist Thomas Piketty whose new ground-breaking book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, argues that modern capitalism has put the world "on the road not just to a highly unequal society, but to a society of an oligarchy—a society of inherited wealth."

The conclusions that Piketty puts forth in the book, Krugman tells Moyers, are revelatory because they show that even people who are now employing the rhetoric of the "1% versus the 99%" do not fully appreciate the disaster that global wealth inequality is causing.

I don't know. What Krugman is going on about, also in an interview with Bill Moyers, is that there is - as Piketty revealed to economists, but as I never doubted - a strong tendency for inherited wealth to persist, but I very much doubt quarreling about percentages makes much sense.

4.  Jared Diamond: We Could Be Living in a New Stone Age by 2114  

Next, an article by Indre Viskontas and Chris Mooney on Mother Jones:

This starts as follows:

Jared Diamond didn't start out as the globe-romping author of massive, best-selling books about the precarious state of our civilization. Rather, after a Cambridge training in physiology, he at first embarked on a career in medical research. By the mid-1980s, he had become recognized as the world's foremost expert on, of all things, the transport of sodium in the human gall bladder.

But then in 1987, something happened: His twin sons were born. "I concluded that gall bladders were not going to save the world," remembers Diamond on the latest episode of the Inquiring Minds podcast. "I realized that the future of my sons was not going to depend upon the wills that my wife and I were drawing up for our sons, but on whether there was going to be a world worth living in in the year 2050."

The result was Diamond's first popular book, The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal.

In fact, this is what I know Diamond of: From his 1991 book The Third Chimpanzee (that at the time had another sub-title), that I bought and read in 1991, and that I liked (though I thought him a bit too positive, although I also thought the theme needed that, if the book was to be popular, as indeed it was).

Now there is a new edition of it (after several other ones), this time subtitled "For young people", and this edition also has been shortened and given more illustrations, and indeed addresses young people.

Incidentally, for those who think this is not about the crisis: According to Diamond, who has children, there is a 51% chance that mankind will survive the next 100 years, and a 49% chance it either will not, or only barely, poorly, and thrown back in time for ages.

Anyway, there is a lot more under the last link.

5. Obama’s First-Amendment Defense of Political Liars

Finally, an article by Eric Zuesse on Washington's Blog:

This starts as follows - and note that Ohio and fifteen other states do have laws that forbid politicians to lie:

President Obama, through his U.S. Solicitor General, arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court, has now stated that lying in political campaigns isn’t merely protected by the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech, but that it is an especially protected form of speech, which must not be hindered by any state government, such as by the state of Ohio. Ohio has outlawed such intentional deception of voters, and has established heavy criminal penalties against it, when it can be proven. The idea behind this law is that any democracy in which lying in political campaigns isn’t penalized by severe penalties, won’t remain a democracy much longer, but will instead descend into a kleptocracy: theft of elections themselves (via lies), so that they become just nominal “elections,” which are controlled by whatever aristocrats can put up the most money, to lie the most effectively, to the biggest number of voters: lying-contests.

It’s an important Supreme Court case. As Constitutional lawyer Lyle Denniston has noted, in his “Argument preview: Attack ads and the First Amendment”: “In all of the history of the First Amendment, the Court has never ruled that false statements are totally without protection under the Constitution.” However, this Supreme Court will have an opportunity to do that here, in the case SBA List v. Dreihaus; or else, to do the exact opposite — to open wide (even wider than they now are) the floodgates to political lies.

Public opinion (e.g., this), and the President of the United States (via his Solicitor General, to be discussed here below), seem to favor opening the floodgates.
In fact, the situation seems to be as follows:
With Obama arguing on the Republican side, and the Republicans arguing on the Republican side, how will the Republican U.S. Supreme Court rule on this matter?
Also, I have always known politicians are liars, but I agree with Zuesse they should not (1) because they are supposed to lead the people very much rather tan mislead them, and they can lead them only if they talk the truth (as they see it) most of the time, at least: otherwise they lead by misleading, and (2) because allowing them to lie, without punishment, increases their powers a lot: Few of those who elect them have the time, knowledge and money to try to sort out their lies, if they are free to make these.

Here is the last statement of the article:
Lying in politics is toxic to democracy. It’s destroying not only this country, but the entire world. Obama wants to protect it, just like he protected the banksters from prosecution.
Yes. I agree politicians should not lie, and may be legally forbidden to do so, although my reasons are probably not the same as Zuesse's: They have sufficient resources to stretch the truth anyhow, even if they do not lie.

6. On Charles Sanders Peirce

Charles Sanders Peirce, also known as Santiago in place of or added to the  middle name Sanders, was born on September 10, 1839 and died on April 19, 1914, aged 74. He was an American philosopher, logician, mathematician and scientist.

Here is one consecutive piece from the
Charles Sanders Peirce section in Wikipedia, in which I have only deleted the notes:

Peirce made a number of striking discoveries in formal logic and foundational mathematics, nearly all of which came to be appreciated only long after he died:

In 1860 he suggested a cardinal arithmetic for infinite numbers, years before any work by Georg Cantor (who completed his dissertation in 1867) and without access to Bernard Bolzano's 1851 (posthumous) Paradoxien des Unendlichen.

n 1880–81 he showed how Boolean algebra could be done via a repeated sufficient single binary operation (logical NOR), anticipating Henry M. Sheffer by 33 years. (See also De Morgan's Laws).

In 1881 he set out the axiomatization of natural number arithmetic, a few years before Richard Dedekind and Giuseppe Peano. In the same paper Peirce gave, years before Dedekind, the first purely cardinal definition of a finite set in the sense now known as "Dedekind-finite", and implied by the same stroke an important formal definition of an infinite setset that can be put into a one-to-one correspondence with one of its proper subsets. (Dedekind-infinite), as a

In 1885 he distinguished between first-order and second-order quantification. In the same paper he set out what can be read as the first (primitive) axiomatic set theory, anticipating Zermelo by about two decades (Brady 2000, pp. 132–3).

In 1886 he saw that Boolean calculations could be carried out via electrical switches, anticipating Claude Shannon by more than 50 years.

By the later 1890s he was devising existential graphs, a diagrammatic notation for the predicate calculus. Based on them are John F. Sowa's conceptual graphs and Sun-Joo Shin's diagrammatic reasoning.
The main reason to quote this is to bring out how extremely original Peirce was - and the above only summarizes some of his discoveries in logic. He did a whole lot more, for which you are - to start with - referred to Charles Sanders Peirce (Wikipedia) and to Peirce (Stanford EoP).

I only want to add three more things here and now:

I think he was the most original and most interesting philosopher of the last two hundred or more years. [2] Even so, there is - as also with Leibniz - no good or complete edition of his works, and much of what he did remains completely unpublished, although I guess his most important ideas have been published the last hundred years, and also currently something is being done about it (that I cannot afford).

There are several reasons for the fact that there is - as yet - no complete or good edition of his works. I name only a few: Peirce led a mostly isolated life, and was very poor the last 20 or more years - "
He spent much of his last two decades unable to afford heat in winter and subsisting on old bread donated by the local baker. Unable to afford new stationery, he wrote on the verso side of old manuscripts.": quoted from Wikipedia - and he had some important enemies, who several times succeeded in blocking him in getting a job or publishing a book.

Why he had some important enemies is mostly unknown, but it must have had to do with his great originality, that also extended to more things than his work: he was  - for one example - sanctioned a lot for "having travelled with a woman he was not married to", even though he was divorced and married her later, and probably also with the fact that he had from his teenage years onwards frequent bouts of trigeminal neuralgia, that is described as "the most painful condition known to mankind".

In any case, if you are interested in real philosophy, you ought to read Peirce.
[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.)

[2] That covers Bertrand Russell and Frank Plumpton Ramsey, who in my opinion were the best of the 20th Century, and also in the 19th Century's John Stuart Mill, Arthur Schopenhauer, Friedrich Nietzsche and quite a few other first class minds. (And yes, I am a philosopher, and have read Peirce and about Peirce since 1972 or 1973.)

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

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