11, 2014
Crisis: NSA, Bees, anti-NSA bill, TPP, Multatuli's "Ideen"
   "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. Attempts to stay anonymous on the web will only put the
     NSA on your trail

2. The Collapse of the Bees... And How To Save Them
3. ‘We Kill People Based on Metadata’
4. TPP Is Another Upward Transfer of Wealth
5. On finishing annotating Multatuli's "Ideen"
About ME/CFS


This is the Nederlog of May 11. It is a crisis issue.

1. Attempts to stay anonymous on the web will only put the NSA on your trail

The first item is an article by John Naughton - who gets described as: "professor of the public understanding of technology at the Open University" - on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

When searching for an adjective to describe our comprehensively surveilled networked world – the one bookmarked by the NSA at one end and by Google, Facebook, Yahoo and co at the other – "Orwellian" is the word that people generally reach for.

But "Kafkaesque" seems more appropriate. The term is conventionally defined as "having a nightmarishly complex, bizarre, or illogical quality", but Frederick Karl, Franz Kafka's most assiduous biographer, regarded that as missing the point. "What's Kafkaesque," he once told the New York Times, "is when you enter a surreal world in which all your control patterns, all your plans, the whole way in which you have configured your own behaviour, begins to fall to pieces, when you find yourself against a force that does not lend itself to the way you perceive the world."

I say. So that is what a "professor of the public understanding of technology at the Open University" does:

He publicly corrects the language people use, and he does so by reference not to dictionaries, but to some opinions of what he styles as a "
most assiduous biographer".

As I really would not know what the teaching or writing about "
the public understanding of technology" would involve, except that it is definitely not a serious academic subject, the above must be a clue to what this professor knows, and does, and teaches.

First, the language: for my money "Orwellian" is better, simply because that term clearly suggests you are being spied upon ("Big Brother is watching you"), which is not suggested by John Naughton's presentation of the personal opinion of what Naughton called "
Kafka's most assiduous biographer".

But it is true that I do not glorify in being
a "professor of the public understanding of technology at the Open University" (and I still don't know what that is, or why widespread ignorance these days has professors).

Second. The rest of the story is about the failure of a sociologist who works at Princeton to keep her pregnancy secret from Amazon etc. and who did go quite far to keep it secret.

This I leave to your interest. Here is the ending of the piece, though. This comes in two paragraphs, of which this is the first:

But we know from the Snowden disclosures and other sources that Tor users are automatically regarded with suspicion by the NSA et al on the grounds that people who do not wish to leave a digital trail are obviously up to no good. The same goes for people who encrypt their emails.

I am sorry, but while I know a lot about computers, I do not know that "Tor users are automatically regarded with suspicion by the NSA et al" and I also do not know the grounds "NSA et al" use to decide whom they follow - and besides, the Princeton sociologist did not try to keep her pregnancy safe from the NSA, but from Facebook, Amazon etc.

I may guess these things, but guessing is not knowing. Also: Why insist - albeit in an indirect manner - that you should not encrypt your mail? On the crazy NSA ground "
that people who do not wish to leave a digital trail are obviously up to no good"?!

Isn't it much rather true that the very great majority of persons whose personal data are being stolen by the NSA and indeed also by Facebook, Google etc. are not harmful and have done nothing wrong? And isn't it much rather true that if you do nothing then, to the best of my knowledge, your personal data are being stolen?!

Here is the final paragraph:

This is why the industry response to protests about tracking is so inadequate. The market will fix the problem, the companies say, because if people don't like being tracked then they can opt not to be. But the Vertesi experiment shows that if you take measures to avoid being tracked, then you increase the probability that you will be. Which is truly Kafkaesque.

I agree that "the industry response to protests about tracking is so inadequate" - but Mr Naughton has just briefed his readers not to ty to elope anyone tracking you because then - Mr Naughto assures - you will be more tracked. Next, if the public's average IQs were 50 points higher, probably the whole world would be different. As it is, the more people opting out from being tracked, the better (though it seems at Facebook, at least, this will not help much: you will be tracked anyway).

Finally, once more: if we are talking about being spied upon, the much better term is "Orwellian" and not "Kafkaesque", while also a single "experiment" by a single pregnant sociologist is - at best - merely anecdotical evidence.

But OK: I have a good guess about what a
"professor of the public understanding of technology at the Open University" fills his days with: bullshitting, as in the present article.

2. The Collapse of the Bees... And How To Save Them

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

Let me start with the remark that the deaths of many colonies of bees - which is what is happening, already for quite a few years - is part of the crisis, that is, on the following principles: No more bees implies far less pollination; far less pollination implies far less food; far less food implies many more deaths. I think all three implications are very probably true.

Now to the article, that starts as follows:

Two new reports this week provide key evidence that back a growing call that the destructive use of large-scale chemical agriculture must be halted in order to give the global bee population a fighting chance to regain their strength as the world's most prolific and effective pollinating species.

The first, a scientific study (pdf) conducted by researchers at Harvard University, found further proof that the wide-scale agricultural use of neonicotinoids—a volatile class of insecticide (neonics for short)—is a leading contributor to what has become known as Colony Collapse Disorder (or CCD).

The second report (pdf), issued by Greenpeace International, focuses on solutions to the bee crisis by releasing its report that shows how the widespread expansion and re-introduction of ecological farming practices--as opposed to the chemically-intensive agriculture that now dominates—is the most efficient and surfire way to save the world's bee population and the food system they support.

First, here is the Wikipedia-link to neonicotinoid, where you can also read that the European Union is doing something against their use (started by Shell and Bayer).

Next, while I like Greenpeace (with some reservations) "the widespread expansion and re-introduction of ecological farming practices" sounds to me like a wild pipe dream (and I also do have a Norwegian agronomic diploma, that qualifies me as a farmer, which is probably rare among Greenpeace supporters, and I do not mean a merely Norwegian agronomic diploma).

It just will not work without a social collapse, is my - rather strongly based - guess, but I will not argue this here and now, even though it also probably is correct what a speaker for Greenpeace says, viz.:

“The only solution for the global bees decline and the current agriculture crisis is a change towards ecological farming."

3. ‘We Kill People Based on Metadata’

The next item is an article by David Cole on The New York Review of Books:

This starts as follows:

Supporters of the National Security Agency inevitably defend its sweeping collection of phone and Internet records on the ground that it is only collecting so-called “metadata”—who you call, when you call, how long you talk. Since this does not include the actual content of the communications, the threat to privacy is said to be negligible. That argument is profoundly misleading.

Of course knowing the content of a call can be crucial to establishing a particular threat. But metadata alone can provide an extremely detailed picture of a person’s most intimate associations and interests, and it’s actually much easier as a technological matter to search huge amounts of metadata than to listen to millions of phone calls. As NSA General Counsel Stewart Baker has said, “metadata absolutely tells you everything about somebody’s life. If you have enough metadata, you don’t really need content.” When I quoted Baker at a recent debate at Johns Hopkins University, my opponent, General Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA and the CIA, called Baker’s comment “absolutely correct,” and raised him one, asserting, “We kill people based on metadata.”

The rest of it is a decently written essay that well explains why the following is true:

This compromise bill addresses only one part of the NSA’s surveillance activities, and does not do nearly enough to address the many other privacy-invasive practices that we now know the NSA has undertaken. But it’s nonetheless an important first step, and would introduce several crucial reforms affecting all Americans.

4. TPP Is Another Upward Transfer of Wealth

The next item is an article by Roger Bybee on Naked Capitalism, that originated on Triple Crisis:

This starts as follows:

"Those at the top have never done better,” President Obama ruefully acknowledged in his January 28 State of the Union speech. “But average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened.”

Yet, moments later, Obama heartily endorsed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which as drafted directly reflects the demands of “those at the top” and would, if passed, severely intensify the very inequality spotlighted by the president.

Yes, indeed - but then that is Obama's strength, as it was the strength of Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Wim Kok, Gordon Brown and many other persons leading what were before them (somewhat) leftist (somewhat) social democratic political parties - which were totally destroyed by the very same persons, who all made great careers and are rich men now, all achieved at the simple cost of bamboozling their electorate.

That is: Obama, Clinton, Blair, Kok, Brown etc., including the Dutch horror Samsom, all talk leftist and act rightist, at least in almost all important decisions. And they do so because leftist talk is liked by their electorate, while rightist acts are liked by their providers of money, who also make them rich.

I made it sound simple, but the reason is that it is simple: corruption is the name of the game.

The above continues:

The TPP would provide transnational corporations with easier access to cheap labor in Pacific Rim nations and new power to trump public-interest protections—on labor, food safety, drug prices, financial regulation, domestic procurement laws, and a host of others—established over the last century by democratic governments. The nations currently negotiating the TPP—which together comprise nearly 40%of the world economy—include the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. Among them, Malaysia, Brunei, Mexico, Singapore, and Vietnam, are all notorious violators of labor rights The TPP’s labor provisions are far too weak to begin uplifting wages, conditions, and rights for workers in these nations.

Now you know what it is (more or less, for it is all made secret by Obama) here is one little bit more, that assures you of Obama's (and also Clinton's, Blair's, Brown's, Kok's etc.) fundamental dishonesty:
Obama has billed the TPP as a “trade agreement” that will create U.S. jobs. The pact, however, actually has little to do with reducing trade restrictions. Tariffs are now a minimal factor for most global trade. Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, points out that only five of the TPP’s twenty-nine chapters are about trade at all. But the remaining provisions cover such immensely important measures as the creation of a kind of corporate supremacy over the democratically established regulations enacted by member nations. If an existing law threats to diminish profits, corporations in the TPP nations would be entitled to bring their complaint to an international dispute panel of anonymous corporate members, who could impose major financial penalties on the “offending” countries. “The Trans-Pacific Partnership,” Wallach concludes, “is a Trojan horse for a host of awful measures that have nothing to do with trade and would never get through Congress in the light of day.”
Yes, indeed.

There is rather a lot more under the last dotted link, that I used mainly to make a point about the postmodern and later (social) democratic political leaders: They lie, lie and lie, very consciously, very cleverly, quite like Orwell described it, and all also with much dedication, for the millions they will make after their leading jobs depend on their successful lying.

5. On finishing annotating Multatuli's "Ideen"

Finally, something else, that is not a crisis item: I uploaded today the last indexes to the 3.1 MB of excerpts of my notes to Multatuli's "Ideen". Also, I think this now is mainly done (and it is all in Dutch).

Here is what I did do:

From early in 2001 till the summer of 2007 I put all the ideas in the seven volumes of Multatuli's "Ideen" on line, each idea in its own file, all linked, and I made notes or comments, sometimes quite a few, sometime only one or two, to almost all of the more than 1500 ideas.

Nobody else ever did that, and probably no one else ever will: Multatuli died in 1887, and there are very few philosopher or psychologists who read him these days, and indeed not many Dutchmen either, even though most Dutchmen would agree that "Multatuli is the best Dutch writer". (The reason so few really read him is mostly that he was a true radical who criticized very much: almost every Dutchman, nearly always a lot less intelligent than Multatuli was, finds a lot to disagree with. Again, for most Dutchmen this may be more or less OK if it concerns the former Duch Indies, currently Indonesia, but it easily becomes painful if he addresses the failures of the Dutch, that are many.)

But I really like him since age 14, and I am as much of a radical as he is, and know more about philosophy than he did, and indeed also was raised by genuine and honest radicals, so I tend to see his points rather better than most, and also tend to like them more, though I am by no means an idolator, and I quite often disagreed.

In fact, I had written almost all of the notes by 2007 (since 2001), and then also started excerpting them and making indexes to the titles of the notes in the excerpts, but I stopped with that, without finishing it, in the summer of 2007, simply because I lacked sufficient health.

But I finished all excerpting on April 30, 2014, and I finished all indexing of these excerpts today, and I am quite satisfied that I did it and also quite satisfied that I made it: It's done, for the most part, and I am glad.

To be sure, some things still remain to be done:
  • all ideas must be run through and given proper backgrounds
  • the first 20 ideas must be given new files, and
  • I need to correct some mistakes and ommissions all over the Ideen.
Especially the first is difficult because of my eyes, that still are not OK, and quite often painful, while the third requires a lot of reading. The second will probably be done soon.

There is also something else I now can do:
  • Rewrite and re-edit my notes, and put them in a meaningful order
That, at least, was the intent when I started writing my notes, in 2001: To annotate, excerpt (both done now) - and then recast and redo some of the notes.

Thirteen years later, and meanwhile aged 64, I am less certain about the recasting and redoing, if only because it is a lot of work, to which I probably will get no reactions whatsoever. 

Indeed, although no one ever did what I did, no one who makes lots of money with Multatuli in the universities even registered what I have done, or linked to my sites, quite possibly because I am "a mere philosopher and psychologist", and not A Student Of Dutch Literature (called "neerlandici" in Dutch, in the plural) and indeed also because none could do or have done as I did.

Anyway...I got it all done, and that is quite satisfactory.
[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
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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