28, 2014
Crisis: British Conservatives, Political Lying, British sex, Berners-Lee
  "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

Conservatives to announce plan to scrap Human Rights

2. Anatomy of a Non-Denial Denial
3. Sex Uncovered: austerity-hit Britons have sex less than
     once a week, poll finds

4. Tim Berners-Lee calls for internet bill of rights to ensure
     greater privacy

About ME/CFS


This is a Nederlog of Sunday, September 28. It is a
crisis log.

There were not many crisis items, and I found four that follow. This also makes the Nederlog smaller than it was the last six days, but then it is a Sunday, and it also is convenient for me, since I have to do some other things as well.

Then again, I think all four items that follow are quite interesting.

1. Conservatives to announce plan to scrap Human Rights Act

The first item is an article by Chris Johnston on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

The European court of human rights will be prevented from overruling decisions made by British courts under plans set to be announced by the Conservatives this week.

The justice secretary, Chris Grayling, said that the Conservatives wanted to scrap the Human Rights Act so that the final decisions in controversial cases could be made by the supreme court rather than the European court of human rights.

The policy, to be included in the party’s manifesto ahead of the general election in May, was an attempt to return power to Britain, he told the Daily Telegraph.

“Decisions like ‘do prisoners get the vote?’ or ‘can you send brutal murderers to prison for their whole lives?’ seem to be outside our control,” he said. “I want our supreme court to be supreme. Decisions that affect this country should be taken in this country.”

What Chris Grayling really means is this: First, he wants the British judiciary system to be even more partial pro the rich and against the poor than it is already; and second, he wants the GCHQ to spy on on all Brits, and use the findings in purely English trials without any human rights.

At least, that is how I see it. But he may get his wishes granted, for the Brits have also suceeded, ever since Thatcher, in stupefying their electorate by giving them ever less real education.

(And yes, I do think the intellectual and moral gifts of the average is the main problem of mankind, and may kill all.)

2. Anatomy of a Non-Denial Denial

The next item is an article by Dan Froomkin on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

The non-denial denial is an art that takes many forms in official Washington.

The basic idea is that when you or your organization are accused of doing something that you did in fact do, you respond with what sounds like a denial, but really isn’t.

You issue a very narrowly-crafted denial involving a lot of hairsplitting, while avoiding the central claim. Or you dismiss the accusation as unworthy of response. Or you deny something else: You raise a straw man accusation and deny that; or – possibly best yet — you take advantage of a poorly worded question.

The press typically interprets it as a denial, and since you are a credible figure, it moves on.

And if the accusation against you is ever irrefutably proven, then you point out that you never really denied it. Since you didn’t technically lie, the press, again, moves on.

Yes, that seems to be the basic mechanism, although one must add the Pentagon and White House "dictionaries" - that are bogus, but refer to a very common practice - that "allow" prominent speakers to use completely different meanings for terms with standard meanings in the dictionary.

Froomkin's analysis is good, but I leave it to your interests, except for this bit:
The reason you so infrequently see the word “lie” in elite media news stories is that the editors generally take the position that even when someone has said something clearly not true, a reporter’s use of the word “lie” — rather than, say, “misspoke” or “was incorrect” — requires knowledge of the subject’s intent to deceive. And a fair-minded journalist, they argue, can’t be sure what’s going on in someone else’s head.
That is pure and quite intentional bullshit of these editors, and the reasons are quite simple: First, no one has "knowledge of" any one's intentions if that is any one else - but even so there is an enormous amount of lying, deception, grandstanding, and bullshit in politics, which everybody allows, although indeed it depends on one's political allegiance who gets blamed. But this is not about "knowledge":

It is pure and quite intentional bullshit because everyone knows that everyone makes very many judgements about the intentions of others, and indeed one cannot even function normally in any human society without making these: it is impossible to function socially without making judgements about others' beliefs and desires, and indeed while quite a few of these judgements may be false, many must be true or approximately true
[2] as well.

Furthermore, if these editors say that "
a fair-minded journalist (..) can’t be sure what’s going on in someone else’s head" they are lying, insane or bullshitting in a major way, and also very much abusing "fair-minded":

Firstly, anyone who functions in any human society can be sure that he does understand most of what others in that society, with the same language, say and mean, and part of the reason is that meanings are both in the head, and also, if mostly true, in reality. That is simply how language works. (And no: truly understanding another's meaning does not need at all imply any agreement.)

Also note that part of how language works comprises knowing that what anyone says may be quite mistaken, partially mistaken, mostly correct or literally true, and that each of these possibilities may be lied about, and that especially in politics, religion and economics. (And lying means saying that something is true, while one believes it is false.)

Second, to prefix "fair-minded" to a statement that is palpably totally false - one can say, in very many cases, what others mean, and one cannot function in any human society without such knowledge, although indeed this does not mean that one can always say that the meanings one does understand are really as the speaker says - is both toally dishonest and quite false propaganda.

Finally, I may be less upset than Froomkin is (but this indeed I do not know), because I was a student of philosophy in a university where everybody - all students, not just those in philosophy - was
taught from 1978-1995 the postmodernistic lies that
  • "everybody knows that truth does not exist"
  • "everybody knows that everyone is equal"
  • "everybody knows that morality is wholy relative"
which were just plain political lies and bullshit, presented explicitly as propaganda ("everybody knows") while also almost everybody, students and staff alike, pretended to believe this and to enthusiastically agree. (Indeed, the more stupid may even have really believed this.)

Also, I was one of the few who did not, simply because I believe in science and truth, as I thought then anybody should who studies or teaches in a university ... and so I was removed briefly before taking my M.A. in philosophy as a student of philosophy (because I asked questions - literally! - as an invited speaker: it follows that one could not question the University of Amsterdam seriously when I was a student).

It are events like these, that include the willing and eager corruption and conformism for careers - and see Lanny Breuer ! - of the many, that make me quite pessimistic: I think I know that almost any majority - left, right and center - is willing to sell out, willing to be corrupted, and willing to conform to falsehoods and lies, simply to make a career for themselves.

For that is what the majorities that I have seen in my life have done - though indeed not everyone, not always, not on all subjects, but mostly, and in democratic majority, and also often quite dishonestly.

3. Sex Uncovered: austerity-hit Britons have sex less than once a week, poll finds

The next item is an article by Robin McKie on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

Britain is losing its libido. That is the striking conclusion of an Observer survey – published in the new Sex Uncovered supplement – which reveals that the average British adult has sex only four times a month, less than once a week. Our previous survey, in 2008, recorded a figure of seven times a month.

For good measure, our investigation of what goes on in Britain's bedrooms indicates that a third of the nation does not have sex at all in a typical month, a rise in abstinence of eight percentage points since 2008. Only 1% say they have sex more than 30 times a month, an average of at least once a day.

After six years of recession, and four years of a Tory-led coalition, it would seem that when it comes to sex we have never had it so infrequently.

I say. That is at least a bit strange, in that I thought that the average for folks in their thirties was twice a week, but indeed these are figures of the 1980ies - which means that presently folks on average do it half as much as their parents did it thirty years ago.

I will come to the political/economic suggestions that are hinted at to explain this - "austerity", "recession" - in a minute. First, here is a little more:
As to the question of what people are doing instead of having sex, the survey shows that 53% of women (compared with 36% of men) read erotica, in particular novels such as Fifty Shades of Grey. By contrast, 76% of men (compared with 36% of women) watch pornography online. Other intriguing findings in the survey include the revelation that almost one in five Britons (19%) lost their virginity when they were under 16, the legal age of consent. However, the average age at which a person loses their virginity is 18, the survey found, while for those living in London and the south-east that age rises to 19.
As for me: I hardly read erotica (well...some Henry Miller, and that I do not read for the erotica); I don't watch pornography on line; and I lost my virginity at 18, but that was in the 1960ies, and in Amsterdam. [4]

There is a considerable amount more, that I leave to your interests. But what I will not leave to your interests (completely) is the explanation for the considerable fall in sexual interest: I doubt it is mostly due to the austerity or the recession.

Surely some of it will be, and I am merely speculating, but it seems as if there are other reasons, related to food especially, for there also was earlier - repeated - news on fewer sperms, which also was not explained, but which does suggest it may be due to the food people eat, that indeed has changed quite a lot the last thirty years, what with very many additions of all sorts of things "because they are good for people". (But I am speculating here.)

4. Tim Berners-Lee calls for internet bill of rights to ensure greater privacy

The next item is an article by Agence France-Presse on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

The inventor of the world wide web has warned that the freedom of the internet is under threat by governments and corporations interested in controlling the web.

Tim Berners-Lee, the British computer scientist who invented the web 25 years ago, called on Saturday for a bill of rights that would guarantee the independence of the internet and ensure users’ privacy.

“If a company can control your access to the internet, if they can control which websites they go to, then they have tremendous control over your life,” Berners-Lee said at the Web We Want festival on the future of the internet in London.

“If a government can block you going to, for example, the opposition’s political pages, then they can give you a blinkered view of reality to keep themselves in power.”

“Suddenly the power to abuse the open internet has become so tempting both for government and big companies.”

In fact, Berners-Lee - who is director of the World Wide Web Consortium - wants a Magna Carta (<- Wikipedia):

“There have been lots of times that it has been abused, so now the Magna Carta is about saying...I want a web where I’m not spied on, where there’s no censorship,” Berners-Lee said.

The scientist added that in order to be a “neutral medium”, the internet had to reflect all of humanity, including “some ghastly stuff”.

I very much doubt that is helpful: First, putting together a Magna Carta takes years if not decades; second, even if it is achieved, there is no one who will maintain it, internationally; and most importantly, third: it seems a sort of cop out, for what is required is much rather the application of existing national laws, that do guarantee privacy, also regardless of the instruments used.

Indeed, the Fourth Amendment reads as follows - and does not mention the post, or the mail, or anything: it mentions rights, as indeed is correct:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
-- Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution

Much rather than a Magna Carta it is required that the existing laws be maintained: ALL of the activities of the NSA have been deeply secret in part because they explicitly violated the Fourth Amendment. The NSA simply is a criminal organization, however many billions the government gives them to do their illegal spying.

And second, no Magna Carta is capable of reigning in the NSA's illegal activities as long as these are secret, and financed with billions of tax-money by a corrupt government, and involve stealing private data of billions of persons, simply because they can, and certainly not if that is to be done by some sort of "international organization" - without army, without territory, with little finances, and with no police.

So no, while it may be nice to have a Magna Carta, it will not be effective without national laws that are maintained by national states: THE problem is that at present the laws are not maintained by many governments, simply because spying on their own people makes governments very much more powerful.

[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] Approximate truth is important for three reasons: First, very many statements are partial and incomplete in their claims (essentially because the same claim could be made truly in many different ways: "he has a ball" may be true, but does not say how big or what color the ball is, nor what it is made of, for example), while also, conversely, second, the same truth may be made by many different statements ("he has a green ball", "he has a rubber ball" etc.), while thirdly, very many statements people make are true but within vague practical limits: "he is tall", "she is fat", "they are clever" etc. etc.

[3] This also explains, partially at least, why over 1% of the Dutch was murdered during WW II: The great majority of the Dutch did not care very much for those who "were of inferior race", that is, till the end of WW II, since when almost everyone pretended to have been in the resistance (and also was far more anti-semitic in the 1950ies (!) than before WW II, according to quite a few objective observers).

[4] Amsterdam at that time was supposed to be quite liberated. I now think that was in part pretension, but it is true that the pill had just started, and that
Amsterdam was quite free, comparatively at least.

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)

       home - index - summaries - mail