who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin
"All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
"Power tends to corrupt, and
absolute power corrupts
absolutely. Great men
almost always bad men."
1. James Risen on Why
Journalists Must 'Fight Back'
2. Doctor Calls Guantanamo
3. Does free speech give us the right to
4. UK snooping powers are too weak, says crime agency
5. This awesome dissection of
internet hyperbole will make
you cry and change your life
6. Start telling the hard truth,
Nick Clegg – there is no free
7. Cut benefits? Yes, let’s
start with our £85bn corporate
8. $1.1 Billion in Drug,
Device Payments to Doctors Not
Included in New Federal
9. Ben Affleck Angrily Defends
Islam Against Bill
This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, October 7. It is a crisis log.
There are 9 items and 10 links (which is about the limit of what I can
do on one day, but that is an aside).
I think most items are crisis items (and I like item 1,
item 7 and item 8) but
item 3 and item 5 are
not, or only indirectly so, and concern the usage of language on
the internet, where a large part of the attention of the many
not-so-very-brights goes to anonymous trolling or to quite incredible
I have no solution (other than trying your best to avoid it)
but I did want to say some about it.
Anyway - here goes:
Risen on Why Journalists Must 'Fight Back'
item is an article by Sarah Lazare on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
I think James Risen is
right, and I also think he is one of a minority of journalists
who would like to write the truth and do if they have the
evidence, also if that is not pleasing to their or to
Accepting Colby College's
Parish Lovejoy award for courageous journalism on Sunday, New
York Times investigative reporter James Risen had a message for
"Journalists have no
choice but to fight back because if they don’t, they will become
This statement comes from
a journalist who has faced his share of fights.
The two-time Pulitzer
Prize winning writer is currently facing threat of incarceration for refusing
a Department of Justice order to take part in the prosecution of a CIA
official who stands accused of revealing classified information about a
U.S. bid to sabotage Iran's nuclear program—information that is exposed
in his book State of War, which was published in 2006. Risen,
who says the right to protect sources is critical to a free press, has
repeatedly refused to take part in the prosecution, despite the legal
efforts of the Bush and Obama administrations. The Supreme Court in
to consider an appeal from Risen, and his case remains unresolved.
The basic problem is that he is one of a minority - and this is not how it
used to be in, say, the 1970ies (Watergate).
The main reasons that it now is different is not that
there was in the 1970ies a majority of journalists who were
willing to investigate, write and publish unpleasant truths, for this
seems anyway something only a minority does (o yes!), but
especially that (1) the present government is definitely against a free
press if this involves grave - though very probably true -
criticism of the government (2) many editors and journalists who were
willing to run some risks for publishing inconvenient truths have been
removed, dismissed or replaced by conformists
and (3) the NSA can and does spy on everyone and likes to do it on
journalists and their sources, while the U.S. goverment allows or
There is considerably more in the article, but I will quote only one
I think both points are
quite true and quite important.
"I don’t think any of
this would be happening under the Obama administration if Obama didn’t
want to do it," Risen said. "I think Obama hates the press. I think he
doesn’t like the press and he hates leaks."
Risen said the only
reason the public is aware of a host of government abuses, including
secret prisons, is because whistle-blowers and courageous journalists
have exposed them. "If you’d rather live in a society in which you
don’t know anything, then that’s the alternative," he said.
Calls Guantanamo Force-Feeding Video ‘Disturbing’
item is an article by Dan Froomkin on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
There is considerably
more in the article, including this from Sondra Crosby:
Attorneys for a longtime
hunger-striker at Guantanamo Bay said today that refusing food is his
only means of peaceful protest and asked a federal judge to stop his
jailers from punishing him by being cruel in their application of
Abu Wa’el Dhiab’s
court case is being carefully watched because U.S. District Court Judge
Gladys Kessler ruled
on Friday that videos of Dhiab’s force-feeding – which involves the
repeated insertion and removal of a rubber tube up his nose – should be
But the only showing of
the videos today was behind closed doors, as the Justice Department
continues to wrangle over how and when to release them.
In a short closed session,
Sondra Crosby, a Boston University medical professor who examined Dhiab
on behalf of his legal team, was shown a few minutes of footage and
asked her medical opinion.
Afterwards, all she would
say was that the footage was “disturbing.”
Lawyers displayed medical
records that appeared to show decisions such as depriving Dhiab of a
wheelchair, his socks and underwear, being made for disciplinary
inappropriate and cruel, to take a wheelchair away from someone who is
not able to walk,” Crosby said. “It looks like medical care is being
withheld as part of disciplinary status and that should never happen.”
Does free speech give us the right to anonymously troll strangers?
item is an article by Suzanne Moore on The Guardian:
This contains the
following (and I am only selecting the parts that may be taken as a
general argument, and skip the rest):
Well...no and yes.
Though social media is
now so deeply embedded, we still don’t seem to have any shared social
definitions of what trolling is. It continues to be seen as somehow
trivial, just silly insulting nonsense that should be ignored.
But you can only regard it
this way if you have never experienced it. Trolling can be an
orchestrated and concerted campaign to intimidate others into silence.
Firstly - but this is more personal than not - I do think the name
"social media", especially when referring to Facebook, which in fact is
a dataminer dressed up as a site for people who want a site but
don't master html, is far too flattering, and since I am
against datamining I would rather call them "asocial media".
But as I said, part of that point is probably personal.
Secondly, I am not much interested in "shared social definitions", not because they are not important
(they are), but because most of them are neither true nor factual nor
science based, and because "social definitions" are often used to try
to make people conform
to some standard of what "being properly social" (in that
group, at that time) is supposed to mean by the majority
(again: for that
group, at that time).
Thirdly, trolling seems fairly well defined. Here is the first
paragraph of "Troll"
on Wikipedia (and I have seen trolls busy ever since I got internet in
In Internet slang, a troll (//, //) is a person who sows
discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people,
by posting inflammatory,
extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community
(such as a newsgroup, forum, chat
room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into
or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.
This is precise enough
for my purposes - and for those who seek more clarity, there also is
the metawiki article "What is a
Fourth, I agree with the rest: It is not trivial; I have seen "orchestrated and concerted campaign to
intimidate others into silence"; and indeed you know it best if you (or some friend)
has been trolled repeatedly, anonymously, and - as tends to be the case
nearly always - quite unreasonably, unfairly and unjustly.
Next, there is this (still keeping to generalities):
Yes, indeed. I will
below make some points, but first quote the last piece:
The bigger question is
whether the democratisation that social media embodies, the sense of
giving all a voice, can be consistent with a tolerant and forgiving
space. Anonymity is often defended as though everyone was about to
overthrow an evil dictatorship, but more typically it has become the
“freedom” to call someone on Question Time unshaggable.
Anonymity is the troll’s
only real-life friend. It allows a disinhibition online. Combined with
the fact that none of the normal feedback mechanisms of everyday life
exist – no eye contact, no authority figures, no sense that behaviour
is being monitored or reacted to by an actual person with feelings –
all of this means people seem to think there is no going too far and
there are no consequences.
But anonymity is
not of itself a noble virtue; its power can also be abused. The issue
here is one of accountability. Without any sense of mutuality or
accountability we create not an alternative to the mainstream media,
merely an antisocial media in which the same hierarchies take hold and
the same people get shouted down.
Quite so - and that is
indeed what is happening on many "social sites":
The impertinent, the rude, the stupid, the ignorant, the cruel or the
sadistic in the end set the tone, anonymously, of course, for all
(and there are more sadistic and ignorant people than one would
think, provided they are anonymous: that is at least one of the lessons
I have drawn); where the conversations only are
approved if they can be understood by all, and agreed to by most; and
where in the end only the stupid and the very patient remain - which
probably are the majority, for the moral
attitudes of the majority are best caught by saying they are conformistic.
What is my attitude? I have tried it on Phoenix Rising and got so
appalled and so much offended there (especially what was done there against intelligent others)
that I left that site after four months (in May 2010) and have had my
fill ever since: I know I am considerably more intelligent than the
vast majority; I know my degrees are the best there are in spite of my
disease and much opposition;
but I do not want to fight with some anonymous sick uneducated
stupid piece of enormous shit that I can't name and shame because he or
she is totally anonymous and completely unstoppable in his impolite
Therefore, since I also believe people have to be allowed to be
anonymous sometimes, I simply have withdrawn from any and all lists
that are not run by and for truly intelligent people, which
means that the only lists I do follow - as a member - are
related to programming, where indeed there rarely are fights, and most
fights are somewhat sensible and also soon over, and usually the
conversations are intelligent and about relevant questions (for
programmers, to be sure).
This is not something I favor: Actions for patients with ME
could and would be much better without trolls and sadists, but
since one cannot even write anything that is considered
abnormal by the average without being hunted down by trolls and
sadists, I am definitely out:
Those who want to know what I think have to go to my
site, and that is that.
powers are too weak, says crime agency boss
item is an article by Vikram Dodd on The Guardian:
This is about the English Edgar Hoover, who
is called Keith Bristow and is the head of the English National Crime
Agency, that also is known as "Britain's FBI".
My comparison of this
august person with the august American person goes deeper than a mere
coincidence of functions. Here is the start of the article - which is
Britons must accept a
greater loss of digital freedoms in return for greater safety from
serious criminals and terrorists in the internet age, according to the
country’s top law enforcement officer.
Keith Bristow, director
general of the National Crime Agency, said in an interview with the
Guardian that it would be necessary to win public consent for new
powers to monitor data about emails and phone calls.
Warning that the biggest
threats to public safety are migrating to the internet and that crime
fighters are scrambling to keep up, the NCA boss said he accepted he
had not done a good enough job explaining to the public why the greater
powers were necessary.
“What we have needs to be
modernised … we are losing capability and coverage of serious
Britons must not
accept that their private data are snooped up by the GCHQ and/or the
NSA, and Bristow lies about "serious criminals and terrorists", about whose activities he gives no real evidence
or information whatsoever.
Also, Britons should get
back the privacy they have lost: Their e-mails and phone calls and
photographs should not be snooped up and stolen. The only
reason to surveil one's e-mail and phone calls is that there is
evidence that one may have committed a crime, and some judge has given
permission to snoop, for a specific cause (that crime) and no longer
than a specific time.
Anything else is giving terroristic
powers to the most dangerous persons there are on earth: the secret
services of governments (of any kind, though indeed some are
more dangerous than others).
But yes, I understand
why this British Edgar Hoover wants to know everything about anyone:
He wants power,
and he doubletalks to get even more than the extreme powers he
Here is an example of his doubletalk:
He said: “If we seek to
operate outside of what the public consent to, that, for me, by
definition, is not policing by consent … the consent is expressed
Which means that he
says he thinks he has the public's consent if the present
Tory majority in parliament agrees to his ideas and desires (which
it very probably does).
And of course the
British Hoover has the ideas that one would expect:
Of whom or what he does
not deign to say. There is a lot more in the article, and men like
Bristow are dangerous but powerful, and like to be even more dangerous
The NCA boss said
Snowden’s leaks, principally to the Guardian, were a betrayal.
awesome dissection of internet hyperbole will make you cry and change
item is an article by Charley Brooker on The Guardian:
be sure, the title is satire, but it does adequately reflect
many articles on internet. In fact, most of the article is about Kate
Bush - or rather, about the enormous hype that many of her fans have
written on the internet.
will not treat that but the following does seem to be true, at least
about much on the internet (that I indeed tend to avoid):
We’ve ramped up the
hyperbole: it’s amazing; it’s awesome. We focus on the personal impact:
it’ll rock your world; it’ll change your life. You’ll be
so stuffed full of wonder you’ll split at the seams.
Generally, as a species,
we used to avoid these kind of exaggerated emotional outpourings. Still
do, in person. But online, people routinely claim to have been reduced
to tears by YouTube clips, Facebook posts, newspaper articles, and
that is again "the democratization" of the internet, where nowadays
almost everyone has a computer, and can indulge his or her worst
instincts anonymously, and often does so.
is also this:
All this babble about
being blown away, overcome, and reduced to a state of stunned amazement
used to be the preserve of creepy people in adverts, the kind of
grinning fictional gimps who’d burst into song if they enjoyed their
fish fingers. At least they were being paid to exaggerate their
opinions. We’re just trying to fit in, which is infinitely sadder
We’re trying to fit in
because exaggeration is the official language of the internet, a
talking shop so hopelessly overcrowded that only the most strident
statements have any impact.
Well... I am
not trying to fit in and most intelligent persons I know don't either.
But I agree this is
a problem, which in fact comes to this: Only now is it possible
to see what the truly ordinary minds - those with IQs maximally at 100,
with hardly any education, intelligence, curiosity, refinement,
voluntary politeness or relevant knowledge: there are billions
of them, and in the West most of them have computers and a Facebook
page - think about any topic that has become well-known. It's not
pretty, is the most polite qualification.
And I do not know any cure, other than trying to avoid the
masses of the dumb and the ignorant as best as one can. But as long as
the average IQ is 100, with all the gifts and the talents that come
with this, most people will want to know about the
Kardashians and sports and TV - and those who are in the minority of
being more intelligent just have bad luck and must accept they are in a
6. Start telling the hard truth, Nick Clegg –
there is no free lunch
item is an article by Polly Toynbee on The Guardian:
This has the following second
paragraph, after the first informed the reader that the Liberal
Democrats currently draw 7% of the British vote:
Watching the Lib
Dems try to writhe out of what they have done is sadly comical. Too
late, now, for Nick Clegg to promise red lines on “beating up on the poor” after holding the jackets of the
bully boys raining down blow after blow. Add here any epithets you like
for this fig-leaf party that has given such useful cover to a Tory
government more extreme than any since the war. Heap on the abuse for
their needless vote on the NHS act that put
everything out to tender. But there’s no need to iterate their sins of
commission and omission.
And there is this assessment
of the Liberal Democrats:
A Rip Van
Winkle asleep since 2010 would listen to the Lib Dems in Glasgow
and reckon them a reasonable lot. That’s their tragedy, waiting 80
years for that elusive hung parliament, only to be run down by the
train when it finally arrives. Power has dragged them deeper into the
bad habits of conventional politics, telling untruths and half-truths,
pretending tiny policies have big effects, boasting of things they
haven’t done, ducking responsibility for things they have.
Quite so. There is a lot more
in the article, but I will quote only one more bit, from the last
To the public the
Lib Dem promise-breakers traded their principles for red boxes. With
dismal polls, battalions of councillors lost, their boosterism rang
pretty hollow in a half-full conference where Clegg mugs sell at half
Again: quite so. (But I agree
I would not know who to vote for in Great Britain: The Tories
policies are nearly all quite horrible and mostly serve the rich and
only the rich; Labour mostly imitates the Tories; and the Liberal
Democrats defended the Tories, until very recently, and are quite
7. Cut benefits? Yes, let’s start with our £85bn corporate
next item is an article by Aditya Chakrabortty on The Guardian:
This starts as
Last week, as the
Tory faithful cheered on George Osborne’s new cuts in benefits for the working-age poor, a little story
appeared that blew a big hole in the welfare debate. Tucked away in the
Guardian last Wednesday, an article revealed that the British
government had since 2007 handed Disney almost £170m to make films here. Last year
alone the Californian giant took £50m in tax credits. By way of
comparison, in April the government will scrap a £347m crisis fund that
provides emergency cash for families on the verge of homelessness or
This is indeed quite
like it currently happens in the United States: The rich, especially
the banks and their managers, get billions to continue their
frauds, while these billions are taken in taxes from the non-rich and
the poor, who are discriminated and painted as "welfare-queens" or as
people asking for entitlements to eat, which then are denied to them by
Congress. (No more foodstamps, said Congress.)
As to that corporate
Whitehall, academia and NGOs have churned out enough surveys on social
welfare claimants to fill a wing of the Bodleian library. But corporate
welfare? The government has itself acknowledged: “There is no
definitive source of data about spending on subsidies to businesses in
the UK.” The numbers are scattered across government publications and
there is not even any agreement on what counts as a corporate handout.
Instead, what you get on the issue is silence. A very congenial silence
for the CBI and other business lobby groups, who can urge ministers to
cut benefits for the poor harder and faster, knowing their members are
still getting their bungs.
Chakrabortty gives the evidence for his claim (in the title) about the £85bn
corporate welfare handout (which also seems an underestimate, but let
I will leave that to
your interests, but I agree with the title.
Billion in Drug, Device Payments to
Doctors Not Included in New Federal Database
next item is an article by Charles Ornstein on Pro Publica:
This starts as follows, and is
quoted as a follow-up to the earlier items and articles on how well
American doctors are paid (if they conform to what Big Pharma wants)
which are here (also by Ornstein and
two others) and here (by Robert
So yes: this does
concern "drug and device industry
payments to doctors"; these
American doctors - more than half a million of them - and some
hospitals did get at least $4.5
billion dollars in "industry
payments"; and as Charles
Ornstein reports in this article, that also is an underestimate.
The federal government's
new database of drug and device industry payments to doctors is even
more incomplete than has been reported previously.
In a fact
sheet posted online, federal officials disclosed that the database,
Open Payments, is missing more than $1 billion in payments made
between August and December 2013. These omissions are in addition to
information the government has redacted from the payments it has
disclosed, citing inconsistencies.
Open Payments was
unveiled last week and included data on 4.4 million payments valued at
$3.5 billion. More than half a million doctors and about 1,360 teaching
hospitals received at least one payment.
But remember: all these - rich - doctors have "pure hearts" (copyright:
9. Ben Affleck Angrily Defends Islam
Against Bill Maher/Sam
The last item today is not an article but a video. It is by The Young
Turks, and it is quite long, for them at least, for it is 24 m 13 s:
The main reason it is here is
because of the following item on Bill Maher's show, with Ben Affleck, Bill Maher and Sam Harris:
This gets commented (in the
first of the above two items) and indeed also cited by Cenk Uygur, who is
a smart ex-muslim, who currently rejects all religion (as I
do - see the last link - but without any religious upbringing: my
parents were communists - and no, that doesn't bother me at all, for
they were intelligent, sincere and just, unlike many quasi-leftists I
have known, who were leftists mostly because that offered them personal
I think that Uygur and Affleck are mostly right, and Maher and Harris
are mostly wrong. You can judge yourself, if so inclined, but you
should be aware that Harris - whom I don't like, unlike the others: he
never seems to say anything original, and we both have very similar
degrees, so I can judge him quite well - is bullshitting (at least)
 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
if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my
More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn
It is more
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
from is quite pertinent.)
(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: