This is a Nederlog of Sunday, October 12. It is a crisis log.
However, since it also is a Sunday and there were not many crisis items
(three, in fact) I decided to add two other items that I found
interesting, and also added a sixth section on two rather good books I
Of course, you can skip the last three items, if you only read this
because of the crisis. And there very probably will be more crisis
1. The Snowden documentary shows that only
government transparency can stop leaks
item is an article by Trevor Timm on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
I haven't seen Citizenfour
(and will have to wait until it gets shown in Amsterdam), and also I am
not, as Trevor Timm is (or at least was till recently), the executive
director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, but I am fairly
skeptical about two of the above propositions, namely (1) "Transparency is coming, whether the
government likes it or not"
and (2) "the government
better act fast to stem the tide of unnecessary secrecy or have a
revolt on its hands".
Transparency is coming,
whether the government likes it or not. The only question is whether
they decide to bring it to the public before whistleblowers do it for
That’s the underlying
message of Laura Poitras’ mesmerizing new
documentary, Citizenfour about Edward Snowden and the National
Security Agency that debuted at the New York Film Festival on Friday
Others have hinted in the
past that the government better act fast to stem the tide of
unnecessary secrecy or have a revolt on its hands.
Let me start with the second. I have closely followed the press about
surveilling ever since I became aware of Edward Snowden's existence, on
June 10, 2013, basically
because I find it a sickening and obscene idea
that a few hundred thousands of people who secretly work for the
government can spy on anything one does with a computer and anything
one says in, or indeed around, a cell-phone, and I also think that if
this kind of spying is continued, very soon there will be no
democracy left in the West.
Now you may disagree with both of my points - but one of the things I
have definitely learned in the course of 16 months of following the
press on surveillance and Snowden, and indeed on many more things, is
that only a minority of those surveilled seem to care
that they are being surveilled, it seems to me because they do not
understand much about computers and do not know much about politics
So I do not expect any revolt over being surveilled as if one
is some sort of criminal who has no right on privacy: I really have
seen no evidence of any kind that suggests that the majority seriously
objects, let alone that it will revolt. (There is a very small chance I
am wrong, but relatively few can have a better idea than I do about
what has been published in the English speaking world about surveilling
- and I simply do not and did not see any major unrest.)
As to the first point: This seems mostly wishful
thinking. From the rest of the article it seems as if Timms is
convinced transparency is coming mainly because he thinks that if the
government doesn't give it, more Snowdens will stand up and provide the
transparency, but that does seem mostly wishful thinking, that
mostly seems to forget the many billions the U.S. government has
To be sure: I would like it much better if I thought
Timms were right.
But I do not know any evidence that suggests he is, and much
evidence that, at least for now, the U.S. government is much concerned
to keep the NSA spying on anyone, and I also can understand why they
would be: it gives them more power and more
insight than any person ever had, and it will enable
them to eventually arrest anyone they claim is "a terrorist",
regardless who it is, and regardless of his real status.
2. 'Global Frackdown' Aims to Slay Myths and Force End to
item is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This starts as
all over the world turned up their megaphones and took to the streets
of their communities on Saturday to partipate in the "Global Frackdown"
as they demanded an end to the destructive practice of
hydraulic-fracture drilling that the oil and gas industries are
aggressively trying to expand in regions across the planet.
“Across the globe a
powerful movement is emerging that rejects policies incentivizing
fracked natural gas as a bridge fuel to as sustainable future. Any
initiative claiming to promote sustainable energy for all must
stimulate energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, not foster
fracking for oil and gas,” said Wenonah Hauter, the executive director
of U.S.-based Food & Water Watch, which spear-headed the day
There is considerably
more under the last dotted link, including further opposition to the
TTIP and two other international trade deals.
But again, my own
judgement is that while I would much like to believe these
actions will be successful, I have seen over 40 years of environmental
actions, and while they did have some small successes, none saved much
Secretive "No-Fly List" Regime Crumbling,
item is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
That is a good result -
but note that this applies to thirteen persons, while there are very
many more who are denied the right to fly. Besides, of the thirteen
seven are allowed to fly again, but six are not.
Marking the first major
victory against the U.S. government's secretive 'No Fly List' on
Friday, seven people who challenged their inclusion on the list were
finally cleared and told they can once again enjoy the right to board
an aircraft and fly commercially over domestic airspace.
Responding to a federal
court order that resulted from a challenge brought by the ACLU on
behalf of thirteen American citizens placed on the list, Friday's
announcement by the Department of Homeland Security was described by
one attorney involved with the case as the first ever significant blow
to the "unfair and unnecessary secrecy regime" that surrounds the
government list that now contains thousands upon thousands of names.
Even that last fact is some step forward, as Yachot from the ACLU
milestone isn’t only significant for the seven American citizens who
can finally resume their lives," wrote Yachot on the ACLU's blog on
Saturday. "It also makes clear to the six other clients in the case
that they’re still banned from flying. And while that may not seem like
good news, it’s the first time the government has confirmed – albeit
through negative implication rather than a direct confirmation – that
people are on the No Fly List. It’s also a very basic victory for due
process, because under our Constitution, the government can’t watchlist
people and deny them basic freedoms without then telling them they’re
blacklisted and why."
For that is part of the
totalitarian approach that the U.S. government prefers: it does deny
basic freedoms, indeed quite secretly, for it also does not tell them
they have been placed on a No Fly List, nor why this was done.
In any case, this is a small success for the ACLU - but there are at
least 47,000 persons (according to The Intercept) on the No Fly List,
of which 800 are Americans, so there stiill is a considerable way to go.
The absurd history of English slang
item is an article by Jonathan Green on Salon:
In fact this is an
excerpt from a book Green wrote "The Vulgar Tongue: Green's History of
Slang", and it is here because I have been interested in English and
American slang since 1970, and indeed I bought then a dictionary of -
American - slang.
And no, this is definitely not part of the crisis - it is here because
I like the subject and there were not many articles on the crisis
For those who want a taste, here is a quotation:
A prostitute is
variously an apron, baggage, bangtail,
belfa, blowse, brimstone, commodity,
crack, doxy, Drury Lane vestal,
flap-cap, jilt, ladybird, lechery-layer,
mumper, night walker, petticoat,
quean, socket, suburb-jilt, tickle-tail
and tickle-tail function, trugmoldy,
trull and wagtail. He notes their male
accomplices the town stallion, town-bully, town
trap, or cock-bawd (all pimps) and the bully-huff,
who specializes in intimidating the client, the cully. The flogging-cully
is a fan of modern ‘fladge’. Intercourse is almost as
well represented: the verbs bounce, bum-feague, clip,
have, pump, shoot, sink,
tread, plus nouns basket-making and the
buttock-ball (an orgy).
There is a whole lot
more under the last dotted link.
5. Marijuana Study Reports Positive And
item is not an article but a video by The Young Turks:
takes 6 m 22 s, and is a fairly brief review of a long and thorough
study: This one took over 20 years, and was published in Addiction.
As far as marijuana is concerned, the finding is quite like my own
judgement, which is based on knowledge about 45 years of extended usage
of marijuana and hashish in Amsterdam (for there was already a 'house
dealer' in the Amsterdam Paradiso in 1969), which is briefly
that it is not dangerous at all, and indeed a lot less
dangerous than is alcohol. (This study gives a dose of 15 to 75 grams
as possibly lethal, which is an amount no smoker ever smokes in a day.)
the item is here mainly because Ana Kasparian - one of the presenters -
seems to have the same idea as I have (since a very long time, in my
case: at least since 1970): Decriminalize all drugs, including
heroine, cocaine and speed, namely for the very good
reason that this gives much better opportunities to help
those who are hooked on them (for these are serious and dangerous
drugs, but forbidding their usage doesn't help much, while it seriously
hinders all help).
currently there are some American states in which marijuana can be
bought and sold freely (which in fact is sooner than I expected), there
is a chance that eventually all drugs will be decriminalized (which
means that one could get one's heroine from a doctor, provided
accepts help to stop using it), which will be a large step forward,
though I expect this not to happen during my life.
6. Personal: Two rather good books
there weren't many crisis materials today (when I looked, fairly early
in the morning) here is something about my reading and about two rather
good books I read recently.
I have read a great
lot ever since I started reading aged 5, though this really started
around 7, when I became a member of an Amsterdam public library. In
fact, the pattern I set then, reading five or more books a week, was
taken up again when I was around 15 and persisted till I was 62. This
means that I must have read over 10,000 books, which is probably
correct, though I did not read all of all of them, and especially not
of library books (most of which I read for my studies).
Of course, it also
helped that I am ill since I was 28
(starting on 1.1.1979); that I do
not have a TV since I was 20; that I have a very high intelligence; and
that I read 7 languages easily.
This reading went on
at a rather great pace until I was 62, when it was almost wholly
by my getting a rather serious and quite painful case of kerato-
conjunctivitis sicca, aka "dry eyes", which prevented most of my
reading for some 1 1/2 years, simply because I could not read by far as
much nor as easily as the foregoing fortyfive years.
But by the end of
2013 I bought a bicyle (which I didn't have since the late 90ies),
which meant that I could reach my preferred second-hand Amsterdam
bookshop again ("The Book Exchange",
which I have been visiting since 1978), and in this year I picked up
again some of my reading habits, though my eyes are still not
good enough to return to the five books - of any kind, from literature
to mathematics and logic - a week.
Here are two brief
and partial reviews of two books I recently bought and read, that
seemed rather good to me.
First, there is "The
Chrystal Spirit - A study of George Orwell" by George Woodcock
which was published originally in 1966, while the copy I bought is a
Penguin from 1970.
Two reasons this is a
rather good book is that Woodcock was a Canadian anarchist, who also
lived in England for quite a while, and who wrote several books about
anarchism, of which I read one in the 1970ies, and who also knew George
Orwell personally, and was befriended with him.
Both are good reasons
to make a book about Orwell more interesting: It surely helps to have
known him in person, and while Orwell was not an anarchist - I think -
it does help to judge his leftist politics if one is an anarchist, not
only formally, as regards leftist politicis, but also personally, for
it helps to have an individualist point of view of one's own to judge
the individualist point of view of Orwell.
Also, this really is
a study of Orwell's books, mostly, and though it starts with a part
"The Man Remembered" it does not contain a real biography, in part
because Orwell had forbidden that, and in part because Woodcock thought
he might have been too close to Orwell.
In any case, I liked
the book, also without (quite) agreeing with it. If you are seriously
interested in Orwell and know most of his writings, this is a good
try to find a general picture of the man, indeed in part because it is
written by someone who was not a lit.crit. and who was in some respects
Second, there is "How
to live or A Life of Montaigne" by Sarah Bakewell.
This is recent: it
is from 2010. I like Montaigne a lot, ever since I first read him in my
twenties, and I have read several books about him, that were mostly a
disappointment, but this is both a good life and a decent discussion of
how to live.
both themes in 20 chapters, that each contain the question "How to
live?" with twenty different answers, and she succeeds quite well,
except for one complaint, that may be mostly mine: I think she is too
friendly to post- modernism. Then again, I am a philosopher who has
seen much of the harm it did in the university and the faculties where
I studied, while I grant that the fashion is now mostly over - but it
still seems to me too stupid to take seriously the vain imaginations
that postmodernists find or attribute to texts, but Bakewell takes it
seriously, and seems to enjoy it, and I did not.
That definitely is a
blemish, but the rest of the book stands up quite well.