2, 2014
Crisis: Mitchell, Computers, Fake History, Super PACs, Theo van Gogh
  "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

David Mitchell… on the age of rage
 The future of technology? It’s in your hands
3. Will the Right’s Fake History Prevail?
4. Secret Donors Behind Some Super PACs Funneling Millions
     into Midterms

5. Theo van Gogh was murdered on 2.xi.2004

About ME/CFS


This is a Nederlog of Sunday, November 2. It is a
crisis log.

But as I said, it also is a Sunday, and I found only four crisis items, with four dotted links, that follow below, but I do not think they are very interesting, except the second item, that was quite new for me, and illustrates how much the
internet has simplified computing in fact: Most of present-day computing is
done by mobile phones, and not any more by desktops or laptops.

Finally, today is also the day that it is ten years ago that Theo van Gogh was murdered in Amsterdam. I pay some attention to this in the last section, mainly because I was befriended with him from 1984 till 1991, and also made and published an interview with him in 1989. I link in the interview and some of
what I wrote in 2004, after his murder, but this is in Dutch.

Here goes:

1. David Mitchell… on the age of rage  
The first item is an article by David Mitchell on The Observer:
This is a columnist who writes in The Observer, and has this in the beginning:
(..) I’m pretty sure that 2008 marked the end of, and the beginning of, an era.
This was because the banks collapsed in 2008. There is more there, and it all starts with a picture of the bearded David Mitchell, on top of a grey covering, that
covers a stone, or at least a square, with his head on his hand, clearly thinking as hard as he can, also realizing that the end of an era happens to be the beginning of an era, and more deep thoughts...

Well, I think I can think, but I never posed as a wise man in a paper, and I suppose this was wrongly selected in view of passages like these:

And so the piss-taking began.

And, by “piss-taking”, I mean casino banking: the buying and selling of the intrinsically worthless. The immoral exploitation of the market in denial of its fundamental purpose – which was supposed to be to facilitate trade, to bring resources to enterprise, not to pass round empty financial concepts before anyone realises that they have no actual value, just a transitory and astronomical price. A system of money-making which involves no real wealth-creation at all – nothing made, no useful service provided, nothing done which remotely conforms to the ancient and fundamental laws of “what you should get paid for”.

And by “began”, I mean “intensified”. I may be a pitifully naive financial analyst but I’m not quite a shit enough historian to think that any of this market immorality was unprecedented. Dishonest but somehow legal bucks have probably been made since a microsecond after the invention of the buck. I know none of this was new – but the scale of the activity certainly was. As was the terrifying computer-driven speed at which it was practised.

And I assume it’s obvious what I mean by “And so the”.

There is a lot more under the last dotted, but I really can't handle the style.

2. The future of technology? It’s in your hands 

The next item is an article by John Naughton on The Guardian:

In fact, "it's in your hands" is meant literally: the mobile phone. And this starts as follows:

If a year is a long time in politics (and it is), then it’s an eternity in communications technology. Fourteen years ago, about 400 million people were using the internet. Today, the number of net users is pushing the 3 billion mark. But that’s not the really big news. What’s truly startling is that 2 billion of these folks are getting their internet connections primarily via smartphones, ie, handheld computers that can access the internet as well as make voice calls, send text messages and do the other things that old-fashioned “feature phones” could do.

I say. I did not know that, and indeed do not even have a mobile phone: it is expensive, small, I believe it is designed for simple minds and those who cannot type, and indeed I am hardly mobile myself, and I also don't like to be followed by the NSA.

But I agree the numbers are quite amazing. Here is John Naughton's explanation:

We underestimated both the power of Moore’s law and human nature. Gordon Moore’s “law” postulated that computing power – crudely measured as the number of transistors that can be fitted on to a processor chip – doubles every 18 months. That doubling has been going on for nearly 30 years and it helps to explain how Apple’s new iPhone 6 fits 625 times as many transistors on its CPU chip as the Intel Pentium chip had when it was powering a 1995 desktop PC. And much the same holds for the processors in the smartphones manufactured by Samsung et al. What this means is that “everyone gets a pocket supercomputer”.

Well... I agree in Moore's law, and indeed the particular evidence is quite amazing, for I had a computer with such a chip in 1996 when I got internet.
On the other hand, my own assessment of "the human situation" is less optimistic: I think much of the joys in using a mobile phone is that it is small,
easy to use, and it can do quite a few things - but you can't type, you probably
can't program these things themselves, and I find the screens very tiny.

But yes, this was a major change, in part because of this:

It’s difficult to overstate the implications of this change. Mr Evans points out, for example, that internet users already spend more time in mobile apps than they do on the web. This is partly because, in general, smartphones are far more sophisticated devices than PCs, but largely because they are always nearby and always on.

Which is again why I don't like them, next to their tiny screens, and impossible typing. But much more important is this fact, that I also did not know:

More Apple and Android phones have now been sold, for example, than all the Japanese cameras ever made. Microsoft’s share of personal computing device sales has declined from 90% in 2009 to about 20% now. And Apple (which is a minority player, remember, in the smartphone business) now makes almost as much revenue from iPhone sales as the entire PC industry does from making desktop and laptop computers.

I say, again. I keep being a desktop user, but I now know I am one in a very small minority: I use a desktop and I run Linux. And I keep thinking that if you
really want to use any kind of computer that I have known it must have a
decently sized screen, a keyboard and a mouse (for that still is the best way
to move the cursor), but yes: I really use my computer.

3. Will the Right’s Fake History Prevail? 

The next item is an article by Robert Parry on Consortium News:

This starts as follows:

If most polls are correct and voters elect a Republican-controlled Congress on Tuesday, a principal reason is that many Americans have been sold on a false recounting of the nation’s Founding Narrative. They have bought the Right’s made-up storyline about the Constitution’s Framers detesting a strong federal government and favoring states’ rights.

This notion of the Framers as enemies of an activist national government is untrue but has become a popular meme as promoted through the vast right-wing media and accepted by the timid mainstream press, which is unwilling to fight for an accurate portrayal of what the Federalists who wrote the Constitution intended.

As far as I can see that is correct, and there is a lot more under the last dotted link.

4. Secret Donors Behind Some Super PACs Funneling Millions into Midterms  

The next item is an article by Theodoric Meyer on Pro Publica:

This starts as follows:

In the final weeks before this year's elections, a super PAC called Key Questions, Key Answers started buying TV ads across Pennsylvania attacking Tom Wolf, the Democratic candidate for governor.

"Don't vote for a wolf in sheep's clothing," the narrator says in one of the ads as a sheep with Wolf's face bleats the word "taxes."

Like all super PACs — outside groups allowed to take unlimited amounts of money from individuals, corporations and unions — Key Questions must disclose its donors.

But last week, Key Questions told the Federal Election Commission it had just one, a social welfare nonprofit called Let Freedom Ring. Since social welfare nonprofits — sometimes called dark money groups — aren't required to identify their donors, it's impossible to say who's really behind Key Questions' last-minute ad blitz.

And that is part of the problem. There is a considerable amount more under the last dotted link.

5. Theo van Gogh was murdered on 2.xi.2004

Theo van Gogh was murdered today ten years ago, in Amsterdam, by a Muslim
fanatic. Who was Theo van Gogh, most of my readers very probably ask. The last link will give you some information from Wikipedia.

The information is reasonable, though a bit mistaken in claiming that

From the 1990s, Van Gogh worked in television

for he did make advertisements for TV before, though it is true he got his own TV program in the 1990s.

Anyway - I knew him from 1984 onwards and liked him, although I never agreed with him: he was original, had style, could formulate, and was regularly quite funny, and there simply are very few Dutchman one can say the same about.

Then again, I fundamentally disagreed with him about the Muslims, and indeed wrote out why, in 2003, which is the first piece I link in, because it is pretty fundamental and quite good (but in Dutch, like the rest of the links in this section):
Note this was sent to a collaborator of Van Gogh, more than a year before Van Gogh got murdered, and was originally not meant for publication. It seems to me that what I say is still quite reasonable, and it was never contradicted, although Theo van Gogh certainly read it in 2003.

Here is the news of Van Gogh's murder as it happened in 2004, which is documented quite well on my site since I had gotten a few months previous to Van Gogh's murder a new site, on which I had begun Nedernieuws in August 2004:
Again, this was immediately followed by a discussion with my brother, who did not know Van Gogh personally:
In fact, there is a whole lot more in the Nedernieuws of 2004, which you find here:
You'll find most of it by searching "Van Gogh". It is all in Dutch, but it also is quite good, especially when compared with the hysteria that moved Holland then.

To conclude, here are the two parts of the interview I made with him in 1989, together with notes I wrote in August 2009:
I still think this was a decent interview, and that my notes are also good. But it is all in Dutch, not in English, is also true.

Anyway - I have remembered Theo van Gogh, and I still think it is a great pity he was murdered.
[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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