This is a Nederlog of Saturday, November 15. It is a crisis log.
There are 8 items with 8 dotted links: Item 1 is
about art & surveillance (and contains some about my own - quite
non-standard but very well-informed - ideas about art you may skip); item 2 is about Hillary Clinton's huge promises; item 3 is about American psychologists, war and
government; item 4 is about AT&T (stopped
spying) and Verizon (still spying); item 5 is about
a new cold war; item 6 is about how the mainstream
media serve the U.S. government; item 7 is about a
new way of spying on American cellphones; item 8 is
nice video with Bill
Black (<- Wikipedia).
There is rather a lot for a Saturday, but OK - that's fine with me,
also since I did sleep well last night, which makes me feel a little
better than I did the last days.
And here goes:
1.Art in a Time of Surveillance
item is an article by Peter Maass on The Intercept:
You can’t throw a
rock these days without hitting a surveillance art project, and the
remarkable thing is that so much of it is so good. Some of the Snowden
era’s sharpest interrogations of collect-it-all tracking by
corporations and the government are to be found in galleries and other
art spaces. They are the opposite of the acronym-laden news stories we
read: NSA, FISA, PGP, PRISM, ACLU, EFF, SIGINT, GCHQ, TOR, FOIA, HTTPS,
are you still awake? They are playful, invasive and eerie, and best of
all they are graphically visual. With a transgressive edge that
journalism struggles to match, they creatively challenge what it means
to be human in a time of data.
I say. Indeed, I am
willing to believe it (well... except for "they creatively challenge what it means to be
human in a time of data":
that I really don't understand ), but I
have to admit that
(i) this is new for me - i.e. however much creative and challenging art
there is in art houses or on the internet, very little of it
registered with me (and I do follow daily and weekly papers
most, and the same for the internet) and also (ii) - which may be part
of the reason for (i) - I am fairly sure that I am not a good
(i.e. sympathetic, kind, welcoming, glad) judge of any modern
art, indeed since my childhood.
The last point needs a bit of explanation. When I was 8 or 10, a Dutch
noble-born person, who then was the director of the Amsterdam Municipal
Museum for Modern Art, got in the Dutch papers in a big way
had said anything
may be art, anyone may make art, and to tear figures from the
paper was just
as well and just as good an art as what any
well-known painter -
Rembrandt, Rafael, Titian, for example - did.
I know about this because this was quite seriously treated in school -
I completely disagreed, as the only one in my school: I could
fairly well, and better than most; I had a mind to think with; and even
then this seemed to me to be an intentional reduction of
Rafael, Titian, for example - to the prejudices, tastes, and values of
the utterly talentless, for the essential part of the thesis,
made it very well-known, was that, at least as far as art is
concerned, everybody is as good as anybody, and the
talentless and the stupid may ask as much or more for their abstract
the finest draughtsmen and the most committed and well-trained talents.
But thus it happened. Also by then (the early Sixties) the new
architecture - extra-ordinary ugly blocks
of concrete good for nothing but completely over the top false and
dishonest architectural bullshit - was
arising and destroying very
that was, if not good or excellent, at least quite a bit better than
the rot - think Birmingham, think English cities - that replaced it.
It is not that I dislike all modern art, that I will here
very simply as: art that was made the last 100 to 150 years or so. I like
quite a few films, for example; I like
some pop music, mostly from
the sixties; I like a few writers (Orwell, Miller, Heller, for
- but that is about it, and not because I am
uninterested or insensitive, but because I tend to like the art -
architecture, painting, writing, and also the intellectual climate - of
the 18th and early 19th
Century (Mozart, Beethoven) a lot more than most that was
the name "art" in the twentieth century.
And as this really started for me when I was 8 or 10, at least this was
sincere, though I suppose I must say "sorry, sorry, sorry".
Anyway... let's say this must be my depraved and definitely non-modern
set of aesthetic values, and return to Peter Maass. He tells us, quite
a bit further on in his article, that:
The latest wave of
surveillance art has been evident for a number of years, especially
since 9/11, which increased the powers and budgets of intelligence
agencies in the United States and elsewhere. The wave seems to have
grown larger in the wake of the leaks from NSA whistleblower Edward
Snowden, and this is fortunate.
And again a bit later:
projects engage us with the problems of surveillance in ways that news
stories and congressional hearings do not. There’s a freshness to each
one, and the list lengthens every day.
Also, he ends the
article with a list of no less than 19 "surveillance
projects and artists" that
may be worth looking into.
In fact, I will - and I will tell you if I find
anything I do really like, and only if so.
(But don't count on it that you will hear from me: there is really not
much modern art that gives me joy or understanding, and I also do not
- really - think that is my fault.)
Step Aside: There is Genuine Excitement Over a Hillary Clinton Candidacy
item is an article by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
It’s easy to strike a
pose of cynicism when contemplating Hillary Clinton’s inevitable (and
terribly imminent) presidential campaign. As a drearily
soulless, principle-free, power-hungry veteran of DC’s game of
thrones, she’s about as banal of an American politician as it gets. One
of the few unique aspects to her, perhaps the only one, is how the
genuinely inspiring gender milestone of her election will (following
the Obama model) be exploited to obscure her primary role as guardian
of the status quo.
That she’s the beneficiary
of dynastic succession – who may very well be
pitted against the next heir in line from the regal Bush dynasty (this
one, not yet this
one) - makes it all the more tempting to regard #HillaryTime
with an evenly distributed mix of boredom and contempt. The tens
of millions of dollars the Clintons have jointly
“earned” off their political celebrity - much of it
speaking to the very globalists, industry groups, hedge funds, and
other Wall Street appendages who would have among the largest stake in
her presidency - make the
spectacle that much more depressing (..)
But then you should not
be cynical about such an excellent candidate for the bank
and I am here summarizing a whole lot, but the evidence is under the
last dotted link, and is in terms of quoted articles (and it's all bold
because it is thus in the quoted articles, that are quoted at much
Wall Street:(..) the big bankers
love Clinton, and by and large they badly want her to be president.
The Israel Lobby:
Both Bill and Hillary are so enamored with the idea of Israel and its
unique history that they are prone to make certain allowances for the
reality of Israel’s behavior, such as the continuing construction of
(i.e., war zealots): (..) former Secretary
of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who remains the vessel into which many
interventionists are pouring their hopes. Old
school neocons: (..) neocons may be preparing a
more brazen feat: aligning themselves with Hillary Rodham Clinton and
her nascent presidential campaign (..)
So clearly, this is
why Glenn Greenwald is so stirred:
So take that, cynics.
There are pockets of vibrant political excitement stirring in the
land over a Hillary Clinton presidency.
And she may well make
the presidency, in these frabjous times...
3. Psychologists Are Rethinking Their Cozy
Relationship with Bush Torture Program
item is an article by Cora Currier on The Intercept:
This starts as
follows, and indeed is only here because I am - among other things - a
psychologist (but a Dutch one):
The top professional
organization for psychologists is launching an
independent investigation over how it may have sanctioned
the brutal interrogation methods used against terror suspects by
the Bush administration. The American Psychological Association announced
this week that it has tapped an unaffiliated lawyer, David
Hoffman, to lead the review.
In 2002, the American
Psychological Association (APA) revised its code of ethics to allow
practitioners to follow the “governing legal authority” in situations
that seemed at odds with their duties as health
professionals. Many argue that the revision, as well
as a task force report in 2005 that affirmed that the code allowed
psychologists to participate in national security interrogations, gave
the Bush administration critical legal cover for torture.
I have reported on
this before, on October 18 of this
year, and said then that (and I quote myself):
From 2002 to 2010, what
the "Ethics Code" told American
psychologists to do, was to make an assumption that the
conflict they are making good money from is in fact "unresolvable"
(this must always be an assumption), and to conclude
from this that if "the government" meanwhile has turned christian or
authoritarian or fascist or
anything else, then still
American psychologists could continue to make good money by watching
"enhanced interrogations" and such - for the government is
So I quite agree with
Cora Currier that this was a most unfortunate, invalid and immoral
change - for which reason I disagree with the (anonymous)
"Many" who maintain that: "Many
that the revision, as well as a task force report in 2005
that affirmed that the code allowed psychologists to participate in
national security interrogations, gave the Bush administration critical
legal cover for torture."
For that seems a totally false inference - "criticallegal cover" ?! - from what was indeed a major
mistake on the part of the American
There is more in the
article, and it ends as follows:
The APA said it
would look into “whether there is any factual support for the
assertion that APA engaged in activity that would constitute collusion
with the Bush administration to promote, support or facilitate the use
of ‘enhanced’ interrogation techniques.”
This in fact is quite
good, and also quite necessary, given that we live in a time when secret
agencies who work for the government spy on everyone
frequently also strike false poses to further their own agendas.
4.AT&T Stops Tracking Customers but Verizon Remains
Committed to Prying
item is an article by Julia Angwin that I found on Truthdig but that
appeared on ProPublica:
AT&T says it has
stopped its controversial practice of adding a hidden, undeletable
tracking number to its mobile customers’ Internet activity.
“It has been phased off
our network,” said Emily J. Edmonds, an AT&T spokeswoman.
The move comes after
AT&T and Verizon received a slew
coverage for inserting tracking numbers into their subscribers’
Internet activity, even after users opted out. Last month, ProPublica
reported that Twitter’s mobile advertising unit was enabling its
clients to use the Verizon identifier. The tracking numbers can be used
by sites to build a dossier about a person’s behavior on mobile devices
2013 including which apps they use, what sites they visit and for how
The controversial type of
tracking is used to monitor users’ behavior on their mobile devices
where traditional tracking cookies are not as effective. The way it
works is that a telecommunications carrier inserts a uniquely
identifying number into all the Web traffic that transmits from a
There is more under the
last dotted link, that includes that AT&T has stopped, but may
continue, but then only if a customer agrees, whereas Verizon still
spies as much as it can, and still adds supercookies, but this I leave
to your interests.
Can the World Avert a
New Cold War?
item is an article by Annie Machon
(<- Wikipedia) on Consortium News:
This contains the
following bit (that I agree with, although I do not know about the
details in the second paraghraph):
After a panicked
phase of playing catch-up to the Internet’s exhilarating burst of
democratization, Western spy agencies saw the potential for total
mastery of the Internet, creating a surveillance panopticon, a
single location from which a watchman can observe all inmates of an
institution without them knowing they are being watched. In this case,
the institution was the entire planet and the inmates were the world’s
people. It was an opportunity that the KGB or the Stasi could only have
fantasized about. Thanks to Edward Snowden, we are now beginning to get
glimpses of the full horror of the surveillance under which we all
(...) we are indeed
facing a new Cold War, and this time it is clearly of America’s
making. But Europe will bear the brunt, through trade sanctions, energy
shortages and even, potentially, war. It is time we Europeans broke
away from our American vassalage and looked to our own future.
Yes - though I must ask,
given that I lived for 40 years in a cold war, whether that is really
negative, provided (1) it does not end in war, and provided (2)
considerably more gets known about the incredible destructions modern
weapons are capable of, precisely because (3) I feel certain that an
between the U.S. and Russia or China means the end of human
Also, I am merely asking: I do not know.
6. As New War Rages, Study Finds,
Mainstream Media Silences
item is an article by Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) on
While Congress may soon
debate the ongoing US wars in Iraq and Syria, a new
FAIR study shows that at the critical moments leading up to the
escalation of US military action, mainstream media presented almost no
debate at all.
The study of key TV news
discussion programs from September 7 through 21 reveals that guests who
opposed war were scarce.
You can get the FAIR
study from the last link. Indeed, I am not amazed at all, having
concluded that the free press in the U.S. is mostly dead, and especially
in the mainstream media.
And while I agree that is a major problem (no free press
implies no democracy, indeed: You really need at least an
adequately informed electorate, and this means a free press) the
present study, which I agree is worthwile, only covers the news between
September 7 and September 21, and only as regards a specific question.
But OK - I agree the
free press is mostly dead in the U.S., and this is fair if restricted
Also, it shows how it
works: Not - so far, at least (!) - by locking
up people with opinions the government doesn't like, but far more
simply by denying them an audience.
7. Revealed: US Agency Using Spy Planes to
Fool Cell Phones,
Capture Data The
item is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
According to new
reporting by the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Marshals
Service—an arm of the Department of Justice—has been using small
aircraft equipped with technology that can mimic the functions of cell
towers in order to capture the data contained on phones and mobile
devices of people across large areas on the ground below.
Citing those familiar
with the program, the Journalreport
(subscription) reveals how the program's use of so-called "dirtbox"
technology is part of "a high-tech hunt for criminal suspects that is
snagging a large number of innocent Americans" in a dragnet approach
that will remind some of similar techniques known to be used by the
National Security Agency and other federal agencies.
The WSJ reporting relates
how the Marshals Service operate a fleet of specially-outfitted Cessna
airplanes which can take off from "at least five metro-area airports,"
allowing the aircraft a range that covers "most of the US population."
because the "dirtbox" devices "emulate a cell tower, they can pick up
thousands or tens of thousands of signals from other citizens who
aren’t being targeted by the Marshals."
I say: No personal
and private data are safe in a climate - like the U.S. - where the
government absolutely refuses to maintain those laws it
This is from Kate Knibbs:
This is a huge deal. If
the details in the WSJ are accurate, this program is as invasive and
disturbing as the
NSA surveillance programs exposed last year.
American Civil Liberties
Union chief technologist Christopher Soghoian told
the WSJ that this was "a dragnet surveillance program. It's
inexcusable and it's likely—to the extent judges are authorizing
it—[that] they have no idea of the scale of it."
And this is from The
indiscriminate collection would permit the marshals and potentially
other justice department agencies to avoid having to seek records from
the phone companies themselves, especially in criminal investigations
where a court order may be required.
The legal basis for the
previously undisclosed program is unclear. It is not reportedly a
national security or counterterrorism program, but instead used to
There is more under
the last dotted link, and I merely repeat what I said under the first
personal and private data are safe in a climate - like the U.S. - where
the government absolutely refuses to maintain those
does not like.
And that is the
8.Bill Black and Marshall
Auerback Discuss Why Economists and Regulators Don’t Use “Fraud”
and last item today is an article by Yves Smith on Naked Capitalism (in
introduction to a video, that follows):
This starts as follows
(and introduces the video):
Yves here. Bill
Black discusses his favorite topic, fraud, with Marshall Auerback of
the Institute of New Economic Thinking. Some of this talk is familiar
terrain for those who know Black’s work, such as Black’s well-argued
criticism of the failure of financial regulators to make criminal
referrals for misconduct in the runup to the financial crisis. Even so,
many readers are likely to find new information here, such as the
number of FBI agents assigned to handle white collar fraud, and how
some regulators during the savings & loan crisis defied
Congressional pressure to go easy on failing and defrauded banks, and
the career costs they paid.
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.)
 In case you do understand: (1) What is "a
time of data" and why is this time more "a time of data" than other times, and if so, why is this important;
(2) what is the meaning of "human" "in a time of data"; (3) how can
this be "challenged" by other human beings, and indeed what is it that
is being "challenged"; and also (4) what is the meaning of "means" in "what it means to be human"? I'm only asking - and yes
I know various answers, but even so:
the phrase is virtually meaningless, at least to one with my mind, that
also knows a very great amount of philosophy and logic as well: I'm
really baffled (and indeed often am when I read about "modern
(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: