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."
surveillance 'worse than Orwell', says new UN
Why is China's stock market falling and how might it
affect the global economy?
3. Email from a Married,
Female Ashley Madison User
4. Can Climate Change Cure Capitalism?
5. me+M.E. - August 2015
This is a Nederlog of Tuesday
August 25, 2015.
This is a crisis
blog. There are 5 items with 4 dotted links: Item 1
is about the new UN privacy chief (I am not very optimistic); item 2 is about the Chinese stock market failing (but
I decided to report facts, but not speculations); item 3
is about another article by Glenn Greenwald about Ashley Madison and
privacy; item 4 is about an article from December
2014 about Naomi Klein's last book, that I then missed; and item 5 is the monthly report on me+M.E.: I am still
doing too much in the beginning of May (!), but it may be picking up
again, although that is far from certain.
surveillance 'worse than Orwell', says new UN privacy chief
article of today
is by Adam Alexander on The Guardian:
This is a somewhat
ambiguous review, but I will explain my reasoning. But first there is
this, from the beginning of the article:
I agree with all of this, and
indeed am a determined non-user of Facebook and Twitter (see here for Facebook and here for Twitter), not only because I
like my privacy, but because I also much dislike Facebook and
Twitter and have no use for them either: I can write my own
site, and have done so for 19 years, and I have an e-mail that
can send more than 148 characters also since 19 years. 
Speaking to the Guardian
weeks after his appointment as the UN special rapporteur on privacy,
Joseph Cannataci described British surveillance oversight as being “a
joke”, and said the situation is worse than anything George Orwell
could have foreseen.
He added that he doesn’t
use Facebook or Twitter, and said it was
regrettable that vast numbers of people sign away their digital rights
without thinking about it.
“Some people were
complaining because they couldn’t find me on Facebook. They couldn’t
find me on Twitter. But since I believe in privacy, I’ve
never felt the need for it,” Cannataci, a professor of technology law
at University of Groningen in the Netherlands and head of the
department of Information Policy & Governance at the University of
Next, there is this:
Well... I agree
Britain's "oversight" in fact is not oversight but protection
of the secrecy of the governmental thieves of privacy.
But for Cannataci –
well-known for having a mind of his own – it is not America but Britain
that he singles out as having the weakest oversight in the western
world: “That is precisely one of the problems we have to tackle. That
if your oversight mechanism’s a joke, and a rather bad joke at its
citizens’ expense, for how long can you laugh it off as a joke?”
He said proper oversight is
the only way of progressing, and hopes more people will think about and
vote for privacy in the UK.
But I think the same is true of the NSA, and if the American situation
is less bad than the British one (which I don't know because I do
know that I don't know more than at most 1% of what I would like to
know about the NSA and the GCHQ ) it is so
basically because there was an American Bill of Rights that still has
not been completely destroyed.
As to the "bad joke" and the expense of the citizens whose private data
are stolen: I agree, indeed also about the term - but it seems to me
(who has been following especially the NSA and GCHQ rather closely for
over 2 years now) that
the bad jokes can be continued indefinitely as long as most users of
hardly know anything about programming or computers, don't care to
generally also lack the intelligence or the time to find out. 
Finally, I think Cannataci is both right and mistaken in
supporting "proper oversight" as "the only way of progressing": Proper
oversight - although it does
leave this term undefined - is one major way to go ahead, but until
(and I do not see arriving it soon) proper encryption
will do part of the job that
needs doing, namely keeping the things that are and ought to be private
as private as one can.
Then there is this:
And I am sorry, but here
I grow quite skeptical, and that for three reasons:
Although Cannataci admits
his job is a complex one that is not going to be solved with a magic
bullet, he says he is far from starting from scratch and believes there
are at least four main areas – including a universal law on
surveillance, tackling the business models of the big tech
corporations, defining privacy and raising awareness among the public.
“I would say it’s
impossible to achieve in three years. And it’s probably impossible to
achieve even if the mandate is renewed to six years, if you’re trying
to do too much. But I do think that – at least my view of things in a
field like human rights – is the longer term view, right? The impact
must be felt in the long term.”
However, Cannataci says
we are dealing with a world even worse that anything Orwell could have
foreseen. “It’s worse,” he said. “Because if you look at CCTV alone, at
least Winston [Winston Smith in Orwell’s novel 1984] was able to go out
in the countryside and go under a tree and expect there wouldn’t be any
screen, as it was called. Whereas today there are many parts of the
English countryside where there are more cameras than George Orwell
could ever have imagined. So the situation in some cases is far worse
(1) Cannataci has the job for a mere three years;
(2) it is a UN job; and (3)
he is a double professor in Holland (University of Groningen) and Malta.
First, three years is not much, and indeed far too little to hope for
much success. Second, I know about the UN from people who have worked
there: it is basically
a sick institution that caters to careerists, who
are well paid but whose reports are not often taken serious. And third,
precisely the same is true of the Dutch "uni- versity"-system, that is so
bad that I refuse to call them "universities" without scare
For me, these are three reasons all pointing the same way: A
kind of posed radicalism that will be mostly limited to the UN, but
that will meanwhile be very well paid.
Again, the four areas he distinguished suggest the same:
First, "a universal law on
surveillance" is not
necessary other than insisting that
the laws for mail and privacy also hold for the internet,
and cannot be deregulated
away by a phony Patriot Act.
Second, "the business models of the big tech corporations" are in part
based on fraud and deception, but
also are very profitable, and it will be very difficult to challenge or
change them as a professor in Groningen.
Third, "privacy" does not need (re-)defining for computer
users: One needs to insist that computer users are subject to laws, and
that the two main reasons that privacy is massively broken is that the
internet was mostly unencrypted, and the
"big tech corporations", aided by illegal signatures of Bush Jr.,
simply invaded the computers of everyone because they could.
Fourth, "raising awareness among the public" is mostly a pipe dream,
that is about as effective as is raising awareness about the physics of
transportation or about the importance of linear algebra: Half of the
public that currently uses
computers has an IQ that is at most 100, and however desirable
a vastly increased awareness about these things might be, the vast
majority just won't care.
Finally, Cannataci is right that the situation is far
worse than Orwell could imagine, for he did not imagine 24 hours a day
constant surveillance by machines that register everything,
down to the latest breath one took; one's mood; the pills one takes;
and one's precise position within 1 1/2 meters, and save and
share these data with whomever (because they are all stolen
behind one's back, in part in "exchange" for the "gift" of
The last bit I will quote is correct, though not formulated clearly:
“We have a number
of corporations that have set up a business model that is bringing in
hundreds of thousands of millions of euros and dollars every year and
they didn’t ask anybody’s permission. They didn’t go out and say: ‘Oh,
we’d like to have a licensing law.’ No, they just went out and created
a model where people’s data has become the new currency. And
unfortunately, the vast bulk of people sign their rights away without
knowing or thinking too much about it,” he said.
Yes, but it was not
so much that some obscure "corporations" "created a model":
What happened in fact
is that because the internet was not encrypted, (1) anybody who could
tap e-mails could read them (which is very much cheaper and very
much less labor-intensive than holding up all paper mails, steaming
them open, and photocopying their contents), indeed by means of
machines, and store the results on computers of the secret services,
Facebook or AT&T, and (2) this
happened as a matter of course since 9/11/01 after Bush Jr.
signed the Patriot Act, even though it was illegal and immoral
and a theft of all privacy of anyone (as it has turned
out): it was done because it could be done and because it
promised and promises total power: absolutely
nothing will be unknown to the anonymous supermen who work for the
NSA (if they get their way, which they currently do).
So it seems to me that the probability is that Cannataci has a very well paying job that will allow him to say
a few radical things that will have few listeners and little influence.
I would have much
liked it if it were different, but what I know about the climate in the
UN and about Dutch "universities" makes this a nearly inescapable
Why is China's stock market falling and how might it affect the global
The next article is by Katie Allen on The
This starts as
follows - and is reported by me in the morning of Tuesday, August 25,
after the "Black Monday" of the previous day:
OK - that seems a fair
if minimal description. Then there is this:
What has happened in
China’s stock market has
fallen sharply over recent weeks despite measures by officials in
Beijing aimed at calming investors’ jitters and shoring up global
confidence in the country’s slowing economy.
Shares in China had
soared 150% in the 12 months to mid-June as individual investors piled
into the rising market, often borrowing heavily to do so. But chiming
with warnings that shares were overvalued and the
signs of an economic slowdown, the momentum came to a shuddering halt
when shares hit a seven-year peak.
Following another plunge
on what was dubbed “Black Monday”, China’s stock markets have now given
up all their gains for the year.
China’s shock move to devalue its currency, the yuan,
this month only served to intensify worries about the world’s
Is this a repeat of the
2008 global financial crisis?
Some of the falls on
stock markets are certainly reminiscent of the swings seen around the
time of the collapse of the US bank Lehman Brothers. The FTSEurofirst
300, a pan-European share index, suffered its biggest one-day drop
since late 2008, losing 5.4%. For Shanghai’s composite index, Monday’s
8.5% slump was the biggest since February 2007.
But some economists say
the parallels stop there. They see limited risk to China’s real economy
from the stock market turmoil and little to be worried about beyond China.
In fact, there is a whole
lot more, in this article and in quite a few other articles, both on
The Guardian and elsewhere, that "interprets" the changes, but I must
say I think almost all of that is mere journalistic or economic vanity
that very strongly reminds me of the reams of bullshit and
trash that were published in the last four months of 2008.
So I will try to miss out on speculation, economists and journalists,
simply because no one can accurately predict the stock
exchanges. I will report on
the facts, and the facts
are that the second economy of the world is having
large problems, that have spilled over elsewhere.
The rest remains to
be seen (and I will inform you).
from a Married, Female Ashley Madison User
The next article is
by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
Ever since I wrote
on Thursday about the Ashley Madison hack and resulting reactions
and consequences, I’ve heard from dozens of people who used the
site. They offer a remarkably wide range of reasons for
having done so.
In fact, I dealt with
Glenn Greenwald's article the next day
and I agreed with him.
In this article, he quotes an e-mail he received, which I leave to your
interests, and concludes as follows:
Yes, indeed. In fact -
and this is an interesting example of what happens if
As I argued last week,
even for the most simplistic, worst-case-scenario,
cartoon-villain depictions of the Ashley Madison user — a spouse
who selfishly seeks hedonistic pleasure with indifference toward
his or her own marital vows and by deceiving the spouse — that’s
nobody’s business other than those who are parties to that marriage or,
perhaps, their family members and close friends. But as the fallout
begins from this leak, as people’s
careers and reputations
begin to be ruined, as unconfirmed reports
emerge that some users have committed suicide, it’s worth
remembering that the reality is often far more complex than the smug
The private lives and
sexual choices of fully formed adults are usually very complicated and
thus impossible to understand — and certainly impossible to judge
— without wallowing around in the most intimate details, none of which
are any of your business. That’s a very good reason not to try to sit
in judgment and condemn from afar.
privacy gets broken, though indeed it seems to be so painful that there
some suicides because of it - I go further:
"The private lives
and sexual choices of fully formed adults" are none "of your business"
unless - perhaps
- you are the mate (marital partner etc.) of them, and indeed rather
precisely as these things were - more or less - regulated in the days
had to buy small ads in daily or weekly papers.
And also I extend this simply to "the private lives" of nearly
everyone, nearly all the time: These are the business of those
whose life it is, and not of anybody else, unless
there is evidence of a crime, and some judge has decided that
in this case some of the privacy may be broken for the end of
obtaining more evidence. (I guess Glenn Greenwald agrees.)
Climate Change Cure Capitalism?
The next item is by
Elizabeth Kolbert on The New York Review of Books:
In fact, this article
is from December 2014, when I managed to miss it. It is here because I
am sympathetic to the argument. But I will not quote much of the
article (to which there was an
answer by Naomi Klein, that again was answered by Elizabeth
Kolbert), and will do with two bits.
The first outlines
the basic positions:
What explains our
collective failure on climate change? Why is it that instead of dealing
with the problem, all we seem to do is make it worse?
In fact, I think I
disagree with both basic positions: I do not think
"climate change is
a problem that can be tackled without major disruption to the status quo" and I also do not think that
the "only hope of avoiding
catastrophic warming lies in radical economic and political change".
These questions lie at
the center of Naomi Klein’s ambitious new polemic, This Changes
Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. “What is wrong with us?”
Klein asks near the start of the book. Her answer turns upside-down the
narrative that the country’s largest environmental groups have been
According to these groups,
climate change is a problem that can be tackled without major
disruption to the status quo. All that’s needed are some smart policy
Former president Jimmy
Carter recently summed up this line of thinking when he told an
audience in Aspen: “I would say the biggest handicap we have right now
is some nutcases in ouritem 5 country who don’t believe in global
warming.”Klein doesn’t just disagree with Carter; she sees this line of
thinking as a big part of the problem. Climate change can’t be solved
within the confines of the status quo, because it’s a product of
the status quo. “Our economic system and our planetary system are now
at war,” she writes. The only hope of avoiding catastrophic warming
lies in radical economic and political change. And this—again,
according to Klein—is the good news.
And in fact, I think climate change has happened, and there is
little that can be done about it, simply because the problem is too
big. This might seem to land me among the supporters of Naomi
Klein, but that is a mistake, in part because of this:
In place of “degrowth”
she offers “regeneration,” a concept so cheerfully fuzzy I won’t even
attempt to explain it. Regeneration, Klein writes, “is active: we
become full participants in the process of maximizing life’s
To draw on Klein
paraphrasing Al Gore, here’s my inconvenient truth: when you tell
people what it would actually take to radically reduce carbon
emissions, they turn away. They don’t want to give up air travel or air
conditioning or HDTV or trips to the mall or the
family car or the myriad other things that go along with consuming
5,000 or 8,000 or 12,000 watts. All the major environmental groups know
this, which is why they maintain, contrary to the requirements of a
2,000-watt society, that climate change can be tackled with minimal
disruption to “the American way of life.” And Klein, you have to
assume, knows it too. The irony of her book is that she ends up exactly
where the “warmists” do, telling a fable she hopes will do some good.
Yes, indeed. You cannot
change the climate (if indeed you can at all )
if the great majority simply does not want to do the necessary
things, which I agree are quite radical. (For more, see the index of 2014, and search with
5. me and M.E. - August 2015
The final item for
today is not an article but a report on my M.E. which I have now since
January 1, 1979. I will not hold you up summarizing a lot, and merely
refer you - in case you are interested - to the
previous report, from which I also cite this bit:
The brief update is that
am not well and not as good as the last year, though also not as bad as
I was between 2005 and 2010, and that I very probably was set back by
having to do too much starting the end of April of this year.
That also was the
case for the last month, and indeed I stopped using the vitamins I took
on August 2 and instead used only 1 VM-75 and 2 C a day until August
22, when I started with this:
vitamin C: 2
That does seem
to pick me up some, and is a simplified and somewhat diminished version
of what did help me in 2012. But it remains to be seen
This decreased the dose I
have been taking by 2 grams a day.
I take 1
pill a day of each, which together with the Multi Total gives the daily
pills a day
This gives 400 mg a day.
pill a day
This gives 1000 mcg a day.
pills a day.
This gives the daily
required amount, together with Multi Total.
Vit mB12 5000 mcg:
1 pill a day.
Multi Total: 1 pill a day.
This gives the daily recommend dosage (which is much too low
in vitamins, but is sufficient in minerals).
how much this will help me.
I really think the enormous popularity of Facebook and Twitter is a
direct consequence of the low intelligence of the vast majority of
their users, that prevented their learning to write their own sites and
prevented their having a
need to communicate in anything beyond slogans.
Incidentally, I am not an opponent of secret services, nor
an opponent of the thesis that much more needs to be kept in secret
about them than about other governmental activities.
What I am
a strong opponent of is that at present and since 2001 the
Western secret services illegally and immorally steal all
the private data of - by now - billions of users hardly
anyone of whom is "a terrorist", which they do steal not
because they are in battle against "terrorism" but because the data
they gather will give them far more powers to control anyone and
everyone than were possible to the Gestapo, the Stasi and the KGB.
Here is the
late Senator Frank Church:
In the need
to develop a capacity to know what potential enemies are doing, the
United States government has perfected a technological capability that
enables us to monitor the messages that go through the air. Now, that
is necessary and important to the United States as we look abroad at
enemies or potential enemies. We must know, at the same time, that
capability at any time could be turned around on the American people,
and no American would have any privacy left such is the capability to
monitor everything—telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't
matter. There would be no place to hide.
If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge
in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence
community has given the government could enable it to impose total
tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most
careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no
matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government
to know. Such is the capability of this technology.
I don't want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the
capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must
see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this
technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that
we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is
best of my knowledge we are now at a situation in which
would have any privacy left
and we are
now in a situation in which (bolding added):
capacity that the intelligence community has given the
government could enable it to impose total tyranny
the abyss from
which there is no return.
What will happen is anybody's
guess. It may be possible to prevent tyranny, but
only if the legislation that existed until 9/11 is
kept working and everything that
passes through the internet is encrypted, and indeed unbreakably so.
 I am sorry if I offended you, but my IQ
is not maximally 100, as is true of 50% of the population, and
I do think that the average intelligence is a dominant factor in
politics, basically because it can be abused, tricked and
deceived by almost any "democratic politician", and it is very
widely thus abused, tricked and deceived, which happens again because
any majority of 50% + 1 gives them the power they desire so much.
 And I tend to think you cannot
change the climate, for the same reasons as you cannot flatten
Mount Everest and all surrounding mountains: It will cost too much, if
it were possible (and it was ruined over a course of more than
fifty years as well). Also, those who think they might "save
the planet" should take a look at the last link (a bit of George