1. Recently Bought a Windows Computer?
Probably Has Your Encryption
Cannot Solve the Climate Crisis
3. Pentagon Deliberately Thwarting Efforts to Close
4. After Paris, Be Careful What You Ask For:
with Thomas Drake
5. Final post on Dx Revision Watch
This is a Nederlog of
Tuesday, December 29, 2015.
This is a crisis blog, with 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about an article that explains that most
naive users (that is: most users) will hand their encryption
key to Windows, which they have to do if they want to encrypt
at all; item 2 is about a rather vague (though
probably well-intentioned) article about markets, profits and
capitalism; item 3 is about why the Pentagon (at
least) does not want want to close Guantánamo; item
4 is about an interesting long interview with NSA whistleblower
Thomas Drake; and item 5 is about the final post on
Dx Revision Watch - a site for people with ME, and for people helping people with
ME - which somewhat saddens me, but is probably definite.
1. Recently Bought a Windows Computer? Microsoft Probably
Has Your Encryption Key
The first item today is by Micah Lee on
This starts as follows (and
might give you an update on the goodness of Bill Gates):
One of the excellent features of
new Windows devices is that disk
encryption is built-in and turned on by default, protecting your
data in case your device is lost or stolen. But what is less well-known
is that, if you are like most users and login to Windows 10 using your
Microsoft account, your computer automatically uploaded a copy of your
recovery key – which can be used to unlock your encrypted disk – to
Microsoft’s servers, probably without your knowledge and without an
option to opt-out.
In other words: While - as a fairly naive
computer user, which is what by far the most computer users these days
are - you quite probably thought that your disk was encrypted,
in fact it was not,
in the sense that Microsoft has the key that will unlock everything on
you hard disk (which it also may give to others, such as the police).
That is: It seems encrypted, but it
really isn't. Especially
in the USA, the police may get the key from Microsoft, and indeed
anybody who can break in at Microsoft may get your de-encryption key
together with many others.
To be sure (and the Clipper chip system was similar):
Which means that Microsoft simply can copy
your key to some other place (with a single line of code), so that if
you decide to delete the de-encryption key, in fact they still
Users can choose to delete
recovery keys from their Microsoft accounts (you can skip
to the bottom of this article to learn how) – something that people
never had the option to do with the Clipper chip system.
But they can only delete it after they’ve already uploaded it to the
Here is what real encryption is:
“The gold standard in disk encryption is
end-to-end encryption, where only you can unlock your disk. This is
what most companies use, and it seems to work well,” says Matthew
Green, professor of cryptography at Johns Hopkins University. “There
are certainly cases where it’s helpful to have a backup of your key or
password. In those cases you might opt in to have a company store that
information. But handing your keys to a company like Microsoft
fundamentally changes the security properties of a disk encryption
Of course. And Windows is
such a rotten system, that I would assume (indeed also
if it were less rotten) that they do make copies of the
encryption key you have to send to them if you want encryption
at all. That seems to be the whole point of forcing you to give
your encryption key to them: To make you believe your hard disk is
encrypted, while it is in fact not, for anyone who has the
right access to Microsoft.
Here is the difference between Windows and
I am more than suspicuous enough to say that
this also means relying on Apple, for all you have is mere faith
that unchecking the box indeed does not send you key to
Apple's servers: you definitely do not know.
After you finish setting up your Windows
computer, you can login to your Microsoft account and delete the
recovery key. Is this secure enough? “If Microsoft doesn’t keep
backups, maybe,” says Green. “But it’s hard to guarantee that. And for
people who aren’t aware of the risk, opt-out seems risky.”
This policy is in stark contract to
Microsoft’s major competitor, Apple. New Macs also ship with built-in
and default disk encryption: a technology known as FileVault. Like
Microsoft, Apple lets you store a backup of your recovery key in your
iCloud account. But in Apple’s case, it’s an option. When you set up a
Mac for the first time, you can uncheck a box if you don’t want to send
your key to Apple’s servers.
But that is the amount of "security" closed source systems
give you, and that is one of the reasons I am on Linux.
(It also is the much better system. And free! And with almost
everything open source! And easily installed!)
2. Markets Cannot
Solve the Climate Crisis
second item is by Valerie Brown on Truthdig (and originally on Climate
This starts as follows:
It may not be polite to mention
Karl Marx in America, but leading thinkers on the left think that
capitalism may be the cause of climate change, and that to save the
planet the system needs fundamental reform.
According to a new book the profit
motive, which drives capitalism above all other considerations, forces
it to extract everything from the planet that will generate a surplus,
at the expense of real benefits to humans and ecosystems.
Fossil Capital: the Rise of Steam
Power and the Roots of Global Warming, by Andreas Malm, out in
hardback from Verso in January 2016, analyses capitalism’s role in
global warming by delving into its past.
This is in several ways misleading, it
seems to me. I will limit myself to three points.
First, it is not
true that "the profit motive" "forces [capitalism] to
extract everything from the planet that will generate a surplus". What is true is that "the profit motive" disposes
towards the extraction of anything on which a profit can be made, but
there is no natural necessity (a "force") involved of any
It is in fact a free
and moral decision by specific people (generally CEOs) to extract
oil, gas and coal. I grant that if they are in the business of
extracting oil, gas and coal, and they think they can do it
profitably, this will strongly dispose them towards extraction, but
again: there is no need for them to do so.
Second, clearly capitalism
is one of the main causes of climate change, and
indeed neither Marx nor leftishness are necessary for that conclusion:
If all you care
for is maximum profits, then you won't care for the consequences to the
climate (and you may very well deny there are any serious
consequences, not because you know this, but because you do
know that what you propose to do is very profitable for yourself).
And third, a "fundamental
reform" of "capitalism" may sound impressive, but does not
say much. It may mean some sort of socialism or social democracy (of
which there are many kinds), but it may also mean - as most versions of
social democracy claim - that capitalism (in some form) is retained,
but its more painful consequences are tied by laws.
What also would be
true to say, talking about capitalism, is that the latest tendencies in
- especially American - capitalism are and have been the last 35 years
very strongly towards total deregulation,
which means that capitalist firms can do as they please, and
have all the freedoms that the richest have, but again
there is no natural necessity about this.
In fact, I am pretty
certain that all of capitalism can be retained, provided
that no one is allowed of making more than 300,000 dollars or euros a
year - which is what 99% of the population never will make anyway, so
merely this measure would harm very few and benefit all
enormously. (But no one
I know of is even considering this, while the very few but extremely
rich billionaires will do anything to keep their personal riches. For
more, see my On Socialism.)
There is considerably more in the article
that I leave to your interests, but here is its ending:
And I have four points, but will make them a bit briefer:
Insisting that the real authors of the
climate crisis comprise a tiny, all-male, all-white fraction of the
planet’s population, Malm objects to calling this the Anthropocene
epoch; he would rather call it the “Capitalocene.” And capital, he
insists, is not capable of solving the crisis it created.
What we need instead, he writes, is a
return to “the flow”: distributed solar, wind and water power.
Moreover, in order to avoid severe damage to civilisation, we need to
abandon carbon immediately, and this can be accomplished only by
intentional and decisive governmental action.
The governments that are doing best at
this, Malm observes, are state and city governments, which have no
obligation to generate profits and are not owned by Big Capital.
Malm recognises that “socialism is an
excruciatingly difficult condition to achieve.” He’s not envisioning a
new Stalinist nightmare to replace runaway capital. For one thing, Malm
observes, capitalist ideology is so deeply ingrained in society that,
quoting Marxist theorist Fredric Jameson, “It is easier to imagine the
end of the world than the end of capitalism.”
I am not much interested in how the epoch in which I live is to
be called, nor do I care much that "the real authors of the climate crisis comprise a tiny,
all-male, all-white fraction":
Surely, it is a mistake to assume that blacks or females that can rise
to these levels would do differently.
Second, "distributed solar, wind and water power" are nice, but I am pretty certain they will not
solve the basic problem, which is essentially that there are
now over 7 billion persons alive, about three times as
many as when I was born, and they want for the most part most
that the advertisements
on their TVs makes them want. And the earth is not large enough
to satisfy them all, or indeed most of them, with the present resources
Third, while "state and city governments" are important, the extremist rich capitalists,
who are in fact all for capitalism-without-a-human-face because
they profit enormously from this themselves, have now a way to stop
almost any "state and city governments", and indeed finish democracy. It is called the TPP,
the TTIP and the TiSA. For more on these secret "treaties", see
I think "socialism" is not a real option, in considerable part
because socialism itself tends to have very mistaken notions
about how the revolution it desires is to proceed, namely by
expropriating all, and giving their property to the state. This - Stalinism in Russia
and China have shown - makes the very few who are in government the absolute rulers of
everything and everyone, which is a state of affairs that is only desirable to
such absolute rulers.
For more, see my On Socialism.
3. Pentagon Deliberately Thwarting Efforts to Close
The third item is by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
President Obama's repeated pledges to
close the Guantánamo Bay detention center have been routinely and
deliberately undermined by his own Department of Defense, according
to a damning new investigation published on Monday.
Citing numerous administration
officials, Reuters exposed a "pattern" of bureaucratic
obstacles imposed by the U.S. Pentagon which have successfully thwarted
efforts to transfer cleared detainees from the notorious offshore
"Pentagon officials have refused to
provide photographs, complete medical records and other basic
documentation to foreign governments willing to take detainees,
administration officials said," according to the Reuters
excluive. "They have made it increasingly difficult for foreign
delegations to visit Guantánamo, limited the time foreign officials can
interview detainees and barred delegations from spending the night at
Such delays, Reuters notes,
"resulted in four Afghan detainees spending an additional four years in
Guantanamo after being approved for transfer."
I am sorry, but I do not
believe president Obama on Guantánamo (and quite a few other things,
except that he is a clever deceiver),
though it may be true that
the Pentagon is playing games.
One of the best ways to
understand the kind of games the Pentagon is playing, is to
check out the Wikipedia lemma "Nacht und Nebel"
(<- Wikipedia), which is German for "Night and fog", and refers to this,
which is the beginning of the article (quoted without note numbers):
Nacht und Nebel (German for "Night and Fog") was a
directive (German: Erlass)
from Adolf Hitler on 7 December 1941 targeting
political activists and resistance "helpers" that was originally
intended to winnow out "anyone endangering German security" (die
deutsche Sicherheit gefährden) throughout Nazi
Germany's occupied territories. (...)
Three months later Armed Forces High Command Feldmarschall Wilhelm Keitel expanded it to include all
persons in occupied countries who had been taken into custody; if they
were still alive eight days later, they were to be handed over to the Gestapo.
The decree was meant to intimidate local populations into submission,
by denying friends and families of seized persons any knowledge of
their whereabouts or their fate. The prisoners were secretly
transported to Germany, and vanished without a trace. In 1945, the
abandoned Sicherheitsdienst (SD) records were
found to include merely names and the initials "NN" (Nacht und Nebel);
even the sites of graves were unrecorded. The Nazis even coined a new
term for those who "vanished" in accordance with this decree; they were
vernebelt - transformed into mist. To
this day, it is not known how many thousands of people disappeared as a
result of this order.
disappearances were war
crimes according to the International Military Tribunal at
Nuremberg. But clearly, this is the sort of thing the Pentagon
wants Guantánamo to be: A place where the American army can do what it
wants, and keep people locked up for 14 years without any
prosecution or any provable crime,
often merely because they are Arabs, it seems.
There also are the - usual - denials both by Obama and the Pentagon:
Spokespeople for both the White House
and Pentagon denied any "discord" over efforts to close the prison.
There is more in the article, which is
Paris, Be Careful What You Ask For: An Interview with Thomas Drake
The fourth item is by Mary
Fitzgerald on Raging Bull-Shit, and originally on Open Democracy:
This is a fairly long and decent interview of
Drake (<- Wikipedia) that starts as follows:
Thank you very much for being with us today. Some
interesting polling data has come out of France since the terror
attacks: 84 percent of French people would prioritise security over
liberty now. Do you think that’s the right direction?
No it’s not. I’m having huge flashbacks to 9/11 in the US, post-9/11
when similar polls said, ‘oh yeah we need more security… I don’t mind
if they’re listening in on my conversation, I don’t mind if they’re
reading all my… I don’t mind, if that makes us safer, then I’m for it.’
Be careful what you ask for.
Mary: Why would you
caution against that, based on your own experience?
Because it’s a false dichotomy. To say somehow: I’ve got to choose one
over the other. When we need both, right? This is not a case of
choosing one or the other. If you choose one over the other, you’re
gonna lose both, or erode both. That’s the false dichotomy.
The other thing is that
just like 9/11 – I’m the first to acknowledge the barbaric nature of
the attacks, the mass murders. We have to protect ourselves against
those – and yet the government failed in Paris. It failed to protect
the people and did not keep people out of harm’s way. Why is that? Why
isn’t that question being raised?
Quite so. And
indeed one of the main points Thomas Drake is going to make is that it
is precisely the NSA's - very strong - desire "to get all" anybody
does with any computer or cell phone that upset their ability
to track specific terrorists.
I think Drake is right
in that claim, but he doesn't answer the further question why the NSA -
nevertheless - wants to know all that everyone does with any computer.
My reply is: Because they want to control everybody, and the findings computers enable enormously transcend even the totalitarian
powers of the secret services in Soviet systems.
That is: I say the NSA wants power over everyone
more than anything else, and that is the reason they collect
everything they can get. In fact, I have said so from 2005 onwards (in Dutch), but it
seems that the desire for power is a concept
that is so far removed from ordinary
journalists that they cannot acknowledge it....
In fact, Thomas Drake does come close:
Thomas: So actually,
Obama, in some ways, some might say is worse than Bush, because he’s
now institutionalising what people thought was just an overreaction
after 9/11, which in some ways was understandable. What the Bush
administration did was quite egregious, but institutionalising it? This
is the fear here. Once you start eroding away the core of your own
democracy, then it really is hard to get it back, and this kind of
power doesn’t yield willingly.
the more so since most of the free press - as there was until
1995 or so, when the free press started to collapse for lacking advertisements,
that from then on were on computers rather than in papers - has simply disappeared, and has been replaced by nice and obedient recorders of the
governments public plans, who almost never ask a
My last quotation from this fairly long and good interview is this:
Yes, indeed. One good reference for
"fascism" is in fact Nazism
Mary: 74 percent of
French people polled said that they would put all people suspected of
terrorism in a detention centre, including 64 percent of socialist
supporters who now think that. Would you agree with that?
Thomas: If you want to
throw away due process, throw away rights, yeah sure, gee, then we’ll
just round up anybody that looks suspicious. Jesus, really, you know,
we have detention camps, really camps. ‘Oh wow, really?’ Better wake up
to European history and what happens when you start separating people
out, the sheep and the goats. ‘We’re just going to define who’s
acceptable and who isn’t really?’
I thought a democracy was multicultural by
nature, right? And that you still don’t lose the essence and the
fundamental principles and practices of who you are, right? There’s
been a lot of sacrifice for liberty and security, a lot. The security
is our liberty.
Fundamentally, if you lose that, in terms of history we are not much
different from fascism… If you want to go down that path, I mean go
ahead. It’s a dystopian democracy that you get. I don’t want to live in
a dystopian democracy, whatever privileged position you have on the
And as to the "74 percent of French people" and the "64 percent of socialist supporters"
who presently support the idea that "they would put all people suspected of terrorism in a detention centre":
I do not think they are all stupid (the
numbers are too big, for one thing), but surely they are
manipulated by their fears and by their relative ignorance of
both Nazism and Soviet socialism.
As Goering put it (and I have quoted this before, simply because it
happens to be true, in France as in Germany):
But I agree with Thomas
Drake that it is quite frightening to see how many people may
be manipulated and deceived into giving up all they do and all
they know to the secret services of their and other
governments, which will make them loose both their liberties
and their securities - and that even while there is not much
danger for major attacks.
post on Dx Revision Watch
The fifth and last item is by Suzy Chapman on Dx Revision Watch:
This starts as follows (in a report on other
I say. In fact, I said so before, over 1 1/2 years ago, in About Suzy Chapman
Final post on Dx Revision Watch
This is the final report
I shall be publishing on Dx Revision Watch. At the end of the
year, after 13+ years, I am retiring from advocacy. I shall cease
reporting on the ICD-10 revision process and development of the ICD-11
Beta draft, in general, and with specific reference to the ICD-10 G93.3
legacy categories. This site will remain online for its archived
content for several years.
when she wrote similarly, but less
definitely, because she did update Dx Revision Watch afterward.
Here is what I wrote over 1 1/2 years ago:
On the one hand,
she is the only advocate for people with M.E.
who had a real brain, which she combined with an excellent style and
much hard work, and so this is a real and great loss
for people with M.E.; on the other hand, I can very
well understand her choice, given the great amount of anonymous idiots
who are everywhere these days, and who are there merely because they
have a computer and
are anonymous, which very many believe allows them to say anything
about anyone, which they do a great lot, and which seems to be the only
thing the vast majority can do really well: speak evil of their
To be sure: I am speaking
for myself here, but I have been moved, in
fact already in 2010, to shut up about M.E. on any site M.E.-patients
frequent, and later to shut up writing about M.E. at all (nearly),
namely after I had learned that my degrees (I am a psychologist and a
philosopher, with degrees with only straight A's, all done while ill)
and my intelligence are held against me, ordinarily,
very much rather
than that they are seen as an asset, indeed excepting the quite rare
Suzy Chapman has, for me,
the distinction of being one of the very
few who wrote about M.E. who did so very sensibly and very rationally,
and she also is one of the very few writing about it who has a really
I do know that people with
M.E. have lost one of their strongest and
most rational and extremely well-informed advocates - but again I am
moved in two ways, for it
seems also true that there is very little hope for patients
with M.E. until the real cause of the disease has been identified, and
Suzy Chapman has made two very fine sites, that will remain available,
and will now be able to do other things.
I still think so. And
she did work for patients with ME more than 13 years, while I suppose
she stopped (I suppose because I do not
know) because there are so many irrational, badly informed "advocates"
whose many activities drown the rational contributions of the few.
Or at least: These would
be (and are) my reasons to mostly withdraw from writing about
ME. I do not know what her reasons are, and therefore you should not hold my opinions against her: I am merely
 I am speaking for myself, and like to add
that my appreciation of ordinary men
has drastically fallen after having acquired fast internet in 2009,
which is in considerable part due to my readings of many of the posts
of the anonymous ordinary members with ME, but also to other things I
learned, mostly about what other ordinary people who are anonymous are
capable of writing.