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Nederlog

Aug 6, 2016

Crisis: On Sanders & By Sanders, Datamining, "Intellectuals are Freaks"
Sections                                                                                             crisis index
Introduction

1.
Sanders Tells Backers Immediate Aim of Political
     Revolution Must Be to Defeat Trump

2. I Support Hillary Clinton. So Should Everyone Who
     Voted for Me

3. Spying's New Frontier: Private Firm Collects Data on
     'Every American Adult'

4. Intellectuals are Freaks
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Saturday, August 6, 2016.

This is a crisis log. There are 4 items with 4 dotted links: Item 1 is about Bernie Sanders (who rightly insists that Trump must be defeated) and item 2 is by Bernie Sanders, and to the same effect: I agree with both articles; item 3 is about the spying that is done by dataminers (as contrasted with secret services) and while I think these activities are as anti-democratic and authori- tarian as anything I know, I do not know how to prevent them, unfortunately; and item 4 is about a totally silly article by some postmodern quasi- intellectual that is impossible for me to consider seriously.

1.
Sanders Tells Backers Immediate Aim of Political Revolution Must Be to Defeat Trump

The first item today is by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Bernie Sanders has again urged his supporters to back Hillary Clinton, writing Friday that "Donald Trump would be a disaster and an embarrassment for our country if he were elected president."

In an op-ed published at the Los Angeles Times, Sanders contrasts the two leading candidates on everything from tax policy to climate change to healthcare, and says that the "immediate task" of his political revolution is to make sure the real estate mogul doesn't end up in the White House.

Sanders criticizes Trump's campaign for being "based on bigotry," and says that his Supreme Court justice nominees "would preserve the court's right-wing majority." Clinton's appointees, in contrast, would be "prepared to overturn" Citizen United and "would protect a woman's right to choose, workers' rights, the rights of the LGBT community, the needs of minorities and immigrants, and the government's ability to protect the environment."

Clearly - supposing you read more of Nederlog - I agree with Bernie Sanders. I supported him as long as he was a presidential candidate, simply because he was by far the best, and I also support him in now supporting Hillary Clinton, who is - in my opinion - not a good candidate, but who is far better than Donald Trump.

I also agree with Sanders' opinion that

"Donald Trump would be a disaster and an embarrassment for our country if he were elected president."
Quite so. This is also part of the reason why I oppose Jill Stein: Most of the votes for Stein will be from voters who would have voted for Clinton, which means that voting for Stein means making it less likely that Hillary will win,
which makes the "
disaster and (..) embarrassment" Trump more likely to win.

This is itself a major reason not to vote for Stein, but I should add that, besides, I don't think much of her as a presidential candidate, mostly because she is not a good speaker and did not answer many questions that she was asked in a meaningful way. (See here for more on this.)

Here is more om Bernie Sanders:

He also touts Clinton's proposal to eliminate tuition at in-state colleges and universities for 83 percent of U.S. families, and her ability to understand that it "is absurd to provide huge tax breaks to the very rich."

While "Clinton understands that this country must move toward universal healthcare," Trump "wants to abolish the Affordable Care Act, throw 20 million people off the health insurance they currently have, and cut Medicaid for lower-income Americans," Sanders writes.

"On virtually every major issue facing this country and the needs of working families, Clinton's positions are far superior to Trump's," Sanders writes. "Our campaigns worked together to produce the most progressive platform in the history of American politics. Trump's campaign wrote one of the most reactionary documents."

I agree, although I don't like Clinton. As to the Republican program, see here.
Finally, this is from near the end:

As for the disappointment some of his supporters may be feeling, he says that "being despondent and inactive is not going to improve anything," (...)

As I indicated above, I go further: A vote for Jill Stein is a vote against Hillary Clinton, and is therefore a vote for Donald Trump, who would be an absolute disaster as president. If you do not want the USA to be ruled by a mad neofascist - that is what I think Trump is - you should vote for his only opponent, Hillary Clinton.

And next, here is Bernie Sanders himself:

2. I Support Hillary Clinton. So Should Everyone Who Voted for Me

The second item is by Bernie Sanders on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

The conventions are over and the general election has officially begun. In the primaries, I received 1,846 pledged delegates, 46% of the total. Hillary Clinton received 2,205 pledged delegates, 54%. She received 602 superdelegates. I received 48 superdelegates. Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee and I will vigorously support her.

Donald Trump would be a disaster and an embarrassment for our country if he were elected president. His campaign is not based on anything of substance — improving the economy, our education system, healthcare or the environment. It is based on bigotry. He is attempting to win this election by fomenting hatred against Mexicans and Muslims. He has crudely insulted women. And as a leader of the “birther movement,” he tried to undermine the legitimacy of our first African American president. That is not just my point of view. That’s the perspective of a number of conservative Republicans.

Yes, indeed. About the first paragraph, I think that it also may be said that Bernie Sanders received a lot of opposition from the DNC, but I agree with Sanders that this is no longer very relevant, now that the real choice is between Clinton and Trump.

Here is a part of the reasons Sanders supports Clinton:

On virtually every major issue facing this country and the needs of working families, Clinton’s positions are far superior to Trump’s. Our campaigns worked together to produce the most progressive platform in the history of American politics. Trump’s campaign wrote one of the most reactionary documents.

Clinton understands that Citizens United has undermined our democracy. She will nominate justices who are prepared to overturn that Supreme Court decision, which made it possible for billionaires to buy elections. Her court appointees also would protect a woman’s right to choose, workers’ rights, the rights of the LGBT community, the needs of minorities and immigrants and the government’s ability to protect the environment. 

Trump, on the other hand, has made it clear that his Supreme Court appointees would preserve the court’s right-wing majority.

I suppose I am more skeptical about Clinton once she has been elected, for I believe this will make her "forget" many of the promises she made in order to get elected, but I agree with Sanders that one very important reason to vote for Clinton is that the next president of the USA will probably have to nominate four Supreme Court judges, who will be very important in the next twenty-five years.

Here is more on the difference between Clinton and Trump as seen by Sanders:

Clinton understands that in a competitive global economy we need the best-educated workforce in the world. She and I worked together on a proposal that will revolutionize higher education in America. It will guarantee that the children of any family in this country with an annual income of $125,000 a year or less – 83% of our population – will be able to go to a public college or university tuition free. This proposal also substantially reduces student debt.

Trump, on the other hand, has barely said a word about higher education.

Clinton understands that at a time of massive income and wealth inequality, it is absurd to provide huge tax breaks to the very rich. 

Trump, on the other hand, wants billionaire families like his to enjoy hundreds of billions of dollars in new tax breaks.
This is another important reason to vote for Clinton: She will probably stick to the proposal that "the children of any family in this country with an annual income of $125,000 a year or less – 83% of our population – will be able to go to a public college or university tuition free".

The reason that this is so important is that at present most children of (relatively) poor families will have to accept huge and expensive loans, that will probably shut up most from saying anything critical as long as they have
to pay their loans.

And besides, it simply is unfair to punish the poor for their poverty by imposing enormous study loans on them, and none on the (relatively) rich.

Here is the end of Sanders' article:

I understand that many of my supporters are disappointed by the final results of the nominating process, but being despondent and inactive is not going to improve anything. Going forward and continuing the struggle is what matters. And, in that struggle, the most immediate task we face is to defeat Donald Trump.
Yes. For "the most immediate task we face is to defeat Donald Trump", because if he is elected the USA and the world will be in extreme trouble.

3. Spying's New Frontier: Private Firm Collects Data on 'Every American Adult'

The third item is by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

The fight for internet privacy has focused much of its attention on government surveillance, but mass data collection is done by private companies as well—and one such firm has "centralized and weaponized" all that information for its customers, Bloomberg reports on Friday.

In fact, it has already built a profile on "every American adult," Bloomberg writes.

In fact, I think I first published about data-mining (<-Dutch) before I became aware of the dangers of the NSA, the GCHQ and many other secret services.

In any case, the means used are similar, although what is searched for will differ a lot - except that those who do get access to your computer (anyone from up to 100 secret services and 100 dataminers, say) will tend to find very much more about all manner of persons than these persons know about themselves.

This is one of the reasons that I despise dataminers and secret services:

The company's CEO Derek Dubner told Herbert that IDI's profiles even extend to young adults who wouldn't be found in conventional databases.

"We have data on that 21-year-old who's living at home with mom and dad," Dubner said.

The profiles reportedly include "all known addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses; every piece of property ever bought or sold, plus related mortgages; past and present vehicles owned; criminal citations, from speeding tickets on up; voter registration; hunting permits; and names and phone numbers of neighbors."

I'm sorry, but if your mission in life is to secretly amass this kind of information on every American and on everyone else, I think something is quite wrong with you.

Whether that is just inordinate greed or some even less salutory perversion, I don't know, but no: persons like Dubner are not healthy, in my opinion.

Here is what this leads to:

Roger Kay, president of the consulting firm Endpoint Technologies Associates, explained that it's those capabilities in particular that make IDI so powerful—and so creepy.

"The cloud never forgets, and imperfect pictures of you composed from your data profile are carefully filled in over time," Kay said. "We're like bugs in amber, completely trapped in the web of our own data."

In fact, I think that "the cloud" also "forgets", simply because anyone who has data that he or she wants to put on the internet has to pay. If you don't pay, the information will simply be removed.

There are some exceptions to this, but these exceptions mostly exist because someone else, such as Google, pays.

However, Kay seems right when he says that "We're like bugs in amber, completely trapped in the web of our own data" and the more so since hardly anyone knows what is known by many dataminers and many secret services about many or all of his own very private details, which are known to these dataminers and secret services mostly because the data on the internet are almost wholly unencrypted, and these days most people use computers (about which few know a lot).

I do not know what to do against this, because many encryptions these days also can be broken easily, and not because the encryptions are decrypted, but because each and every key you press on your computer may get registered, which also registers your passwords.

4. Intellectuals are Freaks

The fourth item today is by Michael Lind (<- Wikipedia) on The Smart Set:

This starts as follows and seems to me an extremely silly article by a sort of quasi-"intellectual", who may be typical for his generation of quasi- "intellectuals":
Intellectuals — a category that includes academics, opinion journalists, and think tank experts — are freaks. I do not mean that in a disrespectful way. I myself have spent most of my life in one of the three roles mentioned above. I have even been accused of being a “public intellectual,” which sounds too much like “public nuisance” or even “public enemy” for my taste.

My point is that people who specialize in the life of ideas tend to be extremely atypical of their societies. They — we — are freaks in a statistical sense. For generations, populists of various kinds have argued that intellectuals are unworldly individuals out of touch with the experiences and values of most of  their fellow citizens. While anti-intellectual populists have often been wrong about the gold standard or the single tax or other issues, by and large they have been right about intellectuals.

I do not know where to start this utter baloney, so I start with Lind and with the first sentence.

Lind, according to the Wikipedia article on him, is twelve years younger than I am, and studied English, History and Law, none of which happens to be a real science. This doesn't exclude the possibility that he may be clever, but it makes it likely he doesn't understand much of real science.

Next, I would say that not all academics, not all opinion journalists and not all think tank experts (?!) are intellectuals, but then again what is an "intellectual" (<-Wikipedia) also is far from certain.

But I think the following from Wikipedia (in the last link) is more or less adequate to describe intellectuals:

The distinctive quality of the intellectual person is that the mental skills, which one demonstrates, are not simply intelligent, but even more, they focus on thinking about the abstract, philosophical and esoteric aspects of human inquiry and the value of their thinking.

The intellectual and the scholarly classes are related; the intellectual usually is not a teacher involved in the production of scholarship, but has an academic background, and works in a profession, practices an art, or a science.

And I would also say that intellectuals, in the above sense, are a bit rare, in that at most 1 in 250 or less is an intellectual, as I use the term:

It does require an education of some kind; it does require some talent of some kind; and it also requires some effort and some publications to qualify, and not everyone who has graduated did get a sufficient education or does have a sufficient talent or did publish enough in good enough publications to be a  real intellectual. (And in fact most who are academically qualified simply are not known as intellectuals, indeed usually for one of the above three reasons.)

But this what I would say, which is not at all what Lind would say. In fact, what he says is that "intellectuals" (a term he doesn't define) "are freaks", which is another term he doesn't define.

What is "a freak" (<- Wikipedia)? As you can see from the last link, that is also a term with a vague meaning, that changed rather a lot in the last 50 years or so, but that does not seem to have the meaning in Wikipedia that Lind seems to assign to it.

As I tend to think of the term, I would say that at most 1 in 10.000 or so is a real freak. And this might seem to agree with what Lind says (bolding added): "people who specialize in the life of ideas tend to be extremely atypical of their societies. They — we — are freaks in a statistical sense".

But then somebody who did English, History and Law may not know much about statistics. Here is what Lind seems to think "freaks" are:

To begin with, there is the matter of higher education. Only about 30 percent of American adults have a four-year undergraduate degree. The number of those with advanced graduate or professional degrees is around one in ten.
That is, it seems you are an "intellectual" and a "freak" if you are 1 in 3 (or perhaps 1 in 10). I did do statistics, and I can tell Mr Lind that neither is a "freak" in any statistical sense.

And here is the bullshit Lind accuses his fellow quasi-"intellectuals" of:
The fact that we members of the intellectual professions are quite atypical of the societies in which we live tends to distort our judgment, when we forget that we belong to a tiny and rather bizarre minority. This is not a problem with the hard sciences.  But in the social sciences, intellectuals — be they professors, pundits, or policy wonks — tend to be both biased and unaware of their own bias.
That is: If you belong to "the freaks" who are the 1 in 3 who got some academic degree, clearly you are "an intellectual" in Mr Lind's sense, which automatically qualifies you as belonging to "a tiny and rather bizarre minority" that tends "to be both biased and unaware of their own bias" - which is Mr Lind's point of view.

My own is that Mr Lind is a typical member of the quasi-"intellectuals" that were produced as staple commodity in the University of Amsterdam in the 1980ies:

With at most half of the pre-university education that people who were 15 and more years older did get; with at most half of the duration for studying that
people who were 15 and more years older did get; with at least four to eight time the costs of the study; and with "academic" studies that were planned for IQs of 115, which was the average IQ of students in 1984 in Amsterdam, that these days - 32 years later - will be considerably lower again, for the end of the Dutch "academic" education seems to be Blair's: Everyone with an IQ of 100 or higher should be allowed to do an "academic" study.

And as I said and wrote in the 1980ies:
The "universities" I saw arise then are no more universities as these existed from 1865 till 1965 (in Holland). They "educate" types like Mr Lind, who produce total baloney like his present article.

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