Saturday, July 1, 2017

Crisis: Trump, Trumpcare, War, "Russia-gate", Power, Republicans + Huben + Internet

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. Summary
2. Crisis Files
    A. By way of Mike Huben's site
    B. Selections from July 1, 2017
    C. Extras
3. I may be denied an internet connection

This is a Nederlog of Saturday, July 1, 2017.

There are this month some changes in the formatting of Nederlog, and I should also warn my readers that I may be denied an internet connection.

The changed formatting is explained in section 1, while the chance that I may loose internet connection is discussed in section 3. Section 2 contains a section with the new formatting of Nederlog, which is essentially a link + a single quotation from the link (but still mostly without comments by me).

1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was the last four years:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch) and about the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I probably will continue with it, but on the moment I have several problems with my computer, my modem, the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible, and my health.

For some more see section 3 below: It is conceivable I may be denied an internet- connection.

Since I am still looking at 35 sites every morning what I will do from July 1, 2017, is to list the items I selected as worth reading, and give one quotation from the selected files to show you whether you might be interested.

I still will give hardly any comments (as I did before, until the end of May 2017): I lack the health to do so (but there are a few lines of explanation sometimes).

2. Crisis Files

As I explained, the crisis files will have a different format from July 1, 2017: I will now
list the items I selected as I did before (title + link) but I add one selection from the selected item to give my readers a bit of a taste of the item linked.

So the new format is as follows:

      Link to an item with its orginal title, followed by
      One selection from that item (indented)
      Possibly followed by a brief comment by me (not indented).

This is illustrated below, in selections B.

Second, there is an an additional complication: I recently found a large and quite interesting site that has been made by Mike Huben:
I like it for two basic reasons: (1) I agree with Huben (who is a biologist, and a smart man) in many of his criticisms [1] and (2) his site is large, and he has been working on it since 1994, that is for 23 years, and there is a lot of material and links on it that I think are quite interesting.

So I will try to review some of the many links Huben provides, and do so below, in selections A:

A. By way of Mike Huben's site

As I just explained, the following four links come from Mike Huben's
Critiques of Libertarianism. Specifically, the first link is from his link Philosophy, while the
the other three links are from his link
Anarchy, State, and Utopia, that is about
a book published in 1974 by the American philosopher Robert Nozick (<-Wikipedia).

I bought that book in 1978
, but admit that I never finished it, basically because I thought it was dishonest nonsense. (It so happens that I am a psychologist, who
got an M.A. in psychology basically because I had been kicked from the faculty of philosophy very briefly before taking my M.A. in philosophy, basically because I was not a Marxist, and because I opposed the Marxist philosophy that ruled in the University of Amsterdam between 1977 and 1984, after which this was changed to postmodernism, both of which were very powerful then in the University of Amsterdam, because the Dutch universities were in the hands of the students between 1971 and 1995 [2].)

1. Fallacies Of Philosophy
Most philosophy has to be bullshit.

Simply because of the contradictions within the vast corpus of philosophy. Unlike science, which has good systems for discouraging the bad and converging on the good, philosophy continues to promote millennia-old lies and errors. And there is no shortage of philosophers lamenting this fact about their practice: (...)
As I explained, in fact I am a philosopher (and I do have a fine B.A. in it) and I agree with the criticism (and I should have studied mathematics, physics or biology instead of philosophy, which I recommend to anyone who is seriously interested in philosophy: Do NOT study philosophy as your main study, but study a real science, and take philosophy as an extra).

2. Brian Barry on Robert Nozick
According to the jacket of the book, “Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State and Utopia is an eagerly awaited book, widely discussed among philosophers long before its publication.” Sound familiar? Yes, but this product of the Harvard Philosophy Department has the added ingredient: outrageousness. “For,” the blurb continues, “it is nothing less than a powerful, philosophical challenge to the most widely held political and social positions of our age-liberal, socialist and conservative.” I have no idea how true the first claim is but the second seems to me demonstrably false. The book’s conclusions are not in the least unusual. They articulate the prejudices of the average owner of a filling station in a small town in the Midwest who enjoys grousing about paying taxes and having to contribute to “welfare scroungers” and who regards as wicked any attempts to interfere with contracts, in the interests, for example, of equal opportunity or anti-discrimination. There will be nothing unfamiliar in the conclusions of the book to those who have read their William F. Buckley or their Senator Goldwater or have ever paid attention to the output of the more or less batty crusades and campaigns financed by wealthy Texans and Californians. The only thing that is new is that these views are being expressed by someone who is a Professor of Philosophy at Harvard.
As I explained, I only read a part of Nozick's book, simply because I much disliked it.
Items 2 and 3 are criticisms of the book (which I fear are - more or less - justified). Item 4 is about a book by a son of Milton Friedman.

3. The Turing Test: Who Can Successfully Explain Robert Nozick?
The Ideological Turing Test, : In his FiveBooks interview with the Browser, Paul Krugman seems to suggests an analogous test.  According to Krugman, liberals have the ability to simulate conservatives, but conservatives lack the ability to simulate liberals.... It's easy to scoff at Krugman's self-congratulation, but at the meta-level, he's on to something. Mill states it well: "He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that."  If someone can correctly explain a position but continue to disagree with it, that position is less likely to be correct.... I'd add that we should compare people in the same field: Rand's inability to explain Keynesian economics would be no more telling than Krugman's inability to explain Nozickian political philosophy.
4. The Worst Book I Ever Read
A friend of mine complained that I didn’t fully understand libertarianism so he recommended “The Machinery Of Freedom” by David Friedman (Milton’s son) (available as a PDF here). This book is well-respected within libertarian circles. It takes a specifically anarcho-capitalist position (my friend is an anarchist) but it spends a great deal discussing libertarianism first. To say I didn’t like the book would be an understatement. It was atrocious. It was a horrendously argued book that relied on straw man arguments, ignoring the middle ground, a complete absence of evidence and mainly stating positions without even attempting to defend them. The only praise I have for the book is that it is mercifully short and easy to read.
B. Selections from July 1, 2017

The items 5 - 10 are today's selections from the 35 sites that I look at every morning. The indented text under each link is quoted from the link that starts the item. Unindemted text is by me:

5. How Donald Trump Could Destroy the Global Fight Against Kleptocracy
Kleptocracy has many forms. The most common is an ethics-challenged family holding key positions in a nation’s leadership, exercising their power and influence in ways that enhance their business interests. Trump and his family members, especially his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, who have offices in the West Wing, have been criticized for nurturing their business activities while possessing public power. The president spends his leisure days at Trump-branded properties and is being sued for violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which prohibits U.S. officials from receiving payments from foreign governments. There are regular reminders of the apparent shadiness of the family’s business habits: Ivanka Trump faces a deposition for stealing a shoe design; her father recently paid $25 million to settle a lawsuit over the fraudulent Trump University; and Kushner’s family-controlled real estate company had to back out of an unethical tax loophole it had tried to exploit in New Jersey.
6. Disability Rights Activist Arrested for Protesting Trumpcare:
     We Won't Be Silent While You Kill Us

With the deeply unpopular healthcare plan having failed to come to a vote before the Senate recessed for the holidays, demonstrators across the country flooded the offices of Republicans in what they’re calling a "last stand" to prevent a repeal of the Affordable Care Act. We speak with disability rights attorney Stephanie Woodward, who was shown in a viral video being pulled out of her wheelchair and arrested for protesting outside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office.
7. The American Meaning of War: Reality or Reality Television?
The headlines arrive in my inbox day after day: “U.S.-led airstrikes in Syria killed hundreds of civilians, U.N. panel says.” “Pentagon wants to declare more parts of world as temporary battlefields.” “The U.S. was supposed to leave Afghanistan by 2017. Now it might take decades.” There are so many wars and rumors of war involving our country these days that it starts to feel a little unreal, even for the most devoted of news watchers. And for many Americans, it’s long been that way. For them, the meaning of war is closer to reality TV than it is to reality.
8. The Mad Chase for Russia-gate Prey
June is turning out to be the cruelest month for the Russia-gate industry. The pain began on June 8 when ex-FBI Director James Comey testified that a sensational New York Times article declaring that “members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials” was “in the main … not true.”
9. Power Causes Brain Damage
The historian Henry Adams was being metaphorical, not medical, when he described power as “a sort of tumor that ends by killing the victim’s sympathies.” But that’s not far from where Dacher Keltner, a psychology professor at UC Berkeley, ended up after years of lab and field experiments. Subjects under the influence of power, he found in studies spanning two decades, acted as if they had suffered a traumatic brain injury—becoming more impulsive, less risk-aware, and, crucially, less adept at seeing things from other people’s point of view.

Sukhvinder Obhi, a neuroscientist at McMaster University, in Ontario, recently described something similar. Unlike Keltner, who studies behaviors, Obhi studies brains. And when he put the heads of the powerful and the not-so-powerful under a transcranial-magnetic- stimulation machine, he found that power, in fact, impairs a specific neural process, “mirroring,” that may be a cornerstone of empathy. Which gives a neurological basis to what Keltner has termed the “power paradox”: Once we have power, we lose some of the capacities we needed to gain it in the first place.
As I said, I have an - excellent - M.A. in psychology (which is not a real science).
And I do not know to what extent the above is correct (and I doubt "brain damage") but then again my M.A. dates from the time before "mirroring" was discovered.

In any case, it does seem as if the above may be evidence that (i) more power or more money may make one more egoistical, which (ii) can be shown in living human brains.

10. Sad but True: The Republican Party Somehow Still Exists
Consider the facts in hand: The Republicans nominated and then elected a farcical caricature of a buffoon, a vulgarian oaf, a serial liar of Brobdingnagian proportions, a confessed misogynist and serial assaulter of women, a fact-free ignoramus too ego-blinded to recognize how much he doesn't know, to the highest office in the land. To the surprise of virtually no one, he has bollixed up the job so comprehensively that his approval rating currently hovers somewhere below pig offal, and in five short months he has become the most despised world leader since Caligula.
I prefer my own diagnosis that Donald Trump is a neofascist (in my sense: see the link) who also is a narcissist aka megalomaniac (that's why he is bragging and boasting so much about his - truly - incredible brain power and doings) which is a personal pathology, but then again I am a psychologist and a philosopher, and the above article is a reasonable article by the senior editor and columnist of Truthout (who indeed is not a fan of Trump or the Republicans).

C. Extras

11. George Carlin - Political Correctness is fascism pretending to be Manners...

I like George Carlin (1937-2008) a lot, though I only discovered him after he died (namely in 2009, when I got fast internet).

And he was quite right about "political correctness": it is sick (and sickening) bullshit that forbids all real criticism "because it may offend someone".

3. I may be denied an internet connection

Yes, you read that correctly: I may be denied an internet connection.

The background (in brief) is this:

My provider since 1996 is, that when I got to be a member was still the real, run by real hackers. This was a fine provider, but because it was, it was bought by the (in fact the Dutch - paper - post and - pre-cellphone - telephone company), somewhere between 1998 and 2001. I do not know precisely when, because did nothing to inform me, and instead has kept up the pretense that it is, including keeping up the same style (like yellow envelopes etc.)

I don't like them, for it turned out that between 2003 or so and 2009, when I had a regular telephone modem (of 28.8 Kb per second), and when security firms advertised that "1 in 4 computers in Holland have been hacked", it was extremely difficult for me to get any connection to download mail: I very often - 10 to 25 times a day - had to dial in to get a single effective connection by which I could download mail, which then usually consisted of 25 or more spams plus 1 or 2 real mails.

When I phoned xs4all (back then) to point out that this was quite expensive (my telepone bill was every month over 100 euros, all from phoning, and I had and have a sub-minimal income) the answers of their helpdesk were always the same:
"This does not happen to others, and therefore it doesn't happen to you. Goodbye sir."
That lasted for something like 6 years (times over a 100 euros of telephone bills each month for me) though I admit that after I had heard this forty or fifty times I gave up. It did not change, though the number of times I had to phone in to get mail varied a lot and very occasionally I even got mail within 1 or 2 phone calls.

Because of this, and because I have family that lives in Denmark, I also got another internet site in Denmark in 2004 that is a copy of my site in Holland. The Danish site has a copy of my site, but it does not provide an internet-connection: That still has to come from Holland.

In 2009 I got fast internet, also via (where I meanwhile had build a large site) and from then one getting mail was no problem anymore, and I also could surf
(which was quite expensive until 2009, for again I had to pay every tick on the telephone, which meant I could surf only very little, and quite slowly).

The fast internet connection still runs over the (physical) telephone line, but it did run well - except that I soon ceased to receive almost any mail from people who had read
my site.

Next, "" i.e. decided that from July 1, 2017 onwards I cannot pay anymore by paper checks, as I have done since 1996, and everything has to be automatized.

One would guess, as a rational person, that they could change this automatically (I am the same person with the same bank account) but no: I have to do this myself.

To do this, I need a token. It turned out that both ways I am supposed to get a token from "" according to "" simply fail to work for me:

The token I got by phone - which I correctly copied and correctly filled in, also within the requested time, was three times refused, inexplicably.

The token I am supposedly able to get from the internet, by writing, (all according to their site and according to their helpdesk) does not even complete the first of four steps, again

And there I am at the moment (when I am also rather sick with ME/CFS and while I get far too little sleep right now and since the last two weeks).

I do hope this can be sorted somehow, for I simply cannot pay without a working token. (The money is no problem.)

If it cannot be sorted, I will be moved off line, my site and my mail address at will be removed, and I will not be able to upload anything to my Danish site: I will have lost internet.

As I said, I hope it can be sorted.
Also, if I do not get a working token, it may not be the fault of "", but that I may explain tomorrow.

[1] I don't like "critiques" and prefer "criticisms" (which is proper English).

[2] The Dutch universities were effectively handed over to the students by a parliamentary law of 1971. This said that from then on the Dutch universities were to be ruled by parliaments, that existed on two levels: For the whole university, and for each faculty, much like Holland was governed by a national parliament, with smaller parliaments in each city.

Also, it was to be "democratic" in the sense that each person who worked or studied in a Dutch university got 1 vote, whether that person was a professor, a lecturer, a student, a secretary or a toilet cleaner: All that mattered was whether you were an official student or whether your
worked for the university in any other capacity.

This situation was totally unique in the world, and existed from 1971 till 1995, when it was undone by another decision of the Dutch parliament.

It also meant that the students always had the absolute majority (there are many more students than staff of whatever kind), while it also meant that in most Dutch universities (notably: of Amsterdam, of Tilburg and of Nijmegen) the absolute majority of the students were for
very leftist student parties.

In the University of Amsterdam (
UvA) that student party was the ASVA, and the ASVA was between 1977 and 1984 mostly communist, with all of its leading members also members of the Dutch Communist Party (CPN) (<-Wikipedia: good link), as was admitted by quite a few of its leading members in 1991, briefly after the collapse of the CPN, that again happened briefly after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

So in effect the University of Amsterdam was governed by the Amsterdam district of the CPN via the ASVA (as was admitted and stressed in 1991 in the booklet "Alles moest anders") between 1977 and 1984, and still by the ASVA from 1985 till 1995, except that they were
these 10 years postmodernists, feminists, and environmentalists.

As far as I am concerned (a lot, for I created a student-party that opposed the ASVA, and that was against political ideologies and pro real science) the University of Amsterdam was destroyed as a real university between 1971 and 1995 (25 years).

The average IQ of the students in the UvA was 115 in 1984 (at least 10 points lower than in 1964); it is now probably around 105, which incidentally completely conforms to the Blatcherist's Tony Blair's ideal "that everyone should be able to get a university degree, if he or she can pay for it".

Real academic studies - those that require a decent intelligence - in the UvA, apart from a few studies like mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology are effectively dead, in fact already since the previous century.

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