November 25, 2017
3. About Theorists without Theories
This is a Nederlog of Saturday, November 25,
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 will
continue with it.
moment and since nearly two years (!!!!) I have
problems with the company that is
supposed to take care that my site is visible 
and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and
2. Crisis Files
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
Selections from November 25, 2017
Staggering Variety of Clandestine Trackers Found In Popular
2. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín
Cruz on Trump, Shock Doctrine &
“Disaster Capitalism” in
3. FCC Member Begs Public to 'Stop Us' From Killing Net
4. Drain the Pockets of Americans Who Make Less Than $500,000
5. Journalism Is Imploding Just When We Need It Most
items 1 - 5 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. Unindented text is by me:
Variety of Clandestine Trackers Found In Popular Android Apps
This article is by Yael Grauer on The Intercept. It starts
When I was 7 I learned
that about 10% of the children of my age were sadists. In fact,
I neither new the term "sadism" nor the name "De Sade", but I did clearly
recognize, as did in fact most of the children in my class,
that there was a group of children in the several classes that made up
the year who not only disliked spiders (of which there were
plenty in the bushes around my school), but who also liked to
catch them and pull out their legs: They liked to hurt
what they did not like. 
Researchers at Yale Privacy
Lab and French nonprofit Exodus Privacy have documented the
proliferation of tracking software on smartphones, finding that
weather, flashlight, rideshare, and dating apps, among others, are
infested with dozens of different types of trackers collecting vast
amounts of information to better target advertising.
Exodus security researchers
trackers in more than 300 apps
Yale Privacy Lab researchers
have only been able to analyze Android apps, but believe many of the
trackers also exist on iOS, since companies often distribute for both
Android smartphone operating system. The apps, collectively, have been
downloaded billions of times. Yale Privacy Lab, within the university’s
law school, is working to replicate the Exodus findings and has already
released reports on 25 of the
I did not like spiders either, but I also saw that humans were
veritable mountains compared to spiders, and that the spiders could do
nothing against humans, and I saw no reason to torture them for being
spiders, with which I also agreed with most of the children of my age.
Except for roughly 10%. And I think now - sixty years
later and as a
psychologist - that the leaders and owners of Google, Microsoft,
Apple, Facebook and quite a few more are very probably sadists, who indulge their sadism to get
themselves as rich as possible. That is: it not only pleases
them but also enriches them.
Here is more on these sadists-for-their-very-own-riches, who
deserve the name sado-fascists:
The findings underscore the
pervasiveness of tracking despite a permissions system on Android that
supposedly puts users in control of their own data. They also highlight
how a large and varied set of firms are working to enable tracking.
“I think people are used to
the idea, whether they should be or not, that Lyft might be tracking
them,” said Sean O’Brien, a visiting fellow at Yale Privacy Lab. “And
they’re used to the fact that if Lyft is on Android and coming from
Google Play, that Google might be tracking them. But I don’t think that
they think that their data is being resold or at least redistributed
through these other trackers.”
I think myself that
Sean O'Brien is far too optimistic:
I know how to program
in six languages, but that knowledge is mostly of no use to do
much against being spied upon by extremely many electronic
spies, in considerable part because they all mostly totally deny or
do not comment on their own spying,
and in considerable part because the
programs they spy with are secret.
Here is more on the very
many sadists or sado-fascists who are trying to become billionaires
through their own sadistic spying on anyone or who try to get
richer than they are through their sadistic spying on everything
can get, in secret:
Among the Android
apps identified by the researchers were, with six or seven trackers
each, dating apps Tinder and OkCupid, the Weather Channel app, and
Superbright LED Flashlight; the app for digital music service Spotify,
which embedded four trackers, including two from Google; ridesharing
service Uber, with three trackers; and Skype, Lyft, Accuweather, and
There are very many
more and this was all taken from the beginning of this article,
that is strongly recommended.
Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz on Trump, Shock Doctrine & “Disaster
Capitalism” in Puerto Rico
This article is by Amy
Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz
joins us for an extended interview about how Hurricane Maria had
changed Puerto Rico since it struck the island on September 20, Trump’s
attacks and her vision for the future. Democracy Now! interviewed Cruz
when we visited Puerto Rico last month. She spoke to us in the city’s
Roberto Clemente Coliseum, where her entire mayoral staff was living
after Hurricane Maria devastated the island on September 20.
20 is meanwhile over two months ago, while it seems as if
president Trump only gave some paper towels to the people of Puerto
Rico, quite probably because many of them are not white.
Here is some by Mayor
CARMEN YULÍN CRUZ:
I think September 20th changed the Puerto Rican reality forever. We
live in a different San Juan and a different Puerto Rico, not because
of what we’re lacking. The majority of the island is still without any
power. Only about 40 to 60 percent of the population has water. That
doesn’t mean that it’s good water. We still have to boil it or put
chlorine in it to be able to drink it. Medical services are really,
really bad because of the lack of electricity. The supplies in the
supermarkets are not there yet, so people are having a lot of trouble
getting the supplies that they need.
I think it is fair to say
that hardly any help is coming from the American government for the
simple reason that this is a Trumpian government, and Trump both
dislikes "brownies" and very strongly likes any underhanded manoeuvre
that makes him richer.
Here is Mayor Cruz on the sadism she met
from Trump's government and also on the reasons why:
capitalism, what does that term mean to you? And do you think that’s
happening here, using a crisis to accomplish something that couldn’t be
I think Mayor Cruz is quite
right and this is a recommended article.
CARMEN YULÍN CRUZ:
You know, I wish I had never been introduced to that term. Also the
shock, shock treatment, right? Using the chaos to strip employees of
their bargaining rights, rights that took 40, 50 years for the unions
to be able to determine. That is something very important. And it just
means taking advantage of people when they are in a life-or-death
situation. It is the most—an absolute mistreatment of human rights. It
means that the strongest really feed off the weakest, until everything
that’s left is the carcass.
Member Begs Public to 'Stop Us' From Killing Net Neutrality
This article is by Andrea
Germanos on Truthdig and originally on Common Dreams. This starts as
After one commissioner called the
FCC’s newly released plan to
roll back net neutrality “worse than one could imagine,” a second
commissioner is now calling voters to make sure the proposal by
Republican Chairman Ajit Pai does not go through.
In a Los Angeles
Times op-ed published Thursday—entitled “I’m
on the FCC. Please stop us from killing net neutrality“—Commissioner
Jessica Rosenworcel points to the overwhelming public support for net
neutrality and the ongoing questions about
validity of anti-net neutrality public comments submitted to FCC, as
well as what appear to be tens of thousands of missing comments. “If
the idea behind the plan is bad, the process for commenting on it has
been even worse,” she writes.
Rosenworcel decries Pai’s
plan as “a lousy idea. And it deserves a heated response from the
millions of Americans who work and create online every day.”
Yes indeed - and that
is diplomatically formulated. Here is some more:
Killing net neutrality, she
your broadband provider
could carve internet access into fast and slow lanes, favoring the
traffic of online platforms that have made special payments and
consigning all others to a bumpy road. Your provider would have the
power to choose which voices online to amplify and which to censor. The
move could affect everything online, including the connections we make
and the communities we create.
This is not the internet
experience we know today. Americans should prevent the plan from
becoming the law of the land.
In short, she writes, the
American public needs to “Make a ruckus,” including by targeting other
members of the FCC.
I agree with
Rosenworcel, and indeed the internet I see arising is an
internet of and for the rich, who can spy on absolutely anyone
absolutely anywhere, all with little objections, for the vast
majority of computer users doesn't understand computers, and who
also can - if Pai's rules are adopted - dismiss or censor everyone on
line that they don't like:
It is the perfect combination of secret policing and spying
for the rich with policing and censoring everyone who does not
support the rich.
Here is some more:
Her op-ed came a day after
Democratic FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn said Pai’s proposal is
“worse than one could imagine” and released a fact
sheet (pdf) explaining its consequences to the net as we know
it, as Common Dreams reported.
As NBC News outlines,
the resistance to Pai’s plan is intensifying. “While the topic of net
neutrality is certainly one that can be described as ‘wonky,'” the
reporting notes, “it’s still something that could affect every person
who uses the internet.”
Among those catalyzing the
resistance is digital rights advocacy organization Electronic Frontier
The first two links
above are well worth reading, though I grant that I don't like the NBC
report: They should not have said 'wonkish'; instead, they should
have said much more simply and correctly that 99% of those who use
computers do not understand much about them.
But this is a
the Pockets of Americans Who Make Less Than $500,000 a Year
This article is by
David Cay Johnston on AlterNet and originally on DC Report. This starts
As Americans gather for
Thanksgiving, we can only hope that the richest among us have the good
graces to give thanks for the bounty they expect to receive in a few
days thanks to how Donald Trump and the Republican leaders on Capitol
Hill conned millions of voters.
The plutocrats should set
aside a moment to thank all the voters suckered by the Trumpian promise
to drain the swamp. What Trump really meant was to drain the pockets of
Americans who make less than $500,000 a year so the richest of the rich
can have more.
Yes indeed: I think
that is a fair summary of Trump's real plans (which are
in the sense defined on my site). Here is more on why I think so:
And here is more on the
As for the official
government version of events, businesses would reap 59.2% of the tax
savings under the Senate bill. The Congressional
Joint Committee on Taxation estimates corporate income taxes will
drop by $837 billion over the next 10 years.
Every dollar of the tax
savings would come from either cutting government services or adding to
the federal debt.
Measured as a percentage of
their income, the million-dollar to multi-billion-dollar annual income
group will on average see a 3.2% increase in their after-tax income.
Those making $100,000 to
$200,000, itself a rarified territory, will see their after-tax income
grow by 0.6%, that’s $1,200 for someone at the top end of the group.
The near-poor, making
$30,000 to $40,000, will save perhaps 0.2% of their meager incomes. If
your family makes $36,500 annually, your tax savings will come to
roughly 20-cents every day.
If you make $12 million a
year, figure your after-tax income will rise by at least $360,000
annually under either bill. That’s about one grand a day.
Looked at another way, for
each $1 the near poor will save, the family making $12 million-a-year
will save $5,000.
In a schema:
0 < x <
75 euro per year Up to 95%
earn < 100,000
100,000 < x < 200,000 1200
euro per year These cover abour 3%
x < $ 12
1000 euro per day
These cover less than 0.5 %
tax plain, in outline. I'd say it is pure theft by the very few
richest from everybody else. And this is a recommended
Is Imploding Just When We Need It Most
This article is by Monika Bauerlein on Mother Jones.
Bauerlein is the chief editor of Mother Jones. The article starts as
One of the few bright spots
this past year was supposed to be the revival of journalism. And to be
sure, it’s been a great time for muckraking, with newsrooms bringing
home scoop after scoop on the Trump administration. Subscriptions to
everything from the New York Times to Mother Jones
are up. And for the first time in decades, trust in news media is
rising too: Today, 54
percent of the public have confidence in journalists to tell the
truth, while only 36 percent trust the president.
So: Will Donald Trump,
perhaps the most anti-journalism president in modern times, actually
end up saving journalism?
As an aside: I earlier
reviewed a somewhat similar article by the chief editor of
here. And as to the above quotation:
First, I like AlterNet
and Mother Jones and several others from non-mainstream news a
lot better than most journalism I read from mainstream news, and I
think it is a mistake of Bauerlein not to mention the
between mainstream and non- mainstream news.
And second, clearly
Trump will not "actually
end up saving journalism",
while it is at present an open question whether he will end up
destroying non-mainstream journalism.
This is about a graph
that shows that between 2004 and 2012 the advertising revenues of the
U.S. newspapers radically fell, namely from around $ 50 billion around
2004, to $25 billion in 2012, that is, it was halved in 8
As a regional newspaper
editor recently told me, “I showed that graph to our newsroom and said:
If that line keeps going, there’s no one left working here in 10
years.” Right after that I watched a presentation on news robots—algorithms
that can put together credible stories with stunningly little help from
humans. It’s not at all hard to imagine newsrooms populated largely by
artificial intelligence a few years hence.
And it’s not just legacy shops that are imploding. Virtually every news
organization in America has seen its audience decline (and in some
cases crater) since the record numbers of last winter.
I agree with the "regional newspaper editor" - and that is wholly apart from news
generated by news robots.
Here is one of
If this keeps up, Trump’s
(and Steve Bannon’s and Kellyanne Conway’s) dream could soon come true:
The news landscape will be dominated by cheap, shallow fluff and
propaganda of the sort that turns reality-show celebs into presidents.
Independent, critical journalism will end up FAILING, not because it’s
not doing its job, but because no one will pay to do that job.
I agree and in
fact I think that is the most probably future. I much
hope that I am
mistaken, but success generally comes to the rich few, and not to the
Without a Theory
This article is not a crisis article, in part
because it is about physics, and in part because the crisis in physics
in fact dates back to the 1980ies and the rise of string theory,
which - I admit - is also the time I mostly stopped following physics,
since I agreed then with Richard Feynman who said then that string
theories were not real empirical theories.
Peter Woit is a mathematical physicist who agrees. This article starts
as follows and is in fact about an essay by George Ellis (that you may
find by reading the original):
In his essay, George
Ellis does an excellent job of explaining how some highly publicized
speculative claims about theories involving a multiverse have “slipped
the leash” of experiment, leading this area of theoretical physics to a
strange place. One where the question of what is and what is not
science has become open to debate. Here I would like to argue that it
is important to recognize the extent to which it is not new and subtle
issues about the relation of theory and experiment are relevant. What
is going on is something much simpler: the theorists do not actually
have a theory.
I think one word
missing there before the last term "theory", namely empirical
theory. For I believe the string theoreticians do propound -
complicated - mathematical theories, but these mathematical theories cannot
In fact, here is Woit quoted from the Wikipedia article on string theory
existence of, say, 10500
consistent different vacuum states for superstring theory probably
destroys the hope of using the theory to predict anything. If one picks
among this large set just those states whose properties agree with
present experimental observations, it is likely there still will be
such a large number of these that one can get just about whatever value
one wants for the results of any new observation.
That is: string theory is
(or may be) quite interesting mathematics, but it is not
about physics, for physics is empirical, while string theory can
normally not be tested at all in an empirical way.
I agree with this, and indeed agreed with Richard Feynman who said very
similar things in the 1980ies.
Here is some more by Woit from the article:
The inability of the
multiverse paradigm to make any predictions is sometimes attributed to
the measure problem: one cannot put a measure on an infinite set giving
equal weight to each element. One problem here is the equal weight
assumption, which is a reflection of the lack of an actual theory. A
well-defined theory would, in principle, allow one to calculate what
probabilistic weight to assign to each possibility in the infinite set,
giving a consistent measure. Even before getting to this measure
problem though, there is a much more serious problem: one does not even
know what space it is that one is supposed to be looking for a measure
on. One lacks a viable theory that would describe the set of possible
universes—the string vacua in the string theory framework—and is thus
unable to even specify the measure problem at hand, much less hope to
I agree (but I am neither
a physicist nor a mathematician, though I am still somewhat interested
 I have now been
end of 2015 that
xs4all.nl is systematically
ruining my site by NOT updating it within a few seconds,
as it did between 1996 and 2015, but by updating it between
two to seven days later, that is, if I am lucky.
claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie.
They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.
just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my
ideas. They have behaved now for 1 1/2 years as if they are the
eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I will
from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).
two reasons I remain with xs4all is that my site has been
there since 1996, and I have no reasons whatsoever to suppose that any
other Dutch provider is any better (!!).
 In fact my own understanding of
and indeed De Sade
is not quite like the mostly psychiatric understanding of
sadism: I think it is rather often not sexual in nature, but
related to power
which is also why I define it (in brief) as "pleasure derived
from the misfortunes of others or from causing others pain or misery".
Indeed here is something quoted from my bit on De Sade:
Also, it should be
remarked that there is much more sadism in human beings
than most are willing to admit, especially if the term 'sexual'
in the above definition is deleted: Very many people derive much
pleasure from being in positions of power and by hurting, denigrating,
demeaning or displeasing others using their position. It probably does
not arouse most of them sexually, but they wouldn't do it if it did not
please them. And this kind of pleasure seems
to be one of the strongest motivators of those who desire to be boss:
To let others feel they are inferior.
'human-all-too-human' desire to hurt, harm, demean and denigrate others
is one of the normally unacknowledged forces of history, as is stupidity. It
is probably the normal human reaction to personal unhappiness:
Make others suffer at least as much as one does oneself.
Sadism as a sexual
perversion seems fairly rare (especially in its more extreme forms),
but as a perversion of character
seems to be fairly common in bureaucrats,
many of whom seem to do the boring work they do for the pleasures it
brings in exercising their power over others.