from April 6, 2018
This is a
Nederlog of Friday,
This is a crisis
log but it is a bit different from how it was the last five years:
I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch, but
since 2010 in English) 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 more than two years
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
I shall continue.
Section 2. Crisis Files
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
Selections from April 6, 2018
Contract With Authoritarianism
2. How the
Wireless Industry Convinced the Public Cellphones
Are Safe &
Cherry-Picked Research on Risks
Have Christian Nationalists Used Trump to
Stage a 'Soft Coup'?
4. Shell Knew, Too: New Docs Show Oil Giant's Scientists
About Climate Threat Decades
5. Facebook Admits Data From 'Most' of Its 2 Billion Users
by 'Malicious Actors'
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:
Contract With Authoritarianism
article is by Thomas
B. Edsall on The New York Times. This is from near
George Lakoff, a
professor of linguistics at Berkeley, published “Moral Politics: How
Liberals and Conservatives Think,” which argued that
To start my
review, I provided a link to Thomas B. Edsall
from which it emerges that he is a journalist, who also studied
journalism academically. Also - because my review is going to be
fairly critical - I like to add that I have nothing against
Edsall (nor much for him: I hardly know anything about him), but that my
academic degrees are in psychology and in philosophy, which does
make a difference.
embedded in conservative and liberal politics are two
different models of the family. Conservatism is based on a Strict
Father model, while liberalism is centered on a Nurturant Parent model.
These two models of the family give rise to different moral systems.
approaches to contemporary politics echo the insights of Sipple and
Lakoff. The crucial word now, however, is authoritarianism.
Now about the above quotation: It so happens that I do not
George Lakoff and my dislike is again not based on anything
personal (though I have read considerably more by him than by Edsall)
but on his style of writing (thoroughly academic) and his ideas
(misguided, in my opinion, though not intentionally).
And indeed the quotation is fairly typical: We have two enormous - and
quite strangely operationalized
- concepts, written with Capitals, namely a "Strict Father" model and a
"Nurturant Parent" model, both of which go back to early
and both of which are taken to explain the
political values that people have when adults.
For me, that is not real science:
it is a quite strangely
dressed academese that pushes Grand Concepts, that are also
rarely well or properly defined, to derive plausible
sounding explanations of politics
without any real proofs other than (i) (quite vague)
semantics, for most people believe that the terms these
"scientists" introduce (like conservatism or progressivism) have the
rough everyday meanings they associate with them, which tends to be a
mistake, for the terms in fact have been operationalized on a few
dimensions - which means: are given an interpretation that can be
tested by making observations
- together with (ii) the "empirically based" conclusions they attach to
their statistical results (which are not about the
original presumed meanings anymore).
To end the present remarks on real science: The above procedures can be
criticized in quite a few ways - and for psychologists see Paul Lutus's
Psychology A Science?" - but I limit all criticisms I could make to
just one by George
Orwell, who contended that he had little use for statistics (on
precisely because these were based on a few abstractions of a
vastly more complex subject,
that then were supposed to be
"factual", whereas at best they might be approximately true of the
abstractions, that were mostly sung loose from
complicated ordinary meanings.
And while I do not know when I first read it, and I do not
have the time right now to find out (it is almost certainly somewhere
"Collected Essays and Journalism"), I do know when I
first read this, namely between 1978 and 1980.
It seemed then wholly correct, and it still does, which is also one of
the main reasons I do not care for
most psychology: it is
based on false or misleading abstractions from far richer data, but the
abstractions are reported as if they are the reality, which in many
cases is simply a lie
(consciously so or not).
And to end the present remarks about the above quotation: Edsal does
give a link to authoritarianism,
which is defined as "The enforcement or advocacy
of strict obedience to authority at the expense of personal freedom", which is not bad but sounds circular
(defining "authoritarianism" in terms of "authority", which is
undefined), but OK.
is a quote from Federico,
Feldman and Weber, followed by an explanation which will clarify my own
and George Orwell's skepticism about this kind of pseudoscience:
Incidentally: Note that a
abstract trends in American politics, are "explained" by
"authoritarianism" that then again is reduced to four
that are about childhood traits (that very few people
are able to
define properly for themselves).
Three trends —
polarization, media change, and the rise of
what many people see as threats to the traditional social order — have
contributed to a growing divide within American politics. It is a
divide between those who place heavy value on social order and cohesion
relative to those who value personal autonomy and independence.
three authors use a long-established authoritarian
scale — based on four survey
questions about which childhood traits
parents would like to see in their offspring — that asks voters to
choose between independence or respect for their elders; curiosity or
good manners; self-reliance or obedience; and being considerate or
well-behaved. Those respondents who choose respect for elders, good
manners, obedience and being well-behaved are rated more
And after that, all of this is inverted to get from the - long
childhood traits to present political values (that are again "defined"
very vaguely or not at all).
I agree this is how much psychology is done, but I do not
think it is
real or good science (though almost every academic - with a psychology
degree - will insist it is).
Here is more of the same, this time based on "reseach by Johnston and
And here we have the -
undoubtedly extremely vaguely "defined" - concept of "openness" that
then, as explained above, somehow is linked to "authoritarianism" (as
Over the last
few decades, party allegiances have become
increasingly tied to a core dimension of personality we call
“openness.” Citizens high in openness value independence,
self-direction, and novelty, while those low in openness value social
cohesion, certainty, and security. Individual differences in openness
seem to underpin many social and cultural disputes, including debates
over the value of racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity, law and
order, and traditional values and social norms.
notes that personality traits like closed mindedness, along with
aversion to change and discomfort with diversity, are linked to
It seems both extremely vague to me, and is definitely not
proper science (but again: this is how psychology normally
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article, that seems baloney to this
psychologist (with top grades on his M.A.):
I think the only
thing that is true in the above is that one's "worldview guides a person in navigating the
world": All the rest is an
extremely vague mixture based on on (unstated) operationalizations,
with totally unclear and completely unstated probabilities, that in the
end reduce everything and anything - "race, immigration, sexual orientation, gender
attitudes, the projection of military force, gun control, and just
about every “culture war” issue" - to "the fixed" and "the fluid".
and Weiler argue that the answers to questions about the four childhood
traits reveal “how worldview guides a person in navigating the world,”
as Hetherington put it in his email:
Not only do
the answers to these questions explain
preferences about race, immigration, sexual orientation, gender
attitudes, the projection of military force, gun control, and just
about every “culture war” issue, people’s worldviews also undergird
people’s life choices. Because ‘the fixed’ are wary about the dangers
around them, they prefer the country over the city. ‘The fluid’ prefer
If you think that is real science - other than the ordinary
- you need a considerably higher IQ than you have.
the Wireless Industry Convinced the Public Cellphones Are Safe &
Cherry-Picked Research on Risks
This article is by Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh on
Democracy Now! It starts with this introduction:
Ninety-five out of
every 100 American adults owns a cellphone today. And worldwide, three
out of four adults now have cellphone access. The wireless industry is
one of the fastest-growing on Earth, raking in annual sales of $440
billion in 2016. But are cellphones safe? A new investigation by The
Nation suggests that’s a question that cellphone giants prefer you
don’t ask. We speak with Mark Hertsgaard, The Nation’s environment
correspondent and investigative editor. His report, co-authored with
Mark Dowie, is headlined “How Big Wireless Made Us Think That Cell
Phones Are Safe.”
I say, for I did not
know that 95% of all American adults have a cellphone, nor
worldwide the access is 75%. And I grant I also find this
amazing, because I will only have a cellphone when it becomes forbidden
by law not to have one:
I hate the small screens (I do have eye problems, is true), I
hate, despise and abhor all propaganda and
I hate being followed all the time, I hate being an
open book to anyone rich enough (the Silicon Valley billionaires) or
powerful enough (the secret services from anywhere), I hate
and there is undoubtedly more.
And now it has turned out (once again, for I did follow the earlier
news a bit) that cellphones may give their users cancer and this
possibility has been systematically been kept away from cellphone users
by cellphone companies:
NERMEEN SHAIKH: (...)
But are cellphones safe? Well, a new investigation
by The Nation suggests that’s a question that cellphone
giants prefer you don’t ask. The article, by journalists Mark
Hertsgaard and Mark Dowie, is headlined “How Big Wireless Made Us Think
That Cell Phones Are Safe.”
The article notes that
cellphones were first marketed to U.S. consumers in the 1980s without
any government safety testing. Then, a decade later, one of the
industry’s own hand-picked researchers, George Carlo, reportedly told
top company officials, including leaders of Apple, AT&T and
Motorola, that some industry-commissioned studies raised serious
questions about cellphone safety. On October 7th, 1999, Carlo sent
letters to industry CEOs urging them to give consumers, quote, “the
information they need to make an informed judgment about how much of
this unknown risk they wish to assume.” Instead, the Cellular
Telecommunications and Internet Association reportedly tried to
discredit Carlo’s findings, and had him physically removed from its
premises during its annual conference in February 2000.
I say, which I do
because I knew a little from this but most was totally unknown to me.
And here is Mark Hertsgaard:
Indeed, and in fact I wholly
agree with Hertsgaard (and would refuse a
cellphone if it was
offered to me for free and was guaranteed to be medically totally
harmless, which it is not).
MARK HERTSGAARD: Let me
emphasize, Amy, our piece is not saying that cellphones are safe or are
not safe. Our piece is an investigative exposť showing you how the
cellular industry has worked for 25 years behind the scenes to convince
you that cellphones are safe, when, in fact, if you look at the
independently funded science, the picture is a lot more mixed than
that. And as you mentioned, there’s that smoking gun memo—letter, I
should say—from George Carlo in 1999 telling the CEOs of all these big
companies, “Look, this stuff is raising serious questions, especially
about kids and cancer and genetic damage.”
And I think that’s the real
parallel with both Big Oil and Big Tobacco. In each case, these big
companies were told privately by their own scientists that there are
serious questions about your product, whether it be cigarettes or
fossil fuels or cellphones. And in each case, those executives decided
not to share that with the public, but rather to keep that information
to themselves, while telling the public and telling the press and
telling policymakers there’s no problem.
There is a lot of evidence
suggesting that we need to be a lot more careful about these
cellphones. The World Health Organization has listed them as a possible
carcinogen. And just last week, here in the United States, the National
Institutes of Health had a major study, peer-reviewed, about cellphone
radiation. And the peer-review scientists, who are independent of
government, said that there was, quote, “clear evidence,” unquote, that
cellphones can cause cancer.
And that is something that you
have not read in the American media.
And here is the last bit that I quote from this fine article:
And our piece
in The Nation magazine documents how when the World Health
Organization was preparing, in the year 2011, to render a judgment on
how likely cellphones are to cause cancer, the industry made sure to
get a number of its scientists onto the advisory boards that consulted
with the WHO on that decision. And that is
contrary to the conflict-of-interest rules that the WHO
has, but the industry managed to circumvent those. It put money into
that process. And at the end of the day, in 2011, the WHO, World Health Organization, called cellphone
radiation a “possible” carcinogen.
This means that the
cellphone corporations have been trying to trick the public, which
me, at least - increases the probability that cellphone corporations have things to
And this is a strongly recommended article (that may explain why
you will have a brain tumor by the time you are in
Christian Nationalists Used Trump to Stage a 'Soft Coup'?
This article is by Chauncy DeVega on AlterNet and originally
on Salon. It starts as follows:
By the standards of any of
the world's major religions Donald Trump is an ungodly person, an
enthusiastic and unrepentant sinner who revels in his misdeeds. Trump
is a serial liar and apparent narcissist. He is a greedy, crude and
selfish person who does not pay his debts. He has repeatedly cheated on
his wives and bragged about it. He has boasted about sexually
assaulting women and getting away with it.
Yet white Christian
evangelical voters were among his most enthusiastic supporters in the
2016 election. Despite Trump's many failings of character, temperament
and policy as president, they remain loyal members of his political
cult. Why is this?
First, I say: Yes
indeed - Trump is such a person as described. And second, I
to earlier articles in Nederlog that were devoted to the same or very
to an interview of Chris Hedges - who is a Christian ministers,
among other things - by Abby Martin
namely this: Is
Fascism’ the Biggest Threat We Face Under Trump? and
next to an article
by Chris Hedges: Trump and the Christian Fascists.
Both articles are strongly
recommended. Here is more on the importance of
in the present USA:
Much has been written about
Donald Trump and the Republican Party's authoritarian efforts to
subvert and destroy American democracy, and their alliances with
right-wing gangster capitalists such as the Koch brothers. But the
enormous role played by evangelicals in Trump's victory -- and in his
enduring core of support -- has not received as much attention
from the mainstream news media.
In all, it is increasingly
clear that with Trump as the figurehead and Vice President Mike
Pence as the puppet-master, Christian evangelicals have successfully
completed a soft coup in America.
I think that is mostly
correct, though I hesitate whether "Christian evangelicals have successfully
completed a soft coup in America",
simply because it seems to be mostly their political foremen
who got more power.
Here is the last bit that I
quote from this article, which in fact is quoted from Andrew Whitehead:
Yes, that seems to be
correct to me as regards the views many American Christians have. I
only observe that they are nonsense in my
eyes, and they also seem to
nationalists conceptualize politics and society as a realm that must be
suffused with Christianity in order for it to flourish, because of the
particular relationship the United States has with the Christian God.
It is only through thoroughly injecting Christianity into the public
sphere that the moral fabric of society will be strengthened and the
issues that the country faces will be solved.
Knew, Too: New Docs Show Oil Giant's Scientists Secretly Warned About
Climate Threat Decades Ago
This article is by Jessica Corbett on Common Dreams. This
starts as follows:
Royal Dutch Shell's
scientists warned the oil giant about the threat that fossil fuel
emissions pose to the planet as early as the 1980s,
according to a trove of documents obtained by a Dutch journalist
and published Thursday at Climate
Environmental advocates say
the documents—which bolster an
investigative report published last year—demonstrate the "stunning"
immorality of oil and gas companies. The records are expected to aid
global efforts to hold the industry to account for its contributions to
I say! I do so because I did not
know this, although I grant that I am not
amazed at all.
Then again, while I also
agree with "the "stunning"
immorality of oil and gas companies",
I do like to give - once again, and see January
2, 2018 - the opinion of Milton Friedman (in
1962, but this seem to have
norm for Friedman: Profit and only
profit, of private individuals
running private corporation without any
could so thoroughly undermine the very foundation of our free society
as the acceptance by corporate officials of a social responsibility
other than to make as much money for their stockholders as possible.
This is a fundamentally subversive doctrine. If businessmen do have a
social responsibility other than making maximum profits for
stockholders, how are they to know what it is? Can self-selected
private individuals decide what the social interest is?"
- we got no
responsibility whatsoever except
enlarging our own profits - is one
the reasons I think Friedman was a neofascist,
in my sense. And indeed
private individuals" cannot "decide what the social
interest is?" then no one
can. Besides, the
also are "self-selected
and they do understand what their "social interests"
are: Their own
interests and no one else's, precisely as Friedman put it.
Here is more on the opinions of Shell's top men or top scientists, in
1988 (30 years ago this year):
One such document, a
confidential 1988 report entitled "The
Greenhouse Effect," outlines a comprehensive study of climate
science and the projected impact of fossil fuels, and reveals that the
company secretly had been commissioning such analyses since at least
1981. The report acknowledges the central role that fossil
fuels—especially oil—play in increasing emissions
that drive global warming.
"Although CO2 is emitted to
the atmosphere through several natural processes," the report states,
"the main cause of increasing CO2 concentrations is considered to be
fossil fuel burning."
And here is the
This latest confirmation
that Shell, for more than three decades, has
been privately aware of its products' contributions to the climate
crisis but opted to publicly promote skepticism about climate science
mirrored similar findings about ExxonMobil in
Yes indeed - but see Milton Friedman above.
Here is the last bit I quote
from this fine article:
Friends of the Earth
Netherlands, or Milieudefensie, sent Shell—a Dutch company—a liability
letter on Wednesday informing the oil giant that it has eight weeks to
bring its policies into compliance with the goals outlined in the Paris
Agreement, or it will be forced
to face off against the environmental group in court.
"Many of us are doing [our]
best to put an end to the climate problem," said
Milieudefensie director Donald
Pols. "In the meantime, Shell continues
to invest in new oil and gas sources. Shell, just like the rest of us,
should take its responsibility to stop wrecking the climate."
"If we win this case," added Friends
of the Earth International chair Karin Nansen, "it has major
consequences for other fossil companies, and opens the door for further
legal action against other climate polluters."
I wish them - Milieudefensie - luck, although my guess is
that the Dutch courts will refuse to give it to them, perhaps because Milton Friedman's arguments to the effect
that big corporations have no
responsibilities whatsoever, other
than making profits. And this article is strongly
Admits Data From 'Most' of Its 2 Billion Users Compromised by
This article is (also) by Jessica Corbett on Common Dreams.
starts as follows:
Buried in Facebook's announcement
that Cambridge Analytica had improperly gathered data from up to 87
million users—rather than the previously
reported 50 million—was the stunning admission that "malicious
actors" exploited the social networking site's search features to
collection information from "most" of its 2
I say! Well... if Facebook's "chief
technology officer" wrote that he
believes that "most people on
have had their public profile scraped" as Cambridge Analytica did, who am I to say that he
"Until today, people could
enter another person's phone number or email
address into Facebook search to help find them," Facebook's chief
technology officer Mike Schroepfer wrote in
a company blog post on Wednesday. "Given the scale and sophistication
of the activity we've seen, we believe most people on Facebook could
have had their public profile scraped in this way. So we have now
disabled this feature."
And indeed I agree with the title of the article:
Since Facebook has
over 2 billion users that for the greatest part hardly know anything
about computing, and since the chief technology officer said that "most
people on Facebook could
have had their public profile scraped", I will assume they have been, though
quite possibly not
by Cambridge Analytica, and also not to help Stephen Bannon
Trump to win the presidential elections.
Here is some more specific information:
In other words, Facebook
leadership believes that over
the course of several years, these "malicious actors" utilized the
now-disabled search features to collect whatever personal information
that most of its users had sometimes unknowlingly set to "public."
Incidentally, in case you are
on Facebook and "do not care": I recently reported on one specific
quite normal user who asked to see his data: It turned out that
Facebook had 600 MB of data on him alone, which means that
technology officer - implicitly - allowed that Facebook may have spread
2 billion * 600 MB = 1200 billion MB
of data about its users to God knows whom.
I agree it may be less, and I
am willing to agree that - perhaps, possibly - most of these data may
not have been used, but meanwhile this is an enormous scandal.
Here is the last bit that I
quote from this fine article:
"We didn't take a broad
enough view of what our
responsibility was and that was a huge mistake. It was my mistake,"
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said
on a conference call with reporters on Wednesday.
This admission comes as
Facebook faces heightened scrutiny
over the Cambridge
Analytical scandal, which has raised widespread concerns about
digital privacy. In what had been called the social media company's
"largest-ever data breach," a series of investigative reports last
month revealed that Cambridge Analytica —a political consultancy
data firm hired by then-candidate Donald Trump
and other GOP politicians—exploited
Facebook to secretly harvest personal information from millions of
Yes indeed. And this is
a strongly recommended article.
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 2 years
as if they are the
eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I
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 (!!).