from April 19, 2018
This is a
Nederlog of Thursday,
This is a
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 19, 2018
1. The Internet Apologizes …
The 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:
2. Unlimited Worldwide War: ACLU Warns Senate Against
Blank Check to Declare War
3. Who Will Protect Elections From U.S. Oligarchs?
4. Stopping the Doomsday Machine
5. Examining the Kochtopus
Internet Apologizes ...
article is by Noah Kulwin on The New York Magazine. It has a subtitle:
Even those who
designed our digital world are aghast at what they created. A breakdown
of what went wrong — from the architects who built it.
In fact, this is a very interesting article that I strongly recommend everyone to read (you
can download it by clicking on the above title), but it has one
setback from the point of view of Nederlog: The article clocks in
at 633 Kb - which is about ten times as long as the longest
Nederlogs I write.
One of the good things about this - very long - article is that one
gets (finally indeed, at least as
far as my
pretty extensive readings are concerned) the voices and ideas of real
computer programmers, who know a whole lot about the internet, and also
about the corporations that grew on the net.
But it is very difficult to give a decent review of 633 Kb, and
I´ll do this review a bit differently from how I do things normally in
First, here is a summary of the introduction:
has gone wrong with the internet. Even Mark Zuckerberg knows
before Congress, the Facebook CEO ticked off a list of everything
his platform has screwed up, from fake news and foreign meddling in the
2016 election to hate speech and data
privacy. “We didn’t take a broad enough view of our
responsibility,” he confessed. Then he added the words that everyone
was waiting for: “I’m sorry.”
There have always
been outsiders who criticized the tech industry — even if their
concerns have been drowned out by the oohs and aahs of consumers,
investors, and journalists. But today, the most dire warnings are
coming from the heart of Silicon Valley itself. The man who oversaw the
creation of the original iPhone believes the device he helped build is
too addictive. The inventor of the World Wide Web fears his creation is
being “weaponized.” Even Sean Parker, Facebook’s first president, has
blasted social media as a dangerous form of psychological manipulation.
“God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains,” he lamented
In fact, I
do not know whose warnings are the direst, and I also do not
care. What matters here and now is that many of the founders of
important programs on the internet agree that the internet has become
quite different from what they thought between - say - 1995 and 2000
(or considerably later).
One major difference the internet brought was its advertising model:
model of the internet was different from anything that came before.
Whatever you might say about broadcast advertising, it drew you into a
kind of community, even if it was a community of consumers. The culture
of the social-media era, by contrast, doesn’t draw you anywhere. It
meets you exactly where you are, with your preferences and prejudices —
at least as best as an algorithm can intuit them. “Microtargeting” is
nothing more than a fancy term for social atomization — a business
logic that promises community while promoting its opposite.
I hate all
advertising since I discovered, by myself, at age 10 or 11, that all advertising
is in fact paid lying:
it is propaganda
biased to make you buy products.
And I still
think so - and I hate microtargeted advertising (abusing their
knowledge of your values, your ideas, your person, your income, your
health, your everything) much more than the - also horrible
and usually extremely ugly - broadcast advertising.
is this on what caused quite a few makers of important programs on the
internet to recast their ideas (at long last, or so it appears
Why, over the
past year, has Silicon
Valley begun to regret the foundational elements of its own
success? The obvious answer is November 8, 2016. For all that he
represented a contravention of its lofty ideals, Donald Trump was
elected, in no small part, by the internet itself. Twitter served as
his unprecedented direct-mail-style megaphone, Google helped pro-Trump
forces target users most susceptible to crass Islamophobia, the digital
clubhouses of Reddit and 4chan served as breeding grounds for the
alt-right, and Facebook became the weapon of choice for Russian
trolls and data-scrapers like Cambridge
Analytica. Instead of producing a techno-utopia, the internet
suddenly seemed as much a threat to its creator class as it had
previously been their herald.
I more or
less agree. And here is the conclusion from this introduction:
it turns out, won’t save the world. But those who built the internet
have provided us with a clear and disturbing account of why everything
went so wrong — how the technology they created has been used to
undermine the very aspects of a free society that made that technology
possible in the first place.
seems quite correct, and is very dangerous, simply because the
internet has allowed the very few rich and the state´s
present themselves as ¨national security¨ to know everything about
anyone on the internet, and to abuse that knowledge in very
usually totally hidden and secret ways.
the set-up of the article is to present 16 titled steps, all with some
comments from several of thirteen prominent persons that were asked to
comment because each of them was important as programmer or otherwise
on the internet.
What I will
do is first present only the titles, simply because they do
sketch the development of the internet the last 25 or 26 years, and do
so quite well (in my opinion):
I think that is a fair
and I grant that I am a pessimist
about the internet:
Hippie Good Intentions …
… Then mix in capitalism
The arrival of Wall
Streeters didn’t help …
… And we paid a high price for keeping it free.
Everything was designed to be really, really addictive.
At first, it worked — almost too well.
No one from Silicon Valley was held
… Even as social networks became dangerous and toxic.
… And even as they invaded our privacy.
Then came 2016.
Employees are starting to revolt.
To fix it, we’ll need a new business model …
… And some tough regulation.
Maybe nothing will change.
… Unless, at the
least, some new people are
Either a coming major economical crisis
will allow the great majority who are neither states´ terrorists (who
call themselves ¨national security¨) nor rich corporatists to destroy
most of the internet or else the most probable future is a neofascistic
one in which the very few very rich have total control,
and the great majority are equivalent to manipulated slaves (if
they are so happy as to be allowed a chance to earn something).
From Step 2: … Then mix
in capitalism on steroids.
From Step 3: The arrival of Wall Streeters didn’t help …
We disrupted absolutely everything: politics, finance, education,
media, family relationships, romantic relationships. We won — we just
totally won. But having won, we have no sense of balance or modesty or
graciousness. We’re still acting as if we’re in trouble and we have to
defend ourselves. So we kind of turned into assholes, you know?
Social media was supposed to be about, “Hey, Grandma. How are you?” Now
it’s like, “Oh my God, did you see what she wore yesterday? What a
fucking cow that bitch is.” Everything is toxic — and that has to do
with the internet itself. It was founded to connect people all over the
world. But now you can meet people all over the world and then murder
them in virtual reality and rape their pets.
Zuckerman: Over the last decade, the social-media platforms
have been working to make the web almost irrelevant. Facebook would, in
many ways, prefer that we didn’t have the internet. They’d prefer that
we had Facebook.
If email were being invented now and Mark Zuckerberg had concocted it,
it would be a vertically integrated, proprietary thing that nobody
could build on.
From Step 4:
… And we paid a
high price for keeping it free.
From Step 6: At first, it worked — almost too well.
What started out as advertising morphed into continuous behavior
modification on a mass basis, with everyone under surveillance by their
devices and receiving calculated stimulus to modify them. It’s a
horrible thing that was foreseen by science-fiction writers. It’s
straight out of Philip K. Dick or 1984.
soon as you’re saying “I need to put you under surveillance so I can
figure out what you want and meet your needs better,” you really have
to ask yourself the questions “Am I in the right business? Am I doing
this the right way?”
you go back to the early
days of propaganda theory, Edward Bernays had a hypothesis that to
implant an idea and make it universally acceptable, you needed to have
the same message appearing in every medium all the time for a really
long period of time. The notion was it could only be done by a
government. Then Facebook came along, and it had this ability to
personalize for every single user. Instead of being a broadcast model,
it was now 2.2 billion individualized channels. It was the most
effective product ever created to revolve around human emotions.
From Step 7: No one from Silicon Valley was held
terms of design, companies like Facebook and Twitter have not
prioritized features that would protect people against the most
malicious cases of abuse. That’s in part because they have no liability
when something goes wrong. Section 230 of the Communications Decency
Act of 1996, which was originally envisioned to protect free speech,
effectively shields internet companies from the actions of third
parties on their platforms. It enables them to not prioritize the
features they need to build to protect users.
From Step 9: …And even as they invaded our privacy.
What is data privacy? That means that if a company collects data about
you, it should somehow protect that data. But I don’t think that’s the
issue. The problem is that these companies are collecting data about
you, period. We shouldn’t let them do that. The data that is collected
will be abused. That’s not an absolute certainty, but it’s a practical
extreme likelihood, which is enough to make collection a problem.
From Step 10:
never tell stores who I am. I never let them know. I pay cash and only
cash for that reason. I don’t care whether it’s a local store or Amazon
— no one has a right to keep track of what I buy.
of people feel enormously regretful about how this has turned out. I
mean, who wants to be part of the system that is sending the world in
really dangerous directions? I wasn’t personally responsible for it — I
called out the problem early. But everybody in the industry knows we
need to do things differently. That kind of conscience is weighing on
everybody. The reason I’m losing sleep is I’m worried that the fabric
of society will fall apart if we don’t correct these things soon
enough. We’re talking about people’s lives.
From Step 13:
need a law. Fuck them — there’s no reason we should let them exist if
the price is knowing everything about us. Let them disappear. They’re
not important — our human rights are important. No company is so
important that its existence justifies setting up a police state. And a
police state is what we’re heading toward.
I did not comment on
these selections because there is too much to comment on, but I
make one general remark: I agree most with Richard Stallman,
who is also a man who saw through much of the internet since its
beginning, and who did his best to stop many of its awful regulations.
There also are two other bits in the article, namely a part ¨With
regrets¨, that offers quite a few opinions from which I select three:
Again I have no comments (except
that Omidyar is clearly speaking ironically).
“The web that many connected
to years ago is not what new users will find today. The fact that power
is concentrated among so few companies has made it possible to
weaponize the web at scale.” —Tim Berners-Lee, creator
of the World Wide Web
“Let’s build a
comprehensive database of highly personal targeting info and sell
secret ads with zero public scrutiny. What could go wrong?” —Pierre
Omidyar, founder of eBay
“I don’t have a
kid, but I have a nephew that I put some boundaries on. There are some
things that I won’t allow; I don’t want them on a social network.” —Tim
Cook, CEO of Apple
And there is a section ¨Things
That Ruined the Internet¨, again consisting of a list + text, of which
I merely copy the list:
Things That Ruined the
I think most intelligent
persons will understand the whole list, but I add that ¨The Farmville
vulnerability¨ is in fact what enabled Cambridge Analytica to download 87
million datasets about private individuals from Facebook.
Algorithmic sorting (2006)
The “like” button
Pop-up ads (1996)
Finally, as I said: This is an important article, but it is too long to
properly review in Nederlog, but it is strongly recommended.
Worldwide War: ACLU Warns Senate Against Giving Trump Blank Check to
article is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now! It starts
with the following introduction:
The New York Times
is reporting President Trump launched airstrikes against Syria on
Friday despite opposition from his own defense secretary, James Mattis,
who wanted Trump to first get congressional approval. Meanwhile, a
number of lawmakers have described the strikes on Syria as illegal
since Trump did not seek congressional input or authorization. This
comes as Congress is considering rewriting the war powers granted to
the president after the September 11 attacks—what’s known as the AUMF, or Authorization for Use of Military Force.
On September 14, 2001, the current AUMF
passed the Senate 98-0 and 420-1 in the House, with California Democrat
Barbara Lee casting the sole dissenting vote. Since then, it’s been
used by Presidents Bush, Obama and Trump to justify at least 37
military operations in 14 countries—many of which were entirely
unrelated to 9/11. On Monday, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair
Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, and Democratic committee member Tim
Kaine of Virginia introduced legislation to replace the AUMFs with a
new one. Corker and Kaine claim their legislation would strengthen
congressional oversight. But critics, including the American Civil
Liberties Union, warn the proposed legislation would actually expand
the authority of President Trump and all future presidents to engage in
worldwide war without limitations. For more, we’re joined by Faiz
Shakir, national political director for the ACLU.
Quite so, and I quite
agree with the ACLU: Corker and Kain are lying, and are trying
the authority of President Trump and all future presidents to engage in
worldwide war without limitations¨ - as the Americans have been doing since 2002.
Here is Faiz Shakir, for the ACLU:
(..) If you look at the language that Senators Kaine and Corker
have proposed, they are offering unlimited war to the president of the
United States. And under this president, we should all be concerned.
The specific language of the authorization says that the president may
just designate various groups to engage in war against, and those wars
can proceed in any country around the world, without limit and with
congressional authorization. So the president would not need to then go
to Congress to seek authorization for any of his expansions of the war
effort. Unlike the 9/11 AUMF, it constrains
the president’s ability to, let’s say, send ground troops into Libya,
under President Obama, who tried to expand the 9/11 AUMF
to carry out that war. Under this authorization, the president could
just send ground troops and expand the war in perpetuity without
Precisely. Here is
Quite so. There is
more in the article, that is recommended.
SHAKIR: They have decided
that they’re not going to have any role in foreign affairs. And that is
literally Tim Kaine’s argument, is that we should have a role. We
should—and that they have a role, under Article I of the U.S.
Constitution. The Congress is supposed to be the body that declares
war. Reassume that responsibility and start having a deliberation.
I mean, unfortunately, we
had an abuse of the AUMF under President
Obama. He carried out a war in Libya, an air war, and they said, “You
know, it’s just an air war, so we can just do it under the 9/11 AUMF.” Nonsense! It was the wrong choice then,
and, unfortunately, that precedent is setting a dangerous precedent for
the future under Trump.
Will Protect Elections From U.S. Oligarchs?
This article is by Paul Street on Truthdig.
It starts as follows:
I recently heard on cable
news that special counsel Robert
Mueller wanted to interview some “Russian oligarchs” about their
supposed influence on the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Liberal talking heads at
such organizations as MSNBC and CNN
keep warning that nothing has been done yet to protect the integrity of
our voting process against “Russian interference” as the 2018 midterm
elections loom ever closer on the nation’s horizon.
What about the American
oligarchs, I wondered, people like
businessman Richard Uihlein, who regularly distort U.S. elections at
every level—local, state and federal? Who will protect our “democracy”
from the plutocratic “wealth primary”
power of the
Yes, indeed: The last
two questions are quite good. In case you didn´t know about Uihlein,
here is some about him:
So far, Uihlein is the top
political contributor in the 2018
federal U.S. election cycle, at $21
million. In 2016, however, he was just the nation’s ninth biggest
political investor. Above him on the plutocratic “wealth primary” scale
stood the San Francisco hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer ($91 million,
all to Democratic candidates and Democratic Party-affiliated “liberal
outside groups”); Las Vegas billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson
($83 million to Republicans and the right); Florida billionaire
financier Donald Sussman ($42 million to Democrats and “liberal”
groups); Chicago multimillionaire media mogul Fred Eychaner ($38
million to Democrats and “liberal” groups); Dustin Moskovitz, a
co-founder of Facebook and the “world’s youngest self-made billionaire”
($27 million to Democrats and “liberal” groups); billionaire
mathematician and hedge fund manager James Simons ($27 million to
Democrats and “liberal” groups); billionaire hedge fund manager Paul
Singer ($26 million to Republicans and right-wing groups); and
billionaire right-wing hedge fund manager Robert Mercer ($26 million to
Republicans and right-wing groups). Michael Bloomberg rounded out the
top 10 list at a cool $23,786,083.
I say (and no, I did
not know this either). You may have noticed some billionaires only gave
to the Democrats and others only to the Republicans, but the real
questions occur at the end of the second paragraph that follows:
These megadonors are the
superrich cream atop a deep
plutocratic pitcher. The CRP’s list of the top 100 individual
contributors to federal candidates during the 2016 election cycle ends
with Karen Wright, CEO of a leading gas-compressor manufacturer. She
gave a whopping $2.2 million to Republicans and the right.
How are such ridiculously
investments—far beyond the capacity of all but a super-opulent minority
of U.S. citizens—possible under U.S. law? Aren’t there limits on how
much rich people can spend on U.S. elections?
And these two very
pertinent questions are answered as follows:
Adding to the plutocratic
muddle, the Supreme Court’s
infamous 2010 Citizens United decision overthrew a federal ban on
corporations and unions making independent expenditures and financing
electioneering communications. It gave corporations and unions the
green light to spend unlimited sums on ads and other political tools
calling for the election or defeat of individual candidates.
This has opened the door to
astonishing levels of private
spending in the nation’s public elections. “During the 2016 election
CRP staffer Bob Biersack notes, “the top 20 individual donors
(whose contributions were disclosed) gave more than $500 million
combined to political organizations. The 20 largest organizational
donors also gave a total of more than $500 million, and more than $1
billion came from the top 40 donors. … At a time when Donald Trump and
Bernie Sanders were confirming that large numbers of people donating
small amounts could fund successful campaigns, the extraordinary role
being played by the very few donors who give the most may be the most
important element in this new era.”
Yes indeed. There is a lot
more in the article, that ends as follows:
Precisely so, and this is
a strongly recommended article.
Nobody in Congress is
talking seriously about passing bills to remove
private cash from the public elections—or even to mandate reasonable
“dark money” disclosure. Fuming about Moscow’s allegedly powerful
conspiracy against our supposedly democratic elections looks more than
a little ridiculous when considered alongside the deafening official
silence on America’s own oligarchic electoral system.
the Doomsday Machine
article is by Peter Prontzos on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
Ellsberg released the
Pentagon Papers first because, “Vietnam is where the bombs are
falling.” It took him more than four decades to gather all the
documents to write this frankly terrifying look at the growing threat
of nuclear omnicide.
In brief, Ellsberg shows
that the deliberate targeting of civilians in mass bombing campaigns –
a central element in U.S. nuclear war plans – actually began during the
Second World War, when the governments of Britain and the United States
adopted the same tactic as initially used by fascist Germany and Japan.
For instance, around 25,000 innocent people were burned to death in the
horrific fire-bombing of Dresden. It was ever worse in Tokyo, where
people, “became blazing torches unable to move in the melting asphalt.”
Approximately one-hundred thousand people perished in that firestorm.
And these were non-nuclear attacks.
so. First, in case you don´t know about Daniel Ellsberg,
this was a link. And second, Ellsberg is quite right that
¨modern war¨ since Korea, in the early 1950ies, was much more
directed against the civilians of the
opposing country than against their army.
Next, there is this on
Hiroshima and Nagasaki:
Again, precisely so. Here
is some more:
Contrary to the U.S.
government position, there was no military justification for using
nuclear weapons on the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, as
Generals Dwight Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur confirmed - the
Japanese government was already trying to surrender. About 185,000
people died in those unnecessary bombings. (One of the true motives for
using nuclear weapons on Japanese civilians was to let the Soviets know
who was the lone superpower in the post-war world).
Ellsberg shows how the current
nuclear war-fighting plans of the U.S. and Russia also target cities,
with casualties expected to be literally in the billions, all around
I again completely
agree (and I regard those that ¨entertain the dangerous idea that it is possible to emerge
victorious after a nuclear holocaust¨ as insane as General Jack D. Ripper was in Kubrick´s
The danger is even greater
now, as there are more nuclear powers (France, Britain, Israel,
Pakistan, China, India, N. Korea), and today’s nuclear weapons are many
times more powerful than the one that destroyed Hiroshima.
And the potential for
unintended escalations in places like Syria, Iran, and Korea only
increase the chances of a nuclear confrontation that nobody intends.
Part of the problem is that
most people have no idea how dangerous a situation we are now facing,
and some entertain the dangerous idea that it is possible to emerge
victorious after a nuclear holocaust.
article is by Jim Hightower on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
Charles and David Koch want nothing less than to supplant America's
core democratic principle of majority rule — the will of The People —
with their core plutocratic principle of inviolable property rights,
also known as domination by the wealthy minority. Their notion is that
"property" (accumulated wealth and the means to get it) is sacrosanct
and cannot be restricted by the pesky majority for the Common Good.
Cloaking their efforts with layers of dark-money front groups, the Koch
brothers have used their enormous assets to mount a far-ranging,
ultrasophisticated assault on American democracy.
Precisely so. Here
is more on what the Koch brothers intend to bring about:
With the fervor of religious
cultists, they've devoted themselves to the cause of "liberty" — by
which they mean the government's only proper role is keeping the
avaricious pursuits of the wealthy owner class free from any
interference by you, me and the democratic "us." They believe that We
The People can neither tax the riches of the owner class nor set rules
on how it treats workers, consumers, nature ... and society as a whole.
For nearly 40
years, they and their uber-rich allies have been battering the legal
structures and mechanisms that give ordinary people some chance to
control their own destinies. Among the brothers' goals are the
Again I agree, though I do
not know about all the points in the list (but
Hightower may well be right). There is more in the article, that is strongly
- Kill all restrictions on
political spending by corporations and the rich.
- Suppress the voting
rights of students, people of color, the elderly and others who tend to
oppose Republican policies and candidates.
- Massacre labor unions.
- Eliminate the right of
consumers, workers and others to sue corporations, forcing them instead
into corporate-controlled arbitration.
- Rip to shreds the social
safety net including food stamps, jobless benefits, Social Security,
Medicare and Medicaid.
- Ax regulations that
protect people and our environment from corporate abuse.
- "Preempt" the right of
local people to pass laws that corporations oppose.
- Subvert democracy
- Pack courts with
The effect of these and
hundreds of other national, state and local attacks is that the wealthy
few are now grabbing evermore societal wealth and power, shattering
America's commitment to the Common Good. It adds up to a coup — and
yet, because it has been built slowly and with deliberate stealth over
decades, the public has not yet fully grasped the enormity, complexity
and effectiveness of this unprecedented conspiracy of billionaires.
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 (!!).