from April 29, 2018
B. One extra bit
This is a
Nederlog of Sunday,
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.
2. Crisis Files
These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
A. Selections from April 29, 2018
1. Gaius Publius: What To Do About Facebook — First Thoughts
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. It’s Impossible to Prove Your Laptop
Hasn’t Been Hacked. I Spent Two
Years Finding Out.
3. Plastic Particles Infest the Arctic
Internet Is Designed for Corporations -- Not People
5. How To Stop Trump
Publius: What To Do About Facebook — First Thoughts
article is by Gaius Publius on Naked Capitalism and originally on
DownWithTyranny. It starts as follows:
The revelations about
Facebook and Cambridge Analytica have come and gone quickly, like a
fiery auto crash into a ten-foot wall, the remains of which
nevertheless disappear overnight — in this case replaced by the next
Trump scandal to hit the news. Pedestrians walking past the crash site
today can only smell the fumes of earlier fevered concerns.
Yet the Facebook problem
remains, if barely considered now. As we wrote earlier, what
Facebook did in that case was no more than it was designed to do. Not
only that, but what Cambridge Analytica did was follow a path others
had tread before, except that this time the “Trump! Russia!” taint had
made its own deeds unacceptable.
But ask yourself, if either
political party had done what CA did, would this be news? A scandal? Or
just “how things are done around here”? And given the power of this
kind of private company over the public, is its very existence in the
public interest at all?
I mostly agree with the
first two quoted paragraphs, but the third depends on quite a few
different things, such as the rules that determine which articles and
subjects are being published, and which not.
Also, there is a
part of this article that quotes rather extensively from The
that raised the question Gaius Publius also raises, and did so a bit
earlier, and in terms I do not find helpful for the most part.
Therefore I leave that
to your own interests and only add one more bit from this article:
The questions surrounding
Facebook are many and serious. Facebook is first a monopoly;
next, a mass manipulator capable of swinging elections and
other social decisions in an order-of-magnitude-greater way than simple
common advertising, no matter how targeted; third, a source of
enormous wealth to a powerful few; and finally, it performs an
almost utility-like, ubiquitous social function in today’s
Internet age. (Consider the telephone network as a utility that
connects masses of people and enables communication. Now consider
Facebook as a kind of modern-day telephone network. The communication
is what we’re interested in. The monetizable data and metadata of our
communication is what its owners are interested in. The data collection
is not necessary to the communication function.)
Most of this is
correct, but - I take it - even Mark Zuckerberg will reply to
the last three statements in the above quote by insisting that Facebook
needs the data collection in order to provide its victims
(that it calls "members") with the
communications they seem to
desire (and to make Zuckerberg $70 billions by stealing private
from his victims and selling these to advertisers).
Impossible to Prove Your Laptop Hasn’t Been Hacked. I Spent Two Years
article is by Micah Lee on The Intercept. It starts as follows:
This is the beginning of a
long and quite interesting article that is well worth reading, especially
if you have a laptop.
like me get some version of this question all the time: “I think my
laptop may have been infected with malware. Can you check?”
We dread this sort of query
because modern computer exploits are as complex, clever, and hard to
reason about as modern computers — particularly if someone has the
ability to physically access your device, as is routinely the case with
laptops, especially when traveling. So while it’s definitely possible
to detect certain types of tampering, it isn’t always trivial. And even
in controlled environments, it’s impossible to give a laptop a clean
bill of health with full confidence – it’s always possible that it was
tampered with in a way you did not think to check.
The issue of tampering is
particularly relevant for human rights workers, activists, journalists,
and software developers, all of whom hold sensitive data sought by
powerful potential attackers. People in these vocations are often
keenly aware of the security of their laptops while traveling – after
all, laptops store critical secrets like communication with sources,
lists of contacts, password databases, and encryption keys used to
vouch for source code you write, or to give you access to remote
Here is more:
I hoped I could get
a sense of the risks with a carefully controlled experiment. For the
last two years, I have carried a “honeypot” laptop with me every time
I’ve traveled; this computer was intended to attract (and then detect)
tampering. If any hackers, state-sponsored or otherwise, wanted to hack
me by physically messing with my computer, I wanted to not only catch
them in the act, but also gather technical evidence that I could use to
learn how their attack worked and, hopefully, who the attacker was.
I had no idea, but I think
this project was quite worthwile. Here is the outcome:
I never caught
anyone tampering with this laptop. But the absence of any evidence of
tampering — and my obsessive thoughts about the various ways an
attacker could have evaded by detection — serve to underline how
fraught the process of computer forensics can be. If someone who makes
their living securing computers thinks they could have missed a
computer infection, what hope is there for the average computer user?
Here is my answer to the
last question: None whatsoever.
In fact, at least from my own perspective, here the really
interesting bit of this article starts, and does so as follows:
If you don’t use
full disk encryption on your laptop, anyone who gains physical
access to it, even for just a few minutes, can access all of your data
and even implant malware on your computer to spy on you in the future.
It doesn’t matter how good your password is because without encryption,
the attacker can simply unscrew the case on your laptop, remove your
hard disk, and access it from another computer.
There is a whole lot more
in the article, which is recommended, but especially this
article on The Intercept (from 2015) should be read by every
of a laptop.
Disk encryption does a
great job of protecting your data in case you lose your laptop or
someone steals it from you. When this person tries accessing your data,
they should be completely locked out, so long as the passphrase you use
to unlock your laptop is strong
enough that they can’t guess it.
Particles Infest the Arctic
article is by Tim Radford on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
Plastic particles have
colonised one of the last once-pristine oceans. German scientists
ice from five locations within the Arctic Circle and counted
up to 12,000 microscopic particles per litre of ice.
They have even been able to
identify the sources and piece together the journey to the icy
fastness. Some tiny lumps of plastic detritus have made their way north
from what has become known as the Great
Pacific Garbage Patch, a swirling assembly of an estimated 80,000
tons of plastic floating in the ocean across a stretch of water bigger
Other fragments, that began
as paint and nylon, date from the invasion of increasingly ice-free
Arctic summer waters by more freight ships, and more fishing vessels,
the scientists report in the journal Nature
“During our work, we
realised that more than half of the microplastic particles trapped in
the ice were less than a twentieth of a millimetre wide, which means
they could easily be ingested by Arctic micro-organisms like ciliates, but
also by copepods,”
Peeken, a biologist with the Alfred Wegener Institute.
“No one can say for certain
how harmful these tiny plastic particles are for marine life, or
ultimately also for human beings.”
I say! Here is
Microplastic particles are
defined as 5mm or smaller, and many are measured in millionths of a
metre. These are formed by the deterioration of larger pieces of plastic dumped into
landfills in billions of tonnes, or released into the
waterways and thus into the ocean.
Man-made synthetic polymers
indestructible, and now represent a major source
of marine pollution and a constant hazard to wildlife.
More than two-thirds of the
particles measured 50 millionths of a metre or smaller. Some were as
small as 11 micrometres – one sixth of the diameter of a human hair.
I think the information
in this article is quite horrible, but the article is strongly
Internet Is Designed for Corporations -- Not People
article is by Gordon Hull on AlterNet and originally on The
Conversation. It starts as follows:
Urban spaces are often designed
to be subtly hostile to certain uses. Think about, for example, the
seat partitions on bus terminal benches that make it harder for the
homeless to sleep there or the decorative leaves on railings in front
of office buildings and on university campuses that serve to make
Scholars call this “hostile
When a few weeks ago, news
broke that Facebook
shared millions of users’ private information with Cambridge
Analytica, which then used it for political purposes, I saw the
As a scholar
of the social and political implications of technology, I would argue
the internet is designed to be hostile to the people who use it. I call
it a “hostile information architecture.”
Hull is an assistant professor of philosophy. I am a philosopher as
well, though not a professor, in considerable part because I have been
ill the last 40 years with ME/CFS,
which only six weeks ago (!!!) was allowed
(by one fairly important
Dutch politico-medical organization) to be "a serious and chronic
disease". (I had to wait 40 years
this, and meanwhile lost all of my faith in 90% of all Dutch
medics, simply because 90% of the medical doctors I have seen were
obvious frauds who pretended to know non-medical
explained why I (and my ex, who likewise has been ill for forty
we were ill: we were hallucinating - for forty years,
in which both of
us got excellent MA degrees as psychologists - or else we
to deceive them.)
any case, I suppose Mr. Hull to know logic and methodology of
science, but I do not know (among other things because I was denied
the legal right to take my - excellent - M.A. in philosophy 30
years ago this year, because I had criticized Marxism, postmodernism
and my teachers who all propounded that intellectual rot).
do, and the point of writing the previous two paragraphs is to say that
- I think that - "a
“hostile information architecture”" is a quite serious mistake.
is something that is true about it - see below - but it must be seriously
misleading simply because the vast majority of all
computer users does not know
how to program (not at all, not even in html), does hardly know anything about computing (which
is a combination of mathematics and engineering), is
anyway - in considerable majority - neither intelligent nor well
educated, and still is supposed to use computers and does
use them, which they can do because so much has been simplified
is true (I think) is not that "the internet is designed to be hostile to the
people who use it" but that specific programs
(I hate the
pretentious term "algorithm") have been designed
so as to make finding out certain things (many, in fact, often)
or doing certain things very much
more difficult than the
vast majority can cope with, and this has been done on
to see to it that the vast majority cannot find out or do the
the designers of the program did not
want them to find out or do.
here is one major example of what I just said and it is about the
specific program Facebook:
Let’s start with Facebook
and privacy. Sites like Facebook supposedly
protect user privacy with a practice called “notice and consent.”
This practice is the business model of the internet. Sites fund their
“free” services by collecting
information about users and selling
that information to others.
Of course, these sites
present privacy policies to users to notify them how their information
will be used. They ask users to “click here to accept” them. The
problem is that these policies are nearly
impossible to understand. As a result, no one knows what they have
Yes, I quite agree -
and almost everything I have seen about "privacy policies" was intentionally made far more difficult than it could and should
Then there is this:
But that’s not all. The
problem runs deeper than that. Legal scholar Katherine
Strandburg has pointed
out that the entire metaphor of a market where consumers trade
privacy for services is deeply flawed. It is advertisers, not users,
who are Facebook’s real customers. Users have no idea what they are
“paying” and have no possible way of knowing the value of their
information. Users are also unable to protect themselves, as opting out
of sites like Facebook and Google isn’t viable for most.
In fact, it is because
of passages like this that I started saying Mr. Hull is a philosopher.
In the present case, I doubt whether "legal scholar" Strandburg knows
what a metaphor is - for clearly Facebook operates on a
market, has consumers of various
kinds, and does
trade privacy for services (with some of its customers, that
It is true that
Facebook is extremely dishonest, in (partial) consequence of
which "Users have no idea
what they are “paying” and have no possible way of knowing the value of
their information. Users are also unable to protect themselves", but none of that makes Facebook less
of a real player in a real market.
As a last bit about the
above quoted paragraph, I also fundamentally disagree that "opting out of sites like Facebook and Google
isn’t viable for most": You
can very simply switch from using Google as your search machine
to DuckDuckGo, while in fact html was designed
to help people make sites through which they could communicate with
It turns out to be
difficult for ordinary users.
Here is the last bit
that I quote from this - rather confusing but I think honest - article:
Several years ago, two of
my colleagues, Celine
Latulipe and Heather
and I published an
article in which we argued that many of Facebook’s privacy issues
were problems of design.
Our argument was that these
design elements violated ordinary people’s expectations of how
information about them would travel. For example, Facebook allowed apps
to collect information on users’ friends (this is why the Cambridge
Analytica problem impacted so many people). But no one who signed up
for, say, tennis lessons would think that the tennis club should have
access to personal information about their friends.
The details have changed
since then, but they aren’t better. Facebook still makes it very hard
for you to control how much data it gets about you. Everything about
the Facebook experience is very carefully curated. Users who don’t like
it have little choice, as the site has a virtual monopoly on social
Yes, this is true
This is a recommended article, but it has to be read critically.
5. How To Stop Trump
article is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:
Why did working
class voters choose a selfish, thin-skinned, petulant, lying,
narcissistic, boastful, megalomaniac for president?
I totally agree
Reich's terms for Trump, but I also have an inference from the fact
that he was elected as president in spite of the above true description
of the man:
The reasons for Trump's election were these: The
majority of all
Americans is badly educated and does not know much, and the basic
reasons for Trump's election are these: Stupidity,
Thinking and Conformism
on the part of those who voted for him (and
were not rich).
Reich does not seem to quite agree with me (and in fact I know few are):
Certainly many white
working class men and women were – and still are – receptive to Trump’s
But what made them
receptive? Racism and xenophobia aren’t exactly new to American life.
Fears of blacks and immigrants have been with us since the founding of
What changed was the
economy. Since the 1980s the wages and economic prospects of the
typical American worker have stagnated. Two-thirds now live paycheck to
paycheck, and those paychecks have grown less secure.
Good-paying jobs have
disappeared from vast stretches of the land. Despite the official low
unemployment rate, millions continue to work part-time who want steady
jobs or they’re too discouraged to look for work.
Yes BUT 1980 is
40 years ago, and it is not as if nothing was said about what has been
happening ever since - it just was not picked up by most.
Then there is this,
which is quite true:
Meanwhile, all the
economy’s gains have gone to the richest ten percent, mostly the top 1
percent. Wealthy individuals and big corporations have, in turn,
invested some of those gains into politics.
As a result, big money now
calls the shots in Washington – obtaining subsidies, tax breaks, tax
loopholes (even Trump promised to close the “carried interest” loophole
yet it remains), and bailouts.
Here is a diagnosis of
This whole story might have
been different had Democrats done more to remedy wage stagnation and
widening inequality when they had the chance.
Instead, Bill Clinton was a
pro-growth “New Democrat” who opened trade with China, deregulated Wall
Street, and balanced the budget. (I still have some painful scars from
Obama bailed out the banks
but not homeowners. Obamacare, while important to the poor, didn’t
alleviate the financial stresses on the working class, particularly in
states refused to expand Medicaid.
I agree (if Reich does
with my term) that both Bill Clinton and Obama were basically frauds,
who seem to have cared more for becoming millionaires
to help others (and in terms of personal success both the
the Obamas successfully became millionaires by their politics).
Here is the last bit I
quote from this article:
A few Democrats are getting
the message – pushing ambitious ideas like government-guaranteed full
employment, single-payer health care, industry-wide collective
bargaining, and a universal basic income.
But none has yet offered a
way to finance these things, such as a progressive tax on wealth.
Nor have they offered a
credible way to get big money out of politics.
Yes, I think that is correct. But as I have said
before: As long as the Democrats are ruled by Nacy Pelosi, Hillary
Clinton, Timothy Perez, and Tim Kaine, I do not see the
difference between the Democrats and the Republicans, and I give up on
both of them. And this is a recommended article.
B. One extra bit
Persons who read considerably more of Nederlog
than a few daily bits -
Nederlog exists since 2006 (or indeed, but the first two years
only about Holland, since
2004) and is fully present on my site - know that
couple of years ago I regularly reviewed seven or eight articles a day.
I stopped doing so for various reasons some years ago. The most
important one is that I have a serious chronic
disease since 1.i.1979 (and meanwhile am almost 68, and also got
serious eye- problems in 2012, that have lessened but have not
disappeared), while a
secondary important one is that I thought reviewing 5 of the best or
most interesting articles I could find every day on 35 sites was
generally sufficient (while it is also something I do not know anyone
But occasionally I do find special bits, and this is one:
This article is by
Jessica Corbett on Common Dreams. It is one of the rare bits of
good news and starts as follows:
Faced with mounting
scientific evidence that bee-poisoning
neonicotinoids, or neonics, could cause an "ecological
armageddon," European regulators on Friday approved a "groundbreaking"
ban on the widely-used class of pesticides—an announcement met with
immediate applause by campaigners.
"The E.U.'s groundbreaking ban on bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides
is a huge win for pollinators, people, and the planet," responded
Tiffany Finck-Haynes, senior food futures campaigner for Friends of the
Lori Ann Burd, director of
the Center for Biological Diversity's environmental health program,
said it's also a win for "science-based regulation of pesticides."
Under the new rules, which
build on existing
restrictions and are expected to take effect by the end of the
year, three main neonics—imidacloprid, clothianidin, and
thiamethoxam—will only be allowed in permanent greenhouses "where no
contact with bees is expected," according to a statement
by the European Union (EU).
In fact, I have written
repeatedly before about bees and the fact that their health (and
existence) seems to be seriously threatened by neonicotinoid
And this is a fine outcome
(which is - unfortunately - rare in Nederlog). Here is some more:
"Bee health remains of
paramount importance for me since it concerns biodiversity, food
production, and the environment," Andriukaitis told
The vote was widely praised
by the many environmental advocates who have spent years fighting for
an outright ban on the use of neonics—a position that has been met with
protests from major agricultural groups and lobbyists for pesticide
And this is a 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 (!!).