from December 3, 2018
B. Two videos by Robert
Reich + one by John Oliver
This is a
Nederlog of Monday,
This is a crisis
log but it is a bit different from how it was until 2013:
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 three 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
five crisis files
that are mostly well worth reading:
A. Selections from December 3, 2018:
1. Global Growth Cools, Leaving Scars of
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. Einstein’s ‘God Letter,’ a Viral Missive From 1954
3. The Perils of CEO Worship - What Happens When the Leader
4. How the rich are normalizing narcissism — and destroying
5. Questions We Should Be Asking About Facebook’s Smear
Against Its Critics
Growth Cools, Leaving Scars of ’08 Unhealed
This article is by
Peter S. Goodman on The New York Times. It starts as follows:
Only a few months
ago, the world’s fortunes appeared increasingly robust. For the first
time since the wealth-destroying agony of the global financial crisis,
every major economy was growing in unison.
much for all that.
global economy is now palpably weakening, even as most countries are
still grappling with the damage from that last downturn. Many nations
are mired in stagnation or sliding that way. Oil prices are falling and factory orders are
diminishing, reflecting slackening demand for goods. Companies are
warning of disappointing profits, sending stock markets into a frenetic bout of selling that reinforces the slowdown.
Germany and Japan have both contracted in recent months. China is slowing more than experts anticipated. Even the United States, the world’s largest economy, and
oft-trumpeted standout performer, is expected to decelerate next year
as the stimulative effects of President Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax cut
wear off, leaving huge public debts.
Well... as regular readers know (see here for what I wrote in Nederlog) I
believed in the crisis on September 1, 2008, considerably before the
Dutch government did, and I have believed in the crisis ever since.
My reasons are quite elementary and consist mainly of
these two (apart from being quite intelligent and having an academic
I read every day some 35 publications, and
review the most interesting in Nederlog, and I also am - I think - the
poorest Dutchman over the last 50 years, for I never even
succeeded in reaching the minimum even the poorest get in Holland,
mostly because Dutch medics since 40 years (!!!) refused to say I have
"a chronic serious disease" (which they now allow me to say
since March 2018, but without offering anything for 40
years of systematic discrimination of both my ex - who also
has ME/CFS since 40 years - and
And the first paragraph of Goodman sketches what the
richest 10% probably did think, but not what the majority of
the poor think, for their experiences were like mine, and my
experiences have steadily worsened over
the past 10 years.
Anyway... it does seem as if Goodman is correct in his
other paragraphs, which means for the poor that it will be - yet again
- more difficult for them.
Here is more:
of this amounts to a screaming emergency, or even a pronounced drop in
commercial activity. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development, a think tank run by the world’s most advanced nations,
recently concluded that
the global economy would expand by 3.5 percent next year, down from 3.7
percent this year.
in declaring that “the global expansion has peaked,” the brains at the
O.E.C.D. effectively concluded that the current situation is as good as
it gets before the next pause or downturn. If this is indeed the
high-water mark of global prosperity, that is likely to come as a shock
to the tens of millions of people who have yet to recover from the
devastation of the Great Recession.
I do not really believe most of this, and the
probable reason is that I have been very poor all of my life,
will not spell out my disagreements, except for one:
To speak of "the tens of millions of people who have yet to recover from
the devastation of the Great Recession" seems to me an
underestimate of some 500%, for at least 90% of all the
people who are alive are as poor or poorer than I am (and everybody
lives now in one global economy).
Here is one lesson:
the slowdown appears mild, it also holds the potential to intensify the
widespread sense of grievance roiling many societies, contributing to
the embrace of populists with autocratic impulses. In an age of
lamentation over economic injustice, and with political movements on
the march decrying immigrants as threats, weaker growth is likely to
spur more conflict. Slower growth is not going to make anyone feel more
secure about the prospect of robots replacing human hands, or jobs
shifting to lower-wage lands.
just going to exacerbate the tensions that have led to the
socioeconomic and political problems we have seen in the United States
and parts of Europe,” said Thomas A. Bernes, an economist at the Center
for International Governance Innovation, a Canadian research
institution. “Inequality is going to become even more pronounced.”
Yes, that is correct. Here is the last bit that I quote
from this article:
Yes - and incidentally: If
the - official - unemployment rate is 3.7 percent,
while in fact "less than two-thirds of the working age
population was employed as of October" this means that the official unemployment rate is
less than 1/10th of the real
the United States, the unemployment rate has plunged to 3.7 percent,
its lowest level since 1969. Yet so many people have given up looking
for work that less than two-thirds of the working age population was
employed as of October, according to the Labor Department. That was a
lower share than before the 2008 financial crisis.
see a lost generation,” said Swati Dhingra, an economist at the London
School of Economics. “There was already wage stagnation and
productivity stagnation. The trade war has exacerbated all of that.”
I do not know which of these estimates - 3.7 percent vs. more
than 30 percent - is more correct,
but I do know that 3.7 percent must be one of the very many
‘God Letter,’ a Viral Missive From 1954
This article is by
James Barron on The New York Times. It starts as follows (and no, this
is not a crisis item):
I say, which I do mainly
because I did not know Einstein
wrote this; because it seems to me to be the eminently sensible ideas
of anyone who is intelligent; and because I quite agree,
indeed not because it was Einstein, but because I did get a
completely non-religious education, and was first confronted at age
8 with someone - a boy of 12, who lived in the same street as I did and
who was Catholic - who did believe in God, and who argued
existence, with arguments which struck me as quite pathetic. (For
example, we did reach the point where he said God must exist because
someone must have created the world, which I met by asking: but who
it were written now as a series of tweets, they would surely go viral.
of it: One of the most famous people in the world is panning religion.
“The word God is for me nothing but the expression of and product of
human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of venerable but still rather
primitive legends,” the message reads. “No interpretation, no matter
how subtle, can (for me) change anything about this.”
is only 239 characters, including the spaces, periods and commas, well
short of the 280-character limit for a tweet. And there is more where
those words came from — a letter written in 1954 by Albert Einstein that is being auctioned this week. It
provides a glimpse of Einstein’s private thoughts and would probably be
inflammatory in today’s polarized social media world.
page-and-a-half document, in German, became known a decade ago as the
“God letter,” a nickname that makes some Einstein experts wince. But
while the letter has to do with his Jewish identity and mankind’s
search for meaning, Einstein used the word “God” only once in the
letter, in the passage quoted above.
As an aside, I am - once again - amazed
at the utterly crippled
standard of "communication" that tweets allow: Whoever would
want to "communicate" with an instrument that seems designed to
have all communications delivered as slogans, and all
argumentation made impossible
(other than as primitive
Anyway. Back to the article:
Yes, of course, I would
(and do) say, and also like to remind you that Richard Feynman
(who also was supposed to be a Jew, because he had Jewish parents, who
raised him in a non-religious way) thought quite similarly. This is
wrote in the letter that he was disenchanted with Judaism, even as he
said he was proud to be a Jew. In the letter, Einstein declared:
“For me the unadulterated Jewish religion is, like all other
religions, an incarnation of primitive superstition. And the Jewish
people to whom I gladly belong, and in whose mentality I feel
profoundly anchored, still for me does not have any different kind of
dignity from all other peoples. As far as my experience goes, they are
in fact no better than other human groups, even if they are protected
from the worst excesses by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot perceive
anything ‘chosen’ about them.”
[B]y his youth,
Feynman described himself as an "avowed atheist".
Many years later, in a letter to Tina
Levitan, declining a request for information for her book on Jewish
Nobel Prize winners, he stated, "To select, for approbation the
peculiar elements that come from some supposedly Jewish heredity is to
open the door to all kinds of nonsense on racial theory", adding, "at
thirteen I was not only converted to other religious views, but I also
stopped believing that the Jewish people are in any way 'the chosen people'".
I quite agree.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
Yes, I think Goldstein is
more or less correct.
God letter, written the year before Einstein’s death, seems to outline
Einstein’s view of formal religion and the idea of a God who plays an
active part in everyday life, answering individual prayers. “He did not
believe in a God who went around choosing favorite sports teams or
people,” Mr. Isaacson said.
at other times Einstein described himself as “not an atheist,” and the
letter does not annul the seemingly spiritual characteristics of his
often uses the word God — ‘God does not play dice with the universe,’” Rebecca Newberger Goldstein,
who teaches philosophy and wrote “Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won’t Go Away,”
said in an interview. “A lot of physicists do this. It misleads people
into thinking they’re theists, they believe in God. It’s a metaphorical
way of talking about absolute truth. Einstein used it metaphorically
said he had been religious when he was a child but “lost his religion
and science took over.”
“Every time he was asked if he
believe in God, he answered cagily: ‘I believe in Spinoza’s god,’” (...)
What Einstein meant by believing "in Spinoza's god" is not
clear to me, although to quite a few (both Spinozists and
anti-Spinozists) this seemed rather materialistic. I do not
know, and part of the reason is that I read both Spinoza and George Boole on
Spinoza, and it seems to me that Boole was quite right when he wrote,
in his "An Investigation of the Laws of Thought" (on p. 216-7 of my
It is not
possible, I think, to rise from the perusal of the arguments of (..)
Spinoza without a deep conviction of the futility of all endeavours to
establish, entirely a priori, the existence of an Infinite
Being, His attributes, and His relation to the universe.
In fact, Boole also showed
that Spinoza was - at least - quite confused. I agree, and this
Perils of CEO Worship - What Happens When the Leader Becomes Demented?
is by Roy M. Poses MD on Health Care Renewal. This is from near its
Even before he was
elected, we noted that Donald Trump sometimes was completely incoherent
when describing his health policy ideas. In early 2016 we
raised questions about Donald Trump's cognition. At that
time, a conservative columnist labelled as "word salad" Trump's
attempts to sketch a position on health care, specifically the
"mandate" provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). We found
other examples of his utterances on health care policy that could be
characterized as gibberish. This one was short, if not sweet
Yes indeed - and in case
you don't know, I am a psychologist (among other things) who does
believe now for nearly three years (together with what now are
thousands of psychologists) that Trump is insane. If you
disagree, check the last link, which is not by me.
want to keep pre-existing conditions. I think we need it. I think it’s
a modern age. And I think we have to have it.
How could anyone understand
this while listening in real time?
I still think so, which also means that I agree with Roy M. Poses MD.
Here is more by Poses:
We found additional
examples of incoherent verbal responses about health care in
2017, and early
2018. In the last six months, things have only gotten
worse. Examples of verbal incoherence have multiplied, although
most were not related to health care.
This is just either insane
or demented, I would say. And no, I don't know what he is
talking about, apart from the fact that it starts so be about Elton
July, 2018, MediaIte reported Trump's incoherent comments at a
have broken more Elton John records, he seems to have a
lot of records. And I, by the way, I don’t have a musical
instrument. I don’t have a guitar or an organ. No organ. Elton
has an organ. And lots of other people helping. No we’ve broken
a lot of records. We’ve broken virtually every record. Because
you know, look I only need this space. They need much more room.
For basketball, for hockey and all of the sports, they need a lot of
room. We don’t need it. We have people in that space. So we
break all of these records. Really we do it without like, the
musical instruments. This is the only musical: the
mouth. And hopefully the brain attached to the mouth. Right? The brain,
more important than the mouth, is the brain. The brain is much
Here is more (quite recent):
November 28, 2018, Vox summary article about Trump's recent
interview with the Washington Post provided this quote from Trump about
I’m not blaming anybody, but I’m just telling you I think that the Fed
is way off-base with what they’re doing, number one. Number two, a
positive note, we’re doing very well on trade, we’re doing very
well — our companies are very strong. Don’t forget we’re still up from
when I came in 38 percent or something. You know, it’s a tremendous —
it’s not like we’re up — and we’re much stronger. And we’re much more
banks are now much more liquid during my tenure. And I’m not doing – I’m not playing by the same rules as
Obama. Obama had zero interest to worry about; we’re paying interest, a
lot of interest. He wasn’t paying down — we’re talking about $50
billion lots of different times, paying down and knocking out liquidity.
Well, Obama didn’t do that. And just so you understand, I’m
playing a normalization economy whereas he’s playing a free economy.
It’s easy to make money when you’re paying no interest. It’s
easy to make money when you’re not doing any pay-downs, so you can’t —
and despite that, the numbers we have are phenomenal numbers.
The author of the
And - in Trump's
own opinion, which he has publicly stated - a genius.
But I agree with Poses that the above quoted
bit is again utterly confused and not understandable.
basically no idea what Trump is talking about here, and I’m pretty sure
he doesn’t either.
On repeated close reading, I
still do not have any idea what Trump meant. I would add the
following questions: 38 percent of what? Who is much more liquid,
and how is liquid defined? Who is paying a lot of interest? What
does "paying down and knocking out liquidity" mean? What is a
"normalization economy?" Note that this was coming from someone
who claims to be a brilliant business manager.
There is considerably more in the article, and here are some
conclusions (and the quotation is from StatNews):
To summarize the
I am not a medic,
Poses is, and he may very well be quite correct. This is a recommended
differences are striking and unmistakable.
In 2018, Trump's verbal
communications at times are even more garbled. Parts of the
passages above suggest the word salad produced by somebody with fluent
aphasia versus the nonsensical responses produced by patients suffering
from acute delusional states. That Trump is capable of producing this
sort of word salad at times, without realizing he is making no sense,
suggests the intermittent symptoms seen early in progressive dementia.
Research has shown that changes in speaking style can result from
cognitive decline. STAT therefore asked experts in neurolinguistics and
cognitive assessment, as well as psychologists and psychiatrists, to
compare Trump’s speech from decades ago to that in 2017; they all
agreed there had been a deterioration, and some said it could reflect
changes in the health of Trump’s brain.
the rich are normalizing narcissism — and destroying civilization
is by Keith Spencer and Nicole Carlis on AlterNet and originally in
Salon. It starts as follows:
It is ironic that,
as the gulf
between rich and poor reaches record levels, the language
of the underclass has become infected with the culture
of the rich. Twenty years ago, English began to absorb
and normalize verbal markers of wealth, consumption and status,
evidenced by the mainstreaming of luxury brands like Chanel, Gucci
and Louis Vuitton and their appearance in pop culture and
media. Reality TV went from nonexistent in the 1970s to one of the most
popular television genres in the 2000s, much of it homed in on the
lifestyles and lives of the rich — culminating in a billionaire, reality-TV
star president. Social media in the late 2000s and 2010s seems
to have exacerbated a cultural normalization
of narcissism, an obsession with self-image, and a propensity for
conspicuous consumption. Few of us are rich, but we all aspire to
appear that way on Instagram.
Actually, I don't
to seem rich, and I do not, and never did nor ever will, use Instagram.
But that is an aside. What is more important and what I also disagree
with is the occurrence of "narcissism" (which
is a technical term in
psychiatry), although I do agree that the very fast majority of any
human population that I know are both lying a lot and bragging
Finally, there also is a connection here with something not many will
This fascination with the rich and their "markers of wealth, consumption and status" does seem to upset Karl Marx's idea
that the poor would oppose the rich and eventually bring them
down, for it seems as if most of the poor admire and emulate the rich,
and do nothing or extremely little to bring them down.
In fact, I think Marx's idea was refuted a long time ago (at
by WW I, when the poor should have refused to fight, but most
nationalistic reasons mainly), but the above seems to me to be an
Here is more:
Wealth,” is an attempt to understand the intricacies of the
trickle-down culture of the wealthy. Simultaneously an exhibition, monograph and film,
Greenfield’s camera follows not just the wealthy, but many folks who
are middle- or working-class and yet who have absorbed the
narrative and values of the elite in their quest to be thin, forever
beautiful, and image- and luxury-obsessed. The film is unflinching in a
way that is occasionally macabre: The on-screen depiction of plastic
surgery is a grisly counterpoint to the pristine
resorts, lifestyles and houses of the well-heeled. “This movie
is neither trickle-down treat nor bacchanal guised as bromide, but
rather an interrogation of an era defined by an obsession with
wealth,” wrote Eileen G’Sell in Salon’s
And this seems interesting
and reasonable. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article,
which is Greenfield herself, from an interview with which the article
And that really came
together for me during the economic crisis. Because from L.A., from
middle class to working class, to
billionaires in Florida … to the crash
in Dubai, to Iceland to Ireland,
I was seeing similar consequences from similar behavior.
And the interconnected
financial system was one more kind of homogenizing factor. And so
that’s what I was really interested in looking at. [Cultural critic]
Chris Hedges speaks throughout the movie and at the end he says this
comment, which I really love, about how authentic culture is being
destroyed by the values of corporate capitalism. And that it’s
authentic culture that actually teaches us who we are and where we came
And so in a way we lose our
identities when we lose that. And I think we see, especially with young
people, how identity is so connected to brands and what you have and
what you wear and what you buy.
I think that Greenfield
may well be right, but I do not know, and one reason for something like
skepticism may be that - after all - there is one common factor
in what she saw in Florida, Dubai, Iceland and Ireland, namely
Greenfield herself. But this article is recommended.
We Should Be Asking About Facebook’s Smear Campaign Against Its Critics
is by Cindy Cohn on Common Dreams and originally on Deeplinks Blog. It
starts as follows:
The New York Times
published a blockbuster
story about Facebook that exposed how the company used
merchants” to attack organizations critical of the platform. The
story was shocking on a number of levels, revealing that Facebook’s
hired guns stooped to dog-whistling, anti-Semitic attacks aimed at
George Soros (..) and writing stories blasting Facebook’s competitors
on a news site they managed. As Techdirt
points out, however, while the particulars are different, the basic
Any organization that runs public campaigns in opposition to large,
moneyed corporate interests has seen some version of this “slime your
Yes, precisely so - and yes, I
despise Facebook, and like to see it destroyed, though
that seems unlikely.
What is different here is that
Facebook, the company seeking to undermine its critics, has a powerful
role in shaping whether and how news and information is presented to
billions of people around the world. Facebook controls the hidden
algorithms and other systems that decide what comes up in Instagram and
Facebook experiences. And it does so in a way that is almost completely
beyond our view, much less our control.
Here is more:
The ongoing hidden
nature of Facebook’s algorithmic decision-making, however, plus the
fact that it took a major newspaper exposť to bring this to light,
means Facebook probably can’t be trusted to provide the answers users
require. Facebook must allow third-party, neutral investigators access
to see whether Facebook is misusing its position as our information
purveyor to wage its own ugly propaganda war.
Yes, I agree - but I am
also quite sure that Facebook will refuse to "allow third-party, neutral investigators
access" to its secret code.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
As we’ve said before:
Yes, but it very probably
will not happen, unfortunately. And this is a recommended article.
If it were more feasible
for users to take their data and move elsewhere, Facebook would need to
compete on the strength of its product rather than on the difficulty of
starting over. And if the platform were more interoperable, smaller
companies could work with the infrastructure Facebook has already
created to build innovative new experiences and open up new markets.
Users are trapped in a stagnant, sick system. Freeing their data and
giving them control are the first steps towards a cure.
B. Two videos by Robert
Reich + one by John Oliver
These are two
videos by Robert Reich, one from 2018 and one (with a link in the
previous one) from 2017. As my regular readers know I don't often
provide links to videos. The main reason is mostly that I prefer
reading. But these two are good and they also are both short:
The first of the above two
is in fact about Trump, and the second is also in effect about Trump.
Also, since there was a recent video by John Oliver:
I want to compare what
Reich and Oliver said - if I have sufficient time and energy.
Well... in fact I have little time and little energy, but I do
make one comparison between Reich and Oliver, namely because they seem
to have been speaking about the same, or at least about something
similar, which may be referred to as either tyranny (Reich), authoritarianism
(Oliver) or neofascism
(myself, and some others, lately).
And the comparison I want to make is about the characteristics Reich
and Oliver use to characterize what they are talking about:
1. they exaggerate their mandate to
A. Projecting Strength
2. turn public against the
B. Demonizing Enemies
3. repeatedly LIE to the
C. Dismantling Institutions
4. blame economic stresses on immigrants
5. treat all opposition as enemies
6. appoint family. private security. appoint generals.
7. keep personal finances secret
In fact, I think both Reich and Oliver chose from what is presently
ongoing in many parts of the world. I like Reich's list a bit better,
but in any case, all the ten characteristics can be pointed out in many
places where either tyranny,
authoritarianism or neofascism
is present or arising.
As Reich sald: "Consider yourself warned."
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 (!!).