in all the world is more dangerous, than sincere ignorance and
-- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
from January 24, 2019
This is a
Nederlog of Thursday,
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 January 24, 2019:
1. 'Never Good News Having Particles in
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. As usual, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
is right: There should be no
3. We’ve Reached Peak Political Absurdity
4. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Tax Proposal Rattles
Billionaires at Davos
5. The Problem Isn't Robots Taking Our Jobs.
It's Oligarchs Taking Our
Good News Having Particles in Your Brain'
This article is by
Philip Betge on Spiegel International. Incidentally, as to the title
of the article:
I am glad I do have particles in my brain, but I agree with
Spiegel they should not be particles of plastic. In
other words, I think the adjective "plastic" disappeared somehow before
Anyway... it starts as follows (and it is a good
Actually, I think I would
have said that having - millions and millions, or tenthousans and
tenthousands - of plastic particles in the brain, the liver and in
other tissues is a serious problem. In fact, I believe Rosemary
Waring - who is 76 and "an honorary reader in human toxicology" -
mostly agrees with me, but indeed this also is a Spiegel interview,
that will become rather widely known.
DER SPIEGEL: Plastic
contamination of the environment seems to have reached epidemic levels.
Of particular concern are tiny microplastic particles. Can these be a
threat to human health?
Waring: I think we
left with a definite maybe. A key problem with plastics is that they
are essentially indestructible. Rather than being biodegraded, they
break down into smaller and smaller pieces, eventually becoming
microscopic fragments. These can enter the human body either by
inhalation or by ingestion. We don't really know where they go, but in
some marine animals, such particles have been shown to accumulate in
the brain, liver and other tissues. This could be a problem.
Here is more:
DER SPIEGEL: Where
do these particles come from?
Microplastics come from many sources, for example from the breakdown of
larger items, abrasion from tires, microbeads from cosmetics or
synthetic clothing fibers. A standard 5-kilogram (11-pound) wash of
polyester fabrics has been estimated to release up to 6,000,000
microfibers. Through surface runoff, manufacturing processes,
agriculture or waste water treatment facilities, most of this ends up
in the environment, for example in rivers, and is eventually lost to
the seas. Extrapolations suggest that up to 250 million tons of plastic
will be present in the oceans by 2025.
Yes indeed - and
you may question yourself about the number of 5-kilogram
need every year (* 6,000,000 microfibers).
Here is more:
I think I can generalize
this by saying: Everything we
eat or drink or breathe is very
probably contaminated with at least some plastic microfibers (and
will be the case - if Trump does not start a nuclear war - for the next
couple of hundreds of years, whatever else happens).
DER SPIEGEL: How are
humans exposed to microplastics?
feeders like mussels seem to readily internalize microplastics, because
they are of the same size as their preferred diet. It has been
estimated that European shellfish consumers could potentially ingest
11,000 microplastic particles per year. A lot of the plastic particles
in the environment are present in the atmosphere and transported by the
wind. When you breathe in air, microscopic plastic particles are
inhaled as well. Salt and sugar, for example, have also been reported
to be contaminated with plastic, as well as honey and German beer. The
analysis of tap water and bottled water found that a high proportion of
drinking water contains plastic fragments.
Here is more:
DER SPIEGEL: What
happens with the plastic once it gets into the body?
lot on the size of the degraded plastic material. Bigger particles are
not readily absorbed. Most of these just seem to pass through the body
without doing much harm. It is currently believed that these bigger
particles do not penetrate deeply into organs and, if at all, can only
cause some limited local inflammation or tissue abrasion. Smaller
particles however, referred to as nanoplastics, are a different thing
DER SPIEGEL: Nanoplastics
refers to bits that are smaller than 0.001 millimeters.
Waring: The smaller
the size of the plastic particles, the more likely they are to cross
biological barriers such as cell membranes. What we know is that
nanoparticles in general can interact with proteins, lipids and
carbohydrates in the body. Nanoparticles can even cross the blood-brain
barrier and it seems probable that they can affect the central nervous
system. Reports of behavioral changes in shrimp and fish exposed to
nanoplastics support this hypothesis. Plastic particles made fish eat
slower and explore their surroundings less.
in fact this is one of my reasons to say above that I believe Rosemary
Waring probably mostly agrees with me.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this interview:
Waring: If I
were extremely worried, I wouldn't eat oysters or mussels, and I still
do occasionally. However, more research needs to be done. We do not
know enough about the potential health risks of microplastics. As a
precaution, the amount of plastic being released into the environment
must be drastically reduced. We need sewage treatment plants that
remove microplastics, so they do not end up in rivers and the sea. And
we need to get the plastic out of the ocean. But even with concerted
global effort, the amount of microplastics in the environment will
continue to grow, and the question remains: What impact will this have
on human health? The concerning answer is that no one really knows.
Well... Waring is also 76,
so she doesn´t need to fear the consequences of eating 10,000s of bits
of nanoplastics in 40 or 50 years. But I do insist that if fish and
shrimp react to nanoplastics (by eating less and exploring less) it is probable
that the same holds for higher animals. And
this is a strongly
recommended article in which there is considerably more than I quoted.
usual, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is right: There should be no
This article is by
Amanda Marcotte on Salon. This is from near its beginning:
On Monday, Ocasio-Cortez attended a symposium where author
Coates asked her if it was moral to have "a world that allows for
billionaires." Ocasio-Cortez swiftly said it was not. She hastened to
note that individual billionaires, such as Bill Gates, may well be good
people. But "a system that allows billionaires to exist when there are
parts of Alabama where people are still getting ringworm because they
don’t have access to public health is wrong."
AOC continued to hammer this point home later the same
night on "The Late Show" with Stephen Colbert, explaining
(yet again) that her proposed 70 percent marginal income tax rate
would only be on money made above the first $10 million a year -- and
that a similar marginal tax rate reached 90% when Dwight Eisenhower was
Yes, I almost completely agree with Ocasio-Cortez,
I certainly do not think that Bill Gates may be a good person.
But she is quite correct on the rest, and indeed Eisenhower also was a
Here is some more:
"Do we want to live in a city where billionaires have
their own personal Uber helipads," she asked, "in the same city and
same society as people who are working 80-hour weeks and can't feed
Right-wing media sprung into action to try to discredit
her, of course, by implying that a woman who graduated summa cum laude
with an economics degree is a bimbo and with Twitchy
using a screenshot to make the usually genial Ocasio-Cortez somehow
look like a ballbuster. But it's getting increasingly difficult to
maintain the myth that the enormous wealth inequality in not just
American society but the entire world somehow reflect a system that's
fairly rewarding people for their talent and labor.
Yes, although I probably would have added that - by and
large, and without any academic economics - the rich are rich
they get what they deny to the poor.
Here is some more:
On Monday, Oxfam
published a report showing that a mere 26 individual billionaires
now have as much wealth between them as the least wealthy half of the
human population. Which is to say, these 26 people have more money
combined than 3.8 billion of the world's population.
The idea that those 26 people are somehow being fairly
rewarded by that massively unequal equation defies all common sense,
especially as most billionaires have built their wealth on the labor of
people who only take home a fraction of the value they add to the
companies they work for.
Yes indeed, and the first paragraph states what I consider an extremely gross moral
indecency. Then again, while I agree that paying one man
tens of millions a year,
and nearly all other men tens of thousands a year (in the West) ¨defies all common sense¨, I
would have added that, besides, it is grossly indecent as well,
in moral or ethical
Also - and this may be a side remark - I think that my
description of the rich as ¨the
rich are rich because they get what they deny to the poor¨
may be somewhat less (implicit) Marxist than
saying that ¨most billionaires
have built their wealth on the labor of people who only take home a
fraction of the value they add to the companies they work for¨.
(But this is somewhat technical, and for a little more see Marx.)
Anyway... here is some more:
60 percent of Americans now support the marginal tax rate program
Ocasio-Cortez has proposed. This includes a remarkable 45 percent
of Republicans, despite all the work right-wing media has done to
demonize Ocasio-Cortez and anything related to her.
The problem conservatives must face is that the very
inequality they are defending is a rhetorical obstacle in itself. Most
people recognize that it's unfair that rich people make so much more
money than the rest of us, and does not necessarily prove they have
worked harder. Getting people to sign off on the idea that they simply
are less worthy than their wealthier fellow citizens is not an easy
lift, which is why Republicans prefer to stick to culture-war
distractions, like fear-mongering over immigration or abortion.
I say, which I mostly do because I did not know that
¨45 percent of Republicans¨
support Ocasio-Cortez´s tax rate program - which indeed also is both
economically and politically quite sensible, for the simple reason that
under the Republican Eisenhower the very rich paid 90% tax,
also was in the time that the USA was very rich and very capitalist.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
Because the truth of the matter is that she's right: We
billionaires. Any system that has a handful of ultra-wealthy
individuals, by definition, is not rewarding hard work and social
contributions fairly, or anywhere close to it. We don't need to embrace
full-on socialism communism, and Ocasio-Cortez is swift to say that.
But the floor needs to come up and the ceiling needs to come down.
Well... I more or less agree, although I also insist that banishing
billionaires and making incomes and wealth considerably more
equal than they are, are (mostly) socialist
And this is a strongly recommended article.
Reached Peak Political Absurdity
is by Paul Street on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
an endless theater of the political absurd. Take, for example, the
ongoing saga over the government shutdown and President Trump’s border
wall that has been playing out on screens across the nation for weeks.
The closure could
go on “for years,”
the president, adding that given federal government
workers support the move, it was better to call his payment stoppage a
The telescreens showed
to declare a “national emergency” over a “national crisis” of “illegal crossings” at the
U.S.-Mexican boundary. We saw
and his press secretary claim that U.S. authorities had
recently interdicted many “terrorists” (including “Islamic” ones) from
crossing the border.
We learned that the
president threatened via tweet to end
“birthright citizenship”—the national citizenship granted to
all persons born in the U.S. under the Constitution’s 14th
Amendment—through an executive order.
Well... I mostly agree with
Street, although I probably would have added that this
¨peak of political absurdity¨ is best explained by three assumptions:
(1) Trump is
insane; (2) Trump´s government in fact only
works for the interests
of the rich; and (3) for Trump and his government there are no moral
norms, no ethical principles, and no scientific facts: there only are
profits + the one single norm CEOs have to
satisfy (pace Friedman),
namely to make maximum profits, completely
regardless of any other norm.
Here are some more insanities
Calling opponents of his
wall “open-border extremists” who would render the country defenseless
in the face of a criminal invasion of drugs, gangs and violence, he
also attributed the nation’s widespread drug crisis to our “open border
“The radical Left,” Trump
bizarrely intoned during his speech, “can never control our borders. I
will never let it happen. Walls are not immoral. In fact, they are the
opposite of immoral.”
I more or less agree the
above is bizarre, except that - since I am a psychologist - I
call it insanity, for I maintain now since nearly three years
(like many other psychologists, and like some psychiatrists)
that is what Trump is: insane.
Here is some more Trumpian
There is naturally no
evidence of significant federal worker support for the president’s
preposterous decision that they should go without paychecks. It’s worth
remembering that a strike occurs when workers collectively withhold
their labor to try to compel their employer to make changes in pay
and/or working conditions. To describe federal workers’ involuntary
loss of payment at the command of their boss as a “strike” is ludicrous
to a degree that would make George Orwell blush.
While he’s at it, Trump
might as well send out a tweet claiming to resolve the problem of
“essential” federal workers’ unpaid status with an executive order
abolishing the 13th Amendment and designating them as slaves.
The president’s claim that
“the radical left” is a threat to “control our borders” is just as
bizarre, not to mention a prime example of red-baiting.
I completely agree
Street on the meaning of ¨strike¨: This is about as insane as declaring
that there will be no more wars because you insist that ¨war¨ means
peace, or as declaring that there will be no more poor because you
insist that ¨poor¨ means rich. And this is a strongly
Ocasio-Cortez’s Tax Proposal Rattles Billionaires at Davos
is by Ilana Novick on Truthdig and originally on Blogger. It starts as
Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., during a 60
Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper on Jan. 6, proposed a 70
percent marginal tax rate on income earned above $10 million. Cooper
called this “radical.” The proposal has earned extensive media
and has been debated by pundits on both
of the political aisle.
One group that is not
thrilled, according to Hugh Son and Brian Schwartz of CNBC,
are attendees at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, the
annual gathering of international business and political leaders who
meet to discuss the state of the world economy. “It’s scary,” Scott
Minerd, global chief investment officer for Guggenheim Partners, told
CNBC, adding, “By the time we get to the presidential election, this is
going to gain more momentum. … I think the likelihood that a 70 percent
tax rate, or something like that, becomes policy is actually very real.”
Another billionaire, who declined to be named, told CNBC that despite
the massive media attention around Ocasio-Cortez’s interview, Democrats
would not be likely to support the plan. “It’s not going to
happen—trust me,” he said.
One prominent Democrat
interviewed at Davos agreed. Glenn Hutchins, founder of the private
equity firm Silver Lake Partners, who CNBC calls a member of the
“Democratic establishment,” said, “The important thing in my view is
not to try to score political points with having a 70 percent, very
high tax rate. The important thing is to try to figure out a tax system
that is both fair and efficient.”
I agree with
(and see item 2), and I also insist that, compared
to the taxes on the rich that the Republican Eisenhower demanded (90%),
70% is quite low.
And I have one comment on
Hutchins: He is plainly contradicting himself, for the only way
to make ¨a tax system that is
both fair and efficient¨ is
increase the taxes on the rich and the very rich.
Here is one more bit from
Although Davos attendees
and Anderson Cooper see Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal as
extreme, as Vox
points out, “[The] top tax rates used to be much higher,” adding,
“Under [President] Eisenhower, the top earners paid a 91 percent
marginal rate, falling to Ocasio-Cortez’s proposed 70 percent under
Kennedy and Johnson, before falling to 50 percent after Ronald Reagan’s
first big tax cut, and then down to 38 percent after the 1986 tax
While the proposal is just
two weeks old, early surveys indicate Americans are receptive to
Ocasio-Cortez’s idea. One poll,
from The Hill-HarrisX, suggests that the idea may gaining favor with
the public, as 59 percent of respondents answered yes to the question,
“Would you favor or oppose a tax proposal that would apply a 70% rate
to the 10 millionth dollar and beyond for individuals making $10
million a year or more in reportable income.” This includes 45 percent
of Republican respondents.
Quite so, and these are good
things to know. This is a recommended article.
Problem Isn't Robots Taking Our Jobs. It's Oligarchs Taking Our Power
is by Adam Simpson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
Yes, indeed. But
reskilling is quite difficult if you are over 30 and have a normal
intelligence. Besides, there is a major difference between a
Kai-Fu Lee who is predicting at present that ¨advances in artificial intelligence
would “in 15 years displace about 40 percent of the jobs in the world”¨
(without - it seems - drawing further consequences) and the climate
that arose in the early 1960ies with quite dissimilar predictions,
for it was then assumed (in the early 1960ies) that these
would lead to humans having to work less and less, while maintaining
their financial income.
But 50+ years later the same technological advances, which now are a
great lot further, are merely used (or so it seems) to argue
you are not rich you must "reskill"
Here is some more on “reskilling”:
“reskilling” that workers achieve will simply serve to lower the cost
currently existing tech labor without any assurances that such sectors
will be immune from “disruption” in a few years by the next wave of
Ultimately, the better
advice for workers seeking to avoid “disruption” is to become the
agents of disruption themselves. What 21st-century workers need is what
workers have always needed: power. Organizing unions and developing
pathways to ownership is the best way workers can address the anxiety
of the so-called “automation age,” not chasing the labor market demands
partially agree, but I also think that it is desirable that the sort of
ideas that were quite current in the early 1960ies get reintroduced,
which may be summarized as saying that if technology and artificial
intelligence make it possible that - for example - 10% less of
work is needed to produce something, then this should mean that 10%
less work is done, for the same payments.
Instead, the present rich and their spokesmen argue that if you do not
reskill, you will loose your job to machines - which means that machines
and profits are far more important for the present
human beings, human rights, or human happiness, that is, except
these human beings are very rich to start with.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
Yes, I agree - and I
recall that Milton
Friedman (a major fraud, in my opinion) insisted for decades
that the only norm any corporate executive has to
satisfy is to make the maximum profit, indeed also if this
involves killing the non-rich. And this is a recommended article.
Without the threat of
misery, workers could—and likely would—refuse to participate in an
increasingly exploitative system that exclusively benefits the one
percent. Learning to program the robot that took your last job might be
a temporary reprieve, but the way the system works does not change: It
demands that workers be disciplined by the threat of looming
destitution. And it demands that capitalists maximize their profits,
including by decimating workers with new technology if that’s what it
takes. Capitalism can’t function if workers are liberated from such
threats, by skills or otherwise.
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 (!!).