in all the world is more dangerous, than sincere ignorance and
-- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
from May 10, 2019
B. On writing html
This is a
Nederlog of Friday,
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
A. Selections from May 10, 2019:
The indented text
link is quoted from the
link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:
1. Is Trump a Fascist?
B. On writing html
2. Up to a Million Species are at Risk
Due to Human
3. It’s Time to Break Up Facebook
a. It is made impossible on Linux if you want WYSIWYG
1. Is Trump
This article is by Mehdi Hasan
on The Intercept. It starts as follows:
The F-word gets thrown
a lot these days. But with the president fearmongering about
immigrants, turning a blind eye to political violence from the far
right, and embracing white nationalism, is it time to ask the question
in earnest? On a daily basis, Donald Trump can be heard dismissing the
legitimacy of judges or the press, praising authoritarians like Kim
Jong-un, or trying to undermine congressional oversight of his
administration. On this week’s show, Mehdi Hasan speaks with Yale
philosophy professor Jason Stanley about the history of fascism and
what it can teach us about our current president.
OK - but what is
I know quite a lot
about fascism, mostly because my father survived over 3 years and 9
months of four German concentration camps, where his father was
murdered, both because they were communists and in the Dutch
resistance, as my mother was, though she was never arrested.
Also, while I am not a
communist since 50 years, I do admire my parents and grandparents (my
mother's parents were anarchists).
I have rather definite
ideas about what fascism is, and the last link gives my definition,
that was based on my own rather extensive knowledge of fascism, and
also on a study of On
Fascism and Neofascism: Definitions that I strongly
It turns out that these
ideas are not at all what Jason Stanley
More below. First, here
is Mehdi Hasan:
MH: That’s my guest
today, Professor Jason Stanley, Yale University philosopher and author
of the much-discussed recent book “How Fascism Works.” So, on today’s
show, Donald Trump and the debate over fascism.
immigrants and people of color. Turning a blind eye towards and even
inciting political violence from the far right. An overt embrace of
white nationalism. Dismissing the legitimacy of judges, the media, the
rule of law, even the constitution. Is it really any surprise that so
many people these days are worried about a seeming drift towards
fascism, yes, fascism, in the United States? Yes, I know. The word gets
thrown around a lot, and sometimes carelessly. But in the case of
Donald Trump, it’s way past time we talked in blunt terms about what
we’re actually dealing with and where we’re heading.
Yes, I agree with this and I
like to add that in 10 years of extensive readings of very many
journalists and public intellectuals, which you can find links to in
the crisis index, I must say that I have not found a single decent
definition of fascism - which I agree is not easy to define (and see
again my On
Fascism and Neofascism: Definitions).
Here is more:
In fact, the conversation is not
very clear and Hasan's question also is not clear, for neither he nor
Stanley even mention the word "definition" but then again what Hasan
does say suggests very strongly that he does mean a
definition of some kind.
MH: Is there a kind
of — we live in a social media age. Everyone wants everything
digestible. You’re an academic at Yale, but I’m going to ask you this
question. Is there a kind of checklist of criteria, of factors that you
have to kind of tick off before you can say this person, this party,
this government, this country is fascist?
JS: There are. I
break it down into ten points and I can go over those if you want.
Well, here is my definition of fascism:
And here are 9 of the 10
criterions that Stanley gives - and I give 9 because I simply could not
find the 10th:
| Fascism: Fascism
is a. A social system that is
marked by a government with centralized authority and a dictator, that
suppresses the opposition through propaganda, censorship and terror,
that propounds an ethics founded
on discipline, virility, and collectivism, that has a politics that is
totalitarian, anti-liberal, anti-individualist,
anti-equality, and anti-Marxist, that is also authoritarian,
rightwing and nationalistic, and often racist, and that has a corporative organization of the economy, b. A political philosophy or movement based on or
advocating such a social system.
1. Mythic past 2.
Propaganda 3. Anti-intellectuals 4. Unreality 5. Hierarchy 6.
Victimhood 7. How are they victims 8. Sexual anxiety 9. Violence
Except for propaganda, none
of the terms in my definition recurs is Stanley's list of
criterions, which are offered as a kind of definition, for
they are supposed to provide the criterions by which one can decide
whether a so-and-so is or is not a fascist.
Also, to the extent that I understand Stanley (whose book on fascism I certainly
am not going to read) he does not think about social
systems, governments, authority, dictators, censorship,
totalitarianism, anti-liberalism, anti-individualism,
anti-equality, and anti-Marxism, nor about the rightwing, nationalism,
racism or corporatism.
I think Stanley's list of criterions is - frankly - ridiculous.
I could stop here, but quote one more bit:
MH: So, I’ve
got to ask you the $64,000 question. Is Donald Trump then, according to
this 10 criteria that you lay out, a fascist?
In fact, if you say that
someone is a fascist, you could mean at least 21 things, as outlined in
Fascism and Neofascism: Definitions, and in fact there are (of course)
even more things you could mean.
JS: So when you say a
fascist, you could be talking about different things. There is no
question that Mr. Trump is very high on the scale of fascism when it
comes to his rhetoric.
But in brief, this is a ridiculous article in my eyes.
2. Up to a Million Species are at Risk of
Extinction Due to Human Activity
This article is by Amy Goodman
and Nermeen Shaikh on Democracy Now! I abbreviated the title. It starts
with the following introduction:
An alarming new report by
panel of leading scientists warns that human activity is causing the
disappearance and deterioration of wildlife at a rate that could
represent an existential threat to humanity within our lifetimes. The
United Nations’ Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on
Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services released its conclusions earlier
this week, and found that one million plant and animal species could go
extinct in the foreseeable future unless current trends are reversed.
The study estimates the global extinction rate is “already at least
tens to hundreds of times higher than it averaged over the past 10
million years.” It is the largest and most comprehensive global study
of biodiversity ever. It took three years to complete and is based on
15,000 scientific papers. The landmark report singled out industrial
farming and fishing as major drivers of the crisis and called for
“transformative change” to arrest present trends of biodiversity loss
and species extinction. We speak with Kate Brauman, one of the
coordinating lead authors of the UN report. She is an environmental
scientist at the University of Minnesota. And we speak with Ashley
Dawson, a professor of post-colonial studies at the City University of
New York Graduate Center and College of Staten Island. His books
include “Extreme Cities: The Peril and Promise of Urban Life in the Age
of Climate Change” and “Extinction: A Radical History.”
Yes indeed. Here is
SHAIKH: It is the largest
and most comprehensive global study of biodiversity ever. It took three
years to complete and is based on 15,000 scientific papers. The
landmark report singled out industrial farming and fishing as major
drivers of the crisis and called for transformative change to arrest
present trends of biodiversity loss and species extinction. The report
will be released in full later this year. This is chair of the U.N.
panel, Sir Robert Watson.
We’re losing species at a historical rate. Potentially 500,000 to a
million species are threatened with loss. We have lost much of our
native forests, much of our native wetlands. And effectively,
biodiversity needs to be considered as an equally important issue as
climate change. It is not just an environmental issue; it is an
economic issue, a development issue, a security issue, a social, moral
and ethical issue.
I more or less agree with
Watson. Here is more:
BRAUMAN: It is really
shocking. What we have done is that a bunch of experts have looked at
really what the trends look like for many, many different species,
including insects. And looking at those trends, it is quite clear that
up to a million species, 25% of all of the animals on earth, are
threatened with extinction, many within the next couple of decades,
unless we change our activities.
SHAIKH: What most
surprised you, Kate, about this report as you were working on the
BRAUMAN: The thing to me
that is the most shocking is really just what the picture looks like
when we bring it all together. So this report is an assessment. It is
designed to bring together the incredibly large existing body of
Yes, I agree with Brauman.
Here is some more:
SHAIKH: I want to bring
Ashley Dawson into the conversation. Ashley, you have written an entire
book on the radical history of extinction. Your response to this report?
DAWSON: Well, the report,
I think, is really a landmark report. And it shows that the crisis we
face isn’t just one of climate change. In some ways it is comparable to
the IPCC report from last October which
really sounded a really important alarm about the system that we face
and its potential collapse. But what this shows is it’s a crisis of
multiple different dimensions and that it’s driven by an economic
system which is fundamentally destroying the terrestrial systems that
we all depend on.
Yes indeed. Here is some more:
SHAIKH: What does that
say, Ashley, about the kind of structural transformations that would be
required minimally for the economic system that governs at this point
large parts of the planet, which is based on endless expansion and
consumption by larger and larger numbers of people at greater levels?
DAWSON: I think it’s the
greater levels that’s really key. The report does talk about the issue
of population increase, but it also makes it quite clear that it’s
inequality and a kind of capitalist system that’s based on constantly
ramping up consumption of natural resources that is at fault, and that
we need to shift away from that system.
GOODMAN: What is the
DAWSON: The alternative is
a kind of Green New Deal for the planet (..)
I agree again with Dawson.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
I am a lot less optimistic
about politicians and governments than Brauman, for quite a few
reasons. One of these was the Dutch government's embracement of Kyoto
in the 1990ies, that turned out to be almost only propaganda for the
government, and I fear it is the same with most current governments.
But this is a strongly recommended article.
GOODMAN: And do you see
BRAUMAN: I think so. One
of the things that is so exciting about this is that it is a report of
the governments. There are 132 member states who were part of his
platform, and they approved this document. This is something that
governments say “we think is important.”
Time to Break Up Facebook
article is by Chris
Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook. He knows Zuckerberg quite well,
and has not worked on Facebook the last 10 years. This is from very
close to its beginning:
OK, I accept this and
agree with most. Here is more:
[the summer of 2017], Mark’s personal reputation and the reputation of
Facebook have taken a nose-dive. The company’s mistakes — the sloppy
privacy practices that dropped tens of millions of users’ data into a
political consulting firm’s lap; the
slow response to Russian agents, violent rhetoric and fake news; and
the unbounded drive to capture ever more of our time and attention —
dominate the headlines. It’s been 15 years since I co-founded Facebook
at Harvard, and I haven’t worked at the company in a decade. But I feel
a sense of anger and responsibility.
Yes indeed: quite so. Here
Mark’s influence is
staggering, far beyond that of anyone else in the private sector or in
government. He controls three core communications platforms — Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp — that billions of
people use every day. Facebook’s board works more like an advisory
committee than an overseer, because Mark controls around 60
percent of voting shares. Mark alone can decide how to configure
Facebook’s algorithms to determine what people see in their News Feeds,
what privacy settings they can use and even which messages get
delivered. He sets the rules for how to distinguish violent and
incendiary speech from the merely offensive, and he can choose to shut
down a competitor by acquiring, blocking or copying it.
Yes, I quite agree. Here is more:
We are a nation with a
tradition of reining in monopolies, no matter how well intentioned the
leaders of these companies may be. Mark’s power is unprecedented and
It is time to break up
We already have the tools we need
to check the domination of Facebook. We just seem to have forgotten
America was built on the idea
that power should not be concentrated in any one person, because we are
all fallible. That’s why the founders created a system of checks and
balances. They didn’t need to foresee the rise of Facebook to
understand the threat that gargantuan companies would pose to democracy.
Yes, I agree. Here is more:
in the 1970s, a small but dedicated group of economists, lawyers and
policymakers sowed the seeds of our cynicism. Over the next 40 years,
they financed a network of think tanks, journals, social clubs,
academic centers and media outlets to teach an emerging generation that
private interests should take precedence over public ones. Their gospel
was simple: “Free” markets are dynamic and productive, while government
is bureaucratic and ineffective. By the mid-1980s, they had largely
managed to relegate energetic antitrust enforcement to the history
This shift, combined with
business-friendly tax and regulatory policy, ushered in a period of
mergers and acquisitions that created megacorporations.
I say - and I suppose most
of this is correct. Here is some more:
Over a decade later, Facebook
has earned the prize of domination. It is worth half a trillion dollars
and commands, by my estimate, more than 80 percent of the world’s
social networking revenue. It is a powerful monopoly, eclipsing all of
its rivals and erasing competition from the social networking category.
This explains why, even during the annus horribilis of 2018, Facebook’s
earnings per share increased by an astounding 40 percent compared with
the year before. (I liquidated my Facebook shares in 2012, and I don’t
invest directly in any social media companies.)
Facebook’s monopoly is also
visible in its usage statistics. About 70 percent of
American adults use social media, and a vast majority are on Facebook
products. Over two-thirds use the core site, a third use Instagram, and
a fifth use WhatsApp.
I say, again and also suppose
that most of the above is correct.
business model is built on capturing as much of our attention as
possible to encourage people to create and share more information about
who they are and who they want to be. We pay for Facebook with our data
and our attention, and by either measure it doesn’t come cheap.
was on the original News Feed team (my name is on the patent), and that
product now gets billions of hours of attention and pulls in unknowable
amounts of data each year. The average Facebook user spends an hour a day
on the platform; Instagram users spend 53 minutes a day scrolling
through pictures and videos. They create immense amounts of data — not
just likes and dislikes, but how many seconds they watch a particular
video — that Facebook uses to refine its targeted advertising. Facebook
also collects data
from partner companies and apps, without most users knowing about it,
according to testing by The Wall Street Journal.
I have to add (I think) that I don't use any of Facebook or any
of its associated programs and never did, and never
will, and that in fact I only visited Facebook twice, and that
only because I was slandered on it, but then such is life, and I hate
the idea and the practice of Facebook from the very beginning - and see
my On the
sham called "Facebook" (written in 2011).
Here is some more:
Possibly so, but I also
infer that Facebook's executives clearly think of themselves as
supermen, who can do what they like, and do not allow others to do.
As if Facebook’s opaque
algorithms weren’t enough, last year we learned that Facebook
executives had permanently deleted their own messages from the
platform, erasing them from the inboxes of recipients; the
justification was corporate security concerns.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
I agree again, and this is
a strongly recommended article, in which there is a lot more
than I quoted.
Just breaking up Facebook is not enough.
We need a new agency, empowered by Congress to regulate tech companies.
Its first mandate should be to protect privacy.
Europeans have made headway on privacy with the General Data Protection
Regulation, a law that guarantees users a minimal level of protection. A landmark privacy bill in the
United States should specify exactly what control Americans have over
their digital information, require clearer disclosure to users and
provide enough flexibility to the agency to exercise effective
oversight over time. The agency should also be charged with
guaranteeing basic interoperability across platforms.
the agency should create guidelines for acceptable speech on social
On writing html
a. It is made
impossible on Linux if you want WYSIWYG (it seems)
bought a new (though 2nd hand) computer yesterday and installed it with
Linux/Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. It does look considerably better than 16.04 LTS
which I have been using for several years and it seems mostly OK -
except for two things:
As to the first point:
KompoZer is in some respects a bad program, but it is also an editor in
which you can write in the html as it will also appear on your site
(WYSIWYG), and in which you can edit quite a few html files at the same
time in one editor.
- I cannot install
KompoZer on it, which I have been using since 2011
- There is no other
decent html editor on Linux that I found, apart from Seamonkey
Its badness resides in the fact that there are several quite irritating
mistakes in it, but since I have been using it for 8 years now I am
used to them and know how to avoid them for them for the most part.
It goodness resides in two facts:
Firstly, you can write in it in files that look completely
as they will look when published, which means that you do not
need to see any html-code (though you can do that as well, and
sometimes have to in order to correct mistakes).
Secondly, it is the only html editor on Linux that I know of
apart from one in SeaMonkey (which is an alternative to Firefox). and
the html that you can write in SeaMonkey, although that is quite
decent, is limited to one file at the time (and not 12, as in KompoZer).
Besides, while it does work in the SeaMonkey that I have installed on
the computer that runs Linux/Ubuntu 16.04, that SeaMonkey is several
years old and I fear that also will not install on the the computer that runs Linux/Ubuntu
18.04 that I bought yesterday, though I still have to try that.
So for the moment the situation is as follows:
I can write decent html on the old 16.04, while so far I
have found no other way to write html on 18.04 except by writing it as text, i.e. with all the html code, which
is much more difficult as the html code is quite
distracting from the text it conveys and also contains.
There are plenty of html editors on Linux that work in text, and some
are reported to be quite good, but I strongly prefer a WYSIWYG
editor with a large site like mine.
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 3 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 (!!).