from January 19, 2018.
This is a
Nederlog of Friday,
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.
Section 2. Crisis Files
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
Selections from January 19, 2018
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
1. Trump Biographer on the President’s Cognitive Decline
& Whether He
Will Be Impeached
2. Senate Passes FISA Reauthorization Act, With Help of
3. Beyond Falsifiability
4. There’s a White House—and GOP—Fungus Among Us
5. Senate Votes to Give Trump Vast Domestic Spying Powers "No
President Should Have"
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:
Biographer on the President’s Cognitive Decline & Whether He Will
This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! This is from the
beginning (and there are two other articles with David Cay
GOODMAN: What about
President Trump’s sanity, this issue that has taken hold, people
observing? We had Dr. Bandy X. Lee on Democracy Now!, the
Yale psychiatrist who is part of the “duty to warn” movement, has been
speaking with a lot of congressmembers.
GOODMAN: I mean, you’re
one of the few reporters who has followed Donald Trump for decades,
well over 30 years. What have you observed about him? And do you think
he’ll serve out this term in office?
Just to be clear, just short of 30 years. It’ll be 30 years in May.
Well, in my book, I don’t
go into this issue of “Is he sane or not sane?” If you mean “Does he
know right from wrong?” of course he does. He is, at times, delusional.
He makes stuff up. He’s done it his whole life. You can see him do it
on TV all the time.
What I do is rely on,
thanks to someone else who found this out, the standard in the Army
Field Manual for which military officers you promote. And there’s a set
of standards in conduct: Do you have empathy? Do you take
responsibility? Do you listen to others? Do you consider options?
Remember, Trump always says, “There’s no other choice. We have no other
choice.” If Donald Trump had not dodged the draft, and become a
military officer in the Vietnam War era, he would never have been
promoted above junior lieutenant, by those standards. He lacks all of
the basic qualifications that have been worked out by the Army for
I have reviewed some
interviews with Dr. Bandy Lee in Nederlog (see e.g. here), but I have
not yet had David
As to Johnston's
statement that "I don’t
go into this issue of “Is he sane or not sane?”": This is a bit ambiguous, though indeed
neither a psychiatrist nor a psychologist (while I am a psychologist).
It's a bit ambiguous,
because the evidence he does give - which once again was
covered by me
in Nederlog: See here - does rely
(indirectly) on psychiatric evidence.
Then again, I agree with Johnston's conclusion.
There is also this on
Trump's cognitive qualifications (which are not the same as
As to his cognitive
function, you know the test the doctor said he passed? I went and took
the test. It’s on the internet. Donald could have looked it up ahead of
time. So, I don’t find that at all dispositive. When I first met
Donald, he could speak in coherent sentences. When he isn’t reading,
when there isn’t a teleprompter or piece of paper, you will often see
Donald only speak in adjectives. “It’s beautiful. It’s beautiful. It’s
a wonderful tax bill. It’s just—it’s beautiful. It’s beautiful.” And he
doesn’t remember names. He doesn’t see people. Now, we all have
cognitive decline. I’m almost as old as Donald. When I was a boy, I
would do four—multiply four digits by four digits in my head. I can’t
remember a 10-digit phone number now. I have to write it down. That’s
the normal rate of decline. Clearly, Donald’s decline is significant.
In addition to that, there’s this other basic problem. Donald isn’t
very smart. He doesn’t read. He doesn’t listen. It’s been reported that
he only spends five hours a day being president, and that includes
lunch. And so, if he doesn’t know anything, and he’s presented with all
these complex issues, of course he’s going to have to find some way to
cope with it. He just makes stuff up, and he talks in adjectives. Word
I do not know whether
Johnston is right in saying "That’s
the normal rate of decline"
(I somewhat doubt it) but the rest of this may very well be correct,
and if it is, the conclusion I would draw is the same as above: Trump
is definitely not fit to be the president of the USA.
Here is the last bit
that I will quote from this interview:
I say. And this is a
recommended interview (as are the other two on Democracy Now!).
He’s not Richard Nixon. He
will say the government is illegitimate, and make trouble.
That’s why if they’re going
to impeach him, they need to have a plan to indict him, convict him and
send him to prison. And there are so many crimes Donald Trump has
committed. Most successful major criminals never get arrested. Donald
Trump is a man who’s twice had trials for income tax fraud, civil. He
lost them both. He’s confessed to sales tax fraud. He spent years
deeply, deeply entangled—
GOODMAN: Three seconds.
—with a major cocaine trafficker, in ways that make no sense unless
they were in business together.
Passes FISA Reauthorization Act, With Help of Democrats
This article is by Emma Niles on Truthdig. This starts as follows:
With the help of 21
Democrats, the U.S. Senate passed the Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Reauthorization Act of
2017 on Thursday, a bill that critics argue expands the
government’s ability to spy on digital communications without a warrant.
I did write yesterday about this, but because I
think this development is very important I repeat a
part of it now, and specifically two assumptions I made yesterday:
ONE: The first assumption is that surveillance
+ unencrypted computers = the royal road to neofascism:
Both all the secret services in the world and the
largest corporations - Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft - can
now find out (and have been able to find out since
2001) absolutely everything about almost
everyone by stealing all their private data:
I take these as given and
also refer to item 5 below and continue here with
Their e-mails, their
incomes, their taxes, their values, their desires,
their knowledge, their family, their friends, their sites, their
contacts and anything else can all be fully copied and are
fully copied by the secret services and the largest corporations,
and indeed also by few others, simply because lots of money are
required to find out all about almost everyone.
This has given the
secret services - virtually anywhere:
not just in the USA - vastly more powers than the KGB ever
had in the Soviet Union.
TWO: The second assumption is that politics
in the USA
(and this is more about the USA than the first assumption about
surveillance) has fundamentally changed
since 1980 and the coming of the internet:
used to be about what the majority of the people
wanted, and put - in the USA - two parties against each other; politics now is about what the rich and the
powerful want, and all want more riches and more powers, and
those who are neither rich nor powerful have been fundamentally shifted
out from positions in which they could influence the leading politicians:
The leading politicians now are mostly bought
(by lobbyists etc.)
In brief, politics has become mostly totally corrupted.
Yes indeed - and (in case
you missed it) this pertains in fact to the special status
Americans did have (at least in law) compared with non-Americans: Any non-American
- a Dutchman, a Russian etc. - may be spied on interminably and
without any warrant whatsoever, and may copy absolutely everything of
their personal privacies, but for Americans this forbidden in
which passed the House last week, focuses specifically on Section
702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which was initially
passed as part of the FISA Amendments Act in 2008. The Electronic Frontier Foundation
Section 702 is supposed
to do exactly what its name promises: collection of foreign
intelligence from non-Americans located outside the United States. As
the law is written, the intelligence community cannot use Section 702
programs to target Americans, who are protected by the Fourth
Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures. But the
law gives the intelligence community space to target foreign
intelligence in ways that inherently and
intentionally sweep in Americans’ communications.
The EFF expanded upon
FISA’s infringement on the 14th Amendment in a series of tweets
Thursday, shortly after the Senate vote. Read the full thread here.
Except that not it isn't anymore: Absolutely everyone
living absolutely anywhere, also in the USA, has been
declared the secret victim and the total inferior of all
the spying the American secret services can do now, legally.
Here is the text from this article:
Quite so, and also see item 5 below. This is a strongly recommended article.
This split in the
Democratic Party may be an ominous signal of what’s to come in the
November midterm elections, as progressive members of the party did not
mince words when voicing their strong opposition to the bill:
Numerous advocacy groups
also expressed outrage in response to the Senate vote.
“Congress abdicated its
responsibility to ensure that our intelligence agencies respect the
Fourth Amendment,” Neema Singh Guliani, legislative counsel for
the American Civil Liberties Union, said
Thursday. “Instead of instituting much needed reforms, lawmakers
voted to give the Trump administration broad powers to spy on Americans
and foreigners at home and abroad without a warrant. No president
should have this power, much less one who has endorsed policies
designed to unfairly target critics, immigrants, and minority
This article is by Peter Woit on his site. It is here in part because I
am a philosopher of science, and in part because I think both science
and the qualities of the universities have fallen a lot
over the last
40 or 50 years (which I can still all
In fact, I am neither a
physicist nor a mathematician, though I did take considerable
to educate myself in them, which also made me read, among quite a few
other books and papers, all back in the 1970ies and 1980ies, Richard
on Physics", which I did like a lot.
Sean Carroll has a new
paper out defending the Multiverse and attacking the naive Popperazi,
Falsifiability: Normal Science in a Multiverse. He also has a Beyond
Falsifiability blog post here.
Much of the problem with the
paper and blog post is that Carroll is arguing against a straw man,
while ignoring the serious arguments about the problems with multiverse
This doesn't make me a physicist at all, but it does
support what I
said about the declines of both science and the
universities, for I remember Feynman in 1984 (or before)
stating what seems to me quite the same argument as Peter Woit
gives, that amounted in 1984 (or before) to Feynman's claims
that string theory is untestable.
In fact, I think being (un)testable is more correct than
speaking of verifications and falsifications (I think, and I am a
philosopher of science). And in any case, I agreed with Feynman
in 1984 (or before): if you neither can verify nor falsify
something, all you have - at that point, at least - is
not science, but speculations about dreams. (It
become science when it can be tested.)
And since it is this year almost 35 years further, I would
have been rather astounded to find the same situation still
prevails over string theory and fundamental physics, were it not for the
additional fact that I have been maintaining since the late 1970ies
that the qualities of science, the universities, and also pre-university
education have fallen a whole lot since
I take the last point for granted (for more, see e.g. here), in fact because I
have been protesting about this for more than 40 years now
or no success, I admit, but then most modern scientists know very
little or nothing of philosophy of science or education).
Also, I have left out Carroll's - extremely vague - argument (which
Woit does give) but here is some more on him:
Carroll goes on to
approvingly to a
response to Ellis by Daniel Harlow published as a letter to
Inference, but ignores Ellis’s response, which includes:
Precisely - and I repeat that
this is the same argument as I read in on before 1984
Feynman, and clearly it is as valid then as it is now.
Ellis here is making the
central argument that Carroll refuses to acknowledge: the problem with
the multiverse is that it’s an empty idea, predicting nothing. It is
functioning not as what we would like from science, a testable
explanation, but as an untestable excuse for not being able to predict
The process of
science—exploring cosmology options, including the possible existence
or not of a multiverse—is indeed what should happen. The scientific
result is that there is no unique observable output predicted in
multiverse proposals. This is because, as is often stated by
proponents, anything that can happen does happen in most multiverses.
Having reached this point, one has to step back and consider the
scientific status of claims for their existence. The process of science
must include this evaluation as well.
What is or would be rather strange is that this valid argument
has not been taken serious for 35 years now, and I can
and do explain that by my - strongly verified: see e.g.  -
assumption that science and the universities got a lot worse in
the past 50 years.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
The other actual
Carroll refers to is the string theory landscape, and there the problem
is not that evaluating the theory is “hard”, but that you have no
theory. As for bubble collisions, you have plenty of conjectural models
(i.e. “string vacua”) which are perfectly well-defined and scientific,
but disagree with experiment so are easily evaluated as wrong. While
many other conjectural models are very complex and thus technically
“hard” to study, that’s not the real problem, and acquiring infinitely
powerful computational technique would not help. The real problem is
that you don’t have a theory: “M-theory” is a word but not an actual
theory. The problem is not that it’s “hard” to figure out what the
measure on the space of string vacua is, but that you don’t even know
what the space is on which you’re looking for a measure. This is not a
“hard” question, it’s simply a question for which you don’t have a
theory which gives an answer.
Yes indeed, although I would
have said "it’s simply a question
for which you don’t have a" testable
"theory which gives an
answer". And a theory which is not
testable may be mathematically quite finicky
and smart, but as long
as it is not testable it is a mere fantasy.
This is a recommended article.
a White House—and GOP—Fungus Among Us
This article is by Michael Winship on Common Dreams. This starts as
I say, though I think this
is quite justified, after a year of Trump. Here is some more:
Cruelty and recklessness –
those are the two sins of which attorney Joseph Welch accused Senator
Joseph McCarthy in 1954 when, having had enough of the Republican’s
redbaiting smears, Welsh famously asked, “Have you no sense of decency,
More than sixty years
later, we have as president a monumental blockhead for whom decency is
non-existent, a King Kong-wannabe who gives a bad name to the rest of
us primates. He hurls his gorilla dust in every direction, at one
moment name calling and insulting anyone who dares defy him and in the
next feeding his ego with unctuous, self-deceptive praise. With rare
exception, the Republican Party kowtows to his whims, placing avarice
and expediency above principle and patriotism.
The role of the president
should be to advance the national discourse, not to encourage its
basest Darwinian instincts. But as others have noted, his childish
behaviors too often distract from the reality of this presidency’s
unique brand of cruelty and recklessness (..)
In fact, you can check
this out - to a small extent - in Winship's article.
When it comes to the
aforementioned recklessness, just a glance at the Trump
White House foreign policy, or lack thereof, reveals a breathtaking
disregard for diplomacy and international cooperation, an agenda
seemingly fixed on little more than repudiating anything Barack Obama
attempted on the world stage.
As for cruelty, where to start?
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article, that outlines the
cowardice of many Republicans:
Almost as depressing
and infuriating as the president’s racism have been the denials and
obsequious lies of Republicans who were at the White House meeting when
Trump reportedly made his comments. Senators Tom Cotton and David
Perdue first claimed they had not been in a position to hear anything,
then flatly denied Trump had said the offensive word at all, a backflip
of striking cowardice, not only in the moment but indicative overall of
the white nationalist paranoia and bigotry fighting to hold back the
inevitable but in the meantime consciously wrecking lives.
There is more in the
article, that is recommended.
Votes to Give Trump Vast Domestic Spying Powers "No President Should
This article is by Jon Queally on Common Dreams. It starts with a
subtitle that I'll quote:
instituting much needed reforms, lawmakers voted to give the Trump
administration broad powers to spy on Americans and foreigners at home
and abroad without a warrant."
In fact, I commented on this above and yesterday.
And it means the following for me:
(1) The American Senate does not
deserve the trust of the American people anymore -
after 18 years of betrayals of their
rights and their Constitution to the secret services.
(2) I give up on both the Republican Party and the Democratic
Party, as being in majority
only interested in their own
interests and those of their friends, and not in the
maintaining the rights and the Constitution of
This doesn't mean I will cease reporting on them; it does mean that I
gave up believing in them:
The USA is no longer a democracy, and its representatives are for the
most part corrupt and have been bought by the very rich.
The article itself starts as follows:
As I said: This means that
2 out 3 Senators have completely given up to do their
Constitutional duties, and this also means I have given up on
the Senate (as is).
Defenders of civil
liberties and privacy advocates expressed their discontent on Thursday
after the U.S. Senate passed a bill that reauthorizes and expands the
ability of the goverment to spy on the digital communications without a
With a final vote of 65-34
vote in favor, the passage of the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act
of 2017—now headed to President Donald Trump's desk for a
signature—will extend for six years a provision known as Section 702 of
the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) which allows for call
the "unconstitutional spying" on emails, text messages, and other
digital communications of both Americans and foreign nationals without
Here is the last bit I quote from this article:
Yes indeed. This is a
strongly recommended articlel
"Congress abdicated its
responsibility to ensure that our intelligence agencies respect the
Fourth Amendment," said
Neema Singh Guliani, legislative counsel for the ACLU, in response.
Though the ACLU and its allies
had backed a number of amendments to address both privacy and
constitutional concerns, all those measures were defeated in both the
House and Senate.
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 (!!).
 It takes far too long to outline
my arguments, but see here. And this is just one bit, that dates back
over 50 years now, for it became the Dutch reality in 1965, precisely
100 years after the renewal of the pre-university school system of 1865:
From 1865 till 1965, to enter a Dutch univerity
required a HBS or a Gymnasium diploma, that stood for examinations in
three to five foreign languages (English, French, German,
Greek, Latin), mathematics, physics, chemistry, geography history etc.
all to a total of 14 or 16 subjects, nearly all of which were
examined in writing.
From 1965 onwards, to enter a Dutch univerity required a VWO diploma, that
stood for examinations in one foreign language (more were
allowed) and a few other examinations, but altogether one had to
qualify in 5 or 6 subjects, of which
at most three or four were examined in writing.
That has been the standard since 1965. It should
not be considered a miracle that around 2008 most who
went for an engineer diploma (that now takes three instead of six
years) had to take half a year of additional mathematics (within those
three years) to crack them up to the required minimum skills.
Incidentally: hardly any Dutchman discussed
these things, in the last 50 years. Apparently, the majority is much
rather stupid and uneducated than intelligent and educated.