from January 24, 2018.
This is a
Nederlog of Wednesday,
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 24, 2018
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
1. A Billionaire Keeps Pushing to Impeach Trump. Democrats
2. Inequality, Revolution, and Drones That Kill
3. Amazon, City Killer?
4. Poll: 60 Percent of Americans Don't Trust Trump With His
5. Facebook’s Fake News Fix
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:
1. A Billionaire Keeps Pushing to Impeach
Trump. Democrats Are Rattled.
This article is by Alexander Burns on The New York Times. It starts as
leaders have pressed one of their most prolific donors privately,
urging him to tone down his campaign calling for President Trump’s
impeachment. They have prodded him in public, declaring on television
that they consider impeachment an impractical idea. And party
strategists have pleaded with Democratic candidates for Congress not to
But that donor,
Tom Steyer, a California billionaire, has only intensified his attacks
in recent weeks. Buoyed by tens of millions of dollars in television
commercials — financed out of his own pocket and starring him — Mr.
Steyer has become one of Mr. Trump’s most visible antagonists, firing
up angry Democrats and unnerving his own party with the ferocity of his
I did not
know this, but on reading this I sympathize with Steyer. Here
are some of my reasons:
think the Democrats are mostly corrupted by their lobbyists and by the millions
the banks pay to corruptible Democratic leaders like Hillary Clinton.
You may disagree, but there
are now ten years of crisis logs (!!), and I think the case has
made there sufficiently well: There are a few Democrats I trust
Elizabeth Warren, for example - but most I simply cannot trust, not
because I know specifically they are corrupt, but because I
do not know specifically they are not corrupt.
while I tend to agree with Democrats who say that in the present
circumstances - the Republicans have the majorities in the Senate and
the House - the chances on the success of an impeachment procedure are
fairly small, I also think that (i) judicial success is different
from political success, and (ii) Steyer is a billionaire who can
afford some money.
strongly agree with Steyer: I am a psychologist who agrees with
70,000 other psychologists and psychiatrists that Trump is not sane (and
I disagree with the 1 psychiatrist
whose case for Trump is inconsisent), and I think everything
that is reasonably possible should be done to remove his finger
from the nuclear trigger - and also see item 4
think these are good points that support Steyer´s position, even if his
chances of impeaching Trump are less than 1/2: What you risk if Steyer
does not succeed is being blown up in a nuclear war that is
triggered by a madman.
more on Steyer´s point of view:
Mr. Steyer is
likely to unsettle national Democrats further in the coming weeks, with
a new phase of his campaign aimed at pushing lawmakers in solidly
liberal seats to endorse impeachment. Having collected more than four
million email addresses from people who signed an impeachment petition,
Mr. Steyer has begun prodding those voters to call congressional
offices and lobby them for support.
interview, Mr. Steyer was dismissive of party leaders’ reservations
about making impeachment an issue in 2018. He described Mr. Trump as
lawless and unfit for office; acknowledging the practical obstacles to
impeachment, he said raising a popular outcry was a necessary first
“We’re just telling the truth to the American people, and
it’s an important truth,” Mr. Steyer said of his campaign. “And if you
don’t think it’s politically convenient for you, that’s too bad.”
I agree with Steyer: Trump is ¨lawless and unfit for office¨; there are ¨practical obstacles to impeachment¨; he is ¨telling the truth to the American people, and
it’s an important truth¨
and also as I said above, political success and judicial success are
two different kinds of things, and Steyer has the money to at
least try for judicial success.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
I am somewhat sympathetic
to the argument that this year ¨there is no realistic chance of impeaching Mr. Trump while
Republicans control Congress¨,
but I dislike the strategic convenience the Democrats make out of this.
While Democrats intend to run on a fiercely anti-Trump
message this year, party leaders envision a campaign of broad attacks
on the president’s economic agenda rather than a blunt-force
impeachment pledge. There is no realistic chance of impeaching Mr.
Trump while Republicans control Congress, and Democrats from moderate
and conservative districts fear the idea could alienate voters
otherwise likely to vote their way in November.
For let us assume that chance is p and p is considerably smaller than
1/2 - and this what the Democrats say. What they forget to add
there is a chance q - that may also be smaller than 1/2 but that is
very difficult to measure - that Trump may proceed to blow up the whole
world with nuclear arms.
So what you should measure is: ¨impeaching Mr. Trump while Republicans
control Congress¨ (p) vs. ¨being blown up by Mr. Trump while the
Democrats are busy not alienating voters who might vote for them¨ (q).
And my own view is that I support Steyer, especially as he pays
for himself and his plans. There is considerably more in this article, that is
Revolution, and Drones That Kill
article is by Paul Buchheit on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
Americans were oppressed in the 18th century, they knew where the
plutocrats lived, and they didn't have military-style police forces
holding them back. The Stamp Act drove the New York masses to ransack the
houses of Governor Cadwallader Colden and the British major who was
pointing army artillery toward the local town. Another mob looted the
house of pro-English aristocrat Thomas Hutchinson, carrying away his
fine furnishings and emptying his wine cellar in part of what the
British called a "war of plunder" to take away the "distinction of rich
I say - and I admit that I
have also thought about the dangers of drones and of AI, but I
have considerable problems in doing so, because (i) I am a psychologist
who doesn´t believe that
That doesn't happen today.
The super-rich are safely ensconced in
their gated estates with private security forces and 9-foot walls and
surveillance systems and sniper posts. But now they have good reason to
fear the future. We all do. The too-rapid evolution of intelligent
machines, with the ability to make decisions that can impact human
life, is bringing us closer to a man-made epidemic that we won't be
able to control. As armed drones become tinier and cheaper and smarter
and more readily accessible, they could launch the modern revolution of
the undervalued human being.
human beings are computers, but who agrees computers are much
faster reckoners and have virtually infinite memories; because (ii)
while I can program fairly well in several languages, I have not
followed most of AI the last 20 years; and also because (iii) I do not
like to worry about things or events that are quite uncertain, and the
development of both AI and drones (and how (flying) drones are
legalized) are both rather uncertain and rather unclear, at least in my
Here is the type of development Paul Buchheit is considering:
won't be advancing on the well-secured houses of the rich and powerful.
Instead, artificial intelligence (AI) may take the place of axes and
torches. In a terror-filled scenario for the future, a tiny gnat-like
micro-robotic creature, armed with a lethal explosive charge or an
injectable poison, and programmed with facial recognition software that
targets a single individual (even in disguise), may be released in the
vicinity of that person and instructed to wait patiently, perhaps
indefinitely if solar-charged, and to surreptitiously sweep in to the
target's head to complete its deadly mission. Silent and unseen,
unidentifiable and untraceable, it hurries away to self-destruct in the
final act of a perfect crime.
I grant that is all possible
in the future, but I think none of it - nano-technology + drones + AI -
is capable of it now (and while my knowledge of AI and technology is
limited, it is better than that of most others).
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
Mention of such killer
drones can elicit responses of disbelief or ridicule. But
Technology, as we all know, moves faster than expected, each day
creating new apps and concepts that hadn't been imagined just months
before. The specifications for these drones are all available -- or
soon to be available -- to any skilled tech enthusiast. And to anyone
with deadly intentions.
Well... I grant I am not
an expert on AI, drones or nano-technology, but I know sufficiently
much of programming and of AI to say that currently these are
mere dreams of possibilities that - at least - cannot be realized at
Experts are divided on
So I leave this alone at present, but this is a recommended article.
This article is by Gabrielle Gurley on AlterNet and originally on The
American Prospect. It starts as follows:
Trying to figure out where
Amazon will set down roots or, depending on your perspective, spread
its tentacles, is the newest capitalistic cage match. Nineteen American
cities and one Canadian metro area, down from the original 238, now go
into overdrive to secure what promises to one of the most
transformative economic decisions in the world: a single $5 billion
investment in a second headquarters that brings 50,000 high-tech
workers and their families, plus thousands more jobs in associated
This competition spurred
the type of collaboration between private sector and political leaders
that only develops when a trophy like an Amazon comes into view,
according to Susan Wachter, a University of Pennsylvania Wharton School
professor of real estate and finance and co-director of Penn Institute
for Urban Research, which assembled a group of urban experts to weigh
in on the Amazon competition.
I very much
dislike Amazon (and Facebook and Google and Apple and Microsoft and
and one of my main reasons is that I think that the growths of
each of these show the growth of neofascism:
Neofascism is a. A social system that is
marked by a government with a centralized powerful authority, where
the opposition is propagandized and suppressed or censored, that
propounds an ethics which has profit as
its main norm, and that has a politics that is rightwing, nationalistic, pro-capitalist,
anti-liberal, anti-equality, and anti-leftist,
and that has a corporative
organization of the economy in which multi-national corporations are
stronger than a national government or state, b. A political philosophy or
movement based on or advocating such a social system.
these enormous multi-national corporations are forms of
neofascism, simply because thet are now ¨stronger
than a national government or state¨ and also richer, and can
dictate their desires to national governments or states (especially
- at present - the smaller ones), and can do so simply by dangling
their turnover and their riches in front of politician´s eyes.
And this is just a single example of the neofascism of
multi-national corporations - and I also like to point out that the
above definition of the term ¨neofascism¨ has the possibly somewhat
interesting property that it fully suits president Trump.
Here is some more on
I guess that is correct.
There is considerably more in this article, that is recommended.
Amazon has turned Seattle,
its current headquarters, into a 21st-century exemplar of income
inequality. Living in the Pacific Northwest’s largest city is a
beautiful thing for a worker with the skill set to slip effortlessly
into a high-tech job. For everyone else, Seattle now features all the
disturbing traits of any place that rewards knowledge workers at the
top of the food chain and flushes away just about everyone else: from
astronomical housing costs that have long since displaced middle- and
lower- income people to punishing commutes for everyone who has to move
in and out of the city.
60 Percent of Americans Don't Trust Trump With His Big Nuclear Button
This article is by Jon Queally on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
Sixty percent of Americans
do not trust President Donald Trump with his authority over the
nation's nuclear arsenal—the world's largest and most
sophisticated—and, according to the new ABC
News/Wall Street Journal poll out Tuesday, more than half worry he
might order a nuclear strike "without justification."
As ABC reports:
"Distrust fuels anxiety of a baseless attack. Among those who don't
trust Trump with the nuclear button, 88 percent are concerned the
president might spark a nuclear attack without justification, and 55
percent are "very" concerned about it. Those translate to 52 and 33
percent of all adults, respectively."
I say, which I do
because I did not know this and I think these results are quite good:
I think that if 60% of the Americans do not trust Trump
with the nuclear arsenal, while over 50% think he might start ¨a nuclear strike "without justification"¨ is quite good and better than
I expected - and yes, I agree with both the distrust and with
the possibility of a strike without justification.
Here is something about
the reliability of this poll (which is a
That seems also quite
good, and a sample of over a 1000 adults is quite fair. And this is a
The new poll out Tuesday
surveyed a national sample of 1,005 adults and was conducted in both
English and Spanish by landline and cell phone last week betwee January
15 and 18, 2018. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points.
Fake News Fix
This article is by Sue Halpern on The New York Books Review. It starts
founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg shared with his (then) 101,545,240
followers that his New Year’s resolution for 2018 was “to fix”
Facebook, one might have asked, “Fix it for whom?” It is a question
with a number of possible answers: for its shareholders, who saw growth level off in the last
year and young people turning to other
social media platforms; for its users, who saw their personal
information appropriated by political operatives and sometimes used
against them in insidious ways; or for the public more generally, which
is living with the consequences of that appropriation and with the
proliferation of propaganda, camouflaged as legitimate news, not only
in the United States, but in countries such as Burma and South Sudan, where
Facebook-generated “fake news” has been used to instigate ethnic
Yes indeed, that is a good
and sensible question. But the answer should be obvious, simply from
generalizing on what you know of private corporations and rich men: Facebook
works and changes for Mark Zuckerberg, for Facebook´s other rich men,
and for Facebook´s shareholders, and it does so completely in
accord with Milton Friedman´s thesis
that (rich) businessmen are completely
irresponsible, except in trying to make the biggest profits for
themselves. Here is Friedman (from 1962):
"Few trends could so
thoroughly undermine the very foundation of our free society as the
acceptance by corporate officials of a social responsibility other than
to make as much money for their stockholders as possible. This is a
fundamentally subversive doctrine. If businessmen do have a social
responsibility other than making maximum profits for stockholders, how
are they to know what it is? Can self-selected private individuals
decide what the social interest is?"
I think that also
applies to Facebook. This is how Facebook works - which I
repeat here because I do not do and never did
The Facebook news
feed is not, as its name suggests, a compendium of topical stories from
various news media. Rather, it is a collection of posts from one’s
Facebook “friends,” from sites one has actively “liked,” from
third-party sites that Facebook believes you’re interested in based on
your previous online behavior, and from advertisers who have put you
into a category that, theoretically, makes you predisposed toward
buying what they are selling. None of this is random. Everything that
appears in the news feed is there because Facebook’s proprietary
algorithm has put it there. That algorithm sorts through and analyzes
masses of digital signals, deciding which of your friends’ posts you’d
most like to see and which silly cat videos and other material from
greater Facebook will grab your attention. It then serves these up
along with a slew of paid advertisements, delivering to two billion
people a never-ending supply of individualized, targeted content.
For me, this means
that the regular users of Facebook simply refuse to think: They
leave what they come to see to the programs of those who earn billions
from them and the other two billion members from Facebook.
Here is some more on the ¨fixes¨ of Facebook:
Then, a week later,
Mark Zuckerberg announced a further fix, this one an attempt to limit
the amount of “fake news”: Facebook will survey its users, asking them
to rank the “trustworthiness” of various news sources. Those with
higher rankings will get priority in the news feed, while those with
lower scores, presumably, will be shut out. As a consequence, Zuckerberg said, the amount of news
on Facebook will decline by 20 percent.
There is no way to know, yet, if outsourcing discernment—if that’s what
polling a random collection of two billion people is—will cut down on
the amount of propaganda, lying, and deception on Facebook, or if such
a survey will simply replicate existing ideological divisions. But it
is also unclear where the more than 50 percent of Facebook users who
get their news from the site will get it now, if anywhere, since there
will be so much less of it.
Actually, I trust anything
said by Facebook or Zuckerberg (who screwed 70 billion for himself from
those he misled to be the members of Facebook) less than Sue Halpern may
do (but I don´t know), so I take only one item as credible in
the above: There will be - for the moment, till the next fix, although
that one may, of course, be kept secret - less news shown on
Here is the last bit I quote from this article, that is on how Facebook
In the meantime, all
this personal content, including our journalism preferences, may have
another effect, that of delivering more of ourselves—our interests,
desires, movements, passions, and emotions—to Facebook and the data
brokers that, in turn, sell it to governments, credit agencies,
political operatives, and marketers.
Yes indeed: Facebook
is the largest advertiser in the world that sells advertisements and
propaganda to its users to make as much money out of its users as it can.
And about those marketers: missing from Facebook’s “fix” is any mention
of advertising. This is a fundamental omission, given that Facebook,
despite its founder’s insistence that his company exists to connect the
people of the world, does not just happen to run a side-hustle selling
things to fund his humanitarian project, but, rather, is the second largest advertising platform
on the planet. All of the connecting that is done
there is done in the service of all its advertising, since Facebook
users are both the customer (who buys things) and the product (who
provides the raw data that enables advertisers to target users with
such precision). That is the real genius of Facebook, and why the
company is so valuable.
This is a recommended article, in which there is considerably more than
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 (!!).