from January 27, 2018.
This is a
Nederlog of Saturday,
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 27, 2018
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
1. Amazon Is a 21st-Century Digital Chain Gang
2. Dutch Spies Caught Russian Hacker Breaching Obama’s White
and Dem Party
3. Rethinking Cultural Attitudes Towards Sex and Violence
4. Not Even Orwell or Huxley Could Have Imagined
Posed by Facebook and Google
5. Tribal America
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:
Is a 21st-Century Digital Chain Gang
This article is by Marshall Auerbach on AlterNet. It starts as follows:
announced plans to locate a $5 billion, 50,000-employee complex as its
second headquarters somewhere in North America, state governments and
municipalities fell over themselves offering billions of dollars in tax
abatements and corporate subsidies to secure the prize. It might
behoove the remaining 20 cities that have made the final cut to heed
the warning from Virgil’s Aeneid: “I fear the Greeks, even when they
are bearing gifts.” Especially when the gifts come in the form of a
modern-day digital chain gang.
Yes indeed: quite
so. There is considerably more in the article - the above are
three paragraphs - and it is recommended.
Amazon likes to see itself as
a cutting-edge, 21st-century growth company, always working to expedite
delivery to its customers, whether by means of a drone, or eliminating
queueing and bagging at its newly acquired Whole Foods stores with a
new smartphone app. Beneath this high-tech sheen, however, the online
retailer and tech giant engages in labor practices that provoke
comparisons to a 19th-century sweatshop. The company routinely pays
wages barely above the poverty line, while using intrusive surveillance
systems to monitor the workforce, fence them in with elaborate rules,
set target times for their warehouse journeys, and then measure
whether targets were met. All of this information is made available to
management in real time, and if Amazon’s “employee-athletes” fall
behind schedule, they receive a Big Brother-like text
message pushing them to reach their targets or suffer
the consequences. Failure to do so is met with a “three strikes
and release” discipline system—being a euphemism for getting
In essence, you’ve got a
$550-billion-plus global conglomerate with virtually unchecked market
power and no sign that its legally advantageous position will be
challenged anytime soon via vigorous anti-trust enforcement—and
certainly no encouragement of unionization to combat its abusive and
intrusive work practices. Companies like Amazon have been aided and
abetted by a sequence of "pro-business" governments that for decades
introduced harsh industrial relations legislation to reduce the trade
unions’ ability to achieve wage gains for their members, while
lavishing billions in tax cuts and subsidies, which deprives the region
of vitally needed revenue for the provision of essential public
Spies Caught Russian Hacker Breaching Obama’s White House and Dem Party
This article is by Steven Rosenfeld on AlterNet. I am Dutch
(unfortunately), which is one reason to review this article. It starts
Dutch spies alerted their
American counterparts as early as 2014 about Russian hacking into State
Department and White House computers and subsequent Russian hacking of
the Democratic Party in the 2016 election, according to a series of
reports in Dutch media.
The joint investigation by de
Volkskrant newspaper and Nieuwsuur ("News
Hour"), a current-affairs television program, describe how Dutch
intelligence experts accessed the Russian hackers' computers and
cameras in hallways at a university in Moscow. The Dutch spies watched
a team of Russian hackers infiltrate the State Department, the White
House and the Democratic Party to pilfer emails and electronic
documents, including 2016 campaign emails later published by Wikileaks.
As I just said, I happen to
be Dutch and live in Holland since nearly 40 years (before that I lived
in Norway, where I should have stayed: my whole life
would have been quite different, and very probably a great
But I am Dutch, and I know
that the Dutch excel in precisely one thing: Lying. And
about the above
opening paragraphs I have two remarks:
First, there is no evidence
that indeed these were ¨Dutch
intelligence experts¨. They very
well may have been, but I distrust any message from what is
effectively the Dutch NSA. And I certainly want to see evidence.
And secondly: If this
happened around four years ago,
why does the non-secret
service part of the world have to wait between three and four years before
hearing anything whatsoever?!
I am merely asking.
more about what is supposed to have happened:
“In the summer of 2015,
Dutch intelligence services were the first to alert their American
counterparts about the cyber-intrusion of the Democratic National
Committee by Cozy Bear, a hacking group believed to be tied to the
Russian government,” Nieuwsuur’s
report began. “Intelligence hackers from Dutch AIVD (General
Intelligence and Security Service) had penetrated the Cozy Bear
computer servers as well as a security camera at the entrance of their
working space, located in a university building adjacent to the Red
Square in Moscow.”
“Over the course of a few
months, they saw how the Russians penetrated several U.S. institutions,
including the State Department, the White House, and the DNC. On all
these occasions, the Dutch alerted the U.S. intelligence services,
Dutch TV program Nieuwsuur and de Volkskrant, a
prominent newspaper in the Netherlands, jointly report on Thursday,” Nieuwsuur said.
“This account is based on interviews with a dozen political, diplomatic
and intelligence sources in the Netherlands and the U.S. with direct
knowledge of the matter. None of them wanted to speak on the record,
given the classified details of the matter.”
Incidentally, note that
the first paragraph states that the Dutch secret service spies are
doing precisely the same as they claim the Russian secret service spies
do (and I am quite willing to believe both are spying on
but not that the one´s spies are heroes and the other´s spies
As to the second
paragraph, note that the Dutch secret service spies alerted the
secret service spies about Russian hacking, it seems in 2014, 2015,
2016 and 2017 - but the Dutch secret service (paid from the Dutch
taxes) did not saying anything whatsoever in all these four
the Dutch or any other paper or media service.
Also, even now, after four
years of secret spying (that non-secret service members have
take on trust) absolutely no political figure, no secret services
no political figure and no diplomatic figure is willing to be named
again means that the secret services presumably know everything,
whereas the complete population knows nothing.
Here is some more
(again presented without any evidence):
The journalists also
offered new details about what information and communication channels
were accessed across the U.S. executive branch and Democratic Party.
The report also describes battles fought in cyberspace between Russian
hackers and western counter-espionage technologists, with attacks,
countermoves and continued assaults.
And there is this:
The FBI investigation into
Russian interference in the presidential election was taken over by
former FBI director Robert Mueller in 2017. The information provided by
the Dutch intelligence agencies to the U.S. spy agencies was the basis
for top federal officials to state with confidence in late 2016 that
Russia was behind the hacking.
The Dutch report raises new
questions about incompetence at the Democratic National Committee,
which needless to say, did not heed warnings about Russian hacking,
even though a Democratic administration had been successfully attacked.
I say, which I do because
being Dutch, I completely distrust
the Dutch secret services,
at least as regards any news about them that does not
come with convincing evidence. This is the case here: I do not
news is false, but I do regard it as mostly unproven.
Second, why was this news - supposing
it to be realistic - not made public by the end of 2016? The
question is quite relevant, because I have seen a lot of
which the Russians were accused of spying on the USA (which I have no
doubt they do: the question is about the specifics of
spying, and notably also about the
Democratic National Committee).
Anyway... here is the end of
In the meantime, it
appears that a leading Dutch TV program and newspaper have filled in
many blanks about what happened in the election. Their reports raise
new questions about why the federal government and the Democratic Party
lost the opening rounds in this century’s early cyber-wars.
Well... I agree with this
formulation and stress ¨appears¨: All of this may be
true, but I have not seen the least bit of evidence. And
am curious about are the ideas of the
We will probably hear more
about this in the next few days, and meanwhile this article is
Cultural Attitudes Towards Sex and Violence
This article is by Lawrence
Davidson (a historian) on Consortiumnews.
But I do skip the first five paragraphs, which are about Freud´s
ideas (between 1910 and 1930), which are complete nonsense
- and also great moral/ethical rot
- in my psychologist´s and philosopher´s eyes, and I also
start with saying that the title of the present article seems
to be nonsense:
¨Cultural Attitudes¨ are produced by many
millions or many tens of millions of human beings interacting, and not
by what someone may write in this or that that journal.
After Freud, the article opens as follows - o, and as I
also noticed above, the article is not
by a psychologist nor by
a philosopher, but by a historian, which I do add because the
information in this article is up to date to about 1920:
If one does not like
Freud’s ideas, the whole issue of the activation and control of
aggression and sex can be looked at in terms of
brain function. In other words, our brains have evolved to promote
survival and reproduction – originally in the pre-state, pre-tribal
primate bands of distant prehistory. These tasks involve multiple parts
of the cortex and amygdala, thalamus and hypothalamus, and so forth.
There is one area of the brain that is particularly important in
keeping instinct from running amok – the prefrontal cortex. Slow to
mature (it is not fully on-line until one’s mid-twenties) it is this
part of the brain that exercises “executive function.” It encourages
you “to do the right, though perhaps harder, thing.”
I do dislike
Freud´s ideas, and in fact think them total metaphysical
rot and bullshit
completely without any proof or evidence - and I
am a psychologist and a philosopher (academically also:
I did get the - excellent - degrees). Freud was a fraud, and if a
disagrees, too bad for his ignorance.
Here is more, and this is OK:
I do not quite agree
definition of ¨sexual harassment¨, among other things because
common definition of sexual harassment is as follows: “uninvited
and unwelcome verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature especially
by a person in authority toward a subordinate (such as an employee or
The legal definition in the U.S. pertains chiefly to the workplace,
where the unwelcome approach has the connotation of blackmail –
something like, “Do this with me or you won’t get promoted.” There are
also a myriad number of state and local laws that cover a wide range of
situations. Many of these have been on the books only since the 1960s
and, unfortunately, are not uniformly enforced.
I believe it also frequently happens by other persons
than those ¨in authority toward a
subordinate¨, but then again the
misdemeanors of persons
in authority often are serious, and precisely because they are
authority they also tend to be seriously underreported.
Indeed here is evidence:
It is hard to get exact
numbers unless you start adding up the results of hundreds of surveys
and polls that address the whole range of harassment-related
situations. And these only give you the approximate numbers of reported
magazine had a series of particularly scandalous
cases at Cornell and Harvard Universities in the late 1970s and early
1980s, and came up with an estimate that “as many as 18 million
American females were harassed sexually while at work in 1979 and 1980.”
If this estimate is
anywhere near accurate, the problem of sexual harassment has to be
huge. We know it can’t be just a U.S. problem. It has to be a worldwide
Yes, I agree with the
second paragraph and am quite willing to accept what was said in the
first paragraph - which comes down to (if somewhat sketchily
as): In the USA around 1980 (?!) there were some 3 million American
females who were harassed sexually - and I agree that is a ¨huge¨
There is also another
factor involved, that I have mentioned before in Nederlog, namely
that some sexual harassers - Harvey Weinstein is one
prominent example - do not seem to be moved so much by a
need for sex
(which people as rich as
he is can easily satisfy by renting prostitutes) as by a desire to
cause others (who are pretty defenseless) pain and misery:
There is a strong
component of sadism
involved in some, though indeed not in all, reports I
about ¨sexual harassment¨.
Then there is this by
the historian that wrote this article:
If in nothing else, Freud
was correct in seeing that culture is, albeit imperfectly, our only
plausible line of defense. It takes on this role by serving as a guide
for the prefrontal cortex – a guide to the “right, though harder, thing
to do.” The problem is that, to date, patriarchal cultures have not
defined the protection of the subordinate gender as a necessarily
“right” thing. They are more interested in directing male aggression
into pathways compatible with patriarchal power structures. In other
words, the guide is corrupt.
No, I am sorry: Davidson is
here mixing up what he kept apart at the beginning of
article, namely the nonsensical and false metaphysics of Freud
(fraudulence that he could sell successfully in the 1920ies as
¨psychiatry¨) and the - possibly true and at any rate
- theories about sexuality from others (which there also were, if
less prominent than Freud´s theories, certainly until well into the
Also, the problem is not
¨that, to date, patriarchal
cultures have not defined the protection of the subordinate gender as a
necessarily “right” thing¨; the
problems are diverse abuses of the law
- for this manner of abuse is
legally forbidden, but indeed circling around it, especially by rich
figures of authority, was quite easy.
Here is the end of the
As I have
said already, I do not believe in the conscious attempts to
¨develop better (..) cultural ways to manage them¨, but I would
appreciate it if more harassing males, especially the rich and
evidently sadistic ones, would be prosecuted and punished by the law.
Now that the sexual
harassment genie seems to have escaped the bottle, we can see the
problem more clearly. It’s time to pursue serious culture renovation –
to take on those primitive instincts and thoughtfully develop better,
non-doctrinaire cultural ways to manage them. One thing is for sure,
they are not going to go away on their own.
Even Orwell or Huxley Could Have Imagined 'Totalitarian' Threat Posed by
Facebook and Google
This article is by Jake Johnson on Common Dreams. I have abbreviated
the long title a little, and the article starts as follows:
In addition to
warning that U.S. President Donald Trump represents an immense "danger"
to civilization, billionaire George Soros used the spotlight of the
World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Thursday to urge
the international community to take seriously the threats posed by
Facebook and Google, which he said could ultimately spawn "a web of
totalitarian control" if they are not reined in.
Soros said, is the prospect of Facebook and Google—which he scathingly
deemed a "menace" to society—teaming up with "authoritarian states" to
"bring together nascent systems of corporate surveillance with an
already developed system of state-sponsored surveillance."
Such "unholy marriages"
could result in a strain of authoritarianism "the likes of which not
even Aldous Huxley or George Orwell could have imagined," the
billionaire investor cautioned.
Yes indeed: I quite
agree with George
Soros (who seems to be one of the few decent billionaires: he did
e.g. donate $18 billion dollars to the Open Society Foundations).
Here is some more on Soros´s
Soros went on to compare
the tech giants' impact on the internet—and social media in
particular—to the effects of fossil fuel giants on the environment.
"Mining and oil companies
exploit the physical environment; social media companies exploit the
social environment," Soros said, warning that the days of internet
monopolies like Facebook and Google "are numbered."
"They claim they are merely
distributing information," Soros added of the tech giants that are frequently
denounced by critics of corporate power for abusing
their market dominance. "But the fact that they are near-monopoly
distributors makes them public utilities and should subject them to
more stringent regulations, aimed at preserving competition,
innovation, and fair and open universal access."
Yes, again I completely
agree - and at least Facebook is not
information¨: Firstly, it steals your privacies,
and secondly it distributes advertisements
to members who may be abled thereby to save a few cents themselves.
Here is the last bit
that I quote from this article:
If tech companies are
permitted to retain overwhelming control over information,
"far-reaching adverse consequences on the functioning of democracy"
could result, Soros concluded.
"The power to shape
people's attention is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few
companies," Soros said. "It takes a real effort to assert and defend
what John Stuart Mill called 'the freedom of mind.' There is a
possibility that once lost, people who grow up in the digital age will
have difficulty in regaining it."
Below is a short clip of
Soros's speech. Read
his full remarks here.
Yes indeed - and I
expect full neofascism
in the West, if the present political, economical and financial
developments that have been going on since 1980 (by Reagan and
Thatcher) are continued:
All power will
be in the hands of the very, very few, who will abuse it, as
Amazon does, to make themselves as rich as possible, by making almost
everybody else as poor as possible (for that is the lesson of some 2500
years of human history).
This article is by John Atcheson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
I agree with the second
paragraph and indeed also wonder what ¨tribalism¨ means for in
fact I hardly saw it used before. Well... there is the
Wikipedia, and this is from the item on tribalism, that is written in a
truly execrable style:
politicians, and columnists are attributing America’s ills to
tribalism. Google “tribal politics” and you’ll get pages of articles
detailing how tribalism is turning us against one another or showing
just how divided we are, most of them written within the last
year. It’s become the go-to explanation for what’s wrong with us
as a country.
Problem is, it really doesn’t
the state of being organized in or an advocate for a tribe or
tribes. In terms of conformity, tribalism may also refer in popular
cultural terms to a way of thinking or behaving in which people are
loyal to their own tribe or social group.
If this is what
¨tribalism¨ means, there is no tribalism in the West,
since there are no tribes in the West, where there also
were no tribes since the year 1000 AD (at the latest).
Ontologically, tribalism is
oriented around the valences of analogy, genealogy and mythology.
And since I am a philosopher and psychologist who has been
reading and thinking for over 50 years now, I think ¨tribalism¨ as
applied to the West is simply euphemistic bullshit.
Finally, although I am a philosopher, I do not know what the second
paragraph even could possibly mean (but I suspect it is total trash).
Then again, there is something in it which does make
sense to me, that
I isolate from the abpve as follows:
In terms of conformity
(..) [this refers to] ¨a way of
thinking or behaving in which people are loyal to their own (..) social
For I clearly agree there are
and in fact I define them as follows, with the following
Group in society: Human society is
composed of groups i.e. collections of people that know each other personally, and
that play roles
in that society.
Indeed, "society" is an
term, and such society as humans know in their own experience is
made up of face-groups.
Also, it is noteworthy that there is little human awareness about their
own mammalian and apish nature, although there is both amusing and
bitter evidence about this gathered by e.g. Stanley Milgram and Desmond
Morris. Some relevant points are
In fact - as the discerning
reader will see - my definition of ¨group¨
(which incidentally stresses an aspect that is often missed,
namely that real groups are face
groups) is mostly
defined in terms of various kinds of conformism,
for at least the first five points in the above definition do
refer to various aspects of conformism.
Here is some more by Atcheson
The standard answer to the
question of modern tribalism is that we all move around in media
bubbles of our own choosing which reinforce our biases, prejudices, and
beliefs. This, in turn, is attributed to technology – the rise of
cable news shows and the advent of the Internet and social media, both
of which enable the formation of salons of the ignorant – and it’s
always the “others” who comprise the stupid.
And while there’s some
truth to this, our fractured media landscape is as much a result of
tribalism as it is a cause of it. The reality is, the reason the
Internet and new media tilted toward tribalism is that the oligarchy in
America launched a coup in the 70’s, designed to convince Americans
that government was the cause of all that ailed us; the free market the
solution. They did this so they could eliminate any constraints
on their wholesale theft of our wealth and our freedoms.
in the West is just bullshit.
What is true is very much rather this:
the rise of
cable news shows and the advent of the Internet and social media, both
of which enable the formation of salons of the ignorant – and it’s
always the “others” who comprise the stupid.
But this is not
tribalism (which also presupposes a culture and beliefs) but it is the
formation of strata  of ¨the ignorant¨
and ¨the stupid¨,
themselves or are formed on the internet.
Incidentally, I have
two academic degrees; I had an IQ over 150 when I was 28; and while I
think that neither of this is proof that I am
more intelligent than
most (the average IQ is 100; half of mankind has an IQ that is less
than 100), it is strong evidence that I am, indeed because all
criterions are formulated in terms of intelligence, and intelligence
like length, beauty and strength - are quite unequally
spread over all
the human individuals there are.
Finally, I am - to my
considerable knowledge - the only one who consistently has
about the very widespread lacks of knowledge
many, and I think this enormous lack in speaking of the facts happens
because the majorities are stupid and are ignorant but do
not wish to
see this discussed.
Here is more - and this
is also much better, and indeed much more realistic,
than the tribal
nonsense the article started with:
Yes indeed. I would have
this a bit differently, but this corresponds to what happened on the
To this end, they launched
a well-funded campaign designed to convert the people’s belief in a
commonweal – a “we the people” -- into a host of “thems,” each intent
on taking the other’s money, rights, freedoms etc. It was a classic
divide and conquer strategy intended to distract us, to set us against
each other, and split up any group with a critical mass capable of
confronting the coup.
As the oligarchs were
launching a rhetorical campaign designed to foster this fracturing of
the people – featuring the likes of Ronnie “government is the problem”
Reagan -- they also sought to eviscerate any
regulations designed to assure that media ownership was diverse, and
that news was fair, accurate, and truthful.
Here is some more, with the same remarks, that mentions i.a. the very
were popular because they were associated with ¨freedom¨, while
few saw that the only
freedoms that were served were the freedoms of
the rich to
further exploit and lie to the non-rich by ¨deregulating¨ the laws
that protected the many):
With deregulation, the
barriers and costs of entry into the news market, together with the
long tail economics of niche marketing, created an ever-increasing
demand for news shows targeted at specific audiences. The result was a
fractured media that operated 24-7, with a huge appetite for stories
and an addiction to sensationalism, controversy, and all too often,
Prior to the coup, an
individual media market had to have diversity in ownership; owners had
to present opposing viewpoints; and there were consequences and
accountability built into the system. Thus, the kind of
misinforming media monocultures that operate today could not exist.
And indeed they could not
exist by law. What the deregulations did was to destroy the laws that
protected everyone from the depradations of the rich.
This article ends as follows:
but the rest is mostly correct, and Atcheson is also right that
¨no such Party exists¨,
for Hillary and Bill
Clinton, Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and in fact nearly all of te
leaders of the Democratic Party have changed the Democratic
another party of, for and by the rich, at least as far as its
leadership is concerned.
But tribalism is a
symptom. The real problem is there’s been a coup, and America is
now a wholly-owned subsidiary of corporations and the ultra-rich.
The lesson from Virginia –
a southern state – is that progressive candidates can and will win
elections because they will get the new progressive silent majority
back into the voting booths. All we need is a political Party
that truly embraces progressive values.
Sadly, with ten months to
go until the mid-term elections, no such Party exists.
And this is a recommended article.