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Nederlog

January 29, 2015
Crisis: Canada, The Guardian's "Improvement", Syriza, Capitalism, M.E. exists (?!)
  "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
 
   -- Benjamin Franklin
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
"
   -- I.F. Stone
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton
















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Sections
Introduction

1. Revealed: Canadian Spy Program Illustrates "Giant
     X-Ray Machine Over All Our Digital Lives"

2. Welcome to the new Guardian website
3.
A 21st Century Left Rises: Syriza’s Victory and Its
     Relevance for the U.S. and the World

4. 
Can Capitalism Save Itself?
5.
PACE trial's Prof Peter White: Exercise (..) is NOT safe 


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, January 29, 2015.

This is a crisis log. There are 5 items with 8 dotted links: Item 1 is on a Canadian spying program that checks everyone's downloads; item 2 is on the most crazy and ugly change I have seen in a looooong time; item 3 is on Syriza's victory, and is good though a bit too optimistic; item 4 asks a good question and ends in a decent diagnosis of postmodern capitalism; and item 5 is not about the crisis but about M.E. and shows the baffling picture of a man who has said since 1988 (I think) everyone with M.E. is crazy and should see a psychiatrist (like him) who now says people with M.E. have all sorts of odd changes in their blood that may well explain why - after all - they are not benefitted by exercise (but may be quite seriously harmed by it). (I say!)

Also, this got uploaded a bit later than is usual, mostly because of the Vast Improval (suggests Wolfgang Blau, who made it, so it must be true) in The Guardian's website (that in my experience went from excellent to utter shit -
but then who am I, whose last name is not Blau and who doesn't even work for The Guardian).

1. Revealed: Canadian Spy Program Illustrates "Giant X-Ray Machine Over All Our Digital Lives"   

The first item today is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

Newly released documents contained in the archive of materials leaked to journalists by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals that Canada's spy agency, the Communications Security Establishment, has been operating a covert, mass surveillance program designed to monitor the downloads of millions of Internet users around the world.

Reported jointly by The Intercept and the CBC on Wednesday, the revelations center on a slide presentation detailing a CSE program called LEVITATION which secretly "taps into Internet cables and analyzes records of up to 15 million downloads daily from popular websites commonly used to share videos, photographs, music, and other files."

To start with, here is also the link to The Intercept's piece, by Ryan Gallagher and Glenn Greenwald:
Next, here is the CBC quoted, that described what is being done:

The presentation provides a rare glimpse into Canada's cyber-sleuthing capabilities and its use of its spy partners' immense databases to track the online traffic of millions of people around the world, including Canadians.

That glimpse may be of even greater interest now that the Harper government plans to introduce new legislation increasing the powers of Canada's security agencies

Though Canada’s always been described as a junior partner in the Five Eyes spying partnership, which includes the U.S., Britain, New Zealand and Australia, this document shows it led the way in developing this new extremist-tracking tool.

Why are the Canadians spying on the down- and uploading of files by anyone anywhere? This is Gallagher and Greenwald's answer:

The ostensible aim of the surveillance is to sift through vast amounts of data to identify people uploading or downloading content that could be connected to terrorism – such as bomb-making guides and hostage videos.

In the process, however, CSE combs through huge volumes of data showing uploads and downloads initiated by Internet users not suspected of any wrongdoing.
(...)
CSE finds some 350 “interesting” downloads each month, the presentation notes, a number that amounts to less than 0.0001 per cent of the total collected data.

In fact, I think the Canadians are spying on everyone because they want the total control of everyone, and especially of everyone who stands out for independent
individual thinking (for these are very close to terrorists, don'cha know: they don't accept Our Governments sayings automatically and uncritically. Pfui!).


2.  Welcome to the new Guardian website

The next item is an article by Wolfgang Blau on The Guardian:
Hi Wolfie,

This may be a bit hard to take for you, so let me introduce myself: I am a 64 year old Dutch psychologist and philosopher who has been using computers daily since 1987; who can program in six languages; who has his own website since 1996; and who has an IQ over 150, although both that and my truly excellent degrees (I also have a very fine B.A. in philosophy) were almost totally useless since I am also physically ill since 1.1.1979 - and I say "almost" because it's true a bright mind helps one, but it did not bring me any money.

Also, I am on GNU/Linux/Ubuntu, with the very latest version of the operating system and with the very latest version of Firefox, that displays all sites other than The Guardian really well.

You - I have not the slightest idea who you are, except that you have a fully German name - may know the German term "Verschlimmbesserung" =
"improdestruction" or also: "to make something much worse by "improving" it".

But this is just a guess, that you know German. You start your story about your Glorious Renewal of The Guardian's website as follows - and I show this just like you showed it to me (after the
Glorious Renewal took place):

The Guardian has a history stretching back almost 200 years of creating world-class journalism. In more recent times, the Guardian has also become one of the world’s most influential news organisations with newsrooms in the UK, the US and Australia.

That is, it gets displayed in the most standard ugly letter there is - Times Roman - which is not really fit for modern graphical screens (though fine on paper, and also the default font on computers since the 1980ies), and which was not used on The Guardian's hitherto excellent website (that is: before you "improved" it).

Oh no: Sorry! You must also be the guy who did this four times previously the last month (nearly all pictures disappear; the whole site gets into Times Roman, and nothing can be found anymore without great trouble), and who kept this going for around 1 1/2 days each time, all without the slightest explanation that I could find.

In fact, here is a - small - blog I wrote about it: On The Guardian's website (from December 22, last year). Since then, this happened three or four more times.

As to the "almost
200 years of world-class journalism": Do you have any idea about The Guardian's "world class journalism" of 1830 or so? Or of - say - 1884? I don't, but OK - we move to "more recent times", and in fact immediately to modern times:

The Guardian has reached more than 110 million unique browsers worldwide in a month, while our readership in the UK also continues to grow. On any given day, Guardian readers are using thousands of different types of devices to read, view, discuss and share our journalism with each other. The amount of device types on which you can access the Guardian will only continue to increase so we want to make sure that we always provide you with a consistent, fast-loading, familiar and pleasurable experience, whatever your screen size.

I see. That is why everything now gets reduced to Times Roman, right? And that must be also why you removed nearly all photos, didn't you? To make it easier for the user, just as Windows 8 made it "easier for the user" (who has an IQ of 100, on average), right?

But I am sorry: The "experience" you provided me with was neither consistent nor "familiar" nor "pleasurable": What I get is this - and o, look at that marvellous red and that amazing near black! So exciting:


click the image to enlarge so you may be enjoyed even more....

This is definitely *** The Full Windows 8 Browsing Experience! ***.

The Guardian's site was for the last 1 1/2 years the best site of any paper I knew (quite a few): Clear, easy to use, with many pictures, and with texts in decent fonts - but now it has been **Improved** to Times Roman font allover, and hardly any pictures in the listings (see above, to fondly enjoy).

Also, I can't find anything anymore. You continue:

Today we are launching a new site which has been built and designed from the ground up by the Guardian’s in-house team of designers, journalists, user-experience architects, product managers, developers and software engineers.

Really now?! You want to share the blame with an "in-house team of designers, journalists, user-experience architects, product managers, developers and software engineers"?! How nice of you!

The new Guardian site presents you with a more compact view of the news agenda as it changes throughout the day and night. The new design will also give you more visual clues about each story’s relative importance and its editorial tone, whether it is a breaking news story or a live blog, a piece of analysis, a piece of opinion, a feature or a review.

Umm...no. You may think what you please, but what I see is the above:

Everything got reduced to the simplest, ugliest, default font; I do not get any
"visual clues": I have to read everything (but OK.... you may well mean that: a **visual** clue = reading text in Times Roman, that very exciting font); I cannot find anything; and I am definitely not interested in your views "
about each story’s relative importance and its editorial tone", thank you very much: I still can make up my own mind (but yes, for the IQs of 75 or so, this may be quite helpful).

Altogether, on a scale of 1 to 10, you have changed a website worth a 9 1/2 to one that fully deserves a 1: The Blauified Guardian, A Complete Visual Horror Show. ("Developed" - in a mere 1 1/2 years - from an excellent site, now dead.)

If this is what you have to offer - which seems to be the case: Everything else on my computer works quite well - in terms of *** Improving Our Hitherto Vastly And Deservedly Very Popular Site *** you made my life a lot easier:

The Guardian has been Blauified; has changed its hitherto excellent website in one full swoop to *** A Complete Windows 8 Horror Show In Times Roman *** without any clue; but yes, it now also shows half length large pictures of its journalists (as if that serves any purpose except their vanity) next to their pieces (and I reproduce these pictures a bit smaller here):



I think I will use this Blauified Horror Show In Times Roman a whole lot less:

And I am very sorry indeed, but this is the greatest Verschlimmbesserung - improdestruction - I have ever seen: From excellent to utterly idiotic (in Times Roman) in one big jump.

Thank you, Wolfie! Well done, for a man with your undoubted capacities and knowledge! [1]

3. A 21st Century Left Rises: Syriza’s Victory and Its Relevance for the U.S. and the World

The next item is an article by Alan Minsky on Truthdfig:
This consists of three pages (on Truthdig), of which the first page contains this:
Syriza’s triumph throws into clear relief the most important political issue of our time. Is it possible for a left political formation to challenge, win victories against and ultimately overthrow the dominant economic and political paradigm of the past four decades? To be clear, I’m referring to the Reagan/Thatcher/Clinton/Blair neoliberal order, aka contemporary globalized capitalism.
Yes, indeed - they are basically variants of the same underlying motives, and indeed you may add Bush Jr and Obama as well.

Next, here is a bit of explanation:

All of us, everyone in the world today, have been living through a three-decade-long counterreaction to a historical arc with its roots in the European revolutions that began in the late 17th century. Viewed from this broad perspective, the major societies of Europe and what we know as the “West” have generally evolved from autocratic feudal regimes in which very few people held economic and political power toward greater democratization (keeping in mind, of course, their brutal, and anything but egalitarian colonial projects). In other words, in Europe, the USA and Japan wealth became more equitably distributed over time and more people participated in deciding how society was run.

This progressive arc continued, in fits and starts, up through the 1970s (...)

Then came Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Milton Friedman and friends.

For the past three and a half decades, the left in the Northern Hemisphere has failed utterly at presenting a vision of a more progressive and equitable society that could garner enough support to counter the neoliberal behemoth that has been rolling back the
gains of the past few centuries.
Yes, indeed - except that "the left" is mostly dead, killed as it was by Clinton, Blair, Kok and others, who saw their ways to riches and who gained these.

Instead, what we have is "neoliberalism", as it is called:

(...) neoliberalism has turned back the tide, and we now live in a society once again dominated by an extremely small elite who have astronomical wealth and a monopoly on political power. The masses work longer for less and are expected to accept their near-absolute disenfranchisement. To make matters worse, this reactionary order dominates a now-globalized economy.
Indeed, but "neoliberalism" holds almost every politician in its grip, and indeed has been much helped to power by former leftists, who kept speaking as if they are leftists, but who do all the things necessary to help the bankmanagers. One model is called Obama.

Anyway... there are two more pages, and the article is decent, except that it seems to me to be a bit too optimistic.

4. Can Capitalism Save Itself?

The next item is an article by Gary Olson on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

Today's pop quiz involves oxymorons, those often amusing contradictory two-word expressions like jumbo shrimp, amicable divorce and Fox News. Okay, which of the following oxymorons have gained favor within the higher ranks of finance and politics: a.) Moderated democracy b.) Humanitarian intervention c.) Benevolent despot d.) Inclusive capitalism e.) Compassionate conservatism. If you guessed d.) Inclusive capitalism, you're correct.

Sadly, the laugh out loud, beyond satire nature of this new buzz phrase is totally lost on those disseminating it with a straight face. This was the case last May when 250 of the world's titans of finance and business attended a by-invitation-only summit on "Inclusive Capitalism," held appropriately at an 800 year-old castle in London, England. The attendees represented $30 trillion in assets, fully one-third of the world's total investable assets.

Yes and no. First, "compassionate conservatism" is popular in England, where Cameron and his gang compassionately rob the poor, to make the rich even
richer. Also, I think myself that the satire is quite well understood by "
the
world's titans of finance and business
", who certainly are not deceived by it,
for the simple reason that this makes them rich beyond imagination. And all
for the price of propaganda lies and public relations deceptions!

Here is some further explanation (which is quite good):

(...) we learn from Oxfam's recent report that the 80 richest people (85 last year) on the planet -- 0.000001 percent of the global population -- now have a collective net worth of $1.9 trillion. Their wealth, which doubled between 2009 and 2014, is equal to that shared by 3.5 billion people at the bottom of the world's income scale. For perspective, the average wealth per head among the 80 individuals is $23.7 billion compared to $540 for the bottom 3.5 billion people. (Parenthetically, 571 of the world's 1,645 billionaires are citizens of the United States).

There is more I leave to your interests. Here is Gary Olson's last paragraph:
My take is that barring significant public agitation from below, a system in which government is merely an appendage of our corporate overloads is not outside the realm of capitalist responses. Calling that system neofascism will offend some readers so for now let's label it a hybrid American totalitarianism. Hopefully that's another oxymoron.

Well... I can't really see why "neofascism" would "offend some readers",
given the universal surveillance of the secret services, and given the above quotation on how the riches are divided (roughly as: "I am rich and
therefore get over 500.000 dollars for every 1 dollar you get - and
don't you dare to complain or I tell the police you are a stinking terrorist!").

Also, I know a whole lot about fascism, and called the system I saw and see emerge "corporate fascism + surveillance state" in 2012 - which got very strongly confirmed half a year later by Edward Snowden.

But OK... there probably are tens of thousands of anonymous underbrained scolds who want to visit their own moral degeneracy on anyone who is not quite like them.

5. PACE trial's Prof Peter White: Exercise causes Immunological damage in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and is NOT safe

The next and last item today is an article by professor Peter White om Dr. Speedy's site - and this is not about the crisis but about the disease I now have 37 years, all without getting any help except for minimum dole for working healthy people, in part because professor Peter White has been saying since ca. 1988 that M.E. does not exist and is psychiatric:

This starts as follows (and incidentally: I avoid the name "CFS" and indeed was not diagnosed by it, but was diagnosed as a case of M.E./F.M. in 1989, and that last addition was because of my considerable pain (that continued ever since, in part thanks to the efforts of professor White: Thank you, professor White, for taking care of 27 years of constant pain, constant discrimination and constant abuse by the moral degenerates who are bureaucrats in Holland!):

The main finding of this pilot study was the elevated median concentration of transforming growth factor beta, which seemed to be related to activity. We also found significantly fewer CD3+ and CD4+ lymphocytes and fewer expressing HLA DR, but there was no difference between groups in response to exercise, but no importance should be attached to this in view of the small numbers of subjects in this study.

Finally, we found that exercise induced a sustained elevation in the concentration of TNF-α, which was still present three days later, and this only occurred in CFS patients.

And they (professors White and Pinching) also say:

These preliminary data suggest that “ordinary” activity (i.e., that involved in getting up and traveling some distance) may induce anti-inflammatory cytokine release (TGF-β), whereas more intense exercise may induce pro-inflammatory cytokine release (TNF-α) in patients with CFS (21, 28, 29).

The causal mechanisms involved and the direction of the relationship between these mechanisms remain to be elucidated. Altered cytokine balance, for example, following an infection, may modify the threshold at which cytokine release occurs with exercise or activity, setting up a vicious circle. These processes could contribute to the postexertional malaise, myalgia and the central fatigue that characterize CFS (1, 2, 4).

In fact - in case you are interested, here are two studies on exercise and M.E.:

This is a quite long but quite thorough study of what patients (like myself and many others) think about exercising. This was compiled by Kim in 2010, briefly before she was hunted from Phoenix Rising (from whence I also was hunted, though for different reasons, it seems, though it is clear both Kim and I are uncommonly intelligent).

And this is a fine piece by an English professor of psychology, Rhona Johnston:
I know this is of little interest to those who don't have M.E. and don't know somebody with M.E. (which is the vast majority, that I can assure may consider themselves quite happy!) but I have it, as does my ex, and we have it for 37 years now, and have sickeningly often been discriminated, abused, lied to and not answered by anyone working for the city of Amsterdam or the Dutch nation.
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Notes

[1] I am quite serious, as is Wolfgang Blau, but I fear Blau wins, the first year, at least, for he has managed to use 1 1/2 year (and lots of money, I guess) for this totally crazy change. Also, all journalists in the Guardian are flattered - I guess - now that their Personal Pictures are six times larger than they were. So I fear it will take a while to turn this back - and I am not going to spend much time on The Guardian with the current, new, exciting look, because I think it very ugly, very confusing, very unclear, and utterly useless. Also, it was quite excellent and is now extra-ordinarily ugly and very difficult to work with. Well done, Blau!
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