March 21, 2018

Crisis+More: Facebook, Scahill, Democracy, Retirements, Cambridge, More: ME/CFS + 22.III.68


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from March 21, 2018
     B. Personal: On ME/CFS, A Chinese Bookshop & March 22, 1968

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, March 21, 2018.

And as you see above, I have added today a personal section. I do not know how often I will do so, but today it is justified because:
  • the (Dutch) National Health Council has announced that they think that ME/CFS is "a serious chronic disease that should be taken seriously by doctors", and this is a first time in the nearly 40 years that my ex and I have ME/CFS (!!!) that I have read such things, and these things also are by one of the highest medical authorities in Holland;
  • I found a nice article about a bookshop in Beijing, which I liked because I love books; the owner seems a good person; and I am interested in China; and
  • tomorrow it is 50 years ago that the nearly successful revolution in France started, namely in Nanterre (and I went in May 1968 and in June 1968 to Paris to observe the revolution).
Also I did sleep well tonight, which is another reason this is possible - and I have serious sleeping problems since 40 years, but until two days ago I was a psychosomatic insane person according to 90% of the Dutch medical frauds I have seen: 27 of the 30 medical "doctors" I saw lied to me, knew they lied to me, but did so nevertheless. For almost forty years.

Since I am a brilliant psychologist, I do want to treat quite a number of Dutch "medical doctors" as they treated me, and will do so later. (And see here.)

1. Summary

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.

On the moment and since more than two years (!!!!) I have problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and I shall continue.

Section 2. Crisis Files

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:

A. Selections from March 21, 2018
1. New Investigations Into Facebook Add New Pressures
2. Jeremy Scahill on Trump’s Cabinet Shake-up, the Mueller Probe & the
     Iraq War 15 Years Later

3. 'Public Safety Is None of Your Business'
4. The Remarkable Reason Some Millennials Aren't Saving for Retirement
5. Cambridge Analytica Is Proud That It Swayed and Corrupted Elections
     Across the Globe
The 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. New Investigations Into Facebook Add New Pressures

This article is by Cecilia Kang on The New York Times. It starts as follows:
Federal regulators and state prosecutors are opening investigations into Facebook. Politicians in the United States and Europe are calling for its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, to testify before them. Investors have cut the value of the social networking giant by about $50 billion in the past two days.

They are all focused on the same thing: whether Facebook mishandled users’ data.

I say - and I think it is high time that Zuckerberg testifies, under oath. In fact, so far at least, Zuckerberg appears to have disappeared (as indeed is his best choice: Say as little as possible while pretending you are morally perfect).

Here is more on Facebook:

Facebook has built its highly profitable social network off its users, selling advertisements based on their ages, interests and other details. But the scrutiny over the company’s vast trove of personal data — following a report that a political consulting firm had improperly obtained information of 50 million users — is taking direct aim at that lucrative formula.

As I have been saying very many times: Facebook - and any other corporation, and all American spies on personal private data of anyone - should be totally denied the right to take or copy or read any private information by any internet user (such as: e-mails, health matters, financial status, personal values, pictures and very much more), because taking, copying or reading this private information gives far too much power to the few who can do so, and politically leads straight towards neofascism, where the state's terrorists can outdo any other terrorists.

Here is more:

So far, most of the social network’s top executives have been silent. Mr. Zuckerberg, its founder, and Sheryl Sandberg, his top deputy, have not made any public statements in recent days.
Yes indeed - and I am pretty sure this is policy: Zuckerberg and Sandberg felt free to acquire the privacies of over 2 billion persons (which many of those gave to Zuckerberg because they are, in Zuckerberg's own words "dumb fucks who trust" Zuckerberg), but they refuse, or at least love to refuse, to answer any and all questions on the their policies and rules and algorithms or anything else Facebook does (that does not sound as an advertisement for the utter horror that is Facebook (if you are intelligen)).

Here is more:

At the meeting, employees asked questions about the continuing internal investigation into the use of Facebook data by the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. The firm, which was tied to President Trump’s 2016 campaign, used the data to target messages to voters.
Yes. And since Cambridge Analytica succeeded in downloading from Facebook the private data of no less than 50 million Americans, this is exceedingly many times more important than Russia's efforts, about which more than a year research established only that the Russians spent some $150,000 dollars on advertisements - which is not a fraction from a fraction of the possibilities that Cambridge Analytica's c.q. Facebook's data allowed.

Next - this is the New York Times - there is this bit of nonsense:
After the 2016 presidential campaign, lawmakers at home joined the chorus of critics, citing the company’s role in Russia’s disinformation efforts. The social network was one of the top tools used by Russians to spread false news, and the company’s executives have struggled to explain what happened and how they would prevent foreign interference in the future.
Once again: All that seems to have been established in evidence in nearly 1 1/2 years of searching was that "Russians" spent $115,000 dollars. And besides, the USA is interfering into many tens of countries, both by spying and other efforts (most of which are secret).

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

Then, Mr. Kogan gave the information to Cambridge Analytica, a firm founded by Stephen K. Bannon, the former White House political adviser, and Robert Mercer, the wealthy Republican donor. Passing the information to a third party violated Facebook’s policies, the company said last week.

“There are all sorts of obligations under the consent decree that may not have been honored here,” said David Vladeck, a former director of consumer protection at the F.T.C.

The company could face fines of $40,000 a day per violation if the agency finds that Facebook broke the agreement.

Well... in the first place I think having 50 million sets of private data very probably substantially (and it seems: illegally) helped Steve Bannon to win Trump's elections; in the second place, I agree with Vladeck (and suspect myself that none of the "assurances" Facebook offers its users is kept, in reality); and I also think $40,000 a day is utter peanuts for Zuckerberg, who has gotten $70 billions out of Facebook's members.

Anyway... there is considerably more in the article, which I do recommend although I don't agree with all of it, and we shall certainly hear more about this in the coming days.

2. Jeremy Scahill on Trump’s Cabinet Shake-up, the Mueller Probe & the Iraq War 15 Years Later

This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
Extended conversation with investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill, co-founder of The Intercept. Scahill talks about Trump’s pick for secretary of state, Mike Pompeo; Erik Prince’s ties to China; Trump’s ties to Russia; and the 15th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Yes, quite so. Here is Scahill's first bit that I quote:

JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, yeah. I mean, we’ve replaced ExxonMobil with a Christian crusader, in Mike Pompeo. And then you replace a radical ideologue Christian crusader, Mike Pompeo, with a dyed-in-the-wool CIA torturer.

And one other thing to add about Mike Pompeo, let’s remember that he is an extreme hawk on a variety of issues, including on Russia. It’s very interesting, because one of the things that seemed to be tension between Trump and Tillerson was that Tillerson wasn’t entirely down with the program of Trump’s policy of basically never saying anything bad about Russia. Now, I’m very skeptical of some of the allegations in this investigation, and I believe we need facts, but, you know, it’s clear that Russia did make efforts to try to penetrate U.S. software companies that were servicing U.S. elections. At a minimum, we know that that is true, because we’ve seen the internal documents on it. But Mike Pompeo called for Edward Snowden to be executed. He basically designated, in his first major speech as CIA director, WikiLeaks as a state terrorist organization, you know, a nonstate terrorist actor. This is a very extreme figure to have as a secretary of state.

I agree for the most part, and I somewhat agree with Scahill that "we need facts", but I should remark that (i) nearly 1 1/2 years of investigations have produced few facts; (ii) the facts it did produce are also true of the USA's interfering in - at least - many tens of countries; and (iii) the facts about Cambridge Analytica + Facebook (50 million sets of private data on 50 million Americans, all gathered in total secret) seem to me very much more important than the few facts about Russia's interference that 1 1/2 years of investigations produced.

Then there is this on Erik Prince (Scahill talking)

A question that I am astonished that no one in Congress asked when that guy was sitting in front of them is that Erik Prince is in bed right now with the Chinese government. His company, just in the last two weeks, the largest investment arm of the Chinese government, the CITIC Group, increased its shares in Erik Prince’s company to more than 40 percent. They almost control Erik Prince’s security company. What is that company doing? Erik Prince set up a company to help China protect its natural resource extraction operations in Africa. He’s working with the Chinese government, and his top colleague from China is a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.

I know something about Erik Prince because he formed Blackwater, that was heavily, and it seems quite illegally, busy in Iraq from 2003 onwards. Incidentally, Blackwater is these days called Academi, but it still seems to be mostly concerned with what Blackwater did before it was called Academi.

There is this about Jared Kushner (Scahill talking):

And Kushner, I think, is truly an idiot. And I think he—and I think that the—one of the most lethal combinations in politics is ignorance and arrogance together. And, you know, this—Jared Kushner was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He knows nothing about the real world. He seems incapable of even speaking and having sounds come out of his mouth. And this is the guy—he can’t get a top-secret security clearance legitimately. He has been tasked with solving Middle East peace. And he still is conducting business in his companies, as is Ivanka Trump, as is, let’s be clear, Donald Trump. I mean, this whole thing is one huge money-laundering operation. That’s what this White House looks like.

Well... I agree Kushner is ignorant and arrogant, but do not know myself whether he is "an idiot".  But most of the things Scahill says about him are quite true.

Here is the last bit I quote from this article:

JEREMY SCAHILL: So, you have—so, if you replace H.R. McMaster, who is a measured realist—again, I’m not endorsing McMaster, but I’m saying, in the context of this administration, much more of a traditional conservative. You replace the national security adviser, McMaster, with John Bolton, who is a radical ideologue, and the whole thing shifts. So, you have Pompeo at State—rabid ideologue. Then you would have Haspel at CIA—torturer. Then you have John Bolton national security adviser, who wants to go to war simultaneously with Iran and North Korea. You think things can’t get worse? Things can get much worse in this administration.

I quite agree, and this is a strongly recommended article in which there is much more than I quoted.

3. 'Public Safety Is None of Your Business'

This article is by Paul Street on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
World peace is none of your business
You must not tamper with arrangements
Work hard and simply pay your taxes
Never asking what for
Oh, you poor little fool
Oh, you fool
In fact, the above bit was written and sung by Morrissey and there also are two more couplets quoted in the article´s text. This is from very close to the beginning of Street's text:
It’s a melancholy ode to the pathetic irrelevance of the commoner, the everyday citizen, the popular majority, in what historian Noam Chomsky calls “RECD, short for ‘really existing capitalist democracy,’ pronounced as ‘wrecked.’ “

So what if we vote, all us “poor little fools”? Who cares? Our majority opinion doesn’t matter much when popular democracy has been blown to bits by concentrated wealth that is always concentrated power, and we’ve all been trained to restrict the expression of our purported popular sovereignty to candidate- centered, big money, big media, major party, electoral pageants once every two or four years.

Well... I agree with Chomsky that democracy in the USA has been wrecked, and it also happens to be true that the last time I voted (as a Dutchman) was in 1971, but I am not a "poor little fool" (I am poor, but that's all that is true, at least about me), and I think I also disagree with Street, even though I agree that the present USA is in fact a plutocracy that is fastly developing into neofascism.

I disagree for the simple reason that I think that the Republicans are worse than the Democrats, although I agree with Street that neither party is a satisfactory choice. And I do believe that if you can vote Trump away, you should try to do so.

Here is a quotation from Gillens and Page, who wrote the book "Democracy in America? What Has Gone Wrong and What We Can Do About It" (that has been reviewed in a Nederlog of 2017 or 2016):

“[T]he best evidence indicates that the wishes of ordinary Americans actually have had little or no impact on the making of federal government policy. Wealthy individuals and organized interest groups—especially business corporations—have had much more political clout. When they are taken into account, it becomes apparent that the general public has been virtually powerless. … The will of majorities is often thwarted by the affluent and the well-organized, who block popular policy proposals and enact special favors for themselves. … Majorities of Americans favor … programs to help provide jobs, increase wages, help the unemployed, provide universal medical insurance, ensure decent retirement pensions, and pay for such programs with progressive taxes. Most Americans also want to cut ‘corporate welfare.’ Yet the wealthy, business groups, and structural gridlock have mostly blocked such new policies.”

I think this is all quite true, but it does not imply that even if you are "virtually powerless", you should not vote. And in fact, voting for the president seems one of the few realistic possibilities were a majority of the ordinary people may (still) make a real difference.

Then there is this by Paul Street:

We get to vote? Big deal! Mammon reigns in the United States, where, Page and Gilens write, “government policy … reflects the wishes of those with money, not the wishes of the millions of ordinary citizens who turn out every two years to choose among the preapproved, money-vetted candidates for federal office.”

Thanks to this “oligarchy,” as the authors call it, the United States ranks at or near the bottom of the list of rich nations when it comes to key measures of social health: economic disparity, intergenerational social mobility, racial inequality, racial segregation, infant mortality, poverty, child poverty, life expectancy, violence, incarceration, depression, literacy/numeracy and environmental sustainability and resilience.

Well... I think I agree with all of this, but even so: voting for the presidency of the USA seems one of the few realistic possibilities were a majority of the ordinary people may make a real difference.

Then there is this:

World peace is none of our business. Neither is corporate welfare, jobs, health insurance, pensions, the environment, tax policy, the drawing of voting districts, campaign finance, the distribution of wealth and income, the structure of work and the labor process, wages or labor rights.

And neither is the freedom of ordinary people—all us poor little fools and our poor little foolish children—to not be massacred by sociopaths armed to the teeth with military-style weapons in our streets, schools, workplaces, concert halls, churches, shopping malls, lecture halls, movie theaters and parks.

First of all, Street means psychopaths, for "sociopaths" are thus called by American psychiatrists for the simple reason that "sociopaths" do not agree "with the norms society imposes" - which incidentally means that Street himself is "a sociopath", and the same goes for me.

And second, I am quite willing to grant that all of the above does hold for most of the very rich - but then why should I care about the - false, immoral, greedy, selfish - opinions of the very rich?!

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

The rich don’t care about the firearm savagery in the streets, schools and public squares. They don’t care about our danger and fear. They live in gated, heavily guarded, luxurious compounds, protected from the ricochets outside and below. The political system they sit atop and profit from isn’t about democracy. It’s about something very different: It’s about capitalism. If they thought widespread gun ownership among all us poor little fools was a threat to that system, they’d use the enormous political power that flows from their wealth to rein guns in. But they don’t.

Capitalism careens in the direction of fascism, which always leaves the masters of capital in control.

In fact my reply is as above: Even if all of the above does hold for most of the very rich, why should I care, or why should any more or less reasonable and more or less rational person care about the - false, immoral, greedy, selfish - opinions of the very rich?!

In brief, I think I like Paul Street, but he is definitely too pessimistic in this article.

4. The Remarkable Reason Some Millennials Aren't Saving for Retirement

This article is by Keith Spencer on Truthdig and originally on Salon. It starts as follows:

CNN reported last week that 66 percent of millennials aged 21 to 32 have nothing saved for retirement. While the report chalks up this inequity to student loans, “stagnant wages” and “high unemployment,” there may be a deeper cause: many millennials honestly don’t see a future for our economic system.

The CNN article went semi-viral, partly because many saw humor in how it missed how many truly feel. “RT if socialism is your retirement plan,” Holly Wood, 32, a political organizer, wrote on Twitter.

The idea that we millennials’ only hope for retirement is the end of capitalism or the end of the world is actually quite a common sentiment among the millennial left.
I say, and I do so because I did not know anything like this (which probably is due to the fact that my ex and myself have nearly 40 years of ME/CFS, which prevented our getting children).

Here is some more:
Many millennials expressed to me their interest in creating self-sustaining communities as their only hope for survival in old age; a lack of faith that capitalism as we know it would exist by retirement age; and that alternating climate crises, concentrations of wealth and privatization of social welfare programs would doom their chance at survival.

“In general, I regard the future as a multitude of possibilities, but most of them don't look good,” Elias Schwartzman, 29, a musician, told me. “When I'm at retirement age, around 2050, I think it's possible we'll have seen a breakdown of modern society.” Schwartzman said that he saw the future as encompassing one of two possibilities: an apocalyptic “total breakdown of industrial society,” or “capitalism morphing into a complete plutocracy.” “I think the argument can be made that we're well on the way to that reality,” he added.

Actually, there are many tens of millions of millenials, so I don't think Spencer's "Many" does say much or anything about what these tens of millions think. Then again, I agree with most of the opinions that Spencer ascribes to the millenials, and I also think that Schwartzmann's opinions are sensible (though I expect neofascism rather than plutocracy).

Here is another millenial:

Wood told me via Twitter that she felt similarly. “I don’t think the world can sustain capitalism for another decade,” she said. “It’s socialism or bust. We will literally start having resource wars that will kill us all if we don’t accept that the free market will absolutely destroy us within our lifetime [if] we don’t start fighting its hegemony,” she added.

I more or less agree (and disagree on a few points), but I think that by 2050 it probably is either socialism or neofascism (that is: if Trump doesn´t blow up the world).

Here is some more by the same person:

“The economic realities of my generation make the expectations for my parents’ generation seem ludicrous to me—having a job with benefits and that pays enough that I can make rent, and save for retirement and also maybe for a down payment on property seems like a lottery,” Wood continued. “Maybe 15 percent of my peer group has this, and having it is a combination of luck and family connections rather than skill and work ethic.”

I think I agree (but add that my age is of that of Wood's grandparents). And in any case, while in fact I have no decent idea about how representative for millenials Spencer's selection is, I think this is a fairly interesting article that is recommended.

5. Cambridge Analytica Is Proud That It Swayed and Corrupted Elections Across the Globe

This article is by Mehreen Kasana on Alternet. It starts as follows:
Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm based in the United Kingdom, has been a topic of heated debate in data science for a while. Now the consulting firm has gained a fresh wave of heightened notoriety after one of its previous employees accused the data company of meddling with and manipulating millions of Facebook users’ personal data in the United States—allegedly for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Christopher Wylie, who once worked for the company, told The Guardian in an explosive interview that he inadvertently created former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon's "psychological warfare mindf*** tool” while working at the firm.
Yes, I agree with all of this and most of it seems factually correct. (But I also think it is high time that AlterNet and other non-mainstream publishers do write "mindfucking" if they mean "mindfucking", and every adult knows this is meant, and not "mindf***" - at least if they do not think that certain words come with mystical properties to corrupt anyone who reads them.)

Anyway... here is more (and SCL is affiliated with Cambridge Analytica):
Ever since the United Kingdom’s Brexit’s campaign as well as Trump’s presidential race, modern application of psychometrics or using psychological manipulation through social media is rapidly gaining the attention of internet users. But it would be naive to assume firms like Cambridge Analytica and SCL targeted the United States and United Kingdom only. In an undercover report by Channel 4, a reporter for the channel posed as a Sri Lankan businessman seeking to entrap political foes in the country and sought the advice of Cambridge Analytica’s CEO Alexander Nix. Nix can be heard saying that politicians can be made offers "too good to be true" such as bribes and sexual favors as "these sort of tactics are very effective.” A “instant” video of such “corruption” could be then used to destroy politicians in developing countries, according to Nix. He then said, “We’re used to operating through different vehicles, in the shadows, and I look forward to building a very long-term and secretive relationship with you.”
I say. It also appears as if Cambridge Analytica’s CEO Alexander Nix has been dismissed yesterday, but I did not know most of the above.

Here is the last bit I quote from this article:
[I] t’s evident that firms like Cambridge Analytics and its affiliate corporation SCL are here to stay, be it America or elsewhere. The more important question is: how do we plan to prevent our democracies from being hijacked in the era of big data?
In fact, I think democracy in the USA has been mostly hijacked and not only or even primarily by "big data" but by the (very) rich, who have been called upon to do so nearly fifty years ago by Lewis F. Powell Jr. but indeed "the rich" do comprise Facebook´s owner, and very probably Cambridge Analytica.

B. Personal: About ME/CFS, A Chinese Bookshop and March 22,1968

6. About ME/CFS in Holland
7. A Chinese Bookshop
8. On March 22, 1968

In fact, this section B has not appeared in Nederlog for a long time. It does appear today, after the ordinary daily report on the crisis that I have been writing for nearly five years now, and does so mainly for two reasons:

The first reason is that there has appeared a fairly long and fairly clear report of the Dutch National Health Council, which is an important medical institution in Holland, that said, for the first time in over 40 years, that ME/CFS is a serious and chronic disease, that should be taken serious by medical doctors. (And I can assure you that 9 out of 10 Dutch doctors - 27 out of 30, in my experience - do not take anyone with ME/CFS serious, and did not do so the last 40 years in which I have had this ¨serious chronic disease¨).

6. About ME/CFS in Holland

The above link is to the report of the (Dutch) National Council of Health on ME/CFS, which was addressed to the Chairperson of the National Parliament, and that is dated March 19, 2018. (Incidentally, it is a pdf of 350 Kb.)

It is in Dutch and starts as follows (and continues for 53 pages):

ME/CVS is een ernstige chronische ziekte, die het functioneren en de kwaliteit van het leven van de mensen die eraan lijden substantieel beperkt. Patiënten met ME/CVS strijden al jaren voor erkenning en betere behandeling van hun aandoening.

which is to say in English:

ME/CFS is a serious chronic disease, that substantially limits the functioning and the quality of life of the people who suffer from it. Patients with ME/CFS have been fighting for years for recognition of their complaints and for a better treatment.

I say. My ex (IQ 142) and my self (IQ 150+) - and since my ex was a psychological assistant in 1978, who mostly tested IQs, I am pretty certain that these were the facts then - have had the disease for nearly 40 years (since 1.1.1979) and have been trying to explain the above things that the Dutch National Council of Health now says, to about 30 Dutch "medical specialists".

27 completely disagreed with us: According to them both of us, both in the first year of our university studies were insane. They "knew" we were (although none of these ¨specialists¨ had studied psychology or psychiatry) because they knew other medical doctors had not found anything or - in a few cases - they themselves had done some research on one of us, and had not found anything.

And therefore we were insane. They called it "psychosomatic" - which itself is a medical nonsense term - and they were sure of it because they were "medical specialists". And they definitely meant we were insane, and indeed none of them offered any help whatsoever, ever. For 40 years and 27 times, in my estimate (which is substantially correct but may not be fully precise).

It was all quite intentional. I will say considerably more later, but Dutch medics ought to know that I am both a psychologist and a philosopher of science; I know from both studies that 16 randomly sampled subjects is the minimal to be confident that one´s guesses are correct; we have been sent to around 30 medical specialists, who were collected at random by various medical doctors; and my inference is that 9 out 10 Dutch medical doctors are dangerously incompetent if one has any disease that does not belong to the standard diseases (measles etc.)

More on Dutch medical doctors later.

7. A Chinese Bookshop

This article is by Jane Perlez on The New York Times. It starts as follows:

After the brutal suppression of China’s 1989 democracy movement, Liu Suli, a student leader who had narrowly escaped being gunned down near Tiananmen Square, recalled a boyhood dream as he brooded in his prison cell.

If he owned a bookstore, he had mused at the age of 7, he wouldn’t have to spend money on books. From behind bars, and with his entrepreneurial drive still intact, he saw his dream in a different light. A bookstore might be a more plausible way to pursue the freedom of ideas that he and hundreds of thousands of others had failed to win with public protest.

He got out of jail fairly quickly. The authorities lightened up a bit. He opened a bookstore and ordered an eclectic range of volumes that leaned toward philosophy, history, political science and an ample dose of Western thought.

And now the All Sages Bookstore, a haven of precisely arranged shelves and display tables, thrives on the low-rent second floor of a nondescript building near Peking University.

A survivor of Beijing’s ferocious property market — it has moved three times since 1993 — and the government’s extremely tight censorship in the era of President Xi Jinping’s rule, the store represents an independent political spirit in an authoritarian one-party state.

A large image of Bertrand Russell, the British philosopher and freethinker, stands out among a galaxy of literary posters lining the wall of the entry staircase, a taste of what’s to come.

“China is not a liberal society, it’s not a free country,” Mr. Liu said, sitting in a quiet corner of the Thinkers Cafe, a mellow hangout within the store that meanders along a side corridor to a small back room furnished with antique Chinese furniture.

“But the bookstore is a way to express our longing for freedom and our hope for the establishment of a free society,” he said.

This is merely the beginning of a much longer article, that I strongly recommend because I love books (ordinary books: I  hate e-books etc.); I am rather seriously interested in China (but unfortunately without knowing Chinese); I like and admire Liu Suli, and like it a lot that he put a "large image of Bertrand Russell" (the major philosopher of the 20th Century, I am sure) in his shop; and this is simply a quite nice and interesting article.

8. On March 22, 1968

If you are considerably younger than nearly 68, which is my age, chances are that you do not know much about May 1968, when a revolution nearly did happen in France. That revolution was defeated quite probably because the Communist Party of France (PCF), that was quite strong in 1968, refused to collaborate with the students, the anarchists, the progressives and the leftists in May of 1968.

You find above a link to the English Wikipedia, from which I quote this bit to explain why I think a revolution did nearly happen in May 1968:

The protests reached such a point that political leaders feared civil war or revolution; the national government itself momentarily ceased to function after President Charles de Gaulle secretly fled France for a few hours. The protests spurred an artistic movement, with songs, imaginative graffiti, posters, and slogans.

“May 68” had an impact on French society that resounded for decades afterward. It is considered to this day as a cultural, social and moral turning point in the history of the country.

I did not know that De Gaulle had fled France in 1968, but I did go to Paris twice in 1968: First in May 1968, with some friends, and then again all by my self in June 1968.

And I wrote about May '68 in May 2008 in Nederlog, indeed quite a few times, albeit in Dutch. In case you read Dutch, here is a link to a collection of the articles I wrote in 2008:

There are 14 articles assembled there (as links) and I can recommend all.

I do not know how much attention will be paid to this fifty years later, but I suppose there will be some articles, and I will try to follow them, and I may review some of them, although I do not really believe I will learn anything about May '68 that I did not know for quite a long time.

But to those younger than me I say: It did look and feel like a real revolution in May '68, and indeed this is the only case of a possible revolution that I - more or less - participated in.

And it may be interesting for those born too late to take part in it.


[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that 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.

They have claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie. They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.

And they 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 will from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).

The only 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 (!!).

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