from September 17, 2018
This is a
Nederlog of Monday,
This is a crisis
log but it is a bit different from how it was until 2013:
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.
2. Crisis Files
five crisis files
that are mostly well worth reading:
A. Selections from September 17, 2018:
1. How algorithms reproduce social and racial inequality
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:
2. Kavanaugh's Accuser Comes Forward
3. Donald Trump May Be the Leader of the Resistance Inside
4. The Three Big Lessons We Didn’t Learn from the Economic
5. Giving Resistance a Good Name
algorithms reproduce social and racial inequality
This article is by
Chauncy DeVega on Salon. It starts as follows:
Though we can’t perceive
them directly, we are surrounded by algorithms in our day-to-day lives:
they govern the way we interact with our devices, use computers and
ATMs, and move about the world. Algorithms situated deep within
computer programs and AIs help to manage traffic patterns on major
roads and highways. Algorithms are also used by banks and other lenders
to determine if a person is deemed "worthy" of a loan or credit card.
Algorithms also determine how information is shared on search engines
such as Google and through social media platforms such as Facebook. The
Pentagon in conjunction with private industry are developing algorithms
which will empower unmanned drones to independently decide
how and in what circumstances to use lethal force against human beings.
Technology is not neutral.
How it is used and for what ends reflects the social norms and values
of a given culture. As such, in the United States and around the world,
algorithms and other types of artificial intelligence often reproduce
social inequality and serve the interests of the powerful — instead of
being a way of creating a more equal, free and just social democracy.
Well... this is more or
less correct, except for (i) the use of the word ¨algorithm¨ (which is very
common nowadays) and (ii) the confusion of ¨algorithms¨, ¨progams¨ and
In fact, these are all
mistakes by a non-programmer, but then again it seems between 1
and 2% of the people on the internet know how to program (somewhat
decently). I am one of the few, so that I can tell you immediately that
the best term for programs (of any kind) is ¨programs¨
(and not ¨algorithm¨).
And a program is
essentially a set of instructions to a computer what it should do if it
encounters a certain kind of information, and also what it should do in
case it doesn´t find that kind of imformation.
Finally, most programs
other than explicit open
source is hidden
source: it is a secret what the programs look for and
I think all of the
above information I just gave should have been in the article
(but then I know how to program).
Here is more:
In an effort to answer
these questions I recently spoke with professor Safiya Noble, a
professor at the University of Southern California
(USC) Annenberg School of Communication and the author of the new
book "Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce
Racism". Professor Noble is also a partner in Stratelligence,
a firm that specializes in research on information and data
science challenges. She is also a co-founder of the Information
Ethics & Equity Institute, which provides training for
organizations committed to transforming their information management
practices toward more just, ethical, and equitable outcomes.
This definitely is a
good idea, although the answers to these questions should be fairly
obvious: Of course, any secret program may encode for
anything, and since it is secret, you probably will not
find out (unless you are the CEO of the same company you like to know
the programs of).
Here is more:
I got internet in 1996 but
I never believed in ¨the
liberatory possibilities of the Internet back in the
90s¨ simply because I could
program; I knew almost all programs (outside Linux) were
secretive; and I knew anything whatsoever could be in a
would you craft about the role of Facebook, Twitter, and the Internet
more broadly in this political moment, when democracy is under siege in
the United States and in other countries as well?
The public was sold a bill
of goods about the liberatory possibilities of the Internet back in the
90s. When the full-on datafication of our society began to develop
— and which of course we're in now — and in which our every move
is tracked and our almost every sense and every touch are collected and
profiled, it is changing who we are and subverting our freedom. These
processes have really undermined our civic liberties and civil rights.
This is a perfect moment for the public to have become numb to losing
control. Moreover, to have lost even the capacity to know they have
lost control. This is the perfect moment for an autocratic
authoritarian regime to be in place. We are seeing this now in the
United States with Trump and with authoritarian movements around the
Then again, I also was one of the few. Here is more:
Where did the wrong
idea that the Internet would save us by being a type of great social
leveler and space to create opportunity and freedom come from?
The early Internet users
and evangelists, if you will, always talked about the Internet as a
site of liberation. That it would be this kind of nationless,
borderless, raceless, classless, genderless place. This is in the early
pre-commercial Internet days. Over time of course, as the Internet
became wholly commercialized for many people, the Internet became
Facebook. The Internet is Google. The average user couldn't really
understand what the Internet is beyond those sites. They are relegated
to Google and its products as kind of a knowledge or sense-making tool
that people rely upon.
Well... I never
believed the Internet ever was non-commercial, and my reasons
are) essentially these two: (i) everything that is not open source,
that is, some 98% of all source is a deep commercial secret owned by
commercial entities, and (ii) almost nobody is capable of
closed commercial source.
Here is the last bit
that I quote from this article:
Algorithms are sequestering
and creating markets, consumer markets of people who see certain kinds
of messages or certain kinds of advertising. It's not a free for all.
It's a highly curated space.
technology and these platforms are not a replacement for real democracy
on any level. If anything, they are foreclosing the possibilities of
people thinking critically because what moves through these spaces is
advertising-driven content. That's actually very different from
evidence-based research or other forms of knowledge which are
critically important to democracy.
Yes, but the reasons
are in my comments:
programs are deep secrets owned by commercial companies; all
most users see are also seen by programs that score who see it and for
how long; and these two facts make it possible to make most users
and see mostly what programmers like them to read and see, and little
or nothing else. (And this means mostly Facebook + Google.)
And this is a
recommended article, but it would have been pleasant if it had been
written by someone who knows how to program (which I learned in 1973,
and again on an early PC in 1979).
Accuser Comes Forward
This article is by
Darlene Superville on Truthdig and originally on The Associated Press.
It starts as follows:
The woman who has
accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct when
they were in high school has come forward, alleging in an interview
that Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed, clumsily tried to remove her
clothing and covered her mouth when she tried to scream.
“I thought he might
inadvertently kill me,” Christine Blasey Ford told The Washington Post
in her first interview. “He was trying to attack me and remove my
Ford, now 51 and a clinical
psychology professor at Palo Alto University in California, says she
was able to get away after Kavanaugh’s friend jumped on top of them and
Kavanaugh, now 53 and a
federal appeals judge in Washington, has denied the allegation. He
repeated that denial again Sunday through the White House.
I say, for I did not
know this. And the first question is: Do I believe this? My
answer is immediate:
While I do not
believe all accusations of #MeToo, I do believe the present one
is probably correct, simply because (i) the woman who made the
accusation is well educated and a professor, and because (ii) she knew
she would get a lot of trouble with sympathizers of Kavanaugh.
And - of course - the
above is not a proof she is correct, but to prove it requires
considerably more time and more investigations.
Here are some on the
Top Senate Democrats,
including New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, immediately called for
postponement of a Thursday vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee on
whether to recommend that the full Senate confirm Kavanaugh to replace
retired Justice Anthony Kennedy on the nation’s highest court.
Republicans gave no indication Sunday that they would do so.
I infer from this that ¨Top Senate Democrats¨ reasoned as I just reasoned, and I also think they
are correct in calling for a postponement (at least), which I
can reformulate as follows:
Until there is
good evidence that Kavenaugh did not try to rape Ford, you cannot
nominate Kavanaugh for life as a Supreme Court Judge, for you do not
want to nominate possible rapists.
Here is the last bit
that I quote from this article:
Kavanaugh’s nomination by
President Donald Trump has divided the Senate, with most Democrats
opposing him and most Republicans supporting him.
But the allegations of
sexual misconduct, particularly coming amid the #MeToo movement against
sexual harassment, coupled with Ford’s emergence could complicate
matters, especially as key Republican senators, including Susan Collins
of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, are under enormous pressure from
outside groups who want them to oppose Kavanaugh on grounds that as a
justice he could vote to undercut the Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing
abortion in the U.S.
I think this is simply
true and this is a recommended article.
Trump May Be the Leader of the Resistance Inside His Own Administration
article is by
Joshua Holland on AlterNet and originally on Raw Story. This is from
near the beginning:
Nobody’s done more
to keep Russian interference in the 2016 election in the headlines than
the “president.” Vanity Fair reported this
week that former Trump henchman Michael Cohen appears to be cooperating
with the Mueller probe in part because he “listened as Trump railed
against anyone who makes a plea deal” on Fox News, and Cohen “bristled
at the feeling that he has taken the fall for a man who has refused to
take any responsibility or face any consequence himself.” Remember that
there would be no Mueller investigation in the first place if Trump
hadn’t fired FBI director James Comey and then told NBC’s Lester Holt
that he did so to derail the Russia investigation.
Well... I first like to say
something about Joshua Holland and his style of writing this article:
I do not know anything about Joshua Holland other than that
asserts he works for BillMoyers.com, but I do know that this is
first article that I read that seems to consist
fundamentally of a
series of Tweets separated by ¨*********¨.
I am sorry, but I am not stupid, and I despise Tweets -
and I also feel
that those who Tweet, or write articles like a collection of Tweets,
may be too stupid to understand that intelligent persons dislike
Tweets, but nevertheless it is so.
Well... here is the first Tweet-like message:
For one thing, I do not
believe in "the anti-Trump
this is a sort of hypothetical question that is not formulated as a
question but as an assertion.
The Trump regime’s
teetering on the precipice because of Donald Trump. One could plausibly
argue that nobody has done more for the anti-Trump #resistance than the
Orange Shitgibbon himself.
Consider how different things might be if he were articulate, displayed
some rudimentary knowledge of how the world works, didn’t make
headlines with outlandish lies every day and had a modicum of
Here is another Tweet-like message:
Meanwhile, the New
York Times reported that “the overall number of detained
migrant children has exploded to the highest ever recorded — a
significant counternarrative to the Trump administration’s efforts to
reduce the number of undocumented families coming to the United
States.” There’s been a lot of attention on family separations but when
you include kids who are locked up with their
families, the total is almost 13,000.
According to The
Washington Post, the regime is tripling the size of a “a
tent camp for migrant children in the desert outside El Paso” in order
to accommodate all the kids the xenophobic fuckers running our
government are detaining.
I suppose this is
correct (but I can scold myself if I want to, and do not see
much use for either "the
Orange Shitgibbon" or "the xenophobic fuckers running our government"), although I know many Tweets are
essentially scoldings (which is one important reason why I
don't like them and never
Here is the last
Tweet-like message I quote:
Quite possibly so. Then
again, I do not like Tweets nor Tweet-like messaging, and
indeed also like to add that this is the first such "article"
that reaches me from writers for BillMoyers.com, that otherwise
generally were good and well-written articles.
Finally, we leave you with
this good news: A series of recent polls suggests that the Senate is
very much in play this November. It was long viewed as nearly
impossible for the Dems to take the upper chamber, but handicapper Stuart
Rothenberg wrote this week for Rollcall that
“Democratic prospects have improved noticeably, giving the party a
difficult but discernible route for control.”
Three Big Lessons We Didn’t Learn from the Economic Crisis
This article is by
Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:
Ten years ago, after making
of money gambling with other people’s money, Wall Street nearly
the outgoing George W. Bush and incoming Obama administrations bailed
America should have learned
big lessons from the crisis. We didn’t, to our continuing peril.
First unlearned lesson:
Banking is a risky
business with huge upsides for the few who gamble in it, but bigger
downsides for the public when those bets go bad.
Which means that safeguards
necessary. The safeguards created after Wall Street’s 1929 crash worked
over four decades. They made banking boring.
But starting in the 1980s,
were watered down or repealed because of Wall Street’s increasing
profits and its growing political clout. As politicians from both
dependent on the Street for campaign funding, the rush to deregulate
into a stampede.
Yes, I basically
with the above, except for the usage of "We", which is false both for
Reich and for me, and also for quite a few intelligent others. (And why
not say: "Many
didn’t, to our continuing peril."?!)
Anyway. Here is the
The second lesson we should
learned but didn’t is how widening inequality makes our economy
susceptible to financial disaster.
In the decades leading up
stagnant wages caused many Americans to go deep into debt – using the
values of their homes as collateral. Much the same thing had happened
years leading up to 1929.
Wall Street banks were
accommodate – lending willy-nilly and often in predatory ways – until
housing and debt bubbles burst.
And now? The underlying
stagnant wages, with most economic gains going to the top, is still
Once again, consumers are deep in debt – inviting another crisis.
so, except for "we" (which should again have been
"many"). Here is the third lesson:
I am sorry I have to
correct Reich's grammar, but in the first paragraph quoted above he is
contradicting himself: He says "we" didn't learn the lesson, and in the
next statement says "many" did. These can't be both true (and I
a whole lot of logic).
The third big lesson we
learn concerned the rigging of American politics. After the crisis,
Americans realized that Wall Street, big corporations, and the wealthy
essentially bought up our democracy.
Americans saw the Street
bailed out while homeowners, suddenly owing more on their homes than
were worth, got little or nothing.
Millions lost their jobs,
pensions, and homes, but the bankers and big investors came out richer
Bankers who committed serious
escaped accountability. No executive went to jail.
Then again, apart from this contradiction, the rest is as I thought it
was, since 2008.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article, and it is its
Well... the above quoted
bit might have been put in quite a few different ways. I prefer this
Democrats don’t know
simply oppose Trump and his authoritarianism, or get behind a reform
wrest control of politics and the economy from the moneyed
But to do the latter they’d
take on those that have funded them for decades. I wish I had more
Sad to say, ten years after
near meltdown of Wall Street we seem to have learned very little. Only
We now have Trump.
Quite a few Democrats don't know what to do, because they disagree with
the current leadership of the Democrats, but also don't know how to get
rid of them, simply because the current leadership is so heavily funded
by the rich, and especially by the Wall Street Bankers.
The rest - apart from "we" (and I wrote over
2000 articles about the
crisis since September 1, 2008) - is more or less correct. And this is
a recommended article, although you should read "we" as "many".
Resistance a Good Name
article is by David
Swanson on Washington´s Blog. It starts as follows:
It’s popular to
refer to the political line of a major corporate party in the United
States as something like “the resistance” when the other of the two
parties is on the throne of what both parties have, over many decades,
actively converted into an unconstitutional position of something
wildly beyond old-fashioned royal powers. Around 2004 the Democratic
Party line was to pretend to oppose wars. Around 2018 it wasn’t. So the
“resistance” of that party’s followers included war opposition in 2004
but not in 2018. Its essence was and is not resistance at all, but
When it comes to the
general habit of resisting unproven, unworthy, illegitimate, and
unpopular authority, the stance promoted by U.S. culture is quite
mixed, and virtually everyone in the U.S. government is opposed to
resistance as a matter of principle or as a matter of cowardice. For
every whistleblower, there are dozens, hundreds, thousands, or tens of
thousands of people who could have exposed the very same abuses and
chose not to.
Yes, I basically agree
with the above, though indeed I did not know that "the
resistance" has been popular before 2016. Then again, I never
believed in "the resistance" that I saw on videos taken from TV, that
was presumably hosted by some of the best paid presenters on TV.
And I also believe that
whistleblower, there are dozens, hundreds, thousands, or tens of
thousands of people who could have exposed the very same abuses and
chose not to" - but then
that has always been the case everywhere (that is, that many
talk but few act, especially not if acting is
risky to themselves).
Then there is this on Bruce Levine
and "the people under 30":
Bruce Levine has written
on this theme
in the past, but his new book, Resisting Illegitimate Authority,
is a powerful new tool that ought to be put into the hands of every
young person, teacher, and parent. When George W. Bush was emperor, it
was rare to attend a gathering of peace activists in the United States
at which nobody asked “Where are the people under 30?”
I checked out Bruce
Levine, and found that I basically do not know about him, which
say that since he also is a clinical psychologist (while I am a
psychologist but not a clinical one), I do not have much of an idea
about what he wrote.
As to "the people under 30": I admit that I have asked that question (of myself,
not in public) quite a few times the last 17 years or so. I still
think it is a good question, although I grant that lately quite a few
more young people seem to have protested than around 2005, say.
Here is the last bit
that I quote from this article (and this connects to a bit about Levine
that I did not quote):
They never had it easy.
That is actually the message that takes up the bulk of Levine’s book as
he recounts the stories of such varied anti-authoritarians as Thomas
Paine, Ralph Nader, Malcolm X, Emma Goldman, Eugene Debs, Edward
Snowden, Frances Farmer, Ernest Hemingway, Phil Ochs, Lenny Bruce, Ida
Lupino, Alexander Berkman, Leon Czolgosz, Ted Kaczinski, Henry Thoreau,
Scott Nearing, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Jane
Jacobs, Noam Chomsky, George Carlin, and Levine himself. Historical
anti-authoritarians have had it hard when they’ve opposed the wrong
authorities, and dismissing them as mentally imbalanced is nothing new.
But today a kid like Malcolm X in a foster home would be quite likely
to be drugged. Threatening suicide, as teenage Emma Goldman did, might
today land her in a psychiatric hospital.
I say, for I have read
at least 15 of the "anti-authoritarians" Levine mentions, which is something
like a first. And I think I may agree with the chances of modern
Malcolm Xs or Emma Goldmans at least in the sense that they are
far more likely to be treated with psychiatric medicines
real counterparts were in their time. This is a recommended article.