in all the world is more dangerous, than sincere ignorance and
-- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
from February 19, 2019
This is a
Nederlog of Tuesday,
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 three 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:
. Selections from February 19, 2019:
1. Worshipping the Electronic Image
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. What to Do About Massive Population
3. How a failing capitalist system is allowing Amazon to
4. A psychiatrist makes the case for invoking the 25th
5. UK Lawmakers Call Out Facebook Execs as 'Digital Gangsters'
the Electronic Image
This article is by
Chris Hedges on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
Donald Trump, like much
American public, is entranced by electronic images. He interprets
reality through the distortions of digital media. His decisions,
opinions, political positions, prejudices and sense of self are
reflected back to him on screens. He views himself and the world around
him as a vast television show with himself as the star. His primary
concerns as president are his ratings, his popularity and his image. He
is a creature—maybe the poster child—of the modern, post-literate
culture, a culture that critics such as Marshall McLuhan,
Daniel Boorstin, James W. Carey and Neil
Postman warned us about.
Quite possibly so, as far as
Trump is concerned, at least, and I also did read McLuhan and
but should add I disagreed with both. Also, on a personal note,
to add three relevant remarks:
First, next year I am living
50 years by myself (or with a woman), and then I also do not have a
TV for 50 years. The reason I gave up on TV 50 years ago are still
the same as they were then: I hardly ever learned anything from TV (but
a lot from books); I thought nearly all programs boring
uninteresting; and I hate propaganda and
Second, it is now 41
years ago that I heard the first postmodernistic
late fascist and terrorist, professor Brands, in fact a historian), who
was invited to open he academic year 1978/1979 in the
"University" of Amsterdam, where he told the sick lie, literally but in
"Everybody knows that
does not exist"
My ex and myself heard him do
the public academic opening, and I was so much sickened by this
(that I did not even know was called
postmodernism in 1978) that I was enticed (in spite of the illness that
struck both my ex and myself in January 1979) to design a student party
that opposed it.
Doing that taught me that (i)
I was "a fascist" (or "a dirty fascist") and "a terrorist"
according to the student party I opposed, the ASVA, that was from the
1970ies till 1984 ruled by com- munists, and that (ii) around
5% of all the students and staff in the "University" of Amsterdam agreed
with our rationalistic pro-science approach to universities, and 95%
of the students agreed with the ASVA, perhaps not because
communists or postmodernists (as the ASVA was from 1985 till 1995), but
because they liked the easiest possible way towards their degrees.
Third, the last time the
average IQ was measured in the "University" of Amsterdam was - to the
best of my knowledge - in 1984, when the average IQ was 115
(which was from 1865 till 1965 about 10 points too low for a
I said that both my ex and
myself fell ill in January 1979, and we still are, and have ME/CFS. We did
both succeed in getting our M.A.-degrees in psychology, and these
degrees were both very good, and were made with hardly hearing any
lectures, but I must add that both our IQs were above 140 (which I
understand is very offensive to nearly all Dutchmen with a
lower IQ, i.e. at least 99 out of a 100).
Anyway... these are quite
relevant personal remarks. Here is more by Chris Hedges (and Neil
“It is not merely that on
television screen entertainment is the metaphor for all discourse,”
Postman points out. “It is that off the screen the same metaphor
prevails.” Americans, because television stages their world, “no longer
talk to each other, they entertain each other.” Trump is what is
produced when a society severs itself from print, when it pushes art,
ethics, classics, philosophy, history and the humanities to the margins
of the universities and culture, when its members spend hours sitting
inert in front of a screen. Information, ideas and epistemology are, as
Postman writes, given form today by electronic images.
In one sense, I cannot
verify Postman's thesis because I saw extremely little TV the
last 50 years, but I must add that (anyway) I don't believe it,
although I agree that "art,
ethics, classics, philosophy, history and the humanities" have been pushed more and more aside.
But I disagree because
Postman speaks as if (bolding added) "television screen entertainment is the metaphor for all
discourse" and I know (in Holland
at least) it is not, that is, for the more intelligent and
educated part of the adults (which I agree are always in
the minority - and I start counting at an IQ of 125, if I am supposed
to say someone is intelligent).
Here is some more on
talents and those who believe him:
More ominous than the
president’s impoverished vocabulary is that he cannot string together
sentences that make sense. This replicates not only the shoddy
vocabulary of television, but more importantly the incoherence of
television. Trump is able to communicate with tens of millions of
Americans, also raised in front of screens, because they too have been
linguistically and intellectually mutated by digital images. They lack
the ability to detect lies or think rationally. They are part of our
Yes, but the current
president is quite dumb and is also - in my psychologist's
and also see below - not sane (but you may
disagree, especially if you are a postmodernist or not a
Also, while I probably agree
with Hedges that many Americans are both quite stupid and
I again do not think that their stupidity and ignorance are
produced by TV, or as Hedges says, because "they too have been linguistically and intellectually mutated
by digital images".
In part the stupidity is
native (half of all adults have an IQ below 100), and in
part the ignorance
is produced by the very bad education system (which
in Holland has been broken down since 1965,
which makes it necessary to
teach 18-year old students of physics at present the algebra that I
learned at age
12, in 1962).
Here is more on
None of the above
holds for me, although I am probably satisfied that the above may
describe a sizable part of those with IQs below 100 (which is half
Electronic images are our
modern-day idols. We worship the power and fame they impart. We yearn
to become idolized celebrities. We measure our lives against the
fantasies these images disseminate. If something does not appear on a
screen or is proclaimed on a screen its authenticity is questioned. We
fervently build miniature social media platforms where we daily update
our “life the movie,” confusing self-presentation with genuine
communication and friendship.
And there is this on TV in the USA:
I say. Well... you must be
crazy (in my opinion) to watch 4 hours and 45 minutes of
TV every day,
besides spending “over 11
hours per day listening to, watching, reading or generally interacting
with media”: I see no TV at all on almost any day, and the only
"interact" with that "produces electronic images" is the screen of my
computer, that also is mostly off for around 18 hours in each
The fixation on
images by Trump means he and millions of other American adults—who,
according to a 2018
report by the Nielsen company, on average watch four hours, 46
minutes of TV each day and spend “over 11 hours per day listening to,
watching, reading or generally interacting with media”—have severed
themselves from complex thought. They have been infantilized.
Television, including the news, reduces all reality to a childish,
Here is more on academic institutions:
should be the repositories of culture and literacy, are transforming
themselves, often with corporate money, into adjuncts of the digital
age, expanding departments that deal with technology, engineering and
computer science—the largest major at universities such as Princeton
and Harvard—while diminishing the disciplines that deal with art,
philosophy, ethics, history and politics. These disciplines, rooted in
print, are the only antidotes to cultural death.
I wrote the ""University" of
Amsterdam" in part because I quite agree that this
ceased to be a real university in the early 1970ies, and never
regain its status as a real university without massive changes
education in Holland (which is most unlikely without a revolution).
Also, I am quite willing to
suppose that a similar development as happened in Holland happened
elsewhere, which is to say that most university studies are very
less worth than they were before 1965.
Here is Hedges' conclusion:
I more or less agree with this,
but then I think this is possible only for a small group of
intellectually gifted with something like a decent education (which
gets more and more rare, indeed).
In short, the more we
off our screens and return to the world of print, the more we seek out
the transformative power of art and culture, the more we re-establish
genuine relationships, conducted face-to-face rather than through a
screen, the more we use knowledge to understand and put the world
around us in context, the more we will be able to protect ourselves
from the digital dystopia.
Also, I think the present article is interesting but mostly
think what Hedges describes is quite possibly true of the
half (or two thirds) of the population, but it is not quite
true of the
remaining part (which is a minority). And in any case, this article is
to Do About Massive Population Growth
This article is by Fiona Ehlers,
Bartholomäus Grill, Laura Höflinger and Samiha Shafy on Spiegel
International. It has a supertitle, "Four Billions More". This article
is also too long to excerpt properly. This is from not far from its
Africa is in in the midst
of a population explosion that will necessarily lead to a massive wave
of migration toward Europe, writes Stephen Smith, an Africa studies
professor at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, in his
soon-to-be-released book "The Scramble for Europe: Young Africa on Its
Way to the Old Continent."
Smith, a former Africa
correspondent, predicts that as a result of the massive wave of
migration, between 150 and 200 million people of African heritage will
live in Europe by 2050. He warns of a "stampede" and a "flood" that
will reach across the globe, a scenario that plays right into the hands
of right-wing populists and their xenophobic message.
But Smith does correctly depict a development that Western donor
countries and aid organizations have long been playing down: In the
next 30 years, the population of the African continent will more than
double, from 1.2 billion people today to 2.5 billion. The result will
be a population of which 50 percent will be younger than 30 years old
and won't have much of a future to look forward to if the continent's
economic outlook doesn't change drastically. The threat of conflict
over scarce resources, land, food, water and work is very real.
Well... first of all, I
think this is a bad article (which seems to be a rather common
journalism produced by three, four or more journalists). And second,
while I grant that Smith's population numbers may be correct, I
think his projections are correct at all.
Here is some more:
The UN believes that
population growth will slow by the end of this century and will come to
a stop at around 11 billion people, which is welcome news, on one hand.
On the other, though, that is 4 billion more people than currently live
on the planet -- 4 billion people who will live predominantly in Africa
and Asia, in three-dozen countries that are poorly prepared for what is
coming because they are already overwhelmed with the situation as it
In fact, "4 billion people" more is more than 50% of
the present population
- and nearly all of them will be born in the 21st century. I happen to
think that 7 billion is far too many, and my reasons are -
though not only - that a sizable part of the present 7 billion are
Here is more:
In a few years, India will
take over from China as the world's most populous country. By the
middle of the century, it will be home to more than 1.6 billion people,
though precise projections vary. It is an almost frightening number,
but it doesn't have to be, because India is a country that is doing
many things right.
Within 40 years, the birth
rate in India has plunged by more than 50 percent to 2.2 children per
woman. Assuming the trend continues, the population will continue
growing until 2050 -- and will then cease.
One of the reasons I think
this is a really bad article are phrases like 1.6 billion (merely in
India) "is an almost frightening
number, but it doesn't have to be, because India is a country that is
doing many things right" - for
saying that it "is
things right" is about the
sort of "argument" in this article that supports that 11 billion people
will be able to survive by 2100.
Here is the ending, which is
sick in my opinion:
When looked at through
lens, the many young men and women in Africa are not a millstone around
the continent's neck, but its hope for the future. They may even be
able to disprove the pessimists, assuming they are able to overcome the
huge hurdles to development in their countries: terrible governance,
the power of tradition and the predominance of the old, male guard.
You see: There are
high hopes for Africa precisely because it has "many young men and women" for this provides hope, according
to Spiegel International, for (bolding added) "[t]hey may even
be able to disprove the
pessimists" - and if not,
will die by "terrible governance,
the power of tradition and the predominance of the old". (But hey, they are black, so
this doesn't matter much.)
a failing capitalist system is allowing Amazon to cripple America
This article is by
Paul Buchheit on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
Capitalism is failing in
America, and Amazon is both the cause and beneficiary of much of the
breakdown. Jeff Bezos said,
"We've had three big ideas at Amazon that we've stuck with for 18
years, and they're the reason we're successful: Put the customer first.
Invent. And be patient." He might have added three capitalist practices
familiar to his company: (1) Pay no taxes; (2) Drive competitors out of
business; and (3) Exploit workers.
In 2018, according to its own SEC
filings, Amazon claimed a refund on its $11 billion in
U.S. profits. It did the same on nearly $6 billion in profits in 2017.
The company has reportedly positioned
itself to avoid even more future taxes with unspecified tax
In the most extreme form of capitalism taxes do not exist. This is called
all corporations, Amazon may be the leading advocate of this
philosophy. They haven't paid federal income tax for the past two years.
Yes, I quite agree
the above. Here is some more:
In a summary of "The Myth of Capitalism," by
Jonathan Tepper and Denise Hearn, it is argued that
"an increase in market concentration across the United States has
resulted in a system that is not true capitalism, since freedom is
being restricted... Amazon is crushing retailers.. It can determine
what products can and cannot sell on its platform, and it competes with
any customer that encounters success." Columbia University and UN
economist Howard Steven Friedman adds,
"Monopolies are one example of capitalism failing. Monopolies have
virtually no competition and can dictate prices to their customers
unless they are restricted by regulators."
Well... no, I mostly
First, to characterize
or define capitalism as "not restricting freedom" is utter and
for anybody who knows anything about capitalism
(especially - in the West - in the second half of th 19th century).
Second, I also do not
think that "Monopolies are
one example of capitalism failing": For me, it seems rather as if this is one important
signature that capitalism is not failing.
Third, I would like
have a - good, clear - definition of something important that is
supposed to be failing, like capitalism, but this is wholly missing.
Here is more on Amazon:
Amazon warehouse workers
per hour. That's not a living wage for a U.S. family
of four, and not even for a single
person in many areas of the country. So the employees of this
super-rich company turn to food stamps, letting U.S. taxpayers take
care of them. In Ohio and Pennsylvania,
one in ten Amazon workers were recently on SNAP. In Arizona, one in
This is correct, and it
is a big shame. Here is some more on capitalism (still not defined):
Capitalism has failed
and it has caused a surge in inequality that gets worse with each
passing year. In Capital
in the 21st Century, Thomas Piketty showed that for 40 years, from
1970 to 2010, labor's share of national income (wages and salaries) has
declined. Stanford research
reveals that "the declining labor share at the economy level is driven
by the growth of large firms." Like Amazon.
This is more or less correct.
Here is the last bit from this article, on Amazon's chief, Bezos:
According to The
Atlantic, "Bezos has argued that there is not enough
philanthropic need on earth for him to spend his billions on." If that
truly reflects the man's attitude, it shows an incomprehensible
ignorance or disdain on his part.
If this is what Bezos thinks,
he thinks that the billions of human beings who presently
or do not get enough of (the right) foods ought
to starve, for "there
is not enough philanthropic need on
earth for him to spend his billions on". All I say about this is that I am not amazed at
psychiatrist makes the case for invoking the 25th Amendment
This article is by
Tana Ganeva on AlterNet and originally on Raw Story. This is from near
I say, which I do mainly
because the last time I reviewed an article by Tana Ganeva it was about
another psychiatrist who deplores - correctly, in my
opinion - that Donald Trump became president because (these
psychiatrists think) Trump
is not sane.
Psychiatrist Dee Mosbacher,
M.D., Ph.D., has previously advocated for the use of the 25th Amendment
in response to the President’s erratic behavior. She co-authored a
chapter in “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 37 Psychiatrists and
Mental Health Experts Assess a President—Updated with New Essays.”
Raw Story spoke with her
about why she thinks the president is not fit for office and
whether the 25th Amendment is a viable option.
The last link is to an article I wrote in 2016, that is quite good, and
that includes a part co-written by Dee Mosbacher.
Then again, while I am a psychologist who thinks these psychiatrists
are correct in their diagnosis (which is based on observational
terms rather than psychoanalytic or psychiatric terms), I am also a
psychologist who denies that psychiatry is a science
(as do the majority of the Dutch psychologists who were educated in my
Also, while I agree the situation could be a lot better (with a
far more scientific psychiatry) I also insist that - in the case of
Donald Trump, at least - this is less of a problem.
Anyway, here is some more:
I agree a "neuropsychiatric evaluation" of any (future) president probably is
quite sensible, quite like a medical evaluation.
Tana Ganeva: Do you
think that the 25th Amendment should be invoked?
Dee Mosbacher: As a
psychiatrist specializing in the treatment of chronic mental illness, I
have been calling for a thorough neuropsychiatric evaluation of Donald
Trump since November, 2016. He has shown numerous signs of mental
impairment that warrant an immediate evaluation. This evaluation should
include a thorough assessment of his capacity to perform the duties of
office. Such an evaluation could take place if a neuropsychiatric
consultation were requested after the 25th Amendment was invoked.
Invoking the 25th Amendment is a political decision that must be
undertaken by the vice president, the Cabinet, and/or Congress.
Here is more on Donald Trump:
I agree (and see Trump is not sane, because
that is considerably more specific).
Tana Ganeva: What
actions by President Donald Trump make you think this step is
Dee Mosbacher: He is
impulsive, belligerent, grandiose, careless, hypersensitive to slights
and criticism, and seems unable to distinguish fantasy from reality.
These dangerous signs have become more apparent with every passing week
of his presidency.
Here is more, in fact on psychiatry:
Tana Ganeva: What
are the next steps going forward?
Dee Mosbacher: If the 25th
Amendment is invoked by the appropriate governmental officials, I hope
that they will simultaneously create an independent, nonpartisan panel
of mental health and medical experts to evaluate Mr. Trump’s capability
to fulfill the responsibilities of the presidency. Such a panel should
consist of three neuropsychiatrists (one clinical, one academic, and
one military), one clinical psychologist, one neurologist, and two
internists. The experts should serve six-year terms, with a provision
that one member per year will rotate off and be replaced (Abrams 1999).
No, I disagree:
That panel would consists of 3 psychiatrists, 1 psychologist, 1
neurologist and 2 internists, and that is far too many psychiatrists
(which, once again, is not a real science - and if you want
check out DSM-5: Question 1 of
most essential questions in psychiatric diagnosis"
the last bit that I quote from this article:
This may be reasonable -
but whether he is declared to be medically fit or unfit (and medicine
includes psychiatry) should not be
due to a majority of
psychiatrists and psychologists.
The evaluations should be
strictly confidential unless the panel determines that the mental
health or medical condition of the president or vice-president renders
her/him incapable of fulfilling the duties of office. All American
military personnel must pass a fitness for duty exam before they serve.
We should expect nothing less of our commander in chief.
Lawmakers Call Out Facebook Execs as 'Digital Gangsters'
This article is by Jessica
Corbett on Common Dreams. I abbreviated the title. It starts as follows:
I quite agree. Here is
some more - and note that Mark Zuckerberg and others are, completely
correctly, in my opinion, called (bolding added) "digital
gangsters" - and this opinion was based on 1 1/2 years
research of Facebook, and is by the British "Parliament's Digital, Culture, Media, and
As U.K. lawmakers called
strict regulations "to curb the worst excesses of surveillance
capitalism" following the release a damning report that details an investigation
of Facebook, New Zealand's Labour Party announced
Monday it is pursuing tax reforms to require multinational tech giants
"to pay their fair share."
New Zealand Prime Minister
Jacinda Ardern revealed the decision in a press
conference following a cabinet meeting on Monday, telling
reporters that "our current tax system is not fair in the way it treats
individual tax payers, and how it treats multinationals."
companies, such as those offering social media networks, trading
platforms, and online advertising, currently earn a significant income
from New Zealand consumers without being liable for income tax. That is
not fair, and we are determined to do something about it," Finance
Minister Grant Robertson said in a statement.
I think I agree with most
of the above, and certainly with the first point. Here is the last bit
that I quote from this article:
The news out of New Zealand
came as the U.K. Parliament's Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport
Committee put out a report outlining the results of an
18-month probe of "disinformation and fake news" on Facebook—which
found that the company "intentionally and knowingly violated both data
privacy and anti-competition laws," as Tory MP and committee chairman
Damian Collins summarized in a statement.
Calling out Facebook and
its executives for behaving as "digital gangsters," the report, as the Guardian
- Accuses Mark
Zuckerberg, Facebook's co-founder and chief executive, of contempt
for Parliament in refusing three separate demands for him to give
evidence, instead sending junior employees unable to answer the
- Warns British electoral
law is unfit for purpose and vulnerable to interference by hostile
foreign actors, including agents of the Russian government attempting
to discredit democracy; and
- Calls on the British
government to establish an independent investigation into "foreign
influence, disinformation, funding, voter manipulation, and the sharing
of data in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, the 2016 EU
referendum, and the 2017 general election."
Yes, I agree, although I
think I should add that there was already a need for "new independent regulation with a tough
powers and sanctions regime"
since 15 years at least. Anyway, this is a recommended
"We need a radical shift in
the balance of power between the platforms and the people," he
concluded, calling for stricter regulations and reforms to existing
rules that are outdated in the current digital era.
The U.K. Labour Party
concurred. "Labour agrees with the committee's ultimate conclusion—the
era of self-regulation for tech companies must end immediately," said
Deputy Leader Tom Watson. "We need new independent regulation with a
tough powers and sanctions regime to curb the worst excesses of
surveillance capitalism and the forces trying to use technology to
subvert our democracy."
end of 2015 that
xs4all.nl is systematically
ruining my site by NOT updating it within a few seconds,
as it did between 1996 and 2015, but by updating it between
two to seven days later, that is, if I am lucky.
claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie.
They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.
just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my
ideas. They have behaved now for 2 years
as if they are the
eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I
from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).
two reasons I remain with xs4all is that my site has been
there since 1996, and I have no reasons whatsoever to suppose that any
other Dutch provider is any better (!!).