Jul 17, 2016

Crisis: Arianna Huffington, "Free Trade", Periods, What to expect?
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From A Murrow Moment To A Murrow Mindset: How
     Not To Normalize Donald Trump
2. "Free" Trade? Fraud Alert
3. Do Women’s Periods Really Sync When They Spend
     Time Together?
4. What to expect?


This is a Nederlog of Sunday, July 17, 2016.

This is a crisis log. It is a sunday, and I found only three files that I wished to review, while I used the occasion to add a fourth file that sketches what I plan to do with my site: Item 1 is about a nice article by Arianna Huffington on Donald Trump; item 2 is about a decent article that explains "free trade" is propaganda much rather than fact; item 3 is about a non-crisis item that (also) explains that I learned few scientific facts in my study of psychology; and item 4 is about what the reader may expect on my site (supposing I do not get more ill than I am, the coming years).

From A Murrow Moment To A Murrow Mindset: How Not To Normalize Donald Trump

The first item today is by Arianna Huffington on the Huffington Post:
  • From A Murrow Moment To A Murrow Mindset: How Not To Normalize Donald Trump
This starts as follows, and it is here because I like Arianna Huffington (a bit) and despise Donald Trump (a lot):

Donald Trump is fond of claiming that everyone loves him. Hispanics love him. African Americans love him. Women love him. The LGBT community loves him. And Texas won't secede because Texans love him, too. But there's one group he doesn't make this claim about. "I think the political press is among the most dishonest people that I have ever met," he said at a press conference last month, after reporters questioned his claims about donating money to veterans groups. "The press should be ashamed of itself," he continued. "You make me look bad." So far he has revoked the press credentials of, among others, The Washington Post, Salon and, of course, The Huffington Post.

But, as we've seen over the course of this campaign, Trump is as wrong about the press hating him as he is about Hispanics, African Americans, women and the LGBT community loving him. The press has had a very strange relationship with Trump since the beginning of his campaign. From the moment he descended the Trump Tower escalator in June 2015, his ascent has been aided and abetted by a very willing press.
Yes, this is all true - and I should add that I find the aiding and abetting of Trump by the American press both sickening and worrying: Does this really happen only spontaneously? Is there no plan and no coordination behind it at all? (I don't know: I am asking.)

Then there is this:
As late as last month, the AP reported that Trump still had only around 30 paid staff on the ground nationwide. He was, as MSNBC put it, "a candidate without a campaign." But, of course, the press has filled that void. While gleefully going into BREAKING-HAPPENING-NOW-TEAM-COVERAGE mode on every little tweet, they also largely ignored the seriousness and impact of his actual proposals. Like the "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States," which Trump announced in December. Or his plan to deport all undocumented residents of the U.S., which, as Josh Marshall note, has certainly not received the amount of attention proportional to its scope and potential human cost. "There's very little mention of what is undoubtedly the craziest, most dangerous, most expensive and brutal of his policies," he wrote, "his plan to deport roughly 3 percent of the current U.S. population in 18 months." These were essentially treated as just more colorful performances, courtesy of a blustery reality TV star.
These plans are among my reasons to say that Trump is mad (which I do think, while I am also a psychologist).

Here is the main reason why I like Arianna Huffington:

Covering Trump in our Entertainment section was a rhetorical device, meant to signal to our readers that this was not a normal candidate and that we're not going to pretend otherwise. After he proposed banning an entire religion from entering a country founded on religious freedom, we decided to add an editor's note at the bottom of every piece about him, which reads: "Editor's note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims -- 1.6 billion members of an entire religion -- from entering the U.S." All of which is backed up by corresponding links.

And there is this about Trump's riches and character:

In 2005, former New York Times and HuffPost editor Tim O'Brien, now at Bloomberg View, published his account of Trump's business dealings in TrumpNation: The Art of Being Donald. In the book, O'Brien pegs Trump's wealth at somewhere between $150 million to $250 million. If Trump is right because he's rich, that's a lot less rightness than $10 billion. After the book was published, Trump sued O'Brien for $5 billion. And lost. And yet the media continues to refer to him as a "billionaire," and allows him to get away with his claims of his incredible deal-making powers.
This is the ending of the article:
What we need is not just a Murrow moment but a sustained Murrow mindset.

"This is no time for men who oppose Senator McCarthy's methods to keep silent," Murrow said on the air in 1954. "We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities... We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom wherever it continues to exist in the world. But we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home... Cassius was right. 'The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.' Good night, and good luck."

That was in 1954. I think Murrow was right in claiming (with Shakespeare) that 'The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves', and it is the same
now - except that the free press has mostly gone bust.

This is a recommended article. [1]

2. "Free" Trade? Fraud Alert

The second item is by David Korten on Common Dreams:

  • "Free" Trade? Fraud Alert

This starts as follows:

It is rare these days to hear the words "market" and "trade" without the word "free" attached—especially on corporate media. I even hear colleagues who are pursuing a more localized economy use these terms without realizing that by so doing they are subtly and unintentionally promoting a political agenda they oppose.

Words have power, and corporate spin doctors choose them carefully to develop positive emotional associations with their agenda.

The corporatist website explains what is meant by a free market: "A completely free market is an idealized form of a market economy where buyers and sellers are allowed to transact freely (i.e., buy/sell/trade) based on a mutual agreement on price without state intervention in the form of taxes, subsidies, or regulation." Thus, the term "free market" joins two positive words—freedom and markets—and associates them with the corporatists' ideal of freedom for corporations to maximize short-term profits free from public oversight, taxes, or responsibility for public consequences.

This is all true, though I should remark that I never believed in "free markets" and "free trade", indeed not since my teens or earlier, which was in part due to my parents being - real - communists [2] and in part due to my very much disliking any kind of propaganda. (As to "free markets" see my lemma on liberalism.)

Then there is this on the real meaning of the phrase "free market":

The "free market" of the corporatist ideal is the polar opposite to such community-nourishing living markets. The corporatists' free market is populated and organized by transnational corporations that spurn attachments to people, place, and community.

In fact, the freedoms that the multi-national corporations desire are the freedom to degrade, defraud and demean the many who are not rich; the freedom to force higher tax rates on the middle class than on the rich; the freedom to lie and misrepresent; the freedom to attack states and ordinary tax payers for proposing laws that take a penny from their profits; and the freedom for the few rich to behave as if they are supermen entitled to everything.

And there is this:

For most of us, trade and freedom are both good. "Free trade" connects these associations with the corporatist agenda of trade unconstrained by national boundaries and interests. These set up a positive association with international agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) that are routinely referred to as "free trade" agreements. In fact, they are not about freedom and only indirectly about trade. Filled with thousands of pages of detailed rules, their primary purpose is to strip countries of control of their own borders and transfer that control to global corporations.

Perhaps the most striking "free market" contradiction is that the corporatist neoliberal agenda supports corporate mergers and acquisitions that build concentrations of monopoly power and reduce the market competition that is normally assumed to be a defining feature of a market.

Actually, I never saw why "[f]or most of us, trade and freedom are both good" but I agree I have a logical mind that very much dislikes propaganda, and this statement (as well) is merely propaganda.

But this may well be different for most Americans, and Korten is quite right about the horrible bullshit that are the TPP and the TTIP.

This is a recommended article.

3. Do Women’s Periods Really Sync When They Spend Time Together?

The third item is by Alexandra Alvergne on AlterNet and originally on The Conversation:

  • Do Women’s Periods Really Sync When They Spend Time Together?
Let me introduce this item by saying that it is motivated by my having an - excellent - M.A. in psychology, in which I learned almost nothing of any factual scientific value. [3] Indeed, the present "fact", that women's periods synchronize when they live together, was one of the few real facts I was told while studying psychology - and now it has been torn down on methodological and experimental grounds.

Here is an outline. The article starts as follows:

It is a popular belief that women who live together synchronise their menstrual cycles, and that it’s mediated by their pheromones—the airborne molecules that enable members of the same species to communicate non-verbally.

The idea originated in a study published in Nature in 1971, which recorded data on the onset of menstruation for 135 American college students living in a dormitory. The dorm had four corridors each with around 25 girls living in single and double rooms. Based on the analysis of around eight cycles per woman, the study reported an increase in synchronisation (a decrease in the difference between onset dates) for room mates and among closest friends, but not among random pairings in the dormitory. The author hypothesised that this was driven by the amount of time that women spent together, as this would allow for pheromone communication.

Yes, that is also how it reached me, except that I did not get it from Nature but from one of the introductions to psychology, where it was reported as a definite fact.

This is the outcome:

However, there is now accumulating evidence that casts serious doubt on the existence of the phenomenon. First, the original 1971 study was criticised on methodological grounds. Second, a number of studies with both human groups and non-human species failed to replicate the initial findings, with at least as many studies reporting positive results as studies reporting negative ones.

Mathematical analyses have also revealed that some degree of synchrony is to be expected given the shifts in female reproductive condition over time, and that no adaptive process needs to be invoked to explain what is observed. In other words, synchrony or the overlap of cycles between females is best explained by chance.

In fact, I checked all five links above, and found that the reason I did not know the outcome until today is that the above findings date from 1992 till 2012 (long after I studied psychology).

So even the replication of important factual (or "factual") results in psychology takes from 20 to 40 years after being known - and besides, the mathematics of the 1971 study was also wrong.

And this is one of the few "facts" I was being served in the study of psychology... [4]

4. What to expect?

The fourth and last item is by me and is a fairly brief survey of what readers of my site may expect will be there in the coming years - and incidentally, the qualification here is the same since 1.i.1979: it doesn't depend only on my wishes and my time, but also on my health, which has been ill ever since 1979.

The crisis

I started reporting on the crisis on September 1, 2008. I did so in Dutch, and continued in Dutch for one and half years, and then switched to English, with which I continued ever since. [5]

In nearly eight years I produced 1275 files about the crisis, which seems to be less than some but more than most. Also, I will continue with it, simply because the crisis continues for most who do not belong to the 1% or the
10%. [6]

It is also true that my crisis reporting was rather uneven: From September 1, 2008, until June 10, 2013, I wrote 190 files on the crisis, which works out as about 50 files a year, but since June 10, 2013, I produced the rest, which works out as nearly 1 a day, which is a seven-fold increase.

The main reason is Edward Snowden, who showed me, and anybody else willing to listen and reason rationally, that Orwell's nightmare of a totalitarian state with absolute control of everyone by a few is being implemented at top speed by the NSA, the GCHQ, and probably by most secret services, and is  covered by most politicians (who deny anything or much is wrong with gathering all that the secret services can get on anyone).

Reporting on the crisis

An important part of the reasons for me to write as much about the crisis as I did was that I wanted to understand it better than I did in 2008. I think I have succeeded in understanding it considerably better than I did in 2008, but I have not published much about this.

This will be done, but needs some time, and it also needs some other essays that I haven't finished yet, such as the following one:

On fascism and neofascism

One of my essays that I have been promising and so far have not delivered is "On fascism and neofascism". This started as an analysis of over 20 definitions of "fascism" (the term) and produced my own definition of "fascism", and then
continued with an analysis and definition of "neofascism" (the term).

The reason I have not finished and published it yet is that I was not satisfied with my definition of neofascism. I think I have a reasonable analysis now, but I have not worked it into the essay yet, and this will need some more time.

My autobiography

Probably there are not many who are much interested in my autobiography, but I am, for it concerns my life, which is the only one I know intimately and from the inside. I also think it is fairly interesting, in spite of my falling ill when I was 28 and remaining ill ever since, but I agree I am partial.

At present, there is one part on line, that covers the first 28 years of my life, while the next part, that covers my next 12 years (from 28 till 40) has been mostly done, but is not quite finished, and then needs rather extensive rewriting (for all was originally done in brief daily bits in Nederlog).

In fact, the same holds for the first part, that also needs some rewriting. That is probably fairly easy to do, but in part II
(from 28 till 40) I have consider- able trouble with the only WYSIWYG html editor that I can get on Linux/Ubuntu, which is the rather horribly buggy KompoZer.

I will probably have to rewrite considerable parts from what I have from txt, which is a pain. I will do this for part II, if only because of most of it has been written, but I do not know when, and indeed I am a bit doubtful of part III (from my age 40 till 65), in part because the last 25 years what remained of my health has been destroyed by (ex-)mayor Van Thijn, who preferred protecting his very own friends the illegal drugsdealers over doing his legal duties to protect me, I think for financial reasons (the drugsdealers he helped have turned over the last 30 years, merely in soft drugs, 300 billion euros, and I see no reason whatsoever why a man like Van Thijn would help them for many years with their trade without getting a percentage).

But I can't prove the last fact, though it stands to reason (300 billion euros?! all given for nothing to the illegal drugsdealers by Dutch politicians?! [7]) and besides there is another problem with the last 25 years of my life: Very little happened in it and what happened was mostly quite private.

So I don't know whether I will write part III. It is possible I will leave it out, apart from the years 40 till 43 (1990 till 1993) that I may add to part II.

You will find out, if you read Dutch and are interested, but the main reason this stalled for the moment are the bugs in KompoZer (which are pretty  horrible, though by now they are mostly known to me [8]).

The rest of my site

Lately, indeed since 2012 or so, I have not uploaded much on my site other than in Nederlog, which was done daily, for the most part. (This also relates to my eyes, that collapsed in 2012. They are considerably better now, but not quite healed.)

The site is over 500 MB, which is a lot (at least a 100 books, even if I discount a lot of html- coding). Most is - these days, and since circa 2012 [9] - in my philosophy section, in which I treat some of the texts of around 30 philosophers, whose texts are quoted completely, and are annotated by me in detail.

I think there are some quite good parts in it - such as in
Leibniz, Hume,
Multatuli and Clifford, for example (and in most sections there are several directories, each with quite a number of files) - and I will extend what there is on the moment, but this will be of secondary importance, at least for now, as is the rest of the site: I will maintain it and extend a few parts, but I will not extend the site much, at least not until most of what needs repairing has been repaired.

[1] Incidentally, while I do not know whether the main media press these days is coordinated, I do know "the free press" does not exist anymore. For this reason, I am rather certain that there will neither be a Murrow moment nor a Murrow mindset (though I agree both would be quite desirable).

[2] The "- real -" prefix is there because by now I have more quasi- communists than real communists, which happened in the University of Amsterdam, that was effectively ruled by the students from 1971-1995.

The quasi-communists were nearly all members of the ASVA, many of whom had (around 1980) great fondness of crying out to me that I am "a fascist" or also "a dirty fascist" (and sometimes "like a fascist"). I do not deny that quite
a few were members of the communist party, but they were there because that helped their personal careers (then) and not at all because they were real communists, for they were not. My parents were, for over 40 years, and also in the resistance against the Nazis (which few dared).

[3] Note that I do not deny that there are various facts that I learned in the study of psychology, but most were not produced by psychologists but (mostly) by medics. There are in fact not many solid facts about human psychology that are known to psychologists and are not known to ordinary intelligent persons.

In case you want to read an article about psychology as a science, read this: "Is Psychology a Science?", by Paul Lutus. (This dates back to 2003, and to a revised edition of 2013. It is OK, but I should add that most of the things Lutus criticizes were known to me by 1980 - and I started studying psychology in 1978, indeed already with solid knowledge of methodology and statistics).

[4] It really was. And see the previous note, to which it must be added that (i) the medical reporting done in books of psychology tends to be simplified (no bio-chemistry, for example), while (ii) the same holds for most statistics and nearly all mathematics and physics.

[5] The reasons for switching to English were that it is no more difficult than Dutch for me (I also lived with three women with whom I spoke English, two of whom spoke English natively) while it guarantees far more can read my texts. (I agree that meanwhile "Nederlog" - which means something like "Dutch log" - is inappropriate, but I keep it, since it has been used for 10 or 12 years now.)

[6] I am quite certain of this. For one thing, the real salaries of the 90% were hardly raised since 1980: Nearly all increased income went to the rich.

[7] Please note that everything I say in this paragraph is true according to the Parliamentary Commission Van Traa (Dutch link). The Dutch politicians did not ever make marijuana or hashish legaĺ; all they did was furthering regulations that "allowed" mayors to give permission to their friends and acquiantances to deal illegal drugs in an apparently legal way, also while making it formally impossible to know how much was sold or to know the quality of what was sold; and the turnover in merely marijuana and hashish in Holland was at least 10 billion euros each year (and 50 billion euros if other drugs are also counted).

You may assure me that politicians like Van Thijn, Oudkerk, Cohen and Asscher are so extremely noble that they gladly and willingly arranged an illegal trade in illegal drugs that is worth between 10 and 50 billion dollars annually without taking any cent for this service (and not for 30 successive years either).

I say that all politicians I know in Holland excel in one and only one thing: Lying. And while I can't prove that they all profited, I know and can prove that I have been threatened with murder by the drugsdealers that Van Thijn allowed to deal from the bottom floor of the house where I lived; I know and can prove that I have been literally gassed by them; I know and can prove that they prevented my sleep for 4 years; and I know and can prove that the city police of Amsterdam for 4 years refused to do absolutely anything against these drugsdealers, not even when I went to the police after I learned they were arrested with 2 kiloos of heroin and 1 kilo of cocaine: These degenerate dealers were treated by the city police as if they were the noblest, the best, the most decent, the most moral of all Dutchmen.

[8] The fact that most of the bugs of KompoZer are known to me now (after working for more than five years with it) doesn't mean they are easily avoided (except by giving up WYSIWYG editing, which is possible, but which I mostly avoid). And there is - alas, alas - no other WYSIWYG html editor on Linux (which I think is a shame).

[9] There was rather a lot more about computing and programming  between 2004 and 2010 than there is now. The main reasons for the changes is that I program a lot less than I did, and that I changed from Windows to Linux in 2012. This will probably not alter.

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