Friday, 12 March 2010

Friday Morning Ramble: Tax attacks

Here’s the latest edition of your regular Friday morning ramble, coming to you this afternoon…

  • The whole blogosphere has been excited  by Janet Wilson’s attack on the falling standards of the Royal New Zealand Herald.  But isn’t it ironic that the slide in standards she documents parallels the same slide ion standards that her husband Bill Ralston oversaw at what is now laughingly called the TVNZ News department?  And isn’t it relevant that she’s taking against the Royal New Zealand Herald just at the same time that they are taking against John Banks, the mayoral candidate for whom she’s employed to give media advice?  Or is that just a coincidence?
    God piece anyway:
    Shock, Horror!!! Holding The Front Page At The Royal NZ Herald
  • Alan Bollard says it’s time for government to tighten its belt.  Meanwhile, Sir Double Dipton is boasting that he’s “only” going to increase spending by $1.1 billion this year. This at a time when government debt is already at an eye-watering $51.716 billion—and the government is borrowing the equivalent of around fifty Mark Hotchin’s gin palaces a week just to pay the interest.
    Only in the Bill English household is this sort of spending increase known as “austerity spending.”
    And only in New Zealand would people care more about Hotchin’s chutzpah than Bill’s.
  • Spare a thought for Queensland property owners, who have just been hit with a retrospective land tax going back to June 30, 2002!
    `Retrospective land tax to hit Queensland property investors
  • Lou Taylor has a sign that will make the politicians feel more at home when they’re flying into Wellington than a ‘Wellywood’ sign.
    A bit more realistic
  • raf-133x100 Stephen Hicks reveals a fundamental truth bound to get Sub-Standard readers excited:
    Marxism = Nazism (another datum)
  • I like this point made by Gus Van Horn:
            “An article at Politico makes a common mistake: Judging
             the relevance of a nascent political movement [in this case
             the Tea Party movement] by how many of its candidates
             getelected. Far better is to have any major candidate who wants to get elected
            making sure   he has something to offer you.”
    Some friends of Rodney Hide might want to consider that one.
    And Gus makes a good point too about the fruitlessness of so much misguided third-party politics—another (related) point that’s worth giving some time to.
    "Indeed" Indeed.
  • Jim May debunks the story of Sarah Palin "hustling" over to Canada (as an adult) for looted medical care.
    But you know why she writes notes on her hand?  Because God told her to.  True story.
    "God does it, too!"
  • "'Liberals' and conservatives agree on one thing: all men ought to live their lives in servitude to the needy."
    Leftists and Evangelicals Make Excellent Bedfellows
  • The quality of US political debate is not high. Representative Louise Slaughter knows people who wear other people’s dentures.  Apparently this is un-American. Or something.
  • Speaking of which: Did She Really Say That? 
    Pelosi re health bill:
            “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from
            the fog of the controversy."
  • aykf0p And here’s some Obama photo-ops from the health-summit that reveal what a good listener he is.
    Video: Obama’s Frustrated Faces During The Health Care Summit
  • Despite their new-found grass roots revival, conservatives are still being whipped in the intellectual battle.  They’re being whipped in the intellectual battle because they long ago gave up the intellect altogether. Message to conservatives who want to know better:
            “Conservatism’s vulnerability in the realm of ideas is precisely why the Left
            has been corrupting your concepts out from underneath you, unimpeded,
            for over a century now.
    Here’s  few examples of such corrupted concepts that mainstream conservatives use routinely:
    A few examples of corrupted concepts that mainstream conservatives use routinely
  • Just another example here of another corrupted conservative: i.e., Anthony Daniels, a.k.a Theodore Dalrymple, who, because he steers clear of ideas, can neither ask real questions about the ideas that move the culture, nor offer any decent answers. These two posts go to the heart of this failure—which for a commentator writing on culture borders on rank dishonesty—concluding:
            “Anthony Daniels's writing can sparkle. He can entertain with erudite and
            obscure trivia. But he seems unwilling to think deeply about ideas. Consequently,
            his intellect is as wide as an ocean, but as shallow as a puddle.”
    Wide as an Ocean, Shallow as a Puddle
    A Critical Account of Anthony Daniels on Ayn Rand
  • Ayn Rand would have been 105 this March.  Harry Binswanger talks to The Big Show about her impact on today’s culture, and tomorrow’s.
    Ayn Rand and Today’s Culture
  • What was revealed in the ClimateGate emails  “has far-reaching consequences for the reputation of science as a whole, with the ability to undermine the public's confidence in science,”  two respected British scientific organisations have warned.
    Apart from substituting the words “has already undermined” above, I’d say that’s spot on.  Wouldn’t you?
    Row over leaked climate emails may undermine reputation of science
  • Meanwhile, the real science keeps coming in:
            “Another error in the influential reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on
            Climate Change (IPCC) reports has been identified. This one concerns the rate of
            expansion of sea ice around Antarctica.”
    Wouldn’t it be easier just to mark up the sections of IPCC reports that haven’t been error-ridden?
    Yet Another Incorrect IPCC Assessment: Antarctic Sea Ice Increase
  • Oh, and the temperature record itself? The munted record from East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit—the record that Phil Jones altered in some unspecified way, and then lost the originals—it’s now been confirmed that the other two major temperature databases have been contaminated with Jones’s slime.
            “Following Climategate, when it became known that raw temperature data
            for CRU’s “HADCRU3″ climate dataset had been destroyed, Phil Jones, CRU’s
            former director, said the data loss was not important — because there were other
            independent climate datasets
            “But [newly released] emails reveal that at least three of the four datasets were not
             independent, that NASA GISS was not considered to be accurate, and that these
            quality issues were known to both top climate scientists and to the mainstream press.”
    Climategate Stunner: NASA Heads Knew NASA Data Was Poor, Then Used Data from CRU
    The newly-released emails
  • No welfare-state debate is complete without bringing up the Scandinavian countries as the perfect example of massive statism bringing prosperity.”  So what’s the real story about Scandinavian prosperity?
    The Scandinavian-Welfare Myth Revisited
  • A Swedish cartoonist who offended Islamists by poking fun at their heroes explains the measures he needs to take to defend himself against the apostles of the religion of peace.
    Lars Attacks
  • And still in Scandinavia, turns out Denmark’s much-touted wind-power is nothing more than a con job.
            “Flemming Nissen, the head of development at West Danish generating company
            ELSAM (one of Denmark’s largest energy utilities) tells us that ‘wind turbines do
            not reduce carbon dioxide emissions.’ The German experience is no different. Der
    reports that ‘Germany’s CO2 emissions haven’t been reduced by even a
            single gram,’ and additional coal- and gas-fired plants have been constructed to
            ensure reliable delivery…
            “’Industrial wind power is not a viable economic alternative to other energy
            conservation options,’ they conclude.”
    Speaks for itself, really.
    Danish patsies
  • ASB_460x230 The ASB Bank head office is moving from Auckland’s CBD out to the Tank Farm, which has all the usual suspects all a-flutter.  Good to see head offices start moving out there—even if their building is only an uneventful low rise with a “volcanic cone top” to “reflect” the local context (right).
    But if there’s ever to be an “iconic” building on Auckland’s harbour, my bet is that it will be somewhere on that Tank Farm land.  Mind you, to be properly “iconic” on the scale needed for Auckland’s harbour it will need to be much taller than the 52m of this. And do something more than just reference Auckland’s volcanoes…
  • All change at the top as Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helu replaces Bill Gates and Warren Buffett at the top of Forbes’s list of the world’s richest men. “One of the reasons for the switch [says the Herald] is Slim's view of philanthropy. Were it not for his charitable giving, including the setting up of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Microsoft founder would be worth more than $80bn today; Buffett, who is giving away his fortune in tranches to the Gates Foundation, would be worth $55bn. Slim, meanwhile, was quoted in 2007 saying ‘poverty isn't solved with donations’.”
    There’s a lesson in that, for those smart enough to take it.
  • And here are five reasons you aren’t earning more (and it’s not just because you’re reading this when you’re supposed to be working).
    5 Reasons You’re Not Earning More
    And while we’re on Tod’s website [hat tip Noodle Food], there’s this :
    Suggestions for New Businesses
  • And speaking of giving money away, a group of New Zealand philanthropists businessmen including Stephen Tindall, Sam Morgan, Rod Drury, Mark Rushworth, John Humphrey, and Lance Wiggs have announced a $900 million project to build a high-speed broadband cable between NZ, Australia and the US before 2013. Before sinking any of their own money into this however, potential suckers investors in what they’ve calling Pacific Fibre may wish to take note of Sam Morgan’s comment on their proposed cable.  "We desperately need a cable that is not purely based on profit maximisation,” he says . . .
    Mind you, this could be just a ploy to get their hands on that $1.5 billion of taxpayers’ money that Steven Joyce will soon be throwing at “ultra-fast” nationalised broadband for all.
  • Did you know that the NZ Government is already censoring filtering the internet here, just quietly.  The Department of Internal Affairs flunky who admitted his colleagues were already hard at work making sure your internet access is limited by their morals “refuses to say which other ISPs will be joining the filter, claiming the right to negotiate in secret.” (They have rights; we don’t.)  However, online freedom lobby Tech Liberty understands that Telstra Clear, Telecom and Vodafone have said they will implement the filter, with Orcon, Slingshot and Natcom saying that they won't.
    At least one NOT PC reader has already shot of a missive to his provider.

          "Dear Slingshot.
            I have heard that since 1 Feb The New Zealand Government operates
            an Internet Filter.
            I would like to know if Slingshot uses this filter (forced or not) or does
            want to use this filter in the future.
            I want to be notified of such an action as it will result in an immediate
            cancellation of all my services with your company."
            I suggest others do the same.

    And so do I.
  • On the same front, Whale Oil says:
            “It has started, we now have un-elected officials deciding what we can and
            cannot see on the internet
    . Except we don’t know what they are filtering.
            They won’t tell us that. The Department of Internal Affairs calls it filtering,
            such a nice unobtrusive name for C E N S O R S H I P.”
    Read ’First they came . . .
  • And another reader writes:
            “Start off "optional and secret" and within 5 years I guarantee you we'll have an
            internet wall.
            “And you know, in addition to child porn, there's lots of fringe lunatics like
            Tea-Partiers and libertarians publishing horribly hateful information on the
            internet. It's very clear it's in everyone's interest those extremist ideas are
            excluded from the public debate.”
  • The Sport Review blog offers some hope.  In cricket, anyway:

  • And Andrew Bolt (among many others) reminds Michael Clark (poor lamb) of something fairly straightforward:
    A captain isn’t a real captain if he isn’t on the field
  • But what’s Bolt doing falling love with Julia Guillard?!
    Why the Right loves this lady of the Left
  • I don’t often say this, but Auckland Uni students should be aware that some copies of Darwin’s Origin of the Species could be a gateway drug to something far less reasonable.
    Lying for Jesus
    A Special Introduction to a Special Introduction
  • Hey, you know all those Catholic priests fiddling with their altar boys?  Apparently it’s because “"the Devil is at work inside the Vatican.”
    True story—if you believe “the Holy See's chief exorcist,”  Father Gabriele Amorth, “who has been the Vatican's chief exorcist for 25 years and says he has dealt with 70,000 cases of demonic possession.”
    Seriously, are there really several million people who believe this shit?
    Read ‘Chief exorcist Father Gabriele Amorth says Devil is in the Vatican
  • Amit Ghate takes on the popuar leftist fallacy that equates violence with force. “The error and its consequences are manifest in what the left condemns and condones.”
    Force and Violence: How the Left Blurs Terms
  • When exactly did the American constitution begin its fall into disrepair and neglect?  Thomas Bowden dates it to when Justice Olive Wendell Holmes declared in the Lochner case that while many people might interpret the Constitution “as if it embodies a principled commitment to protecting individual liberty… no such foundational principle exists … and the sooner judges realize they are expounding an empty Constitution—empty of any underlying view on the relationship of the individual to the state—the sooner they will step aside and allow legislators to decide the fate of individuals.”
    Nothing could be more disastrously wrong—or more widely accepted by today’s jurists.
    Bowden explains why they can’t read:
    Justice Holmes and the Empty Constitution
  • Logical%20Leap Scientific induction has been left without philosophical hand-maidens for too long.  A new book by philosopher-physicist David Harriman promises to change that with “a ground-breaking solution to the problem of induction based on Ayn Rand’s theory of concepts.”  Why is this so important?  As an excerpt from the front page makes clear, because “the ‘problem of induction’ is not merely a puzzle for academics—it is the problem of human survival.”
    The Logical Leap: Induction in Physics
  • Specially for my American readers, many of whom may have never seen a decent TV show before, the BFI has announced its list of The Best British TV Shows Ever.  The Telegraph has a gallery of the top fifteen.  Bet you can’t guess what’s at number one . . .
    The best British TV ever
  • Here’s some fairly depressing news.  This has been
    The Worst Economic Decade Since the Great Depression.”  Thanks Alan.  And Ben.
  • Meanwhile, Bernie Madoff --the only chap qualified to take Ben Bernanke’s job—is in the news again, this time because the chap who blew the whistle on him, Harry Markopolos, has revealed that no-one wanted to know about the fraud that was right in front of their eyes. (Which is yet another analogy for what Alan and Ben have been doing at The Fed.)
    Madoff whistle-blower: ‘No One Would Listen’
  • Oh, and by the way, does anyone know exactly just how fast the rain-forests are disappearing?
    No, I thought not.  Neither does anyone else.
    Killing Rainforests–by the second!!!
  • Hey look, it’s Mighty Casey Obama at the Bat.  Humorous re-working of an old American classic [hat tip Trevor Loudon]

  • I know Objectivist parents with autistic kids will appreciate this: Rachel Miner “shares the experience of discovering the thinking challenges my son faced and first learning about their label, autism. He has progressed so much in the last three years, that I can look with some fascination at how he dealt with epistemological issues like concrete thinking and scripted language. It was quite painful at the time though and I found this post difficult to write."
    Autism Experience
  • A reminder for you, in case we hadn’t pointed it out recently:
    An Armed Society Means Moral Progress
  • I know Sub-Standard readers and Paul Krugman both believe it, but that doesn’t make it true.  Unemployment benefits do not decrease unemployment.  Sheesh!
    On Unemployment Benefits-Part 1
    On Unemployment Benefits-Part 2
  • In the week that played host to International Women’s Day, it’s astonishing how little talk there was  of some of the more delightful ways some parts of the world treat women.  Multiculturalism; it’s so disarming, isn’t it.
    Women's Rights Trampled in Much of Developing World’ – JONAH GOLDBERG
  • Straight-talking Czech president Václav Klaus visited Florida this week to talk to the Club for Growth, a pro-market think tank. Here is the transcript [hat tip Reference Frame]:
    Global Warming Alarmism is a Grave Threat to our Liberty’ – VACLAV KLAUS
  • Artist Michael Newberry posted this neat time-lapse video of an eye drawing.  (More like this here.)

  • And finally, enjoy the pace and precision of the near-legendary Arturo Toscanini conducting Verdi’s La forza del destino Overture (The Forces of Destiny).  Careful listening will elicit the source of a popular beer ad.

Enjoy the weekend. I will be.  :-)


  1. Holy crap, that is one busy priest.

    70 000 exorcisms in 25 years. That's just shy of 8 per day. Every day.

  2. Time flies when you're having fun.

  3. “Conservatism’s vulnerability in the realm of ideas is precisely why the Left has been corrupting your concepts out from underneath you, unimpeded, for over a century now.

    Utter crap. Utter, utter, crap.

    The Left have no ideas. None. What they have is force and a willingness to use it. As Mao said: power from a barrel of a gun. Hellen would say just the same thing.

    What the right lacks is the willingness to use what power it has to wipe out the left. Pathetic, really, but true.

    In most Western European countries, a Nazi party - or even a relatively moderate party like the BNP - is outlawed. But somewhere like NZ has a choice of socialists (National/ACT) or communists (Labour/Green). And that's about it.

    Any attempt to increase freedom in NZ must fix that.

  4. Brian Scurfield13 Mar 2010, 08:07:00

    @Harriman. Words you will hear in ordinary conversation: argue, explain, criticise, refute, conjecture, idea, theory, test, deduce, premise, & conclusion. Word you will not hear outside of philosophical conversations: induce. Why is that?

  5. Sinner

    "The Left have no ideas."

    Really? What planet have you been living on?

    As for the rest of your post, it would appear to be nothing more than a mindless call to yet more violence.


    PS the Nazi Party was socialist. Why would you want yet more of that?

  6. Brian

    It's because

    a) you are not normal

    b) you are unable to converse with normal people in normal conversation

    Conclusion: the fault lies within you


  7. Brian Scurfield13 Mar 2010, 12:17:00


    This is from PC's comment gudielines: "Respond with a polite and intelligent comment."

    My point is serious: In how many non-philosophical comments or posts by yourself or PC are the words induce and induction used? (in the sense of "I induced from A, B, and C that ... ", and not in the sense of "I induced you to do X"). Is the nuber pretty close to zero? That induction is hardly ever mentioned in conversations not about induction needs explaining don't you think?

  8. Brian

    The response to your question was both polite and intelligent. Further, it was factual.

    You have no point. Again, the problem lies within you.


  9. Brian,

    LGM is a troll. He lives here. Don't feed him.


  10. After reading that page from "The logical leap", I wonder how long it'll be before people start trying to answer a question that really has no answer.

    "When we reason from “Men in my experience are mortal” to “All men are mortal” "

    Accepting even this generalisation as an absolute requires some degree of faith. Now, with this particular example it's an entirely reasonable generalisation to make and use. Rejecting it is impractical and well, stupid, but it still isn't an absolute.

    "If a man accepts a true generalization, his mental contents (to that extent) are consistent with one another, and his action, other things being equal, will succeed. But if a man accepts a false generalization, it introduces in his mind a contradiction with his authentic knowledge and a clash with reality, leading unavoidably to frustration and failure in his actions."

    No generalisation is absolutely "true", because generalisations are abstractions, language (including mathematics) is representative of reality, it does not equal reality. Some are more correct than others, and using scientific methodology we can refine them and measure them against each other. The only absolute knowledge that exists though is the knowledge of your own existence.

  11. Brian Scurfield14 Mar 2010, 01:12:00

    "If a man accepts a true generalization, his mental contents (to that extent) are consistent with one another, and his action, other things being equal, will succeed. But if a man accepts a false generalization, it introduces in his mind a contradiction with his authentic knowledge and a clash with reality, leading unavoidably to frustration and failure in his actions."

    This I agree with. If two ideas conflict there is a problem and you can't accept both ideas. Coercion is bound up with this, for coercion is when you are forced to accept one idea while you have a conflicting idea active in your mind.

    Sure, David, you don't know for sure that a given explanation (I'm substituting "explanation" for "generalization" because explanations are what we really should be interested it) is true, but that shouldn't prevent you taking the explanation seriously if you can't find a criticism of it. If you do know a way in which it is false but have nevertheless accepted the explanation, then you have a conflict and you should seek to resolve the conflict or seek an explanation of what to do given that there is this unresolved conflict. (see

  12. David S

    You read "page one".

    Just the one page.

    Merely a single solitary page.

    A sole page in isolation.

    Nothing whatsoever from the rest of the book.

    Only one side of one sheet.

    Nothing else.

    Not a whit of it.


    One introductory page on its own.

    The sum total of your personal experience- one page.

    Had it occurred to you that there there might be more than a single page to the book?

    How about doing the bleeding fucking obvious? How about reading the book BEFORE vomiting up half-arsed conclusions and imbecilic comments regarding the material it addresses?


  13. Brian Scurfield14 Mar 2010, 11:47:00

    LGM, when you're through insulting people from behind your anonymous pseudonym, you might notice that the book is not out yet.

  14. Brian

    Yes, I know. Trouble is David S is descending into doing as you do. Might pay for the two of you to get a copy each and read the rest of it (like, you know, page two onwards).


  15. The book's not out yet, but you can read early versions of may of the chapters at The Objective Standard website, including:

    * Enlightenment Science and its Fall
    * The 19th-Century Atomic War
    * Induction and Experimental Method
    * Isaac Newton: Discoverer of Universal Laws
    * Proof of the Atomic Theory
    * Errors in Inductive Reasoning

    There's a summary page here that links to them all.

  16. LGM: my comments were directed at specific quotes from that page, it's not an indictment on the whole book. For all I know he may come to the same conclusion that I did.

  17. David S

    Your comments were premature then.


  18. Without having read the book, I would hesitate to agree that it is in any way ground breaking.

    Anyone who went to grad school would be all over the topics he is talking about and see easily that he is just regurgitating what is known by practically everyone.

    induction, deduction, generalisations, scientific method.

    ...going to sleep us something we don't already know

  19. "Without having read the book" she ought to hesitate from pretending to know anything about it.


1. Commenters are welcome and invited.
2. All comments are moderated. Off-topic grandstanding, spam, and gibberish will be ignored. Tu quoque will be moderated.
3. Read the post before you comment. Challenge facts, but don't simply ignore them.
4. Use a name. If it's important enough to say, it's important enough to put a name to.
5. Above all: Act with honour. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.