International Cat Speculators Since 2006

Archive for the ‘Blithering idiots of our time.’ Category

Neil deGrasse Tyson caught making stuff up

… and Wikipedia is refusing to publish it.

Which brings us to l’affaire de Tyson. Neil Tyson, a prominent popularizer of science (he even has his own television show) was recently found to have repeatedly fabricated multiple quotes over several years. The fabrications were not a one-off thing. They were deliberate and calculated, crafted with one goal in mind: to elevate Tyson, and by extension his audience, at the expense of know-nothing, knuckle-dragging nutjobs who hate science. Tyson targeted journalists, members of Congress, even former President George W. Bush. And what was their crime? They were guilty of rejecting science, according to Tyson.

There’s only one problem. None of the straw man quotes that Tyson uses to tear them down are real. The quote about the numerically illiterate newspaper headline? Fabricated. The quote about a member of Congress who said he had changed his views 360 degrees? It doesn’t exist. That time a U.S. president said “Our God is the God who named the stars” as a way of dividing Judeo-Christian beliefs from Islamic beliefs? It never happened.

I didn’t realise before that Tyson is a friend of Richard Dawkins. I guess that makes more sense then.

But seriously, how stupid do you have to be to make up a quote in this day and age? I mean, he was trying to make George W look stupid, since when did you need to fabricate a quote to do that?

Public service reminder: extreme political positions can make you stupid


UK to launch anti-terror ‘stop it, we don’t like it’ campaign

A real campaign sign:.

Hey Rapists! Stop Raping


Idiot/Savant – “those poor, poor, cheats”

Compare and contrast people:

First, tax cheats are bad people.

Tax cheats steal from us all. Every dollar they save in tax from these tricks is a dollar we have to pay, borrow, or cut – a dollar we don’t get to spend on schools, hospitals and state houses. The government should make these companies pay their fair share. And if the present government refuses to do so, because they are on the side of the tax cheats, we should elect one that will.

Here’s another:

And he’s right. That money you save by aiding and abetting a tradeperson’s tax fraud? That’s money that would normally go to schools, hospitals, and public services. You might as well be going down there and smashing some windows yourself.

So, I support this campaign: people should pay what they owe, and not commit tax fraud.

And more:

Goff’s statement that

No one knows exactly how much is lost by people dodging their tax – but it’s been estimated in the billions.

is carrying an awful lot of weight here.

Like Goff, I want to see those loopholes closed and that avoidance stopped. People should pay their fair share, and those who don’t are cheats and parasites


This is the cost of having great chunks of our economy owned by foreign tax cheats: not only do the profits go offshore, but they do so in ways which rob the government of revenue, and therefore us of public services.

Got the idea? Avoiding paying your taxes to a sovereign government, even if you what you have done to do so is completely legal makes you an evil person(tm).

Now this week National announced that they will be arresting people who had cheated the New Zealand government out of it’s revenue. We’re talking people who have moved overseas to maximize their incomes, but owe the government money, but have made no effort whatsoever to pay.

You’d think that this sort of crack down would be music to the ears of someone so worried about New Zealand’s tax base. I mean, these people aren’t structuring their affairs to keep the money off-shore, (which is perfectly legal) they actually have signed agreements with the New Zealand government to pay the money. Yet in spite of having signed contracts, the government has offered to negotiate  and that offer has been treated with contempt.

In other words, the morality of this situation is pretty one-sided.

So Idiot would be really happy to see the government announce it’s taking this “threat to government revenue” so seriously. Yea right:

And what National’s policy will do is make sure they can never come home ever again. They can’t come home for christmas, because they’ll be arrested. If a New Zealand family member gets sick, they’ll have to choose between their family and their freedom. They won’t be able to come home for funerals. All of that is inhumane, vindictive and punitive, but it gets worse: they won’t be able to do business here, because they’ll be arrested. And they won’t even be able to move back home, because if they come back for a job interview, the government will throw them in jail.

Here’s my take: you cheat your taxes, you go to jail. You cheat your student loan repayments, you go to jail. (You legally avoid changing your taxes, bad on you – but it’s up to the government to change the law.)

In short: cry me a freaking river. If you find yourself unable to return home because you’re wanted by the authorities, you should have not broken the law in the first place. If you owe on your student loan, you should talk to the IRD today (ok, not today… perhaps Monday).

Hey, maybe that might have been the point of the law? Gee…

But on the other hand, if people are calling you out for avoiding taxes, just find some way of converting it to a student loan. Because “gaming the system” is ok – because as long as you actually agreed to pay the money, it’s a-ok with the left to avoid payment.

Benefiting the “Vast Majority”

Looking through No Right Turn last night, I came across a lot of the usual nonsense. But this one takes the cake – and I’m not even going to talk about how he quotes John Minto (which in itself is a massive fail).

170 houses between 59 MPs is almost three each – and the last those MPs will want is to see the value of their major assets drop. So the sorts of policies which would solve the housing crisis – a capital gains tax, or a government building program – are off the table,
I’m actually considering setting up an interview with someone I know who is in something of a position to know about affordable housing. I asked him the other day what it cost to build a house (and most people would associate the houses he helps build with the very essence of affordable) and his reply staggered me. When I asked why, he said the big reason was compliance.
I mention that only to point out that Idiot doesn’t seem to think reducing compliance costs to be a problem. Perhaps it would be a better idea to ask why the private sector can’t keep the cost down before we declare the solution to be “more government”.
…replaced by weak measures like enabling the private sector to fail for a while longer. Its a perfect example of how the interests of the vast majority of New Zealanders are overridden by those of a tiny wealthy elite who are massively over-represented in Parliament.
That highlighted bit is why I’m posting this though.
Now, cheaper housing is indeed a worthy goal. I’m not  disputing that. But cheaper housing is mostly a problem if you don’t already own a home.  Idiot seems to be implying that “the vast majority” of New Zealanders are in this group.
But that’s absurd.
The stats are a bit old, and yes, the trend is in the wrong direction. But even taking those things into account, it is perfectly safe to assume that most New Zealanders still own their own home. In fact, our high level of home ownership has long been one of our defining characteristics!
So is parliament acting against the interests of New Zealand? Well, given the majority own their home, parliament taking steps to increase the value of that home is actually benefiting the majority of people in this country.
Worse, what Idiot is calling for actually could seriously harm a portion of the country that can literally least afford it. If house prices plunge, renters aren’t going to see much benefit (only landlords) unless they can purchase. But people who have purchased will see their equity wiped out.
Even if you disagree with that, there is really no way to claim that the “vast majority” is being disadvantaged.
Yes, housing (especially in Auckland) should be cheaper. Yes, keeping it expensive in theory arguably benefits MPs who own houses. But instead of making up silly “99% attacked by the 1%” conspiracies, how about we stick to the facts?
Even better, how about finding some common ground that we can all agree on, so that we might actually get somewhere solving the problem?

When in a hole: Then and Now


My Right has taken issue with my post yesterday and missed my point. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the Government’s tax policies, if you are in a financial hole you

should stop digging.

But nowadays, it’s all the fashion to argue that you should dig and dig and dig. I mean, are there really consequences for deeper holes? Besides, if we stop paying the diggers, they’ll be unemployed and that would be bad.

And this is why the economy is failing and economic statistics continuously fall below Treasury projections: because the government is strangling the economy. Its public justification for doing so – fear of higher interest rates – is a myth; there are no “bond vigilantes” punishing governments who borrow when interest rates are low. But they persist in inflicting their zombie economics on us, because anything else would involve admitting they were wrong.

I myself find the old “when in a hole” prescription from No Right Turn to be the correct one. I also find some issues with the latter.

Problem no. 1: is Idiot seriously suggesting that credit downgrades (bought on by reckless spending) won’t increase the cost of debt? Outside of the credibility issues of his source  we are not the US. People buy our debt if it’s priced right for the risk.

Problem no. 2: the government isn’t strangling the economy through austerity.  Because it’s not doing austerity and the economy isn’t strangled. I remember the 90’s, when National did do austerity  The fact we have the incredibly generous (read: wasteful) Working for Families is proof enough that this government has stayed well away from the sort of cuts that would count as austerity.

Problem no. 3: the US has followed the route that Idiot likes. The result has been an increase in debt that dwarfs anything ever seen in the history of the world. But if this approach works, then why does the US have tent cities, and we don’t? Why has their economy done the exact opposite of what was predicted?

Fact is, we’re in good financial shape. That allows our government to maintain a good level of service while taking on a little debt. The US is not in good shape, but their president doesn’t seem to care.

I don’t care much for our current government but they are running a good compromise between savage cuts and outlandish spending, and it’s working admirably.

How about we actually let the court do what it does best?

Apparently there’s a “#FreeJahar” hash tag on twitter, from people who are just convinced that the man arrested in relation to the Boston bombings is innocent.


Now, I grant you this: it may be that the FBI and everyone else involved got it wrong. It may be that the police killed his brother out of spite or something. It may be that the evidence is manufactured. But here’s the thing.

We have this process to investigate and test evidence to determine someone’s guilt. It’s not twitter-based either.

It’s called the courts. Yes, they get it wrong sometimes. Yes, they get it badly wrong sometimes. But given the alternatives, let’s let this one go through the normal channels, shall we?

Of course, the moral of the story is clear: there are stupid people on twitter. Really, really stupid people. 

But you knew that, right?

Oh, and how deep does this stupidity go? Well, I’ll tell you.

A few people actually want the elder brother to be freed too. Yes, the dead one.

A good demonstration why you should never take the word of a famous figure on trust

Not the first time I’ve seen Attenborough say something so fact-challenged.

Humans are a “plague on the Earth”, according to naturalist and documentary-maker David Attenborough.

Attenborough told Britain’s Radio Times that humanity must limit population growth or “the natural world will do it for us”.

He is of course entitled to believe that. But of course his own continuing existence is evidence that it’s not really a genuine belief.

The 86-year-old said human population growth needed to be curbed.

“We keep putting on programmes about famine in Ethiopia; that’s what’s happening. Too many people there. They can’t support themselves – and it’s not an inhuman thing to say. It’s the case.

Here’s where the facts go flying out the window in favour of common misconceptions.

See, according to Wikipedia, the last famine was in 1984-1985. That famine was very well publicised, and it’s why everyone associates Ethiopia with famine. So either there’s been some famines in Ethiopia that no one’s bothered to list on Wikipedia, or there haven’t been any serious enough to warrent mention.

But what caused the 80’s famine?

The great famine of 1983–5 is often ascribed to drought, and while climatic causes and consequences certainly played a part in the tragedy, it has been shown that widespread drought occurred only some months after the famine was under way.[5] The famines that struck Ethiopia between 1961 and 1985, and in particular the one of 1983–5, were in large part created by government policies, specifically the set of counter-insurgency strategies employed and so-called ‘social transformation’ in non-insurgent areas.[6][7]

So while the agricultural environment is a challenging one, and there are a great many poor people, the real killer was the government.

Big government – the cause of, and apparently the solution to*, all life’s problems.


*Results may vary – wildly.

How not to help your cause

There are a variety of ways of responding to a massacre of innocent people. This probably ranks up there in the top 10 worst ideas.

The Journal News story includes comments from both sides of the gun-rights debate and presents the data as answering concerns of those who would like to know whether there are guns in their neighborhood. It reports that about 44,000 people in Westchester, Putnam and Rockland counties are licensed to own a handgun and that rifles and shotguns can be purchased without a permit.

It was accompanied online by maps of the results for Westchester and Rockland counties; similar details had not yet been provided by Putnam County. A reader clicking on the maps can see the name and address of each pistol or revolver permit holder. Accompanying text states that inclusion does not necessarily mean that an individual owns a weapon, just who obtained a license.
Basically, this tells the next gunman where he might obtain his arsenal. Recall that his weapons were in fact stolen…
A gunman killed his mother, drove to an elementary school and massacred 20 first-graders and six adults, then shot himself. All the weapons used were legally owned by his mother.
This being the internet, the response has been overwhelmingly mature. Or not.

Some responded by publicizing the home addresses and phone numbers of the reporter who wrote the piece, along with other journalists at the paper and even senior executives of Gannett. Many echoed the idea that publicizing gun permit holders’ names is tantamount to accusing them of doing something wrong, comparing the move to publishing lists of registered sex offenders.

But never fear, the journalists in question are ever ready to pat themselves on the back for their courageous decision to publish a massive amount of personal data for ends they themselves probably can’t quite articulate.

The Journal News is standing behind the project. It said in the story that it published a similar list in 2006.

“Frequently, the work of journalists is not popular. One of our roles is to report publicly available information on timely issues, even when unpopular,” Janet Hasson, president and publisher of The Journal News Media Group, said in an emailed statement. “We knew publication of the database (as well as the accompanying article providing context) would be controversial, but we felt sharing information about gun permits in our area was important in the aftermath of the Newtown shootings.”

Irony no. 1: No doubt quite a number of those gun permits are for people who’s job only exists because some people use guns irresponsibly.

Irony no 2: Newspapers can be used irresponsibly too.

The government should sell assets for a profit without selling them

Just noticed this on No Right Turn.

Again, the government’s reluctance to borrow money – even for investment, even when it is profitable – prevents them from seeing the solutions which are right in front of their eyes

Gee, why wouldn’t the government borrow money to purchase an asset and sell it later on for a profit?

Who could possibly object to that?

Yep, that’s a real puzzler.


Apparently Lena Dunham is already famous

If you don’t know who Lena Dunham is, she’s the woman (I’ll come back to that designation later) who stars in the weird, disturbing and fundamentally misogynistic video encouraging people to vote “first time” with Obama.

NZ Conservative has the video here.

I avoided watching the video for several days, but when I watched it it was exactly what I expected. I showed my wife the other day and she had pretty much the same reaction I did.

I had never heard of Dunham. Watching the video with her name on it, I assumed that it was one of those “well, I’ll hate myself for doing this but it’ll make me famous” things.

But apparently she’s already on TV. I learned this reading the NZ Herald site yesterday in Rebecca Kam’s column. (That’s the column subtitled “Poking a stick at ladies’ issues, pop culture, and other cutting-edge curiosities”**) From this I learned that my desire to lose my dinner is not normal, in fact the real problem is that “sex is fundamentally wrong”*. Yet after telling us this, she apparently still thinks the ad is fantastic, and it’s the conservative (and normal person’s) reaction that’s the real problem. I guess misogyny isn’t a “ladies issue”.

(Coincidentally, if I were to search for a blog post that contains all those quotes in her column, just how extreme left do you think that blog would be? Last time I went chasing a Herald columnist’s quotes I ended up in the Democratic Underground.)

To be fair, finding a New Zealander who hasn’t got a balanced view of US politics is like finding a rude New Yorker or a Cantabrian with an EQC claim. Given this, she probably honestly believes that the Republicans will try to ban birth control, and probably believes that Bush was going to introduce the draft in 2004 if it wasn’t exposed by the courageous Democratic party.

I thought this writer had the best counterpoint though.

“My first time voting was amazing,” Lena Dunham enthuses at the close of her suggestive “First Time” ad endorsing Obama. “It was this line in the sand: first I was a girl, now I was a woman.”

Well, maybe we would all be better off if Miss Dunham could be a lady. After all, a lady doesn’t publicly gush about losing her virginity, how “you wanna do it with a great guy,” with “someone who cares about and really understands women,” with “a guy with really beautiful …” (as to a beautiful what, Lena leaves up to our imagination), “someone who cares about whether you get health insurance, and specifically whether you get birth control,” or other tasteless schmaltz. And a lady certainly does not try to convince impressionable youth how “super un-cool” it is “not to be ready.”

The innuendo-as-political-endorsement gimmick was obviously cooked up to appeal to suggestible college girls with sex on the brain. But Miss Dunham’s monologue misses the mark for several reasons, and is likely to backfire with her target audience.

I always thought that it was pretty dumb to think that college age women had sex on the brain. Dumb, insulting and an attitude that could get you (speaking of males of the species) in a wide variety of trouble. Funny thing is, the people you’d get in trouble with in most of those scenarious seem to be the ones who like this ad.

Frankly, Miss Dunham’s ad is embarrassing. And it raises the question: just who is Lena Dunham, anyway, to tell us how to lose our virginity or how to vote? Her claim to fame is that she writes and stars in the HBO series “Girls,” which Manhattan media blog Gawker accurately summed up as “a television program about the children of wealthy famous people and shitty music and Facebook and how hard it is to know who you are and Thought Catalog and sexually transmitted diseases and the exhaustion of ceaselessly dramatizing your own life while posing as someone who understands the fundamental emptiness and narcissism of that very self-dramatization.”

Well, in this context, Miss Dunham’s ad looks like merely another exercise in narcissism and self-dramatization. Why should any of us take her seriously? First-time voters can decide for themselves who they want to vote for, without taking cues from some coarse 26-year-old celebrity’s self-serving propaganda.

So the answer to “why” appears to be: because she’s full of it. She’s also a young almost-celebrity with little experience and strong options.

But I repeat myself.


* Of course she was probably talking about conservatives.

** Given this column pokes a stick at conservatives, I guess that makes us cutting-edge eh? Heh.

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