Tuesday, August 31, 2010

This is from a Mises.org piece called "The Bankrupt Finnish Welfare State"

by Kaj Grussner (link to article):
As a rule, the tax authorities don't care about the law, in the rare event they even know it. Not only that, but it is clear from the way they act that they consider every penny to be their money, and may only be retained by the taxpayer at their discretion. It even happens that they make up arguments that are blatantly false and without any legal ground whatsoever in order to levy more taxes and impose various other sanctions. When the taxpayers challenge their outrageous claims, they simply ignore the challenges and press on as if nothing has happened — even though the constitution mandates that all decisions and rulings made by a government agency must be based on law and thoroughly explained.

This doesn't seem to apply to the tax authorities though, and neither do other legal principles. In all other matters, you are innocent until proven guilty, but if the taxman charges you with something, it is you who has to prove your innocence. If you fail, you're guilty, and it is the tax authorities who decide whether you fail.

This type of behavior is certainly familiar to the American public, as the IRS has subjected them to all kinds of violations. However, these violations, taking place no less regularly in Finland than in the United States, fly in the face of the aura of utopia that seems to surround the social-democratic welfare states of Northern Europe.

The statists may be very comfortable with high taxes, but even they tend to become squeamish when they hear of the havoc wrought upon private individuals and their families by the tax authorities. And it is of course the private individuals and small businessmen who suffer the most aggression, because they seldom have the knowledge or the resources to defend themselves. Billionaires and big corporations at least have a fighting chance; the little guys don't. So much for the compassionate society.
Hey! I just looked at his blog (linked on his name). Stef's going to interview him. Cool!

Most of the article is, in fact, about the bankruptcy of the welfare state in Finnland. The tax bureaucracy is part of it. Grussner, btw, is a tax lawyer there.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Paul Bonneau's got four fantastic articles

at Strike The Root. [I don't think I have a link to them here. I'll have to fix that.]

Here's a piece of one:
I have to laugh at libertarians and anarchists depending on the murderous state to defend their life via the "right to life," and even more so depending on the "right to property" as they dutifully pay their taxes (surrender their property). I guess that means there is only a "right to a state-determined amount of property," eh?

The real reason to stop believing, is that "there is no there, there" (as Gertrude Stein once said of Oakland). There is nothing protecting you. It is a phantasm, just a meme in our heads--not a very useful one at that--which the state violates with astounding regularity. Stop believing in this statist propaganda, folks. If you want protection, then protect yourself, or join with others in a voluntary association to do it. If you want property, have enough that can be protected with your gun, or by your friends with guns.

That's not to say that you can't ever use the state to help you in this protection, but keep in mind that doing so is exactly like employing the Mafia to protect you. Yeah, sometimes it will come out your way, but the cost will be high. And they are not the most reliable folks to depend on, and will turn on you when it suits them. Oh, and never forget that protection implies submission.
I do have a link to The Libertarian Enterprise, don't I? I put his link in to show that he's published elsewhere as well.

Friday, August 27, 2010

I'm speechless with admiration

for this new, young writer, Patrick Coleman, who absolutely kicks the asses of the critics of WikiLeaks. Not to mention Utilitarianism, the failings of which (and its predecessors as well) have led to the relativistic morass of modern society.

I suppose I have to support my contention that this fellow is brilliant with a quote:
We have all seen the movie or TV show in which the police are attempting to bring down an organized crime ring, but in order to do so they need to put a witness on the stand. If they put the witness on the stand, however, it is a near certainty that the gang will go after the witness along with his family and close friends. Knowing this, the police decide to take precautions, such as putting the witness and his immediate family in protective custody. But despite the police’s best efforts, the witness is somehow found and killed. Of course, if they had not tried to put the witness on the stand, the witness and his family would very likely not be in danger, but they would also be willingly leaving violent criminals on the street. Who do we blame for the death of that witness? The murdering gangsters, or the people taking every responsible step they can to stop the murdering gangsters?

The answer, I think, is evident. The US government has plunged itself, the people under its rule, the occupied portions of the Middle East, and arguably the entire world, neck-deep into a mire of destruction. It has facilitated and maintained an environment whose only product is death, and whose only escape is truth; but the truth, in this case, is dangerous. The ruling class would have us believe that our ignorance is necessary for our security, when it is really only necessary for their continued theft and expansion. Were it not for the actions of unaccountable and sociopathic politicians, bureaucrats, and corporate interests, over 900,000 Iraqis, Afghans and coalition troops would still be alive today. Are we really going to believe that people who are responsible for extinguishing that many lives, the overwhelming majority of which were innocent, and have shown no sincere care or remorse for their atrocities, actually possess the empathy to be concerned about the remote chance that a few people might die because certain details might have been missed in Wikileaks’ three month harm minimization process? I think not. And in the tragic and, unfortunately, likely case that more people do die, keep in mind that it is because a coalition of violent governments started a war, not because peaceful activists tried to end it.
This is the footnote explaining the estimate of Iraqi civilian deaths from the linked website.

So, yes, I'm coming out 100% against the current wars.

Earth Crossing Asteroids

It's frickin' hopeless. Trying to keep them from hitting us, I mean. You gotta watch this video. I'm going to quote the guy's whole explanation, in case you're a complete newb to Youtube and can't figure out where he hid it:
View of the solar system showing the locations of all the asteroids starting in 1980, as asteroids are discovered they are added to the map and highlighted white so you can pick out the new ones.
The final colour of an asteroids indicates how closely it comes to the inner solar system.
Earth Crossers are Red
Earth Approachers (Perihelion less than 1.3AU) are Yellow
All Others are Green

Notice now the pattern of discovery follows the Earth around its orbit, most discoveries are made in the region directly opposite the Sun. You'll also notice some clusters of discoveries on the line between Earth and Jupiter, these are the result of surveys looking for Jovian moons. Similar clusters of discoveries can be tied to the other outer planets, but those are not visible in this video.

As the video moves into the mid 1990's we see much higher discovery rates as automated sky scanning systems come online. Most of the surveys are imaging the sky directly opposite the sun and you'll see a region of high discovery rates aligned in this manner.

At the beginning of 2010 a new discovery pattern becomes evident, with discovery zones in a line perpendicular to the Sun-Earth vector. These new observations are the result of the WISE (Widefield Infrared Survey Explorer) which is a space mission that's tasked with imaging the entire sky in infrared wavelengths.

Currently we have observed over half a million minor planets, and the discovery rates show no sign that we're running out of undiscovered objects.

Orbital elements were taken from the 'astorb.dat' data created by Ted Bowell and associates at http://www.naic.edu/~nolan/astorb.html

Music is 'Transgenic' by Trifonic: http://www.amazon.com/Emergence-Trifo...

Quite a few journalists, bloggers and tweeters are attributing this to NASA or Arecibo Observatory - while they do fine work they had nothing to do with this. If you write a story you can credit it to Scott Manley.
I assume szyzyg is Scott Manley. What an amazing and terrifying video. Of course it makes space look more crowded than it really is, the objects aren't millions of miles in diameter.

Apparently nobody knows anything about this song:

Feelin' low, cuz I know that it's all over now
And nobody cares for what happens anyhow
There's no use to cry
Cuz life passed me by
It meant for me to lose when I was born.
Dad's the only person I ever heard sing it - I have no idea whose song it is. Or... I imagine the title is "Feelin' Low," but I don't know that, even. I googled every pair of words in there -- nothing. Actually, I didn't spell "cuz" as I have here.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I got my Kingston 19-in-1 USB 2.0 Flash Memory Card Reader

Easiest thing in the world to use. Just plug it into your computer, let it fire up the drives, plug in your SD card and - bada-bing-bada-boom - there are your pictures! In this case, 253 of the most disappointing images ever produced. Actually there are about twenty good ones. Mostly the ones my daughter took of spring flowers.

I've got a "before" training picture in there that you probably won't see. I let the younger girl play with the camera a bit, so there are about fifty blurry pictures of the cat and the dog...the ground, her eyeball, the inside of her mouth... She got a couple of good ones too, but I'll be throwing a lot of them out.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Buncha dumb punk kids

who'll never amount to nuthin'!


[Edit - 8/27] I should probably say that the ones I know, I like very much.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Does anybody know why I can't download my camera anymore?

For the past few months, when I plug in my camera and turn it on, it's been making a different noise than it used to. I can take pictures with it but I can't get the computer to recognize the camera.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tom Sowell conveys the core of his message

-the message of his many books and articles--in four paragraphs [here]:
Native intelligence may indeed not vary by neighborhood but actual performance-- whether in schools, on the job or elsewhere-- involves far more than native intelligence. Wasted intelligence does nothing for an individual or society.

The reason a surgeon can operate on your heart, while someone of equal intelligence who is not a surgeon cannot, is because of what different people actually did with their intelligence. That has always varied, not only from individual to individual but from group to group-- and not only in this country, but in countries around the world and across the centuries of human history.

One of the biggest fallacies of our time is the notion that, if all groups are not proportionally represented in institutions, professions or income levels, that shows something wrong with society. The very possibility that people make their own choices, and that those choices have consequences-- for themselves and for others-- is ignored. Society is the universal scapegoat.

If "luck" is involved, it is the luck to be born into families and communities whose values and choices turn out to be productive for themselves and for others who benefit from the skills they acquire. Observers who blame tests or other criteria for the demographic imbalances which are the rule-- not the exception-- around the world, are blaming whatever conveys differences for creating those differences.

Espresso Drops! That's what I need!

Concentrated espresso packets, like those soy sauce ones. When somebody hands me a bland-ass cup o' coffee, I want something to juice it up. ...That's manly, I mean.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Big Race today.

I finished the Minnesota Half Marathon. St. Paul is really a beautiful city, even down at the waterfront. I got 2:13:somethin', gun time. Waiting for them to post the official chip times, hopefully later today. That might knock off a minute or two.

Ah! Here we are! This is my line:
538 261/317 63/73 2168 Erkkila, Alan 46 M Brooklyn Center, MN 2:13:49 2:13:16

The first number is my overall place, then sex place (there were 46 guys slower than me), division place (ten putzes in the 40-49 division), 2168 was my bib number, there's my name, age, gender (in case you doubted it - actually they just took my word for it, they didn't ask for proof), home town, and then there's my gun time and chip time. You notice that I only gained (or lost, depending on how you look at it) 33 seconds. Ah, well.

I wanted to beat 2:12, but, heck, I got close.

Here I am! In the blue hat.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Ah, it's been a while since I quoted Kevin Carson:

The next time you hear complaints about someone having a “bad attitude,” keep this in mind: It’s entirely because of people with “bad attitudes” that you’re not a slave. For the fact that you’re not working on a chain gang building a pyramid, you should thank all those whose previous bad attitudes won your present degree of freedom. Their bad attitudes echo down to us through time as the principal obstacle to your re-enslavement in the here and now.
It's from here. That's not the only great thing he said; read the whole thing.