Friday, December 23, 2005

Reminder: On Hiatus 12-24-2005 to 1-1-2006

So amuse yourselves while I'm away. Or not. You know how that goes.

-- Badtux the Traveling Penguin


I bought myself a Christmas present -- a cheap Yamaha keyboard. $150. Not fancy. Doesn't have lots of features. But compared to even five years ago... man! I am using it as a baby grand piano right now... touch-sensitive keys? On a cheap-ass low-end keyboard? It's not a piano, but it sure as hell responds to my fingers tickling its keys like one! We truly live in amazing times...

So at the monent, I'm sitting here composing small piano concertos. The only real problem is that there aren't enough keys on the keyboard -- it chops off a couple of octaves of bass keys -- but I just couldn't justify spending four times as much money to get an "electronic piano" that has them all, especially given the, err, portability problems, inherent in having so many keys. Besides, where the hell would I store it? Icebergs have limited space for stuff like this! (Now, if you were asking me about frozen herring, there's *plenty* of space to store *that*!).

So if you hear a penguin on an iceberg playing parts out of Mozart's Piano Concerto #20 and adding in some stuff, well, you know what's going on...

- Badtux the Musical Penguin

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Southern Lights District

Scientists have discovered an Antarctic red-light district where tuxedo-clad prostitutes ply their trade.

You'll have to excuse me for a while, I'm going to be busy gathering rocks...

-- Badtux the Amused Penguin

RFID: The Number of the Beast?

Sigh. The conspiracy nutcases are now ranting about RFID. While an *actual* conspiracy exists at the top of our government -- a conspiracy to subvert the Constitution, destroy rule of law, and bring in Imperial government via a permenant Republican majority instituted via fear, intimidation, and control of the voting machinery of America -- they're inventing new and ludicrous "conspiracies" to distract us.

For the record: RFID tags have no power source. They are completely reliant upon RF waves impinging upon them in order to power them. And RF waves fall off dramatically in field strength with distance. I did some back of the envelope computations (won't bore you with them here) and found that for a highly directional RFID reader, practically speaking you have a range of 11 meters (about 33 feet). For an omnidirectional RFID reader, practically speaking you have a range of 3.3 meters (about 4 feet). Anything beyond that, and the signal strength loss means there just isn't enough signal strength to power the RFID tag. Upping the signal strength can get you more range (upping your signal strength from 4 watts to 14 watts will get you ln(10) more signal strength at a given distance, for example, or about 2.3 times the distance), but RFID tags operate in a crowded frequency range and this would cause all sorts of issues with other technologies that use that frequency range.

In short, as a spy technology, RFID tags suck rocks. You either need to be aiming directly at a person like with a radar gun from a distance of 11 meters or less, or have a reader set up so that it will detect RFID tags passing within 4 feet of it. Practically speaking, what ends up happening is that you end up with those semi-directional gates like at the exit of Wally World that detect the tags as you walk through the door (and corresponding pallet-sized gates at the loading dock entry to get the stuff into the system in the first place). Which is fine and dandy if you're Wally World trying to make sure that your pallets have as many cans of Coca Cola as promised and that everything going out the door has gone through a cash register counter and been paid for, but pretty damned useless as a general-purpose spy technology.

In short: given the real conspiracy to destroy America that exists at the very top of our government, RFID is somewhere around a gnat's ass on my list of "technologies that scare the shit out of me".

- Badtux the Electronics Penguin

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Collapse of Western Civilization imminent

The biggest danger to Western civilization isn't Osama bin Laden, according to right-wing nutcases. Rather, the biggest danger to Western civilization are those two people above: Elton John and David Furnish gay-marrying each other.

Why, before you know it, heterosexual marriage will be outlawed, and we'll exterminate ourselves through lack of babies! Yeppers, we're doomed, doomed I say, now that gay people can, err, hold hands in public and say wedding vows in front of a judge. They'll destroy civilization with their mighty Gay Laser of Gayness that turns us all into, like, gay people, just like them!

Alrighty then, glad we got that issue resolved (heh!).

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Newsflash! 13th Amendment to Constitution repealed!

A Brooklyn (NY) judge has ordered transit workers to report to work immediately, and is threatening to jail their leaders.

Now, last I heard, you couldn't just order someone at gunpoint to work as a slave for you, but what the hey, I keep forgetting, the Constitution is just a "goddamn piece of paper" (as our Dear Leader is fond of pointing out) so who the fuck cares if a judge tramples all over it? I mean, c'mon, when dear Preznit Cartman wipes his butt with it every day and nobody seems to mind except a few of us cranks out here in Blogistan, who cares when a mere *judge* does it?!

In the meantime, for those who wonder "why don't the transit workers just get another job if they don't like working for the New York Transit Authority?". Well, doh, the City of New York has *OUTLAWED* all other transit companies in their city. They have installed, at gunpoint, a monopoly on transit in New York City. They regularly embark on crackdowns against neighborhood "shuttle services" that threaten their monopoly, even to the point of occasionally confiscating vans that they merely *suspect* are being used for one of these shuttle services.

In short, the City of New York is a gang of thugs that has basically told these workers, "you will work for us, or you will work for no one." And when the workers say "fine, we won't work for you," then hire a pliant judge to order them back to work.

Now, granted, there are some decided issues with transit in New York City that demand that some parts of the transit system be a monopoly. For example, you can't have two subway tunnels under Broadway. They just won't fit. The entire subway system is a picture postcard illustration of the concept of a "natural monopoly". Having that system owned and operated as a government monopoly is probably the best thing for the people of New York City, since if it were a private monopoly it would be run for the benefit of the owners rather than for the benefit of New York City (and no, the two are not synonymous). But for a judge to order New York Transit workers back on the job when the job is a government monopoly enforced by government goons with guns isn't the action of a democracy. It is the action of slavers intent upon imposing slavery upon a portion of the population.

- Badtuxc the Libertarian Penguin

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Makeovers of mass destruction!

Apparently the Pentagon is concerned that gay groups are a terror threat. I suppose their main fears lie around the notion that hairdressers of mass destruction might, uhm, give bad haircuts, or maybe give bad home-decorating advice. Oh the horror! The horror, I say! My flippers flap frantically in applause for the Pentagon's efforts to save me from such a horrible fate!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

"You will respect my authoritah!"

Awwwe, so Preznit Cartman doesn't like it when the presstitutes ask hard questions. Poor widdle thing! Why, just listen to him whine about how we must respect his authoritah! "I have the authoritah!" he practically shouts at one presstitute. "You will respect my authoritah!", he shouts, stamping his little feet and glaring with his beady little eyes. Isn't that just so cute?!

Well, it might be cute in an eight year old, but not in the Preznit of the United States. Sigh. Asserting that he has the authoritah to spy on Americans anytime he feels like isn't the same thing as actually, like, having it. Of course, what do you expect from a guy who insists repeatedly, “Stop throwing the Constitution in my face! It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!”???

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Monday, December 19, 2005

Time to go to the library...

Do it today -- put in an inter-library loan request for Chairman Mao's Little Red Book. Drive the Department of Homeland Security bonkers trying to interview all of us.

-- Badtux the Mischievous Penguin

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Self-hating women

A woman who is not a feminist is like a Negro who likes slavery.

C'mon. If you're a woman, why would you not want equal rights and equal opportunities? Why would you want to have fewer rights and fewer opportunities? That'd be like a black man who thinks that Abraham Lincoln did the black race a grave disservice by abolishing slavery. I mean, it's the same basic mentality... "oh, I don't want to be free, I want to be taken care of by a massah!". Sheesh.

Note to freakin' *MORONS* out there: Wanting equal rights for yourself doesn't mean ya gotta quit shaving your legs and armpits, quit showering and douching, start eating lots of granola, and gay marry each other. C'mon, who the hell wants to be a freakin' slave?

Other than 51% of the population of the United States of America, that is?

Oh well. If they wanna be slaves, no skin off my beak, since I'm not a member of the female sex nor a Republican. But you must admit that it's puzzling...

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Friday, December 16, 2005

What was the American Experiment?

A couple of days ago, I proclaimed that "The American Experiment is over, was it worthwhile?". That got a lot of responses, some of which I'll address here.

The first one was, "oh sure, our government is doing lots of bad things right now, but what about McCarthyism?" Yeah, what ABOUT McCarthyism? At the very same time that McCarthy was doing his "Red Scare" stuff, blacks were getting equal rights in the armed forces and equal rights in schools and transportation, and full voting and housing rights were being held up only due to fillibusters by a small minority of Southern senators. You can't say that the McCarthy era was one in which the majority of Americans had fewer rights than in earlier eras, because it just isn't true.

Then there's the old, "oh sure, the government is doing lots of bad things right now, but they did lots of bad things before, too. Remember the Trail of Tears?". Yeah, and remember that slavery was once legal, too. But the whole point of the American experiment during its classic era that ended with the Presidency of Richard Nixon was that more and more Americans had that "freedom" and "liberty" stuff. In the beginning, only white male property owners had the right to vote, for example. That was progressively extended to more and more Americans over the decades, until finally all Americans over age 21 had the right to vote after 1965.

But that was the high water of American liberty. The late Hunter S. Thompson describes what happened next in his book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas:

And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn't need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. . . .

So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.

By 1972, when Hunter penned those words, the vile and evil Richard M. Nixon had been President for three years and had just declared a "war on drugs", widely felt by most people under the age of 30 to actually be a "war on young people". The assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy by supposed "lone gunmen" had been used as an excuse for a massive expansion of the power of the BATF and FBI. And over the next 30 years, it has become even worse, to the point where we acttually need to pass a law against torture -- something which even the vile and evil Richard M. Nixon would have been shocked to see, because even he, even as evil as he was, would not have condoned the torturing of captured enemy soldiers.

The wave indeed finally broke and rolled back, and has been rolling back ever since. Whereas the progression of freedom was overall increasing every year until 1968, since then the wave has peaked, and started receding -- receding even faster over the past five years, until nobody is surprised to find out that the NSA is spying on Americans without warrants (not that getting a FISA warrant is a big deal -- they hand'em out like monopoly money -- but the NSA isn't even bothering with getting a FISA warrant to spy on Americans).

So what was the American experiment, and why did it fail? Two questions, very interesting questions. I'll give my answer to the first, in tomorrow's installment (maybe). As for the second... you already know my answer to that one.

- Badtux the HST-quotin' Penguin

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Was the American experiment worthwhile?

Just wondering. Nowadays, since the United States now has secret laws, secret courts, secret evidence, spying on any American citizen anywhere for any reason, and secret prisons, it seems rather obvious that the American experiment, with all that "liberty" and "freedom" stuff, is over. The question is, was the experiment worthwhile? Did it add anything to the world during its short lifespan of a little over 200 years?

Just curious. What do you think?

The only thing I know for certain is that, for the majority of Americans, this isn't a question they care about. They care respectively about a) their job, b) their family, and c) their close personal friends. That's it. All this "freedom" and "democracy" stuff? They might emit meaningless babbling sounds in support of such, but they certainly don't care enough to, like, do anything about it. I mean, what's in it for them?

- Badtux the Observant Penguin

Eric Massa

Gen. Wesley Clark reminds me that another old military hand is running for Congress as a Democrat from upstate New York - Eric Massa, who spent 26 years in the U.S. Navy before being forced to retire due to an incorrect diagnosis of cancer. If you have a few extra dollars, send them his way. Even though he is running against Randy "Shotgun" Kuhl, most famous for two things (pulling a shotgun and threatening to shoot his wife in front of party guests, and working on his golf game), upstate New York is to New York what Alabama is to the United States as a whole.

Incidentally, if you're looking for veterans, it seems they all tend to be Democrats. The whole Republican schtict about "big government doesn't work" fails miserably when you're talking to people who worked in a big government organization (the military) which demonstrably DOES work, and works very well thank you. Republican candidates for Congress tend to be chickenhawks -- very vocal in their support of endless wars of foreign conquest, but who actively avoided military duty when they had a chance to serve (as Dick Cheney most famously put it, had other priorities).

In short, the majority of Republicans talk a good game, but when it comes to actually putting their butt on the line, they're a bunch of pussy-wimps. And if the Democratic Party wasn't such a bunch of hacks, they'd take advantage of that and whip those pussy Republicans like the cowardly curs that they are.

- Badtux the not-Democrat Penguin

Ink jet printers

Just a word of advice: do *NOT* buy an Epson ink jet printer. printer. Oh sure, they print very, very well. But after about a year, the heads clog up to the point where all attempts to run the head cleaning program make the innards of the printer into a solid clog of goo. It seems that the head cleaning program discharges into a little sponge, and once that little sponge is saturated... well, no more workee! While you can disassemble the printer, get at that little sponge, and clean it out, it never seems to work right afterwards... this is a fundamental design flaw, and I went and looked at the latest greatest Epson personal ink jet printer at the store and it has the same #$%@ design flaw.

My places of employment have been using HP inkjet printers for years. Never a clog, even on printers that sit idle for a month between test runs. They don't have the high resolution of the Epson, but they just work and work, and if the head ever clogs, the head is actually part of the ink cartridge so you just replace the ink cartridge and voila!

The one I brought home last night is the HP Deskjet 5440. We'll see. It can't do worse than that #$%@ Epson.

- Badtux the Computer Geek Penguin

Monday, December 12, 2005

A 12v charging system monitor

As some of you know, I have a Kawasaki KLR-650, which is sort of the Jeep Wrangler of motorcycles i.e. go anywhere type of bike. I recently added heated grips to it, as well as a socket for a heated vest. Now, one of the limitations of the dated KLR design is its pathetic excuse for an alternator, which puts out only 200 watts of power, total, when the engine is revved way up. It's possible to run your battery down if you're put-putting around at slow speeds because the alternator doesn't put out full wattage then and the KLR has no means to monitor your voltage.

I thought about putting a voltmeter on the KLR, but delicate mechanical movements and rugged onroad-offroad motorcycles don't mix too well. I then found the LM3914 chip which could drive a bar LED to basically display a bar graph of the current battery voltage, but a KLR doesn't really have a good place to mount such a LED bar, the instrument panel is very small. There is an area where there is a blank like for an idiot light, but no idiot light behind it. So I decided that what I needed was an idiot light that would go there and light up when my battery voltage got too low to tell me to turn off my heated grips and/or vest. At which point I did a swift Google search and found this design, a simple voltage ladder calibrated to generate 6 volts when the external voltage was 12 volts, and a 6 volt zener diode to drive the base of a transister which in turn switched the power to the LED on when the zener avalanched. So I printed it out and ran it by a friend, who said... "Uhm, you know, this is wrong. This will light up the LED when the battery is *above* 12 volts, not when it's *below* 12 volts."

So he moved the LED so that its cathode was sunk to ground and the anode was between R3 and Q1, so that the zener diode D1 caused the voltage to the LED to quench to ground when the zener diode avalanched at 12volts. Then he said, "You know, you could use a red-green diode and have it show up green at 12 volts, and red below there." He scribbled in another transister to drive the green portion of the LED when the voltage was above 12 volts.

Then I pointed out that a red-green diode actually had *three* states -- red, yellow, and green -- and that we could use this quite usefully via just adding another zener diode and potentiometer so that when the situation was unfavorable but still not disasterous, we got a warning (yellow) prior to the "you're screwed" notice (red), leading to the final design:

The 10K potentiometer for Ladder A is calibrated so that the zener avalanches when the +12v supply is above 12.1 volts. Ladder B is calibrated so that the zener avalanches when the +12v supply is above 11.7v. The cathodes are tied together internal to the LED package and thus must be tied to ground. The three states are like this:

Above 12.1 volts: green: At 12.1V, ladder B is sending power to the green (since the voltage is above 11.7V, but the ladder A transister now turns on and sinks the input to the red LED to ground -- leaving only the green LED on.

Between 11.7v and 12.1v: amber. Red is no longer suck by ladder A, since the voltage is below 12.1v, so the red LED is on. But we're still above 11.7v, so the green LED is also still on. This actually should be yellow, but the 2N3904 inline with the LED in ladder B adds a little bit of resistance to the green, meaning that the output is slightly more reddish than would be expected, since the red LED gets the full current through resister 'x' when ladder A is not activated. Thus "amber". Fiddling with x and y can make it more yellowish, but why bother?

Below 11.7v: red. Ladder B is now below 6 volts, meaning that the green is turned off. Ladder A is still below 12.1 volts, meaning that it's not sinking the input of the red to ground, meaning that red is turned on.

x,y - 620 to 1k ohm depending on LED. My LED states that it needs 20mA of power. Going to our handy dandy Ohm's Law calculator, I enter 12.1volts (the point at which the red LED turns on), and .020 amps (the amount of current for my LED). The calculator spits out that I need a 605 ohm resister which would mean using a 620 ohm resister. The back of the package recommends a 680 ohm resister at 12 volts, presumably because 12 volts might actually be 13.8 volts when the alternator is churning away. So be it. Because this is also .242 watts according to the calculator (i.e., about 1/4th of a watt), I select 1/2 watt resisters rather than 1/4th watt resisters for x and y. This is important because when ladder A turns on, the entire .242 watts flows through resister x and is quenched to ground. BTW, this circuit pulls approximately half a watt total in its most power-hungry state -- the green state, when all power from resister x is being quenched to ground.

In the end, the components can be grid-boarded then put into a small project box and silicon caulked in place to prevent water and vibration from having their way with things, and the LED itself soldered to wires that are then run up into the instrument panel and pushed up through a hole in said panel (there is a blank where that can be done). The project box can be screwed or glued to the back of the instrument panel somewhere where it is out of the way, and all that you see is the battery voltage indicator -- green for good, yellow for "Warning!", and red for "Turn off your electric gear *NOW*!".

After doing this design, I found out that somebody else already did it. Oh well, at least I have my own battery monitor now, and the parts aren't very expensive if you buy them from a discount electronic components vendor rather than from rip-offs like Fry's Electronics or Radio Shack.

Oh, final components list:

Add in some breadboard, wire, a small project box, etc. and you, too, could construct this inexpensive voltage monitor. How much it costs depends on whether you already have all the other stuff (voltmeter, soldering iron, wire, breadboard, a spare potentiometer to use to tweak the input voltage in order to calibrate the ladders, etc.). But if you already have all that kind of stuff and have discount electronic supply houses near you, you could easily put together this circuit for $5. If, on the other hand, you don't have that stuff, it's cheaper to buy it already pre-made...

- Badtux the Electronics Penguin

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Yet another sign of the apocalypse.

I am drinking decaffeinated coffee. Me. Self-proclaimed coffee snob. Drinkng DECAF. Furthermore, drinking decaff PRE-GROUND OUT OF A CAN!

Just chalk it up to the increasing decreptitude of the mortal shell in which this penguin is currently waddling. After all, I'm somewhere around 350 years old in penguin years. Sigh. I remember when I could drink real coffee and sleep like a baby (hmm, does that mean I fell asleep then a couple of hours later woke up crying at the top of my lungs?). Now look at me. I'm reduced to drinking DECAFF.

Gah. Getting old sucks. The only thing that sucks worse is the alternative.

- Badtux the Elderly Penguin

The youth are our future

So preacheth Brother Driftglass. He may even be right. But history doesn't seem to support his optimism.

So what does history show? Well, history here in the United States shows a continuous pattern of rule by the elites for the elites, interrupted by periods of democracy when the elites have fucked up the nation so much that the sheeple look up. For example, the end of the 19th century was the age of the Robber Baron. They managed to get things so screwed up that Teddy Roosevelt got elected and got the first real anti-trust enforcement going (as well as setting up the first national parks). Then WWI gave the elites the excuse they needed to regain power, which they did, with the usual results -- they ran the country into the ground until the whole charade collapsed into the Great Depression, at which point democracy returned in the form of FDR and Harry Truman. Then anti-Communism gave the elites another excuse to take over, which all came crashing down when their Vietnam disaster became irretreivable and democracy temporarily resurfaced. Etc.

The deal is that democracy requires that the majority of people give a shit. And in general, the majority of people don't. As long as it's not an utter disaster immediately attributable to the folks in Washington D.C., the majority of people simply don't care who rules them. I mean, c'mon. Richard Nixon was elected not once, but *TWICE*. You're tellimg me that a vile, evil little man like Richard Milhous Nixon (to quote the late Hunter S. Thompson, "Nixon was so crooked that he needed servants to help him screw his pants on every morning") could get elected not once, but *twice*, if people really gave a shit?

Not no, but FUCK no. Same deal with that vile mean little dopehead George W. Bush. Oh sure, the flying swift boat attack monkeys had some small part in this last election, taking to the air after gorging their intestinal tracts upon lies, slanders, and confabulations to fling their feces with all the intensity of a Republican congressman accepting bribes, burying the truth beneath a constant rain of flying swift boat monkey feces... but look: the majority of people didn't even try to get out their umbrellas and grab their shovels and start looking for grains of truth underneath all those reeking piles of flying swift boat monkey feces. Frankly, the majority of people simply did not give a shit.

Brother Driftglass places his hopes upon the younger generation. All they need, he suggests, is a dream worthy of their passion, and they shall change the world. But our ruling elites have already dealt with that, making sure that the only dreams our youngsters have are small and puny things, pale little shriveled worms of dreams, hardly even qualifying as such. Getting a new pair of sneakers that are the "in" thing, getting the latest high-tech toy, that's what qualifies as a "dream" today. The television that raised our current crop of children pumped and primed them with these pale puny worms of dreams, stuffing them full of mindless consumerism until their very guts roil with the blind pale worms of dreams-that-aren't-dream, eating out their very substance until there is nothing left but a hollow shell and a big pile of worm poop. Even the more clear-eyed, who have recognized what has been done to them, fall back upon a pragmatic clear-headed view of the world that has no place for dreams, no place for passion. Some of these youngsters engage in street theater like marches and protests, but that's all it is -- theater. Meaningless. You ask them, they'll probably even agree with you.

The only thing -- the ONLY thing -- that ever makes the sheep look up and start participating in democracy, is national disaster. That's it. And the good news, or bad news, if you will, is that we are swiftly approaching that point. The federal government is printing money with all the fervant abandon of a Weimer Republic finance minister in order to cover the bills, the massive sucking sound of jobs being outsourced have hollowed out our economy into an unsustainable real estate Ponzi scheme, the health care system is at the point of collapse, and then there is the freakin' 500 pound gorilla of all national disasters going down in Iraq right now, sucking our nation's wealth and power into a tarpit of death and destruction without end. So it looks like, any moment now, the sheep will look up.

The question, then, is whether we will be ready when they do, ready with a dream, a plan, that can move this country forward, instead of a dream or plan that is just enough to put the sheep back to sleep but not enough to take this nation to the next step in its national destiny. Unfortunately, given the tired Democratic Party hacks in Washington D.C., I doubt it. I doubt it. I think we're in 1976 again. The tired old Democratic party hacks in 1976, the last time the sheep looked up, had no real dream to move the country forward, meaning that the evil vile people took over again in 1980. If we are to avoid a repeat of that, we must start, *today*, to talk about the dream that is America, to dream big, dream mightily. Alas, I fear we have forgotten how to dream in these past thirty years of blindness...

So it goes in the United States of Delusion, where we pretend that we are the home of the brave and land of the free -- when what we actually are, is the land of the sheep.

- Badtux the Cynical Penguin

What I'm watching/listening to

One seriously fucked up anime (Japanese animation) series: Gunslinger Girl. I won't bother trying to review it for you, someone else reviewed it better than I could. I'm not an otaku (fanatic about Japanese animation and comics) but do appreciate good stuff when I come across it. There is also a manga ("comic book") upon which the anime series is apparently based. I read the manga first (well, sort of, it's hard for me to follow the Japanese right-to-left panel ordering), the anime format allows much more depth, which in turn makes it just that more powerful. The manga has been continued, hopefully once the manga gets enough additional episodes in it and comes to a conclusion they'll complete the anime series.

Listening to: I went looking for Courtney Love's new album, but the store didn't have it. So I bought an old one that I somehow missed getting earlier. There are rumors that Kurt Cobain wrote major portions of Courtney Love/Hole's 1994 album, "Live through This". Whoever wrote it, it's good grunge-punk-pop, basically telling the story of one very fucked up young woman from young girl to rock star-dom. Unfortunately, if this was Courtney Love's attempt at self-therapy, it didn't work, as her recent history of drug rehab, jail, and judicial scoldings proves. Still rocks.

Finally, what I'm reading: When I was out of the country I picked up Neal Asher's The Line of Polity, which has not yet been released in the United States. Basically a sequel to Gridlinked, I'm about halfway through it now...

- Badtux the Literary Penguin

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Clingy kitties

One of the things I like about cats is that they're independent. They'll condenscend to let you pet them or pick them up, maybe, but they look at you like, "oh great, you again."

Except for my cats.

I don't get it. My grey and white kitty, every time I sit down at the computer, he has to lie inbetween my monitor and the edge of my computer desk (the keyboard is on a slide-out tray below the edge) and "help" me type if I don't pet him. The black one, on the other hand, has another distressing habit. I sit down on the toilet and he grabs my hand with his paws and tries to make me pet him.

I've never had clingy cats before. Anybody else ever run into this?!

- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Friday, December 09, 2005

Rebuilding New Orleans looks like rebuilding Iraq

It appears that New Orleans has been abandoned by our nation. Its people scattered everywhere, its body-strewn rubble left to rot, there is no more rebuilding in New Orleans than there is in Fallujah. But wherein the Busheviks blame "the security situation" for the lack of rebuilding in Iraq, what is their excuse for the situation in New Orleans? That the people of a destroyed city should somehow "pull themselves up by their bootstraps" despite the federal government controlling the only asset (the port and its tariffs) that they could use to do so? What about the fact that it was *federal* levees that failed and destroyed the city and thus the response is a *federal* responsibility, under any system of Christian morality that has ever existed?

But I forget, while the Busheviks loudly proclaim their Christianity, Busheviks are to Christians as macaroni is to meat... All that stuff about "love thy neighbor" in the New Testament? Doesn't exist in their Bible, which seems to more resemble Anton Levey's Bible...

- Badtux the Disgusted Penguin

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The day the last dreamer died

Note: Does not work so well as prose or poetry (it's lyrics to a song):

Once I had a dream I know
a dream a long long time ago
dreaming of a better world
a place where children learn and grow
where peace on earth was not a dream
and love, not war, was everything

But John Lennon is dead
and so is Martin Luther King
John F. Kennedy's dead and gone
and so is Bobby Kennedy
John Lennon is dead
and so is the dream
and so is the dream

So I survive every day
struggling to make my way
though streets filled with blood and hate
I pretend to like my fate
where have all the dreamers gone
gone to graveyards every one
but once I had a dream I know
a dream a long long time ago

But John Lennon is dead
and so is Martin Luther King
John F. Kennedy's dead and gone
and so is Bobby Kennedy
John Lennon is dead
and so is the dream
and so is the dream

John Lennon died 25 years ago today. Since then, we have been afraid to dream.

- Badtux the Saddened Penguin

Why does John Kerry bother getting out of bed in the morning?

Yes sirree, as someone who donated to John "I hocked my balls in 1975" Kerry, I'm on his mailing list. And he keeps sending me stuff. That I don't read. And keeps interjecting himself into Democratic Party stuff. As if he actually mattered anymore.

Now ole' Johnny boy says that we can "win" in Iraq if we just replace Donald Dumsfeld with, like, someone who hasn't lost all his brains to the brain-sucking alien in the Oval Office. WTF?! What does "win" mean?

Nobody's ever been able to answer that. To me, "winning" means some outcome that is good for America and Americans. I mean, that's the whole point of the Government of the United States -- that it is the government of the *UNITED STATES*, existing only because it has some benefit to the people of the United States. But I can't see any such outcome. Even the goal of "establishing democracy in Iraq", even if doable, would be good for Iraqis but probably not for America and Americans, since any viable democratically-elected Iraqi government *has* to be anti-American or else won't get the votes to be elected under any fair system of government, since America is hated with a passion in all sectors of Iraq except Kurdistan (which is still operating under the delusion that the Busheviks won't betray them in a second if there is political hay to be made).

As for Kerry, he is pathetic. He still thinks that any Democrat would vote for him again after Kerry betrayed his past and the Democratic Party by playing all haughty when the Flying Swift Boat Attack Monkeys were dispatched by the Wicked Witch of the Oval Office with orders "Attack, my little dearies, attack!", thenceforth to prime and pump their fecal orifices by gorging themselves on lies and slanders until the point of bursting, then take flight to fling feces with all the frantic intensity of a Halliburton executive seeking government money to do nothing. Under assault by these hoards of flying swift boat monkeys, truth becomes obscured under the feces flying everywhere, feces piling up in malodorous heaps of lies, libels, and confabulations, but Kerry didn't even *try* to clear a path through the piles of reeking feces, instead haughtily declaring himself above it all and piously proclaiming that the body public would somehow be super-smart and have x-ray vision enough to be able to see the truth buried under the constant rain of flying swift boat monkey feces.

Kerry is a loser.

There, I said it. Kerry... is... a loser. And needs to just shut his yap and let winners guide the party, instead of constantly attempting to interject himself into every debate and every discussion as if he actually really mattered anymore.

- Badtux the non-flying-monkey Penguin

Hat tip to Skippy the Bush Kangaroo

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

President lauds his plan to improve the economy -- the Iraqi one

Today the President of the United States made a major speech. Things in Iraq were going quite well, he said. The Iraqi economy was turning up, thanks to his courageous economic plan of turning cities into rubble and then paying Filipino workers to rebuild them, just as the Louisiana economy is now booming thanks to the Bush economic plan of turning New Orleans into body-strewn rubble then paying (or not paying, in some cases) Mexican workers to rebuild New Orleans.

Yes indeedy, as Dear Leader says, all we must do is stay the course and victory in Iraq will be ours. Victory being defined as, err, ah, errm, let me get back to you on that one....

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Fear and intimidation: how to suppress free speech

Let's say you have a prominent critic. He's a university professor. He blasts your policies on Israel and the Middle East as being fundamentally immoral, and backs this up with facts. The weekly talk shows are starting to invite him on, and his presentation there is devastating -- he comes across as a regular dude with a lot on the ball, rather than some kook. What do you do, if you're a Bush Administration official?

Well, that's simple. You destroy him. You have your sycophantic fans in the right wing media organize a smear campaign and get him fired from his job at the college. Then, to cap it all off, you have him arrested as a terrorist, despite the fact that, as far as anybody knows, he has never even advocated violence, much less committed any.

And thus he sits in jail. And sits in jail. And sits in jail. And three years later, even when prosecutors cannot convince a jury to return a guilty verdict, he still sits in jail.

But more important is the effect upon other potential critics of the administration. Because just about anybody who opposes American policy has been branded a terrorist by the administration, if you've ever even talked to one of these folks, you yourself could be arrested. Thus you keep quiet. You don't speak out about the injustices being perpetrated against your people. You keep quiet, and hope this will keep that knock away from your door, that knock where you, too, are destroyed, utterly destroyed, never again to have a normal life.

That burning smell? Pay it no mind, that's just the Bill of Rights, you know that those Commie founding fathers were all objectively pro-terrorist anyhow to write such silliness into our Constitution, right?

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Take a left at the next street, fool!

Mr. T. driving directions... "Listen up, fool! You aren't going to get there unless you turn left now."

- Badtux the Blogger-testing Penguin

Blogspot bloggered

As usual, Google isn't doing anything at all to inform its users about why Blogspot is bloggered. Meanwhile, many Blogspot sites are currently unavailable. If yours is one of them, try re-publishing your site, that seems to bring it back sometimes. Or not. Hmm.

- Badtux the Bloggered Penguin

Monday, December 05, 2005

The giant IQ sucking sound

I've noticed something strange about the Bush II Administration. You get folks who, in previous government jobs, did a decent or even exceptional job, and put them to work as a Bush administration employee, and it's like there's this giant sucking sound that sucks out every iota of intelligence in their brain. Let's take Donald Rumsfeld, for example. This isn't the first time he's been Secretary of Defense. He was Secretary of Defense under Gerald Ford, after all. In his previous stint as SecDef, he was basically responsible for building the all-volunteer military after Nixon had finished LBJ's job of destroying the draftee military in Vietnam. He did a fine job of it too -- the various policies he put into place resulted over time in the U.S. military becoming the best trained, highest-morale military in the world.

Then he joins the Bush II administration, and.... suuuuuck!. Every little bit of brains in his tiny little noggin seem to have bled out of his ears and oozed to the ground, leaving vacuous sound bites, energetic karate-chopping hand movements, and a general grouchiness that makes the late Walter Matthau seem like a bundle of joy.

Or let's take Dick Cheney. He's no stranger to the situation in the Middle East. Under Bush's Daddy, as Secretary of Defense, he strongly argued against invading Iraq during Gulf War I, saying that doing so would result in being an occupying power for decades. He even mentioned the situation in Israel, noting that the Arabs couldn't defeat the Israelis militarily, but were making life miserable for them with suicide bombings and such, and stated that the United States shouldn't get involved in that sorta mess.

Then he joins the Bush II administration, and.... suuuuuuck! Every little bit of sense he ever had deserts him, and he is spotted wandering around Washington mumbling things like "weapons of mass destruction... 9/11 connection... fight them there so we don't have to fight them here..." that make utterly no sense since Saddam had no WMD, no 9/11 connection, and no Iraqi-based terrorist had ever committed any act of terrorism against the United States. It's as if every bit of brains in his noggin got sucked out into some giant black hole, leaving only pure evil behind.

What can we make of this phenomenon, then? I have a pet theory that I'll trot out for you, and I'll trot it out now for public derision: George W. Bush isn't actually human. His body was actually hijacked at some pont in the 1990's, and now is in the service of an interstellar IQ vampire, out to destroy all semblance of intelligence in Washington D.C. by sucking out the intelligence of anybody who goes to work for him.

Consider: Until the late 1990's, Dubya was known as a slick talkin' con man. He had no problem debating Ann Richards under the table when running for Texas government. Folks might describe him as lazy, vicious, and a bit of a rascal, but "dumb" wasn't a word used often to describe the young Dubya.

Now, though... his inarticulousness, warped grammar, strangely mutable vocabulary, and fumbling when asked unscripted questions are just plain embarrassing. Almost as if an alien, for whom English is a foreign language and the various culture mores of American politics were foreign concepts only vaguely understood, were responding. And what's more, when he appears at those unscripted press conferences, the IQ OF THE PRESS SEEMS TO DROP TOO! It's as if he's sucking out all intelligence from the Washington press corps, reducing them to asking stupid questions like "What do you feel about your critics?" when he ought to be being asked questions like "Did you lie to the American public about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq".

And then there was the "debates" between him and Kerry. Yeah, he came out looking stupid in those debates. But KERRY LOOKED ALMOST AS LAME! Almost as if the alien who now possesses Bush's body somehow, via strange mental powers, was feeding on Kerry's brain, reducing his IQ by at least 30 points as we watched!

This also explains the strange hump on Dubya's back... it's Puppet Master!

Now, here's what I want to see: I want to see a reporter at one of these press conferences to dare George W. Bush to take off his jacket, shirt, and t-shirt, and turn around 360 degrees to show us that he's not wearing a wire -- or something worse. Then, and only then, can the theory that George W. Bush is actually an alien IQ vampire be vanquished forever.

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Censorship: A new American value

To: Mr. Kevin P. Reilly, Jr.
Chairman & CEO
Lamar Advertising Co.
5551 Corporate Blvd.
Baton Rouge, LA 70808

Dear Mr. O'Reilly: I want to thank you for upholding fine Republican values by refusing to run billboard ads commissioned by the Democratic National Committee. That took balls. I've heard of folks censoring third party political ads, but this is the first time I heard of someone turning down an ad by a national political party, and you're going to come under a lot of fire for that.

Now, there's some folks who say that censorship of political speech is un-American, anti-freedom, and un-democratic, and that folks who engage in censorship are objectively pro-terrorist enemies of freedom and little different from the Commies we fought the Cold War with, i.e., just a bunch of goons and thugs out to loot the wealth of nations for the benefit of a Party elite. Well, they're right, of course. But remember, if we don't destroy freedom here at home before the terrorists do, the terrorists have won!

Once again, I thank you for upholding fine Republican values of censorship and suppression of political speech. You are truly an exempler of modern American values!

Sarcastically yours,

Badtux the Snarky Penguin

An aside for non-Louisianians: Lamar regularly refuses to run billboard ads commissioned by folks like the Sierra Club, Earth Now!, etc., while at the same time accepting tobacco and liquor advertising. This is, however, the first time I've heard of them turning down advertising from a national political party.... Their number is (225) 926-1000. Another option is faxing your message (225) 926-1005. Please do so responsibly, we don't want them complaining that they're being persecuted by left-wing kooks.

The death penalty: Fixable? Or no?

The Fixer sez on his blog that we ought to make the death penalty more immediate so that it would deter more people. Well, there's one basic problem with the death penalty that making it faster would make even worse: We have almost certainly put innocent people to death. Before the era of DNA testing and The Innocence Project, which proved, via DNA testing, that over a dozen people on Death Row were innocent, it is likely that over a dozen *other* people on Death Row who were innocent were executed, we just didn't know they were innocent because DNA testing didn't exist back then. Even now, if you consider that probably the same percentage of *other* people on Death Row (ones without DNA to test) are probably innocent too, that means we probably put to death at least a half-dozen innocent people per year.

The fact of the matter is that the criminal "justice" system in this country is fucked. It reaches its judgements based upon the size of a defendent's wallet, not based upon any notion of truth and justice. An example happened locally. A rich woman turned her back on her toddler for a minute while taking groceries in from her car, and the toddler toddled off, fell into a fountain, and drowned. The Sheriff's Department found that there was no crime there. A poor woman turned her back on her neighbor's toddler for a minute to walk across some railroad tracks to get the baby carriage, the toddler toddled onto the railroad tracks and got hit by the bullet train, and the poor woman is charged with negligent manslaughter. Justice? What justice?

The University of Chicago Law School did a little experiment. They devised several crimes, and "arrested" various people for these crimes. They set it up so that 50% of the people they "arrested" for the crime were actually innocent. They then pulled in experienced prosecuters from the DA's office to "prosecute" these people, and put inexperienced final-year law students, only a few months from staffing your typical public defender's office, to defend them. They then pulled in a random sample of the general public to serve as a "jury" for the "trials".

The conviction rate was 80% -- including over half of the innocent people (remember, only 50% of the "defendents" in this experiment were guilty in the first place!). In short, if you are an innocent man who has committed only the crime of being poor in the United States, and you're being defended by the typical public defender's office, you have an over 50% chance of going to jail. That does *not* make me feel good about the criminal "justice" system in this country!

Finally, sociologists have closely studied criminals and found that it doesn't matter what punishment you apply for murder, because most murders are *not* cold-blooded murders. They happen in the heat of passion, in the heat of an argument, in a panic during an armed robbery, but there is one clear characteristic of the typical murderer: he wasn't thinking of *anything* at the time he did the crime, much less what the punishment for murder was. You could literally state that the punishment for murder would be to be slowly skinned alive while suspended from a cross until you expired of pain, and it would not deter a single one of these crimes of passion.

Now, there's obviously some *real* stone murderers out there, like our pal Tookie, but they generally fall into *another* category of criminal: The criminal who believes he is too smart to be caught. If you're not going to be caught, why would you care about the punishment for the crime?

The fact of the matter is that the mere threat of jail is plenty to keep the typical person from committing murder. That is why there's ten times more people killed in auto accidents than there are murdered. I've felt like murdering some people before -- like the guy who left his car outside my front door with the alarm on, went on vacation, and his damned car alarm was going off for THREE STRAIGHT DAYS every time a jet flew over or a train rumbled by -- but y'know, I'm not young enough or buff enough or gay enough to even dream of enjoying prison. So I didn't even vandalize his $%@# piece of sh*t TOYOTA COROLLA (yes, that's right, TOYOTA COROLLA! In an upscale apartment complex full of Mercedes and BMW cars, this moron thought someone would steal his f'ing TOYOTA!).

Anyhow, to summarize: the criminal "justice" system is too broken to currently trust when it comes to the life of a man, and even if it wasn't broken, and even if it were done instantly and 100% accurately, the death penalty would not reduce the murder rate significantly, because most murderers are either a) not thinking at the time they do the crime, or b) think they're too smart to get caught.

And them's the facts. Make of them what you will. Or don't, if you're a Republican ("facts? Who needs facts when you have faith, FAITH, I say?!").

- Badtux the Fact-spewing Penguin

Friday, December 02, 2005

New Poll

What is your major source of fake news?

  1. Saturday Night Live
  2. The Daily Show
  3. The Onion (thanks, Newsblog 5000!)
  4. Fox News
- Poll boldly ripped off from Jim Shea. Select your choice below!

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Bad penguin joke

From the Internets:

A vacationing penguin is driving his through Arizona when he notices that the oil pressure light is on. He gets out to look and sees oil dripping out of the motor. He drives to the nearest town and stops at the first gas station.

After dropping the car off, the penguin goes for a walk around town. He sees an ice-cream shop and, being a penguin in Arizona, decides that something cold would really hit the spot. He gets a big dish of ice cream and sits down to eat. Having no hands he makes a real mess trying to eat with his flippers. After finishing his ice cream, he goes back to the gas station and asks the mechanic if he's found the problem. The mechanic looks up and says "It looks like you blew a seal."

"No no," the penguin replies, "it's just ice cream."

-- Badtux the non-Arizona Penguin

I gawb a cowb

sniff sniff.

Pentagon shocked by reports it plants propaganda in press

Secretary of Defense Ronald Dumsfeld announced yesterday that he's shocked, shocked I say, that someone within the Department of Defense could ever engage in planting propaganda in foreign newspapers, and immediately announced that the Pentagon was going to immediately investigate allegations that the Pentagon paid reporters to plant favorable stories in their newspapers. It is widely expected that the Pentagon will find that this did not, in fact, happen, or if it did in fact happen, charges will be filed against the same seven rogue soldiers who are to blame for all torture allegations against the Pentagon.

In other news, Enron is going to investigate whether Enron defauded investors, and Arthur Anderson is going to investigate whether Arthur Anderson did not fulfill its fudiciary duty to Enron investors. It is widely expected that they will find that the companies did, in fact, fulfill their fudiciary duty to investors, and that any reported problems were caused by The Evil Seven, who, prior to enlisting in the National Guard, were highly-ranked Enron employees. Also, the heirs of former President Richard Nixon are re-opening the Watergate investigation, and will perform a full and thorough investigation of the unproven allegations that Richard Nixon was a crook. It is expected that this thorough and impartial investigation will also find that The Evil Seven also were responsible for all those misdeeds, and that Nixon was, in fact, an honest god-fearing man who was unjustly accused of being a crook when he was, in fact, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Monday, November 28, 2005

In the latter days of a dying empire

In the end, the death of the Roman Empire occurred because its emperors grew obsessed with power and ignored the infrastructure of the Empire -- the roads, border guards, tax collectors, educational system, and bureaucrats that glued the Empire together. Leaders of legions, often barbarians, fought over the Imperial throne, while ignoring the infrastructure that allowed the Empire to function. They cared only for power, not for governing after they obtained power. Indeed, in many cases they lacked the education and outlook that would have allowed them to effectively govern even if they had been interested in doing so.

In the end, the Western Empire collapsed because the bureaucracy, starved of resources, collapsed and was no longer capable even of collecting the wheat tithes from North Africa that were used to feed the hungry millions of Rome. By 600AD, the city of Rome was occupied only by an armed camp of maybe 40,000 half-starved people huddling in the ruins of a city built for millions. The rest had either starved to death when imperial administration collapsed, or had fled to the hinterlands to try to engage in subsistance farming in order to prevent starving to death. Given that the population of the former Western Empire collapsed, with up to 1/3rd of the people dying, it is likely that starvation and the violence of the collapse of Imperial authority (when the policemen, unpaid, walked off the job) took many, many people with them.

I was thinking these thoughts as I rode up US 101 from San Francisco to the mouth of the Columbia River. For most of that ride in California, US 101 is paralleled by an abandoned rail line. This rail line goes through rugged and punishing countryside. It is basically irreplaceable -- we now lack the ability, or the will, to build things of that scale today. Yet it is abandoned, rusting in place. The four lane highway that runs beside it is in much better shape, but drives over and around the terrain, instead of through it like the railroad. And in the roughest places, the four-lane highway disappears and the old 1940's-era highway reappears.

Then once I hit the Oregon state line, there were all these bridges that I went over, soaring high above the rivers and sounds. They were all old, built in the 1950's, in the better days of a greater nation, in the days of can-do America, in the days when it was understood that there were no problems that could not be solved by American ingenuity and American will, in the days when by application of American know-how on a massive scale we had conquered the most evil empire to ever exist on the planet and while we faced another evil empire, we were sure we would eventually win out there too. Those were the days when we were by-god Americans, not a bunch of huddled frightened timid sheep to be led around by the rings in our noses. Even the problems of racism and segregation seemed solvable then. Today.... these bridges and the road they support probably could not be built today. We lack the resources, or the will, to drive highways through such forbidding territory to serve people who, well shouldn't have chosen to live in such forbidding places.

Today, what seems to be the buzzword is what Americans can't do. We can't provide medical care for all of our people because of, well, this that and the other. We can't handle the issue of homeless mentally ill people wandering the streets of our major cities because of, well, this that and the other. We can't put into place a workable bracero program and end illegal immigration along our southern border because of, well, this that and the other. We can't provide power, water, and sewers for Iraqis or New Orleanians. We can't adequately search the rubble of the former city of New Orleans to find the dead bodies. We can't do anything about the 5,000+ missing people from Katrina/Rita. We can't find Osama. We can't. We can't. We can't. Excuses, hand-wringing, and whining about "that's not my job!" are the defining characteristic of modern America. Can-do America, the America of rolled-up worksleeves and boundless optimism that there is no problem that cannot be solved by America and Americans, is gone.

Where did can-do America go? When did we move from being a nation of can-do people, ready to solve the problems of the world, to being a bunch of whiny pessimists who do nothing but wring our hand and make excuses about why various problems cannot be solved? In the end, I believe it is a loss of will, not a loss of ability, that characterizes the new "can't-do" America. And in tomorrow's installation, I talk about my visit to a world-class Asian city during my Thanksgiving holiday, and the very different attitudes encountered there.

- Badtux the Travelin' Penguin

Friday, November 18, 2005

Holiday hours...

I think I'll go ahead and announce that the blog will be on hiatus during the following holiday periods:

November 19 - November 27 -- Thanksgiving holidays
December 24- January 2 -- Christmas holidays

In the unlikely event that I go out of town instead of spending all that time closetted with a computer game, I'll try to take a picture for you...

- Badtux the Holidaying Penguin

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Swift boaters, to me! Attack, my flying monkeys, attack!

Like the Wicked Witch of the East summoning her minions to attack Dorothy, the Bush Administration, stung by the servile press suddenly reporting that Bush lied to get us into war in Iraq (or at the very least presented only the intelligence that supported his position to Congress and the general public, and ignored the intelligence that did not support his agenda), has summoned its flying swift boat monkeys to attack the truth-tellers.

In response, hoards of swift boat monkeys, flapping their little wings mightily while hooting and howling and flinging feces with fervant vigor, have dispatched themselves to regularly whine that the Democrats are "rewriting history" when they say that they were deceived by the Bush Administration. It's unclear exactly what history they're supposed to be re-writing -- does Bush really insist that he gave the Democrats access to all the evidence, including the evidence that did not support going to war in Iraq? But in the end, it doesn't matter. All that matters is how much feces can be flung, for if the flying monkeys fling enough feces, why, all the windshield wipers in the world attempting to clear the view will not succeed.

Goebbels had his "Big Lie" strategy, but the Swift Boaters have their own variant: the "lotsa liars" strategy, where they prime and pump their fecal orifices with sufficient feces to drown an elephant, gorging themselves on lies and slanders until the point of bursting, then take flight to fling feces with all the frantic intensity of a Halliburton executive seeking government money to do nothing. Under assault by these hoards of flying monkeys, truth becomes obscured under the feces flying everywhere, feces piling up in malodorous heaps of lies, libels, and confabulations obstructing the path of anybody attempting to navigate the body politic and arrive at what's best for the nation, rather than what's best for a small elite of small and venal men intent upon enriching themselves at the expense of the rest of the nation. In this way, they hope, they can re-write reality to be what they wish it should be, rather than what it really is. What need is there for Orwell's "Memory Hole" when what is true is buried under such a malodorous pile of biting-fly-swarmed monkey dung that it will never be dug up except by the most intrepid of explorers armed with respirators and full body mosquito netting?

And of course they are succeeding. Mightily attempting to buy off these hoards of flying monkeys before they can unload their feces, the servile press obediently gives lies equal time with truth, turning the quest for truth into a he said-she said affair where nobody reading the article can detirmine who's really telling the truth. But then, journalists rarely attempt to discover the truth nowdays, instead feeling their proper role to be that of transcriptionists, faithfully reporting both lies and truths as they are uttered by public figures without making any attempt to report on who is lying and who is telling the truth (I once got into an argument with a newspaper editor about this, and he insisted that his sole responsibility was to accurately transcribe what the politician said, and that was it). Is it any wonder, then, that the American public has no idea what is true and what is not? That the American public will buy ridiculous fabrications such as "Saddam supported al-Qaeda" when anybody with even an iota of real information about the region would have known that al-Qaeda and Saddam were mortal enemies who, at best, had an uneasy truce with each other?

What chance does truth have, under the attack of the flying swift boat monkeys and their seemingly endless supply of feces? When the layers of lies, libels, and confabulations press down upon the truth like tons of flying monkey feces, how many people will be adventurous enough to go digging through these mounds of feces to uncover the pearls of truth that lie underneath?

- Badtux the Truth-telling Penguin

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Making the Middle East safe for torture

That appears to be our signal accomplishment. Between the actions of the British, the U.S. Marines, the rape rooms at Abu Ghraib (complete with contract torturers), the fact that the U.S. has tortured at least 26 people to death (including the poor sod above, who basically died of crucifixion), and now our new former Baathist friends in the Iraqi security ministry are back in business, torture is what the United States seems best in doing.

But remember, we must torture them there so that we don't have to torture them here. Or something like that.

Meanwhile, Preznit Numb-nuts continues to insist, "we do not torture". It is unclear whether he is dangerously ignorant, in denial, or just a bald-faced liar. Or maybe just a white supremicist racist who, like the Freepers, thinks that frail Afghan cab drivers in the wrong place at the wrong time are terrorists for, well, being brown-skinned (I guess), and thus it's fine to beat them to death because they're not really people, y'know, they're just untermenschen, unseemly "mud people", and thus not worthy of the same basic right to life as Americans...

War is peace. Torture is freedom. Rape rooms are liberation. Welcome to 1984+21.

- Badtux the "when did we start living in an Orwell novel?" Penguin

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

This is not the penguin you are looking for

First it was Old Blue the Heretic, now it is Pope Horatio Tyrannosaurus Nixon Rex. For the record, no, I am not the penguin who is holding up trains. As I explained to the Louisiana blue tick hound dog, I have a far more profitable scheme going down other than armed larceny -- converting to the Republican Party, then lobbying the Bush Administration to give me a billion dollars for doing nothing.

Hey, it works for Halliburton, after all, right?!

- Badtux the Larcenous Penguin

Monday, November 14, 2005

Granpa goes to war

Bush Administration drafts yet another grandpa to fight in their war in Iraq. He will join other grandpas who have been sent to Iraq.

These chickenhawks have a lot of gall. Each and every one of them avoided combat at any cost when they were of age to serve... and now they're drafting people their own age to go and fight overseas?! Now that takes nerve!

Here's my modest proposal: If this grandpa is young enough to serve, so is the Chimperer, the Rummer, the Rove, and pretty much everybody else in this gang of chickenhawks except Darth Cheney. Draft'em all and put'em in the trenches, is what I say. And if they don't want to be drafted... well, they simply shouldn't start up wars based on lies, then, eh?!

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Oh yeah, and those lucious Bush twins? They'd sure look good in khaki, don't ya think?!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Honda really understands their demographic

Honda Motor Company, concerned about the aging demographic of those buying its automobiles, decided to build a couple of cars aimed at young people. So they created a pumped up version of the Honda Civic, and they created the Honda Element, supposedly aimed at "the Gen-X lifestyle" (something to do with beach parties and surfboards and ski bums, I guess).

Thus far, Honda is scoring a perfect score with these new cars: 0%. The average buyer of both is 45 years old.

My mother, sixty-something years old, was looking for a new car to replace her aging Honda Civic, which was worth maybe $800 and needed $1200 worth of work (a new air conditioning compressor and a new timing belt). She found one: She just bought a Honda Element. Says she: "Sure, it looks like a Hummer and a Jeep mated and spat this out nine months later, but it's so *practical!*." She can get her entire menagerie of cats and dogs into the thing and still have plenty of room for luggage. And if they shed all over (or even poop), she can just hose it out!

Yes, Honda does indeed know its demographic: little old grey-haired cat ladies :-).

- Badtux the Amused Penguin

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Left wing loonies and nuclear power

Here is what a typical left-wing loony has to say about nuclear power:

The Indian Point Nuclear power Plant has, within a 15 mile radius, a population of about half a million people. How many would be killed from this one plant having a severe accident?

My answer: Fewer than at Chernobyl, which similarly was near half a million people, and killed a sum total of 56 people. Research in the decades since Chernobyl melted down has confirmed that there appears to have been no long-term impact beyond the area immediately affected by the explosion -- no increase in cancers in the millions of people downwind from the reactor, no increase in diseases attributable to radiation.

I say fewer than Chernobyl, because Indian Point has actual safety systems, which Chernobyl did not. Mr. Lefty's Commie friends over in the Soviet Union never bothered with safety systems, just as they never bothered cleaning up the toxic hypergolic rocket fuel downwind from their rocket launch stations that has turned a thousand square miles of steppes into a poisoned toxic wasteland, or with any kind of environmentalism at all. I mean, look, we're talking about the difference between a nation that dumped spent nuclear reactors into the ocean to deteriorate and contaminate enormous areas (the Soviet Union) vs. a nation (the United States) which not only has managed to responsibly manage its nuclear wastes rather than dump them into the sea, but also has a record of nuclear safety where not a single (one) person has ever died in a U.S. commercial power plant nuclear accident.

It's like the difference between driving a Soviet-era automobile (think 1950 Chevrolet) vs. a modern Honda.. one is an antiquated death trap, the other is a modern epitomy of safety. You just can't look at that antiquated death trap and, based upon that death trap, say that all cars will send the steering column spearing through your chest in the event of a crash. It just doesn't work like that. Some cars are safer, by design, than others, just as some reactors are safer, by design, than others. A nuclear reactor designed like one of the Advanced Light Water reactors is a veritable Mercedes compared to the creaky rickety deathtrap 1940's technology that was Chernobyl... I mean, look, Chernobyl didn't even have a containment structure, for cryin' out loud! That's like the equivalent of an automobile with no brakes!

I swear, between the loony tunes lefties who want to starve us all to death in a "back to nature" death march like the Khmer Rouge rather than allow us the benefits of modern science, and the loony toons Christofascists and Islamofascists who want to deny us the benefits of modern science rather than admit that their so-called "holy books" are just a bunch of rubbish science fiction invented by prehistoric con artists, it seems like those of us who actually *like* civilization (which was created by science, not by loony-toons ravings from left or right) are an endangered species.

From time to time I pack a small tent and a bit of food on my back and hike for a few days into a desolate wilderness area. I always return to civilization with a firm appreciation of the benefits of running water and mechanical climate control and the enormous infrastructure needed to keep those going. And the most important thing needed to keep them going is energy -- of which, once fossil fuels are depleted, nuclear energy is the one and only high-density means of obtaining for most of the United States. I mean, nuclear reactors actually *create* fuel when they are operated, unlike conventional power plants, which burn fuel (we don't use the created fuel, since the created fuel -- Pu-239 -- is very useful for making atomic bombs thus for political reasons it is not extracted from the spent rods and re-used, but as long as we don't somehow destroy these fuel rods, we can always come back in the future and extract this fuel). Realistically speaking, we have millions of years of fissionable materials here on this planet, and by the time we run out of fissionables, I expect we'll have all been rendered extinct by a massive flare of the sun or another dinosaur-killer asteroid or etc. anyhow.

It seems to me that we should dump all the lefty Commies into a time capsule and let them go to their socialist worker's paradise of Cambodia in 1975 to work the fields like nature intended, and all the righty Islamo-Christofascists into a time capsule and dump them into the middle of an impoverished village in Palestine in 1000AD, just like they really want to be, and let those of us who are, like, actually sane, get on with our lives without having these raving lunatics around trying to take us back in time a thousand years...

-- Badtux the Moderate Penguin

How to solve the "union" problem

First of all, get rid of that nasty word "union". It sounds vaguely socialistic. Instead, call these entities something more relevant to the modern world and modern economy, such as: "employee-owned labor contracting corporation." Change the way these organizations operate -- the employees are employed by the contracting corporation, not by the corporations they work for, the corporations pay the contracting corporation, the contracting corporation skims a bit off the top as "dues" then pays the workers, voila. Finally, have the SEC, not the NLRB, in charge of monitoring these employee-owned labor contracting corporations to make sure that a) they meet modern accounting and corporate governance standards, and b) that the owners (the employees) have full corporate governance rights, including the ability to vote for members of the board of directors of the corporation and the right to sue officers of the corporation if they engage in behavior contrary to the best interests of the owners (the workers).

I think if the unions did the above, they would immediately make 99% of the propaganda put out by the right wingnuts obsolete, as well as do a 100 degree side-step of anti-union "right to work" laws (since the employees are never actually employed by the corporations they work for, said "right to work" laws don't apply, only standard contract law applies). Rather than being depicted as somehow-Communistic "unions" that are an imposition upon the free market system, they would be inherently depicted by their very name as part of the free market system -- i.e., as employee-owned corporations that simply contract out the services of their employees to other corporations.

I believe that unions, as currently organized in America, are becoming irrelevant. They are becoming irrelevant because, as currently organized, they are relics of an earlier era (the Progressive era) and thus out of step with the current business-oriented climate in America. Unless organized as a business rather than as socialist relic, unions will continue their current decline in membership and political clout, until, in the end, they are legislated out of existence and business has no check at all upon its ability to exploit its massive advantage in terms of power over individual workers.

- Badtux the Laboring Penguin

Friday, November 11, 2005

Foil beanies: Do they work?

A right-wing blogger tries to protect himself from evil mind control rays being transmitted by liberals and Islamo-fascists as he writes his latest blog entry:

We've all heard of the Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie, intended to stop mind control rays (being broadcast from satellites and telephone company trucks). But does it actually work?

A team at MIT decided to see. Using the directions at the AFDB site, they created a troika of tin foil beanies and then, with a signal generator and network analyzer, tested them to see how they worked at deflecting radio waves that could be used for government mind control. Their results were astounding: It appears that they actually *amplify* radio bandwidths which the FCC says are "reserved for government"!

Guess paranoics will have to figure out some other way to stop those evil government mind control rays, eh? :-).

(For the record: I believe the only "mind control rays" around here are the ones coming out of the television set, intended to indoctrinate you to baaaa like a good little sheeple... probably why my television hasn't been turned on in over a year).

- Badtux the non-mind-controlled Penguin

Thursday, November 10, 2005

USMC birthday today

Gordon at Alternate Brain reminds us that today is the 230th birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps. The Marines are always the last on the budget, first on the spot, first to kill, first to be killed, sometimes for good causes, sometimes for not. Over the centuries they have developed a fatalism about their situation as the bastard child of the U.S. military, and some sober rituals, one of which Gordon details for us: the "birthday ball". It is said that once a Marine, always a Marine. I have to say it's true in my experience, every Marine that I ever met, no matter how few or how many years he spent in the service, is immediately and obviously recognizable as a Marine, no matter how many years it has been since he wore that uniform.

This is not, alas, a happy birthday for the Marines. Modern technology means they do not die in as large of numbers as in wars past (though still they die), but there are tolls other than death.

- Badtux the Somber Penguin

Molly Ivans: "What have we become?"

Bush administration, dead to morality, says torture is the American way

AUSTIN, Texas -- I can't get over this feeling of unreality, that I am actually sitting here writing about our country having a gulag of secret prisons in which it tortures people. I have loved America all my life, even though I have often disagreed with the government. But this seems to me so preposterous, so monstrous. My mind is a little bent and my heart is a little broken this morning.


A string of prisons in Eastern Europe in which suspects are held and tortured indefinitely, without trial, without lawyers, without the right to confront their accusers, without knowing the evidence or the charges against them, if any. Forever. It's "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich." Another secret prison in the midst of a military camp on an island run by an infamous dictator. Prisoner without a name, cell without a number.

Who are we? What have we become?

What have we become? That is simple. We have become torturers. All of us, collectively, who implicitly or explicitly support this regime and its horrific acts. George Orwell knew. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation. [...] The old civilizations claimed that they were founded on love or justice. Ours is founded upon hatred. [...] But always - do not forget this, Winston - always there will be the intoxication of power, increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - for ever. -- George Orwell, 1984

We have become torturers who take refuge in lies, pretty gleaming glistening lies, lies of patriotism and pride, lies that we only torture those who deserve it, only execute those who are evil, that torture is the American way, the only way. Pretty lies that we want to believe, deep in our hearts of hearts, our animal hearts lusting for blood and our heads gratefully accepting the lies that allow our inner ape to hoot and holler and fling feces like all apes wish to do when encountering those who are not part of our particular pride of primates.

We have become torturers who embrace our lies with love and adoration, and who will resist any and all attempts to enlighten us to the truth about what we are and what we have become. For lies are easy and reassuring and comforting in the dark of night when things go bump, and the truth is harsh, and cold, and unflattering. No, no, far better to embrace the lies, the lies of patriotism and hope, the lies that tell us all is well, all is well, we are not bad people... lies that are, after all, what we want to believe about ourselves and the nation we live in. What we want to believe.

So we do.

And Jesus weeps...

- Badtux the Orwellian Penguin

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Poll of the day


How would Scottie McClellan spin things if Karl Rove had gotten caught holding up a liquor store?

  1. He's simply the victim of an overzealous security camera
  2. This just shows that the special prosecutor didn't have enough evidence to go for Murder One, so clearly there has been no real crime
  3. I dodged this question earlier, and I stand by those remarks
  4. This is nothing more than the Democrats' partisan attempt to criminalize armed robbery
My choice, BTW, is #4 (heheheheh!).

- Badtux the Out-snarked Penguin

Kansas don' need dat dere edumacashion

The Kansas School Board has voted to question the theory of evolution. I applaud their intellectual flexibility -- in the face of facts, they have plucked out superstition! This penguin, however, believes they have not gone far enough in making sure our young morons-in-the-making are protected from those evil "fact" thingies. Here are my new curriculum suggestions for the Kansas School Board:

The Theory of Gravity says that objects fall when you drop them because objects attract each other. However, there are some who say that objects fall because of Intelligent Pushing -- the Flying Spaghetti Monster pushing down on objects with His noodly appendages. Teach the controversy!

The vitamin theory says that human beings need vitamins in order to properly metabolize their foodstuffs and survive. The mush theory says that all anybody needs is cornpone and turnip greens. Teach the controversy!

The heliocentric theory says that the sun is the center of the solar system. The God's Fingers theory says that the earth is the center of the solar system, and it's God's fingers that are whirling the planets around in the complex patterns we see in the sky. Teach the controversy!

The moron theory says that the Kansas School Board is a bunch of Bible-thumping morons who have made their whole state a laughingstock. The genius theory says that the Kansas School Board is a bunch of geniuses who have insured that the young people of Kansas will no longer flee their decrepit flyover state of trailer parks full of losers by making sure that their young people no longer have the scientific education to compete in the real world (the world outside of Kansas). Teach the controversy!

The medicine theory says that modern medicine can cure ills. The Christian Science theory says that all that is needed to cure cancer is prayer. Teach the controversy!

Yes indeed, the Kansas School Board has made a brave new start in making sure that our innocent li'l chilluns is protected from them evil "fact" thingies, but they just don't go far enough. Our chilluns must be protected from them evil "facts" or they might, they might... they might LEARN HOW TO THINK! Oh the horror!

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Bush Administration successfuly protects America!

Yes, my little chickadees, the Bush Administration has managed to protect America from a horrible swarthy terrorist menace. Why, this terrorist is so evil, so demented, so horrifically dangerous, that he might... he might... vaccinate our children against horrible diseases!

Yep, that's right, he's a DOCTOR. And you know that those doctors are evil, especially the Commie ones from Cuba who have developed cheap vaccines (which might, uhm, DECREASE BIG PHARMA'S PROFITS! Horrors!). After all, what do you find in a doctor's office? That's right, SICK PEOPLE! Why are sick people always found wherever you find a doctor? It's because doctors are all evil!

Boy, I'm relieved that our Department of Homeland Security and U.S. State Department are working so hard and diligently to protect us against evil doctors. Why, I haven't felt so safe since the Reagan administration protected us from evil Nobel-prize-winning authors who were obviously intent upon destroying America! For your benefit, I hereby summarize the Bush health care plan:

  1. Kill all the doctors, because doctors cause sick people.
  2. If people insist upon getting sick without a doctor's help, take them out to the back 40, dig a hole six foot deep by six foot long by three foot wide, shoot them in the head, and bury their sorry carcasses.
There you have it, the Bush health care plan in a nutshell!

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Monday, November 07, 2005

Travelin' Bird

The Snarky Penguin has been traveling, riding his new motorsickle all around Cah-lee-for-nee-ah. So what has been happening during the days when I was away from ye olde iceberg? Let's see:

The IRS threatens to take away the tax exempt status of a church for preaching that Jesus opposed war. Seems that the Busheviks only like pro-war preaching...

The right-wingnut head of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting got the can for being a corrupt jerkoff. Republican. Corrupt jerkoff. Doh. Talk about your Department of Redundant Redundancies...

Victory in Iraq real soon now. Guess the rose petal shipments have been delayed. And the #2 al Qaeda man in Iraq undoubtedly will get killed or captured again within the next two weeks (man, al Qaeda seems to have an infinite number of those #2 men for us to kill or capture, eh?).

Bush says we do not torture. It is unclear what the family of Dilawar, an Afghan cab driver tortured to death by American soldiers for the crime of being in the wrong place when a bomb went off, would think about Bush's statement. Oh what the hell, let me paraphrase them: Bush is a lying sack of shit. Doh. He's a Republican. Doesn't that say it all?

FEMA sends the state of Louisiana a bill for 3.7 billion dollars for fucking up while Louisiania mostly saved itself (FEMA contributed 100 buses *TOTAL* to the whole New Orleans evacuation, for example -- Governor Blanco rounded up the hundreds of other busses and coordinated the airlines that evacuated even more people from the New Orleans airport). Yes, that's right, a 3.7 billion dollar bill for fucking Louisiana. Man, I haven't heard of a whore hitting up a john for change like that since Julia Roberts was workin' the streets. BTW, the entire Louisiana state budget is around $18 billion, of which half is Medicaid and highway funds provided by the Feds that can't be used for anything else, and it is estimated that because of the damage from the hurricanes, the state will only be able to gather about $6 billion in taxes next year (roughly 2/3rds of what it gathered this year).

The state of Louisiana says that with 50% of its economy destroyed by hurricanes, governments are out of money and about to declare bankruptcy. The scenarios depicted are similar to the Great Depression.

In other words, same old, same old. Republican corruption, Louisiana getting fucked by Republicans, hell, I might as well have reproduced last week's blog and not been inaccurate...

- Badtux the Motorsickle-ridin' Penguin

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Soviet-era gulags under new management

The Party, after all, needs some place to stash unseemly brown people who object to U.S. soldiers in their homeland... I mean, c'mon. Sure, every right wing freak in America would go ballistic if, say, China stationed entire divisions worth of soldiers, tanks, and fighter jets within our own borders. But look, double standards are fine and dandy, because we're by god the United States of America and thus never wrong and always right even if the CIA butt-fucks and tortures to death every one of them darkies, whether they've done anything to deserve it or not...

I once read a document which said something like this:

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

It also said something like this:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury

But we all know that this document was just some Commie plot to destroy America, and thus fine to ignore!

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Like monkeys producing the works of Shakespeare

It's now been about two years since I moored my iceberg in the so-called "Silicon Valley". Let's just say I'm underwhelmed.

I have not been impressed by the way things get done out here in the Silicon Valley, it's slapdash, poorly managed, and all about how long you've worked in the Valley, not about talent. If you were employee #10 at Sun and Scott McNeally is your child's godfather, that counts more than how many products you've actually shipped to paying customers. You see the same serial losers circulating from company to company, like one VP of Engineering, who came to one company from another company that had once been an innovator, but then their engineering process collapsed and they produced software that was late, buggy, slow, and crashed all the time, one of the most spectacular meltdowns in technology history. And this guy was right there in the middle of the collapse of that other company's engineering process. And it wasn't until he was at his new company for over a year without a product happening that they finally dumped him... it's like a high-tech West Virginia, inbred, incestuous, and relentlessly stupid. Or like the Bush Administration. Hmm...

Frankly, my favorite manager -- who is far away from the Silicon Valley -- could outmanage the whole mess of these so-called "visionaries" out here. I put "visionaries" in quotes because they're techno-weenies -- they push technology for the sake of technology, rather than pushing technology as a solution for real-world products. They're geeks. They like playing with technology, they don't care for solving problems, all they care about is what's neato-wizzo. It's no wonder that most startups in the Silicon Valley collapse -- in the unlikely event they manage to produce a product, it's a product that solves no conceivable need, and is so user-hostile that only someone with a Ph.D. in Computational Physics could comprehend it.

It is only the sheer scale of the money being poured into the valley that manages to pull a few actual products out of a sea of failure. Let's face it, when there's *BILLIONS* of dollars of investment flowing into the area, sooner or later a few actual usable products will manage to pop out at the other end just by random chance. Like monkeys producing the works of William Shakespeare, only the sheer number of monkeys plugging away in the Silicon Valley manages to accidentally produce useful innovation... but man, what a wasteful way to do things!

- Badtux the "I'm a penguin, not a monkey" Penguin