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

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Newsflash: 2004 election was stolen

Well, DUH! So what else is news?

The thing is, it couldn't have been stolen if 2/3rds of the American people had decided to throw the bums out on their butt. It would have so glaringly obvious in that case that no one would have dared. But with so much of the American public currently having their balls hocked at the latest pawn shop, willing to vote for anybody who promises to keep them safe from them big bad tewwowists, whadya expect?!

BTW, I'm expecting a new terror attack on U.S. soil in September of next year. Just as September 11 got the Republicans control of the Senate in 2002, they will want to extend that control in 2006. Am I saying that our own government will attack our nation for political gain? Well, it wouldn't be the first time that such a thing was proposed...

- Badtux the Conspiracy Penguin

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Where did Desi go?

Her former blog URL (greatscat) has been taken over by some horror weenie, her former gmail account bounces...

This is weird. Usually when a blogger gets tired of blogging, they just post a goodbye world message and then go away. The only time I've ever seen a blog just disappeared like this is when some legal beagle brought down the law on someone... anybody know whether The Man has come down on Desi?

Have the disappearances begun?

- Badtux the Concerned Penguin

And the fraggings begin...

One of the things which sped the disintegration of the Vietnam-era U.S. Army, to the point where, by 1971, it was little more than an armed rabble more intent upon getting high than killing NVA soldiers, was fraggings of career NCO's and junior officers. Without the career NCO's to guide them, the junior officers were literally terrified of their men, terrified to give them any order that could possibly result in their men getting killed, terrified that if they gave such an order, the men would refuse to follow the order and instead kill the officer.

Iraq is not Vietnam. Iraq is different, in that the soldiers and NCO's are both volunteers, whereas in Vietnam, the soldiers were typically draftees and the NCO's were typically volunteers. There is not the divide between the grunts and their NCO's in Iraq that there was in the latter days of the Vietnam war. What there is, however, is disdain for their junior officers, who come in full of piss and vinegar without a clue as to how to conduct war, and too often are not allowing their NCO's to do their job, instead micro-managing things in a way which is completely outside of what they're supposed to be doing.

In case you're confused, here's how it's supposed to work. A platoon typically has a sergeant -- an NCO -- and a first lieutenant -- a junior officer. The officer gets the orders from HQ that say, "go to point A and kill the enemy." The officer looks at how to get to point A, and says to his NCO, "get us to point A via points B, C, and D, and call for an air strike on point A before we get there." The NCO then handles all the grunt work of getting the men together with the equipment and supplies they need to get to point A, coordinating the disposition of the men in the most militarily effective manner during the passage to point A, and then hopes like hell that if they run into something on the way to point A that they can't handle, that the officer will have some idea what their next move should be.

In short, the officer is the tactics and policy guy. The NCO is the logistics guy who makes it all happen, kicking whatever ass is necessary to make it happen, and sometimes doing some things that the officer carefully overlooks because no military can really run 100% "by the rules" and actually get the job done. That's how it's supposed to work. But nowdays, officers are coming out of the military academies thinking they know how to do the NCO's job. What they do, mostly, is get in the way -- the NCO typically has much more experience doing his job than some fresh-behind-the-ears first looey, and besides, the officer is going to be concerned about a blot on his career if he gets caught doing something that's not "by the book" and thus is likely to interfere with his NCO's getting the job done the, err, "illicit" way if he's in the middle of all that. If the NCO is scrounging armor for their Humvees out of scrap piles, for example, well, that's actually against the rules -- "hillbilly armor" overburdens the suspension of the Humvees and makes them tend to break down more often, which in Rumsfeld's Army (as in Robert McNamara's army in Vietnam) is a cardinal offense because it makes the statistics look bad.

So what is happening is that officers are interfering with the NCO's doing their job, and it's getting grunts killed. So the dynamic is completely different from Vietnam, where the NCO's and officers were equally likely to be fragged. In Iraq, it's the officers who are beginning to be hated more and more... and once the fraggings begin in earnest, the whole ball of wax is likely to collapse into a heap, much like the U.S. Army in 1971.

- Badtux the Military Penguin

Well, one testicle is better than none

Finally the Democrats quit bluffing, and showed that at least one Democratic senator has at least one testicle. For a couple of hours, the Democrats in the Senate acted as if they were an opposition party, rather than a bunch of pansies too wimpish to get "het up" about anything at all.

Whether this transplant of one big brass one will be followed by more transplants of more big brass ones is unknown. The Democrats can shut down the Senate if they want -- they just served notice that the only way to stop them from doing so is by removing them all at gunpoint. Now that they've gotten the elephant's attention by bonking it over the head, will they manage to find the big brass ones to do more than just grandstand for a couple of hours? Curious penguins want to know!

- Badtux the Curious Penguin