Probably not blogging much until next Wednesday. Please feel free to browse the fine links in my right margin...
- Badtux the Busy Penguin
I'm told I must adore our soldiers in uniform because they're "defending our freedoms". What the fuck?
Look, when I walked into the air force recruiting station, I was there mostly to get money for college, okay? And yeah, Ronny Raygun was nuts and might get us into a war, I wasn't stupid, but I worked the odds and they seemed okay. I also had the notion that I might defend our nation if it ever became necessary. But "defend our freedoms"? What kinda bullshit is that? What kind of "freedoms" can you defend with a fuckin' bomb? All you can do with a bomb is *KILL* people.
I suppose that if you're killing someone who is going to come to America and destroy it, the military could be "defending our freedoms". But the last time that ever happened was 1941-1945. Since then, our military has not been used against any power that could ever destroy America. When our military went into Afghanistan after Osama bin Laden, they weren't there to "defend our freedoms". They were there (but not long enough) to catch a murderous bastard who had killed some Americans but who couldn't destroy America in his wildest wet dreams. Osama ain't the shit compared to Hitler or Stalin, both of whom controlled enormous industrial machines. Osama's just a two-bit thug who thinks he's something, like a jillion other two-bit thugs in every "bad" neighborhood on the planet. In short, our soldiers were there as cops. Who defend property and life, but not freedom.
And of course our troops in Iraq aren't defending shit, much less our freedoms. They're too busy trying not to get killed while doing... what? Propping up some government that's so shabby that it'd collapse the moment we left? What in the world makes such a weak government worth shoring up in the first place? And what the fuck does that have to do with defending my freedom to post the word "fuck" on the Internet?!
Look, I don't have freedom of speech because cops say I have freedom of speech. I have freedom of speech because the law that controls those cops says I have freedom of speech. The cop would rather I not have freedom of speech, because that makes his job harder. It's not the soldiers or the cops who defend our freedoms. It is our laws and our courts, starting with the Constitution and going downwards from there. Which is what pisses me off about the Busheviks shredding our Constitution in their attempt to imitate the slathering of rabid dogs.
If you want to defend freedom, defend the courts, and support folks like the ACLU and EFF who are trying to get the courts to uphold freedom. Because soldiers don't defend freedom. Soldiers kill people. That's their job. That's what we pay them to do. And they're good at it. And I'm glad, because there's some nasty folks out there who need killin'. But killing people isn't "defending our freedoms" unless the people we kill could somehow destroy America and thus our freedoms. Which ain't nobody in Iraq or Afghanistan, that's for sure. So let's quit with that bullshit and get back to reality, okay?
-- Badtux the Rude Penguin
Back in the early 1980's, my land down in Louisiana was "thumped". For those of you who are not geologists, don't worry about it, this just means that the oil companies sent a thumper truck out and made a map of the subsurface terrain. Their tentative conclusion was that there was a small pocket of oil down there, but not one big enough to be worth drilling for. Seems that we're on top of a salt dome, but one that's pretty far down, just enough to make us bulge fifty feet or so into the air compared to the surrounding terrain but you can't tell it because a million years of erosion has turned the bulge into rolling hills in the part visible above ground. (Note that this property was once a shallow bay that was part of the Gulf of Mexico, about 100 million years ago, thus why lots of organics would have settled to the bottom of the bay, been covered up by Mississippi silt over the centuries, and voila).
I've been getting legal paperwork for several months now from an oil company that is setting up the legal framework for drilling, i.e., setting up a landowner pool (since the oil lies beneath several people's land) with all the public hearings and etc. that are required under law. Finally, the other day, came the final proof that things are desperate enough in the oil business that they'll drill anywhere: An oil company is trying to steal our mineral rights.
Yeppers, you got that right. They disguised some legal paperwork as a lease payment, but if you actually signed it, you were giving up your mineral rights including all rights to future royalties in perpetuity for $10.
Needless to say, this isn't flying down in the bayou. Those good ole' boys might not have them Harvard edumacashions, but they grew up in the oil bidness, and know damned well what's what. You could hear the sound of paper being ripped up all the way out here on the West Coast. But the point is that nobody would be trying to steal our mineral rights unless they're actually worth something.
And if an oil pool that pathetically small is worth something... expect the price of gas to go up. *WAY* up. If gas isn't $5 per gallon by this time next year, I'll be surprised.
-- Badtux the Oil Penguin
at the news that scientists have found a biological reason for gay-ness. Because, you see, they're scientists. They're not good God fearin' Christians like you and I. Everybody knows that those evil "scientist" people are just part of the Gay Agenda and hate America and want us to all gay-marry our brothers and give forced abortions to 14 year olds and all that. Why, they don't even believe that God created the world in 7 days, so why should we listen to them?
-- Badtux the Wingnut Penguin
BWHAHAHAHAHA! Rush Limbaugh detained for prescriptionless Viagra!.
And this is the man who accuses *LIBERALS* of having limp dicks?!
BWAHAHAHAHA! What a loser!
-- Badtux the ROFL Penguin
The Israelis fired a rocket through this Palestinian terrorist's house. After all, everybody knows that the Israelis never kill or injure innocent people, so this must be a terrorist. Now the San Jose Murky News informs us that a bleeding heart San Jose eye doctor gave this terrorist a new eye.
This terrorist is 3 1/2 years old, but it's clear that she is a menace to all freedom-loving people. How *dare* this San Jose eye doctor give her a new eye! Why, doesn't he know that this makes him a (gasp) SUPPORTER OF TERRORISM?!
Behold the face of terror:
What? You say she can't be a terrorist? Why, that means you HATE JEWS AND WANT TO KILL THEM ALL! Murderer! Because if you don't love and adore everything the state of Israel does, you're a NAZI and want to EXTERMINATE ALL THE WORLD'S JEWS! I know this because Jews have told me so! So there! PFFTT!
-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin
In an earlier post, I noted that genocide or expulsion are the only two ways to win an occupation. Inevitably, then, people point to the occupations of Japan and Germany as examples of "occupations gone right." But this ignores one critical piece of information: we did commit genocide against the people of Japan and Germany.
We killed millions of Japanese and German civilians during the course of the war. We killed pretty much every male between the ages of 18 and 35 in those countries during the course of the war. We turned their countries into rubble filled with starving women and children and old men, and several millions starved or died of exposure in the rubble in the aftermath of the war. We committed acts of genocide as bad as have ever been done by people like Pol Pot, Stalin, or Hitler. We killed so many Germans that only today, 60 years after the war ended, has Germany's population rebounded to its pre-war totals. Looking at the census numbers, it appears that we managed to kill over 20,000,000 Germans -- or about 1/4th of their population. That's genocide, my friends.
We did this because it was necessary. Those nations had attacked us. The majority of the people of those nations had supported their government, or at least done nothing to try to undermine it. The only way to stop them was to kill so many people in those countries and destroy so much of their infrastructure that they would be unable to commit further acts of war against us. But that doesn't mean that we didn't commit genocide against the people of Germany and Japan. We did. If you don't believe me, look at the firebombing of Dresden, a city with absolutely no military value.
Does that mean I'm sorry we committed genocide against the Japanese and Germans? Hell no! But let's call a spade a spade. The people of Japan and Germany supported war against our nation, and we killed them until there wasn't enough of them left to fight. That's how you win an occupation -- by killing all the men between the ages of 17 and 38. That's how we won the occupation of Germany and Japan.
Does that mean this (genocide) is what we should do in Iraq? Not no, but *HELL* no. The Iraqi government has never attacked America, and the Iraqi people never supported war against America (at least, not until we occupied their country). Indeed, in the two Oil Wars, they were so uninterested in fighting Americans that their starving draftee soldiers barely fired a shot in the direction of the Americans before dropping their rifles and surrendering to the nearest news crew (remember that one?!), resulting in ludicriously low casualties on the American side (what, maybe 1000 total between the two wars?). To commit genocide against the Iraqi people would not be an act of preserving the American nation. It would be an act of evil on the same scale as Stalin slaughtering millions of Ukrainians until they submitted to the Soviet occupation.
An act of evil which, alas, I fear that America's timid and frightened citizenry might, just might, support if Dear Leader said "we must kill all the Iraqi men or the terrorists have won!". Feh. Cowards. "Land of the brave and home of the free"? Maybe in LSD hallucinations... but more like "Land of the cowards and home of the surveilled" today. If the WWII generation wasn't already dying of old age, they'd be dying of shame at what America has become -- a bunch of passive cowering sheep letting their Dear Leader scare them into doing some of the most horrible things in recent history, including the crime of killing tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians based upon a lie -- the lie that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. The Iraq occupation is going to go down in history alongside the genocide against the Filipinos in the early 1900's in the history books. Not that many Americans know that America committed an act of genocide against the Filipinos in the early 1900's, of course -- mention of the Phillipine-American War has been carefully censored from the history books that most American schoolchildren are taught out of, because truth is unpatriotic. Which is, alas, the same argument that Dear Leader uses against accurate reporting of the current occupation -- "truth is unpatriotic". Bleh.
-- Badtux the History Penguin
Like Jay, I must come clean: I am a mindless obedient zombie. I post what I am told to post. The voices in my head tell me what to post. And they sound a lot like Kos, Atrios, and the Townhouse mailing list, which I've never heard of but I'm sure it sounds just like the voices in my head.
I must go now, the voices in my head are telling me to hate America, burn flags, and gay-marry Senator Santorum's dog. Cheers!
-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin
PS: I don't read Kos or Atrios and never heard of the mailing list in question, but hey, who am I to question the voices in my head?!
5 pounds down! Only 15 more to go before I'm down to where I was as a youngster of 30 years of age, which is probably a good weight for me since that's where I spent most of my adult life and my blood pressure was fine at that weight. And yeah, I know it gets harder from here...
What I've discovered is that I really don't eat badly, calorie-wise, when I'm cooking for myself. For example, today I'm having tuna and noodles at lunch, and this evening I'm having rice pilaf and thai chicken. All with salad of course. The killers are a) soft drinks, and b) snacks. Well, and c), pizza, which is just plain evil :-). All I have to do to keep my weight under control once I hit my target weight, adding up the calories, is chop soft drinks and snacks out of my diet and only eat pizza once or twice a month (sigh! And I so love pizza!). Rather than soft drinks, I can drink green tea (unsweetened), which not only is healthier than all that sugar but has the same caffeine kick (hey, you didn't think I was drinking those sodas for the taste, eh? :-).
Getting old sucks. The alternative, of course, is worse... :-}.
- Badtux the Elderly Penguin
[ This is a tentative first draft of the first chapter of the next novel in the Valley of Lies series. It is cross-posted at DeadlyLies.com. Comments appreciated -- does it make you want to read the next chapter? Or when you reach the end of it, do you say "Bore-ing!"?]
I am haunted by the ghosts of dead children.
I've seen too many things in the short time I've been on this world. Too many things. When the girl brought me another ghost to haunt my dreams, I almost killed her.
Not on purpose, of course. I did not need another ghost. I'd passed out from exhaustion in the threadbare office of my apartment complex, nose stuck deep in a casebook on torts. I was overextended big-time, between law school, running my business, keeping my body tuned up, and handling the occasional, err, "consulting", job, but that's how I like it. If life wasn't a challenge, I'd die from boredom. That's just how I'm built. But the result is that I conk out from time to time when I've hit my limits. Studying for an upcoming exam, I'd run into the wall.
Then the girl tugged on my hair, and while waking I whipped my Glock into her face, finger on the trigger, before realizing that there was no threat.
The girl burst into tears at that. "Don't hurt me!", she said, cringing backward, the fragile-looking bones of her narrow shoulders hunching together as if to ward off a blow. I put my pistol away, wondering, what do I do now? I'm not exactly the maternal sort. Yeah, yeah, so I'm short and cute and female but I'm not built that way. I tried to think about what my father would have done, and tentatively picked something.
"Don't worry, honey, I'm not going to hurt you," I reassured the girl. She was maybe 11 or 12 years old, with honey-colored skin and straight black hair that came down to her shoulders and the cute button nose that kids have at that age, and the fragile look that some girls have when they've started growing but haven't put on the weight to go with their new height. I would have killed for her cheekbones. People say I'm cute, but this girl was beautiful, standing there in her sundress in front of my desk.
"I tried to wake you up, but you wouldn't wake up!" she wailed. She was doing that whole waterworks thing. I could think of a couple of times I'd done the waterworks thing when I was her age, but mostly that involved broken bones or a disappointment at a gymnastics meet. Frankly, at her age, I simply didn't have much reason to cry. I was too damned naive then.
I moved around the desk and sat in one of the wooden chairs, motioning her into the other. She sat down. "I'm Kathy, Kathy Varis. What's your name?"
"Lisa." Her voice was soft, almost a whisper. She was looking at me sideways through her bangs, as if afraid to look at me directly. Tears were running down her cheeks.
"So why are you here, Lisa?" I asked as gently as I could, expecting that her mother, whoever that was, had sent her to report a clogged toilet or something. Instead, she pulled two photos out of a yellow envelope and spread them on my desk.
I stared at the one on the right. Blood. So much blood. I remember the sight of blood, the smell of blood, a young girl lying dead on her bed, a pool of blood swirling, swirling under her outstretched arm... but this was a boy. A boy who was as beautiful as what must be his sister, with the same straight black hair and perfect cheekbones, lying dead in a pool of blood. Blood soaking through his white t-shirt. Mouth open in pain. Dead eyes. Dead. On the left, his picture in a happier time, a slight smile on his face, eyes alive, but looking as if they had seen things, looking somewhat wistful as if pining for a time of innocence that had been all too short. I saw that look on a lot on children's faces in this neighborhood. Innocence was in short supply here on the ghetto side town.
"Where did you get this?" I asked Lisa.
"You do things," Lisa whispered.
"What's your whole name? Where's your mother?"
"Nobody cares," Lisa whispered, and started sobbing. I stared at her, confused. What was I supposed to do now?
I settled for grabbing her hand and squeezing it. It was like grasping a bird, fragile, frail bone under smooth skin. "Lisa. Listen. Listen to me. You're right, nobody cares. That means you have to care, because nobody else will. You know that, right? But you have to help me here. What happened? Who are you? What's your last name? What happened? Help me here, Lisa. Tell me what's going on."
Lisa quit sobbing, and wiped her face with her other hand. She looked at me almost as if in triumph. An alarm went off in the back of my head, but I ignored it. Maybe I shouldn't have, but I did.
"I'm Lisa Almada," she said in that quiet voice of hers. She pointed at the pictures. "My brother Mike." She looked down, then back up at me. "It's been months now, and nobody cares. Police, newspaper..." she shrugged her narrow shoulders and stared at the pictures, a thousand yard stare like I'd seen on the face of some of the Oil War vets who sat on the sidewalks downtown with their panhandling caps out, staring off into the distance at things only they can see.
"So... what do you want me to do?"
"Find who killed him," Lisa said, looking back at me, her eyes looking far too bright and fervant. "Then, you know..." and she smiled. I looked into her eyes. I knew. God forgive me, I knew. She pulled a big wad of money out of a pocket of her dress and shoved it at me. "I can pay."
I stared at the wad of money. "Where did you get that?"
"Mikey gave it to me. I hid it for him. We were going to run away and get married and live happily ever after."
Oh boy, I thought. There was only one way to get that kind of money in this neighborhood. The only question was whether it was black tar or crack that her brother had been hawking on the street corners. Well, that and which of the people running him had killed him.
I took the money. I didn't need the money, but I took it. I'd put it aside for this girl when she got older. If she got older. I'm far too aware that not all children survive here. But I was betting on Lisa. I was betting on Lisa because she might be frail, she might use water works and other people to get what she was going after, but when I looked in those eyes, I saw the same sort of intensity that had gotten me through bad times. And now she was using me. And I knew it. But is that wrong? I didn't think so. Not then. Not now. Not later.
"I can do that," I told Lisa. "Where is your mother? Where do you live?"
She told me an address about a mile away. I was about to ask her, "How did you get here?" but I knew. She had walked, of course. I would have. Instead, I pointed at the photo of her brother lying dead in a pool of blood.
"Where did you get that?" I asked.
"John Ralston. He's a photographer with the newspaper. He's a nice man. When I wandered into his office he gave me some ice cream!"
A nice man, hmm? Giving a photograph like this to a young girl? But I suppose he didn't have any more choice than me in the matter. Probably a sucker for waterworks too. "Well, I don't have any ice cream," I said. "What about water?"
"Okay," Lisa said in that soft voice of hers. She was smiling, waterworks apparently forgotten. Oh who am I kidding, of course they were forgotten. She'd gotten what she wanted, after all. And I couldn't even blame her for how she'd done it. Being small in a big guy's world, you used what you had and did what you could. As someone who was barely 5'2" and weighed a whole 110 pounds, I could empathize. I'd used the blond cute thing a few times myself.
It just seemed a shame to see a kid doing it, that's all.
So I got a glass of water and brought it back to her. She was still sitting in the chair, feet dangling and swinging back and forth. She had pulled out a small notepad and a pencil from somewhere, and was intently sketching something. It looked as if she had learned to be comfortable with solitude.
"I have to study," I told her. "I'll take you home after my secretary gets back from the park. She's babysitting today."
Lisa shrugged. "Okay." She returned to making pencil strokes on her notepad. I started reading another court decision in the torts casebook, I needed to have this down pat by Friday. Okay, so maybe not. I'd survive if I wasn't tops of the class. But that's how I'm built. That's how the young girl that had been me survived when her happy childhood in the Los Altos Hills collapsed and she ended up in a foster home on the wrong side of town. Coach Davis had seen that intensity in the new girl in his gym class, and coached it to being a winner on the track despite the fact that I really don't have the genes to be a track star. I wonder what he would have made of Lisa?
But that opened up paths I did not want to go down, so I concentrated on my book instead.
Some time later the door burst open and Connie and Amanda crowded through it. Connie being my office secretary, and Amanda being the four year old kid she -- well, we -- are babysitting. Both looked flushed from running around outside. Both spotted Lisa at around the same time.
"What's this?" Connie demanded. "Another kid for me to babysit? Are you, like, going for a collection? One Anglo, one Mexican, what's next, an Indian? A Chinaman? Huh?"
"No she's not here for you to babysit," I told Connie. "She's a client."
"Yeah right," Connie said, rolling her eyes.
Okay, so Connie -- Conseula -- isn't exactly Miss Congeniality, and frankly not much of an office secretary. But she's the next door neighbor's kid, and she's cheap. And her family -- as in, Mexican version of the Sopranos definition of family -- is good to have on your side if you're living in my neighborhood.
Amanda, on the other hand, had no such reservations about friendliness. "Hi Kathy!" she yelled at the top of her lungs in my direction. I winced. Amanda's enthusiasm was unending, amazing considering what she'd been through, but I guess kids are resilient at that age. Lisa had stood up when the door opened, and Amanda ran up to Lisa and gave her a big hug. Amanda was at that age when giving people a big hug seemed to be her automatic "hello" response.
"Hi, I'm Mandy!" she shouted.
I had expected Lisa to wince or something, but she seemed to take it in stride. "I'm Lisa," Lisa said in that quiet voice of hers.
"Want to go play in the park?" Amanda yelled.
"Sure," Lisa said.
Consuela scowled. "I'm not going back to the park. I gotta study." She was trying for her GED. It wasn't easy for her -- she wasn't a very fast reader -- but she was working at it anyhow. I guess some of my attitude had rubbed off on her. I just wish she wouldn't snarl at my tenants so much, but what can I say?
"I'll take them," I told Connie. I got up and opened the closet and got out a soccer ball. When I turned back around, Connie had already shoved my books aside, pulled one of her own books from her backpack that was leaning against the wall, and was intently frowning at it, smacking her gum around as if it were a personal affront for this book to be torturing her this way. I sighed. "C'mon, girls," I said to Amanda and Lisa.
I led them to the park, grasping Amanda's hand tightly when we crossed the street, and turned them loose with the soccer ball. They kicked the ball around for a while, then they started looking at something very intently in the grass, Lisa talking to Amanda, looking very much like an ordinary kid playing with a younger child. You couldn't tell that just a few minutes earlier she had been asking me to kill somebody. I guess you really can't tell just by looking.
Which I know better than most, since while my reputation for leaving a trail of bodies behind me in the course of my, err, "consulting", was perhaps a bit exaggerated, it wasn't entirely undeserved. Hey, what can I say? I'm just glad that people usually don't look at a small blond woman with too much "cute" in her genome and think, "killer". I was only a few years older than Lisa when a man laughed at me when I said I was going to kill him. He did not laugh long. So much blood in a human body... too much blood.
Now it seemed that someone was killing children, in more ways than one. Because when I looked into Lisa's eyes, more than her brother was dead. Something there was dead too. That troubled me. But there wasn't a damned thing I could do about it, except make sure that whoever killed her brother never killed again.
Because if I didn't... then there would be more ghosts to haunt me in my sleep. And my sleep was haunted enough already.
People keep talking about how there's a war in Iraq. There isn't. Wars are fought between the armies of opposing countries. Once the armies of the enemy are destroyed and your army is free to move around at will in the enemy's country, the war is over. You've won.
What you have, then, is an occupation. And there's only two ways to win an occupation: Genocide, or expulsion. Consider, for example, the Roman occupation of ancient Israel. Yeah, just think about the Roman occupation of Israel. The Jews rose up in rebellion time after time, killing thousands of Roman soldiers. Finally, the Romans had enough of that shit and did the only thing that will ever quell rebellions against occupying powers -- they exterminated what Jews they could exterminate, and took the rest and scattered them all over the Empire where they couldn't pester the Romans anymore.
Genocide or expulsion, them's the only two ways to "win" as an occupying power... as the Jews well-knew when they re-entered ancient Israel as a minority and made themselves the majority (mostly through expulsion, thankfully... ethnic cleansing is ugly, but at least it isn't the "Final Solution" that genocide is). The Israelis forgot that lesson when they became an occupying power in Lebanon, and had to leave with their heads tucked between their tails after getting their asses handed them. Sadly, the lesson that Dear Leader gets from that experience is "Stay the course!". Yeah. Like the captain of the Titanic. Damn the icebergs, stay the course!
So what is Dear Leader's plan to "win" in Iraq? Is he going to "kill'em all and let Allah sort'em out"? Expell them to... err, where? (There's no surrounding country with the ability to absorb 20,000,000 Iraqis). Neither one of those is going to be politically acceptable. The people of the United States aren't going to let Dear Leader do a Joseph Stalin and exterminate tens of millions of people in order to ensure control of occupied countries (yeppers, that's how Stalin solidified Soviet control over Eastern Europe in the aftermath of WWII). At least, I hope they won't. You never know, given how cowardly and cringing the typical American is nowdays. "We must be kept safe" indeed... whatever the hell happened to "Give me liberty, or give me death!" as the symbolic slogan of the American people? When did the national slogan of the United States become, "Keep me safe, Dear Leader!"?
Occupations just can't be won by "staying the course". Israel found that out the hard way. Sadly, Dear Leader can't absorb any lesson more complex than "My Pet Goat"...
Penguins were not meant to be eating lettuce with a fat free balsamic vinaigrette. Bleh.
Yeah, project Quit Waddling So Much still underway. Somewhat derailed today by an office event full of bratwurst and sauerkraut put forth by a very earnest German employee of the company who was intent upon converting us all to German food. Okay, it was good, dude. But look, I'll be walking all weekend to get back on the caloric (im)balance that I need to get where the doc wants me, dude! Oh well, it was good. But I've had enough brats and kraut for a while, that's for sure...
- Badtux the Waddling Penguin
In my novel I mention a "Mayor Gomez" of San Jose who is about to go to jail for corruption.
I open my newspaper today, and what do I see?
For the record, I never imagined that Mayor Gonzo would ever be indicted, arrested, or any other way punished. I was writing fiction, I wasn't being prescient!
But in the end, it doesn't really matter. The power brokers who brought Mayor Gonzo to power are already well into the process of getting his replacement into office in November. And whoever his replacement is, will be just as beholden to the same corrupt power brokers who in the end ruined Mayor Gonzo.
Badtux the Prescient Penguin
The Mighty Fang, on the other hand, has no trust issues at all. He'll walk right up to Mencken and start licking his face. Usually will get a paw in his face for his troubles, but so it goes.
Needless to say, this little cuddlefest was *not* Mencken's idea...
- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin
Yes, that is a guinea pig in that little costume. And that web site is full of other guinea pig costumes. My eyes! My bleeding eyes! Make it stop, mommy, make it stop!
This is just wrong... almost as wrong as furries. Well, no. Nothing can be as wrong as furries. But you get the point. (And for those intending to note the obvious, penguins have *feathers*, not *fur*!).
-- Badtux the Amazed Penguin
The war is over. We won. Saddam is gone, a democratic government is in place, the WMD are destroyed (albeit it was by Saddam before the war, but hey, let's not quibble)... all we're doing is occupying the place.
The problem is that our occupation troops are about as popular as occupation troops ever are, so they get bombs thrown at them from time to time. And die. Just so that Karl Rove and his ilk can jump up and down and shout "we're at war! we're at war! Rally behind the President! We're at war!".
But we're not. We're an occupying power in a foreign land. It's time to end the occupation. The war is over. We won. Give the Iraqi government all the guns and money they need to rule the country, and get the hell out of dodge.
Remember, it's not "cut and run". It's "End the occupation." "Cut and run" would apply if we were at war. But we won the war. It's time to bring the troops home.
- Badtux the Framing Penguin
To summarize: Save your money. Once upon a time Neil Young could write good political songs, such as "Ohio". Those days are past. His lyrics are leaden polemics, his band is just going through the motions, blech. Reminds me of a criticism that Bob Dylan had about Phil Ochs' early output -- "he's not writing songs, he's reporting." Which is probably why Dylan's stuff is still around and still damned brilliant 40 years later, while Phil Ochs' stuff... well, who wants to listen to "Draft Dodger Rag" or "I Ain't Marchin' Anymore" nowdays, 30 years after the draft was abolished?
Next -- a review of the Dixie Chicks' new album.
- Badtux the Music Penguin
is entitled Dead Children. The children in question are not pretty blond debutantes. That should give you a hint.
** NEW POLL ** Thanks to the boilerplate I created and the lucky fact that the "deadlylies.com" hostname was not taken when I was digging around for a new hostname, I think I may actually have a title for The Novel Formerly Known As The Fixer. I also just finished revising Chapter 1 to make it a bit less clunky and fit better with the new title.
So take the poll and lemme know what you think!
Saudis Offered Scholarships for Aviation Courses in US. World Nut Daily (I won't link to them) "reports" that this is the result of a deal that King Abdullah and Dear Leader made back in April.
Because, y'know, that worked out so well the first time...
So, like, can we make sure that the Saudi students actually pass the landing part of the class this time? Or is that still optional?
-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin
Corrent uncovers what one National Guardsman thinks of Dear Leader's goals in Iraq... i.e., once they're achieved, "“Then, after that happens, maybe we can buy everybody in the world a puppy.”.
Sort of reminds me of Cheney vs. Cheney. In 1991, Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney advised against going into Iraq, saying that it could tie up U.S. forces in a tarpit for decades. In January 2003, two months before the invasion, Vice President Cheney received a report saying that an insurgency against the new Iraqi government or American forces was likely. Yet yesterday, Cheney whined that nobody could have anticipated the insurgency. Except, well, himself. And pretty much anybody else who knew diddly about Iraq, such as Lew Rockwell at lewrockwell.com, who pointed out, prior to the invasion, that Iraq had a higher rate of firearms ownership per-capita than the United States -- and that said firearms weren't hunting rifles, but typically AK-47's and RPG's.
-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin
Well, my penguin-hood has apparently taken its toll. I found out today that my blood pressure has gone over the line from "hmm... let's watch that" to "hmm... let's do something about that!".
The first thing to do, of course, being to lose 25 pounds. AGH!
Exercise is, of course, necessary. But so is that nasty "D" word. No more pizza (sniff!). And for the next month or so, I'm going to be pretty darned miserable on a calorie-restricted diet (whine!)...
Ah well. So it goes. Guess I'm no longer the young penguin who could stuff his mouth with herring all day and never gain an ounce (sniff!).
-- Badtux the Hungry Penguin
Chapter 1 of the very latest draft of the crime novel currently known as The Fixer is now online at DeadlyLies.com. Even if you remember the original first draft posted on this board, go take a look -- it has had some significant changes made ot it since then.
Also, feel free to poke around and tell me what you think -- I put about 3 days worth of work into putting together what I feel is a decent fiction author's web site, but I'm sure there's something somewhere that I overlooked. (And please, give me some ideas for boilerplate -- the boilerplate I tossed on there is so generically boilerplate that it almost makes me embarassed!).
A web site devoted to the music and fiction of E.L. Green. More info as it becomes available -- specifically, after I get Drupal installed so that I can start posting fiction and songs over there, starting with portions of my new crime novel, The Fixer.
Update: It's up! Drupal is nice software. It seems almost designed to do online serializing of books, and has forums too. No content on the site yet, though. I need to re-write the beginning of the novel because the current first chapter isn't good enough to such the reader in. I'll put a couple of alternative beginnings up shortly.
- Badtux the Writer Penguin
- Badtux the Music-listening Penguin
Howdy, Bubba the Suthern Penguin here. Now, my ole' cat-killin' buddy Bill Frist showed up on my door, askin' me if I could find him some more cats. Sad to say, there ain't a cat left in a fifty mile radius. Ole' Bill done kilt them all, after adopting them as a pet of course.
Now, I axed him why he wuz needin' some cats, and he said them dadburn LIE-berals was makin' a fuss, 'cause they done gone to Jesus, our troops has. Hallaleujah, AMEN!
So anyhow, I zxed him, can we declare victory and go home now? And he tole me, of course not! If we'uns ain't over there killin' them thare darkies in Eye-Rack, why, they is all gonna swim the Atlantic Ocean with knives in their teeth and sneak into our bedrooms at night and KILL US ALL! And besides, it ain't like REAL peoples is dyin'. I mean, c'mon, he sez You don't see the children of a Dick Cheney or a George W. Bush or a Bill Frist or of anybody else who's really *somebody* out there dyin', right? No no, you see all those POOR people signing up because they're starving. Let them eat cake. Or IED's. Whatever.
Now, I ain't quite agreet with that. I don't see how them thare eye-rackies can swim the Atlantic with them knives in their teeth, and some of my own folk done signed up and is over thare. But then ole' buddy Bill informed me that Saddam Hussein, he was this evil madman in charge of eye-rack, why, he bred a bunch of Eye-rackies who had, like, GILLS! And FINNS, apparently cross-breeding them with them Finns from Finnland! And he, like, maked this deal with SATAN so them thare knives they is carryin' is ACCURSED, and not only will them eye-rackis kill us all after they is finished swimmin' across the ocean with knives in their teeth, but they'll draw PENTAGRAMS with our BLOOD and sell our souls to Satan for dessert!
Why, I guess ole' Bill is right. Declarin' victory and goin' home just cain't happen, 'cause if it did, them Eye-rackies would not only kill us all, they'd send us all to Hell!
-- Bubba the Suthern Penguin
Well, there iz another reason I ain't got no cats fer Bill.. them thare cats is startin' ta FIGHT BACK!
So yesterday the apartment complex's carpet guys came and shampooed the carpets in the apartment where my iceberg is docked. They did a crappy job, of course -- they're paid by the apartment, so they did the minimum work they could do, they didn't even slide my futon forward to shampoo underneath it (not all my furniture fit in the kitchen or patio!) -- but hey, at least the carpets are a LITTLE less dirty than they were.
So anyhow, all my computer gear is sitting on a kitchen counter, except for this laptop of course. And my carpets are still wet. So I'm just sitting here on the futon watching iTube videos. Right now it's KT Tunstall, who is only okay as a songwriter but good eye candy and a fine singer. Hey, 2 out of 3 ain't bad, eh? (As vs. moi, who is a good songwriter but lousy eye candy and can't sing a lick!). She does get bonus points for naming her loop pedal "Wee Bastard" and for laying down her own beats with it when she's not playing with the full band. Sure beats all those poppy little girls who know three chords and couldn't play their songs solo if their life depended on it...
Oh -- the cats did *not* appreciate being locked in the bathroom all day. But they've forgiven me. Almost mugged me, actually...
- Badtux the Soggy Penguin
I notice on World Nut Daily that Ann Coulter is saying that she's #1 on the bestseller's list because of the "mainstream media".
I also note on World Nut Daily that the Conservative Book Club is giving away Ann Coulter's book for FREE (well, for $1, but you get the point).
These nutcases are so eager to prove that they haven't been relegated to the scrapheap of history that the only way they can get to the #1 on the bestseller's list is to *give* their books away. And they *STILL* can't break the USA Today, Publisher's Weekly, or New York Times bestseller's lists even then -- only on the "World Nut Daily" bestseller's list, whatever the fuck that is -- and on Amazon.com currently lives at #3... Ann Coulter is #1 only in her lunatic mind, wot?
-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin
He had this to say about Dear Leader back in 2004:
Bush arguably has committed the greatest strategic blunder in modern memory. To put it bluntly, he attacked the wrong target. While he boasts of removing Saddam Hussein from power, he did far more than that. He decapitated the government of a country that was not directly threatening the United States and, in so doing, bogged down a huge percentage of our military in a region that never has known peace. Our military is being forced to trade away its maneuverability in the wider war against terrorism while being placed on the defensive in a single country that never will fully accept its presence.
There is no historical precedent for taking such action when our country was not being directly threatened. The reckless course that Bush and his advisers have set will affect the economic and military energy of our nation for decades. (USA Today, 2/18/2004)
Clearly this is one of those wishy-washy soft-on-defense liberals. It's no surprise he's running for office against one of our nation's greatest heros, George Allen, who like Dear Leader is a fake cowboy who avoided service in Vietnam. Our Lord and Savior, George W. Bush, must be defended from this evil man, James H. Webb, who was Secretary of the Navy under Saint Ronald Reagan and who opposed the Iraq war before it started (gasp! heresy!). Remember, we must vote for Dear Leader's clone (Allen), or the traitors who chose to serve in our military rather than avoid it have won!
-- Badtux the Republican Penguin
not for San Franciscans. Dastardly villains in San Francisco thought that, because the majority voted to ban guns in their city, that democracy rules? Hah! For shame on them. Don't they know that democracy is only for Republicans?!
Bend over, Democracy, and prepare to take it up the rear!
Hmm, that Democracy is kinda foxy... damned shame she's reserved for Republican cornholing, eh?
- Badtux the Snarky Penguin
Note: Actually, I am a staunch defender of the Bill of Rights, *all* of the Bill of Rights, including the 2nd Amendment... I was just pointing out Republican hypocrisy in touting "democracy", then f**king it up the rear at every turn.
Alrighty then, since we won, there's no more need for U.S. troops in eye-rack, right? Right?!
- Badtux the Snarky Penguin
What, you thought the North won the American Civil War? Well, sure, they won the military phase of the campaign, when General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General U.S. Grant on April 9, 1865, and the commander of the other remaining Confederate armies, General Joe Johnson, surrendered to General William Tecumseh Sherman on April 26, 1865. But on March 5, 1877, the Government of the United States of America agreed to allow the former Confederacy to be reconstituted, with the former Confederates in charge and with slavery re-instituted. All the former Confederates had to do was pretend they no longer had slavery and pretend to be part of the United States of America, and, oh, pretend that they voted for Rutherford B. Hayes for President and give him their electoral votes. The result was almost 100 years of poverty, ignorance, and atrocity in the former Confederacy, until the combined forces of mechanization, the Great Migration, and external pressures (i.e. the Civil Rights movement and the need to fight WWII and the Cold War) forced the South to re-join the United States in reality as well as name.
This little-known incident in American History is called the Hayes-Tilden Compromise. The proximate cause was the disputed elections in Florida and Louisiana. In both states, the White Leagues used a campaign of violence and intimidation to keep blacks away from the official polling places, and ran their own parallel set of polling places that only whites were allowed to use. Then the forces of the former Confederacy proclaimed that they, the southern Democrats, had won the state government elections in those states as well as that Democrat Tilden had won their electoral votes, while the real election officials proclaimed that the Republican-backed candidates had won and that Republican Hayes had won their electoral votes.
The controversy raged for months, until finally the Compromise was agreed upon: The U.S. government would remove its troops from Louisiana and Florida (thus allowing the former Confederates to take charge, since the legitimate government could only be maintained with federal troops), if, in exchange, those former Confederates gave their electoral votes to Hayes. All sides accepted, and the Northern conquest of the South was over -- the South had won.
How did this happen? How was it that, in a little over ten years, the North had gone from complete military and political dominion over the South, to having to declare victory and go home? The proximate cause is simple: the legitimate governments of the South could not maintain themselves in power without federal soldiers. The former Confederates, after the struggles for survival in the period 1865-1867, re-organized as a shadow government. They had military training and weapons. The forces of the legitimate black-elected governments did not -- blacks in the South had not been allowed to own or shoot firearms. Furthermore, they had education and organization. The legitimate governments, dominated as they were by blacks who had little education (since it had been prohibited in the ante-bellum South) and little understanding of military principles (since they'd never been in the military and lacked education to understand said principles), simply were outclassed by the guerilla warriors of the shadow government.
The result is that in town after town, the legitimately-organized governments of those towns and counties (the governments elected by the black majority) were forced from power at gunpoint by the forces of the Confederacy. The White Leagues never attacked federal troops -- they didn't want General Sherman turned loose again to burn their homes to the ground again -- they focused upon the popularly-elected governments instead, picking them off one by one. Finally, by 1874, only the largest cities containing only a small percentage of the mostly-rural Southern population were still held by the popularly-elected governments. But that was not to be for long.
The taxpayers and voters in the North were rather heartily sick of the situation by this time. So was President U.S. Grant and General of the Army William Tecumseh Sherman, neither of whom had been particularly interested in civil rights for blacks in the first place -- indeed, Sherman had regarded the freed black slaves who'd followed his marauding army as it marched through Georgia and South Carolina as "useless parasites" and had made a deal with General Johnson that would have basically put the former Confederates right back in charge in 1865 (said deal overruled by President Johnson, under pressure from radical Republicans outraged over the assassination of Abraham Lincoln).
So here we are, with neither the President nor the general of the army enthusiastic about using the army to keep the popularly-elected governments in power, and with the countryside back into the power of the former Confederacy, re-instituting slavery via "forced share-cropping" under various local Vagrancy Acts and holding the reins of power in all but the few large cities of the South. The next logical course of action was to take the cities. The Battle of Liberty Place in New Orleans on September 14, 1874, was one of the pivotal attempts to do so. In that battle, General James Longstreet proved that he was as incompetent a general for the U.S. Government as he'd been for the Confederacy -- his mostly-black Louisiana militia was routed by the hardened war veterans of the White League. President Grant and General Sherman, alarmed that a federal building had been fired upon, swiftly rushed federal troops and gunboats to the city. But it was clear that the patience of the North was at an end -- both the taxpayers and the national government were looking for an honorable way to declare victory and go home.
So the election controversy of 1876 happened, and on March 5, 1877, the North declared victory and went home. The former Confederates re-took power in the South, and re-imposed slavery in all but name, condemning generations of Southerners to poverty and ignorance in order to uphold the power of a small white elite of plantation owners and (relatively) prosperous businessmen. It was not until after World War II, with most of their black workers having fled to Los Angeles and New York and Chicago and Detroit and with mass mechanization, that the plantation system collapsed. And it was not until the mid 1970's that the South really finished re-integrating its economy with that of the rest of the nation. And now, the culture of the South, with its petty vindictiveness and false piety, rules the nation. So who won the Civil War, again? No one, it seems... and that's a pity.
BTW, this is why I was skeptical from the first about the possibility of a viable American-backed government in Iraq. The United states showed no patience even on its own soil with propping up governments using U.S. troops over a long period of time. What made the neo-cons think that the American public had any more stomach today for such a task than they had in 1876? Hubris? Curious penguins want to know!
- Badtux the History Penguin
One of the Fox News shoutfest programs invited a member of Fred Phelps's clan to appear on their show. In case you haven't been following the news, the Phelps clan (claiming to be "Westboro Baptist Church") has been going around waving signs saying "Thank God For Dead Soldiers" and chanting at military funerals, claiming that the dead soldiers are going to hell for fighting for a nation that allows homosexuals to continue to exist. (See also the Patriot Guard Riders which is a bunch of bikers who formed up to shield families from those nutcases). Anyhow, it turned into a shoutfest, with the Fox News hottie finally proclaiming to the Phelps woman, "You're going to Hell!".
When you're too nutty for Fox News to stomach, you're REALLY nutty :). (Sadly, it's unclear whether the Phelps clan is too nutty for World Nut Daily... hmm...).
-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin
The mighty Fang is on a diet. He is not happy. He is not happy at all. He ate all his food by 9am this morning (I feed the kitties at night), and spent the rest of the day curling around my feet and tripping me up begging for more.
Here the Mighty Fang makes his displeasure known... but he didn't get any more food, not until 9pm this evening. That makes me a mean penguin, I guess... but at 18 pounds, he doesn't need more food!
- Badtux the Blubbery-cat-owned Penguin
Couldn't have said it better myself :).
- Badtux the Outsnarked Penguin
One of the things I've learned over the course of a lifetime is never cheap out on parts when you are fixing your car. Cheap parts die. Use OEM-quality or better parts, always.
This applies whether you're talking about brake pads (avoid the AutoZone etc., use high-quality NAPA or OEM pads), water pumps, or car batteries. The Autozone-quality stuff simply doesn't last, if it works at all. (Most of NAPA's stuff, on the other hand, is good stuff). So when I detirmined that the battery in my pickup truck was dying, I went to the store and said, "I want the best battery you have."
And they pointed me at this. Exide Select Orbital,
Now, when I did the same exercise for my KLR, I ended up with a Yuasa AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) battery, with no free acid. If I drop my KLR, no big deal -- there's no vent hose for anything to leak out of -- and because it is completely sealed with gas recombinant technology (except for venting if overcharged), it can never run out of water. And it has better CCA and drain amps than the normal flooded cell battery. But it looks like Exide has taken the same basic technology even further. My Yuasa has normal parallel plates. The Exide spirals its plates, to make them even less succeptible to warping and shorting, and to further decrease internal resistance. And the battery's chemistry means it'll keep a charge for a year with no problem.
I didn't believe the dealer when he told me that I didn't need to charge the new battery -- how could that be? I mean, the battery had probably been in his back room for months, right? So I put it on my battery tender and watched the voltage. The battery tender's little CPU stepped up the voltage until it hit 13.8 volts, decided that hmm this battery is already fully charged, then stopped, dropping back to float. Crap, this means that I can leave my truck sitting there for a month without starting it and still be able to start it because this battery doesn't self-discharge like regular batteries! (And yeah, sometimes I do leave my truck sitting there for a week at a time, especially in the summer, because hey, summer is motorcycle-ridin' weather around here!).
So now my pickup cranks right up (the old battery had a cell with a slow short in it and after that cell drained overnight would only barely crank the truck), and I won't have to buy a battery for another six years (the old OEM battery only lasted three years). For that kind of quality, twice the price of an OEM-quality battery would be a bargain. And yeah, twice the price of an OEM quality battery is pretty much what I paid -- but I get a helluva lot of peace of mind for that price, because now my battery is something I don't have to worry about for a long, long time.
Quality. Try it. You might like it. And avoid that cheap Autozone crap, unless you intend on selling the car within the next couple of weeks. It just doesn't pay to go cheap when you're fixing your car. I'm sure The Fixer would agree.
- Badtux the Mechanic Penguin
PS: When applied to things like schools, government services, etc., the same applies -- quality costs. Ya gets what ya pays fer. America cheaps out on its government compared to every other modern industrial nation, and gets the government it pays for -- one that doesn't work well.
Yessiree, America's favorite amputee, shown relatively recently flouting his New Balance sneakers while shooting an American-made M-249 S.A.W.(hmm, surely that's a misprint? A man with only one leg only needs one sneaker!), has been terminated. Hasta la vista, bay-bee! Of course, the identity of the mysteriously-two-legged man whose photo was shown by the U.S. military has not been confirmed by Interpol, and it is unknown whether the U.S. military will ever forward those fingerprints to Interpol for confirmation, but hey, we can breathe a big sigh of relief. 1 down, 26,783,382 (est. pop. Iraq 2006 - CIA World Factbook) to go, then victory will be ours in Iraq!
-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin
Note: If you just added up the numbers above and realize that I'm saying that genocide is the only way to "win" in Iraq, for any reasonable definition of the word "win" -- Congratulations, Captain Obvious! Welcome to the reality-based world! Now do you understand why those of us in the reality-based community opposed going into Iraq in the first place, given that the American public lacks the stomach for genocide as official American policy?!
Is purportedly this. Longjing "Dragon Well" from Hangzhou, actually purchased in Hangzhou by our Hangzhou-based office manager (Hangzhou is apparently much cheaper than Shanghai and only a two hour train ride away). Also known as "the good stuff". Whether it really is or not, or what grade it is, I do not know. It appears to be a reasonably high grade though, because when the tea leaves rehydrate they are largely intact and clearly carefully hand-picked. It was purchased by our Chinese (native) office manager as a gift, maybe I should ask her for more info. (And BTW, contrary to snark below, I actually like this tea, it is one of the few teas that I drink without any sugar at all though I don't take much sugar in my tea or coffee regardless).
Just checked, and it appears that Chinese green tea does contain caffeine, albeit probably less than black tea. Bummer. Explains why I have trouble getting to sleep if I drink it in the evening! Guess I'll have to go back to the herbal tea in the evening...
- Badtux the Sometime-tea-drinkin' Penguin
Oxymoron? Or no? Only Russian I know is the wife of a co-worker who can apparently only cook boiled potatoes, boiled turnips, and boiled mystery grey meat, accompanied by stale crusty bread. No wonder vodka is so popular in Russia if that is their cuisine...
So -- does anybody know? Is there a such thing as "Russian cuisine"? Curious penguins want to know!
- Badtux the Curious Penguin
Iraq or jail...
One soldier is choosing jail, saying that he cannot morally justify killing more Iraqis in a war that serves no purpose in defending America and Americans. 1st Lt. Ehren Watada is going to jail, have no delusions about that -- I doubt he has any delusions, either. Even if he is morally justified, the entire military discipline system would collapse if people could simply refuse to obey orders without repercussion. Then he will have a dishonorable discharge on his record and be barred from life from receiving student aid, getting a government job, and anything else that The Machine can use in their goal of punishing Lt. Watada forever. If Lt. Watada doesn't know this, he's a moron. And from what I've seen of his statement, a moron he ain't.
Yet he is choosing to go to jail rather than kill more Iraqis.
The right wingnuts, of course, are going crazy. "He's a traitor!" they shout. "He's not living up to his commitment!" they shout. Nevermind that he signed up to defend America and Americans, and instead found himself defending Halliburton's profits. He's a traitor because he doesn't want to kill more Iraqi women and children for a war that, if it ever served any useful purpose, no longer does.
Alrighty, then! Guess that makes the cheeto-fingered warbloggers of the 101st Fighting Keyboarders even bigger traitors, since they, too, don't want to kill Iraqi women and children! Of course, they have servants to do that. Servants like Lt. Watada. And God forbid that their servants refuse to serve... those uppity darkies like Lt. Watada ought to know their place!
- Badtux the Snarky Penguin
|An Iraqi man carries one of those cute little terrorists that the traitor Lt. Watada is refusing to kill.|
New arrivals to this country must adopt American values and learn English, President Bush said Wednesday, pushing anew for his proposal to overhaul immigration rules. He also announced that, starting tomorrow, he will be unavailable for press conferences and other events because he will be busy in remedial English classes.
Amongst the American values that President Bush mentioned in his speech that the new immigrants need to learn and adopt are:
- Badtux the Snarky Penguin
|Not willing to kill this innocent little kitten with your bare hands? Then you're not a real American, mister, and should be shot!|
A blond bimbo rants about how disappointed she was that the Rapture didn't happen on 6/6/06:
Not a one of 'em goin' "missing". No ugly nekkid people floating up into the air and freeing up the parking spaces. No Swaggart/Bakker/Roberts/Robertson mansions goin' begging for new inhabitants.
Not one blessed moment of silence from the speaking-in-tongues, snake-handlin' hand-wavers and the pompous, plugged-up pricks who think that they were put here to remind women that all your uterus belong to us.
I feel your pain, Anntichrist S. Coulter... for I, too, am tired of the tendentious whose sole guiding principle appears to be, "if it's fun, it must be a sin." Gah. The Rapture can't happen soon enough...
- Badtux the Sinful Penguin
My boss recently visited China. Nothing there except our investors, who recently put a bundle of money into our company because they got tired of buying soon-to-be-worthless American real estate. Anyhow, he brought back this little can full of leaves. There's only Chinese squiggles on the little can, not real writing (hmm, why can't those Chinese write everything in God's language, the language He wrote the Bible in, English?!). He says it is "green tea", and that I'm supposed to put some leaves on the bottom of a teacup, pour hot water over it, and let it seep for a while, then once the leaves all get sodden and sink to the bottom, drink the result.
The result smells like asparagus, and tastes like the water I pulled out of a mostly-dry creek that had been sitting on months-old half-rotted leaves for a long time. Is this really what the Chinese drink? Or is this, like sushi, yet another of those practical jokes that those inscrutable Orientals pull upon hapless Westerners? Curious penguins want to know!
- Badtux the Curious Penguin
June 6, 2006. 6/6/06. The headlines today look the same as the headlines yesterday, and the day before. Disaster, disaster, disaster, all centered around decisions made in Washington D.C. to benefit a small elite at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives and billions of dollars of national treasure which can never be recovered.
The Beast is here, alright. Right there on the Potomac. The verifiable fact that there are people who actually worship George W. Bush as their Savior is proof enough of that.
Now for a little 666 blogging:
William Butler Yeats - The Second Coming
Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity. Surely some revelation is at hand; Surely the Second Coming is at hand. The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert A shape with lion body and the head of a man, A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun, Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds. The darkness drops again; but now I know That twenty centuries of stony sleep Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle, And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
Now we know.
- Badtux the Apocalyptic Penguin
If defining marriage as between a man and a woman is the first step in defending marriage, what's the next step? And do the Republican asswipes who want a Constitutional amendment defining marriage really want to go all the way? Floridian Mustang Bobby speculates that maybe there are some things we're better off not knowing...
Postscript 21:01PM PST: Go read AmericaBlog, hilarity ensues as gay activists call Congressman asking whether they would support a Constitutional amendment banning divorce, masturbation, adultery, etc.! Bwahahahahah! What a bunch of f'ing two-faced hypocrits, their staffers are flopping around on the floor like beached fish absolutely stumped because they have no talking points that apply!
- Badtux the Snarky Penguin
I pledge a legions/toothy flag/of the younite destates of america/ an toothy repubnic/ four witches stand/ one nashion/ under god/ with libber tea and just ish for all
I always did wonder, as a tiny tot, why those four witches were standing, and what kind of tea libber tea was. And why were they standing under God? Was this like the sad case of Mrs. McTwitter the Baby Sitter?
Apparently a Federal court agrees. The "activist judge" ruled that a school can't force a child to stand for or recite the Pledge. Darned activist judges. Don't they know that liberty consists of being forced to indulge in arbitrary declarations by your government? Sheesh, next think you know, they'll be saying that liberty includes freedom of speech! Err... well... No. Alrighty, then!
- Badtux the Snarky Penguin
The second draft of the crime novel *still* known as The Fixer (sigh!) is now done, with significant changes to add meat in the middle and prepare us for the denoument (those couldn't be in the first draft because I didn't know who did what at the time I was writing the first draft!), a revised/enhanced ending, and several new character. It is now up to 84,000+ words, i.e., a commercially viable length.
I'm asking for volunteers to read it and point out logic or continuity errors and make suggestions for enhancements. I already have one continuity error that I noticed just scanning over it, where she calls Doc Feelgood and asks him about the guy in the garage, several chapters after she finds out from the cops who the guy in the garage was. That can be patched. But that's only one of them.
I will be starting on a third draft shortly, after I re-import the second draft into OpenOffice, print it out, and red-pencil and sticky note it to death. There will be some new material where it makes sense, and some of the older material is going to go away because it isn't needed. There's characters who appear only once who probably need to either go away or be encountered again later, and I want Kathy to solve more of the case without it being dumped in her lap in one big lump via deus ex machina. There is also some setup I tried to do for the ending involving Consuela and Kathy's relationship with her foster father and high school coach that didn't really work, I need to figure that out and re-write, that's a ball I fumbled. And finally there is the sex/not sex scene with Wallace that needs more work. Consuela is being a bad girl in this second draft :).
If interested EMAIL can be sent to me or you can comment here (with an EMAIL address, assuming a throw-away one) if you're interested in reading the whole thing. Again, note that this is a *DRAFT*. It is not a finished final product. But this is a lot closer to the final product than the first draft was, and reading it critically and dropping a line as to what doesn't work will be much more useful with this one.
The setup: Kathy Varis is currently wearing a t-shirt with a picture of a gun-toting butterfly with the words "Anti" above the butterfly, and "Social" below it, bell-bottom jeans, and sneakers. She has tracked down a professor who is reputed to have contacts in the Russian underworld. Said professor denied everything, but Kathy bugged her. Unfortunately, because Kathy didn't know what car she was driving, Kathy couldn't tag her car, and she managed to lose the professor. So now Kathy is visiting bars in the general direction the professor was last headed in the forlorn hope that maybe the professor went to meet somebody in one of them...
There was no signal at the first two that I visited. The next bar was a biker bar. Oddly enough, I got a signal here. I pulled over and listened. And got absolutely nothing, because it was all in Russian.
I sighed, and dug in my glove compartment for the microcassette recorder. I got a tape in it and started recording. I'd have to find someone who knew Russian to translate it. Someone who wasn't Dr. Carmody or her son. I knew just who it was that I needed, a Russian who I'd met through one of my hacker clients. He was in Russia, but he had a web site selling software that he'd written, so I could contact him pretty easily.
I listened to talk I couldn't understand for a while. Then there was the sound of sniffling. Then a nose being blown. Then... "What is this?"
Then my bug went silent.
First I got out and tagged her Mercedes with a tracker. I stood there for a second debating what to do. But there was only one thing I could do, of course. I needed to see who she was meeting with. There was only one way to do that, and that was for little ole' me, all five-foot-one and 110 pounds wet and still wearing my butterfly t-shirt and bell-bottom jeans, to walk into a biker bar. I started getting into the zone, bouncing up and down on the balls of my feet a little. That was a little something I'd worked up with Coach Davis to get me mentally prepared to go into action and win, to get my mind in that zone where I was the wind. What worked on the track worked elsewhere too. I prepared my mind. I was going in, and I was going to find who I needed to find, and I was going to arrange what I needed to arrange. I was going to win. Because I wanted it more. And if anybody got in the way... I pitied the fools.
This bar was so half-assed it didn't even have a bouncer at the door. I blew through and quickly glanced around to find my missing professor. There were a bunch of old booths, looked left over from the 1950's but patched with duct tape here and there, and a worn bar with some old stools, similarly patched with duct tape here and there. A few people looked around at me, and one biker started coming towards me, but I waggled my finger and shook my head at him and he stopped and decided to go elsewhere. Finally I spotted the professor sitting in a booth near the back corner, her back to me, across from a man I'd never seen before. The man was slender and pale with black hair, and dressed all in black like some Hollywood vampire and with much the same sex appeal as a Hollywood vampire -- he was a pretty boy indeed. He had a look of bemusement on his face, as if tolerating a dottering aunt who was saying daffy things.
A waitress started approaching me, and I waved her off, saying "I see my friends."
The guy sitting behind the table saw me coming, of course. I gave him a cute little smile and wave that made me look about as harmful as a purple stuffed dinosaur. Then I slid into the booth next to him, and said, "I'm here!"
Dr. Carmody looked aghast. "You!"
"Hi, I'm Kathy Varis," I said to the man, who looked amused. "And you are?"
"Just call me Kiril," he said.
"Okay, Kiril. So, I don't speak Russian, maybe you can fill me in on what lies the good Doctor here was telling you, then I can tell you the truth?"
"Truth? What's that?" Kiril quipped.
I grinned. "I think we understand each other, then."
"I like your shirt," Kiril said.
I leaned against Kiril's shoulder, incidentally making it harder for him to move if he wanted to. "Yeah, it's really me," I said.
Dr. Carmody started talking rapid-fire Russian, sounding rather urgent and irate. At least, that was what her body language was saying. You couldn't tell it by the dude sitting beside me.
"She says you are dangerous," Kiril said.
"Gee, I don't know where she would get that idea," I said happily.
"She says you kill people."
"Darn. Not that again! I don't know what to say. It's just a bad habit I have sometimes. Hmm..." I snuggled up closer to Kiril, turning the "cute" up a few notches by flipping his left hand over with my right hand then fitting my palm inside his. "Ooh. You're pretty."
"You told her a story, You had what she thought was a Homeland Security guy with you. He was not, I suspect."
I looked up respectfully. My nose was near the tip of his chin. "Hmm. That makes you a lot smarter than she is."
Dr. Carmody was looking offended, as much by being left out of our conversation I suspect as by anything I was saying. She let out another barrage of rapid-fire Russian.
"But he never stated he was a Homeland Security agent, did he?"
"No, he didn't," I said happily. I flipped his hand back over and patted his hand. "And what would I be doing hanging around with a Homeland Security agent anyhow?"
"I told her that, but she does not believe."
"I noticed that about some of my professors," I said. "They were so full of themselves they refused to believe anything other than what they wanted to believe." I suddenly leaned towards Dr. Carmody and said "Boo!", and she jumped.
"She is dangerous, you idiot!" Dr Carmody said to Kiril.
"Of course she is," Kiril said, reaching over and patting Dr. Carmody's shoulder. "Why don't you go home and let us talk?"
"She kills people!"
"I'm sure she does," Kiril said patronizingly. "Go home."
Suddenly I jumped across the table and grabbed her collar and pulled her face to within an inch of mine. "Are you hard of hearing?" I said into her suddenly-bloodless face. "Get out of here. Now. Before I hurt you. Understand?" I slid back into my seat and glared at her. Dr. Carmody opened her mouth to say something, saw my expression, and instead slid out and waddled off as fast as professorial decorum would allow.
Kiril clapped. "Most excellent," he said. "You switched from happy coed girl to scary girl in half a second. Do you practice that?"
I smiled. "Nope. It's all me. I'm the whole package." I switched sides of the booth so that now I was looking at him. "So... I'm looking for someone to do a job. Someone who is not, let us say, a nice person."
"An anti-social butterfly, in other words."
"Exactly!" I beamed. "Someone willing to get a little crude. Smash and grab. I do good at the subtle stuff, but... " I shrugged. "I don't do crude."
"Client," I said. "I suppose he wants to make a point."
"I see. And this client went to you anyhow?"
"What can I say? He just adores my pretty little face and worships the bullets I fire from my Glock. I guess he just thinks I look trustworthy. I've done work for him before. He's cool."
"And the story you fed the professor?"
I laughed. "C'mon. You think I'm going to tell a college professor that I'm looking for someone to do some bad stuff for me? Especially a college professor who already thinks I'm Satan's spawn? Get real!"
"I know someone who could probably find someone like that for you," Kiril said. "But what's in it for me?"
"What do you want? My client has some flexibility money-wise. I can funnel some to you."
"Money," he said. I reached in my bag and shoved a Franklin at him.
"A few more of those, and an hour in the sack with your hot sexy bod."
"I only do the last one with girls," I lied. Under other circumstances, I might like some athletics with Kiril. But prostitution isn't my thing. "You're pretty but you're not feminine enough, sorry!"
"Pity. Okay, make it an even five."
I shoved another Franklin. "The rest on delivery, my friend. So who can I talk to?"
"It'll take a couople of hours to track him down," Kiril said. "Do you have a secure phone?"
"Yeah. Uhm, don't tell him I want him," I said. "I have my own method for, let us say, closing a contract, and it works best cold."
I grinned. "Hey, what can I say? I wasn't born six feet tall and two hundred pounds, so people need a little bit of, let us say, warmup, before they take me seriously. And it's fun."
"Awe. Poor baby still wants Kathy wathy to pet him? Shall I get you a warm saucer of cream?"
"What in the world? Are you nuts?"
I clapped and laughed. "You got it! So anyhow, do me a favor. Tell me who I need to talk to, and where and when I can find him, but don't tell him anything about me. Not my name, not what I look like, nothing."
"So why would I do that?"
I sighed, and shoved another couple of Franklins his direction. While I was billing Sybil for all this, my stash of hundreds from the Akilna Software job was sinking fast. "That motivating you any?"
Kiril smiled and said, "I feel more motivated. Six more of those on delivery."
"You got it," I said. "Now give. Who do I need to talk to?"
"I don't know," Kiril said. "But give me a couple of hours, and I'll know. You have a secure phone?"
"Yeah." I got my latest disposable out of my bag and looked up its phone number, wrote the phone number onto a napkin, and gave the napkin to Kiril. Then I leaned over towards Kiril, no longer smiling. "One thing, though."
I lowered my voice and talked real softly. "If you're fucking me over, I'm going to hurt you. Bad. And that's a promise. Ask around. I keep my promises. Got it?"
"Don't worry," Kiril said solemnly. "I'm not interested in having my balls cut off."
I sat back, letting the air out of my lungs. He'd heard of that? I wondered... did he know anything about how poor Jimmy ended up dead in the trunk of Frey's car in my driveway? But this wasn't the time to ask him that. I needed him to finger a thug for me. A thug who, unlike Jimmy Rodriguez, was still walking this Earth.
"We have an understanding then," I said. "I'll expect to hear from you." I left off the "or else". But Kiril apparently heard it anyhow, because he nodded as I slid out of the booth.
Yessiree, terrorists traumatized in their youth by Marlin Perkins have vowed to wipe Omaha, Nebraska off the map! And terrorists in awe of the weapons of mass destruction produced in Louisville have vowed that they will not rest until the factory producing that dastardly instrument that has killed so many round cowhide-clad objects is wiped off the map!
As for New York, the terrorists apparently have decided that New York is, like, so *YESTERDAY*. I mean, c'mon. It's New YORK. Yuck. Who would want to go there?
At least, that's what the news must be, if the current allocation of Homeland Security money accurately reflects the terrorist threat to America. I mean, c'mon, when you see news like this:
WASHINGTON, May 31 — After vowing to steer a greater share of anti-terrorism money to the nation's highest-risk cities, Homeland Security officials today announced grants to New York City and Washington that would be slashed by 40 percent, while dollars headed to spots including Omaha and Louisville, Ky., would surge. ... Ms. Henke, who recently took over the office that distributed anti-terrorism grants, said the relative changes in the grant dollars are based on just the kind of detailed analysis of threat and vulnerability that officials in Washington have been calling for in criticizing past awards.
Yessiree, that must mean that, like, the terrorists have decided screw those liberal New Yorkers, it's time to go after those die-hard heartland Bush supporters and campaign contributors. Oh wait, no, that was the Department of Homeland Security that said that. My bad!
-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin