Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Mountain Goat

A kid climbs an outcropping above our Jeeps. Note the high-tech climbing shoes he's wearing. Note (from the first photo) just how high and rugged this outcropping really is. Obviously an experienced free-climber at age 13...

-- Badtux the Easily-amused Penguin


It is so frustrating when there is something that I want to say, but it doesn't come out to completion the way I want. What about you? You ever run into that?

-- Badtux the Sometime-frustrated Penguin

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Rocking 'n' rolling

Earthquake felt here in Santa Clara. Rumbling, shaking, light swaying back and forth, the works. Apparently it's the Hayward Fault slipping near Alum Rock in east San Jose. There was another earthquake earlier today near Altamont Pass. Eeep! I'm keeping an eye on my seismograph (my hanging dining room light).

Update: Oops, was the Calaveras fault, a mile or so to the east. Hard to tell from the USGS map. Oh well! Anyhow, luckily I live in an apartment building built in 1995, to modern earthquake standards. The Big One would turn it into a deck of cards, of course, but this one? At first I thought it was just the rumble of a low-flying jet having trouble on ascent from the San Jose airport (I live off the end of the airport). It kept getting louder and rumbling louder, and I wondered if the jet was going to crash into my apartment. Then the dishes started rattling and the light (on a chain) above my dining room table started dancing. That was when I realized it was an earthquake and decided to go outside. Of course, by that time it was pretty much over...

-- Badtux the Shaken Penguin

Dead dreams and lies

Spent a few days with some of the folks that liberals sneer at. Most of them either had served, were serving, or knew someone who was serving, though few of them had actually been in combat. Which brings up the question: Why are so many of the people who will be directly affected by a decision to go to war, in favor of going to war?

One thing to point out, I suppose, is the socio-economic background of most of today's military. With the exception of the officers, most of today's military personnel are in the military because it's all there is for them. They lack the skills -- both social skills and academic skills -- to succeed in today's economy (and of those the social skills are the most important). They don't know what fork to eat with. They've never worn a tuxedo in their entire lives, and their entire wardrobe consists of t-shirt and jeans. They "talk funny" in the eyes of the elite who hire and promote. They are God's misbegotten children, forgotten by mainstream America, condemned to a life of no future and an early death courtesy of poverty and ignorance (and not just their own poverty and ignorance, but also the poverty of spirit and ignorance of soul of the elite who hire and promote, who view anyone who doesn't talk "right" or act "right" as sub-human). So they turn to the military.

But it's not just that. It's the fact that, for the most part, they like to destroy. They enjoy blowing shit up. They enjoy shooting things. They like killing critters. They fantasize of killing the folks who keep them from enjoying their favorite pursuits -- the environmentalists who close off their favorite 4x4 trails, the Washington bureaucrats who erect barriers to prevent them from visiting backwoods cabins and ghost towns, the faceless "liberals" who take their money in taxes but, somehow, never seem to do anything for these people except kick these people off their mining claims and take their land away from them at gunpoint. It's all that's left for them to do. They can't create. That option has largely been taken away from them, if they have work at all it's something dehumanizing and degrading such as plucking chickens or slaughtering hogs in a factory setting. The days when working men could feel proud of building a nation with their rail laying and spike-hammering are over, most of that is gone or is now done by Mexicans who can be treated like slaves because they have no legal status in America. If you can't build, if you aren't allowed to build, why not destroy?

You ask, "so why do they keep voting for Republican politicians?" But the thing is, none of the promises liberals ever made to them came true. FDR's "New Deal" was a great deal for the middle class, but the working class? Nope. Then Truman busted the unions. LBJ sent them to die in Vietnam, and starved his "Great Society" programs to the point they benefited only a few urban poor, not the masses of poor white trash living outside the urban core. What have Democrats done for the working man? What did 60 years of Democratic control of Congress from 1932 to 1994 do for these people? Nothing. Less than nothing. Took away much of what they had, in fact -- their freedom, their dignity, their ability to get by on their own without needing handouts or special treatment. I wander the desert and I see the mine workings where men like these pursued their dreams. Why are there no men there now pursuing their dreams? It is simple. They've been locked out. Forbidden. Kicked out. Had whatever they built taken from them at gunpoint as their workings and mill sites and cabins were declared to be "wilderness", and given nothing in return. Condemned to then watch helplessly as everything they ever built crumbles to ruin because some elite somewhere else thinks they're not human enough to be allowed to follow their dreams.

And most of the time this has happened, it has been Democrats passing the laws that make it happen.

I realize I'm treading old ground here. Joe Bageant has a couple of excellent books out there on the same basic thesis. But I saw this up close and personal these last few days, and figured maybe this would let some Democrats know why working people hate them. It's because Democrats have talked the talk... and that's it. As the saying goes, bullshit talks, it takes a real man to walk the walk -- and there ain't a real man in the whole Democratic bunch, and hasn't been for a long, long time.

-- Badtux the Western Penguin

Monday, October 29, 2007

Hamburger review: McDonald's 1/3rd Pound Angus Swiss and Mushroom

Jack in the Box got sued by McDonalds over a commercial that punned "Angus" as "Anus" (without ever saying the last one). Jack in the Box should have gotten a reward for public service instead. This thing is nasty. Nasty nasty nasty. It consists of a 1/3rd pound beef patty that is the stereotypical grey mystery meat, tasteless to a fault, with a tiny dab of mushrooms and a big dollop of mayo and a single slice of Swiss, all put onto a hamburger bun that has the taste and consistency of the 66c-per-dozebn specials from the day-old bin at the grocer. That's it. Nasty. Nasty nasty nasty.

Now, granted, the previous day I'd eaten a hamburger at a desert hole-in-the-wall that was a mushroom guacamole swiss burger that was simply delicious (too bad the fries were out of a freezer bag and tasted like it). But even without the comparison, it was nasty.

Avoid. I should have. If I'd just gone one more exit and waited 10 minutes, I could have gotten a much better burger at one of three hole-in-the-walls in the next town. But nooo, I wanted to get the hamburger before I got to the truck stop where I was going to refuel, so that I could have time to digest so I could do the after-meal bodily functions at the truck stop, and the town with the three hole-in-the-walls is *after* the truck stop... that'll teach me, I guess. Avoid this turkey. Bad. Bad bad bad. And evil, too.

-- Badtux the Appalled Penguin

October migration finished

This migratory waterfowl has made it back to his iceberg from a nice trip to the desert to recharge the creative batteries. Some thoughts tomorrow after resting.

-- Badtux the Migratory Penguin

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Desert Oasis

Water is rare in the desert, and often a lucky -- or unlucky -- accident. In this case, a miner struck something more valuable than gold -- water. He moved on in disgust, but some Chinese immigrants took over his new-found water source and raised vegetables for the miners. They put the koi in the pool to keep the vegetation down, which the koi are still doing over 100 years later.

-- Badtux the Migratory Penguin

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Migratory waterfowl

This is what I saw today. -- Badtux the Migratory Penguin

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Penguin tastes like chicken

So are Mencken and The Mighty Fang soulful? Of course not. They're just cats. Animals. In the end, just meat.

The same applies to penguins. Or those hairless apes that also afflict the planet. Just animals, in the end. Just meat. It might make those hairless apes feel better about their impending deaths to think there's something called "soul" that lasts after the meat is digested by the worms, but really, the only thing that lasts is what we create while alive. People remember Picasso or Frank Lloyd Wright by what they created, not because there's some imaginary "spirit" floating around like some invisible electromagnetic wave. We're all just meat, and in the end, the worms (or killer whales, or whatever) eat us all.

This penguin is going migratory for a while, so I'll leave you with The Mighty Fang grooming himself while Mencken, the next victim of TMF's mighty Grooming Attack, sleeps peacefully not knowing he's about to be attacked by the Pink Tongue of Mass Grooming. Unlike Iran's imaginary nuclear weapons this threat of attack actually exists...

-- Badtux the "Tastes like chicken!" Penguin

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

New keyboard and mouse

I got one of those cool new low profile keyboards for my Macbook in clamshell mode (where it's displaying on my big screen). I love it. It is extremely low profile and compact so it fits well on my little slide-out keyboard tray and doesn't require a wrist pad to prevent carpal tunnel, it's like typing on the desktop! I also got a new laser mouse, a Logitech VX Nano, to replace my antiquated Microsoft mouse on my Linux server at home. The old Microsoft LED mice just don't track well compared to laser mice like my Apple Mighty Mouse, and I was tired of it. The VX Nano tracks very well. However, I found that it didn't work well with Linux because the scroll wheel doesn't work as a third button (clicking it moves it between fast-scroll and slow-scroll modes), so will probably get some other laser mouse to replace it for Linux use. But looking at it, I realized it'd be perfect for the Macbook because it has three very easy to use buttons on the top, rather than that awkward squeeze button of the Mighty Mouse. So I tucked the cute little USB receiver into one of the USB ports on the Apple keyboard, where it fits perfectly and is utterly invisible unless you pick the keyboard up to look, and downloaded the MacOS drivers from Logitech's site and programmed the buttons to do useful things -- the up button is the Expose' "show desktop" button no w, the down button is the Expose' application window selector now, and the 'Search' button pops up the Application Switcher. The wobble wheel works almost as well as the ball on the top of the Mighty Mouse, but my mouse ball was always needing to get cleaned with alcohol because it keeps gumming up (known problem with the Apple Mighty Mouse, I put up with it because there was no alternative). Having two real left/right buttons means I don't have to deal with the touch-sensitive silliness on the Mighty Mouse. Still don't know if I'm going to replace the Mighty Mouse with this thing on a permanent basis, but it does look like a reasonable thing to use in clamshell mode where I have the USB keyboard plugged in anyhow.

'Nuff for now. I'm busy geeking out.

-- Badtux the Geek Penguin

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

i2c sucks

Why anybody in their right mind would design a bus protocol that a) can't be bit-banged reliably by an embedded processor such as a PIC because it requires latching data on a rising clock and the slave device can "stretch" the clock as long as it wants so you can't just count cycles, b) has no provisions for a bus reset if the senders and receivers get out of sync and get to the point where they have no idea what the bus state is supposed to be, and c) has no provisions for a timeout, meaning that the bus could, like, hang for freakin' FOREVER... oh nevermind. Nobody in their right mind did design this stupid sensors bus. It was maniacs on day release from Bellevue Insane Asylum who designed it, gibbering maniacally over their keyboards as they scribbled the specification. AGH!

Gotta go, time for my meds. The doctors say that i2c-caused insanity is common for people charged with writing i2c device drivers but is curable, usually. This penguin can only hope...

-- Badtux the Techie Penguin

You don't need to know

It doesn't really matter whether you think you need to know. The Bushevik regime knows better. They know that you'd just be confused if you got to see the same data that they have. They know that you might make different decisions than what they want you to make, and that would be, well, just wrong. Remember, Big Brother knows best. So you don't need to see the data collected by NASA on airport safety. It would only confuse you. To make sure you don't get confused, the contractor has been ordered to destroy the data.

Knowledge is tyranny. Big Brother loves you and wants only the best for you. I love Big Brother. Don't you?

-- Badtux the Orwellian Penguin

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Yank Foreign Legion

Apparently tens of thousands of foreigners are serving in the U.S. military in order to obtain citizenship. Hmm. I seem to recall another nation that did this. And that really turned out well, didn't it?

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

The law is just for the little people

Blackwater mis-categorizes employees as "private contractors" to evade taxes.

The IRS has been all over this like shit on a shingle when it comes to the high-tech industry (most "contractors" in the high tech industry today are now employees of independent contracting companies that are responsible for paying their employment taxes, not true form 1099 contractors like Blackwater is classifying their guards as), but of course Blackwater doesn't have to comply with the same laws that Motorola, Cisco, Intel, or Microsoft have to comply with because, well, because.

The law? That's just for the little people. Not for The Prince (Erik Prince, CEO of Blackwater). The law only applies to people without their own air force and army, not to Blackwater. Them's the new rules, citizen, and if you don't like it, why... uhm, well, so what?

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Bubba tries out for World Net Daily

Howdy, Bubba the Suthern Penguin here, bloggin' from Cooterville Tennessee courtesy of my cousin Badtux. Now, everbody knows about Chuck Norris. He is really kick-ass, y'know? I heard from the boys down at the garage that ole' Chuck was writing a column for World Net Daily, and figgered, hey look, I'm pretty kick-ass, well, sorta, except when Noreen kicks me out of the house, so why shouldn't I try my hand at writing for World Net Daily?

Well, so I go ask Noreen about World Net Daily, and she says it's run by some Lesbian Christian dude. Now, I never knew there was Lesbian Christians, much less Lesbian dudes, but she says that he got run out of Lesbianon by the rag-heads, and that the Jews helped him get out of Lesbianon so that's why he likes publishing stuff about, like, how Israel is the greatest and stuff. So I figger, well, lemme write a sample column for World Net Daily. But what do I write about? Lesbians? I dunno nothin' bout no lesbians, except maybe the two girls who clean the town swimming pool and, like, have these really short haircuts and stuff who maybe lesbian but I'm not quite sure because, like, they haven't actually kissed in front of me or nothin'. So I read Chuck's latest column and see where he's endorsing a Baptist preacher man for President. Humph! BORE-ing! What's he gonna do when he meets up with them funny-talkin' furriner types, call'em down the church aisle to, like, be saved? Yeah right, I can see one of them fellers with the rag on his head doin' that! And what about them heathen statue-worshippin' Catholic types like that Pootin person who runs Russia, how's he gonna work with them? I just don't see it. He'd be too busy telling Pootin how he's going to hell for not comin' to the One True Church 'n' stuff to, like, actually get things done.

So anyhow I decided to write about my ole' cat-huntin' buddy Bill Frist and how he would be, like, the bestest President ever because, like, he knows all about health care and stuff. I asked Noreen for help and she just laughed and laughed and laughed, so I got the boys down at the garage to give me a hand so we wrote this nice article about how lesbians like Bill because Bill likes Jews and, like, even has a Jewish friend, and how Bill can solve health care by diagnosing folks with just pichers of them and stuff. And then I sent it off to that thare World Net Daily and waited for a reply.

It finally came! Except it weren't so good. I wondered why Noreen was laughing so hard when I got back from the garage yesterday, then she gave me the letter. "Dear Bubba: Thank you for your interest in writing for World Net Daily. While both you and Chuck Norris attack the English language the same way that Chuck Norris attacks concrete blocks, you are not Chuck Norris and I am not paid enough to re-write your idiocies into proper English. Go away. Sincerely, Norma Coleman, editorial assistant, World Net Daily."

Oh well. Guess I'll just have to stick with helpin' the boys down at the garage. Seems thems World Net Daily folks is just too uppity fer a downhome feller like me. Must be all them Lesbians workin' there. Yessiree. You ask me, they oughtter send'em all back to Lesbianon, but really, who coulda figgered that Chuck Norris is good enough for the Lesbianese, but not me? Huh!

-- Bubba the Suthern Penguin

Saturday, October 20, 2007

GRRRR... data breach

An outfit called Iron Mountain lost a boatload of data from Louisiana Student Financial Aid applications. I went to the State of Louisiana's helpful web site and found that yep, I was one of the folks whose data was lost. Here is what they have to say:

It is indicated that your data was involved in this potential data exposure. Your name and Social Security Number were in the potentially exposed data. However, no financial information was included in your records.

Please understand you do not have to close any accounts. To our knowledge, there was no data in your LOSFA record that was financial in nature. No credit card account numbers were affected. However, do add a password to all your accounts if you wish to add an additional level of security.

At this time, we strongly suggest you take the following steps:

* Contact the 3 credit reporting agencies listed below. These are all computerized systems which will require your Social Security Number (SSN). Please call all three. If you need help, ask one of our representatives to assist you.

Equifax: Call (800) 525-6285
Experian: (888) 397-3742
TransUnion: (800) 680-7289

* Report to each agency that your personal identifying information was compromised and you have the potential to become a victim of identity theft. Place a fraud alert with each Credit Reporting Agency (asking companies to contact you prior to issuing credit), and request your FREE copy of the credit report. It is free because your information was breached. If you are asked, respond that you are a potential victim of identity theft. You should do this for yourself and any family member whose Social Security Number was compromised. Please note: This alert is a temporary 90-day advisory statement and should be renewed every 90 days for a period of at least one year.

It is important for you to contact the fraud alert phone numbers we have provided to you. Follow the prompts on the phone tree to the part on fraud alerts. This is when you ask for you the fraud alert and again each time you want to renew the fraud alert. The Credit Reporting Agencies will try to sell you a credit monitoring service. If you choose another prompt other than the fraud alert you will most likely be offered a product, such as a credit monitoring service. Our contractor, the Identity Theft Resource Center, advises that these monitoring services add little, if any, protection from identity theft. Nevertheless, the decision whether to purchase a monitoring service is up to you. VERY IMPORTANT - You do NOT have to pay for a monitoring service to place the fraud alert or pay just to renew the fraud alert. On the 91st day after each fraud alert, you should call all three Credit Reporting Agencies and renew the fraud alert.

All credit reporting agencies offer credit monitoring services that you may purchase. We do not have any arrangements or contracts with these agencies and do not advocate that you purchase these services since you can monitor your credit reports for free. However, if for your convenience you wish to participate in one of these services, Equifax has told LOSFA that it will provide the monitoring service to those individuals whose data was lost at a reduced rate. For further information and a description of the service, please click here.

* When you get your credit reports, look them over carefully. If you see an account that is not yours, notify us immediately at 1 (800) 645-7990. Be aware, you may see errors on the report that were there before the information breach. If you need assistance reading these reports, our representatives are available to help you understand them.

* It may take several weeks or months for fraudulently opened accounts to be reported. Therefore it is important for you to check your credit reports a second time in about 2-3 months. Use your free annual credit reports for this by calling 877-322-8228. For more information, please go to and refer to Fact Sheet 124 - Credit Freezes and Fraud Alerts.

* If you wish to take additional preventative measures, you may want to consider placing a credit freeze on your credit reports. Louisiana allows all consumers to place a freeze on credit reports. Placing the credit freeze is free of charge if you are a victim of identity theft or age 62 or older. A nominal fee is charged otherwise. If you are a resident of another state, please go to for a nationwide state resource map or and refer to Fact Sheet 124 - Credit Freezes and Fraud Alerts for the information you will need.

* If you receive unsolicited calls, you should not provide any information of a personal nature or information related to your bank or investment accounts. In general, you need to be alert to suspicious activities regarding personal and financial information.

If you have any questions, you may contact 1 (800) 645-7990. In addition, a website has been developed providing valuable information on steps to be taken if you suspect personal identity theft has occurred. You can also visit our website by going to We have also arranged for a non-profit organization, the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), to consult with the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance during this situation.

Sigh. So now you know what I'm going to be doing Monday...

-- Badtux the Compromised Penguin

How I woke up this morning

I really did NOT feel like getting out of bed this morning...

Friday, October 19, 2007

How we know America is not a police state

If America was a police state, cops would arrest newspaper executives for reporting things that the State didn't want reported. That never happens in America. Nosirree, no way!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin
PS: We're number 48! Woot! Nicaragua, Ghana, and Slovenia are amongst the countries with more press freedom than the United States. I feel so proud! U S A! U S A! WE'RE NUMBER 48! YAY!

And in other news, Larry Craig is still not gay

He even said so on national television! And would a politician lie? Huh?

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

If only...

If only Democrats had one of these thingies on the left... Senator Reid to bring Da Decider's spying amnesty bill to the floor next month.

Harry, just rename yourselves to the Invertebrate Party, why doncha?! The Coalition of the Spineless -- Congressional Democrats to a tee.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Sigh, if only a spine transfer was this simple...

Flu shot - yes or no?

K-P offers a "free" flu shot. The flu vaccine is based on horse chicken egg serum. Horse Chicken egg serum often causes allergic reactions in people who have overhyped immune systems, such as yours truly. I am not yet 50 years old (the age at which the flu vaccine moves from being "a good thing" to "absolutely recommended"). So I suppose the question is:

Should I get the flu shot now to avoid becoming ill for a couple of weeks with the flu this year, but risk not being able to take it in the future if I become sensitized (develop an allergy) to the horse serum, or should I wait until I'm 50 years old?

My doctor is absolutely useless here. He hems and haws and basically throws the fuzzy dice. He doesn't know and really doesn't have time to look it up, since he is a K-P doctor and thus worked like a mule. Anybody else know?

-- Badtux the Allergic Penguin


The Mighty Fang demonstrates why black-and-white photography is not dead. I think it brings out his essential blackness quite well, thank you!

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Thursday, October 18, 2007

And here's to you, Mrs. Robertson

Oops, sorry, Mrs. ROBERTS. As in, Oral Roberts University Mrs. Roberts. So now we know why God apparently re-appeared in a flaming bowl of dollar bills and told her husband, Robert Roberts, to take a leave of absence as head of Oral Roberts Ministries. No word on whether Mrs. Roberts did it in an, err, ORAL way with her 16 year old boy toy sweetie...

I love watching tighty righties, because you scratch a tighty righty, what you find is... oooh, the perversions! It's more entertaining than watching a flock of penguins eagerly rubbing their cloaca together!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

SCHIP veto vote coming up

In honor of that, Renato (a commenter at Jesus's General) points out that SCHIP pays for the medical bills of illegitimate children whose parents make bad lifestyle choices:

Democrats say the government should pay for baby Jesus’ health care. But how was baby Jesus conceived? Not by Mary’s husband, Joseph. And where did Mary choose to give birth to her child? In a stable! And what did Mary and Joseph do with the gold they received as a baby shower gift? Couldn’t they have used that to buy health care for baby Jesus?

The facts are clear. Democrats want to spend your tax money on irresponsible parents who have children out-of-wedlock!

Clearly then SCHIP is a conspiracy by the Islamafasachildwhatmacallits who want to Destroy America, and thus must be eliminated! Alrighty, then!

Postscript: SCHIP override fails. That deadbeat baby Jesus just needs to get a job like the rest of us, or die miserably without bothering us, quit bothering us with those "morals" thingies you stupid moonbats! If Mary and Joseph couldn't afford health insurance, they shouldn't have ever borne Baby Jesus, and it's only right that Mary's illegitimate child die for lack of health insurance!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Every Sperm is Sacred {Monty Python's Meaning of Life}

In honor of Susan Orr, recently appointed as acting deputy assistant secretary for population affairs in the Bush Administration despite having said if you use a condom, you are part of the Culture of Death. No word, yet, on whether she supports murder charges for killers of spermatozoa-Americans.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

The Coming Epidemic, Part II

About a year ago, I wrote The Coming Epidemic, where I talked about a) the limits of employer-provided health insurance (it discourages preventative care because of high employee mobility), and b) the fact that lack of universal health care allows a large number of unhealthy uninsured people to become pools of infectious organisms which can then mutate into more virulent antibiotic-resistant varieties and jump to the insured. As I pointed out in comments, "pandemics don't care how much money is in your wallet or how much health insurance you have. They're equal opportunity killers." Thus it is in all of our best interests, no matter how much money you make, that we eliminate the large population of uninsured and get rid of employer-provided health insurance as a menace to public health. As I pointed out, "the anti-universal-healthcare nimnuts are putting their own lives at risk. But they care more about their precious ideological purity than about reality."

So where are we today? On the health insurance front, it looks like various iterations of RomneyCare are being proposed. These will still leave a reservoir of uninsured people. If you have a choice of buying health insurance or feeding your children this month, you will choose to disobey the law mandating that you buy health insurance and just bet that the State won't catch up with you. In addition, people who are here illegally are still not covered by any of these, and will continue to provide a reservoir of unhealthy people that can be used to incubate new super-bugs for a pandemic that can kill millions of Americans. So it appears that the need for universal health care in order to prevent a mass die-off of the world's population is still not taken seriously by the so-called "serious" people. If anybody in America cannot simply walk into any doctor's office anywhere in America and request treatment regardless of age, immigration status, or income, then you don't have universal health care, and you still have that disease reservoir incubating super-bugs.

So how are we doing on the disease front? Well, thankfully, the antibiotic-resistant untreatable TB variety I had my eyes on still hasn't made that one mutagenic leap for virulence that would result in millions of Americans dying, though it's just a matter of time. But it appears that we do have a new super-bug that is killing tens of thousands of Americans per year: a new antibiotic-resistant staph bacteria. It is spreading like wildfire in prisons, schools, and hospitals, and now kills more Americans per year than any other disease organism. I'm not sure whether this is "it" -- the epidemic that our own short-sightedness and stupidity will cause to kill millions of us. But it's just a matter of time. Just a matter of time. Because from what I can tell, shortsightedness and stupidity are in no less supply than they were a year ago, and the diseases just keep mutating away in that pool of unhealthy uninsured people. A few more mutations in the diseases bubbling away in that reservoir, and we could see a die-off that would make the Black Death look like child's play...

-- Badtux the Health Care Penguin

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Wow. Just wow.

Fresh from beating up on a 12 year old child tragically brain-damaged in an auto accident, the Reich Wing now has a new target. In a breathtaking example of no bad deed going punished, they've now decided that they can score political points by beating up on... a two year old girl.

Wow. Just wow. Just when you thought the tighty righties could go no lower, they do it. For their next act, what will they do? Hmm, I have a suspicion of who the next target for tighty righty ire will be...

I mean, after attacking a two year old girl, surely a cute fuzzy kitten has to be their next target, right?!

-- Badtux the Astonished Penguin

More phony soldiers

Twelve former Army captains whine that Dear Leader's little war for, uhm, whatever, is a friggin' mess.

Expecting the Chickenhawks of the 101st Bloggin' Keyboarders to swiftly rush to their keyboards in their Mommies basements and pound out with their little Cheeto-stained fingers that these twelve captains are, like, obviously just a bunch of phony soldiers, unlike the brave men of the 101st Bloggin' Keyboarders who so proudly defend our nation from their Mommy's basements despite the aweful stench of a trashcan full of soiled Kleenexes due to their incessant circle-jerking... expecting, just about, uhm, oops, incoming! (No, do not click on said linkedy link unless you want to read drivel pounded on a keyboard with the Cheeto-stained fingers of a 101st Bloggin' Keyboarder who, uhm, like, never has served in Iraq and never personally known anyone who did because, ah, err, oh yeah, the war of ideas is more important, no cowardice involved just, uhm, ah, oh look over there it's a 12 year old kid dissin' Dear Leader! GET HIM!).

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

U S A! Fuck yeah!

Real Americans don't want that wussy "peace on earth" crap for Christmas. Fuck no. That's for Frenchmen and shit. What real Americans want for Christmas is... a new computer. Closely followed by 43" HDTV, probably. Oh, that peace on earth stuff? BORE-ing!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Bifocal vision

What a pain in the neck (literally!). Finally had no choice but to "upgrade" to bifocals because simply could not read anymore. I shudder to think about what the poor slobs with progressives go through, it was hard enough getting adjusted to the "regular" bifocals, my eyes were aching and watering for over a week before finally things settled down. The big pain in the neck is that I have to move my whole head now to look at things depending upon the distance that they're at, and when driving, cannot lean my head back (brings the line up into the windscreen). I also had to set my computer monitor on top of a pile of books to bring it to a point where the line was not across the middle of the screen while my head was in a comfortable position looking straight.

Geez, this getting old stuff sucks. Little beady penguin eyes don't see very well in the first place, but now they don't see very well close-up either? Feh. Of course, the alternative (being six feet under) sucks even worse, so...

-- Badtux the Stiff-necked Penguin

Monday, October 15, 2007

No kitty this is my pot pie!

The Mighty Fang is upset because he ran out of food eight hours after I fed him. Tough. He's getting a fat furry wobbly pot belly so he doesn't get any more food. But now he's trying to eat the power cord to my computer. Sigh.

No, kitty, that's MY power cord! Sigh.

-- Badtux the soon-to-be-unpowered Penguin

Blackwater in your neighborhood

In the past I've had some posts about idiocy on the part of police officers, such as using tasers as torture devices to torment people who mouth off at them (uhm, according to the Constitution cops are not supposed to be judge, jury, and executioner -- yes, tasers can kill, inventing a new disease "excited delirium" that has only ever been diagnosed for deaths due to police intervention is just a whitewash). But the situation in Iraq is quite instructive for those Libertopians who believe that the solution is to privatize provision of police services.

The police departments in Iraq are hopeless. They're filled with sectarian militia who spend most of their time engaging in ethnic cleansing of their particular area of operations and little time actually fighting crime. So anybody who's anybody hires a private security company to keep their buildings and persons safe.

The result has more than a little of Dodge City about it. You have private security company A and private security company B, hired to protect competing businesses across the street from each other, getting into pitched gunfights. You have Blackwater, hired to protect various Very Important People, simply kill anybody who gets in their way, and no other security company has the resources of Blackwater so no other security company can protect their own principals from Blackwater. "Justice" in Iraq consists of "he who can hire the biggest baddest bunch of mercenaries wins". The losers are ordinary people like you and me. We can't afford to hire Blackwater to protect us from, uhm, Blackwater (geeze, sounds like a Mafia extortion game, "youse gives me money or youse finds yours building burned down next week!"). In Libertopia, the only winners are the ones who can hire the most guns, and everybody else is the loser, and the loser may very well end up dead.

Here in America, cops have the legal monopoly on deadly force. If a private security guard kills someone, that someone better damn well have been a direct physical threat to the life and safety of said private security guard, or he is going to jail for manslaughter. The cops are for hire, but they're for hire for a stable coalition of city fathers who select our city governments (said selections which are then dutifully voted into office by you and I), and there's no competing batch of cops for hire to a competing batch of city fathers to get into pitched gun battles in the streets that end up with you or I getting killed in the crossfire. So, like democracy itself, police departments suck but the alternatives are far, far worse. And, as usual, Libertopians get this simple fact just as wrong as they get far too many other facts, confusing their Libertopian imaginings with reality -- the triumph of ideology over reality, just as stupid as Bolsheviks, Busheviks, and other such ideological idiots in the end.

-- Badtux the Libertopia-observin' Penguin

Sunday, October 14, 2007

In the garden of dead dreams

In a nation of good Germans, where dreams are small and pitiful things, dreams of getting a raise at work, dreams of being able to afford the mortgage on your home, dreams that some day, somehow, you might manage to pay off the tens of thousands of dollars of credit card debt that you owe, what then is the destination? As waves of ignorance sweep across the land it is clear that the dream that was America is gone, dead, not to come back within our lifetimes. Even 20 years ago during Ronald Reagan's presidency the notion that Americans would be torturing, "rendering", jailing without trial, spying on everybody's phone calls, all those things that are now considered "normal", back twenty years ago would have been met with appalled stares of disgust. America today is the late Soviet Union, adrift from its intellectual underpinnings, with a decaying infrastructure and alarmingly corrupt government conspiring together to destroy the economy.

Things will get worse. A lot worse. It will be a replay of the late 1920's in Germany, with soup lines stretching around the block as surplus food is sold off overseas, it will be foreign landlords who own our former homes dictating the terms of our existence and foreign lenders who own all our assets controlling our economy, it will be increasingly venal and vicious leaders unleashing hoards of brownshirts such as the "Gathering of Eagles" to maintain their rule. There is no upside in sight. We've eaten our seed corn, the infrastructure of roads and schools and public utilities that were once the envy of the world are crumbling into ruin, we are late Rome where the politicians squabble over the Imperial Throne in Rome as the once-mighty legions crumble under the weight of endless foreign wars and provinces secede in all but name, until there is a Berlin moment as Hitler in his bunker issues orders to non-existent armies as the Red Army closes in.

Will President Hillary Clinton stop all this? In the end, no. She is a competent woman and will slow it down for a while, but like the late Roman Empire, things have gone past the point of no return. The only question in my mind is how long it's going to take for the final fall... and whether it will take down the rest of the world with it. Perhaps I should start learning the words to "Oh Canada!" and put in my application for immigration before the borders close... but will Canada get sucked down into the abyss too as the Empire collapses into an orgy of violence and hate? Most Canadians live within 100 miles of the U.S. border. Is that far enough?

-- Badtux the Depressed Penguin

Friday, October 12, 2007

Kill a dog, go to jail

Kill a young black boy... not so much. And the all white jury agreed. And anybody who disagrees, well... they just ought to keep their mouths shut. Otherwise they might find this on their doorway:

-- Badtux the "Racism is dead in America!" Penguin

Friday Cat Blogging

Mencken says, "Pet me, fool!"

--Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

My congratulations to President Gore

and the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, for winning the Nobel Peace Prize. As a penguin I of course am quite concerned about global warming, since my iceberg requires significant cool. I'm glad that the hairless monkeys that infest this planet also share that concern.

-- Badtux the Warming Penguin

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Is downloading a song "stealing"?

The answer, of course, is "no". The copyright owner still owns every piece of property he ever had. Every bit of data he ever had on his hard drive is still there. Every bit of money he had in his wallet is still there. Stealing is, fundamentally, the removal of property from someone's possession. In the case of the songwriter, he still owns the copyright to his song. He still has all his property, thus nothing was stolen.

Contrast this with, say, taking a child's bicycle. The child no longer has a bicycle. Contrast this with, say, taking someone's wallet. You've then removed property from that person's possession. But the copyright owner victimized by violation of the copyright law still has the copyright to his song. That is the difference between stealing (depriving someone of property) and copyright violation (violating the copyright law). Stealing actually takes something. Copyright law violation doesn't. Copyright lawviolation may hurt the person's ability to make income from his property, but that's not stealing. Otherwise city zoning codes, environmental regulations, etc. would be illegal because they hurt people's ability to make income from their property too. Hurting someone's ability to make income from their property is infringement, not theft.

Use of the term "stealing" to describe copyright infringement is thus just a dishonest attempt to tar one violation of the law as being worse than it already was. Copyright infringement is illegal, and it is illegal for a reason. But it isn't stealing, and anybody who says it is, is just being a dishonest prick spreading propaganda rather than fact. Words have meaning. Use of inappropriate words is just an attempt to deceive.

-- Badtux the Legal Penguin

The kind of thing that gives lawyers a bad name

Apple and AT&T sued for "monopolistic practices" with iPhone.

Uhm, this is the absolutely stupidest lawsuit, like, forever. If you don't want to deal with Apple and AT&T's admittedly draconian practices, simply don't buy their product. There are competitors to Apple and AT&T in the cell phone business, y'know? That's what I do. I use Sprint and a Treo 700p. It does everything the iPhone does, just more clunkily. Sprint's EVDO network is much faster than AT&T's EDGE network for digital data, and Sprint lets me tether and use the phone as a modem, unlike AT&T. While I *love* Apple's OS running on the iPhone (PalmOS is showing its age, and Windows Mobile 5/6 is a user-hostile nightmare), I don't *need* it. Apple can pretty much take a flying leap as long as they continue their current user-hostile course in the iPhone market. And if everybody else who disliked Apple's idiocy did the same thing (*while letting Apple know why they are not buying an iPhone*), then Apple would either be forced to open up the iPhone, or discontinue it. In other words, Apple has no monopoly, there are competitors (albeit with inferior products in many ways), and if Apple refuses to abide by user-friendly business practices the best solution is to tell them to get farked -- not sue them.

-- Badtux the Libertarian Penguin

There is no racism in the USA!

A noose hung on a black professor's door isn't a threat to lynch her for the crime of being an uppity black woman. It's, uhm, err, ah, oh yeah, just someone helpfully providing her with a tool for auto-erotic sex! Yeah!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Gay Agenda sighting!

Seems that the mighty supervillain The Gay Agenda (see left) has been sighted in the Republican closet. Sez decidedly gay Mustang Bobby:

What I find fascinating is that even though I've been out of the closet for nearly thirty-five years, I've learned more about the secret codes of gay sex from people like Larry Craig and this auto-erotic preacher in the last two months than I did in all those years I was just being your average queer guy.

No wonder no one can find the Radical Homosexual Agenda: the righties have all the copies.

-- Badtux the Outsnarked Penguin

Back in the USSR

Moscow, USSR, Dateline 1976: "In the Brezhnev era a new disease was described: 'sluggish' or 'creeping' schizophrenia, the only symptom of which was the expression of politically unacceptable views. [Soviet] Dissidents were treated with massive doses of psychoactive drugs, which produced agonising side effects."

Washington D.C., USRR, Dateline 2007: In the Bush II era a new psychiatric disease was described: not wanting to be deported, which required massive sedation with the powerful psychoactive drug Haldol.

Welcome to Soviet America, citizen!

-- Badtux the Psychiatric Penguin

A nation of pants wetters

Jillian at Sadly No!, noting a new service to put DHS terror alerts onto your cell phone (so that, presumably, you can wet your pants upon receiving one), asks, "when did the United States become a nation of pants wetters?".

My vote: 1865. The South had lost the American Civil War. Hoards of freed black slaves roamed the South and even started moving north. The tighty whities started wetting their pants left and right. Result: "Black codes", KKK, "nigger knocking" (the practice of police departments of going into black areas of town and randomly bashing any blacks they encountered over the heads with their batons), and white politicians running for office on a platform of "keeping the niggers in their place". Said white politicians told their tighty whitey constituents that blacks were savages, evil sexual monsters who wanted to rape their women and sneak into their homes in their sleep and slit their children's throats for kicks, but never fear, just elect George D'Artois as Public Safety Commissioner and he'd keep the niggers in their place(i.e. terrified and servile) even if it required riding a horse up the aisle of a black church and pistol-whipping the black preacher for the audacity of daring invite a civil rights leader to their fair city.

Nowdays "nigger knocking" isn't politically correct, so politicians need a new nigger to use to scare tighty whitey constituents into voting for them. Islamowhachamacallits is it. Beware the dusky-skinned savages who want to rape your women and sneak into your homes and slit your children's throats for kicks! And hey, because said darkies are over there, it's even easier to demonize them than it was to demonize black people, because there are few Arabs or Muslims in the United States to give the lie to the notion that all them darkies want to "destroy America" (presumably by swimming the Atlantic with knives in their teeth, sneaking into our bedrooms, and KILLING US ALL!!!!). Elect Bushevik Party members to power, or we all die! Remember, them sand niggers is all just savages, nevermind that they invented the wheel and civilization and all that, everybody knows that only Americans invent things!

So anyhow, 1865 is my vote for when America became a nation of pants wetters. What's yours?

-- Badtux the Pantsless Penguin

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

12 year old enemy of the state

Sane conservative John Cole has harsh words for the Republican lynch mob stalking 12 year old Graeme Frost and his family for daring say bad things about Dear Leader:

I simply can not believe this is what the Republican party has become. I just can’t. It just makes me sick to think all those years of supporting this party, and this is what it has become. Even if you don’t like the S-Chip expansion, it is hard to deny what Republicans are- a bunch of bitter, nasty, petty, snarling, sneering, vicious thugs, peering through people’s windows so they can make fun of their misfortune.

Sad, but true. The current batch of Rethugligans are proto-fascists, with nothing to offer but taunts, catcalls, contempt, and hate.

-- Badtux the Riech-wing-observin' Penguin

Are *all* of the tighty righties freaky closet cases?

The Rev. Gary Aldridge, a major figure in right-wing circles famed for spearheading the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, found dead with a dildo up his ass while wearing two rubber wetsuits and hogtied.

Scratch a tighty righty, find a rubber fetishest. Who coulda guessed?!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Monday, October 08, 2007

WWII interrogators decry torture

They point out that they never used any sort of pain or stress when interrogating prisoners, and did their best to befriend prisoners. And it worked. They got a lot more information out of captured Nazi generals and such by playing chess with them than the guys at Gitmo are getting with their torture. As far as I know, not a single major al Qaeda figure has been captured based on info from Gitmo. We'd know about it if they were, because the Bush Administration simply can't keep their mouth shut about how great torturing them darkies down at Gitmo is.

But then again, that assumes that we're torturing prisoners down at Gitmo in order to get sound and usable information. That is of course not the case at all. We are torturing prisoners down at Gitmo in order to get confessions. Whether they actually did the crime to which they confess or not is irrelevant. What is important is that we have confessions of heinous crimes to wave in front of the American people in order to terrify them into giving yet more power to the Busheviks. It's the same trick that the Bolsheviks used in Soviet Russia to convince people that the mean evil Capitalists were coming to render every good Soviet citizen into his body fat for use as motor oil. Busheviks, Bolsheviks, different rhetoric but same general philosophies of government...

-- Badtux the Confessional Penguin

Still at the back of the bus

East Palo Alto is the ghetto part of the Silicon Valley, a place where gangland shootings are common, drug dealers hang out on street corners, and it's easier to make a list of the houses that haven't been burglarized than the ones that have. It is a primarily-dark-skinned corner of the Valley surrounded by lilly-white rich people who'd rather not remember that they're there. Which may be one reason why school buses run by the surrounding school district rarely pick up East Palo Alto school children on time, instead often getting them to school an hour late.

It seems that, in Palo Alto, black people still are at the back of the bus.

-- Badtux the "No racism here, nosiree!" Penguin

Tasers are safe, cops say

In a study funded by Abu Gonzales's U.S. Justice Department ("We Love Torture!"), they found that tasers are safe. Yessiree, our modern-day version of ye olde classic, the cattle prod (favorite instrument of torture used by third world dictators, like, everwhere) is perfectly safe in 99.7% of cases, err, well, not exactly, but in 99.7% of cases the suspect didn't have to be hospitalized for any injuries. The other .3% of cases required hospitalization of the subject and two of the subjects (out of 1,000 total) died, but it was never because of the taser, it was because of, uhm, ah, err, something else. Nothing to do with being shocked multiple times by 50,000 volts of electricity, they died of, uhm, other things, maybe some new fictional disease "excited delirium" (a disease that did not exist until coroners needed some handy way to explain deaths in police custody, and which has never been diagnosed as a cause of any death outside of police custody). Nothing to see here, move along!

Meanwhile, Amnesty International reports that they have documented over 230 deaths occurring within hours of taser use, often right at the scene. Their documentation is primarily from media reports, and most cases of death after tasering do not make it into any newspaper, so it's likely that the problem is far worse than even Amnesty International claims. In the above study, two people out of approximately 1,000 died after being stunned by a taser (but it wasn't the taser that killed them, it was, err, some non-existent disease that's only diagnosed for people who die in police custody, yessiree!).

What this means, if the cops' study is correct (that .23% of people die after being stunned with tasers) is that over 115,000 people apparently have gotten stunned with tasers over that period of time. Which is not surprising, when you find out that out of the total U.S. population of 300 million, over 7 million are either in jail or on probation at any given time. That's over 2% of the U.S. population. The U.S. has 5% of the world's population but 25% of the world's incarcerated people in the world's largest gulag, albeit a gulag which is so widely distributed amongst county jails, state prisons, and federal penitentiaries that it cannot be easily pointed at. Land of the free my ass! Furthermore, most of those stunned by tasers were not in any way endangering themselves or others, the taser was not being used as a substitute for deadly force, the taser was being used as a substitute for baton strikes or compliance holds. In most applications of tasers, the suspects were stunned for "non-compliance" i.e. pissing off a police officer by smart-mouthing him or by not immediately doing what the officer ordered him to do or by wiggling after being cuffed. In most of these cases there was no immediate danger, just impatience on the part of a police officer who's in a hurry and wishes to assert his authority when someone isn't obeying his orders.

This use of tasers as "compliance tools" is widespread amongst police officers in departments which have issued the devices to all on-duty officers, and is encouraged by the Taser Corporation. Like third world torturers, police officers like the fact that using what is essentially a cattle prod allows them to inflict excruciating pain without leaving bruises or other marks that could lead to a police brutality or torture complaint. That's why third world torturers love cattle prods so much, because since they leave no mark it's hard for the victim of torture to prove his case. Application of a taser is far more painful than a baton strike to the kidneys or behind the knee, is far more likely to cause death than taking a suspect down to the ground and jacking him up on his stomach while someone holds down his legs and butt and then waiting for the suspect to calm down (which, granted, can take a while -- I've had someone on the ground for almost 20 minutes before he realized we weren't going anywhere until he agreed to walk calmly to where he needed to be). But use of the taser is far less likely to leave scratches or pavement rash on the suspect, thus it has become the first choice of police officers after attempts to talk down a suspect fail -- or even before an attempt to talk down a suspect is made.

-- Badtux the Electric Penguin

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Some days it's just hard to get out from under the covers

The Mighty Fang demonstrates.

-- Badtux the feelin' blah Penguin
Note - finally got out of bed, got cup of coffee, sat on futon, cats followed me and now I'm a cat sandwich again -- TMF on one side, Mencken on the other. Life is good again.

Friday, October 05, 2007

She used steroids?

Like, duh?

-- Badtux the Obvious Penguin

NOLA cops discover terrorists in Treme

New Orleans is the nation's murder capital right now, with more murders per capita than any other city. So when twenty squad cars responded to a call for help in the Treme neighborhood of New Orleans, well, what do you think they were doing? Going to arrest gang-bangers or murderers? Surely it takes some kind of real villains to get twenty squad cars to roar off into a peaceful neighborhood, right?

Well, yes, NOLA's finest did protect the Treme neighborhood from some real terrorists... those evil diabolical jazz musicians, terrorizing the neighborhood with their rendition of "When the Saints Come Marching In". Remember, if we don't arrest jazz musicians for playing jazz, the TERRIERS WIN! Or something like that.

Way to go, NOPD! I feel safer, yessiree!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

In a box

The Mighty Fang demonstrates what we do every day -- put ourselves in a box. We're this or that or the other, never just people -- and we do it to ourselves.

-- Badtux the Boxed Penguin

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The last refuge for cowards

I had a nightmare last night. Despite my qualms about the Iraq war, I had volunteered for the Army and they were so desperate that they took me and sent me straight to a base without even sending me to basic training. So I'm standing there beside my bunk, utterly befuddled because I haven't a clue of what I'm supposed to do or how this is supposed to work, I don't even have mail forwarding set up to send my bills to my mother's house or anything they yanked me off the streets so fast, but I do have lots of electronic gadgets (duh!). I play around with one of these and break it and ask, "What am I supposed to do now? If this was Vietnam thirty years ago I could just walk to a market in Saigon and buy a new one, but if I walk outside this base I'll be killed." I twiddle with the gadget trying to fix it, and after a few minutes realize that everybody is gone. I stand up and look around and there's a big meeting tent set up a hundred yards away or so, and seats and a stage and stuff visible through its rolled-up sides, but I don't know whether I'm supposed to go there or not. A pickup truck drives up and I stuff an autopistol in my pants pocket and decide to wander over there to ask the driver if he knows what's going on. A car pulls up on the other side of the pickup truck and a man wearing shades and a dark suit gets out and starts assembling a large sniper rifle, and I gulp and move behind a tree. I take out my pistol and jack a round into the chamber in case they saw me and decide I need to be taken out. I stand there for maybe hours, it gets dark outside. A while later, a couple of older guys walk past my tree and sit down at a picnic table. One of them was the driver of the pickup truck. I ask, "What's going on?" and one of them says, "You must be one of the stealth fighter engineers", and points to my shirt when I look confused and says "no numbers." I look down, and understand, I'm not in a uniform, I'm wearing pajamas. "I was just getting ready for bed", I said. Then the alarm got me up and that was the end of the nightmare.

Now, reality is that I'm way past the point, age-wise, where the Army would want anything to do with me. The funny part is that if I were twenty years younger I would have volunteered even though twenty years ago I still would have known that the Iraq war was stupid and unjustifiable. It is amazing how stupid I was twenty years ago. I actually believed in all that "patriotism" and "defending our freedoms" garbage, despite the fact that the only time our nation has ever gone to war in self-defense was when attacked during WWII -- in all other wars that our nation has fought, our freedoms were in no way threatened by the people we were fighting. It is only in the past few years that I realized that, in the end, patriotism is garbage, the last refuge of cowards scared of "other" or of imperialists afraid to simply stand up and declare, "yes, we DO want empire."

In the end, patriotism makes about as much sense as my dream did. We're just people, that's all, regardless of what language we speak or how we pray or whatever. If we can't justify something like a war by how it helps ourselves or others, appeals to patriotism are just so much rubbish, just a cloud of misdirection spewed by cowards and incompetents in much the same way that a squid squirts ink to obscure reality.

-- Badtux the Unpatriotic Penguin

Cross-posted at The Medley

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Is our childrens learning?

Left: The Free Market Fairy and her mighty magic wand, all set to deal with the problems of children's health care.In yet another triumph of ideology over common sense, President Bush vetos children's health care. Because, y'know, those icky "children" have snotty noses and such, and besides the magical Free Market Fairy (see left) will take care of them, even though it doesn't now but it will, Dear Leader just knows it will gosh darn it quit bashing him over the head with them "fact" thingies everybody knows that them "fact" thingies have a liberal bias!

Now, the only question is whether the Republicans in Congress will vote to over-ride the veto or not. If they vote against the veto override, they come out as being against children and the next election will be even more brutal for Republicans than is already expected. On the other hand, for the ideologues in Congress, it's unclear whether they can hold their nose enough to vote against their ideological predisposition to believe that the Magic Market Fairy will, like, just wave her wand and make all the problems in health care provision disappear.

As for the notion that this is all just a cunning ploy to allow Congressional Republicans to come out against George W. Bush in order to enhance their re-election chances, that seems unlikely to me. Dear Leader really doesn't care anymore. He done been electorated and can't run again. And this action is fully in concordance with his ideologically-based behavior in other instances, where his believe in the Magic Market Fairy triumphs over both common sense and clearly visible reality. So yeah, I think Dear Leader really IS this heartless, and not just doing this as a political gimmick. After all, if those children can't afford health care, it's their own fault for choosing to be born.

-- Badtux the Health Care Penguin

Today's rant: "Webinar"

Does anybody know who invented the "webinar"? I want to flog them with a limp herring. Granted, the Internet is a massive waste of time anyhow, but all these friggin' marketing "webinars" that I'm expected to view and then report to my managers about are an even more massive waste of time. Let's see, you got a tiny little window where you can watch murky indistinguishable figures blather on about how great the PolyBloxer 5000 is because it has features Burble, Gabble, and Wahwah (you can't really tell what those features are because the audio is *always* distorted and out-of-sync), and after eight minutes of this massive waste of time you're supposed to know something?

Gah. Call me old fashioned, but give me an old-fashioned web page with, like, INFORMATION on it. And pretty pictures, of course (otherwise it is visually monotonous), but I can read a HELL of a lot faster than I can watch one of these damnable creations of failed salesmen with delusions of film auteurship.

-- Badtux the Irascible Penguin

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Chicago cops break law?

Duh. Obeying the law is for the little people. And testi-lying? No problem. Chicago PD apparently is the same old, same old that it was under Mayor Daley's realm back in '68. You wonder if there's some rubber hoses in their interrogation rooms too.

- Badtux the Seen It Before Penguin

Why are Americans so unhealthy?

Researchers discover that American health care costs are so high, in part, because Americans are so unhealthy. Experts blame a lack of preventive care, amongst other things.

So why do American companies and insurers promote an unhealthy lifestyle and refuse to fund preventive care? Well, it's because of the way the system is set up. The system is set up to encourage insurers and corporations to push health care costs into the future. It costs more to treat an illness than to prevent an illness, but they are betting that by the time the worker's health collapses due to lack of preventive care, the worker will be working at another company or will be on Medicaid due to being unable to work. In short, health insurance companies and corporations treat your health like a bank loan that they are betting someone else will repay. They take out a loan against your health, a loan with a very high interest rate (the amount extra it costs to treat rather than prevent illness), and gamble that by the time the loan comes due, you'll be with another company and the other company will have to pay back that health loan. It's all dollars and cents for them.

So how do we produce incentives in the current system? You can't. A mobile workforce with significant labor flexibility is needed to maintain productivity in a modern economy, so any system where the corporation, not the individual, pays for health care costs is inherently biased to push those costs into the future where hopefully you'll be working for another company. Even in the case where individuals rather than corporations buy health insurance, there may be an incentive to not fund preventive care because the health insurance company is betting that by the time the health loan comes due, you will have switched insurance plans to another insurer and the other insurer will have to pay. It may be possible, via much government intervention, to patch up the system for individuals, but only universal single-payer health insurance is guaranteed to remove the disincentive to fund preventive care, because only universal single-payer health insurance guarantees that pushing health care costs into the future results in higher costs to the insurance fund.

In short, focus on short-term profits has ruined America's health. Only by removing short-term profits from the equation can we eliminate the drag on the economy that unhealthy people present. Unhealthy people are not as productive as healthy people, and any system which produces huge numbers of unhealthy people by its very nature cannot be said to be either morally acceptable or financially acceptable. We need universal health care in America, not yet more patches upon a system that is inherently broken due to its fundamental design. If America's health care system were a car, it would be a Yugo repaired with parts from a Fiat with electrics by Lucas, doomed to forever be dropping parts along the road when not killing its driver due to being unsafe in its very design. It's time to send the disintegrating car that is American health care to the scrap yard, and replace it with a shiny new Honda -- the same level of universal care that the rest of the industrialized world enjoys. Past a certain point, it just ain't worth fixing a junker anymore.

-- Badtux the Health Care Penguin

Cat sandwich

Q: What do you call a penguin sitting on a futon with a laptop computer on his lap?
A: See title. (One on left, one on right).

It's getting toasty in here...

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Monday, October 01, 2007

Another whack'n'stack

Politically-connected white woman dies in police custody. Apparently she managed to strangle herself with her handcuffs, according to the police report. How a woman can strangle herself with her handcuffs is a question that mystifies even the experts.

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Neko Case - Furnace Room Lullaby

Today's Monday Music Madness is a tiny red-headed singer with a big voice and a sound that's a cross between pop, bluegrass, and goth. Enjoy.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Press the Meat

On Sunday's Press the Meat, the talking heads whined that the candidates wouldn't talk to them. "They spend time talking on the Internet or directly to the people at campaign events," the talking heads of the mainstream press whined. "It's just a way to avoid tough follow-up questions".

As if these guys would know what one of those were. You watch them ask questions of the Preznit, and their questions tend to be along the lines of, "will history view you as the best President in history, or just a very good one?". You watch them ask questions of Democrats, the questions tend to be along the lines of, "when did you quit beating your wife?" (or husband, in Hillary's case). Why would any candidate view the mainstream press as an asset to their candidacy at this point in time? The mainstream press has rendered itself irrelevant and useless, an organ that is the appendix of modern-day politics -- a useless organ that is not worth spending any time on, unless it annoys you so much that it needs to be cut out.

- Badtux the News Penguin

In the Deserts Of The Heart - Chapter 2 Part 2

Chapter 2 Part 1
Note - production was delayed because I wasn't satisfied with a plot twist and ended up dumping a couple of chapters worth of material and re-writing. Sometimes a story just won't give you a murder within the first few chapters as is a convention of the murder mystery genre and it doesn't do you any good to try to force it. Oh well.

Fifty miles away, Ray Olsted was looking at a printout from the California Death Register.

"Clarrise Foster, you're in a lot of trouble," he said to himself, looking at the piece of paper. Marlena knocked on the door and he told her to come in. Almost didn't even notice her. He was getting old. Seemed only yesterday he'd been riding a trail bike up the mule paths to remote mines that nobody had seen for a hundred years, thinking nothing of falling down. Now his joints ached, and his skin was thin and cut easily, and if he fell down bones broke. Old. Beat the alternative, but when a fine sturdy woman like Marlena didn't even bring the little soldier to attention, much less make it salute...

Marlena told Ray about Jerry's call.

"I'm heading out there," he told her. He grabbed his hat, pulled his gunbelt on, and headed out the door.

Marlena watched him leave, and frowned. She went back to dispatch to check on where the other deputies were. There were only four deputies on duty to cover the whole county at the moment, daytimes were quiet time, it was the evening when the bars opened that things got rowdy. She thought about it, then dispatched a deputy to be close to the action in case the Sheriff needed backup. She thought about it a little more, and called CHP dispatch to see if there were any CHP officers in the area. There was one on CA 190. She asked if he could possibly be shuffled down to CA 178 for a few hours, just as a favor, in case her sheriff needed backup. Please? She sweet-talked the dispatcher for a few minutes, until finally she wheedled him into doing it. And all it took was a date. Heck, given her social life lately, it wasn't as if she were giving up anything. Her life nowdays seemed to be nothing but work, fixing her old Jeep CJ, and repairing her old shack to keep it from coming down around her head. Eating a restaurant meal with someone of the male persuasion was going to be a nice change.

One of these days she figured she was going to be out there on patrol too. If she could just get that community college diploma. The GI bill wasn't what it used to be, but six years in the Marines still qualified her for a little bit of money... but the whole reason she'd joined the Marines was because she hated school. For a miner's daughter who'd spent most of her childhood outdoors school had been horrible, all inside and everything. Somehow she'd always managed to miss the cutoff date for applying at the community college. Until she did that, she wasn't going anywhere.

She leaned back to her chair and sighed. She was stuck inside anyhow. She might as well apply.

There were no applications or paperwork sitting around for her to file or start processing, so she grabbed the tawdry romance that she'd been reading off the shelf, and went to the next page, frowning intently. She was a bit farsighted, and reading always made her head hurt, and it was a stupid book. But there was nothing else to do in this place during the daytime when she was waiting for something to happen. So she slogged on, lips barely moving, as she read about the ridiculous exploits of some drama queen and the knight in shining armor who was rescuing her. Marlena snorted. If it'd been her, she would have just blown away the bad guy with her .357 the first time she met him and been done with it. But that would have made the book, like, only five pages long, so...

She wondered what Sheriff Olsted would do when he found out "Clarrise"'s real name. Marlena had known it for a few weeks, of course. As well as a certain other thing that she was sure the Sheriff would be surprised by.

Men. Marlena laughed to herself. They were so full of themselves. They didn't even think to ask a woman about things. Marlena turned a page, and frowned again, and shook her head at the stupidity of it all.