Thursday, July 31, 2008

John McCain upset about being called on racism

100% of John McCain's campaign these past two weeks have been him or his proxies saying "Vote for me because Obama is a scary nigger". And then McNasty has the audacity to whine about being called on this? Bwahahahah! See this & ? That's the world's smallest fiddle, playing softly for the world's whiniest politician...

-- Badtux the "Whiners are losers" Penguin

Thanks for messing up my morning commute, asshole

Asshole commits suicide by jumping in front of a train.

This happened yesterday morning, right next to a road that I need to take to get to work. Needless to say by the time I came along at 9:35 the road was blocked tighter than a Republican senators, err, you know.

If you're depressed and shit, go to the fuckin' doctor already. Don't mess up everybody else's day by jumping in front of a train right next to a busy freeway. And if you do decide you're going to jump in front of a train, at least have the common decency to drive out to the Alviso Marina and walk out a half mile or so into the Bay before jumping onto the tracks. Sheesh. Common courtesy. It just ain't so common anymore, hmm?

-- Badtux the Inconsiderate Penguin

Yet another consequence of the irresponsible Bush fiscal policy

The Japanese battery for my KLR-650 that cost me $72 four years ago, will cost $105 today because the Bush Administration has been printing dollars with the fervent avarice of the Weimar Republic finance ministry (via running up gigantic deficits, which produces t-bills, which are an asset that can be used as backing for loans, which create money). When you print dollars like this, dollars become worth less and it takes more of them to buy stuff. So it goes. Sigh.

-- Badtux the Inflation Pengui

Today's spam headline

President Bush announces state of emergency.

You must admit that this subject line gets you opening up that spam message lickity split to find... uhm, another ad for a male penile enhancer. The whole point of these bogus headlines is to get you to open up the message. This one probably succeeds better than most at doing so.

-- Badtux the Spammed Penguin

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Shorter Dana Milbank

Obama is an uppity nigger.


-- Badtux the Bigotry-spottin' Penguin

California bigots don't like truth

California bigots who want to eliminate the right of gays in California to marry want to change the name of Proposition 8 to something that lies. The proposition is truthfully described on the ballot as, "Eliminates the right of same-sex couples to marry". But the truth, they apparently fear, is something that is too inflammatory. So they sued the State of California for telling the truth about what the ballot proposal does.

The lawsuit claims that "the ballot language is inflammatory". But the ballot language simply describes what the proposition does. So truth is inflammatory? Awe, poor bigots! Mean State of California puts ballot language on the ballot that tells the truth, and they just can't stand it!

-- Badtux the non-bigot Penguin

Dead batteries and voltage regulators

Over at Moto-Tux.

And remember boys and girls, when you go to lean your motorcycle over onto its sidestand, it helps to deploy the sidestand first :-).

-- Badtux the Motorcyclin' Penguin

Richard Cohen is a duplicitous hack

So Richard Cohen asks some fictitious Democrat "Just tell me one thing Barack Obama has done that you admire" then claims there is no such thing? Bull-crapola. I can think of one thing right off the top of my head that Barack Obama did that I admire: Barack Obama spoke out against the war in Iraq early when it was not popular to do so, and was right about the outcome.

And that's just the first thing off the top of my head. Obama voted for the new GI Bill (McCain voted "absent"), he put together a tremendous campaign organization that has generated a lot of excitement amongst the Democratic base (something Kerry or Al Gore never did), he has done a lot of things that I admire. And some things that I don't admire too. But anybody who claims that Barack Obama has accomplished nothing of importance is being a ridiculous duplicitous hack. Which describes Richard Cohen completely as he spends an entire editorial column trying to say "Obama is a scary nigger" without saying it.

-- Badtux the Politics Penguin


A recruiter called me. He got word that my previous employer is now out of business, and called to beg me to sign up with him. I suspect most of my former co-workers are getting those same calls right now.

I suppose this is time for me to be a ghoul too, and do my own post-mortem on why this company folded. I won't name this employer, or name names, but here is how I see it:

  1. Culture wars within the company. You had the Sun contingent. You had the SGI contingent. You had the Linux penguin contingent. The Sun contingent liked simple, not-very-complex programs written in "C" that were not theoretically "perfect" but were fast and efficient. The SGI contingent liked complex frameworks written in "C" that were wonderfully full-featured and "perfect" but where performance didn't really matter much to them. The Linux penguin contingent saw no reason to use "C" if you could use Perl or Python, no reason to use Perl or Python if you could use shell scripting, and valued simplicity and ease of modification above all else. The Sun people didn't talk to the SGI people. The SGI people didn't talk to the Linux people. The Linux people would talk to anybody but nobody wanted to talk with them because they weren't around during the 1980's when the Sun and SGI people were earning their chops. The end result was a software stack that was an incoherent mush of conflicting philosophies.
  2. Poor engineering processes and management. This company had a crack team -- the best team I've ever worked with. But the above culture wars meant that the engineering staff was unfocused and fighting internal wars about how things should be done. They needed engineering management as brilliant as the engineers to crack heads together, get a design banged out, and set schedules and priorities and get the product out the door. Instead, the engineering staff went round and round in circles until finally a manager came in who was capable of cracking heads together and getting a product heaved over the portal. One of the consequences of the poor engineering processes was...
  3. Unrealistic scheduling. Milestones were continually being shoved over the portal for the first two years, and the end result was to hurt the product design because people did quick hacks rather than doing things right. Which led to...
  4. An inflexible software architecture that was hardware-dependent, meaning that...
  5. It took too long to design and release the second-generation hardware product after the first generation product became obsolete, because the software architecture had too many hardware dependencies enshrined all over the place in it. Which was curious, because one of the company's other big problems was...
  6. A software-oriented mindset. This company was founded by software geeks who wanted to create a new filesystem. Investors pushed them to put out a hardware-based product instead. But they never had the mentality of a hardware company. People involved in the hardware and manufacturing side of things were undervalued and left because the company viewed itself as a filesystem company that happened to manufacture hardware, rather than as a hardware company that had a unique filesystem. The result was hardware that was buggy and too expensive because outsourced design vendors did not have the supervision to push them to cost-simplify their designs. E.g., a particular circuit board that could have been easily done in a six-layer process for $10 apiece was instead done in a very expensive process that cost $250 apiece. But without a board-layout expert on staff, the software-oriented staff of the company had no way of evaluating this design and simplifying it (or directing its simplification) so that it could be manufactured in a cost-effective manner.
  7. Which brings up the next problem: Lack of hardware and manufacturing expertise. They never hired the hardware design people needed to be a successful hardware company. They never hired the manufacturing experts needed to manufacture the product in an efficient and timely manner. This was part of their software-oriented mindset. Not only did they undervalue the contribution of those who managed to get the hardware designed, tested, manufactured, and out the door, but they didn't hire real expertise in the first place. The fact that I was their manufacturing expert who set up their manufacturing process should be a Clue(tm) there -- my previous experience had been years earlier with small "white box" vendors, not large complex systems. But they never hired the real experts needed to manufacture these systems more efficiently than the crude system that I cobbled up in my "spare time" to get product out the door.
  8. Unwise outsourcing moves. They totally outsourced hardware design rather than hiring their own hardware design expertise, and the result was a hardware design that was buggy and not cost-effective. They outsourced their manufacturing to an expensive "prestigious" manufacturer so they could say "our systems are manufactured by prestigious outsourced manufacturer X" rather than doing it inhouse or using a less prestigious but cheaper assembly house, and the result was huge overhead costs compared to hiring a couple of Vietnamese assemblers to do it in-house (this was a low volume high end system, remember).
  9. LATE TO MARKET. The combination of all the above meant that a system that would have blown everybody away if released in late 2003 was "ho hum!" when released in early 2006. Late to market was the core of their problem. They lost their window of opportunity, and it never came back because the same factors that led to them being late to market with their first-generation system also led to them being late to market with their (never-released) second-generation system.
So there's some lessons to be learned here, I suppose. If you are going to manufacture hardware, hire your own manufacturing and hardware expertise, don't think you can outsource it all, and value your manufacturing and hardware expertise, don't view it as secondary to your brilliant software solution. When you are hiring, hire brilliant managers as well as brilliant engineers else your brilliant engineers are going to run in circles and never get product out the door. And get product out the door early and often... if your staff never gets accustomed to shoving product over the transom in a regular manner early on, they never will be, and you'll always be late to market.

So it goes. That's just how it works here in the SillyCone Valley. By the standards of the Valley that former company was not all that bad -- they ran a lean operation that didn't waste investor money on a lavish HQ and other such silliness, unlike most SillyCone Valley startups they did get the first-generation product out the door even if it was late, and they did manage to manufacture product in a timely manner even if various decisions meant that the process was clunky and not cost-effective. So by the standards of the SillyCone Valley they did better than most. But "better than most" is not good enough in this Bush economy, and eventually the investors decided that "better than most" wasn't going to give them the returns they wanted. And so the investors pulled the plug and undoubtedly are going to auction off the technology to the highest bidder. So it goes in the SillyCone Valley... and soon enough, the investors who own the United States are going to pull the plug on the United States and do much the same for us. I wonder who the highest bidder will be... Zimbabwe, or Ethiopia? Be prepared to say hello to your new Ethiopian overlords!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Today's Spam Subject Line

Clinically dead woman comes to life.

The spammer in this case obviously wants us to open his spam out of curiousity -- what made this woman come back to life? Alas, we'll never know, because the spam itself only advertises male potency drugs as usual...

-- Badtux the Spammed Penguin

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Free speech, hate speech, and the KKK

By now you know about the right-wing whackaloon Jim Adkisson who shot up Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville because he wanted to kill liberals because he blamed liberals for turning his wife away from him, for making it hard to find a job, shit, probably for his own stupidity for that matter. Now, some folks note that he had a lot of right wing hate literature in his home published by folks like Bill O'Reilly and Ann Coulter and such that in general terms call for exterminating liberals. Some folks wonder, why are these people allowed to publish such things? Others say, however, that it would be censorship to punish them for advocating violence against liberals.

The problem with the view of "it would be censorship", however, is that if you espouse killing other people in a published work, it is not censorship to charge you with hate speech and take the publication off the shelf (as Canada would do), any more than it would be censorship to charge you with libel for telling false and injurious lies about another person. It is known quite well in civilized nations that your right to free speech stops when you injure another person with your speech, the so-called "shouting fire in a crowded theatre" notion. In short, your right to throw your fist stops at the tip of my nose, and your right to free speech ends at the point where it causes injury to me.

Unfortunately, during the KKK lynching era the U.S. Supreme Court was dominated by conservatives who wished to allow the KKK to continue publishing their hate speech because it was convenient to have a class of people to use as a scapegoat for all the problems of the majority (sort of the same deal as with Hitler), so the U.S. Supreme Court ruled during that time that it wasn't enough to advocate violence against a specific group of people (such as blacks or liberals), you had to advocate violence against a specific *individual* person to trigger the implied "harm to others" clause. In my opinion that is bad jurisprudence and in no way justified by the 1st Amendment -- other civilized nations usually have an equivalent to the 1st Amendment but no other civilized nation allows publishing works calling for violence against specific groups of people because that violates the right of people to be free of having harm committed against them. But the U.S. has always been a nation where violence against specified sub-groups has not only been tolerated but, at times (such as during the KKK lynching era) even condoned. And the right-wing whackaloons currently on the U.S. Supreme Court are quite contented with that situation, so I don't expect it to change anytime soon.

American civilization. It would be a good idea. Sigh.

- Badtux the Civilized Penguin

Monday, July 28, 2008

Today's spam subject line

Schwarzenegger gunning for Presidency 2012

Nevermind that the Governator is now about as popular as burned toast in California (which is roughly what he did to the state budget) and is not eligible under the Constitution of the United States to run for President anyhow, the spammers are betting that you'll open this email just because you're outraged, and then instead get dumped into their pitch for "herbal viagra". This is indeed a clever spam Subject: line.

-- Badtux the Spammed Penguin

Novakula had a brain?

Nobody would have ever guessed, since he mostly worked as a stenographer to power transcribing whatever his controllers in the White House told him to say, but apparently Robert "Novakula" Novak actually does have a brain. At least, we must presume so, because he has brain cancer. My bet is that he still doesn't have a reflection in mirrors though...

Which is sad, because if there were any justice, he would be imprisoned in Abu Ghraib Prison to be tortured by the same people whose torture he justified in print. He would have survived torture and remembered it for the rest of his days. You do not, alas, survive brain cancer :-(.

-- Badtux the Vampire-spottin' Penguin

Soviet Elections

In Soviet Russia, your vote was counted only if you voted for the correct candidate. If you complained that your vote wasn't counted, the judge would just laugh at you.

In Soviet America, her vote wasn't counted because she didn't vote for the correct candidate. And when she complained in court that her vote wasn't counted, the judge only laughed that she had no right to have her vote counted, and dismissed the lawsuit.

Who won the Cold War, again?!

-- Badtux the Sovok Penguin

Around town

Bizarre sight of the day yesterday: SpongeBob Squarepants and one of his pals dancing around outside a used car dealership. What, they think toddlers buy cars now?! I knew used car salesmen were generally denser than depleted uranium, but this... is beyond stupid, to the point of the absurd.

The other cool thing I saw driving around town was a 1937-1939 Cadillac Fleetwood. No idea whether it was the straight-eight version or the V-16 version, but definitely narrowed down to those years, because it had enclosed spare tire wells on the front fenders vs. the open spare tire wells of earlier years or no spare tire wells on the 1940 version. The guy driving it seemed to be having a blast, probably he'd just bought it at the classic car show that was in town. It leaned wayyyy over when going up a freeway on-ramp, but didn't seem to have any get-up-and-go problems, indicating it may have been the very rare and expensive V-16...

-- Badtux the Random Penguin

Sunday, July 27, 2008

GOP to poor, elderly: "Go f*** yourself."

GOP condemns poor, elderly to death from hypothermia. Such humanitarians, those Rethuglicans are. Can't coddle those old folks, gotta let'em freeze to death to stiffen their backbones, yessiree, why if they can't afford to heat their homes due to record profits going to oil companies, they should go to work as an oil company executive just like our Lord and Savior, George W. Bush, He who is the perfect being and all that!

This fall's ads: "Republicans voted to kill old people in the Northeast. Vote John McCain -- a compassionate conservative!"

Except that in Soviet America, no such ad would be allowed to run on any television network, of course...

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Why the Soviet Union failed

They never quite figured out that "advertising" stuff.

That advertisement for a ground chicken product consists of a sausage grinder, a chicken, and a female voice saying "chicken! chicken! chicken! Ground chicken!" over and over again. The name of the ground chicken product was literally, "ground chicken." I don't know whether this commercial is in Estonian or in Russian, hopefully our local Russian expert will tell us :-).

Here in Soviet America, we have only the best of advertising. Long live Soviet America!

-- Badtux the Sovok Penguin

Spam Subject: line of the day

14-Year-Olds Can't Marry In Kansas Anymore

Because we always suspected that Kansas was so backwards and inbred that 14 year old kids were marrying... so the creative spammers making up these bogus headlines gave us one plausible enough to open up the email to see their spam.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

PS - yeah, it was a Viagra spam :-).

To serve and protect

Injured kid with broken back and broken foot tased 19 times for refusing to get up and stand against the wall. He either fell or jumped off an overpass. As he lay on the ground unable to move, the cops arrived and ordered him to stand against the wall. When he "refused" to comply, the cops tased him 19 times until the kid passed out from the pain and they realized they were tasing dead meat and maybe, just maybe, they ought to get an ambulance out there.

I swear, who trains these cops nowdays? Tomas de Torquemada? Jesus effin' kee-ryste, what a bunch of weak sisters we got in our police forces nowdays. Six cops can't handle a skinny 16 year old kid with a broken back without tasering the shit out of him? Sheesh. Cops when I was growing up had friggin' cast-iron balls. Clanked when they walked, I tell ya. Nowdays... not so much, apparently. Not so much. You fuckin' sneeze at them, they're tasering your ass like it's 1489 while shakin' like Barney Fife tryin' to put his one bullet in his gun...

-- Badtux the Not-surprised Penguin

Saturday, July 26, 2008

What I spent my Saturday doing...

Over at Moto-Tux, I talk about stone age vs. digital age motorcycle technology, and the downsides of the new-fangled stuff for those of us who enjoy wrenchin' our own rides.

-- Badtux the Motorcyclin' Penguin

Friday, July 25, 2008

Spam Subject: line of the day

President Bush's iPod: The Complete Playlist

That one is probably pretty short, given that I doubt President Bush can figure out how to operate an iPod. The spammers need to use more plausible subject lines, methinks.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Republicans don't want to be called racists?

Then stop creating pictures comparing Obama to a porch monkey. I mean, c'mon folks. "monkey" and "Obama"? You might as well just say "nigger" at that point, because y'know you want to!

-- Badtux the "Racism is dead right?" Penguin

Thursday, July 24, 2008

John McCain proposes cuts to VA health care

Disgusting. John McCain says that VA should only treat combat injuries -- not any other service-related health issues. "Let them eat cake" appears to be his attitude toward all other veterans. Crashed your Humvee in Iraq because you were under fire and hit a drainage ditch and broke your neck when the Humvee flipped and are paralyzed? John McCain sez you don't deserve VA health care because that was a traffic accident, not a combat injury, and so you should just go home and die.

VA remains mired in crisis due to the poor planning by the Bush administration to handle the tidal wave of 325,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran casualties now being treated at VA hospitals and clinics, not because the VA is also treating people suffering from Gulf War Syndrome, Agent Orange, and other service-related ailments. A Presidential candidate whose solution to the problem of poor planning by the Bush Administration is to cut services promised to our veterans, rather than to promise to fund those services with all the money needed, is beneath contempt.

Yes, I am saying that John McCain is beneath contempt for making such a suggestion. He just spit on our veterans. Maybe not literally, but just as bad. John McCain just showed that he's even less patriotic than Jane Fonda. Disgusting. Just disgusting. What next, he proposes to bite off the heads of kittens or boil babies?!

-- Badtux the Outraged Penguin

Today's featured spam subject line

Senator John Mccain Wishes To Have Sex With Model Heidi Klum

And I wish I had a million dollars, heh!

I swear, these spammers must have the secret headline generator used by The Onion hard at work for them...

-- Badtux the Spammed Penguin

To serve and protect

Yet another young black man mysteriously "dies in custody". No sign of drugs or alcohol in his body. Just signs that he had been tasered a lot.

The fatal taser jolt happened after the police cruiser arrived at the police station to book the suspect. The suspect didn't get out of the cruiser as fast as Officer Scott Nugent wanted, so the officer tasered him, then, after hauling the suspect's dead body out onto the pavement, tasered the dead body twice more. Officer Scott Nugent, who fired the fatal taser shot, was also responsible for 10 of the previous 14 incidents of taser usage by the Winnfield (LA) Police Department. Reading between the lines, it appears that Officer Nugent got his job because of family connections and was more of a Barney Fife figure (skinny, nervous, whiny voice) than someone who commanded respect from even his own peers, much less from perps. Thus the need for the taser -- perps just laughed at his shrimpy whiney ass self when with the shakey gun he whined "you're under arrest!" in a girlish voice. Talk about a "weak sister"...

Tasers are there to be used as a substitute for deadly force, not as a compliance tool for controlling a handcuffed and subdued prisoner who is currently imprisoned in the back seat of a police cruiser or as a substitute for basic suitability for police work. For compliance we have other methods which have a far less chance of death. At the very least you're parked in front of the goddamned police station, you got backup out the yazoo right up that flight of stairs. It seems likely that Officer Nugent tasered Baron Pikes rather than calling for backup because his own peers already considered him to be a whiney-assed bitch and he was scared that they'd make even more fun of him if he called for help.

But then, I suppose we shouldn't be surprised. The buildup of the new U.S. "soft" police state has required hiring tens of thousands of new officers to enforce the thousands of new "anti-drug" and "anti-terror" laws, all too many of which are either amoral thugs or "weak sisters" because, well, it's just hard to get sane people to volunteer for this job. Who wants to deal with criminals all day, potentially be shot at, etc., for a pitiful salary? So it goes in Soviet America, where we pretend we are free, and the government pretends we're free too -- when not proving otherwise.

-- Badtux the Sovok Penguin

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Feds convict some spammers...

Good. Too bad we can't draw and quarter them. Although I must admit that their latest tactic (inventing fictitious news headlines for their spam emails) is amusing at times (or just amusingly disgusting, like the previous John McCain headline, heh).

-- Badtux the Much-spammed Penguin

Most unlikely spam title of all time

John McCain Sex Video Yanked from YouTube.

That one ruins my appetite just thinking about it. (And no, I did not open that email, I'm not a stupid penguin, after all!).

-- Badtux the Much-spammed Penguin

Interesting technical information about the B-52

Traditionally, large aircraft use ailerons to bank. Early models of the B-52 had a combination of spoilers and ailerons as well as a tall tail to help maintain directional stability. Ailerons are capable of providing lift on the "down" wing in order to help an aircraft get out of a bank. Spoilers are used to decrease lift on the "down" wing in order to help an aircraft enter into a bank, or are used to decrease lift on the "up" wing in order to help an aircraft exit from a bank.

The B-52G (no longer in service) and B-52H (the only ones in service) were designed without ailerons. They were redesigned for low-level penetration with the ailerons removed to make room for more fuel and with a shorter tail to reduce weight at the back so more bombs could be carried there. All attitude control is done via spoilers, which cause a reduction of lift upon a wing -- i.e., cause the wing to drop. The problem is that this made the aircraft much harder to fly. You cannot, for example, bank a B-52H at greater than 45 degrees. The bank will swiftly hit 90 degrees and the plane will crash since there are no ailerons to increase lift on the "down" wing and increasing drag on the "up" wing will not cause it to drop, since the drag will be applied both in the horizontal and vertical directions. The result is Czar-52 -- the lower wing continues to drop due to being in the wind shadow of the fuselage, and then the jet falls on its side at a 90 degree angle until the lower wing smashes into the ground.

The only way to get out of this is to a) have some altitude, and b) use your tail to get your nose pointing down at the ground so you can get air flowing over your wings fore-aft again and fly out of the stall. Pilots of large airliners are trained when they are doing their stall training to use the rudder (without ailerons or spoilers) to "kick" the plane over so that the nose is going down in the right direction and air is flowing over the wings again, at which point you can hopefully bring the plane out of the stall before it goes nose-first into the ground. But one thing is true about this: you need altitude. If you are below 1,000 feet and you stall, *you die*.

In the case of the Guam crash, we know that a) the bomber was below 1,000 feet, and b) the bomber was "flying strangely" with one wing dipped. Engine failure is unlikely to cause a B-52 to crash... *unless* the engine failure happens while the bomber is going around at an angle where an increase in speed from the engines is needed to prevent stalling. If multiple engine failure occurs at the exact wrong point in time the B-52 will act like Czar-52 -- it will continue sliding over to the side in a stall and smash into the water quickly. The pilot would likely try kicking the rudder over to put the nose down to get more airspeed but remember that the B-52H is missing half its tail because they chopped half of it off to reduce weight for more munitions! This makes stall recovery a bitch in the B-52H even if you do have altitude. And yes, multiple engine failure has occurred before, most recently making the papers on August 8, 1995 when a Barksdale AFB B52-H *lost an entire engine pod*. Yeppers. Lost. As in, gone. No longer there. Fell right off through the roof of a church (luckily unoccupied at the time).

In short, given the information available, it seems the most likely explanation for the crash of the B52-H at Guam was a) the pilot was making a banked turn at low altitude practicing for his flyover, and b) at the *exact wrong time*, he lost an entire engine pod, causing the bomber to go into a fatal stall. Due to the design of the B-52H, with no ailerons and a too-small rudder, it is easy to stall at that altitude and impossible to recover from a stall at that altitude.

And that's my take for today. Maybe someday we'll "really" know. But I suspect this is the best that we'll ever know.

-- Badtux the Flightless Penguin

More on "the surge" and "the timeline"

So, as I explained in my previous post, there is no war in Iraq, only an occupation. What, then, about the violence you say? And isn't the surge working? And what about these "timeline" thingies -- what about the notion that setting a timeline is a "timeline to defeat"?

There is violence in Iraq, that much is undeniable. None of that has anything to do with a war, but, rather, with insufficient forces in Iraq to police the place. The Army manuals prior to the invasion of Iraq called for 500,000 troops to control the violence that occurs when civil order collapses. Think of what would happen if we had done Iraq right instead of half-a$$. If even the modest surge during the first part of this year managed such a significant reduction in violence, think of what would have happened if we'd *really* surged, and put the 500,000 troops in there that the Army manuals called for?

Of course, we did not -- do not -- have 500,000 troops to put into Iraq. But we could have. If the leadership of our nation had called for our nation to do so. President Ronald Reagan had 18 active duty divisions and 10 reserve divisions in the U.S. Army during the height of the Cold War, over a million men in arms, and these were all volunteers. Instead we had Donald Rumsfeld mumbling about "you go to war with the army you have, not the army you wish you had." Which might have been okay in 2003, but this is 2008 -- there has been plenty of time to build up the Army to the size needed to perform a successful occupation. I mean, 5 years is longer than our involvement in WWII, and we raised a military of over 10,000,000 soldiers, sailors, and airmen during WWII!

In any event, talking about "winning" or "losing" in Iraq is nonsense. The war was over in 2003 and you don't win occupations, you end them after certain conditions are met or by simply ordering your troops to leave. So talking about "the surge is working" is nonsense doubled considering that neither Presidential candidate has proposed doing what's necessary to eliminate violence in Iraq so that civil society can re-emerge from the rubble -- which would require a *much* larger "surge" (the Army manuals called for 500,000 troops, as I mentioned, to police 20,000,000 people). If neither candidate is willing to propose that we do what it takes to pacify Iraq (probably because the American public are thoroughly sick of the place and want nothing more to do with it)... what's the point of quibbling over 12 months, 16 months, 24 months, whatever? It'll still be a mess at the end. A mess is a mess regardless of how long it takes, right?

-- Badtux the War Penguin

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Yet another reminder...

The war in Iraq is over, and has been over for many years. If we leave Iraq now, we haven't "lost", because we already won. The war was won on May 1, 2003. Dear Leader even had a big banner announcing "Mission Accomplished" in celebration. All that has happened since then is an occupation of Iraq. You don't win occupations, because there's nothing to win in an occupation -- you already won. The only thing you do with occupations is end them, sooner or later, generally when the host government says get out -- which apparently Maliki is doing. Maliki was democratically elected by the majority of Iraqis, so if America respects democracy, America should do what he wishes and get out. Why is democracy such a foreign concept to some Americans?!

-- Badtux the History Penguin

Iraqi Leader Meets Obama, Calls For U.S. Troops' Exit

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki took advantage of Sen. Barack Obama's internationally watched visit Monday to set a 2 1/2 -year timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.

So much for the assertions that Maliki's earlier comments calling for a timeline for withdrawal were mistranslated... even Pravda on the Hudson has called bullshit on that one.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

More on B-52 crash

It apparently took place at under 1,000 feet while the bomber was practicing for a flyover of a parade on Guam. A bystander who saw the plane flying said it seemed to be quieter than normal and was listing to the right side, which would indicate an engine-out situation. However, short of a catastrophic failure of multiple engines on one side of the plane, that would not bring down a B-52. Each pod has one alternator (four alternators total) and there are multiple hydraulic pumps also, so this is not a case where a failure of one or more engines would cause the aircraft to lose power and hydraulic control.

There apparently were nine B-52's deployed to Guam. This bomber may have been one of six B-52's deployed early to Guam when the B-2's were hastily withdrawn after the B-2 crash there in February. In a message below, the spectre of deferred maintenance was brought up. If the aircraft were deployed early prior to being fully serviced at the BAFB depot, that may be an issue, but it is hard for me to think of any deferred maintenance that can take out a B-52 without giving its crew a chance to eject. If the pilot were stunting, like in the 1994 crash, that would be one thing. But you would not have six people on board if this had been a pilot with a reputation as a "hot dog" who would stunt, you would have had four people on board like in the Czar 52 incident (that is the minimum needed to fly the plane).

We will find out more. Or not. But I do think we can rule out some of the more ridiculous scenarios that I've seen floating around the 'Net. For example, it is unlikely that a Chinese sub fired off a SAM and took out this B-52. A Chinese sub would have been more likely to wave its red flag proudly to show off to the B-52 "hey, look at me! I popped up right next to your most important base in the west Pacific and nobody saw me get here!". Similarly, I seriously doubt that a UFO collided with this bomber and brought it down. Sorry, little green men taking it out are about as likely as a flock of flying penguins taking it out :-). So we shall find out more later, I suppose...

-- Badtux the Flightless Penguin

eGold founders going to jail

The founders of the eGold money transfer service, beloved of cybercriminals everywhere, are going to jail. They made the mistake of staying in Florida rather than fleeing the country and relinquishing their U.S. citizenship.

I am of two minds here. First, it is clear that the eGold service was used by a huge number of criminal enterprises to do really nasty things. The first example above, where it was used for extortion, is typical of many of the criminal uses that their service was put to. On the other hand, it was also a service that preserved privacy to an extent that had to be disconcerting to those within the U.S. government who want to know the contents of every financial transaction everywhere in order to spy on the citizenry looking for signs of dissent against their rule.

This penguin shall go off and meditate on this one for a while...

-- Badtux the Geeky Penguin

John McCain's renewable energy plan

100 years in Iraq, woot!

-- Badtux the Outsnarked Penguin

Monday, July 21, 2008

Oh joy

There is no joy like getting out of bed to go use the restroom, and stepping into a fresh pile of cat puke.

Carry on :-(.

-- Badtux the Dirty-flipper'ed Penguin

B-52 crash off Guam

Bummer. Looks like all six people on board (five crew members and one passenger) are dead.

No info yet on whether this is another case of a B-52 pilot stunting a plane which is deadly when you exceed its operational parameters -- see the case of Czar 52. The B-52 is not an F-16, and if you exceed its flight parameters, it stalls and falls out of the air at an alarming pace.

More info when available :-(.

-- Badtux the Flightless Penguin

Spam title of the week

One thing I've noticed is that the spammers are using interesting titles nowdays to get you to open their spams. Here is the most interesting one I've seen this week:

Nazi toddlers ruin my birthday.

Toddlers going "Heil!" and jackstepping around the birthday cake? Yeah, that could harsh my mellow a bit on my birthday, mon!

-- Badtux the Easily-amused Penguin

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Damn you all to Hell

You're killing the penguins. Global warming has caused rain to replace snow in Antarctica, and penguin chicks cannot survive rain because they have no feathers to shed rain.

This penguin is very sad :-(.

-- Badtux the soon-to-be-lonely Penguin

The sum total of objections to Obama's candidacy

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

You've heard about Bluetooth....

but have you heard about Yellowtooth?


-- Badtux the Easily-Amused Penguin

The shit is hitting the fan....

So the most important thing is whether a particular candidate is "trustworthy" or his haircut or the candidate's wife? Uhm...

We've all seen the stats -- median income has declined by almost $2,500 over the past seven years, we have a zero personal savings rate in America for the first time since the Great Depression, and 5 million people have slipped below the poverty level since the beginning of the decade. And stats aside, most everyone out there knows what the deal is. If you're reading this and you had to drive to work today or pay a credit card bill in the last few weeks you know better than I do for sure how fucked up things have gotten. I hear talk from people out on the campaign trail about mortgages and bankruptcies and bill collectors that are enough to make your ass clench with 100 percent pure panic.
Yeah, like a candidate's wife's hair style is the most important issue facing the nation, huh?
These fantasy elections we've been having -- overblown sports contests with great production values, decided by haircuts and sound bytes and high-tech mudslinging campaigns -- those were sort of fun while they lasted, and were certainly useful in providing jerk-off pundit-dickheads like me with high-paying jobs. But we just can't afford them anymore. We have officially spent and mismanaged our way out of la-la land and back to the ugly place where politics really lives -- a depressingly serious and desperate argument about how to keep large numbers of us from starving and freezing to death. Or losing our homes, or having our cars repossessed.
Well good luck with that one, Matt. When unemployment hits 25% and 25% of Americans are homeless... maybe. Until then, well. Sheep are for fleecing, right?

-- Badtux the Cynical Penguin

Friday, July 18, 2008

To serve and protect...

  • Shreveport, LA Police caught on cell phone camera using racial slurs and foul language while repeatedly tasering and pepper-spraying two members of the cast of the movie "W". Now you know why I left Louisiana. They're still stuck in the 1960's. And yeah, the word "nigger" is still used by many white Louisianians in private amongst themselves, even though they would be aghast at the notion of using it in public where it could offend someone. I can assure you that the powers-that-be in Shreveport are as upset and aghast about this as folks in San Francisco -- but for a different reason (not because they disagree with the sentiments of the cops, but because the cops behaved in a crude and undignified manner).
  • A couple of illiterate hick cops (read the affidavits!) arrest a man for taking their picture. Only problem: Tennessee doesn't have any law prohibiting photography of a police officer, so their affidavit accusing him of "unlawful photography" is about as valid as one accusing him of "sorcery and witchcraft". But hey, law is for the little people.
  • Florida Daytona Beach cop, Lt. Major Garvin, fired for extorting free coffee at Starbucks. No comment. Whatever happened to frequenting the local donut shop, anyhow?!
  • And a sad goodbye to David Woodman, who was given the death penalty by the Boston Police Department for the crime of drinking in public.
-- Badtux the Law and Order Penguin

What a great idea!

I remember another place, another time. The central government wasn’t allocating enough money for fire protection. So private companies formed to sell their services to people who wanted their houses protected in case of fire. The end result: Half the city burned down because the private fire companies went around setting fires in order to pump up demand for their services.

The city, BTW, was Rome. The time was approximately 50BC. The fire companies, owned by rich senators, were responsible for the triumphant reception that the law-breaker Julius Caesar received when he marched his single legion into the city of Rome. After all, the Republican Senators had burned half the city down. A dictator couldn’t be worse than that, right?

Oh, and the senators? They got their necks stretched or turned into pincushions. Of course. So they managed to make a profit by burning down half the city, only to lose their necks. If only our current crop of Republicans could learn lessons from history… instead, apparently they are repeating it. Private fire companies are now helping protect the houses of the rich in California thanks to a lack of public resources for fighting fires. How long until history repeats itself?

-- Badtux the History Penguin

Are you better off than you were eight years ago?

Do you have more money? More freedoms? Better health care? More job security? More hope for the future? Are your children learning more? Are the roads in your state in better shape? Are people from your state dying in fewer numbers fighting useless wars overseas? Etc. etc. etc.?

If so, vote Republican.

If not... well, you know what that commie traitor said way back 28 years ago. If the party in power hasn't done right by you, vote for the other party. It's just that the party in question has flipped nowdays. Hrrm.

-- Badtux the "Some memes are just too good not to steal" Penguin


The Mighty Fang is being mean to Mencken again. He's annoying Mencken by, by, ... grooming him. Note how he is holding Mencken's head down so he can attack Mencken with his Pink Tongue of Mass Grooming. Sadly, I did not catch said Pink Tongue of Mass Grooming in action this time. Oh well!

-- Badtux the Well-groomed Penguin

PS: Looking at this photo, what strikes me most is just how friggin' *big* those two cats are. I mean, that's a normal-sized futon. They make it look small. No wonder they own me and not vice-versa!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

And John McCain is a member



- Badtux the Music Penguin

To: The Guy with the Black Mercedes

License #XXX-XXXX

Sorry about the dent in your front fender. I was helping operations by pushing a cart loaded with outgoing systems out the loading dock door. I pushed the door open a little, then pushed the cart through it as hard as I could to get it over the door jamb, when I heard a "WHAM!" and the cart stopped. I gave the cart a couple of more pushes trying to get it past whatever obstacle was making it not want to go through the door. A couple of "WHAM!" later, I gave up and pulled the cart back in.

When I walked out of the loading dock door, I once again heard a "WHAM!" when I tried to open the door all the way. That is when I saw your black Mercedes. I walked out into the parking lot and let the door close behind me, and turned back and looked at the door and read the sign that was there:


You lose, dude.

-- Badtux the "Some people can't read" Penguin

John McCain "knows how to win wars"

Really? And how did that come about? As far as I can figure, getting shot down then sitting for five years in a Vietnamese prison getting the shit beat out of you teaches you a lot about how much pain you can take, but not much about how to win wars.

BTW, we lost that one. Just a reminder. Heh.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

An ode to a nation that is gone

Once upon a time, there was a can-do nation that could do, like, anything. Its President said that a country which had never flown a man in space, which had no idea what it would take to send a man into space, would send a man to the moon within nine years... and made it happen.

It has been thirty-nine years since Apollo 11 lifted off for the Moon. On July 20, 1969, Neal Armstrong set foot on the moon and made the famous statement, "one small step for man, one giant leap for Mankind".

Thirty-nine years later, the United States no longer has the capability to send a man to the moon. It is not just a lack of desire. The sad thing is that we could not return to the moon today if we wanted to. We no longer have the expertise, the technology, or the industrial base to pull off something that big. Twenty years from now, we’re going to look up at the moon, and watch it twinkle as the first Moon city shines in the dark. And erected over that city will be a red flag with a large gold star and four smaller gold stars.

Sadly, can-do America is can’t-do America nowdays. Can’t provide health care for all its people. Can’t solve the problem of homeless junkies shooting up in public restrooms. Can’t built a replacement for the Space Shuttle before the last Shuttle is junked. Can’t find Osama bin Laden. Can’t solve the problem of people’s jobs getting exported overseas. Can’t. Can’t. Can’t. It’s damned depressing, to tell you the truth, to live in a country that’s so obviously over the hill. About the only thing the United States can do nowdays is build military hardware, but even that capability is decaying… the United States, for example, could not build a new M1A2 tank today even if it wanted to. The industrial capacity isn’t there anymore. The gas turbine engine used in the M1 isn’t made anymore. The tooling for the rest of the tank was sold to Egypt. Etc. We’re living on stored Cold War gear, and that gear is going to run out sooner or later, and then what?

Now preparing to greet our new Chinese overlords...
- Badtux the Depressed Penguin

A reminder about Mr. Flip-flop

McCain argues that flip-flops are an example of a political leader who can't be trusted -- so he might as well drop out of the race. Because here is a list of 61 John McCain flip-flops -- some of which are large ones indeed.

Now, personally, I'm okay with the notion of a leader changing his opinion over time. A leader ought to change his opinions to match the facts, not stay steadfast like the captain of the Titanic and insist that reality isn't, well, reality. That way gets us George W. Bush and five years of "we're winning in Iraq! Stay the course!". Folks who get upset when a leader changes his mind after getting new facts on a matter are folks who are just plain insular and rigid and ideological. The problem for me is that John McCain's policy flip-flops have pretty much gone the opposite way -- away from reality, and towards the delusional. But anyhow, John McCain made the flip-flop argument, so it's fair to hoist him on his own petard, this penguin does think!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

How to piss off a songwriter

Steal the title of one of his songs to say exactly the opposite of the songwriter's message. That pisses off a songwriter *big time*.

OUCH, look at the email at The Republican Song site!

Update: Now, A VIDEO. Heh!

-- Badtux the Unamused Songwritin' Penguin

One parody deserves another

David Horsey takes on both the New Yorker cover and the loonie lefties throwing conniption fits over it (and the tighty righties who think it's true):

Bwhahah! This penguin loves the snark, yes he does. Why, it smells like... herring! URP!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Yet another reminder...

The problems at Fannie/Freddie are not caused by government regulation. Indeed, without government regulation, their problems would have been much, much worse. Even their sub-prime loans are "good" loans for the most part, their federal charters prohibited them from issuing the sorts of loans that got folks like Countrywide into trouble. Rather, their problems are because of a) the economy going sour and lots of people losing their jobs and thus their homes, and b) the housing market going sour and thus they can't resale those homes to make up their losses.

By law, Fannie/Freddie are exposed only to 80% of the equity position on a home. The problem is that housing prices have declined by more than 20% -- thus wiping out the 20% of equity that they could make up by foreclosing on the home and selling it to pay off the mortgage debt. There's nothing that Fannie/Freddie can do about that. A 20% drop in housing prices is not something they have control over, and indeed is one of the biggest drops to happen in a long, long time, at least on a nationwide scale (there was a similar drop in the Oil Patch when the Oil Boom of the late 70's turned into the Oil Bust of the late 80's, but that was restricted to a relatively small geographical area).

So for those who say "they should just be allowed to go bust because it's their own fault", err, no, it's not their own fault -- thanks to government regulation, they're not exposed to the sort of toxic sub-prime loans that took out Countrywide, Indy Mac, and others. The problem is that the *prime* (and "near-prime") markets are going sour too, due to hard economic times and declining housing values. If we wipe out all liquidity in the mortgage market by folding Fannie and Freddie, we end up back in the situation of 1932 -- no money in the economy, no way to buy homes, people living on the streets or in their cars or in "Hooverville" tent cities... we simply need the liquidity these guys provide, and while they should certainly be well-regulated (and I applaud the new regulations announced today that make explicit what their charters already laid out), the answer to their problems is not, and cannot, be to "fold them"... they're as necessary today as when FDR created Fannie Mae back in 1937.

-- Badtux the Liquidity Penguin

Monday, July 14, 2008

Washing away

I just spent a couple of hours looking at satellite pictures of what used to be Terrebonne Parish in Louisiana. I remember... but it's all water now. All the land except narrow strips, all the land I remember south of Houma. It's all water now. The land... it's just gone.

But the music remains. For a while, anyhow.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

The problem with arrogant computer geeks

Is that they make lousy husbands, and even lousier murderers.

I'd suspected that Hans Reiser's wife was back in Russia laughing at us, but turns out he really did off her. Sigh. Human nature strikes again.

-- Badtux the Geeky (and single) Penguin

Google: Be evil

Google has a problem with their corporate-provided child care center: it doesn't have enough room for all the Google employees who'd like to have their children at the center. Google's solution? Well, the "Don't Be Evil" solution would have been to expand their child care center. But now that Google has a new corporate motto (rather than "Don't Be Evil"), they decided on another solution: Raise the rates so that only top executives of Google can afford to have their children in the Google child care center.

Google. Their new corporate logo is, "Be evil." Alrighty, then!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Zen and the art of motorcycle detonation

So how's that Afghan war going, anyhow? Hmm... motorcycle suicide bomber detonates, kills four and injures many. U.S. outpost overrun, nine U.S. soldiers dead. Teenager wearing suicide vest detonates it, kills two soldiers and wounds several civilians. And so on and so forth.

Yessiree, sounds like victory is in sight alright -- for the Taliban. But never fear, because the tighty righties are quick to tell us the real story -- which is that the Taliban can't keep taking those sorts of losses and remain a viable fighting force.

Funny, I think I heard that before. Where a general was saying that the attacks upon his forces could not be sustained by the Afghan insurgents. Thing is, that was in 1986, and the general in question was a Soviet general. Sigh. George W. Bush not only wasn't happy until he gave us his very own personal Vietnam in Iraq... but then he had to give us the Soviet version of Vietnam too at the very same time. Wow, double-decker disaster dude, isn't he?

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Is Obama running to the right?

My answer: I call bullshit. Obama hasn't changed. His policy proposals have always been right-centrist, about making incremental changes rather than blowing up the system and starting over again. All that has happened is that the news "reporters" have started reporting on his policy proposals, policy proposals that have been the same since at least the beginning of the year, and suddenly liberals are saying "hold it, that's almost a right-wing position!"

For example, look at his health care proposal. It's been the same since the end of last year. It looks a helluva lot like the Republican bail-out of Bear-Stearns and Fannie-Freddie, which is all about privatizing the profits and socializing the risks. In Obama's proposal, insurance companies are required to write insurance even for pre-existing conditions. But, the government will come in and bail out the insurers by re-insuring the riskiest policies, the ones for people who have pre-existing conditions or who are suffering from catastrophically expensive illnesses. Privatize the profit, socialize the risk. Might as well be out of the goddamn Republican playbook. And this has been Obama's health care plan since, like, the beginning.

Obama is who he has always been -- a right-centerist pragmatist. There ain't a damned thing that's changed about him, and Obamabots and other liberals who are getting all huffy and upset about his supposed "flip-flops" need to take the blinders off their eyes and look around and see what's been there all along. That's Obama, folks. He ain't the Second Coming of Eugene Debs, and never has been. He is who he is and always has been, for better or for worse. And compared to John McCain, that's a whole lot better, for reasons I've explained elsewhere. But Eugene Debs he ain't -- and never has been.

-- Badtux the Practical Penguin

Who will drive 55?

Answer: People will drive 55mph only if it is in their financial best-interests to do that. Otherwise, they'll continue to drive whatever speed they're driving.

Look, we've been through this before, folks. 55mph didn't work the first time -- people just ignored it, other than to make the creators of radar detectors rich and create an entire movie industry around truckers using CB radios to pinpoint where cops were running radar traps. There's a saying in the military that they teach to fresh NCO's and junior officers, "never give an order that you know will be ignored." It just makes you look stupid. Same deal with laws. If you pass a law that you know will be ignored by the majority of people, it makes you look even more stupid, as well as undemocratic -- such a law, by definition, by ignoring the will of the majority of the people, makes the place look like some kinda Commie hellhole rather than a free nation. Hmm...

Anywho... folks will drive 55mph when the gas they save costs more than the time they save from driving faster. Right now, we're not there yet. Maybe when gas is $10 a gallon, we will be. That's just how it works in the real world, rather than in the fantasy land of lawmakers who think passing a law is the end of the job. A law which cannot be enforced is a law that is useless, and our lawmakers should feel ashamed of themselves for even proposing such nonsense.

-- Badtux the Law Penguin

Tool talk over at Mototux

Part two of my adventure wiring my bike for new accessories, wherein I lay out the tools and supplies I'm going to use and explain their function. Yeah, it's a bit of tool overload. But you'll see them all in action when Part Three comes around...

-- Badtux the Wrenchin' Penguin

Say goodbye to the dollar...

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac between them account for approximately 50% of the outstanding mortgages in the United States. Most of these mortgages are not the "sub-prime" mortgages that have been in melt-down for the past few years -- Fannie and Freddie didn't even get into that business until recently, and only 5% of their outstanding mortgages are subprime. Rather, the problem is that their prime mortgages are now melting down as the housing market plummets, to the point where it seems unlikely that they can continue to perform their task of purchasing and securitizing loans because, well, they just won't have the money to do so.

And at that point, the whole housing market goes into complete meltdown, because the only way you could buy a home would be to pay cash. Which means that the average home would be 10% of its current cost. Goodbye to your retirement if you hoped to sell your home and move out to the desert to retire on the proceeds, 'cause there ain't going to be any proceeds! But more importantly, all that money represented by the equity in people's homes just vanishes. Trillions of dollars. Vanished off the books. The galloping deflation end economic collapse that results would end up making the Great Depression look more like the "sorta big-ish Depression".

So what to do? Well, it's crank up the printin' presses time. And believe me, that's exactly what they're doing. They're guaranteeing to make up any losses on the loans in order to keep mortgage lending going, because if you collapse mortgage lending, you collapse much of the money supply. But to do this they're having to crank up the printing presses and create more money out of thin air. The result is going to be stagflation -- prices going up, but the economy sputtering. We've been here before -- remember the late 1970's? But we're out of good options thanks to the Bush Administration hiding its head in the sand for way too long until the only options left are bad, and even worse. Thank you, George W. Bush. Thanks for nothing.

-- Badtux the Economics Penguin

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A bit of a fixer-upper, hmmm

This real estate agent was asked by the bank to look at this property and figure out what it should be listed at. He has a new policy now of videotaping everything so his buyers don't have to head out to the place to see what it's like, saves everybody time, money, and gas. So let's see what his reaction is when he sees *this* home, heh!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Over at Moto-Tux...

I talk about elves. Sorta. And motorcycle wiring. What do elves have to do with motorcycle wiring? Hmm...

-- Badtux the Electrifying Penguin

Bigamist for President?

John McCain got a marriage license to marry his mistress before he bothered divorcing his first wife.

I wonder if he'd even told his first wife at the time that he was divorcing her and marrying his mistress, who was sixteen years younger than him?

-- Badtux the "Hey, family values folks, where's the outrage?" Penguin

He will not be listed

Army Spc. Joseph Patrick Dwyer dies of wounds from Iraq, five years after his service there.

There is an "official" list of those soldiers who have died as a result of the Iraq war. Then there are the thousands like Army Spc. Joseph Patric Dwyer who shall never be acknowledged as casualties of Dear Leader's war to make Iraq safe for... what? A democratically-elected President who spent Saddam Hussein's regime as a guest of the Iranians? Oil concessions for Big Oil? For what? I don't know, and nobody has ever been able to give me any reason that made sense. Is profit for Vice President Halliburton's company it? Is that all? I don't know. All I know is that too many have died, and so many of them, especially those whose injury was mental rather than physical, will never be listed on whatever monument of ignominy is ever set up for the veterans of the Iraq war.

-- Badtux the Memorial Penguin

Friday, July 11, 2008

Emmylou Harris - Pancho and Lefty


You was wrong, Gordon. This ain't a great song sung by a great singer. This is a great song written by a great songwriter sung by a great singer. So there!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin
And Gordon knows what I'm talkin' about, you betcha :-).

McCain gets chilly reception in Detroit

After his chief economic advisor called the U.S. "a nation of whiners" and said the only recession was a "mental recession", John McCain got a chilly reception from a hand-picked audience of Republicans in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan. He spluttered and stuttered trying to convince these Republicans that he wasn't the kind of "let them eat cake!" person that Gramm's statements imply, but apparently they were not convinced. The WaPost reports that the audience was "grim" and "sat in stony silence".

It couldn't happen to a better madman. Heh.

-- Badtux the Politics Penguin


The Mighty Fang catches up on his sleep, as is true for 21 hours of the day.

-- Badtux the Sleepy Penguin

Fannie and Freddie on the ropes

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may no longer be able to guarantee loans shortly.

Turns out that the housing bust has hit even "prime" mortgages. People are walking away from their homes, and Fannie/Freddie, as the owners of those loan, are taking the hit. They guaranteed a certain rate of return to the investors who bought the bundled mortgages from them, and aren't getting the cash flow in to pay that rate of return out. The doomsday scenario, shortly to arrive, is when they're no longer capable of paying the full amount to the investors who bought the "mortgage-backed securities". At that point they will be in default, and effectively bankrupt.

Now, the question is this: What do we do about it? There's a couple of scenarios. First, there's the Takeover scenario. In this case, the U.S. Treasury takes on the job of paying off the losses. Of course, the U.S. Treasury has no money -- the U.S. is trillions of dollars in debt already, and this would add another trillion dollars in debt -- but at least this prevents the sudden disappearance of a trillion dollars out of the economy, a staggering deflation that would create a deflationary spiral that would make 1929-1933 look like child's play. In this scenario the U.S. Treasury basically is printing the money that disappeared (i.e., issuing T-bills that are then "bought" by the Federal Reserve in exchange for freshly-printed cash), leading to no major net change in the money supply.

The next scenario: Let them collapse. This basically cuts off mortgage lending other than FHA loans. Housing prices slowly at first, then faster and faster, plummet to the amount of lending available (i.e., the FHA loan limits). People lose all the equity they had in their homes and can no longer use it as backing for loans or sell their homes to extract the equity, decreasing the effective money supply. Furthermore, the investors lose a trillion dollars of value for their mortgage-backed securities, getting back maybe 40c on the dollar. To counteract that much money evaporating out of the economy, the Federal Reserve would have to crank up the printing presses overtime, and there's just not much of a mechanism for getting that money into people's hands in this scenario to re-inflate the money supply.

The final scenario would be that rather than a bail-out, the U.S. Treasury take on the job of mortgage lending and send Fannie and Freddie to their graves. The job of securitizing mortgage loans then falls to Ginnie Mae through a takeover of the assets and liabilities of Freddie and Fannie and a vastly-expanded FHA loan program. The FHA loan program has traditionally been reserved for inexpensive "starter" homes. Loans are originated by banks or other approved brokers, and must follow a fairly stringent credentialling process to make sure that the home being purchased is in fact in livable shape and that the person borrowing for the home has the ability to repay the loan. FHA loans haven't done anything "imaginative" or "creative", they just keep plugging away and the default rate is fairly low on them compared to other forms of "sub-prime" loans aimed at first-time buyers of "starter" homes. Expanding this program would bring stability to the housing market and avoid staggering deflation, at the expense of making Fannie/Freddie stockholders VERY upset.

Personally, I think the Fannie/Freddie stockholders ought to just take their lumps anyhow, so I'm not personally interested in any solution that protects them. These stockholders were all too ready to allow Fannie/Freddie take on far too many questionable loans as long as they got their guaranteed dividend checks every quarter. These stockholders allowed the management of Fannie/Freddie to lead extravagant lifestyles and build extravagant offices and exercise lax lending oversight as long as the stockholders got their dividend checks every quarter. Fuck the stockholders, in other words. And frankly, I'm not so eager to protect the morons who bought those mortgage-backed securities either, they had to know that the housing bubble that backed those securities was going to get punctured sooner or later and with it would go the value of the mortgages underlying those securities. But unfortunately a bailout is the simplest way to avoid a 1929-1932 style deflationary spiral, so we have to bail out someone. Given that the stockholders have already lost all their value as Fannie/Freddie stocks have collapsed... (shrug). Let them eat cake? But we simply can't do that for the buyers of these mortgage-backed securities. A trillion dollars vaporizing out of the economy... (shudder). Talk about making the Great Depression look more like the Somewhat Large Depression, gah!

-- Badtux the Economy Penguin

Friday Netflix blogging

Today's Netflix: The Horse Whisperer. This was a 1998 critical flop but commercial success directed by and starring Robert Redford as a rugged rancher type who manages to deal with problem horses by, apparently, staring at them until they get the idea. Or something of the sort. There apparently were some real-life training methods that were described in detail in the original book that the movie is based on, but of course that all got mangled for the movie due to the limitations of movie-making. Movies just aren't set up to depict multi-page treatises on horse training, apparently.

Now, the basic problem is that there is no -- zero -- chemistry between Robert Redford and his supposed love interest in this film, Kristin Scott Thomas. The psychotic horse that is the plot device used to push Redford and Thomas together has more chemistry with Redford than Thomas does, and Redford and the horse are mostly just staring at each other. Thomas excels when she's portraying a driven pushy micromanaging mother who's not quite as firm and decisive as she likes to pretend, but the 30 minutes or so of the film where she and Redford are mooning over each other are just a total waste of time. And by waste of time, I mean a *lot* of time -- this movie drags out for over two freakin' hours of wasted time.

So why do I give this film three herrings out of five? Mostly because of the performances of Thomas when not rote-acting her way through mooning over Redford, and, especially, the performance of a very young Scarlett Johansson as Grace, who portrays very well the anger, bitterness, insecurities and fears of a young teenage girl whose leg was lost in the same accident that somehow caused the horse to become psychotic. Johansson's character was driven by her perfectionist mother to herself seek perfection. Now suddenly she is very imperfect indeed in a very fundamental way and has to somehow deal with that. Tom Booker (Redford)'s interactions with Grace show an understanding of adolescent psychology that, as a former high school teacher, I "get" instinctively. There is a simple but effective chemistry between them as Redford's character slowly teases Grace out of her funk. If the 30 minutes devoted to sappy Kristin/Robert staring longingly at each other were chopped out and more attention paid to this sub-plot then this movie would have been a great horse/kid/family movie of tragedy, recovery, and redemption. As is, it's merely an overly-long decent movie flawed by over-indulgent directing by its formerly hunky but now just plain old star.

-- Badtux the Movie Penguin

Thursday, July 10, 2008

"Let them eat cake"

Declining value of your house got ya down? Got a foreclosure notice? A layoff notice? Have to go to the food pantry to make ends meet every month? Can't get health insurance because of a pre-existing condition, or bankrupted by a lengthy illness? Well, Phil Gramm, John McInsane's equally insane economic advisor, has a word for you: Quit whining. It's all in your head, Dr. Phil says from the security of his $500,000 a year consultancy.

I swear, all Republican pronouncements on the economy need to be accompanied by that warning sign to the right. Because they're all predicated on sticking your head in the sand and ignoring the clear reality that too many everyday Americans are living. In the end, they all boil down to, "Let them eat cake". The rich are doing well, after all. The little people? Well, who cares about the little people? I swear, their favorite toy growing up must have been the Marie Antoinette Barbie...

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Karl Rove and the Constitution

"What, you Congressmen want to talk to me and the Constitution says you have the power to do so? Fuck the Constitution!"

Karl Rove will testify over his dead body. No joke. The Emperor's stewards sneer at that "Congressional subpoena" thing. Remember, if the Emperor does it, it's not illegal.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Love song for New Orleans


This evening's Netflix was A Love Song for Bobby Long. The plot and such were pretty thin, and John Travolta chewed up the scenery as his trademarked charming villainous rascal while Scarlett Johansson did an okay job but that's all you can say about it, but it was an affecting movie for me anyhow mostly because of one of the uncredited stars of the movie: New Orleans and its musical culture, destroyed in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina.

I watch Travolta, then Scarlett Johansson, walk past places I knew, places I've seen, and realize that they're no longer there, not in any meaningful way. The musical culture depicted in the movie... it's not there anymore. Destroyed. All gone. Nothing left but a Disneyfied New Orleans, purged of what made it one of the great cultural cities of the United States, and one that is still surrounded by rotten levees patched with sand that will break when the next moderate-sized hurricane hits.

Anyhow, the song above is by Grayson Capps, a New Orleans musician. It's not one of his best songs, go to Youtube and search for his name for better songs, his music is what New Orleans was, a mixture of blues and jazz and rock and roll all mixed up into one spicy gumbo. But this particular song is a lament that still is not being heard. A great American city was destroyed by neglect and incompetence, and what little rebuilding has been done by locals with whatever scrap they could scrape together. There is a trillion dollars to bring "democracy" to Iraqis, but not a dime to bring safe levees to New Orleans. And nobody seems to care, or give a damn, or see a thing.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Reminder: Don't talk to cops

A lawyer tells you why. Even if you're innocent as the driven snow, a) it can't help, and b) anything you say can and *will* be used against you, even if it has to be taken woefully out of context to do so. Follow the advice there. Martha Stewart didn't, and she went to jail. In prison state USA, if it is anything other than a routine traffic stop, figure that the cop wants you in jail -- and 99% of the time, he'll get you there. That's NINETY-NINE PERCENT. Innocent or no, it doesn't matter. As a police officer explains in one of those videos, you have two strikes against you just showing up in court -- you have a police officer testifying against you, and you are sitting there in court in the first place. Add a third strike with something you say, no matter how innocuous it seems in context, and you're going to jail. That's just how it works in Prison State USA, the nation which imprisons the largest percentage of its population of any nation on the face of the planet.

-- Badtux the Legal Penguin

Want some torture with your peanuts?

It takes a lot to make this penguin speechless. But the Department of State Security (abbreviated "S S") has done so with their proposal to make all fliers wear torture devices upon their wrists. Because, apparently, if you haven't done anything wrong, there's nothing wrong with having an electronic tracking and torture device on your wrist.

But before we do that, I have a modest proposal. Let's make it mandatory that all Americans wear these whenever they're out in public. Because, after all, if you haven't done anything wrong, why would you be upset that the Department of Fatherland Security can track your every move and can submit you to excruciating pain whenever you are not immediately obedient to any S.S. trooper's orders? I mean, if you haven't done anything wrong, why not?

America. Land of the Free. For some definition of "free" I'm not aware of (maybe Josef Stalin's definition, huh?).

-- Badtux the Unsnarky Penguin

Obama the scary nigger

All the tighty rightie dismissals of Obama's "judgement", of Obama's "unpredictability", "trustworthiness", and so forth, all boil down to one phrase: "Obama is a scary nigger!". That's it.

Now, there's lots of reasons why *not* to vote for John McCain -- he's old, he's senile, he's crazy, he's been a rubber-stamp for the failed policies of the Bush Administration and there's no reason to think he's going to do anything other than continue those same failed policies that have led to disaster in Iraq and disaster for the domestic economy -- but anywho. Let's now talk about something else: Why to vote for Obama.

Okay, here we go....

  1. Obama is smart. He's got a law degree, has a smart wife, has run for the most part a smart campaign (though I'm starting to get worried that he's listening to John Kerry's advisors now regarding how to respond to Rethuglican scare campaigns). You listen to him talk about real problems, it's clear that Obama knows his stuff -- he's not just talking in lame talking points and such, he's got his shit together.
  2. Obama has been right on every major issue to come up over the past eight years. He was right on Iraq. He was right about the aftermath of attacking Iraq. He was right about the Bush tax cuts to the wealthy being a fiscal disaster. He is right on the need to improve healthcare. He is right about the current state of race relations in the United States, and right about the need for a major alternative energy program. John McCain, of course, has been wrong on all those issues.
  3. Obama knows about the world. Obama doesn't get mixed up on Sunni vs. Shia. Obama knows who is in charge in Iran (hint: It's Supreme Leader Khamenei, not President Ahmadinejad, who is little more than the mayor of Tehran and has the power to issue parking tickets, maybe... what is it about the phrase "Supreme Leader" that is so confusing to tighty righties and John McInsane?).
  4. Obama is dignified. Obama doesn't give unwanted back rubs to foreign leaders or treat them with undignified jocularity. Obama doesn't behave in humiliating ways that make America look like it's ruled by morons and idiots.
  5. Obama understands the proper use of force -- as a response to attacks against America, not as a substitute for diplomacy and sanctions. As he said prior to the start of the attack on Iraq, "I am not against all war. I am against dumb wars. And this war [Iraq] is a dumb war." He was right in supporting invading Afghanistan to take out Osama bin Forgotten, and right on opposing invading a nation (Iraq) which was no threat to America and had no potential to be a threat to America for many years.
  6. Obama doesn't want our troops to be in Iraq for 100 years. 'Nuff said :-).
No, Obama is not the second coming of Jesus Christ. That's this guy, who is riding a 500 pound motorcycle in deep sand and there isn't even any damage to his plastics! Obama is, in the end, a politician, with all the limitations that this implies -- i.e., that his first allegiance is to his political goals, not to any specific agenda that progressives might like him to swear allegiance to. But compared to the other guy, whose sole case to vote for him devolves to "I was a POW! And I'll continue the Bush economic and foreign policies! And I'm 90 years old so I got lots of experience!"... well, there's no comparison, really, y'know?

-- Badtux the Politics Penguin

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

A poison on the Internet

Domain Name System is busted. DNS is what takes a name like "" and turns it into a numeric address that can look up the actual computer that corresponds to that name (since computers only understand numbers, not names).

Sigh. Not surprised at all. This is another protocol, like Telnet protocol, that originated in the days back when all Internet sites on the planet Earth could be counted on you and your best friends' fingers and toes and were run by defense contractors or universities with defense contracts. ISCC, the makers of BIND (which is the DNS server used by most Linux and Unix vendors and by MacOS) claim that the problem is inherent in the DNS protocol and cannot be fixed.

So in other words, when you go to there's no way of knowing that you're really going to You could be going to someone else's malicious site that then hijacks your computer and sends you to a dozen porno sites promising photos of Hillary Swank and Scarlett Johansson nude. If you click on this blog and that's what happens to you, you know that's what happened. After all, penguins have no interest in pictures of nude monkeys...

-- Badtux the Internet Penguin

Monday, July 07, 2008

Iraqi Prime Minister basically sez, "Yankee, go home"

Maliki says "Mission Accomplished", congratulates his own troops for defeating terrorism in Iraq -- and omits any mention of the U.S. Army.

I think Maliki wants us gone, and that's why he didn't mention the U.S. Army. Recent talk about a timetable for withdrawal tends to reflect that. Now that the Iraqi army has been purged of its Sunnis (other than the Kurds) and has basically become the Badr Brigade militia, and now that the police forces have increasingly become an arm of Maliki's militia, it may be that he feels he has enough boots on the ground to at least fight to a draw with Sadr's forces. Maliki is receiving substantial Iranian help, and it may be that he's decided it's time to throw in with the Iranians 100% and send the U.S. packing before the U.S. takes on his biggest backer, otherwise he has a big ole' target on his own behind when the U.S. bombs Iran.

Oh, if that scenario plays out, expect that Maliki will be calling on the Iranians for the logistical and air support currently provided by the Americans... and the Iranians will be happy to oblige, as well as happy to oblige with weapons and training (but not military forces, the Farsi-speaking Iranians would be as out of their depth policing in Iraq as the U.S. forces are). Maliki obviously thinks he now has enough boots to not need any more boots. If he has enough boots, then all he needs is the logistics, training, and air support -- and Iran can provide those as easily as the United States can.

-- Badtux the Geopolitics Penguin


The coppers cracked the case quickly when a frantic homeowner called about a UFO hovering over her yard...

No, not Mississippi. South Wales. Same difference, I guess.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Like the crack of doom

Like the crack of doom, $4.99 gas in Santa Barbara underneath the doomsday sky of the GAP Fire.

-- Badtux the Photo Penguin

How to lie with statistics

Tighty righties are always saying, "the economy is doing fine! Unemployment is low! People are making more money than ever! U S A! U S A! WOOT!". So what's the real story?

Answer: SNAFU (Situation Normal, All F*cked Up). According to the Feds, the economy has lost 500,000 jobs over the past six months. According to the Feds, the economy needs to add 100,000 jobs every month to account for population growth. (See: News stories in every major newspaper after the Feds released June's employment figures). Ergo: There are 1.1 million more unemployed Americans today than there were in January.

Question: Where are they?

Answer: They've been "disappeared" as "no longer in workforce". You can verify this with labor force participation statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). For example, here's June's numbers straight from the BLS web site:

Change in Unemployment Level: +12,000 in Jun 2008
Change in Employment Level: -155,000 in Jun 2008
Change in Civilian Labor Force Level: -144,000 in Jun 2008

Only 12,000 of the newly-unemployed workers in June were considered "unemployed" and counted in the unemployment statistics. 144,000 unemployed people were "disappeared" as "no longer in workforce", and the BLS isn't even shy about it, knowing that the average American, even if he notices this, will merely scratch his head rather than realize that this is a systematic scam to produce false unemployment numbers (an old scam, BTW -- Clinton's BLS did it too, during Clinton's "full employment" I saw plenty of people looking for work who weren't being counted as "unemployed", I was working for a small computer shop at the time and we were always having people knocking on our door looking for work even though we supposedly had "full employment"). This trend continues on backward if you look at previous BLS news releases -- most of the newly unemployed have been counted as "no longer in workforce" rather than, well, unemployed. They aren't employed. They aren't unemployed. They just aren't.

Regarding income growth, real inflation-adjusted wages have declined by approximately 7% since the 1970's. The inflation-adjusted median wage for an American male was $45,000 in 1977, and $41,500 in 2004 (note: statistics from U.S. Census Bureau, 2004, latest I found at the time I was compiling them).

However, median family income has increased to $48000 over that time. How did that happen? More women working, duh. But there are no more women to add to the workforce, thus the declining median wage is hitting all families now, not just single-parent families.

In short: Statistics show that the economy is FUBAR. The only reason the unemployment statistics aren't showing 15%+ unemployment is because hundreds of thousands of Americans are being classified as not employed, not unemployed, just... not. No people, no problem. Stalin was an amateur compared to our current government statisticians, who don't need a gulag to disappear people, why, they do it with the stroke of a pen every day!

We're still nowhere near Great Depression levels of poverty and unemployment, and hopefully our new President in November will do something to encourage employers to start employing more Americans that'll keep us out of that, sorta like the Canadians do (they give massive tax credits to people creating new qualifying jobs up there, to the point where if you open a factory in Canada, your entire workforce is basically "free" for the first three years -- one reason why so many auto assembly plants have moved north of the border). Unfortunately, until the outrageous health care costs in the U.S. are dealt with, it's still going to be hard to encourage manufacturing jobs to come back to the United States... and every solution proposed to cure outrageous health care costs in the U.S. are derided and called "socialism" by folks who have no idea what "socialism" is, but who know it's bad, whatever it is. Sigh. Ignorance. The world's #1 renewable resource.

-- Badtux the Economics Penguin

Sunday, July 06, 2008

A journey

Over at MotoTux.

-- Badtux the Motorcyclin' Penguin

Giant hairball

Something hacked up a giant hairball on my futon.

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin
Yes, that blasted box is *still* on my futon... every time I go to throw it away, I discover it's occupied!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Caturday shiny box photo

I spent most of the day riding my motorcycle. So here is a shiny cat in a box to keep you company.

-- Badtux the Shiny-cat-owned Penguin

Friday, July 04, 2008

Does this luggage make me look fat?

Over at MotoTux, I consider the next stage of the Blackbird recon motorcycle project, which is going to get, uhm, electrifying. Ick.

-- Badtux the Wrenchin' Penguin

The powerlessness of the American people

One third of the Colonial population supported secession from Great Britain in 1776. One third.

Ponder that for a few minutes. Ponder how a minority -- perhaps 33% of the population -- not only won their freedom in a war of secession where they were pitted against the world's greatest superpower of the day, but also brought the 66% of their peers who did not agree with secession from Great Britain along with them for the ride.

Never say that a minority of Americans can have no power to change the course of human events. Especially not on July 4.

But of course, it is much easier and simpler to believe we are powerless and that resistance is futile (as the Borg would put it). It excuses us in our complacency, in our fear, it excuses us from standing up for principles and excuses us from acting upon what we think. So we believe. We believe that we are the best, that we are number one, that there is no reason to change. Or we believe that change is impossible, that change simply cannot be done, that we are powerless and that resistance is futile. Irregardless, we believe. And having believed, we act as if it were true.

If our forefathers had thought the same way in 1776, our national anthem would be "God Save The Queen". So it goes. So it goes. But that, of course, was the problem in 1776. Britain did not buy us. Today... ah yes. We are bought, indeed. And I include myself in that number.

-- Badtux the Bought Penguin

Go away

Mencken, having kicked The Mighty Fang out of the box that the skid plate came in, is not amused by some odd bird flashing a bright light in his direction.

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The consent of the people

I am tired of hearing liberals say "I am not responsible for the actions of my country's government." Because, in the end, for the vast majority, it is simply not true.

No government survives without the consent of the people. Even Saddam Hussein's government survived only because he had bribed, threatened, or cajole'ed the consent of most of his people. To blame the actions of the United States only on "the government" and completely ignore the people that complacently and compliantly enable "the government" to perform those actions is completely illogical and ridiculous. If you pay taxes, if you add to the national economy, if you do anything that allows the U.S. government to pay its bills or function, you are implicitly supporting the actions of the U.S. government regardless of your objections. But, you say, "I'd go to jail if I did not pay taxes! I'd starve to death if I did not participate in the economy!". Same complaints that the residents of Iraq had when you pointed out that it was their own actions that enabled the rule of Saddam Hussein.

Case in point: The collapse of the Soviet Union. At the end, everybody stood around and said to themselves, "why should we work for and pay the Soviet government? Let us all go our own way." And the Soviet Union ceased to exist simply because everybody decided it no longer had any reason to exist and did not pay taxes to it, would not work for it, and utterly ignored its whims and dictates. Gorbachev was rattling around in an empty palace for weeks looking for someone to take his orders before he finally admitted that the Soviet Union was dead and called Boris Yeltsin to formally offer his resignation as Premier and arrange for the divvying up of the State assets.

But of course we are too complacent, too insecure in our beliefs, too bought to do that here in the United States, and I count myself in that number. I do, after all, have multiple motorcycles and many other nice toys. I have been bought big-time. And so yes, I do bear responsibility for the actions of my government, regardless of whether I agree with those actions or not. This government has bought my consent with money, with intimidation, with any number of mechanisms where I willingly pay my taxes and participate in the national economy that allows this government to perform the actions that it performs. We are none of us innocent, except perhaps the children, or the shambling bums underneath the freeway underpasses with their caps held out for alms from passing motorists as they talk to their invisible friends. That is the sad truth that the "it's not my fault" brigade ignores when they object to a bad thing that the U.S. government has done. It is your fault. And my fault. And everybody's fault. Because we have the power to do to the United States what was done to the Soviet Union, and do not do so. Because, well... we're too bought. Too comfortable. Too complacent. And, dare I say... too scared?

-- Badtux the Bought Penguin