Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Oops, my bad!

I've been neglecting my updates on Moto-Tux... so here's a long update on what's up with wrenching my Jeep. Remember, I sold all my motorcycles :(.

-- Badtux the Wrenching Penguin

Thought for the day

Elections have consequences. Just so happens the consequence of this election is for whitey to go absolutely ape-shit. H/T

-- Badtux the Snark-appreciatin' Penguin

Fierce kitteh

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

So *that* is why I can't find my mouse!

In other news, just read the ingredients list on a package of Bigelow tea. "natural lemon flavor (soy lecithin)" -- WTF? When did soybean plants start growing lemons?!

-- Badtux the Astounded Penguin

Why a public option keeps private enterprise honest

Here in Santa Clara back at the end of the 1990's we had a problem: when 911 called for an ambulance, response times were often 15 to 20 minutes or longer from the private ambulance company that served the area under contract with the county. That was completely unacceptable. After some public discussion, the Mayor and City Council came to a decision: The City of Santa Clara would get into the ambulance business.

Which they did. The city bought three ambulances, and placed them at three fire stations, one at the north, south, and middle of the city. Several firefighters at those stations were already trained paramedics because each fire engine requires a trained paramedic to be on board as a first responder, so they simply expanded the Fire Department by a few more paramedics to provide additional staffing for the ambulances. The county was then informed that if their contracted ambulance service did not arrive in time to transport a patient to the nearest trauma center in the event that the Fire Department responded to an emergency call and determined that a patient needed transport, the Fire Department would transport the patient instead.

Faced with that competition from the public option, the private ambulance company, which had previously been fat and happy with its monopoly ("we're the only ambulance company, so if you don't like how fast we respond, up yours!") and which had insisted that it couldn't respond any faster because it was unable to hire sufficient paramedics to staff more ambulances due to a nation-wide shortage of paramedics, suddenly discovered it could find sufficient paramedics after all. It swiftly rushed more ambulances into service to be able to respond faster than the Fire Department could respond. As a result, the Fire Department's ambulances average one (1) use per year.

The point, the point... even a public option that is little-used is enough to keep the private providers honest and providing good service. Which is why the news that Senator Max Baucus, D-Bribed, has killed the public option in the Senate is lousy news indeed, because without a public option, there is simply no way to keep the private insurance oligopolies honest. Regulation, you say? But AMR was regulated in Santa Clara County. But they made more money if they short-staffed, so they short-staffed -- the fines for slow response were less than the costs of adequately staffing their ambulances, so they did what made them more profit, and f*** the patient. The only way to keep an oligopoly honest is to provide a competitor for it, and this competitor has to be a public competitor because the oligopoly, having the advantages of scale, could run any smaller private competitor out of the market the way Wal-mart drives small local businesses bankrupt when Wal-Mart enters a small town. If you have 75% of the market and 75% of the doctors locked up under contract to you, that's an advantage that no private competitor is ever going to be able to deal with before running out of money.

So what's the Baucus plan? Apparently, to force all of us to subsidize private insurers at gunpoint, with no options if private insurers fail to provide the contracted care. It is to laugh, especially since there are not the votes in the House to pass a bill without a public option. We can hope that the conference committee will put the public option back in -- we know the House won't pass the bill without it, after all -- and bills out of conference are not subject to debate or filibuster, they get a simple up or down vote. If somehow that doesn't happen, the only "reform" that will come out of Congress this year will be "reform" that's as bad as what it's supposedly reforming... and a royal reaming for all of us at the hands of insurers who will then smugly inform us, "we're the insurance industry, we don't care, we don't have to because you have no alternative to us."

-- Badtux the Options Penguin

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Observant Kitteh

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

I'm a bit buried at work right now, in deep hack mode. While looking at the picture of the pretty kitteh, go check out Bryan's take on latest Obama chickenshit penny-pinching at the expense of our veterans... sigh!

-- Badtux the Busy Penguin

Monday, September 28, 2009

Banned Books Week

And here are the most-banned books of 2008. Most of which are quite forgettable (if the Gossip Girls books had never been written the world would be no worse off), but... The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini?

This just goes to show the problem with banning books. Once you develop the mindset that it's okay to ban books, your aim goes from the trash that the world would not be any worse with out (e.g. Gossip Girls to collateral damage that is simply unacceptable (The Kite Runner). It's a slippery slope, and it's an unnecessary slippery slope, because it implies that books can hurt people. Well, unless you manage to bang someone over the head with a big heavy one (I suggest a hard-bound college dictionary), nobody gets hurt by even the trashiest of books.

But of course, that's not what people mean when they whine about "harmful" books. What they really mean is, "books that contradict my own personal prejudices and biases." It's all about closing off access to ideas that book banners don't like, in the end, and thus results in a world that is less than if the book banners had been left to die on a hillside somewhere the day after birth. It's about making the world a meaner, smaller, place. Which is what the book banners want, in the end -- a world where only themselves, and people exactly like themselves, exist, and where the rest of us -- penguins and people alike -- simply *aren't*. It's the same goal that motivated the Nazis, in the end: the goal to make the "master race" and "master ideology" be the *only* race and *only* ideology. Except that the book banners would be appalled if you mentioned that to them, because they insist they're just making sure that only the "right" ideas can get into their children's hands, and don't see that there is no difference between their notion of "right" ideas, and the Nazi conception of a "master ideology"...

-- Badtux the Ideas Penguin

Borat is effin' hilarious

Yes, chugging through my Netflix queue and finally got down to Borat. Effin' hilarious, if more than a little tasteless. I will say that it is better than I thought it would be, I was thinking it would be like one big fart joke, but there was actually more to the movie than that if you paid attention...

-- Badtux the Movie Penguin

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Busy weekend

I installed a body lift and the corresponding transfer case shifter drop over the weekend. Today I had a nice soo doo bu (Korean tofu soup), nice and spicy. I like :). I'm about to go downstairs and try once more to come up with a mount for my GPS that will hang it above my mirror, or if I can't do that, at least a mount for my iPhone that could put it up there. We'll have to see how that works out...

- Badtux the Busy Penguin

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Dillinger Rules

One panacea often floated by the right-wing is that the solution to high health care costs is competition. Competition, they say, will reduce health care costs. There's just one problem with that saying: It utterly contradicts the data. What the data says is, the more competition, the higher the healthcare costs.

There's a simple reason for this. Health care operates under the same rules as bank robber John Dillinger: Your money or your life. If you have a disease that will kill you if untreated, you will utterly impoverish yourself if that's what's needed to save your life, and health care providers know this. Since all providers in an area operate under Dillinger Rules, more providers in an area is just like having more muggers in an area -- the competition between muggers results in you having *less* money, not in you having *more* money, as each mugger tries to obtain his desired profit margin from the limited supply of clientelle for his "services". Someone who went to med school and ran up a $500K debt to do so, then borrowed another $500K buying or building a practice, needs a certain amount of cash to pay down that debt, and he will literally charge whatever is necessary to do so. If there is more competition, he will get fewer patients. If he gets fewer patients, he will charge each of them more. John Dillinger rules, remember -- all the doctors in an area have these same fixed expenses, so they'll all charge what they need to get their profit margin, and overall costs rise in the area.

So what's the solution to high medical costs? Well, that's a complicated question. But one thing is clear: Since health care operates under Dillinger Rules ("your money or your life!") rather than via the rules of the free market, the magic Free Market Fairy isn't going to just wave her magic wand and make everything right. Reality simply is, and we have the numbers: competition simply doesn't work in health care.

-- Badtux the Health Care Penguin

Friday, September 25, 2009

Pizza Review: Red Baron Pizzeria Style

...Stone Hearth Fire Baked Crust Pepperoni Pizza Pepperoni Made With Pork, Chicken, & Beef

I wanted to like this pizza, I really did. The cheese makes a nice base, and the sauce is the typical tangy Schwan's sauce that does a great job of offsetting the cheese. The pepperoni bubbled along on top of this flavor mix adding its contribution too. The problem was the whole point of this pizza: The crust.

The basic problem is that the crust just lies there. It's too thick (and the toppings too thick) to be nicely toasty like a thin crust pizza and contribute a nice toasty taste. So it has to contribute a nice bready taste. But this crust is pretty much just missing in action. So sad to say, while this isn't a bad pizza, I cannot give it two flippers up -- it simply needs a crust that stands up and contributes, and it doesn't have that. If you want a thicker crust pizza, the gold standard is still the DIgiorno Rising Crust, and for medium crust pizzas... well, I used to have a winner, but I'll need to re-test that one next week, eh?

-- Badtux the Pizza Penguin

Box or birdie?

If you're a cat, what's more important: enjoying the box you're currently relaxing in, or chasing the little birdie on the end of a fishing line that your staff is swishing around outside your box?

Duh, the box, of course :).

-- Badtux the Boxed Kitty Owned Penguin

Spanking makes kids stupid?

That's what a researcher's latest study says -- kids who are spanked often are dumber than kids who aren't spanked. That's even if the parents are of equal educational status and equal socio-economic status.

So does a swat on the rear reach right on in to a kid's brains and kill neurons? Oh puh-LEEZE. That's not the problem at all. The problem is that spanking is just too easy, and replaces actual teaching.

Here's the deal: Punishment doesn't teach anything (by "teach" I am using the professional definition for the word -- "instillation of new knowledge or behaviors"). Rather, it reduces the occurrence of a behavior. It doesn't teach a kid what he should be doing instead of whatever bad thing he did. It just teaches the kid to avoid doing that particular behavior whenever a parent is around. It's like a cat and a table. You can squirt the cat every time he gets up on the table. But that won't do anything about his behavior when you *aren't* in the room. He'll just jump off the table every time you enter the room and run and hide under the couch.

To teach, you have to tell a kid a) what he's doing wrong, b) what he *should* have been doing, and c) make sure that you've been rewarding him all along for doing what he *should* be doing. By "reward" I am again using the professional term, not the common usage -- i.e., not a bribe, but, rather, if he asks you nicely for something rather than screaming and throwing a temper tantrum, engage with him and reward him with your attention and, occasionally, even give him whatever he's asking for if it's reasonable and he's being reasonable. The problem is, spanking is just too easy. If the kid is whining and throwing a tantrum because you're not buying the latest toy for him, it's easy to spank him to make him stop whining. But that just turns him into a whiny kid who thinks Mommy is a violent bitch. It doesn't teach him what he should be doing (i.e., asking politely, trying to persuade Mom via reason and kindness, etc.). It doesn't teach him how to do the kind of creative thinking that's going to get him ahead in life -- or get him higher scores on an IQ test.

So I'm not surprised at all by the outcome of this study. Note that I'm not vehemently anti-spanking as such. There are some behaviors that simply must be suppressed, by any means possible, because they present a threat to the child's safety or otherwise are socially unacceptable in ways that could harm the child's future. The problem is when it's used as a crutch, as a usual way of disciplining a child, rather than as a last resort when redirection to desired behavior, logical consequences, and other such actual *educational* discipline methods fail to do the job. There's a difference between teaching a child to NOT do something, and teaching a child TO do something. Spanking does the former, not the latter, and using it as the first resort rather than the last resort teaches the child nothing -- and, as this study shows, makes him stupid (at least on IQ tests) compared to his peers.

-- Badtux the Psychology Penguin

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Census work is not for wimps

Back during my teaching days, I worked Census during the summers to make extra income. Hey, when your base salary is $15,100 per year (and that wasn't much money even in the early 90's), you do what you can to make ends meet. You think Census workers are just pencil pushers. But we went into some dangerous places, folks. Census is *not* a job for wimps -- one reason why they rely so heavily upon veteran school teachers, who generally have seen it all and are pretty darn hard to intimidate, and who are experts at de-escalating violent situations. Remember, Census workers visit *every* home. Even in neighborhoods where most of you here wouldn't last an hour before your car was jacked and you were beaten and left for dead on the pavement.

The Census Bureau hires people from the communities they're caucusing, and that was where I was sent -- into basically my own back yard, the hill country of northern Louisiana. I'll tell you, I was kind of nervous going some of the places I went to in the piney back woods of Louisiana, we're talking about places just as inbred as anyplace in the Appalachians, but I was always secure in the knowledge that once I opened my mouth and came out pure backwoods Louisiana and got asked "who's your folks?" and could reply with two very large extended families scattered throughout the area, things would be okay. It was getting the chance to open my mouth that I was nervous about, some of those folks shoot first and ask questions later :).

So anyhow, a Census worker was shot and killed in rural southeast Kentucky, and the word 'fed' was written on his body. Does this mean that he was killed because he was a federal worker? Or is this misdirection? It could be someone whose kid had been flunked by this teacher. Or there are feuds that have been going on for generations in some of these places, the teacher could have been a member of one clan or extended family and whoever killed him had a beef with that clan. Deal is, the way the Census works, the way the Census recruits people to poll in, err, "difficult" communities (i.e., from within those communities), it's as likely that he got killed for local reasons as it is that he was killed for being a Census worker. Then the word 'Fed' was scrawled on him to confuse the issue, to draw attention away from whatever locals might have some other reason to kill him...

So was he killed for being a census worker? Or was he killed for a local reason? I'm with the "let's wait and see who dunnit and why" crowd. The FBI is investigating -- the FBI is always brought in when a federal worker is killed in the line of duty -- and hopefully they'll turn up the thug who did this without a years-long Eric Rudolph fiasco. If it turns out to be some inbred cretin whose kid was flunked by this teacher I won't be any more surprised than if he really *was* shot for going to work for the Census (probably by one of those shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later types that I was always nervous about). I see a lot of left-wing sites jumping the gun here. Given the realities of census work, and the people who are hired to do this work, it's simply too early and too easy to blame Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh for this guy's death. The wonder is that more census workers aren't killed.. and all for minimum wage plus 20%. What a deal!

-- Badtux the Former Census Penguin

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Republicans finally attack something real

This strange summer political season has been full of made-up nonsense about health care. Republican attacks upon Democratic reform efforts, whether it was "Death Panels" or "Outlaws private insurance" or "gives free healthcare to immigrants", was characterized by one common attribute: It was all made-up. Imaginary. Not in any bill in either house of Congress. But now the Republicans have a beef about a real part of this, or any, health care reform bill: It outlaws being a deadbeat.

With the current bills in the House and Senate, you have to either pay an insurance company for insurance (with the help of a subsidy if you can't afford insurance, and the "insurance company" could be the public option, i.e., a government-run pool of money), or pay into the "uncompensated care" pool so that when you get sick and can't pay your hospital bill, the hospital can go get some of that money you previously paid into the "uncompensated care" pool rather than doing cost-shifting to folks like myself who pay our way. And frankly, I don't have any problem with this. Your right to be a deadbeat ends at the point where I have to pay for your healthcare because you decided you were too damned healthy to purchase health insurance of your own. People who can't afford insurance will get subsidies, so the only people this mandate will affect are deadbeats -- people who could afford insurance, but refuse to buy it because they feel it's their right to be a deadbeat leeching off of responsible people like myself.

Thing is, the Republicans just might have a winning issue here. Because as much as Americans want to pretend to be responsible adults, for the most part the American public still believes in a free lunch -- i.e., that it is their right to be a deadbeat leeching off of others. And the Republican base in particular, with their "don't tax me but give me plenty of government pork!" attitude that leads to welfare states like Alabama and Mississippi getting far more federal payouts than they send as tax revenue at the expense of productive states like Massachusetts and California, is particularly prone to believe that it's their right, nay, their DUTY, to be a deadbeat. Well, as long as they can wrap being a deadbeat in a bunch of excuses. And as the Republican base goes, so do a number of independents and even some Democrats. Being a deadbeat is the American way, apparently.

The problem is that a nation full of deadbeats simply doesn't work when it comes to paying for health care. If everybody doesn't pay their way (perhaps with some subsidies for those who can't afford full fare, but still, people paying what they can), then the whole affair will grind to a halt for lack of money -- shut-down hospitals, doctors refusing to see patients, the works. Throw in mandates upon insurers that they have to insure sick people, and things get even more dire -- insurers simply will refuse to do business at that point because only sick people would purchase insurance (if you're healthy why would you buy health insurance before you got sick, if you know that the moment you feel ill you can go buy health insurance and the insurer *has* to issue a policy to you?!) and while sick people use 17% of U.S. GDP for health care, sick people don't earn 17% of U.S. GDP and can't pay 17% of U.S. GDP for health insurance.

In short, if we're going to end insurer abuse by mandating that insurers cover everybody -- young or old, sick or healthy, male or female, everybody -- then we have to mandate that people can't be deadbeats. Otherwise far, far too many Americans would choose to be deadbeats who only purchase health insurance when they feel sick, or who go to the hospital knowing they can't pay the hospital bill and then force the rest of us to cover their costs through higher costs on *our* insurance. That's just reality. That's just how the universe works. But the Republicans know that we don't like how the universe works, that we would prefer to believe that there is such a thing as a free lunch. So they're going to push this, and who knows, it might even be a winning issue -- how many Americans would truly pay for anything if there was no mandate that they pay for it? I mean, you put some fruit out by the sidewalk that says, "take some fruit, pay what you think it's worth", how many people would actually pay anything near what the fruit is worth? Not many, I'll bet you. That's just human nature, in the end, and the Republicans are capitalizing on it big-time.

-- Badtux the non-deadbeat Penguin

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Is there a right to health care?

One of the things the right-wing is quick to retort, when you say that every American should have the right to health care, is "there's no Constitutional right to health care."

The problem is this: Right wingers don't get to judge what the Constitution says. The Constitution gives the judicial power (i.e., the power to judge what's Constitutional or not) to the judicial branch, which culminates in the U.S. Supreme Court. So what does the U.S. judicial system say about health care? Well, basically, in multiple rulings, they agree: Health care is a constitutionally-guaranteed right for those in custodial care. Depriving health care of someone in custody of the state, the Supremes ruled, constitutes depraved indifference and constitutes cruel and unusual punishment under the 8th Amendment.

Of course, we're talking custodial care -- those who are in the custody of the state, either because they are prisoners, or are foster children, are in a state home for the disabled, or are otherwise under the guardianship of the state. Still, clearly, the U.S. Supreme Court has said that health care is a right for at least one population, which gives the lie to the right-wing nonsense that health care is fundamentally not a right. The Supreme Court has decidedly ruled, multiple times, that when the government deprives someone of health care it constitutes depraved indifference to the well-being of the person and thus cruel and unusual punishment.

So the question is, what about the rights of people not in the government's custody? The 9th Amendment is pretty clear: the rights mentioned in the first eight amendments of the Constitution are not the only rights that people have. The 9th Amendment clearly states that new unenumerated rights might be discovered by The People. So is health care a right? Well, a) the Supreme Court has ruled that the Constitution clearly does not rule out health care being a right, and b) the people of the United States appear to believe that health care should be a right and the 9th Amendment allows the people to declare or discover new rights. So there's no Constitutional reason to not have Medicare For All or any other program that is designed to protect this new-found right to health care for all Americans. There may be arguments against the notion that health care is a right, but the Constitution isn't one of them, unless you want to throw out the Constitution by saying that someone other than judges get to judge what the Constitution says. At which point you're already stomping on the Constitution with hob-nailed boots, so why bother with a Constitutional argument in the first place, eh?

-- Badtux the Constitutional Penguin

Monday, September 21, 2009

Tired Penguin

You may have noticed no posting this weekend. That's because I was hiking.

So anyhow, I'm back. I'll start snarking again as soon as I recover a bit...

-- Badtux the Tired Penguin

Friday, September 18, 2009

Pizza Review: Red Baron Thin & Crispy

...Tuscan Style Crust Pepperono Pizza Pepperoni made with Pork, Chicken, and Beef.

This is a good thin-crust pepperoni pizza. The pepperoni, sauce, and cheese are plentiful and well balanced, with Schwan's typically peppy sauce well present to augment the plentiful pepperoni. The cheese was unobtrusive and served well to offset the tangier tastes of the sauce and pepperoni. The crust, while not contributing as much as on a thicker-crust pizza, contributes as much as you can expect from a thin-crust pizza, with a nicely toasty flavor when cooked sufficiently. Like all thin crust pizzas this pizza is better baked towards the long end of the range -- the directions said 'Cook at 425F directly on center rack for 11-13 minutes', I cooked it for 13 minutes after the oven beeped that it was preheated and the pizza was perfect, the crust was nicely toasted and the toppings were nicely gushy and melted without being dried out.

Definitely recommended. Now my favorite thin-crust pepperoni pizza, though that's not saying much because I prefer my pizzas to have slightly more crust (it's hard to get sufficient flavor out of a crust this thin to properly offset goodly amounts of sauce, pepperoni, and cheese). But if you like thin crust pizzas with the full range of pizza taste in good balance, this pizza definitely gets two flippers up from this penguin.

-- Badtux the Pizza Penguin

How times change...

On November 18, 1931, Japanese troops staged a fake railroad explosion in southern Manchuria and used this "attack" on Japanese interests to justify invading Manchuria.

Once upon a time, there had to actually be a violent act against you to justify going to war. Or at least a staged one, like the explosion of the U.S.S. Maine or a fake attack upon Germany by "Polish soldiers". That all changed on March 20, 2003, when President George Bush the Lesser established the precedent that you can invade without bothering staging a fake attack upon your nation -- all that's necessary is to say that country X might, at some point in the distance future, be a threat to your nation and presto, instant excuse to invade!

I'm an elderly enough penguin to know that the "good old days" weren't so golden. Institutionalized racism, for example, was rampant and legal in every state of the United States. Still, at least there were some moral conventions that had to be followed back then to justify extraordinary acts like invading other nations, and it seems we've gone forwards on civil rights, but gone backwards in far too many other things...

-- Badtux the History Penguin

Is our children learning?

Apparently not.

Well, actually, given my own experiences in the teaching profession, probably the reactions of the high school students were:

  1. Am I getting graded on this?
  2. Will this be on the test?
  3. You didn't teach us any of this! Why are you giving us a test on stuff we didn't study?
Once question #1 was answered "No", the next thing they did was whine, "So why am I doing this?" and once told, "because it's the assignment", then just go down the rows marking shit at random.

In other words, I don't think American high school students are as stupid as this survey says. Apathetic, yes. Unmotivated, yes. Stupid? Well, a lot are... but a lot aren't, too, and I find it hard to believe that only 23% of American schoolchildren know that George Washington was the first President of the United States of America.

-- Badtux the "They're dumb, but not THAT dumb" Penguin

Making my guys feel smarter

Compared to this kitteh, my guys are friggin' geniuses. Neither has a problem lapping water out of a faucet without putting their whole head under it.

-- Badtux the (Smart?) Cat Owned Penguin

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Another flower gone

Peter Paul & Mary didn't write many songs. Most of their hits were written by someone else. "Where have all the flowers gone" was written by Pete Seeger, an old folkie who was never part of the band, while "Blowing in the Wind" was written by Bob Dylan. But it doesn't matter... Mary Traver's beautiful voice (and her beauty, period) and the crooning of her co-members made those songs theirs, to the point where you see dozens of references to those songs being written by "Peter Paul & Mary" if you scour the Internet.

Mary Travers died yesterday of cancer at age 72. Where have all the flowers gone? Gone to graveyards in the end, one by one...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Unclear on the concept

So Rep. Trent Franks (R-Moron) holds a press conference, dutifully covered by the Christian Taliban's official press organ (CNS), where he claims that government-provided health care would be bad for the disabled and would result in the killing of disabled children and adults. Problem: The majority of the disabled are already on Medicare or Medicaid, and no such killing has happened.

But I forget, 54% of Americans don't know that Medicare (and presumably Medicaid) are government programs... gah! The stupid! It burns, it burns!

-- Badtux the "Better morons, please?" Penguin

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Heckuva job, Baucus

Sane conservative John Cole notes that finally there is a bipartisan consensus over health care reform... both Republicans and Democrats despise the "health care reform" proposal that Senator Max Baucus just introduced in the Senate.

Heckuva job, Maxxy! Can we nominate you for douchebag of the week award yet? Or is it still too early to do that, given that there are still three days left in the week?

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

It couldn't have happened to a better bunch

Operation Rescue, the gang of thugs who specialize in wink wink nod nodding at the bombing of family clinics and the murder of doctors who perform abortion, is broke and may be shutting down. Seems that the fact that their head fundraiser actually seems to have done more than just wink wink nod nod with the killer of Dr. George Tiller (a murder committed at church, no less) has disgusted people. Even their Christofascist supporters who generally applaud Operation Rescue's thuggery can't stomach the killing of someone at church.

Frankly, it couldn't happen to a better bunch of fetus fetishists. Operation Rescue has specialized since the beginning in physical thuggery -- i.e., actually physically blocking access to family planning clinics. They're under court order in multiple states to stay away from the entrances of clinics. Their advocacy of physical violence to shut down family planning clinics directly led to the bombings of multiple clinics and the murder of multiple doctors, even if they themselves wink wink nod nod'ed and claimed they had no idea anybody would take their violent ideas and run with them to the logical conclusion. They're nothing but thugs and goons, and in a just society they'd all be in jail for assault and battery of the poor women who were physically blocked by their goons from going into family planning clinics. But by continually claiming persecution and "religious freedom", they instead turned themselves into "victims" in the eyes of their gullible supporters, and managed to evade their rightful fate.

Well, maybe now Troy Newman will have to get a real job -- one that adds something to the economy. I suggest sandwich artist at Subway. A good sandwich is always welcome. Fetus fetishists waving pictures of bloody fetuses around while stroking their rods... not so much.

-- Badtux the Non-fetishist Penguin

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

OMG it's a gun grab!

So I'm on World Nut Daily's mailing list. I get this message from the "National Association for Gun Rights, Inc." asking me to donate $50, $100, or more, to "stop Obama's gun grab!", saying that there's a bill H.R. 45 that has been introduced that would require registration of all firearms and require filling out a form attesting that you're not a felon, that you know not to point a loaded weapon at anybody you're not intending to kill, etc. OMG! Gun grab!

So I went to the normal place and found the current status of H.R. 45... which was introduced weeks before Obama entered office, and has been quietly buried in a deep subcommittee since February 9 with no, zero, chance of ever seeing daylight.

I guess the head of "National Association for Gun Rights" needs more cash for his cushy six-figure salary, and figures scaring people with "OMG! The scary darky wants to steal your guns!" will get it. And the hilarious part is that the morans will believe this bullshit, which is what it is, utter bullshit -- a bill with no co-sponsors is never getting out of committee, period. Hell, HR676 has dozens of co-sponsors (the whole goddamned Progressive Coalition) and it's not going anywhere... so HR 45 certainly isn't going anywhere. In short, this is just a scam by "National Association for Gun Rights, Inc." to take money from the gullible so their "chairman" can eat well and live in a mansion. Of course, the whole Republican Party is a scam at this point so...

-- Badtux the "I smell a scam!" Penguin

Monday, September 14, 2009

The marching morans

Why is it, reading about Glenn Beck's "Million moran march" (that got about 40,000 morans to march on Washington, according to the D.C. Fire Department), that I get a flashback to this cheesy sci-fi story?

The sad thing is, there was a genetic reason for the morons in Kornbluth's story to be morons. There isn't any genetic reason for the participants in the "Million moran march" to be idiots, other than the fact that, like all monkeys, they're prone to hierarchical behavior where they follow an alpha male and screech and howl at members of other monkey tribes for no real reason other than the fact that screeching and howling is what their alpha male wants them to do. But human beings have free will, more or less. Meaning they choose to be morans. Siiigh!

-- Badtux the non-marching Penguin
Why do you think I'm in the SF Bay area rather than Antarctica? Marching sucks!

OH: The PERFECT "unclear on the concept" photo from the Thousand Moran March: Medicare is, of course, socialized single-payer health insurance... i.e., socialized medicine. LOL!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The long elevator ride to Hell

I haven't posted a whole lot this past week because I keep saying to myself, "what's the point?" It's clear that the U.S. political system has become completely dysfunctional and incapable of serving anybody other than the wealthy oligarchs who pay its members bribes (oops, "campaign contributions") to serve their needs. It's clear that the whole edifice is set up to drive us to the Mexico North scenario, of hoards of desperate starving peasants willing to work for peanuts for a handful of filthy rich oligarchs who control the economy and the nation. And, sadly, it has become clear that the majority of Americans are too stupid, too bought, or too apathetic to do anything about that until we have utter national disaster that makes the Great Depression look more like the Sorta Bad Economic Downturn. So why bother?

None of this could have happened when there were actual existential threats to the United States. Our elites recognized then that they needed to maintain a vigorous industrial base, and the middle class to staff and make use of that industrial base, in order to be able to manufacture the guns and bombs and planes and ships to take on well-armed enemies. But now... the U.S. faces no real military threats (a few thousand terrorists are hardly an existential threat to the United States, terrorism over the entire history of the USA has killed fewer people than get killed in traffic accidents in the course of a month). But now that the U.S. basically has no enemies, our ruling elites see no reason to not go forward with their Mexico North project... and we, you and I, are going to be the starving peasants in this brave new world that our elites are creating. And most Americans don't seem to care, or don't notice, or are too apathetic to do anything about it, so why should I care?

- Badtux the Depressed Penguin

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Caturday stretching exercises

The Mighty Fang stretches both his legs and his jaw. He must, after all, remain in excellent hunting shape to capture and execute any stray spiders or rubber bands that might dare make their way into this penguin's lair...

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Saturday Music Break

The hauntingly beautiful Beth Gibbons sings Portishead's "Roads".

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, September 11, 2009

Murder and death

Last year, there were approximately 17,000 murders in the United States. 17,000 people were brutally removed from life via violent force.

Last year, there were approximately 39,800 highway deaths in the United States. 39,800 people were cut out of mangled automobiles and taken to a morgue.

Those are serious problems. But nobody proposes that we give up our fundamental rights as guaranteed by the Constitution in order to address those problems. Well, there's some who propose, but we, the people, dispose (and quite rightly) such notions rapidly.

Less than 3,000 people died on September 11, 2001. Yet the deaths of a mere 3,000 people have caused a massive erosion of civil liberties (a bipartisan erosion, I might add -- President Obama is no less culpable, given his support of the Bush regime's programs of torture, extraordinary rendition, and spying on Americans) and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans (who of course don't count since Iraqis and Afghans are mere mud peoples and thus not really human, as far as the average American is concerned). And the perpetrator of that mass murder is still on the loose, never brought to justice, while this mass murder is used to justify giving up our fundamental rights and the murders of hundreds of thousands of other people.

Yes, violent death is a tragedy. But I see no reason why the death of a few thousand people in a single act of terrorism should be any more a tragedy, and warrant any more a response or any more of a memorial, than the death of 39,800 people per year in traffic accidents or the death of 17,000 people per year at the hands of violent murderers. Dead is dead, in the end, and the dead care not whether it is Osama bin Laden, or Jeffrey Dahmer, or just some random drunk driver, they are still just as dead in the end.

-- Badtux the Mortality Penguin

On The Move

The Mighty Fang is intent on where he's going. He's on the move.

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Jeep Repair

This is in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart in Ohio, shortly after the owner of this Jeep was told that his headlight wasn't working. He had to make a quick Wal-Mart run to get a new battery for it.

-- Badtux the Appreciative Penguin

Thursday, September 10, 2009


The next time I get accused of elitism, I'm going to ask the accuser, "so you want your brain surgery done by a plumber?" Fuck yeah I'm an elitist -- whether it's brain surgery on me or mine, or running new wiring for my iceberg, or whatever, I want someone who knows what the fuck they're doing on the job. That's elitist as all fuck, and you know what? I don't give a shit that it's elitist. When you want brain surgery you call a brain surgeon, not a McDonald's drive-thru clerk. And when it comes to formulating economics policy, fuck yeah I want that being done by people who, well, know economics -- not by some asshole plumber or snowbilly from Wasilly who don't know shit from shinola. Elitist? You betcha!

-- Badtux the Elitist Penguin

How to become a wingnut darling

Let's say you're a wingnut Representative from the Old South. You got a nigger President. Worst yet, you got an opponent breathin' down your throat who came within a few thousand votes of getting you thrown out of office despite your opponent having less money for his campaign than the average Mercedes Benz owner spends on caviar each year. You need money, you need publicity, and you need it fast. What do you do?

Well, you live in Crackerville, and everybody there hates niggers. So what do you need to do? Well... that's simple. While the President of the United States is speaking to Congress, jump out of your seat and shout, at the top of your voice, "LIAR!".

Presto chango, you just went from being an about-to-be-voted-out has-been to hero of the wingnut base, a sizable number of whom live in your district and hate niggers and spics and thus love the fact that you just called a nigger a liar (while lying in the process of doing so, but hey, let's not talk truth, what matters is truthiness!). Expect Rep. Joe Wilson to appear on Faux News multiple times over the next few weeks as their new hero of outrageous wingnuttery now that Sarah Palin is moving off into the sunset and Michelle Bachman is getting old (literally) and too crazy even for wingnuts to stand. And remember, if a Republican politician can tap into this wingnut base, he no longer needs the rich money men who traditionally have elected Presidents. Obama raised as much money from individuals via this new Internet-driven marketing and funding mechanism as he did from the traditional Democratic fundraisers aimed at the rich, and so the rich money men decide to keep their wallets closed because they don't want to be associated with this kind of lunacy? No problem... just twitter and blog around, and voila!

Of course, this is just a recipe for further labeling the Republican Party as a party of lunatics, conspiracy theorists, racists, and gun fetishists who stroke their guns while masturbating every evening, but hey, that's not Joe Wilson's problem. He just needs to get elected in 2010. And he just improved his chances of doing so, given the nature of his district. So anyhow, I gotta applaud Joe Wilson: He may have just helped his re-election chances immensely, but he also just helped the Republican brand go even further into the gutter. Bravo, Joe Wilson, for your fine efforts in electing more Democrats in saner parts of the country!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll

In honor of the latest Republican sex scandal, a song that pretty much has all three of the above, especially oozing that "sex" bit:

Yeah Yeah Yeahs, "Gold Lion"

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Just another Republican sex scandal


The modern GOP: The party of racists, perverts, conspiracy theorists, and Christianists. It's like a batshit crazy carnival sideshow, except for real.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

The GOP is right!

Headline: "GOP says Obama needs to start over on healthcare".

I agree! And here is what he needs to say: "I have heard the message, and what I've heard is that most Americans like Medicare but don't like the overly complex plan that I proposed in my campaign platform and that the Senate and House have been working on. It's time to re-start. So today I am sending a proposed bill to the House and Senate to extend Medicare to all Americans with a Social Security card, not just to senior citizens. This will be a budget-neutral bill that is funded via extending the Medicare tax and via a surcharge on those making over $500,000 per year, as well as redirecting current Medicaid funding to Medicare instead. I have listened, America, and I have heard, and I guarantee you this -- I will not sign a single bill until this Medicare For All bill is sitting on my desk for my signature. "

That would be leadership, though, so it isn't happening. But I do agree with the GOP that Obama needs to start over on healthcare -- just have a different idea of what he needs to do than the GOP plan (which is, "go home to die without medical treatment unless you're rich enough to pay out-of-pocket").

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

People of Wal-Mart

It's like a million jillion pounds of white trash trashiness in a happy faced shit pail. I especially liked this Sarah Palin look-alike...

-- Badtux the White Trash Penguin

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

So what's this birther stuff REALLY about?

It's simple: This is how the right wing excuses itself for its hypocrisy. It was okay for President Bush to address little kiddies, because President Bush was really President. But President Obama isn't really President because he's a secret Islamofascist Nigerian born in some furriner country, so it's okay to blast him for, well, doing the same things President Bush did.

In short, this is how the right solves the dissonance between how they demanded that President Bush be treated ("opposition to the President is TREASON!") and how they're treating President Obama. Since President Obama isn't *really* President in their demented little "minds", they're not *really* breaking their rules by treating him in ways that violate their "rules" for how to treat a President.

It is sheer lunacy of course. But the sad part is that a nation where 54% of the population is so stupid they don't even know that Medicare is a government program is long past the point where it can tell lunacy from common sense fact...

-- Badtux the Born Penguin

Tuesday Morning Youtubery

So my Jeep is back together, and off to work, for many meetings galore (sigh!). So here's some music to occupy you in the meantime from a gal with a lot of pipes:

Neko Case, Furnace Room Lullaby

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, September 07, 2009

Still alive

Just been very busy working on my Jeep. Here, have a genius kitteh. Luckily neither of mine are this smart...

-- Badtux the Busy Penguin

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Saturday Music Break

Drive By Truckers, Decoration Day. Jason Isbell was just a pudgy kid with a bad hairdo back then...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, September 04, 2009

I hate server crashes

Came home yesterday evening and my Linux server was going "grr... CLICK! grrr... CLICK! grrr... CLICK!" Gah, a hard drive crash in my new 3 terabyte RAID array! So I went out today and bought a new hard drive, and then once diagnosing which drive had failed (unplug drives until one of them quit going grr.. CLICK!, heh), replaced it.

Then came the problem of telling Linux about all this. Last time I tried this on Linux, it was a major pain. I had to create a boot disk with a small Linux distro and force the RAID array to assemble, and otherwise do nasty things. However, I'm running the very latest Ubuntu 9.04 Server Edition. So I selected 'Recovery Mode' from the boot menu, and 'root prompt with networking' as the recovery mode that I wanted, and it just put me at a prompt. I then told mdadm to fail and remove the missing drive in the RAID array, partitioned the new drive with fdisk to the same layout as the old disk, then told mdadm to add the missing drive to the RAID array. And it all just worked -- the new drive came up in the RAID, the RAID subsystem started rebuilding its ECC codes and data segments, and everyone lived happily ever after. Granted, "just worked" for a geek edition of "just worked" where geeks know what mdadm is and how its arcane syntax works, but hey, I'm a Linux penguin. It's just like herring for me, yum!

So that's what I just spent the past three hours doing - rebuilding my Linux server. I'm seriously thinking about just retiring the thing. All I use it for is my stash of penguin porn nowdays, and some old stuff that I want to keep for historical purposes but which has no need to have an entire server dedicated. And frankly, I don't care enough about my penguin porn stash to worry about it being RAID, I can just stash it on any old USB drive and plug it into my Macbook whenever I want to watch "Debbie Does Antarctica" or "Deep Herring". In the meantime the thing uses an astounding amount of power to keep its high speed array of hard drives spinning, and keeps requiring new pieces and parts as old ones fail -- in the past six months it's required a new hard drive, a new RAM chip, and a new power supply. And it's not because I put bottom of the line parts in there either, the power supply was an Antec and the memory DIMM that failed was a Corsair for cryin' out loud! Maybe I just need to simplify my life some more. Hmm...

-- Badtux the Geeky Penguin

Pizza Review: Safeway Select Pepperoni Pizza

"Made with Zesty Pepperoni and a Blend of RIch Mozzarella, Parmesan, Romano, and Asiago Cheeses. Thin Crispy Crust."

Well, they got one out of four: It's got plenty of pepperoni. Indeed, pepperoni is all you can taste. That, and a vaguely chemical taste from the crust. The crust has a reasonable consistency but no taste other than the taste of preservatives and library paste. The cheese is there but contributes virtually nothing, so predominant is the pepperoni taste. The sauce is plentiful but tasteless, without the spicy tomato-oregeno taste needed to counter the salty fatty taste of pepperoni and pepperoni grease. There is very little to recommend this pizza except its price, and frankly, for the price I'd prefer to go grab one of those Little Caesars $5 pizzas. Yes, that bad.

So be thankful for this penguin's sacrifice. I starve myself all week to be able to bring you these pizza reviews on Fridays without turning into even more of a waddling waterfowl, and I have saved you from a fate far better than death, but still far worse than an edible pizza should be. This pizza is not utterly disgusting, I did not have to force myself to eat it unlike a couple of pizzas I've reviewed in the past, but it most definitely has nothing (zero) to recommend it in my opinion. Avoid.

-- Badtux the Pizza Penguin

Labor Day weekend

Most of the world celebrates Labor Day on May 1. The U.S. is different, because May 1 scares the shit out of the Chamber of Commerce and the rich fucks who run this country, because May 1 is when labor in the REST of the world takes to the streets and tells business they're gonna treat their workers right, or else -- complete with dragging particularly nasty business managers out into the streets and beating the shit out of them and tar and feathering them. Given the events of the past couple of years more than a few of our own business "leaders" could do with a bit of tar and feathering, starting with the fucks who run the big banks who gambled all our money away in a giant real estate ponzi scheme then demanded we bail them out or they would slit our throats on their way down, and you can be damn sure that these guys want the example of the rest of the world well out of sight of the American sheeple, who are unique world-wide in being the most cowardly, trembling, submissive workers of any supposedly democratic nation.

So I'm gonna go work on my Jeep, maybe build a security trunk for the back and a hardtop hoist so I can easily pop my hardtop on and off single-handedly without having to round up three buddies with strong backs to help me (and look, I'm in my late middle ages, rounding up three buddies who ain't all laid up with bad backs and bad knees and shit is hard for me). As for Labor Day... it'd be a good idea. But the cowardly American worker ain't gonna take on those leeches who suck all our wealth that we create up for their own benefit, so we might as well just call it "Sheep Day" and get it over with, it's just a long weekend holiday as far as I'm concerned.

-- Badtux the Rude Penguin

Mencken drinks

As I was preparing to leave for work, I noticed Mencken lapping water out of the water fountain. Sorry for the poor quality, I only had time to grab my iPhone and click a few quick shots, no time to go run and get my good camera.

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Thursday evening music break

Interesting how this young woman (Brandi Carlile) can take a 40 year old song (Elton John/Bernie Taupin's Sixty Years On) written years before she was born and make it her own. Yeah, both she and Elton John are gay. What's your point? That the gay agenda is... good music (gasp!)?

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Oh yeah: The original:

How to put a bigger hard drive in a Mac

  1. Buy new hard drive, and an external USB case capable of holding said hard drive.
  2. Back up your Mac (i.e., make sure Time Machine is on and has made a backup within the past hour).
  3. Remove old hard drive from Mac and put new one in.
  4. Install MacOS onto the new hard drive. I used Snow Leopard.
  5. While MacOS is installing, put your old hard drive into the external USB case.
  6. When MacOS prompts you to import your data from your old Mac, plug in the USB drive into any available USB port on your Mac, wait about a minute, then tell it you want to import your data from a volume on the local system.
  7. Wait a couple of hours (if you have hundreds of gigabytes of data).
  8. Log in. You're back to your Mac -- except with a bigger hard drive!
It just friggin' *works*. Too bad you have to pay so much effin' dough to get something that just works. Meanwhile, upgrading my hard drive in a Linux box is always good for a week's worth of tweaking and fixing things, and for Windows... mwahahaha! Just install a new Windows install and manually copy your data by scratch after re-installing your programs onto your new Windows install. And once again it's an all-day affair that'll have you tweaking and fixing things for a week...

-- Badtux the MacPenguin

Oh, and the specs of my new MacBook Pro... very fast, slick, and cool.

iTunes radio accomplished

It was a couple of weeks ago, but just now actually documented the install, with purty pictures. So if you're interested in that sorta thing, go take a look.

-- Badtux the Wrenchin' Penguin

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

It took 20 years to get Medicare passed

Just sayin'. And it took 50% of our elders being uninsured -- and only 25% of them having insurance that would really pay for any illnesses they got -- before Congress finally acted.

It's been 15 years since the Clinton healthcare debacle, and we have "only" 50M uninsured today. Time? We'll see. All I'll point out is that Obama ain't no LBJ, and he has no populist/socialist bones in his body, unlike LBJ, who was a fervent New Dealer...

- Badtux the History Penguin


Deep inside the guts of a brand new Macbook Pro. Just doing my part to stimulate the Chinese economy (these things, like virtually every laptop sold in America, are made by Foxconn in China).

-- Badtux the Stimulating Penguin

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Sick puppies

Dr. Paul Krugman is getting death threats for... talking economics.

This is just sick. What kind of vile, vindictive person could ever want to kill a man just for talking about how HR3200 looks like the Swiss healthcare system and how the current U.S. deficit is not, by historical standards, an unsupportable one? I could understand a death threat if Krugman was in power and threatening to impose a dictatorship, or somethin' like that, but look. He's an economist and columnist, for cryin' out loud. He wields a mean slide rule, but that's about his only threat to the nation even if you don't agree with him. What's he gonna do, kill us all with ten-pound Economics textbooks?

But I guess if you're a member of the Hateful Right, hate is all you have against Krugman's facts and figures. Tells you just how far off the rails the right wing has gone, that making death threats against an economist is all they got left...

-- Badtux the "All they got is hate" Penguin

Tuesday Morning Youtubery

Steve Earle, Over Yonder.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin