Saturday, July 31, 2010

The stress diet

This is an all-too-easy diet in today's world, but guaranteed to work -- I've lost almost five pounds in the past two weeks on this diet! Here's how it works:

  1. Have a job you enjoy with co-workers you enjoy working with
  2. Hear rumors the company is in trouble
  3. A week later, be told your company is shutting down
  4. Start interviewing for jobs at other companies.
For bonus points, be middle aged in an industry that worships youth, and you get double the stress bonus! What a deal, what a deal...

-- Badtux the Sadly Snarky Penguin

Suffering Jews

Silver Jews, "Suffering Jukebox"

- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, July 30, 2010

Say wha?!

The Mighty Fang looks pissed. I musta forgot ta feed the fat furry bastard again...

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Paranoid grass

The Avett Brothers, "Paranoia In B Flat Major". Some paranoid bluegrass?

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Some Thursday garden porn

Mandy is doing a lot better than the scraggly half-dead thing I photographed two months ago since she started getting regular doses of water and some fertilizer. This is of course a Mandevilla Red Riding Hood, semi-reclining though some tendrils are heading up the lattice... oh yeah, I put some drip irrigation down as you can see, it should be hidden in the mulch whenever I decide what kind of mulch I want (sigh!)....

-- Badtux the Garden Penguin

Would Glibertarians lie for their agenda?

Why... YES! Forbes columnist Lenore Skenazy's nose grew another six inches longer on this one, when she blames the Consumer Product Safety Commission for canceling a sale of rocks to a school district.

So, did the CPSC have anything to do with canceling the sale of rocks? Let's go back a few weeks before Ms. Glibertard's hyperventilating screed about the evils of government, and look at the source of her information: an article in USA Today about the law that requires products sold for use by young children to be lead-free. In that article, we find out that the school district asked if the rocks had been tested for lead as required by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, a law passed in the aftermath of an outbreak of lead-contaminated Chinese toys hitting the U.S. market. American Educational Products replied that no, the rocks, intended for grade school science classes where they would be handled by young children, had not been tested for lead. The school district asked if they would be tested for lead, and AEP said "Nope." The school district then cancelled the purchase.

In short, the school district wanted unleaded rocks, and AEP refused to sell them unleaded rocks. The CPSC had nothing to do with this, it was all about AEP not wishing to sell the school district the product (unleaded rocks) that the school district wanted to buy. It was, indeed, the kind of market transaction that glibertarians should be pointing to with glee as they gloat "see? The CPSC isn't necessary, buyers and sellers will self-regulate because sellers who don't meet buyers' safety criteria will not make sales!" Instead, the glibertards appear to be using what is essentially a glibertarian transaction in the marketplace to prove that a government body that wasn't even involved in the transaction is evil and should be eliminated. But hey, nobody ever accused glibertarians of making sense... these are the same people who claim that government isn't needed in order to have good highways, for example, despite the fact that no civilization anywhere on the face of the planet has ever had good highways without government being involved big-time. Reality ain't exactly their thing, heh.

-- Badtux the Reality-based Penguin

Snark of the day

Dealing with the Austerian "economist" bozos is like dealing with the deranged offspring of Bozo the Clown and Ann Coulter: Not only are they stupid, but they have the same level of mendacity as Richard Nixon.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Burning throat

Caitlin Rose, "Shanghai Cigarettes". Just some Austin singer-songwriter stuff, y'all.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Shorter Krugman

We Are So Fucked.

-- Badtux the sore-rear'ed Penguin

Gold is a scam

A graphic depiction of Glenn Beck's Goldline scam.

Note that Talking Points Memo is careful to not call it a scam. They are, after all, reputable journalists (snicker!) who can't use such "charged words" for fear of damaging their "credibility". But when you are being tricked into buying overpriced gold by a two-bit huckster, I don't know what term other than "scam" applies ("overcharging" is rather an understatement by comparison).

Only good thing about Glenn Beck's scam is that you do actually get the gold, even if it's at horrifically rip-off prices. Other scammers don't even do that much.

-- Badtux the Investment Penguin

When will it make sense?

Yet another mostly-unknown band. This is Stripmall Architecture (2/3rds of the band formerly called Halou) with their song, "It'll All Make Sense in the Morning" from the Halou album Halou, which was their last album before they abandoned the dream pop genre and Halou name and the third member of the band and decided to rock out a bit more as Stripmall Architecture. They're from up the road in San Francisco, so maybe I'll go see'em at the DNA Lounge sometime...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Wikileaks document dump

I suppose I need to comment on this, since everybody else has.

  1. The comparison to "The Pentagon Papers" is apt. This is a detailed historical document dump of the progress of the war, from near the start to about 8 months ago.
  2. Note the "eight months ago" part. There's nothing in these documents that puts our troops at risk. If our troops are still in the same positions that they were in eight months ago, we're fucked anyhow.
So what is the bottom line that these documents tell us? Well, nothing that we don't already know -- that we are no closer to conquering Afghanistan today than we were eight years ago. The only way to "win" in Afghanistan is the Tamerlane way -- extermination of entire populations, i.e., genocide. Tamerlane was the last person to successfully conquer Afghanistan back in 1370 or so, and his descendants the Moghuls then swarmed down from Afghanistan in the early 1500s and conquered all of Pakistan and Northern India. But Tamerlane had some advantages we don't have. Tamerlane had no logistics tail -- none. He fed his armies by seizing the food, weapons, and supplies of the peoples he conquered, who no longer needed it because they were, err, dead. Tamerlane was not put off by squeamish notions of killing women and children. If a province defied Tamerlane, he simply turned it into an unpeopled wasteland without bothering to try to kill only combatants. He was by all accounts possessed of an amount of viciousness that make even the Taliban look like Boy Scouts, an amount of viciousness that no army of a would-be democracy could ever contenance because it would repulse too many taxpayers.

In short: Unless we turn the U.S. into an empire led by a vicious warlord like Tamerlane, there's no point being in Afghanistan. The place can't be conquered short of doing it the Tamerlane way. Temporarily occupied, yes. Conquered, no.

'Nuff said on that, we already knew all the above, just felt like ranting...

- Badtux the History Penguin


I didn't even know BP had operations in Siberia. Apparently Tony Hayward, soon to be former CEO of BP, is now going to get his life back. I wonder if one of the former gulags has now been chosen as BP's new corporate HQ in Russia?

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Some more clover

This one by the youngsters Buffalo Clover gives me a bit of Tom Waits combined with Dresden Dolls vibe. The song is "Ashes and Sand", which isn't on any released album -- yet. Keep checking iTunes.

BTW, I first came across these youngsters via their song Luck, which was about having anything but. It's available on iTunes now via their album Pick Your Poison. I don't know if I'd call this a "must-buy" -- it's not something like, say, Serj Tankian's Elect the Dead or Drive By Trucker's Decoration Day which are brilliant and important and if you don't own the album, you should immediately start pounding yourself over the head with a hammer in dismay -- but thus far what I've sampled has been interesting and somewhat unique. And really, if you don't have any must-buys in your queue, interesting and unique is certainly worth dropping a few coins for, especially since these youngsters aren't exactly drowning in coin...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, July 26, 2010

Corruption in the federal bureaucracy

One of the things that has become clear recently, whether we're talking about regulation of Wall Street, regulation of deep sea oil drilling, regulation of coal mining, or whatever, is that federal regulators are now working for the companies they're regulating, not for We The People.

So why is that? Well, you can blame this on ole' Saint Ronnie Ray-gun again. In 1983, Reagan eliminated the Federal Retirement System for all new federal employees. New employees would pay into Social Security like everybody else, and then pay into a 401(k)-like plan, with the Federal Government providing some matching money.

There were two things that occurred because of this. The first is that the Federal Government had to start paying people more in order to come to work for the government. Much more. Federal employees today are paid salaries typical of private enterprise, whereas before Reagan did this, federal employees accepted less money up front in order to get more money on the back end when they retired with a federal pension.

The second thing is that the new system encourages corruption. Back in the days when you put in your 30 years and then retired with a federal pension for life, there was no percentage for corruption. If you accepted prostitutes and bribes from one of the companies you regulated, you would at the very least be fired, and then you'd be forfeiting your 30 year retirement benefits. But now if you're fired, you still have your Social Security benefits paid in, and you still have your 401(k) contents, and you can go to work for the company that gave you the bribe because you still know other people within the federal bureaucracy who might be bribable.

In short, eliminating the FRS a) made federal employees more expensive, and b) increased the incentive to accept bribes from the industries you regulate, or accept job offers from them in exchange for giving them what they want regulation-wise. Federal employees no longer have a reason to stay with the Federal government for the next 30 years, since there is no longer a pension waiting for them at the end of the line, so if someone offers a Federal employee a cushy job for the next few years if the Federal employee rules in favor of the company... well, there's no monetary reason to *not* do it. You're not giving up your federal pension, after all, because there *isn't* a federal pension...

So anyhow, that is why as the people covered under FRS have retired, and new employees have come in, that corruption in federal regulatory bodies has become rampant. Let that be a lesson to state and local governments planning on slashing their public employees retirement plans: That way leads to runaway corruption and higher personnel expenses overall. 'Nuff said.

-- Badtux the Pensionless Penguin

In the grass

Phosphorescent, "Full Grown Man", from his 2005 album Aw Come Aw Wry. Phosphorescent is the nom-de-band of one Matt Houck, who writes sort of psychedelic folk rock from what I can tell...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Some weed

Cross Canadian Ragweed (which despite the name is out of Oklahoma). Have no idea how to describe their music, which seems to remind me of a number of folks who aren't at all like them, but this is pretty damn good Southern country rock, whatever the hell it is.

"Dead Man", off their 9th album Mission California (hmm, hear a little Eagles in there?). Hold it, their ninth album? Why hasn't anybody ever heard of these dudes?!

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Keynesian monetarists?!

Someone made the observation that the previous post about Austrian stupidity makes me sound like a monetarist. Yes, in general, yes, New Keynesians are mostly Friedman-style monetarists... until you hit the zero bounds / liquidity trap. At the zero bounds, any money that is simply issued -- or dropped out of helicopters -- basically disappears under mattresses. That's because there's no incentive to actually lend it since you cannot get any interest income from it, and everybody is expecting their money to be more valuable to them in the future so they are saving it rather than spending it. (Note that "saving" money in a bank at the zero bounds -- i.e., lending it to the bank -- is essentially the same as putting it under a mattress, since the bank, for the same reason, will not lend it out but will instead shove it under the Fed's virtual mattresses as reserves). Note that money under mattresses has essentially disappeared as money. It is no longer pegs out there in "the economy" to use to fill holes. Rather, it's lumpy mattress stuffing, having zero (0) effect upon economic activity happening in the economy.

The fundamental difference between Keynesian economics and monetarism thus occurs at the zero bounds. Until then both tend to have the same goal of printing enough money to match the amount of goods and services in the economy, and a little bit of extra (roughly 2% to 4%) to encourage people to move money out from under mattresses and into the economy (since inflation -- a decrease in the value of money under mattresses -- discourages people from shoving money under mattresses, duh). But hit the zero bounds, and the Keynesian observation about lumpy mattress stuffing holds -- there is simply no reason to move the money out from under your mattress at that point. The Keynesian then says, "well, given that having all these empty holes err unemployed people around is not good for social stability or the health or welfare of the people, which after all is what an economy is for, we can print the money err make this peg but *directly* put it into the hole via government purchasing decisions rather than just throwing it out of helicopter windows!" That is, are there slack resources in the economy? Is there insufficient money to put those resources to use? Well, print the money and have *government* put those resources to use!

But note that this is only an issue once you hit the zero bounds and have actual slack resources in the economy (as measurable by unemployment statistics). Which is why the stagflation of the 1970's is *not* an example of Keynesianism being "discredited", because that was straight monetarism -- we were nowhere near the zero bounds, and there were no slack resources in the economy, which was at 5% unemployment at the time. All that happens if you print more money (pegs) than you have goods (holes) is that you have leftover pegs... which then find holes to go into (i.e., prices rise).

Note that I mention slack resources, and specifically, unemployment. Which is another Austrian fail. While their holy Saint Mises admitted that the unemployed didn't want to be unemployed, most Austrians appear to agree more with their holy Saint Hayek, who claims that the unemployed aren't *really* slack resources (which don't exist in their religious philosophy) but, rather, are taking a long vacation voluntarily. Because, y'see, if they'd only drop their wage demands then they'd get jobs! That despite the fact that the latest statistics show five unemployed people for every one job opening in the U.S. economy... but oh wait, I forgot, there I go with those funny "number" thingies again, and math is hard. Alrighty, then!

- Badtux the Snarky Economics Penguin

Lonely nights

Neko Case "I Wish I Was The Moon" , off her album Blacklisted. The gal has some pipes on her...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, July 23, 2010


I have been recently made aware of the fact that a major criminal religious organization is locating close to the World Trade Center towers! This criminal organization is well known for the criminal acts of its clergy and membership, including major acts of terrorism against U.S. allies, abusive behavior towards women and children, and a general medieval mindset that views women as property and demands absolute obedience. This religion has a history of forced conversions at gunpoint and of murdering Jews.

Given all these facts about this criminal religious organization... how in the world can we contenance Saint Peter's Roman Catholic Church being located within the perimeter of the World Trade Center security area?!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Note: St. Peter's is located approximately the same distance from the WTC site as the proposed mosque that has the tighty whitey righties' panties in such a dither.


Mencken and The Mighty Fang just hangin' out in the heat last week... TMF has arrived at a, well, unique way of dumping heat into the atmosphere. And he's not big-boned, he's just fat :).

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Why unemployment is up, part 23453

To put it bluntly: The investor class -- the class of people who invest most of their income since it is excess to consumption necessary for their lifestyle -- has profited over the past 30 years. The consumer class -- the class that consumes most of their income because their income has minimal excess over that necessary to maintain their lifestyle -- has seen stagnant incomes over the past 30 years. The end result is that increases in consumption cannot be sustained by the incomes of the bottom 80% of the population, the consumer class, and consumption invariably drops back down to baseline after short bursts fueled by cheap borrowing.

Which probably is a good thing, because if everybody consumed as much as they'd consume if they had a million dollars like the top 1%, we'd strip this world bare of resources. The problem is that the level of consumption sustainable by the incomes of the bottom 80% is insufficient to employ everybody who wants a job and is willing to work, thanks to massive improvements in productivity over the past 30 years. This causes extreme hardship and misery and, eventually, social disorder. One possible solution is simply to introduce inefficiency into the economy so that more people are employed than the level of consumption at current productivity levels would support being employed. Hmm, what entity do we know that is famous in right-wing circles for introducing inefficiency?

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin


The pigeonhole principle

Shorter Prof. Anderson: "Math is hard."

I am amused by the resistance of Austrian "economists" to the use of modern statistical tools, which they sneeringly refer to as "aggregates". Mathematics is a fundamental tool of science, and by rejecting modern mathematics they thereby prove that they are not members of a branch of science but, rather, members of a religion, complete with a holy canon of Mises, Hayek, and Rothbard each of whose words must be accepted as holy doctrine and never criticized regardless of how little data there is supporting those beliefs.

The fundamental mathematical principle that applies at the zero bounds is the PIGEONHOLE PRINCIPLE. That is, if there are fewer dollars in the economy than are necessary to pay all the employees and buy all the goods, then clearly some of the employees will go unpaid and some of the goods will go unsold. This has nothing to do with mythical appeals to holy canon of Saint Rothbard, but, rather, a fundamental mathematical quality of the universe. If you have five holes and four pegs, it simply is impossible to put pegs in all the holes.

To counter this, Holy Saint Mises and His followers then came up with the theory of "price elasticity". That is, okay, so we have four pegs and five holes, we'll just chop a little piece off of each peg and glue them together to make a fifth peg and fill all the holes that way! The problem is that in a *real* economy, as vs. the fictional economy in the Holy One's scriptures, it took a whole peg's worth of money to create the goods and services available for sale, and no business is going to sell goods for less than it cost to create them. In other words, price elasticity is a crock of BS. When you hit the zero bounds and go into deflation, what happens is that one of those holes is going to go unfilled -- i.e., somebody's going to lose his job, and some goods are going to go unsold.

What Keynesian economics says is that when you hit the zero bounds -- where we are right now -- the solution is simple: Make another peg from scratch to fill that fifth hole. Given that our particular pegs happen to be made of zeros and ones in the mainframe computers of banks, clearly we aren't going to run out of zeros and ones anytime soon. And this is the situation that Keynes was pondering, and which describes the "zero bounds" issue that Krugman was talking about.

Now, neither Keynes nor Krugman proposed making more pegs when there was already sufficient pegs to fill all the holes. When the economy is at full employment then clearly printing more money simply causes inflation (more pegs getting jammed into the holes) rather than an increase in sales and employment (a peg now available for a previously unfilled hole). But given real unemployment in the US is close to 20% if you count the people who've been "disappeared" from the statistics as "not in workforce", can anybody say that this is the situation? Clearly we have holes (goods available for sale) that lack pegs (money available in the economy that can be used to purchase them), otherwise those people (who, remember, are a commodity available on the open market like any other commodity) would be employed!

Note that I talk pegs and holes because if I started talking mathematical induction and proofs then Austrians would start shouting "Heresy! Aggregates!" because, well, math is hard. Needless to say, all this *can* be expressed mathematically in terms that comport with the physical laws of this universe, as vs. of some fictional universe that exists only in the fertile mind of the authors of the holy scriptures of Austrian "economics"...

- Badtux the Snarky Economics Penguin

What a way to die...

And he was only 13 years old... I *knew* those clowns were evil!

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin


The cost

Yes, I've done this one before. It still brings tears to my eyes even today. Jason Isbell wrote this while he was with the Drive-By Truckers, but wasn't allowed to release it on an album until he went solo in 2007. "Dress Blues", off the album Sirens of the Ditch.

Some of the 60's types complain, "there aren't any good protest songs today!" But they're wrong. Today's protest songs aren't pyrotechnic. They aren't full of slogans. They just count the costs, and say, without saying, "is this really what we want to be doing? Is the cost worth it?"

- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bernanke can't find the keys to his helicopter

So now we have Bernanke's testimony before Congress that, despite last month's disastrous economic news, the Federal Reserve has no plans to do anything to help the economy. In 2002, Bernanke claimed that it was impossible for the money supply to go into free fall as long as the central bank was willing to print as much money as needed and push it into the economy, even if it required dropping money from helicopters. Today, the money supply appears to be in free fall thanks to so much money disappearing into the Federal Reserve as reserves (at which point it disappears from the economy), but Bernanke appears to have lost the keys to his helicopter, and Congress -- by not passing any successor to the now-dwindling stimulus bill -- appears to have shot holes in the helicopter's fuel tanks anyhow.

We are in monetary deflation right now according to every measure that counts, to the point that even some right-wingers are starting to panic. What is confusing most people is that prices are not going down. But price deflation (and wage deflation is a subset of price deflation) is just one possible side-effect of monetary deflation, and, as we discovered during the Great Depression and as I've mentioned here before, price deflation is a *lagging* indicator of monetary deflation. The reason being that companies will *not* voluntarily sell goods at less than what it costed to manufacture them. Period. If there is not enough money circulating in the economy to buy all of the goods and services companies offer for sale, they will not lower prices beyond what it cost to make them (which would be losses, which would look bad and drive down their stock prices) — instead, they’ll voluntarily choose to instead accept fewer sales, and lay off the people not needed at the lower volume. In other words, the first symptom of monetary deflation is *GDP* deflation (of which employment deflation is a subset), not price deflation — and we’re seeing that in spades.

Given that we *know* GDP deflation is the first major symptom of monetary deflation (and note that “mattress money” — money on file at the Fed as reserves — basically does not exist as far as the economy is concerned, since it’s not being used for fostering commerce in the economy), and given that we *know* that price and wage deflation is a lagging indicator, not a leading indicator, of monetary deflation, any sensible central banker would be revving the helicopters big-time right now given last month’s disastrous economic news. But what we have now not a sensible central banker but, rather, a “reasonable” central banker, one who is in thrall to the “reasonable people” who rule Washington, who make decisions not based upon facts and analysis, but upon “truthiness” — i.e, emotional reactions from the gut based on seemingly plausible but long-disproved superstitious beliefs like “no pain no gain”.

In other words, we are so f*cked….

-- Badtux the Sore-cloaca'ed Penguin

Showing the flag

John Prine, "Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore", off of his first album John Prine. As I mentioned before, the sad thing about current history is that you can take the protest songs from 40 years ago, change a few geographic locations and a few politicians' names, and they're still as valid today as they were then... sigh!

- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A book review

This book has an incredible amount of sex and violence, including incest, entire cities being destroyed, plagues of frogs and locusts, and even the death of 99.9% of the world's population in a giant flood. Irwin Allen would have had a field day making a television movie of this book, there's just so much entertainment here, much better than Twilight. But the downside is the incredibly one-dimensional characters (with the exception of that "Jesus" dude, who is this really groovy stoner hippy type who, like, preaches peace and giving up material possessions in pursuit of the spiritual and stuff like that when he's not, like, toking out big time, but also has downer times when he wonders why he bothers), and an utterly disjointed plot where characters pop up, do a few things, then disappear for the rest of the book. Dude. This book really needed an editor, not only for the major, major plotholes (*TWO* different stories about how the Earth was created? Dude!) but for the atrocious spelling, grammar, and rampant run-on sentences. For example, at the beginning of the Book of Matthew there's this one sentence that literally runs on for multiple pages of "begat" after "begat" after "begat"! Which is okay if your name is James Joyce, but this "God" guy who wrote this book isn't anywhere near the talent that James Joyce was. Dude. Get a real copy editor for your next book, 'kay?!

-- From a review on The King James Bible.

A less competent Timmy McVeigh

So now we have tighty righty white-winger Byron Williams, who headed off to attack the ACLU and Tides Foundation in San Francisco in order to "start a revolution". Shades of Timmy McVeigh! Luckily he was so irate that he couldn't drive straight, and got pulled over by the CHP, at which point he engaged in a shootout with the CHP rather than making it to his designated targets.

Mr. Williams shows signs of typical derangement amongst white-wingers. He was "upset because he had not been able to find a job and because of the poor economy", which of course the ACLU and Tides Foundation have *so* much to do with in deranged right-winger minds, *not* the corporate oligarchs who have looted our economy so that 75% of America is owned by the top 1%. And he was upset about "the way Congress was railroading through all these left-wing agenda items." Because, y'know, legislators elected by the majority of voters in their districts who are passing laws (like the unemployment extension that Mr. Williams would have been eligible for if he hadn't been, well, off his fucking rocker) with a 60% majority of votes is "railroading".

And, alas, Mr. Williams also is just another data point in another observation: Every terrorist attack against Americans by Americans over the past twenty years has been by right-wingers, *not* by "lefties". Blow up the Oklahoma City federal building? Check. Kill doctor as he shakes his pastor's hand at his church? Check. Attempt to blow up the Atlanta Olympics? Check. Being a member of the far right in America seems to be part and parcel of being a domestic terrorist in America. Not that our MSM will ever call Byron Williams a domestic terrorist... even though that is, err, what he is. Alrighty, then!

-- Badtux the Terrorist-observin' Penguin

Back to the future

The sad thing about recent history is that you can take the protest songs from 40 years ago, dust them off, and they're still as valid today.

Eric Burdon and the Animals sing Sky Pilot. Of course, today the pilot is often some geek in Phoenix flying a drone with a joystick from a cubicle...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

There's just a meanness in this world

YouTube is flooded with people poking fun at a 11 year old girl who posted a couple of videos where she appears to be more than a little troubled (and with an idiot daddy like the one who appears in one of those videos, how could she not be?). I don't get it. Why do people want to tease and insult a troubled child? What a vicious, sad, pathetic bunch they are. But, alas, I'm not surprised. There's just a meanness in this world, that's all.

Peace, brothers and sisters. Peace. And people do grow up, sometimes, and become penguins.

-- Badtux the Saddened Penguin

He's a Marine

“You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap around women for five years because they didn’t wear a veil,” General Mattis said during a forum in San Diego in 2005. “You know guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway, so it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them.” For those comments, he received an official rebuke.

Y'know, if that's all they got against General James N. Mattis, USMC, I gotta say he ain't gonna have no trouble at all getting confirmed to his new position. 'Cause it's a soldier's job to kill people, and if they're going to kill people, it's a lot easier if they're killing people who, well, really need killin'... like abusers of women. Just sayin'.

-- Badtux the Military Penguin


Dateline, Montgomery Alabama, 1954: How *DARE* those uppity negros protest our fine upstanding segregation laws! Y'know, these liberals preach tolerance, why can't they practice what they preach? Intolerance of our segregation laws by those uppity niggers is hypocrisy!

Dateline, New Hampsire, 2010: How *DARE* those uppity gays protest our fine upstanding laws discriminating against gays by prohibiting them from marrying each other? Y'know, those liberals preach tolerance, why can't they practice what they preach? Intolerance of our discrimination laws by those uppity faggots is hypocrisy! Because, of course, tolerance of bigotry and hatred against niggersfaggots is just the American way, and people who protest against it are intolerant!

Alrighty then, glad that folks preaching bigotry and hatred have edumacated me...

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Dealing with flies, TuxMansion style

Texas Betty has a fly problem and has invented a new flyswatter to deal with it. But here in Chez Tux, we have no such problems, because I have cats. By the time they finish leaping over all furniture, flying through the air to the top of bookcases, knocking everything off of every flat surface where a cat can land while in hot pursuit, etc. in their quest to obtain said fly for themselves, not to mention the incessant “Meow! Meow! Meow!” as they demand I fetch it for them, I’m no longer worried about the fly (which will likely die of old age or laughter), I’m worried more about my sanity.

Just another day in the life of a cat-owned penguin, heh.

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Two legends

Leonard Cohen and Sonny Rollins. Well, and David Sanborn, but when Sanborn saw that Rollins was on fire, Sanborn wisely kept his lips off his mouthpiece.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, July 19, 2010


As Republicans are fond of pointing out, lower taxes means more revenue for government, so this nation, which taxes less than 2% of its population, must have a bajillion dollar budget for everything from health care to its military. Since taxes are what keeps businesses from thriving, this nation must be a bustling paradise of commerce, so wealthy that its streets are paved with gold, and Americans must be clamoring to emigrate there looking for a better life, while employers beg the government to let more workers in because the economy is booming so fast that every citizen is employed. This nation is... uhm.... Pakistan.

Uhm, which, I might point out, is not a paradise. As in, the vast majority of the citizenry lives in abject poverty, misery, and ignorance, in a situation so bad that even the Taliban look good by comparison. As a result, the nation is wracked with violence. The money-starved government, starved of resources by low taxes, cannot afford to pay its employees, so corruption is a major problem as the only people who will go to work for the government are those willing to get their pay another way -- i.e., via corruption. Unemployment is over 14% and underemployment is probably double that. The educational system is so impoverished that the majority of classrooms lack textbooks and qualified teachers. And rather than educated people flocking to Pakistan to make their fortunes, the flow is actually going the other way -- educated Pakistanis fleeing the corruption and violence do everything in their power to emigrate to Britain, Australia, or Canada to get away from the horror of daily life in Pakistan.

But I forget, if we do to our government what the Pakistanis did to theirs, we won't have the same result. Even though every other country (Mexico, anybody) that has tried the cut-taxes-to-get-economic-growth thingy has gotten the same results as Pakistan, why, this time will be different, because... because... look! Unicorns! And cotton candy trees! Alrighty, then!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

God Hates Lady Gaga

Yessiree, the brave folks at Westboro Baptist Church, fresh from saving us from the horrors of gay victims of hate crimes and dead soldiers fighting for a gay, gay America, turned out recently to save America from the horror of maybe-gay Lady Gaga. Luckily the Gaga lovingly told her "little monsters", "no violence, please." Otherwise the Westboro bunch woulda been smeared into paste on the pavement.

Next up: Westboro decides to picket a hardcore punk group. Somehow I doubt that would turn out quite the same way... :-).

-- Badtux the News Penguin


Neanderthals don't like Kaki King. This is guitar legend Kaki King in 2004, playing one of her songs named "Neanderthal" in Tower Records. It reminds me of some modern jazz...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sunday, July 18, 2010

What religion are penguins?

Hoisted from comments below:

Penguins are generally Tuxologists -- worshippers of the Great Penguin. The current popularity of ice hockey all over the United States is part of a secret plot by Tuxologists to finance the building of Ice Cathedrals for the purpose of partaking of the Sacrament of the Herring, and if at a hocky game you see some formally dressed short big-nosed folks at the back of the crowd who do not appear to be paying attention to the game but, rather, are passing around small bits of herring on a cracker while drinking beer, you have stumbled upon a secret and solemn religious ceremony celebrating His continued somnolence (the Great Penguin is a lazy penguin, okay? And we like it that way!). Just beware if the herring appears to be raw rather than kippered, because that means you have stumbled upon a cell of schismatic Rawists fundamentalists rather than good upright Kipperists, and your fate may not be good if they discover you observing their ceremony... as with religious fundamentalists everywhere, Rawists tend to be violent, and you risk the Rawists gathering around you and, err.... giving you a wedgie. The horror, oh the horror!

Hey, what can I say, worshipping a lazy fat sleepy penguin that has been asleep for the past few million years doesn't exactly drive one to energetic exercise of violence...

Some have noticed the similarity between the attire of nuns and penguins. This is actually a secret acknowledgement by the Catholic Church of the *true* nature of man.... see, the Christian fundamentalists were right. Man is *not* evolved from monkeys. Rather, Man is *devolved*... from His perfect creature, PENGUINS! And the devolution is continuing, thus the existence of the band "Devo" and teabaggers. The penguin attire is a sad attempt by nuns to re-attain the state of grace that Man had when Mankind was simply a slightly less formally attired breed of penguin.

So there you have it -- the Truth, as laid out in the holy scriptures of the Church of Tuxology. And if you refuse to believe it... die, heretic, die! Well, eventually, anyhow. We all do, after all.

- Badtux the Religious Penguin

We must not censor discussions

Okay, so Joe Teabagger suggested that the problem with America was too many deadbeat black people, and the solution is to create work farms where all black people are interned. We must seriously discuss the pros and cons of this policy proposal, despite the fact that it's, well, unconstitutional, immoral, and disgusting, because to do otherwise is censorship, and we as responsible journalists should never engage in censorship, even if it's censorship of someone who is clearly insane and babbling nonsense. Because our responsibility as responsible journalists is to validate utterly insane positions by discussing them, not say "That's fucking insane" and ignore such whackjobs.

-- Badtux the Journalist Penguin


Alan Wilder's band Recoil, "Electro Blues For Bukka White". Acid music seemingly sung by an old-time blues dude (Bukka was long dead by then, but Alan sampled his songs "Shake 'em on Down" and spoken-word piece "Remembrance of Charlie Patton" for this piece).

Alan Wilder is of course mostly known as a former member of Depeche Mode. This was on the 1992 Recoil album Bloodline, released while he was still a member of Depeche Mode...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Guns and alcohol

Gurf Morlix, "One More Second", off his brilliant album Last Exit to Happyland.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, July 16, 2010

Ordaining a woman is more horrific than raping a child

At least, if your name is Pope Ratzo. Yep, to Ratzo, raping a child is no worse a crime than ordaining a woman as a minister. Indeed, if you dare ordain a woman as a minister it is automatic excommunication from the Catholic Church... but raping a child? A slap on the hand, that's all. They *encourage* reporting it to the cops *if the law compels*. Uhm, excuse me? That should be the first thing any reasonable caring thinking person should be required to do, and the Catholic Church only "encourages" it, and only if the law *requires* it?!

I once had a great deal of respect for the Catholic Church. Yes, it had its problems, but the Church was also one of the few large-scale organizations on the planet that really cared about poverty, social justice, and human rights.

Today... none. There are still some good people down in the trenches at Catholic Services and so forth, but the whole institution has become so morally corrupt that it's clear any moral authority it once had is null and void. Hmm, sort of like the Republican Party, now that I think about it...

-- Badtux the Former Catholic Penguin

There is no capitalism without government

I am amused when I hear supposedly capitalists saying that "government is the problem, not the solution." Because if it were not for government, capitalism wouldn't exist at all.

Capitalism does not work sans government because power grows from the barrel of a gun, and without government, he who has the most wealth can buy the most guns and thus rules. The notion of everybody in a society getting together and pooling their wealth so that society as a whole is the party with the most guns and can thus regulate the wealthiest to keep them from running roughshod over everybody else is the only way for freedom to exist as anything other than a theoretical concept. Otherwise what you have is feudalism -- a few filthy rich warlords who control everything necessary for life at the point of their guns, and the rest of us, well, serfs.

In short, without this pooling of resources by the majority -- what we call government -- there is no such thing as freedom unless you happen to be the feudal warlord, and no such thing as capitalism since the feudal warlord simply seizes at gunpoint anything he wishes to seize. This isn't Communist theory. This is what has been actually observed in failed states such as Somalia in this reality, as vs. the fictional reality where Libertopians live where unicorns are real and cotton candy grows on trees. Chairman Mao may have had a different situation altogether in mind when he said "power grows from the barrel of a gun", and was in general an asshole, but even an asshole can occasionally stumble across Truth-with-a-capital-T.

- Badtux the Power Penguin

Apple's news conference

My takeaway from it:

Steve Jobs: "There's nothing wrong with the iPhone 4, but here, have a free case on us just to shut you up."

Admit nothing, but throw some scraps at the baying pack anyhow. Hmm, sounds like typical modern corporate America in a nutshell.

-- Badtux the Geeky Penguin


Menken haz it.

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Lonely days

Slaid Cleaves, "Lydia". Just another alt-country song you won't hear on the radio...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A problem with girlfriends

I'm having a problem finding certain music on YouTube because 9/10ths of what I find turns out to be fan slash fiction about Justin Bieber. At which point I Google him and find that he's the latest teen heart-throb "singer" amongst tween girls. At which point I say to myself, why? So I go to Google Images and... dude. This is the most effeminate looking guy that I've seen since the drag queen parade at San Francisco Pride. Crap, *more* effeminate than the drag queens, now that I look more closely at it. He looks like a teen girl, slightly butch but not outrageously so. At which point I *still* wonder... why are the teen girls so hot on him?

The only thing I can think of is that he's non-threatening to tween girls. He's the non-bitchy best girlfriend they wish they had, the dyke girlfriend who they can dream about without actually having to worry about the actual, like, icky part (though the slash shows that not *all* of them stop at the icky part... ick!). Sort of the 2010's version of Lief Garrett. I guess that means he's going to grow up to be a scuzzy-looking felon living on the streets, that's just how these things work...

-- Badtux the Ancient Penguin

Am I violating DeLong's Law here?

Remember DeLong's Law:

  1. Paul Krugman is right
  2. If your analysis of the facts appears to show that Paul Krugman is wrong, see #1.
Paul Krugman states that helicopter drops of freshly-printed money are useless when the economy is in a liquidity trap. What he basically says is that the money will simply disappear under people's mattresses rather than being spent.

Is Krugman right? My initial thought was, "of course." But then I thought: But isn't unemployment compensation basically a helicopter drop of money to the unemployed?

At which point the lightbulb goes off. A helicopter drop can work even at the zero bounds where money typically disappears under mattresses if it addresses a population that has a nearly 100% propensity to spend -- i.e., those who are so desperate and short of money that they will spend the money on necessities (possibly deferred ones like replacing their unreliable 20 year old car with a "new" 10 year old car) rather than saving it. In other words, if you drop $100 bills out of a helicopter over the 4th Ward of Houston (a notorious ghetto), you can get extra spending in the economy and thus economic stimulus. If, on the other hand, you drop $100 bills over the posh Tanglewood or River Oaks subdivisions of Houston, it'll just disappear under mattresses (rather, disappear into banks as deposits, at which point it gets shoved under the Fed's virtual mattresses as reserves due to a lack of good investments for lending the money out). In other words, if you do like Bush's tax cuts did -- drop major chunks of money out of helicopters onto Tanglewood and River Oaks -- all you do is create an asset bubble as that money seeks mattresses to hide under. Which, err, is exactly what happened, doh.

So the next question is, how do you target those with the highest propensity to spend? Well, you could do it in a number of ways:

  1. Increase Food Stamp benefits (farmers will love you!)
  2. Increase unemployment benefits
  3. Increase Social Security benefits temporarily (since most Social Security recipients have a higher propensity to spend due to knowing that they'll always have Social Security thus don't need to save huge sums for a rainy day).
  4. Increase the Earned Income Tax Credit on a one-time basis to basically give a guaranteed minimum income of, say, $24,000 per year, to anybody who earns more than $6,000 per year, with an additional sum per child up to two children
And that's just off the top of my head. Every one of those ideas puts money into the hands of people with a high propensity to spend -- most of them are living from paycheck to paycheck, and have long-deferred needs such as dental care or a new car that they can spend the money on. So maybe the money will eventually end up under a mattress somewhere, but at least it'll do something before disappearing under the mattress. Not as much as if you spent it on things like, say, infrastructure, where the money could not be shoved under mattresses but rather had to be spent on things like steel and concrete and riggers and steelworkers and coal miners and etc., causing the money to ripple through the economy... but that would require that Obama propose additional stimulus, which in turn would require that Obama have a spine. I have seen no signs of that mythical feature of his anatomy.

Now, the next question is, can Ben Bernanke simply slip a check in the mail for every American? Paul Krugman says no, and suggests the Fed adjust its inflation target instead. But the Fed's inflation target, given that we're basically in deflation right now, is just a cruel joke. Whether Bernanke sets his inflation target at 3%, 4%, or 20%, people will just point and laugh. When you've hit the zero bounds, there is little the Fed can do to create actual inflation, because money freshly printed via, say, buying corporate bonds and Treasuries, will simply disappear under mattresses under the assumption that it will be worth more later as the currency continues to deflate or when the economy turns up and better investments are available. That's because that money is going to the investor class -- people with a lower propensity to spend and higher propensity to save (because they have more money than they need for their basic needs, as vs. the consumer class, which basically lives paycheck to paycheck and struggles to save the most basic of rainy-day funds). So if Bernanke announces an increase in the inflation target to 4%, all that will happen is that he looks like an idiot.

So I'm going to ask you: I'm disagreeing with Krugman on *TWO* things here. Am I violating rule #2 twice... or is Krugman violating rule #1 twice? Curious penguins want to know!

-- Badtux the Economics Penguin

Wanting to be filled

Bill Callahan, "Nothing Rises to Meet Me". I don't know what album this is on, it's not on any Smog or Bill Callahan album that I know of. But the setting and the song go together so well with Bill's deep laconic voice...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Is this a marmot?

This guy posed for me on a rock at Yosemite. Is he a marmot?

-- Badtux the Wildlife Penguin

aaaaand... his OTHER side:

PS: I was zoomed all the way in with a 12x telephoto lense. So I wasn't as close to him as it looks!

For the Catfood Commission

For the Catfood Commission and its goal of eviscerating Social Security and Medicare:

Today is Bastille Day. This is a fine time to reminisce about the usefulness of making policy recommendations that basically boil down to, "let them (the elderly) eat catfood". Old people don't move fast, but they have a lot of time on planet and plenty of cunning ways to punish those who would say, "let them eat catfood". For some reason old people like being on this planet and don't want to die, and will not voluntarily die just because assholes like Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles want them to die and quit taking up space on this planet.

Sadly, Simpson and Bowles would never understand why they were having their heads cut off for saying "let them eat catfood". They are part of a privileged class which would be exempt from the recommendations of the Catfood Commission, so it wouldn't hurt them. If it doesn't hurt them personally, what's the problem? Austerity for others, not for themselves. Gosh, what a surprise...

-- Badtux the History Penguin

Where the life is easy

Lucinda Williams live, in Toronto in October 2009, singing her song "Ventura" off the album World without Tears. I'm not sure whether she's drunk here, or just tired and old, but this is the sort of song that she can sing that way and it sounds entirely fitting.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Beware the Bubbles of Mass Destruction!

I don't get it. If this young medic had pulled out a vuvuzela and blatted it at the police officers, well, yeah, that's assault with a deadly (to the ears) weapon. But children's bubbles? That are blowing all around and children are playing with and chasing? And this dude with the power trip and the veins and muscles twitching on his bald head purports to be a Canadian?

Of course, this being Canada, there *will* be an inquiry, and it'll probably even find that the police officer violated the young medic's civil rights as guaranteed in the Charter of Rights and slap the police officer on the hand, unlike here in the United States where the blue line would draw up and insist nothing was wrong with the cop's actions. Still, it's disconcerting that the rot has started to creep to the other side of the border to what is purportedly the most polite society on the planet...

-- Badtux the Sovok Penguin

Austerians love austerity... for other people

The IMF has told the USA, you have to cut Social Security benefits to deal with the federal deficit. Nevermind that Social Security has jack shit to do with the federal deficit, what's gonna kill us is health care costs, not Social Security, which is easily funded just by raising the limit on taxable income beyond which people currently pay no Social Security tax, the whole idea is to give cover to the cat food commission and its program of stealing our retirement so that the banksters can enrich themselves with their multi-million-dollar pensions and retire at age 51 with a six-figure pension.

It is notable that the Austerians always propose that others suffer for their reality-contradicting ideology, not themselves. Funny, that. I never hear an Austerian promising to be one of those who are eating catfood and dumpster scraps for dinner because the Austerians cut off unemployment benefits. I never hear an Austerian promising that he will move himself and his entire family out onto the streets to live because he gave up his job and was foreclosed upon so that some deserving unemployed person can have his job. I never hear the Austerians proposing that they give up their six-figure pensions at age 51 to the people who will be hurt by their austerity demands and instead retire solely on Social Security, surviving on the meagre average Social Security check of $1,197 per month. Instead, I hear Austerians proposing austerity… for other people. Not for themselves. Funny, hmm?

And the funny thing is, austerity has failed every time it's ever been tried. Hoover tried balancing the budget in '32, FDR tried balancing the budget in '37, both times it caused the economy to plummet. Insanity is doing what failed — twice — and expecting any better result. Sad to say, the Austerians are like the Christian Scientists there… they claim Hoover’s policies would have worked if only he’d thrown *FIFTY* percent of Americans out of work rather than only *FORTY* percent, just like the Christian Scientist says that prayer would have cured your cancer if you’d prayed TWENTY hours a day rather than only SIXTEEN hours a day. Both of these are faith-based positions with no (zero) actual data to support them, but neither the Austerian nor the Christian Scientist needs, or wants, facts — they have faith, faith I say, in their Lord and Savior Hayek and His holy Father, Mises, and facts? They don’t need no steenkin’ facts, indeed the Austerian will sneer at your data saying “you can’t measure economic activity with statistics”, they don’t need facts, they have faith!

Well, if their faith is so strong, how about every member of the Catfood Commission volunteer to give up his cushy six-figure salary and retirement pension and live on the same amount of dough that they're proposing that *other* people live on? But they won't do it. Because they're hypocrites, pure and simple -- hypocrites whose theme song should be "serfing USA" 'cause that's what their intention is, yessiree.

-- Badtux the Economics Penguin

Carrying on

Portishead, "We Carry On", off of their 2008 album Third. Which was their third album, duh. And brilliant. Torch meets industrial and the result is excellence.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Monday, July 12, 2010

In which I violate DeLong's Law

DeLong's Law reads:

  1. Paul Krugman is right.
  2. If your analysis leads you to believe that Paul Krugman is wrong, see #1.
Brad DeLong violated rule #2, and the course of the year proved that he, not Krugman, was wrong. He knew better, heh :-). So anyhow, yesterday Paul Krugman wrote a blog entry, Trending toward Deflation. And I'm going to boldly go where Brad DeLong went and say that my analysis says that Paul Krugman is wrong.

No no, I don't mean Krugman is wrong about deflation as a threat. What I mean is, we're *already* in deflation -- monetary deflation, that is. Deflation is a *monetary* event, where there are not enough dollars to purchase all the goods and services for sale in the economy, not a *price* event. The initial response to deflation is not falling prices or wages -- the initial response is always layoffs and reduction in sales volumes because of not enough money in the economy to purchase manufactured goods at the price required to make at least a minimal profit -- both of which we have seen. Price deflation does not occur until maybe even a year after monetary deflation occurs, because of the phenomenon of *price stickiness* that I previously discussed here -- manufacturers simply will not sell goods for less than the price it cost to make them, they will reduce production and lay off workers instead, and they have minimum ability to reduce cost of manufacturing because of lead times and contractual agreements. As a result, labor force participation here in the U.S. is at a rate that implies a real 11.8% unemployment rate even *not* including those with part-time jobs who want full-time jobs, which would add up to a real 21.5% unemployment rate -- i.e., we're talking Great Depression levels here, folks.

None of this is new. This happened during the Great Depression too -- for example when the money supply fell by 20%, prices fell by 10% and production and employment fell by 10% as price stickiness kept prices from falling all the way to match the number of dollars in the economy. This was observed at the time and widely decried by the conservative economists of the time, who claimed that FDR was responsible for this situation by driving up wages with his New Deal programs. But it's clear that none of these conservatives have ever run a business, because if they had, they would know that the first law of business is that *you can't stay in business if you sell stuff for less than it costed you to make it*. The stupidity, it burns, it burns!

- Badtux the Business Penguin

Rainy day happiness

Garbage is one of those bands that is again a guilty pleasure for me, given my general preference for noisy bands that stick to the fundamentals. Shirley Manson exudes sex appeal as she sneers out the lyrics, and the music around it is a great example of mid 90's electronic pop but not exactly the guitar-driven stuff I generally go for. But I like it, so sue me. The first two Garbage albums tend to pop up in my rotation around the same time as the first two Portishead albums. Unfortunately, unlike Portishead, Garbage got together a few years back and released a new album that is utterly underwhelming. Given that Shirley is no longer a youngster and no longer capable of exuding sex appeal with every sneer, I don't know what they thought they were doing. Portishead, on the other hand, was always a more cinematic band and Beth Gibbons' aging actually enhanced her jazzy torch singer act... hmm... you know what tomorrow's video is going to be, right? :)

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Chase Bank is a bunch of dumbasses

I went on their web site to change my contact information, since I've moved. I noticed that they had a couple of telephone numbers for my "Home" and "Office" numbers that I've never heard of, and besides, I only have a cell phone -- I don't have a "home" or "office" phone number, those are relics of the same sort of era that fax machines and telephone booths belong to. I mean, doesn't *everybody* do everything communication-wise via their cell phone and the Internet nowdays?

So anyhow, I went to remove my home and office numbers and... it wouldn't let me. That's right, these primitive peanut-brained dinosaurs simply cannot conceive of someone *only* having a cell phone number!

So anyhow, I did fill in home and office numbers --- the 1-800 numbers on the back of the Chase Mastercard statement for calling with questions about your bill. And... they accepted those numbers! What a bunch of old fogey dumbasses.... dudes. It's the fucking TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY now. Not the 19th century. Not the 20th century. The TWENTY-FIRST century. *NOBODY* has home and office phone numbers nowdays. Crap, these morons are so stuck in the past they probably even look up phone numbers in ACTUAL PAPER PHONE DIRECTORIES, rather than simply typing a quick query into Google and having the number pop up immediately! Sheesh, what a buncha stuck-in-the-past dumbasses...

-- Badtux the Head-shakin' Penguin

Hot as hell

Haven't been posting today for the simple reason that I spent the morning and early afternoon dropping the passenger side rock rail on my Jeep and handling my rivnut situation then putting everything back together, and after that I've spent most of the day far from home, because it got hot as hell today and as I've previously mentioned, I don't have air conditioning. Needless to say, no computer keyboards were near, and while I could see all the emails come by on my iPhone, I sure the hell wasn't going to do anything about them on that teensy little screen. I'm waiting to get one of the large-format phones like the HTC EVO 4G or Motorola Droid X, my beady little penguin eyes and fat flippers just aren't up to handling the on-screen keyboard on these teensy little phones like the iPhone...

-- Badtux the Overheated Penguin

Worse than Hell

The Drive By Truckers singing "Where the Devil Don't Stay" from their album The Dirty South. Southern gothic at its best... to put it bluntly, this song is grade-A kick-ass.

-- Badtux the Southern Penguin

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I love my angle grinder

One of the nutserts for installing the rock rails on my Jeep spun out when I tried to bolt it on. Solution: Drop the rock rail, drill out the nutsert, and put another nutsert in there. Problem: How can I drop the rock rail when the bolt is stuck in the spinning nutsert? Answer: Grab my angle grinder, slap a cutting disk in there (as vs. a grinding disk), and whiiiirrrr! Sliced through that bolt like butter :). No bolt head, no problem, heh.

Best $40 I ever spent on a tool, heh. Just remember to wear your welding gloves, long sleeve welding shirt, and eye protection when doing this, because it sends sparks shooting out big-time, and that hot metal *will* burn a hole in your arm if it lands on it. (Yes, I was wearing all my gear, I ain't a stupid penguin, heh!).

- Badtux the Tool Penguin

"Perfect Citizen" and winger freakouts

As a network administrator, I have an informal description of what a computer connected to my network needs to look like in order to be a "good citizen". Its networking must be properly configured (with the proper netmask and etc.) so that it is properly routable and does not create ARP storms or routing loops. It must have a currently-supported operating system on it (that is, one whose vendor still provides critical security fixes), and must have those critical security fixes applied. It must be properly licensed (i.e., the OS is not pirated), and all software on it must be properly licensed. All unnecessary services should be shut down, and it should have current antivirus protection and no spyware or viruses installed on it. If it contains critical information, firewall software must be running on it that restricts access to information to only those systems that have a "need to know", and there should be no extraneous user accounts on the system other than for those users that absolutely need it.

In short, it must comply with the NSA's security configuration guidelines as well as with my own personal guidelines. And I will regularly run network scanners looking for open ports (that may be viruses or unauthorized services) as well as run the Big Brother SNMP monitor program, which will verify that the systems are properly running and alert me if something goes wrong. And if everything is completely and properly set up... well, a system connected to my network might well be a Perfect Citizen.

Which is the name of a $100M program that has been set up by the NSA, which they insist is a program to secure critical infrastructure networks at utilities and other critical locations rather than a spy program. And you know what? I believe them. This is exactly the sort of thing that the NSA has been doing on the cybersecurity side of things ever since they were tasked with securing the government's networks back during the Clinton Administration.

In other words, after looking at the details, and with my background in network security, it appears that "Perfect Citizen" is exactly what the NSA says it is -- a voluntary program to secure and certify critical infrastructure networks. The words "perfect citizen" in the context of network security means a network node that is secured and configured 100% compliant with security standards... a completely different meaning than common usage, but this term has been in use amongst network security professionals for at least the ten years that I've been interested in network security. In other words, nothing to see here folks, move along... the left-wingers and right-wingers doing a collective freakout on this program need to get a grip. The NSA doesn't spy on Americans anyhow. They simply loan people to the FBI to do so :-).

-- Badtux the Snarky Network Security Penguin

Deflation is the real threat

Even a right-wing glibertarian economist at the AEI agrees. The money multiplier has taken a dramatic decrease -- indeed, has basically ceased to exist -- and the result is that, in reality, we're already in deflation.

Now, I hear you say, "but... but... prices haven't gone down!" But price stickiness is a typical trait of all deflationary regimes. The deal is that businesses will not voluntarily sell items for less than they paid to acquire / manufacture said item. If they manufactured a Woddle for $100 in pre-deflation dollars, intending to sell it for $110, they will *not* sell the Woddle for $90 in post-deflation dollars. Rather, they will accept a lower volume of business and price it at $101 or higher, and make up the difference by laying off the workers that they no longer need at the lower volume of business. Once the supply of Woddles manufactured at $100 is depleted, they can then begin manufacturing Woddles at $80 in deflated dollars and price them accordingly, but the point is that price declines lag actual deflation of the money supply -- thus "stickiness", which is more "sticky" for goods with many inputs, and less "sticky" for things like raw commodities with fewer inputs, but sticky nevertheless.

This reaction of economies to monetary deflation is a fact which greatly puzzled many economists during the Great Depression, who were baffled by both price and wage "stickiness" in the face of massive monetary deflation. They were baffled that businesses would preferentially reduce production and lay off workers rather than lower prices, when the classic economics theory of the time predicted that businesses would simply cut wages and prices to deal with monetary deflation. Both prices and wages did decrease during the Great Depression, but nowhere as much as simple monetarist observation of the money supply itself would have predicted. The difference was made up in lower economic output -- i.e., if the money supply declined by 20%, part of that would be made up via lower wages and prices, but the remainder would be made up by a decline in output due to price stickiness. This reality is why mainstream economics moved away from classical economics towards either Keynesianism or Friedmanism depending upon the political proclivities of the economist, both of whom have models which explain this actual observed reality (as vs. the imaginary reality where unicorns are real and a decline in the actual money supply results in an immediate decrease in wages and prices).

We are of course seeing that exact same scenario playing out again today, for the exact same reasons. We have models to explain this, thanks to both Keynes and Milton Friedman, yet the "conventional wisdom" still refuses to admit that deflation is a monetary rather than price phenomenon and continues to insist that we need to put the clamps onto the money supply now to prevent some mythical inflation that as has much reality as unicorns, despite the fact that both Keynes and Friedman's models were pretty darn specific that this is a time to start *printing* money, not *evaporate* it. Fascinating. In some neurotic, deranged way that usually involves people in white coats bearing restraint jackets use of the word "fascinating", that is...

-- Badtux the Economics Penguin


Emmy the Great sings her song "24", off the album First Love, available from iTunes or by hopping a jet airliner to the United Kingdom. A gorgeous sad hopeful song that defies easy description, because anything I say about it seems to be rather trite compared to the song itself, which seems fluffy on the surface but is surprisingly deep when you think about it.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

Friday, July 09, 2010

The right verdict

Yesterday, a Los Angeles jury found that former BART cop Johannes Mehserle is guilty of negligent homicide (involuntary manslaughter) in the execution-style shooting of Oscar Grant. He now faces 5 to 14 years in prison.

The predictable suspects then start yammering about how Mehserle got away with murder yada yada. Nonsense. A cop going to prison is hardly "getting away" with anything. Furthermore, despite my well-known distaste for most of today's so-called "peace officers", who behave suspiciously like the jackbooted thugs of Soviet Russia, I would have voted exactly the same way if I'd been on that jury.

Look: The burden of proof is reasonable doubt, and Mehserle introduced reasonable doubt into the case for him deliberately killing Grant when a) he claimed he thought he had a taser rather than a gun in his hand, and b) his defense team introduced evidence showing that BART had given him no (zero) training in taser use that would help him distinguish between pulling his taser and pulling his service weapon in the heat of action. Once Mehserle introduced this defense, the prosecution had to prove that Mehserle *knew* he'd pulled his handgun rather than his taser in order to get a murder conviction, and there was no way to prove that. Personally I think he lost it and executed Grant, but the problem is, there's enough doubt there that I would have voted the same way as the jury. It just wasn't possible for the prosecution to prove Mehserle knew he'd pulled his gun rather than his taser.

So anyhow: I think justice is served here. The system worked the way it's supposed to work, for once. It may bum some people out that our courts require this little thing called proof of intent to convict someone of murder, but that is how a working court system is supposed to work. Reasonable doubt may seem a bummer sometimes, but what's the alternative? That people must prove they're innocent beyond all doubt in order to avoid conviction? Can any of us, anywhere, prove we're innocent of anything at all? About the only thing I can prove I'm innocent of is the murder of John F. Kennedy... and that one is because zygotes don't shoot well. "Reasonable doubt" may seem silly when we're "sure" that someone is guilty, but the alternative is gross miscarriage of justice on a mass scale, since virtually nobody can prove they're innocent. Where were *you* on November 22, 1963? Can you prove it?

-- Badtux the Law Penguin

It's Friday, so I must be channeling Paul Krugman

Seriously. Paul has been on a tear recently. First, he tore a new bunghole on those who say we and the Brits can't run deficits right now because the bond markets will "cut us off at the knees." Excuse me? Where are the bond markets going to put the money that you’re saying will be “cut off at the knees”? Into mortgage-backed securities? Into BP bonds? Bwahaha! Yeah, as if.

The fact of the matter is that there is no investment more secure than U.S. or British government bonds. You see, there is this new invention that you may have heard of. I know conservatives disdain new things, but this new invention exists anyhow. It was invented in the mid 1400’s, and is called the PRINTING PRESS. Conservatives may have heard of it at some point in time, though clearly they feel that it is a dubious innovation because if God had intended anybody other than monks to write books out in longhand on parchment, He would have sent down the printing press along with His holy son. But in any event, as long as British bonds are denominated in pounds sterling and U.S. bonds are denominated in U.S. dollars, the chances of default on British or U.S. bonds are effectively ZERO (since the Bank of London or Federal Reserve could always simply print the money to repay the bonds if necessary), and they are attractive to investors accordingly, which is why Britain and the U.S. are paying effectively 0% interest on sovereign debt when it sells bonds at auction.

And lest you then start saying, “WEIMAR REPUBLIC! INFLATION! BLAH BLAH BLAH!”: Our current situation is entirely different from the Weimar Republic. Two words for you: “slack resources”. When there are slack resources in an economy — when there are unemployed people, when there are underutilized factories, and so forth — it is impossible for there to be inflation as long as the newly printed money is used to buy goods and services within the economy. The reason is that any newly printed money simply mobilizes those slack resources and increases the goods and services in the economy. Inflation is caused by a mismatch between the amount of money in the economy and the amount of goods and services in the economy — i.e., more money is printed than there are goods and services to spend it on. This was the Weimar Republic's problem -- the newly printed money was used to buy *gold* to send to the French and British as war reparations, which increased the supply of money in the economy but did not increase the supply of goods and services in the economy. Thus inflation.

But that is certainly not the case today. Today the problem is not enough money, not too much money. The auto makers with lots full of unsold autos would beg to differ with you if you insist that there is more money than goods for sale (the basic requirement for inflation to happen) — they will tell you flat out that there is not *enough* money in the economy to buy their product, not that there is *too much* money in the economy. Similarly, the unemployed bloke looking for a job will beg to differ with your assertion that there is enough money in the economy — he’s not being hired because there isn’t enough money in the economy to hire him, not because there’s too *much* money in the economy. We have measures for inflation to determine when too much money is being printed, and on every single one of those measures, the problem they show is that not *enough* money is being printed — i.e., that we are in active *deflation*. Too much money has disappeared under (virtual) mattresses as “reserves” — into the Federal Reserve’s (virtual) vaults, into the Bank of London’s (virtual) vaults, and so forth, where it is no longer in the economy available to purchase goods and services.

Those are the facts. I realize that conservatives object to facts that do not agree with their ideology, but reality simply *is*, and laughs at our puny limited human ideologies. In any event, it gets discouraging attempting to teach people basic economics when they want to instead believe the magical thinking and wishful imagination that is “conventional wisdom”, but so it goes. The observation that inflation happens when there is more money than goods and services to purchase with that money is not my observation. That is an observation by that loony liberal lefty Milton Friedman back in 1948 (the same Milton Friedman who spent his lifetime trying to get rid of public schooling as “socialism”, yes, that “loony lefty”). This is not new knowledge, it is not untested nor unproven, yet for some reason people still prefer to believe conventional wisdom, which holds that printing money is bad in *all* situations, not just in the situation where it results in more money being printed than there are goods and services in the economy to buy with said economy. Milton Friedman was quite clear that printing money while the economy was in deflation was a quite valid thing indeed to do — in fact, he even coined the term “helicopter drops” to describe the process.

In other words, this isn’t loony Keynesianism, even, it’s just plain old monetarism, about as controversial in the economics field as soda biscuits. It is as if I am in a convention of the Flat Earth Society, trying to convince them that the Earth is round as they resolutely insist that the photographs by our astronauts in orbit were faked. What can one do in such circumstances, if they refuse to accept evidence that the world is, in fact, round, other than derisively call them ignorant morons?

-- Badtux the Frustrated Economics Penguin
who wonders how Krugman goes to work every morning without going postal on all the lunatics and morons who refuse to live in the same universe as the rest of us.


The kittehs are just chillin' in the living room. Hopefully they didn't read the article about the kittehs who ate their master...

I've decided that the stand near the window needs a potted plant on it to make that corner of the room look less empty, since I don't own a television and thus do not have the central feature of the typical modern living room. The problem is, what plant can I put there which will survive the kittehs (and which the kittehs can survive, for that matter)? Curious penguins are... curious.

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

Burned out

I actually burned out several years ago but keep blogging anyhow just out of habit. And if you're reading this, you're probably a burnout too. Just like Dee Dee of the Dum Dum Girls, who is singing "Bhang Bhang, I'm a burnout" off of their new album I Will Be as a bunch of delightfully noisy noise happens.

- Badtux the Music Penguin

Thursday, July 08, 2010

My congratulations to the Obama administration

They successfully have obtained a guilty plea from Osama bin Laden's chef. Who, presumably, pled guilty to providing Compote of Mass Destruction.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Quit looking at me like that, Mencken!

Cats start eating their dead caregivers.

Perhaps I should start bathing in hot sauce or something to head off my kittehs deciding that penguin tastes better than kitty kibble...

-- Badtux the Cat-observed Penguin

Quote of the day

"I've seen people drive so shitty I swear they put their cars on cruise control and crawled into the back seat to take a nap."

Heh. Indeed.

-- Badtux the Amused Penguin

Five investigations, five "Not Guilty"

So, did climate scientists rig a study into global warming to show that global warming was happening when it in fact is not? There have now been five investigations into this question, and all five say that the study is sound. They criticize aspects of the scientists' behavior, which they basically call catty and unprofessional, but the science is sound.

Five investigations by scientific investigators, five "not guiltys"... surely this puts the whole "Climategate" thing to rest? Not so fast, padre! These investigations were all done by scientists! Who are, like, these un-American eggheads! None of them were done by Sarah Palin or Rush Limpdick, so they're not valid!

Like with Iraqi WMD, God himself could come down and say "there is no WMD" or "there is no scandal", and the neanderthalic True Believers would still refuse to admit reality. Oh wait, let me rephrase that to remove the word "neanderthalic". I just insulted Neanderthals, I think.

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

New drug warrior talking point: "black market"

Drug warriors trying to keep the flow of funding for their police state going are now whining that legalizing marijuana in California would create a black market in other states as people came to California to buy marijuana, then took it back home with them. Uhm, as if there isn't already a black market for "California gold", except run by the most vicious criminals out there?

Look: as pointed out previously, the number of people who've died via OD'ing on marijuana is... err.... ZERO. It simply isn't physically possible to smoke or eat enough marijuana to OD on it. Surely we have better priorities as a nation than criminalizing people who smoke or eat a drug that has never killed anybody?

-- Badtux the Drug War Penguin

Spy vs. Spy

Over at Why Now, a number of us wondered exactly why the U.S. rolled up a "spy" ring that, uhm, never did any actual spying. The folks arrested were at best unregistered agents of a foreign power -- a minor felony that carries a maximum of five years in prison and which more typically results in a fine and suspended sentence (see -- Billy Carter or Samir Vincent). The FBI had them all identified, and could have sat there watching them for years to find out who the real spies were.

So why roll them up? We speculated on a number of things -- Obama's need to distract people from his disastrous mismanagement of the Gulf oil gusher, the FBI wanting a bigger budget for their counterespionage branch, etc. But today I think we know the real reason: a spy swap, where we give them some of their spies back, and they give us some of our spies back. This is the sort of thing we haven't seen in decades, not since the fall of the Soviet Union, but used to happen all the time back then. I guess we're back to the future again... alrighty, then!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin